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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"Red Seas Under Red Skies" by Scott Lynch

Order “Red Seas Under Red SkiesHERE (US Version)
Read An Excerpt HERE

In 2006 author Scott Lynch dazzled readers with his debut novel “The Lies of Locke Lamora”, one of the most publicized fantasies of the year, and one that actually lived up to the hype, becoming both a fan favorite and critically-acclaimed. A little over a year later and Mr. Lynch is back with “Red Seas Under Red Skies”, the second book in his projected seven-volume series starring the Gentlemen Bastards. The obvious question regarding the book of course is—can Scott Lynch do it again?

Well, “Red Seas Under Red Skies” definitely starts out with a bang opening with a shocking cliffhanger. From there, the book goes back in time a little bit to when our heroes, Locke Lamora & Jean Tannen, are in the city of Tal Verrar in the midst of their latest madcap scheme involving the Sinspire, “the most exclusive, most notorious, and most heavily guarded chance house in the world”. At this point, the chapters start alternating between flashbacks and the present—a device also used in “The Lies of Locke Lamora”—for about the first third of the book. While the chapters styled “Reminiscence” deal with the events following Locke & Jean’s flight from Camorr at the end of the first book, including Lamora’s bout with depression, the Gentlemen Bastards’ putting together their plan for the Sinspire job, and the very interesting Salon Corbeau with its Amusement Wars, the other chapters follow current events as the duo’s con comes to a close after two years of preparation. Of course, if you read “The Lies of Locke Lamora” then you know that nothing ever comes easy for the Gentlemen Bastards and before long Locke & Jean are ensnared in a deadly web spun by two of Tal Verrar’s most powerful men—archon Maxilan Stragos the city’s master of arms and the Sinspire’s master Requin—while lurking in the shadows are Karthani Bondsmagi and assassins serving an unknown faction. And as if that isn’t enough, circumstances conspire to send the two out to sea where piracy, love, betrayal and much more awaits…

All in all, the plot behind “Red Seas Under Red Skies” is quite impressive. With all of the elaborate scheming, sleight of hand, double/triple-crossing, false personas, political intrigue and so forth, things can get a bit convoluted, but the author has a pretty good handle on where and how he wants to take the story, and the result is an adventure that is as clever as it is entertaining. Compared to “The Lies of Locke Lamora” I thought “Red Seas Under Red Skies” was better written, more complicated and more ambitious than its predecessor, though personally I enjoyed Scott Lynch’s debut just a bit more, especially the latter half of the novel where things got downright dark & dirty. With “Red Seas Under Red Skies”, the book starts out in excellent fashion, much stronger than “The Lies of Locke Lamora” in fact, but once the story shifts to the high seas, things just seemed to slow down a little, at least for me. The story definitely picks up again towards the end when all of the storylines start converging, but I thought the finale felt a bit rushed and wasn’t as intense emotionally as the first book. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like the way “Red Seas Under Red Skies” ended. On the contrary, I very much enjoyed seeing how the Sinspire heist was finally pulled off, how Locke & Jean were able to solve their other problems, all of the little subplots that were being set up for future installments, a very humorous turn of events, and quite a dramatic little cliffhanger that makes me wonder how in the hell they’re going to get out of this one ;)

Let’s be honest, “The Lies of Locke Lamora” was a tough act to follow, but Scott Lynch handled the pressure admirably, delivering a follow-up in “Red Seas Under Red Skies” that was just as good, if not better than the first book. The story for sure was much more grandiose, the worldbuilding still rich & creative, though personally I liked Camorr better ;), and the characters were once again fun & compelling to follow, even if the witty banter gets a bit out of hand and I didn’t think the villains were quite on the same level as The Gray King, Capa Barsavi or the Falconer. Overall, “Red Seas Under Red Skies” firmly proves that Scott Lynch isn’t a one-hit wonder, and if the author is able to maintain this level of competence in resulting volumes, while also continuing to up his game, then it’ll only be a matter of time before Scott Lynch is mentioned in the same breath as George R. R. Martin and Steven Erikson
Monday, July 30, 2007

SDCC 07 Recap + Other Tidbits

As you may or may not have known, the San Diego Comic-Con took place over the weekend, and well, A LOT happened. So much in fact, I couldn’t possible go over everything. Instead, I’ve included below a list of links to various articles highlighting certain events that caught my eye. For full coverage of the Comic-Con, I’d recommend visiting IGN, Newsarama, Sci-Fi.com, and Comi Press. So, grab a chair, strap yourself in and prepare to read yourselves blind:

01. Info on Season Four of Lost
02. Heroes Season Two Info, Kevin Smith, the spinoff Origins, etc.
03. J.J. Abrams and the Star Trek Movie
04. Marvel Studios on the upcoming Hulk and Iron Man movies
05. Warner Bros. on the film versions of “Watchmen” and “Whiteout”
06. Neil Gaiman on Sandman, Stardust, Coraline and much more
07. Newsarama’s Interview with author Joe Hill on his comic book “Locke & Key”
08. Newsarama’s Interview with Cory Doctorow on his Comic Book Miniseries
09. Film Adaptation of Mark Verheiden’s “Ark” Comic Book
10. “Demons of Mercy”—a videogame/comic book property by Marvel Comics & MAXUM Games

Additional thoughts & tidbits:

Videogame/computer publisher & developer Ubisoft Entertainment (Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell/Rainbow Six/Ghost Recon series, Prince of Persia, Myst) has been quite busy recently. First, they announced HERE that they’d be partnering with 20th Century Fox on a videogame based on James Cameron’s (Terminator, Aliens, Titanic) upcoming sci-fi movie “Avatar” with a planned May 2009 co-release. Then, Ubisoft debuted the first official trailer for their Lost videogame at the SDCC. Obviously the game is based on ABC’s award-winning television series of the same name, and is due out in early 2008 for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC. You can view the trailer HERE and get more details HERE. Next it was revealed that Ubisoft would be teaming up with Paramount on another movie-based videogame, the Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Cast Away)-directed Beowulf, which is scheduled for a November 2007 worldwide release in conjunction with the movie’s opening. More information on the game can be found HERE. As far as the film, Beowulf is using the same technology as “The Polar Express” (2004); stars Angelina Jolie, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Brendan Gleeesan, Crispin Glover, John Malkovich, etc.; and was adapted for the screen by Neil Gaiman (Stardust, MirrorMask) & Roger Avary (Silent Hill). Watch the trailer HERE, which looks pretty good :). Finally, Ubisoft announced that they signed a licensing agreement with Universal Pictures Digital Platforms Group to develop and publish a video game based on the television drama series Heroes. Get the full scoop HERE.

