New Zealand-born British novelist Adam Christopher (Empire State, The Burning Dark, Seven Wonders, and Hang Wire) is making a rare US appearance at Chapel Hill’s Flyleaf Books this Saturday [Facebook] to read from his forthcoming novel Made to Kill, which begins his new “L.A. Trilogy” from Tor Books: “Set in Hollywood 1965, Made to Kill is very much a noir mystery, except that the detective is a robot (with a heart of gold) and his Gal Friday is a supercomputer with a Lucille Bluth sensibility. The novel was born out of short story written for Tor.com called “Brisk Money” whereby the author imagines an undiscovered sci-fi novel written by Raymond Chandler.” Joining Christopher in conversation will be Durham author Mur Lafferty, who also took the time to ask Christopher a few questions about juggling genres and projects. Do note the start time for Saturday’s event is 6 pm as opposed to the usual 7 pm, and! There will be wine and snacks, and with both Lafferty and Christopher, it’s sure to be an entertaining time. I’ll see you there! And do check out the fantastic book trailer over at Tor.com, and if you’re reading this from further afield, you might want to check out the official L.A. Trilogy website for the other remaining events on his tour.
— Interview by Mur Lafferty —
Q: Your work is heavily entrenched with American Noir elements. How long have you been a fan of the genre, and what made you want to write your own twist?
I love mystery and crime fiction, and in particular the hardboiled and noir varieties. I’m a huge fan of Raymond Chandler in particular, and I knew that he wasn’t too keen on sci-fi – but at the same time, I thought that a Raymond Chander SF novel would be really interesting. My editor kinda challenged me to write it, and that became the novelette “Brisk Money”, and from that, I suddenly found myself with a whole trilogy of books about a robot detective who is really a robot hit man. This kind of genre mash-up is a lot of fun to write!
Q: You’ve had a very busy year, with novels, tie-ins, and comic books. How do you structure your schedule to handle these projects, and how do you keep so many stories straight in your head? Read the rest of this entry »
The Exploding Spaceship Reviews Rising Tide, Gold Throne in Shadow, Wake of Vultures and The GeomancerPosted: 5 November, 2015
Review of Rising Tide by Rajan Khanna (Pyr, October 6, 2015)
This is the second volume of the steampunk-airships-with-zombies series which started with Falling Sky. It is the adventures of Ben Gold (one of the few Jewish steampunk characters Your Humble Reviewers have ever seen) as he travels the western coast of the United States many years after a disease which turns people into zombies has hit. Society has fallen apart and it is basically chaos with a few places held by various groups.
Ben has lost his airship in a suicide attack to prevent some bad people from reaching a refuge that he and his scientist friend Miranda had just left. Miranda wants to develop a test to check for the zombie disease so the refuge will know if new people or traders are safe. She wants to get the data she has collected back to the refuge in order to merge it with data she has stored there, but the loss of Ben’s airship puts a damper on this plan.
So this volume is all the adventures they have while trying to get back to the refuge. They meet an old friend/enemy of Ben’s who holds them hostage. They are held in a facility with several airships and boats so eventually an opportunity arises to escape.
When they finally do reach the refuge, things do not go well. A new disease attacks people there and it appears to be a modified version of the zombie disease. They have to discover who made the disease and how they managed to get it into the refuge. There must be at least one traitor in their group. The hunt for the traitor makes everyone suspicious of each other and only slows progress to find the source and possibly a person with antibodies against the disease (they think the traitor must be vaccinated against the disease he delivered to the refuge). Read the rest of this entry »
The new location for this convention, Embassy Suites Concord, was quite an improvement over the crowded hotel of years past. There were more function rooms of larger size so all the panels had enough room, even those featuring John Scalzi. The dealer room was larger and had more vendors. The hallways are very wide so even with tables on both sides of the hallway people browsing on the two sides didn’t bump into each other.
The location is not far from Concord Mills and all the eateries surrounding it so food for every budget was easy to obtain. Also for those of us coming from north of Charlotte this location has plenty of backroads routes which allow you to miss the Friday afternoon horrible traffic. Arriving less stressed is always a bonus.
The author guests were more diverse than your humble reviewers had ever seen at a southeastern convention. Panels on many writing topics had authors of various backgrounds including self-published and traditionally published as well as some small press. Also the “diverse” authors were present on several panels for their appropriate areas and not just on the “diversity” panels. The “diversity” panels actually were about writing someone who isn’t you and were helpful in discussing resources and how to meet people with a background like your character. Also discussed was some things to do and not to do when meeting “others” so prospective authors can make new friends not just be accused of using people for their knowledge.
There were many great costumes including several Mad Max (which had just been released in cinemas) influenced ones. Also there were the standard superheros, TV characters and even a few giant inflatable beings used as advertising.
