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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Spotlight on "A World of Ice and Fire" App and on the "Edge of Infinity" SF Anthology (with comments by Liviu Suciu)



"A WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE is the first official app guide to George R. R. Martin’s bestselling cycle. Whether you’re reading the books or watching the television series, you’ll want this definitive companion with profiles of 540+ characters, 380+ places, and major houses, as well as interactive world maps.

The app comes with plenty of features you won’t find anywhere else:

- Anti-spoiler functionality that you can customize based on where you are in the book cycle to prevent you from seeing spoilers

- Completely new text written specially for this app by Elio M. GarcĂ­a, Jr. and Linda Antonsson of Westeros.org – the premier fan site for the A Song of Ice and Fire cycle

A WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE includes hundreds of pages of information, making it the definitive guide to the series:

- 540+ character profiles with detailed historical bios, family and house information, book appearances, and corresponding actor roles

- 380+ place profiles with descriptions for castles, towns, regions, geographical features and more 

- Fully interactive versions of all the official maps from the A Song of Ice and Fire Cycle

- Gorgeous artwork depicting key characters and important places from within the world"

While strictly not a book, "A World of Ice and Fire" App is such a wonderful resource (with two caveats I will mention later) at a very reasonable $4.99 price for covering all five novels to date that I have to mention it here.

I heard of this app a few days ago on GRRM's Not a Blog site and then I looked for details on the Westeros site and I was really excited when I saw that the App was available for the Nook platform as I have recently bought a NOOK HD+ (the 8.9") and transferred my trusty NOOK Color fully to my son with whom I have been sharing it for almost a year now.

As it happens the app was not available for the HD, only for the older tablet then and I was a little disappointed, but tonight in a "let's try again" check, I discovered it finally became available for the HD too and I bought it on the spot and have really been enjoying it since, as it offers a great guide to the series with tons of details, illustrations which look just awesome on the screen, several interactive maps of which I screenshot the one below to show how much detail you will get as all those daggers you see are interactive places you can explore with a click. 

There is a spoiler setting if you have not read some of the books, while of the detailed biographies the one of Jon Snow stands out at least for now on a fast exploration of the app, for a detail that seems to correlate with the ending of Dance with Dragons. Or not of course...

Now for the caveats - the obvious one is availability, both as platform goes and geographical and for this I suggest to follow the Westeros site for updates. For now I think that only Apple and B&N offer it for their platforms and only in a some countries, but I hope it will be offered as widely as possible as it is a great resource.

The second one is the use of older illustrations for the main characters rather than of the TV actors - though the names of the actors are inserted in the biography - which I guess is due to copyright and different companies issues, but as long before HBO show I really enjoyed the The Art of George Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire (vol 1), I do not mind this though new fans that came to the series through the TV show may.




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"One giant leap for mankind". Those were Neil Armstrong’s immortal words when he became the first human being to step onto another world. All at once, the horizon expanded; the human race was no longer Earthbound. Our destiny would now be to reach out to eternity. 

Brought to you by the creators of Engineering Infinity, Edge of Infinity is an exhilarating new SF anthology that looks at the next giant leap for humankind: the leap from our home world out into the Solar System. 

From the eerie transformations in Pat Cadigan’s “The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi” to the frontier spirit of Sandra McDonald and Stephen D. Covey’s “The Road to NPS,” and from the grandiose vision of Alastair Reynolds’ “Vainglory” to the workaday familiarity of Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s “Safety Tests,” the thirteen stories in this anthology span the whole of the human condition in their race to colonise Earth’s nearest neighbours. Featuring stories by Hannu Rajaniemi, Alastair Reynolds, James S. A. Corey, John Barnes, Stephen Baxter, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Elizabeth Bear, Pat Cadigan, Gwyneth Jones, Paul McAuley, Sandra McDonald, Stephen D. Covey, An Owomoyela, and Bruce Sterling, Edge of Infinity is hard SF adventure at its best and most exhilarating.


As I did not have enough books to read, I also bought tonight the new "solar system" anthology Edge of Infinity edited by Jonathan Strahan which is advertised as a companion piece to the earlier hard sf anthology Engineering Infinity, but which appeals to me more due to the presence of Paul McAuley, Stephen Baxter and Alastair Reynolds and the thematic. 

I actually have a copy of Engineering Infinity too and I have read some stories - there is an excellent one by JC Wright there - but not in an organized fashion, however I plan to read this one end to end and hopefully review it here in a while too.

I include the table of contents:

Introduction by Jonathan Strahan
“The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi” by Pat Cadigan
“The Deeps of the Sky” by Elizabeth Bear
“Drive” by James S.A. Corey
“The Road to NPS” by Sandra McDonald and Stephen D. Covey
“Swift as a Dream and Fleeting as a Sigh” by John Barnes
“Macy Minnot’s Last Christmas on Dione, Ring Racing, Fiddler’s Green, the Potter’s Garden” by Paul McAuley
“Safety Tests” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“Bricks, Sticks, Straw” by Gwyneth Jones
“Tyche and the Ants” by Hannu Rajaniemi
“Obelisk” by Stephen Baxter
“Vainglory” by Alastair Reynolds
“Water Rights” by An Owomoyela
“The Peak of Eternal Light” by Bruce Sterling

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