Speaking of Heroes, it looks like DC Comics won the rights to the Heroes comic book material that has been released online, and will collect the stories into a graphic novel that will be published by their imprint Wildstorm this fall. Among the artists that have contributed to the stories there’s Michael Turner, Marcus To, Phil Jimenez (Infinite Crisis), etc., while the graphic novel will feature new covers by Alex Ross and Jim Lee (Batman, Superman) as well as the Tim Sale artwork used in the show. HERE’s a great article about the graphic novel including an interview with Tim Sale. A newer interview with the artist is posted HERE. Sounds like a great pickup!

Joss Whedon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly/Serenity fame announced a couple of projects that he’s working on. The first is a Buffy spinoff called “Ripper”, which would hopefully feature Anthony Head returning as the character Rupert Giles, with BBC producing the show. The second is a flick called “Cabin in the Woods”, which was written with Drew Goddard (Lost, Angel, Cloverfield) and was claimed by Whedon as “The horror movie to end all horror movies... literally”. Sounds pretty cool :D

Virgin Comics’ Director’s Cut line, which already features John Woo (Mission Impossible II), Guy Ritchie (Snatch, Revolver) and Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth, The Four Feathers), recently added actor/director Ed Burns (Saving Private Ryan) to the mix. Coming out in November, “Dock Walloper” is co-written by Jimmy Palmiotti (Painkiller Jane, Jonah Hex), illustrated by Siju Thomas and described as a “classic gangster tale meets superhumans in a modern American mythology”. In related news, Guy Ritchie is planning on making a movie version of his comic book “The Gamekeeper” with Joel Silver (The Matrix Trilogy, V For Vendetta) producing and Warner Bros. distributing. Click HERE for more info on the series.

Comic book writer and novelist Mike Carey is quite the workaholic ;) Aside from his Felix Castor book series and the many comic book projects (Ultimate Fantastic Four, X-Men) including his contribution to the recently announced Coalition Comix, Mr. Carey is now working with Virgin Comics and the Sci-Fi Channel (Battlestar Galactica, The Dresden Files) on another venture, an adventure fantasy series called “The Stranded”. The title will be distributed by Diamond Comics later this year with covers provided by Mark Silvestri (Top Cow CEO, Witchblade, The Darkness) and Greg Horn (She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel). For the full press release, visit HERE.

Neil Marshall who directed the excellent horror movie “The Descent”, debuted the teaser trailer for his next film at the SDCC, a futuristic, post-apocalyptic thriller about a deadly plague called the Reaper Virus. Due out sometime in 2008, “Doomsday” stars Rhona Mitra (The Practice, Boston Legal), Malcom McDowell (Heroes, Fantasy Island), and Bob Hoskins (Who Framed Roger Rabbit?). Hopefully the trailer will come online soon :)


In adaptation news, DreamWorks Pictures has picked up a couple of comic books for the silver screen, “The Damned” and “Courtney Crumrin”, both of which are published through Oni Press. Meanwhile, Walden Media (Chronicles of Narnia, Bridge To Terabithia) is moving forward with their film version of “The Lotus Caves” (1969), which is based on the novel by prolific British SF author Samuel Youd who writes under many different pseudonyms. The movie will mark the directing debut of Rpin Suwannath whose previous Hollywood experience has been mainly in the field of visual effects (X2, Serenity, Superman Returns) and the art department (The Matrix).

If you love dragons, then get ready for the movie Dragon Wars, which opens September 14, 2007 and stars Jason Behr (The Grudge, Roswell). You can check out the trailer HERE. Concept seems pretty cool, based on a Korean legend, but the actual special effects look a bit cartoonish to me. I’m not expecting much, but it could be a fun film! Other trailers worth watching include the one for No Country For Old Men HERE and Death Sentence HERE. No Country For Old Men is based on the novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy (The Road), starring Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin (Grindhouse), etc., and is due out November 9, 2007. Death Sentence is the latest from director James Wan (Saw, Dead Silence), based on the Brian Garfield novels that inspired the original Charles Bronson Death Wish films, and stars Kevin Bacon, Kelly Preston and John Goodman. Death Sentence opens August 31, 2007.
Sunday, July 29, 2007

SPOTLIGHT: Books of August

Welcome to the August 2007 edition of Fantasy Book Critic’s monthly SPOTLIGHT. Previous spotlights can be visited HERE for June and HERE for July. My sincerest thanks go out to Calibander (Westeros forum) once again for the book tips, for any readers that find this article useful, and of course to all of the authors whose books are being released in August. Enjoy!!! (NOTE: Unless stated otherwise, all release dates are for the US):

Gods Behaving Badly” by Marie Phillips. UK Release Date: August 2, 2007. A year ago Ms. Phillips was a struggling writer with no agent, no book deal and was working part-time in an indie bookstore. Now she’s the author of the highly anticipated debut “Gods Behaving Badly”, a comical & endearing story about Greek gods existing in the 21st century where nobody believes in you, your own family doesn't respect you and you're stuck working mundane jobs as a dog walker or a telephone sex operator…
Official Marie Phillips Website
Official “Gods Behaving Badly” Myspace
Order “Gods Behaving BadlyHERE
Watch Marie Phillips Talk About Her Novel HERE

The Dreaming Void” by Peter F. Hamilton. UK Release Date: August 3, 2007. Set over a 1000 years after the end of The Commonwealth Saga (“Pandora’s Star”, “Judas Unchained”), “The Dreaming Void” is the start of a brand new trilogy from Britain’s #1 science fiction writer, whose previous works include the Greg Mandel series, the bestselling Night’s Dawn trilogy, “Fallen Dragon”, “Misspent Youth” and various short fiction. Space opera lovers everywhere, let the Pilgrimage begin…
Official Peter F. Hamilton Website
Order “The Dreaming VoidHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE
Read SFF World’s Review of “The Dreaming Void
Read Pat + Adam’s Interview with Peter F. Hamilton HERE