Next year’s convention will be at the same venue. Writer GOH is Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Ursula Vernon is Artist GOH. Special Author Guest Christie Golden has also been announced for next year. Special Media Guest is Bill Blair. Master of Ceremonies is Rich Sigfrit.
Paul Kincaid’s From the Other Side, October 2015: British Fantasy Awards, David Mitchell’s Slade House, Hal Duncan’s Testament, Julia Knight’s Swords and Scoundrels, and morePosted: 3 November, 2015
From the Other Side, October 2015
By Paul Kincaid
[Editor’s Note: From the Other Side is Paul Kincaid’s monthly column on books and news from the other side of the Atlantic.]
Good grief, it can’t be award season again already, can it? Apparently, it can. Or at least, we have had this year’s British Fantasy Convention, and with the convention come the British Fantasy Awards. An interesting selection this year, not least because there are so many women among the winners. These include the Robert Holdstock Award for Best Fantasy novel, which went to Frances Hardinge for Cuckoo Song (is that the first YA novel to win the Best Fantasy award?), the Sydney J. Bounds Award for Best Newcomer went to Sarah Lotz for The Three, and the Karl Edward Wagner Award went to Juliet E. McKenna. There’s a full list 0f winners here.
And since it’s Halloween, let’s keep in the mood with the best haunted house novel of the year, which is, of course, Slade House by David Mitchell. It’s a sort of pendant to last year’s The Bone Clocks – very “sort of” – with more stuff about immortality, and one of the key figures from last year’s novel reappearing at the climax of this one. But here he recasts the story as horror, with a particularly creepy brother and sister tempting their victims to a weird and wonderful house that no longer exists. Being Mitchell, of course, he tells the story in a variety of different voices, the first of which is one of the funniest things he has written, until it starts to turn nasty. Apparently, Slade House began life on Twitter, so if you follow Mitchell you’ve probably encountered bits of the novel before in 140-character slabs, not that you’d notice from the finished thing. Read the rest of this entry »
Review of The Builders by Daniel Polansky (Tor.com November 3, 2015)
As fans of Mouse Guard, Mice Templar and Redwall stories, Your Humble Reviewers were thrilled to find an animal adventure story among the novellas. The Captain is a mouse who wears a hero coat, boots and a hat. He is fierce looking for a mouse because of a scar running down his face across where his right eye should be. He calls all his old cronies to meet at a bar called the Partisan’s. The party consists of a French-sounding stoat named Bonsoir, an opossum named Boudica, Cinnabar the red salamander, Barley the badger, a very fat mole named Gertrude, and an owl called Elf who has an injured wing. They had all served in the war with the Captain and have skills which will contribute to a special operations group (or an adventuring party, depending on your perspective). They have all settled down to a civilian life in a country devastated by war but will meet the Captain and hear what he has to say because he’s their leader.
The Captain is planning one last attack in order to destroy their remaining enemy and to discover who in the group betrayed them the last time. They encounter an armadillo, and have an adventure on a train before heading to the bad guys’ impregnable fortress. It becomes clear that some in the group decided that they wanted to go out with a bang, so although some of the creatures die, they got to die in battle and on their feet.
All the creatures are highly detailed characters who each have their own introductory section where the Captain goes to find them at their civilian location to convince them to come to the appointment at the bar; then each enters the bar in the next scene. How the other characters act toward them reveals quite a great deal about the group dynamics. Their quirks and personalities make their relationships complex, and of course they don’t all agree on anything other than that they will follow the Captain. Many had thought him dead or at least finished with battle but all those he approaches appear even though some needed to be tricked. Read the rest of this entry »
Coming to Town: Marko Kloos, author of the Frontlines series, for HonorCon at the Hilton North Raleigh/MidtownPosted: 30 October, 2015
Marko Kloos is the author of the Frontlines series of military science fiction. Born and raised in Germany, Kloos has has been a soldier, a bookseller, a freight dock worker, a tech support drone, and a corporate IT administrator. A graduate of the Viable Paradise SF/F Writers’ Workshop, he now lives in New Hampshire with his wife and two children. Their compound, Castle Frostbite, is patrolled by a roving pack of dachshunds, colorfully illustrated as “a team of awesome space-merc dachshund outlaw heroes blasting their way across the sky” in the header image on his website.
The Frontlines series is set in the early 22nd century, where North American Commonwealth “welfare rat” Andrew Grayson enlists in the military “for a shot at real food, a retirement bonus, and maybe a ticket off Earth.” (The only other remotely plausible way out is by drawing a winning lottery ticket for a colony ship settling off-world, and that’s as remote as any lottery-winning dream can be.) We get to see both this all-too-plausible and too-near future Earth of grim poverty and ever-escalating action and space battles through Grayson’s eyes as he encounters the wonders and horrors of a Solar System-spanning conflict with the alien Lankies.