Spook Country” by William Gibson. Release Date: August 7, 2007. Probably best known for “Neuromancer” (1984) which won the Hugo, Nebula + Philip K. Dick awards, Mr. Gibson has cemented himself as one of THE ground-breaking voices in science fiction over the years, and continues that trend with his ninth novel “Spook Country”, a follow-up to the bestselling and critically-acclaimed “Pattern Recognition” (2003), which was the author’s first novel to be set in a contemporary world…
Official William Gibson Website
Official Spook Country Blog
Order “Spook CountryHERE
Watch Mr. Gibson’s Interview HERE

Sandworms of Dune” by Brian Herbert + Kevin J. Anderson. Release Date. August 7, 2007. Featuring the duo behind the Prelude to Dune and Legend to Dune prequel trilogies to Frank Herbert’s original six-volume Dune series, “Sandworms of Dune” is the continuation to “Hunters of Dune” (2006), which together is based directly on Frank Herbert’s final outline for ‘Dune 7’. For good or for bad, “Sandworms of Dune” will finally answer the questions left behind at the end of “Chapterhouse: Dune”…
Official Dune Website
Order “Sandworms of DuneHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE

The Accidental Time Machine” by Joe Haldeman. Release Date: August 7, 2007. Author of the 1975 classic “The Forever War”, Joe Haldeman has been writing science fiction for over thirty years now, accumulating numerous awards along the way including five Hugos, five Nebulas, a John W. Campbell Award, a World Fantasy Award, etc. “The Accidental Time Machine” is the author’s latest novel, “a provocative tale of a man who stumbles upon the discovery of a lifetime—or many lifetimes…”
Official Joe Haldeman Website
Order “The Accidental Time MachineHERE

The Intruders” by Michael Marshall. Release Date: August 7, 2007. Already nominated for the CWA’s Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award and picked up by the BBC to be adapted into a drama TV series, “The Intruders” marks the American hardcover debut for the internationally, NYTs bestselling novelist/screenwriter whose bibliography consists of the Philip K. Dick Award-winning “Only Forward”, “Spares”, the Warner Bros.-optioned “One of Us”, the acclaimed “Straw Men” trilogy, and various short fiction…
Official Michael Marshall Website
Order “The IntrudersHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s Review of “The Intruders

The Mirador” by Sarah Monette. Releaste Date: August 7, 2007. Continuing the unique fantasy series that began in “Mélusine” (2005) and “The Virtu” (2006), “The Mirador” once again teams up unlikely heroes Felix Harrowgate & Mildmay the Fox as they try to prevent the destruction of The Mirador. Ms. Monette is also known for her short fiction receiving the 2003 Spectrum Award for “Three Letters from the Queen of Elfland”, and is releasing her short story collection “The Bone Key” on August 15, 2007 via Prime Books
Official Sarah Monette Website
Official Sarah Monette LiveJournal
Order “The MiradorHERE
Read Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three + Chapter Four from "The Mirador"

Radio Freefall” by Matthew Jarpe. Release Date: August 7, 2007. “In the tradition of Robert A. Heinlein'sThe Moon is a Harsh Mistress’ but with a healthy dose of cyberpunk, ‘Radio Freefall’ is about a plot to take over the Earth by power-mad, sociopathic computer-geek billionaire, Walter Cheeseman, and it’s up to a strange cast of rock stars—Aqualung—and oddballs—Quin Taber—to stop him.” Cyberpunk, rock n’ roll, Heinlein comparisons—Matthew Jarpe’s debut novel sounds like a winner to me…
Official Matthew Jarpe Website
Order “Radio FreefallHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE
Read Praise HERE

Spaceman Blues: A Love Song” by Brian Francis Slattery. Release Date: August 7, 2007. With a background as a freelance editor specializing in economics, public policy & international affairs, as well as writing nonfiction pieces on public policy & the arts, speculative fiction is not exactly the first thing that comes to mind when looking at Brian Francis Slattery, but “Spaceman Blues is a literary retro-pulp science-fiction-mystery-superhero novel, the debut of a true voice of the future, and a cult classic in the making…”
Official Brian Francis Slattery Website
Order “Spaceman BluesHERE

Poltergeist (Greywalker, Volume Two)” by Kat Richardson. Release Date: August 7, 2007. Urban fantasy series may be a dime a dozen nowadays, but the Greywalker books by Kat Richardson—experience also includes role playing games, film, computer games and comic books—might have more to them than meets the eye. “Poltergeist” is the follow-up to “Greywalker” (2006) and once again follows PI Harper Blaine as she becomes entangled in a deadly investigation involving an artificial poltergeist…
Official Kat Richardson Website
Order “PoltergeistHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE

The Well of Ascension” by Brandon Sanderson. Release Date: August 21, 2007. An exciting new voice in the fantasy genre, Brandon Sanderson first impressed readers with his standalone debut “Elantris” (2005) before turning it up a notch in last year’s “Mistborn: The Final Empire”, the start of a brand new trilogy. Picking up after the stunning events at the end of Mistborn, “The Well of Ascension” follows Vin, Elend, etc., as the empire faces a dangerous new age… Definitely one of my most anticipated books of the year!
Official Brandon Sanderson Website
Order “The Well of AscensionHERE

A Betrayal In Winter” by Daniel Abraham. Release Date: August 21, 2007. Another up-and-coming fantasy talent, Mr. Abraham’s bibliography features the debut novel “A Shadow In Summer” (2006) and numerous short fiction including the International Horror Writers Association Award-winning “Flat Diane”. “A Betrayal In Winter” is the second volume in The Long Price Quartet and is described as “an even more powerful sequel, a tragedy as darkly personal and violent as Shakespeare’s Macbeth…”
Official Daniel Abraham Website
Order “A Betrayal In WinterHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s Interview with Daniel Abraham

Seeing Redd” by Frank Beddor. Release Date: August 21, 2007. Who out there has never read Lewis Carroll’sAlice In Wonderland”, seen the Disney movie, or at least been exposed to one of the story’s countless variations? I’m betting very few of you. Well, The Looking Glass Wars—written by Hollywood producer Frank Beddor (There’s Something About Mary)—is a YA trilogy inspired by the original Carroll books and supposedly tells the true story of Alyss (Alice). “Seeing Redd” is the second book in the series…
Official The Looking Glass Wars Website
Order “Seeing ReddHERE (US) + HERE (UK)

The Book of Joby” by Mark J. Ferrari. Release Date: August 21, 2007. For seventeen years, Mark Ferrari has made his living doing freelance illustration for such clients as Lucasfilm, Lucas Arts Games, Industrial Light & Magic, Electronic Arts, Tor, Ace, New American Library, The Science Fiction Book Club, etc., before expanding his repertoire to include writing. “The Book of Joby” is Mr. Ferrari’s debut novel and is an epic fantasy reinventing the classic tale of humanity’s struggle between heaven & hell…
Official Mark J. Ferrari Website
Order “The Book of JobyHERE
Read Excerpts HERE

Jumper: Griffin’s Story” by Steven Gould. Release Date: August 21, 2007. Author of six SF books including “Jumper” and its sequel “Reflex” (2005), Steven Gould’s latest novel features the character Griffin who was created specifically for the upcoming film adaptation of “Jumper” starring Hayden Christensen (Star Wars Prequel Trilogy), Jamie Bell (King Kong) and Samuel L. Jackson with Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith) directing. “Jumper” the movie is due out in 2008...
Official Steven Gould Website
Order “Jumper: Griffin’s StoryHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE

Queen of Candesce: Book Two of the Virga” by Karl Schroeder. Release Date: August 21, 2007. Two-time winner of the Aurora Award, Mr. Schroeder is a prominent Canadian SF author of many novels & short fiction including the Hugo-nominated “Permanence” and “The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Science Fiction” co-written by Cory Doctorow. “Queen of Candesce” is the sequel to the John W. Campbell-nominated “Sun of Suns”, which is set in the Virga universe: a far-future blend of steam-punk & space opera…
Official Karl Schroeder Website
Order “Queen of CandesceHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE

Deeper” by Jeff Long. Release Date: August 21, 2007. In “The Descent” (1999), New York Times-bestselling novelist / historian / journalist / screenwriter Jeff Long (Year Zero, The Reckoning) took readers on an epic adventure into a primordial underworld where Hell does exist. A decade later, “Deeper” continues that tale as humanity “learns that a far greater menace lies in the unexplored heart of the planet. At once a love story, the ultimate thriller, and an extreme adventure, Deeper will leave you breathless…”
Official Jeff Long Website
Order “DeeperHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE

The Genesis Code” by Christopher Forrest. Release Date: August 21, 2007. Yet another novel that blurs the truth while featuring ancient mysteries, shadowy organizations, a trail of clues to be solved, and deadly conspiracies, Christopher Forrest’s debut “digs deeply into the questions of the real nature of the human DNA code driven by scientific fact and new interpretations of ancient writings, symbolism & mythology culled from thousands of years of human history.” Think “Michael Crichton meets Dan Brown…”
Official Christopher Forrest Website
Order “The Genesis CodeHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE
Read An Interview with Mr. Forrest HERE

The Elves of Cintra” by Terry Brooks. Release Date: August 28, 2007. NYTs bestselling author of more than twenty-five fantasy novels including the beloved Shannara series, Terry Brooks surprised readers in last year’s “Armageddon’s Children”, which was set in a post-apocalyptic Earth that bridged the gap between two worlds—the Word & the Void and Shannara. Continuing the Genesis of Shannara trilogy, “The Elves of Cintra” is “an unforgettable second volume full of mystery, magic & momentous events…”
Official Terry Brooks Website
Order “The Elves of CintraHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE
Click HERE To Watch an Interview with Terry Brooks

The Shotgun Rule” by Charlie Huston. Release Date: August 28, 2007. A critically-acclaimed, modern day master of the hard-boiled crime noir, Charlie Huston’s works include the Henry Thompson trilogy (Caught Stealing, Six Bad Things, A Dangerous Man), the Joe Pitt vampire series (Already Dead, No Dominion), and the excellent Marvel comic book “Moon Knight. “The Shotgun Rule” is the author’s first standalone thriller and “is a raw tale of four teenage friends who go looking for a little trouble—and find it…”
Official Charlie Huston Website
Order “The Shotgun RuleHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE

Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade” by Diana Gabaldon. Release Date: August 28, 2007. Last summer Ms. Gabaldon released the long-awaited sixth book (A Breath of Snow & Ashes) in the highly popular Outlander saga. This summer the NYTs bestselling author revisits the Outlander spinoff character Lord John in his newest adventure, which “weaves together a shattering family mystery, a love affair with potentially disastrous consequences, and a war that stretches from the Old World to the New…”
Official Diana Gabaldon Website
Order “Lord John and the Brotherhood of the BladeHERE
Read Excerpts HERE, HERE + HERE

Patriot Acts” by Greg Rucka. Release Date: August 28, 2007. While starting out as a novelist (Atticus Kodiak series), Greg Rucka may be better known as a comic book writer, having worked with DC (52, Wonder Woman), Marvel (Wolverine), Top Cow, Dark Horse and various creator-owned properties (Queen & Country, Whiteout). “Patriot Acts” is the sixth Kodiak thriller and follows the “bodyguard turned fugitive as he goes underground to protect the woman he loves and a country he may have to betray to defend…”
Official Greg Rucka Website
Order “Patriot ActsHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE

Winners of the "Soon I Will Be Invincible" Giveaway!

Congratulations to Cory Simmons (Florida), Troy Knutson (Tennessee), and Laura Richardson (Connecticut) who were randomly selected to win a SIGNED copy of Austin Grossman’s debut novel “Soon I Will Be Invincible” thanks to Pantheon Books! An email has been sent to the publisher :D

FYI: “Soon I Will Be Invincible” is out now! Buy a copy HERE, check out an Excerpt HERE, read my review of the book HERE, and my interview with the author Austin Grossman HERE.

Just a reminder that the giveaway for Joe Abercrombie’sThe Blade Itself” has ended and emails have been sent out to the 20 randomly selected winners. Not everyone has responded yet, so please check your inboxes ;). Also, the deadline for Neal Asher’s giveaway, “The Devil You Know” giveaway, Sean Williams’ giveaway and “The Bestiary” giveaway ends Tuesday, July 31, 2007 (11:59AM PST).

Finally, on August 1st, the next batch of giveaways will start, opening with a whole set of Steven Erikson’s Malazan books and Lian Hearn’s Tales of the Otori!!!

Thanks again to everyone and much love & respect!
Friday, July 27, 2007

"The Intruders" by Michael Marshall

Official Michael Marshall Website
Order “The IntrudersHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE


As much as I love reading fantasy, science fiction and horror, sometimes it’s nice to just sit down with a good mystery thriller and “The Intruders” by Michael Marshall (Smith) seemed to fit the bill perfectly. Already nominated for the Crime Writers Association’s Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award and picked up by the BBC to be adapted into a drama television series, “The Intruders” marks the American hardcover debut for the internationally, New York Times bestselling novelist/screenwriter whose bibliography consists of the Philip K. Dick Award-winning “Only Forward”, “Spares”, the Warner Bros. Pictures-optioned “One of Us”, the acclaimed “Straw Men” trilogy, and various short fiction including “Hell Hath Enlarged Herself” which is currently being developed as a feature film.