Kloos joins a fantastic lineup of military science fiction — including Taylor Anderson, David Weber, A.G. Riddle, David Drake, Tony Daniel, and Chris Kennedy — at this weekend’s HonorCon at the Hilton North Raleigh/Midtown, with individual day and full weekend passes still available. It’s a further escalation of HonorCon’s roots as a convention focused almost entirely on Weber’s Honorverse — complete with many attendees in full Royal Manticoran Navy uniform — into a truly full-spectrum military science fiction convention. (Though, still, certainly, with the RMN out in full regalia in full force!) I’m looking forward to catching as much of it as I can.
While Kloos was already getting rave reviews (and comparisons to Scalzi, Haldeman, and Heinlein) for his first two Frontlines novels, Terms of Enlistment (initially self-published, then quickly snapped up and republished by Amazon’s 47North) and Lines of Departure, it’s fair to say that his stature in the science fiction world was raised both by his Hugo Award nomination and by the grace and clarity with which he declined the honor. That’s one of the several topics in the following interview, conducted via email ahead of (just barely!) today’s “boarding action” and other first day festivities at HonorCon. Enjoy!
Q: Are you familiar with David Weber’s Honorverse series, around which HonorCon has grown? Or Weber’s other ongoing SF series, Safehold?
I’ve been a fan of the Honorverse books since On Basilisk Station, so yeah, you can say I’m familiar with it. ;) One of my friends clued me in on the Honor Harrington books three or four novels into the series, a good while before I decided to get serious with my own writing. I have not however read any of the Safehold stuff yet.
Q: How did you get involved with this year’s HonorCon? Read the rest of this entry »
Coming to Town: Taylor Anderson, author of The Destroyermen series, for HonorCon at the Hilton North Raleigh/MidtownPosted: 30 October, 2015
Texas author Taylor Anderson is the New York Times bestselling author of the Destroyermen series. A gunmaker and forensic ballistic archaeologist, Taylor has been a technical and dialogue consultant for movies and documentaries, and an award-winning member of the National Historical Honor Society and of the United States Field Artillery Association. He has a master’s degree in history and has taught that subject at Tarleton State University.
The Destroyermen series, beginning in 2008 with Into the Storm, concerns the fate of the United States Asiatic Fleet in World War II, and while I will leave it to you (and Wikipedia) to learn of its real history and fate, Anderson’s books carry a Great-War vintage “four-stacker” destroyer from that fleet (along with pursuing Japanese battleships) into a squall, which acts as a portal transporting both pursued and pursuers into an alternate earth where humans never evolved. There, the two dominant species (the peaceful Lemurians and the warlike, reptilian Grik) are at war, and sides must be chosen, escalating the conflict into a global war that with 2015’s Straits of Hell comprises ten novels, with an eleventh, Blood in the Water, due out in June 2016. (Perhaps I should have read the publisher synopsis of Blood in the Water before asking my final, foolish question, but! as usual, I leave my “own goals” for your enjoyment.)
Anderson headlines a fantastic lineup of military science fiction — including David Weber, Marko Kloos, A.G. Riddle, David Drake, Tony Daniel, and Chris Kennedy — at this weekend’s HonorCon at the Hilton North Raleigh/Midtown, with individual day and full weekend passes still available. It’s a further escalation of HonorCon’s roots as a convention focused almost entirely on Weber’s Honorverse — complete with many attendees in full Royal Manticoran Navy uniform — into a truly full-spectrum military science fiction convention. (Though, still, certainly, with the RMN out in full regalia in full force!) I’m looking forward to catching as much of it as I can.
Here, Anderson took the time via email to answer some questions about Weber, Navy weapons systems research, careless anachronisms, audiobooks, alternate histories, and, yes, a really, really stupid one about Blood in the Water. Enjoy!
Q: Are you familiar with David Weber’s Honorverse series, around which HonorCon has grown? Or Weber’s other ongoing SF series, Safehold?
Yes. I read David’s On Basilisk Station about sixteen years ago and loved it. I quickly devoured the rest as they came out and always look forward to the next. I was honored to meet David at DFW-Con, around the time my second or third Destroyermen novel came out. We had a long, vastly entertaining conversation, and I was amazed to discover I’d become friends with one of my all-time favorite authors! I hadn’t begun reading the Safehold Series until about that time as well, and one of the things that struck us both, I think, was how much alike we think in a number of ways. We’ve corresponded since, sometimes just going on for hours about ballistics or historical weaponry. He called me several months ago and told me about this year’s HonorCon. I thought “it’s been too long,” and said, “I’ll be there!”
Q: Your military SF concerns Naval battles in both a “mundane” alternate historical setting (actual 1940s ships and armaments) with various technological adaptations from the alternate Earth’s dominant species, wholly original to your work. Have you kept up with current Navy weapons systems research, like the recent demonstrations of lasers and rail guns, which certainly put today’s reality in line with yesterday’s science fiction? Read the rest of this entry »