As far as crime novels go, “The Intruders” starts out competently enough, if a little conventional. A murder opens the book, characters are introduced—ex-cop Jack Whalen, lawyer Gary Fisher (Jack’s former high school classmate), Jack’s wife Amy, nine-year-old girl Madison, a killer called Shepherd—and mysteries are established including a homicide that Gary believes is much more than the open-and-shut case the police think it is; suspicious activity which points to Amy’s possible disappearance or her having an affair; and a little girl lost from her family who is somehow tied to the dangerous Shepherd. Following the setup, things start to pick up dramatically, threads become connected and by the end of the book readers will discover just how everything fits together. Of course, getting to that point will be a little tricky—and a lot of fun!—since the pathway is a convoluted one, full of red herrings, shocking twists and unexpected revelations, all expertly handled by an author who really knows what he’s doing. In effect, “The Intruders” is the kind of book that lets readers think they have everything figured out when in reality they don’t have a clue. Seriously, at some point in the book the author goes off on a whole other tangent that is mind-blowing. I don’t like ruining surprises though, so all I can say is be prepared.

The Intruders” is one of those rare books where I don’t really have anything negative to say. For instance, the prose is excellent—whether it’s witty dialogue, insightful commentary, descriptive details or amusing metaphors, Michael Marshall just has a way with words. Characterization is almost as impressive. It doesn’t matter if the author’s writing from a first-person point-of-view (Jack), the third-person, from a villain’s perspective, or that of a little girl, Marshall excels at any format and really captures the essence of each distinctive personality, particularly Jack's. Atmospherically, “The Intruders” does a great job of conveying whatever it is the characters are feeling—fear, paranoia, confusion, sadness, anger, desperation—and it’s hard not to get caught up in the different moods. Of the story, the plotting, pacing, etc., are handled confidently and in a manner that speaks of the author’s obvious experience. In fact, it’s pretty easy to see why so many of Michael Marshall’s works are picked up for movie/TV/comic book adaptation—they’re just expertly-written, highly accessible stories that translate well into other formats. Such is the case with “The Intruders”, which is basically a standalone novel that wraps up all of the major plotlines, but sets up events so the story can continue, explaining why BBC is able to create a whole television series based on just one book. While a TV show is great, I’m personally hoping we’ll get to see a sequel or two ;)

For my first Michael Marshall novel, I have to say that I really enjoyed myself. I was just hoping for a solid crime fiction that I could sit back and relax with. Instead, I got something so much more with “The Intruders”—an intelligent, skillfully composed, exhilarating thriller that exceeded any of my wildest expectations. In short, I’m now officially a Michael Marshall advocate and I cannot WAIT to go out there and pick up the rest of his books. Highly recommended to both fans of the author’s work and especially to readers who haven’t yet had the pleasure…
Thursday, July 26, 2007

Blogging Tips: EDITED

Over at The Neth Space, Ken was ‘tagged’ to participate in a “Blogging Tips Meme”. The objective: come up with a useful piece of advice for fellow bloggers and pass on the meme to ten other people. I’ve never taken part in one before because frankly, I just don’t like them :D. Alas, I was one of those ‘tagged’ by Ken, and since the topic at hand is a relevant one, especially with all of the blogs out there, I decided to add my own contribution. I was just going to list all of the different tips that other blogs were adding to the meme, but since Grace is already doing that HERE, I'd recommed that you check out that link if you want to participate in the meme and get some great advice :D

Blog Tips:

1. Look, read, and learn. ***
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http://www.neonscent.com
2. Be, EXCELLENT to each other. **
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http://www.bushmackel.com
3. Don’t let money change ya! **
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http://www.therandomforest.info
4. Always reply to your comments. **
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http://chattiekat.com
5. Link liberally — it keeps you and your friends afloat in the Sea of Technorati. **
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http://chipsquips.com
6. Don’t give up - persistence is fertile. ****
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http://www.velcro-city.co.uk
7. Give link credit where credit is due. ****
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http://www.sfsignal.com
8. Pictures say a thousand words and can usually add to any post. **
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http://scifichick.com
9. Participating in ‘memes’ is a destructive habit and should be avoided at all costs.
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http://nethspace.blogspot.com/
10. Your two most important tools – enthusiasm and dedication.
- http://thegravelpit.wordpress.com
11. Consistently update your blog. It doesn’t have to be every day, but 2-3 times a week is good :D
-http://fantasybookcritic.blogspot.com/
Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"Death's Head" by David Gunn

Official “Death’s Head” Myspace
Order “Death’s HeadHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE
Watch the “Death’s Head” Video HERE

Part science fiction, part military procedure, a sprinkle of cyberpunk and a whole lot of ass-kicking, David Gunn’sDeath’s Head” is an irresistibly fun debut novel that reminded me of a cross between Neal Asher’s Ian Cormac books, Richard K. Morgan’sBroken Angels” and Glen Cook’s Black Company novels with a hefty dose of videogame inspiration thrown into the mix—think Halo, Gears of War, StarCraft, Doom and Half-Life.

Taking place in a far distant future where Earth is but a myth, 85% of the known galaxy is governed by the utopian-like United Free, and the other 15% is fought over between the Enlightened and the Octovians, “Death’s Head” follows Sven Tveskoeg, an ex-légionnaire handpicked by the Emperor of the Octovians to become an elite Death’s Head soldier serving under General Indigo Jaxx. First though, the 28-year-old has to pass a series of tests to prove his loyalty & abilities. Once that is done, Lt. Tveskoeg is thrown into the middle of the war between the Octovians and the Enlightened, which will stretch our 'hero's' limits to the breaking point. There’s a few other things going on as well, some minor subplots, a drop of intrigue, but for the most part, “Death’s Head” is basically 368 pages of non-stop shooting, killing, sex, cussing and blowing up things. Not exactly complicated reading, but then again, it’s not meant to be.

As far as the characterization, “Death’s Head” is narrated in a first-person point-of-view by our ‘hero’ Sven Tveskoeg. Like the plot, Sven is not very complex. He’s full of cynicism, ruthless and a very proficient killer who likes his booze & women. Definitely not what you would call an ideal role model ;) On the other hand, Sven does seems to enjoy playing the “knight in shining armor” and is loyal to a fault, so perhaps there’s more to him than meets the eye. Without a doubt Lt. Tveskoeg is much better developed than the book’s other characters who are mainly one-dimensional stereotypes that are primarily there so Sven has someone to interact with. There were a couple of interesting personalities among the auxiliaries, but basically this area of the book is not one of the author’s strong points.

What I did like about Sven though was his straightforward approach and the way the narrative reflected his personality. So, instead of excessive exposition, brainy vocabulary (the author makes some funny references regarding this), thoughtful meditation or the examination of motives, the story is simple and to the point. The flipside with all of this is that there’s just not enough information given to the reader, which was probably the biggest problem I had with the book. Details on the war, on the different species/planets we meet up with, on some of the book’s scientific applications, the characters’ backgrounds, etc., are hard to come by. Heck, some relevant information wasn’t even given until the latter half of the novel, which could easily have been provided at the beginning. Of course there’s a simple explanation right? Well, based on the clues I managed to uncover—a three-book deal signed by the author, the cliffhanger ending to “Death’s Head”, the novel’s subtitle: Book One of The Aux—it's easy to see that “Death’s Head” is part of a series, and Mr. Gunn just wanted to save some revelations—Why did the Emperor specifically target Sven in the first place? What is that 1.8 percent of Sven’s genetic makeup?—for later volumes, which is fine by me. Still, some more data would have been nice.

Of the science fiction elements, “Death’s Head” utilizes a lot of familiar concepts—telepathy, artificial intelligences, talking guns with their own personalities, hive-mind collectives, cybernetic enhancements, planets with extreme biospheres, cloning, etc.,—and while the author doesn’t really do anything new with these concepts, that doesn’t make them any less entertaining. After all, the focus is not so much on coming up with original ideas and making them plausible, but more on placing Sven in difficult situations, arming him with exotic weaponry, and letting the fireworks fly!

Bottom line, David Gunn’sDeath’s Head” is a massively entertaining debut that kicks off The Aux series with a promising bang, and while the book may have its share of problems—storytelling, characterization, info-dumping—it’s easy to overlook such issues when "Death's Head" is so damn fun to read...

FYI: “Death’s Head” first came to my attention thanks to Neal Asher’s review HERE and was released in May via Del Rey (USA) and Bantam Press (UK). Go pick up a copy today!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007

San Diego Comic-Con, Halo, Comix Coalition, Curt Schilling and more!!!


Just another reminder that Warren Ellis’ debut novel “Crooked Little Vein” comes out today. Forget Harry Potter, THIS is the book that everyone should be talking about. In related news, in a rare States-side appearance, Warren Ellis will be signing copies of “Crooked Little Vein” at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. Anyone lucky enough to attend the show can catch the signing at the Mysterious Galaxy booth on Friday, July 27, 2007 from 2–4PM PST.

Speaking of the San Diego Comic-Con, does it get any better than this?!?! Four days and nights of pure fandom bliss covering everything from comics, movies and books to videogames, television & anime. Among the many notable guests attending, there’s JJ Abrams, Neil Gaiman, Ray Bradbury, Frank Miller, Stan Lee, Clive Barker, Richard K. Morgan, Laurell K. Hamilton, David Morrell, Cory Doctorow, George A. Romero, J. Michael Straczynski, Jacqueline Carey, David Anthony Durham, Harry Turtledove, Peter David, R.A. Salvatore, Orson Scott Card, Richard Matheson, Paul Dini, Mike Carey, Rosario Dawson, Carrie Vaughn, Mike Shinoda from Linkin Park, Kevin Smith, Christopher Golden, Austin Grossman, Tad Williams, Joss Whedon, Edward Norton, Nicholas Cage and so many others it just makes my head hurt to think about it!

In case anyone is interested I have read the Harry Potter books, and I did pick up a copy of "the Deathly Hallows"when it was released on Saturday—well, actually my wife did but that's not the point :) In short, I’ve enjoyed the series, some books more than others—most notably “Goblet of Fire” and “the Half-Blood Prince”—and I will read “Deathly Hallows” at some point, but don’t expect a review on the book. There’s more than enough coverage out there in my opinion, but I may share a few thoughts on the novel whenever I do finish it ;)

As far as news, just some tidbits for you, mainly of the comic book variety which seems to be the prevailing theme today. First off, The Luna Brothers (Spider-Woman), a personal favorite of mine known for their successful series “Girls” and “Ultra”, will be releasing their new project this October through Image Comics. It’s called “The Sword” and is billed as a “mix of Kill Bill, Highlander and Blade of the Immortal”. You can read Newsarama’s interview with the brothers HERE. “The Sword” goes on sale October 17, 2007.

On September 25, 2007, Bungie’s Halo 3 will be released worldwide for Xbox 360 owners and is expected to “shatter day-one entertainment sales records”. In support of the pending release, Marvel Comics in conjunction with Bungie will be publishing the 4-issue series “Halo: Uprising”, which bridges the gap between the end of Halo 2 and the beginning of Halo 3. Bringing the series to life is the Eisner Award-winning team of writer Brian Michael Bendis (Ultimate Spider-Man, Daredevil, Alias, Powers) and artist Alex Maleev (Daredevil, Spider-Woman, Todd McFarlane’s Sam & Twitch). I’ve never been a big fan of the videogames, but I’m looking forward to this series. Issue one hits stands on August 15, 2007. For more information, check out interviews with Brian Michael Bendis at IGN and Newsarama.

Ironically, Marvel’s rival company DC Comics (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman) will be publishing their own series based on a popular videogame franchise— Blizzard Entertainment’sWorld of Warcraft”, the world’s most subscribed to multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). The ongoing monthly series will be written by Walter Simonson (Thor, Fantastic Four) and feature art by Ludo Lullabi and inker Sandra Hope. The first six issues of the comic series will each feature two covers, one by superstar comic book artist Jim Lee (X-Men, Batman, WildC.A.T.s) and a second by Blizzard Entertainment Senior Art Director Samwise Didier, with preview art debuting at the San Diego Comic-Con (July 26–29). The World of Warcraft comic book will be published through DC’s WildStorm imprint and debut this fall. Click HERE for the full press release and be sure to check out that wonderful Jim Lee artwork!

In a novel move, Virgin Comics ((John Woo’s7 Brothers”, Guy Ritchie’sGame Keeper”, Nicholas & Weston Cage’sVoodoo Child”) and Myspace have joined forces to launch Coalition Comix, “a new online comic book platform, allowing thousands of participants to work with leading comic book creators in the development and creation of new characters and stories. Each digital issue will have a real time creation period of two weeks, with sketches, artwork and scripts continuously uploaded for interactivity with the community. The first comic planned will be guided by comic book writer/novelist Mike Carey (Ultimate Fantastic Four, X-Men, Hellblazer, The Devil You Know).” For more information on Coalition Comix, check out the full press release HERE. Personally, I think this is a fabulous idea and will be an avid supporter.

Here’s an interesting bit of news. Curt Schilling, current Major League Baseball pitcher for the Boston Red Sox and two-time World Series champion, has his own videogame development & publishing company called 38 Studios (formerly Green Monster Games) which will participate at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con (July 26–29). One of the projects being worked on is a massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) featuring the artistic vision of Todd McFarlane (Spawn, The Amazing Spider-Man), R.A. Salvatore’s (Forgotten Realms, Star Wars) storytelling and an experienced team of gaming individuals including CEO/President Brett Close (Midway, EALA, VR1/Jaleco), Mary Kirchoff (Hasbro, Wizards of the Coast), Scott Cuthbertson (Disney, Warner Bros., Vivendi/Universal, Nintendo), Chaz Sutherland (Shiny, EALA), etc. For more information on 38 Studios and the untitled MMOG, keep an eye out for SDCC ’07 and check out the press release HERE.

PS Publishing (Stephen King’sThe Colorado Kid”, Steven Erikson, Joe Hill, China Miéville, Tim Lebbon, etc.) one of the premier specialist publishers in the fields of SF, Fantasy and Horror fiction, recently launched their brand new news blog, the PS Publishing News Room, which will be kept up-to-date with all the very latest PS Publishing news: short story acceptances, novel and novella purchases, sneak-peak cover art previews, links to reviews of PS titles elsewhere on the web, those all-important publication announcements, and much more. If you would like to receive PS Publishing’s general customer e-bulletins, please visit the sign-up page HERE. On a related note, I will be soon reviewing the three Bauchelain & Korbal Broach novellas from Steven Erikson as well as Conrad Williams’The Scalding Rooms” thanks to PS Publishing.

According to Variety, it looks like New Line Cinema has finally chosen a director & writer for the movie adaptation of Y: The Last Man, which was created by writer Brian K. Vaughan (Ex Machina, Runaways, Lost) and penciler Pia Guerra. Published through DC’s imprint Vertigo (The Sandman, Fables, Transmetropolitan), the series is about a plague that wipes out all male humans save one and will be directed by D.J. Caruso (Taking Lives, Two for the Money) and adapted by Carl Ellsworth (Red Eye), who previously worked together on the film Disturbia.

Debuted at the NYC Comic Con in February 2007, Arcana Studio’s comic book “GearHead”—written by Dennis Hopeless and drawn by penciler K.W. Mellon & inker Ed Herrera—has been picked up for movie adaptation by Darius Films. The 4-issue series follows Shelby Cooper and her mission to find her brother and discover her destiny… And finally, another DC property has been picked up by Warner Bros. Pictures, the Western-flavored Jonah Hex with the team behind the action flick Crank adapting.
Monday, July 23, 2007

"Mary Modern" by Camille DeAngelis

Read the Prologue HERE

For a while now, Camille DeAngelis’Mary Modern” has been on my radar and I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into the copy that was so graciously provided by Shaye Areheart Books who released the novel on July 10, 2007. While “Mary Modern” is an impressively ambitious first offering, I couldn’t help but be reminded of another critically-acclaimed debut—Rebecca Stott’sGhostwalk”—that I had mixed feelings about. In plainer terms, I thought “Mary Modern” was both an accomplished debut and a disappointment.

Story-wise, “Mary Modern’s” premise played a large part in what attracted me to the book in the first place. Lucy Morrigan and her boyfriend Gray are incapable of having a child through conventional methods, so Lucy—who happens to be a scientist researching genetics/cloning—decides to try a much more controversial approach. The result is Mary, a 22-year old clone of Lucy’s grandmother who retains the memories of her life up to that point in September 1929 when she inadvertently left a sample of the DNA that made her replication possible. What follows is a series of intriguing dilemmas that include Mary’s assimilation into society in the year 2008/2009; how Mary is able to cope with the loss of all of her immediate family, including a husband that she was newly wedded to and children she never knew; and the guilt Lucy feels over the whole situation and the steps she’ll take to try and make things right…

Obviously, Mary Shelley’sFrankenstein” was a major influence in “Mary Modern”. Not only do the two books explore such similar themes as the ethics of man playing God and the dangers of technological advancements, but the writing has a very gothic romanticist flavor and, like Ms. Shelley in “Frankenstein”, the scientific aspects in “Mary Modern” are skimmed over by the author to focus more on the philosophical/moral viewpoints. However, “Mary Modern" is more than just a modernized retelling of a literary classic.

According to her FAQ, Camille DeAngelis was also influenced by her family’s history, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Kate O’Brien, H.P. Lovecraft, Irish mythology, etc., and she tries to weave a love story, religion and politics into “Mary Modern”. Unfortunately, I didn’t find these subplots to be nearly as effective. Take the romance for instance. The relationship between Lucy & Gray is icy at best, and while I thought Mary & Teddy’s love for one another was well-developed, things get a little bit weird when Gray becomes a third wheel. As far as the religious slant, I thought there was a lot of potential to examine how someone raised under strict Christian beliefs would react to our more liberal society, but the author barely scratches the surface in this area, and instead we get members of the Seventh Order of Saint Agatha—a “male purity movement for the twenty-first century” that practices celibacy—and the fanatical Reverend Charles Fuller. Finally, Ms. DeAngelis created a fictional book called “Everyday Life in the Twenty-First Century: A Handbook for the Chronologically Displaced”, which is excerpted throughout “Mary Modern”. While somewhat interesting—supposedly the author, P.F.X. Godfry, traveled to the future (2008) where he got all of the information on 21st century politics, socioeconomics, etc., for his book which was published in 1958—this device seemed more like an outlet for the author’s political views, rather than having any major relevance on the story. In short, “Mary Modern” works best when it focuses on the main topic at hand—the ethics of cloning, being displaced out of time, Mary’s love for Teddy—and falters a bit when the book tries to branch out onto other tangents.

Of the writing, this was probably what most impressed me about “Mary Modern”. For a debut novel, Camille DeAngelis displayed a strong command of the material and the prose was surprisingly accomplished, led by top-notch descriptive abilities. I did find the pacing to be a bit on the lethargic side though, and the characters—whether it was Mary, Lucy, Gray, Megan (Lucy’s friend & boss), the Reverend or any of the five boarders—seemed detached, almost soulless. So, while the dialogue may have been solid and the personalities defined, it was hard to really understand or care about any of the characters’ intentions. Aside from this, I didn’t really have any other issues. After all, it’s fairly obvious that Ms. DeAngelis is a pretty gifted writer, and while she needs to work on some areas, I’m sure she’ll continue to get better as a novelist.

Overall, “Mary Modern” was a difficult novel for me to review. As I said before, I was really impressed by the writing and I thought Ms. DeAngelis’ take on cloning was quite fascinating & provocative. On the other hand, the book wasn’t really my cup of tea and I just didn’t enjoy reading “Mary Modern” all that much. For all of the sci-fi, fantasy & horror elements in the book, “Mary Modern” doesn’t really fit in any of those categories. So don’t expect very many thrills, chills or senses of wonderment if you decide to tackle “Mary Modern”. Instead, Ms. DeAngelis’ debut is a much more introspective, scholarly reading experience. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against that type of literature and in fact, I think a lot of readers will find “Mary Modern” to be quite thought-provoking. All I’m trying to say is that “Mary Modern” is not going to appeal to everyone and that includes me. That doesn’t mean I can’t recognize a promising new talent when I see one though, and Camille DeAngelis definitely falls under that grouping, so it’s going to be interesting to see what the author comes up with next…
Saturday, July 21, 2007

Winner of the “Crooked Little Vein” Giveaway!

Congratulations to Kenneth Love (Missouri) who was randomly selected to win a copy of Warren Ellis’ debut novel “Crooked Little Vein” thanks to HarperCollins Publishers! To everyone else, thanks for entering and best of luck next time :D

FYI: “Crooked Little Vein” comes out Tuesday, July 24, 2007, so I highly urge you to pick up a copy. You can read an excerpt HERE, order the novel HERE and read my review of “Crooked Little VeinHERE.

Also, don’t forget that the giveaway for Austin Grossman’sSoon I Will Be Invincible” (Sign Up Here) ends Wednesday, July 25, 2007 (11:59AM PST) and that the deadline for Joe Abercrombie’sThe Blade Itself” (Sign Up Here) is Friday, July 27, 2007 (11:59AM PST).

Thanks again to everyone and much love & respect!
Friday, July 20, 2007

"Set the Seas On Fire" by Chris Roberson

Read An Excerpt HERE

Author of many short stories & novels, the three-time World Fantasy Award-nominated and two-time John W. Campbell Award-nominated Chris Roberson is also a co-founder of the writers’ collective Clockwork Storybook and owner/operator of the indie publisher MonkeyBrain Books (Michael Moorcock, Alan Moore, Jeff VanderMeer). “Set the Seas On Fire” is part of the Bonaventure-Carmody universe which includes the books “Cybermancy Incorporated” (2001-Clockwork), “Here, There & Everywhere” (2005-Pyr), “Paragea: A Planetary Romance” (2006-Pyr) & the forthcoming “The End of the Century” (2008-Pyr), and was originally released in 2001 via Clockwork Storybook. The new edition of “Set the Seas On Fire” is a “considerably expanded and revised version” of the original novel and is being released courtesy of Solaris Books.

Set in the late 1700s/early 1800s, during the time of Napoleon Bonaparte, the French Revolution / Napoleonic Wars, and King George III, Chris Roberson’sSet the Seas On Fire” is an engaging blend of historical & speculative fiction, with a dash of coming-of-age tale thrown in for good measure. So, following in the footsteps of protagonist Hieronymus Bonaventure – what a great name! –, readers can look forward to some good old seafaring adventuring including an informative & realistic glimpse at how a British Naval ship is run; explore an undiscovered island where cultures will clash between the natives & the sailors, with love inevitably blossoming – think Christopher Columbus or Pocahontas; journey back to Hieronymus’ childhood to learn about the art of swordplay and how our hero’s early life lessons relate to Bonaventure’s current dilemmas; and prepare yourself for events both fantastical & terrifying, with the majority of the good stuff reserved for the end of the book.

Honestly, I’m not that big on period pieces and in particular, stories of the nautical variety, so I wasn’t expecting to enjoy “Set the Seas On Fire” that much even with the promise of mystical happenings. Surprisingly, I had a really good time reading the book and I think a lot of it had to do with the author Chris Roberson. Since I’ve never read anything by Mr. Roberson, I didn’t know what to expect, but the writing turned out to be quite accomplished, and even though the novel deals with a lot of familiar story elements, the skillful prose, scholastic knowledge of the historical material, and a ripe imagination, really elevated the book to another level. Of course, having a main character like Hieronymus Bonaventure really helps too – he’s easy to relate to, somewhat flawed as every person is in real life, and well developed by the author. Thankfully, Hieronymus also shows up in “Paragea: A Planetary Romance”, which I wouldn’t mind reading, and I hope to see further adventures with Hieronymus Bonaventure.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, this edition of “Set the Seas On Fire” is a revised & expanded version of the original. Because I haven’t read the original, I can only speculate on what might have been changed or added on, but according to the author’s notes, the new version is “some twenty-five percent longer, but contains the complete texts of the earlier version”. For me, about the only issues I had with the book was that a couple of flashbacks seemed a bit out of place, but other than that, the story seemed to flow along pretty nicely, the pacing was up-tempo, and everything was resolved satisfactorily at the end. Personally I think it would be interesting to compare the different versions with one another, but that is probably a project for another day.

In short, Chris Roberson’sSet the Seas On Fire” is an impressively written and confidently realized novel that may appeal more to the historical fiction crowd, but embraces enough of the unknown to make it worthwhile for speculative readers as well... Up next for the author, “The Dragon’s Nine Sons(Solaris Books), a promising sci-fi set for a 2008 release.

FYI: For a second opinion Ken over at The Neth Space recently posted his thoughts on “Set the Seas On Fire”. You can check out that review HERE.

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