Apr 27, 2011

A Dance With Dragons is done!... I think...

At least that's what everyone seems to be making of this post at George Martin's Not A Blog. And oh man, it's been so long it doesn't even register yet... But... wow...

Apr 26, 2011

Hugo Award nominees 2011

The nominees are up, and the full list can be viewed HERE. Meanwhile, here are the more notable categories:

Best Novel

Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Ballantine Spectra)
Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
The Dervish House by Ian McDonald (Gollancz; Pyr)
Feed by Mira Grant (Orbit)
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)

Best Novella

“The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window” by Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Magazine, Summer 2010) - Read Online
The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang (Subterranean) - Read Online
“The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon by Elizabeth Hand (Stories: All New Tales, William Morrow)
“The Sultan of the Clouds” by Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov’s, September 2010) - Read Online (PDF)
“Troika” by Alastair Reynolds (Godlike Machines, Science Fiction Book Club)

Best Novelette

“Eight Miles” by Sean McMullen (Analog, September 2010) - Read Online
“The Emperor of Mars” by Allen M. Steele (Asimov’s, June 2010)
“The Jaguar House, in Shadow” by Aliette de Bodard (Asimov’s, July 2010) - Read Online
“Plus or Minus” by James Patrick Kelly (Asimov’s, December 2010) - Read Online
“That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” by Eric James Stone (Analog, September 2010) - Read Online

Best Short Story

“Amaryllis” by Carrie Vaughn (Lightspeed, June 2010) - Read Online
“For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s, September 2010) - Read Online
“Ponies” by Kij Johnson (Tor.com, November 17, 2010) - Read Online
“The Things” by Peter Watts (Clarkesworld, January 2010) - - Read Online

Best Graphic Story

Fables: Witches, written by Bill Willingham; illustrated by Mark Buckingham (Vertigo)
Girl Genius, Volume 10: Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse, written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment) - Read Online
Grandville Mon Amour, by Bryan Talbot (Dark Horse)
Schlock Mercenary: Massively Parallel, written and illustrated by Howard Tayler; colors by Howard Tayler and Travis Walton (Hypernode) - Read Online
The Unwritten, Volume 2: Inside Man, written by Mike Carey; illustrated by Peter Gross (Vertigo)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, screenplay by Steve Kloves; directed by David Yates (Warner)
How to Train Your Dragon, screenplay by William Davies, Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders; directed by Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders (DreamWorks)
Inception, written and directed by Christopher Nolan (Warner)
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, screenplay by Michael Bacall & Edgar Wright; directed by Edgar Wright (Universal)
Toy Story 3, screenplay by Michael Arndt; story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton & Lee Unkrich; directed by Lee Unkrich (Pixar/Disney)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

Doctor Who: “A Christmas Carol,” written by Steven Moffat; directed by Toby Haynes (BBC Wales)
Doctor Who: “The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang,” written by Steven Moffat; directed by Toby Haynes (BBC Wales)
Doctor Who: “Vincent and the Doctor,” written by Richard Curtis; directed by Jonny Campbell (BBC Wales)
Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury, written by Rachel Bloom; directed by Paul Briganti - Watch Online
The Lost Thing, written by Shaun Tan; directed by Andrew Ruhemann and Shaun Tan (Passion Pictures)

Best Editor, Short Form

John Joseph Adams
Stanley Schmidt
Jonathan Strahan
Gordon Van Gelder
Sheila Williams


Personally, I am really disappointed by the Best Novel nominees, as it seems designed to promote Ian McDonald and his The Dervish House. I won't get tired of repeating how underwhelmed I was by that book (Review), but since that makes five of us, if even that many, I should just learn to live with it. Anyway, I haven't really read any of the other offers, but I have heard a good deal of pros and cons for all of them, so who knows how it will turn out. Still, not terribly exciting this year.

Apr 25, 2011

Full cover of Stephen King's 11/22/63

Stephen King's next. I haven't been following his work for a while, but this particular novel seems really interesting, and I might give it a shot. Here's the synopsis:

On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back? Stephen King's heart-stoppingly dramatic new novel is about a man who travels back in time to prevent the JFK assassination - a thousand page tour de force.

Following his massively successful novel Under the Dome, King sweeps readers back in time to another moment - a real life moment - when everything went wrong: the JFK assassination. And he introduces readers to a character who has the power to change the course of history.

Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students - a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning's father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk.

Not much later, Jake's friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane - and insanely possible - mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake's new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake's life - a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.

A tribute to a simpler era and a devastating exercise in escalating suspense, 11/22/63 is Stephen King at his epic best.

Game of Thrones, Episode 2 - The Kingsroad

Episode 2 is out, and the show already takes a slightly different turn compared to the book, especially where the character of Cersei Lannister is involved. She is given a lot more vulnerability and softness than the first book shows, in a scene that is perhaps the best in the episode. Daenerys also seems to be rather different. Her simple love for the Khal and her newfound sense of freedom from the novel have been replaced with a slightly demented stoner persona that looks very interesting for the time being.

I am sensing how I'll need to rewatch every episode again and again until I stop subconsciously comparing every scene with the book. But the show keeps being worth it, and I can't wait to see how it develops!

Apr 24, 2011

Full cover of Jon Sprunk's Shadow's Lure

Pyr has released the full cover of Jon Sprunk's Shadow's Lure, sequel to his 2010 debut Shadow's Son (Review), which I found underwhelming, but still a fun enough read to make me want to know what happens next. As for the cover itself, it is not nearly as inspiring as the first book, but still - like almost everything Pyr publishes - very easy on the eyes. Here's the novel's synopsis:

The unforgiving Northlands . . .

In Othir, he was at the top of the food chain—an assassin beyond compare, a dark shadow in the night. But Caim left that life behind when he helped an empress claim her throne. And now his past has come calling again.

Searching for the truth behind the murder and disappearance of his parents, Caim discovers a land in thrall to the Shadow. Haunted by temptations from the Other Side, he becomes mired in a war he does not want to fight.

But there are some things a son of the Shadow cannot ignore, and some fights from which he can’t run. In this battle, all of Caim’s strength and skill won’t be enough. For none can resist the Shadow’s Lure.

Shadow's Lure is out in June.

Apr 22, 2011

Game of Thrones, Episode 2 previews

I am not sure I like the second scene. I don't recall it happening in the book, and it seems a bit too chaotic, but we'll see when the episode comes.

Apr 19, 2011

Game of Thrones renewed for a second season

As expected, here is the announcement for Season 2 of Game of Thrones:


LOS ANGELES, April 19, 2011 – Following strong critical and viewer response to the series’ April 17 debut, HBO has renewed GAME OF THRONES for a second season, it was announced today by Michael Lombardo, president, HBO Programming.

“We are delighted by the way David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have brought George R.R. Martin’s amazing book series to the screen, and thrilled by the support of the media and our viewers,” said Lombardo. “This is the continuation of an exciting creative partnership.”

The gross audience for the premiere night of GAME OF THRONES on the main HBO channel was 4.2 million viewers.

Source: George R. R. Martin's Not A Blog.

Apr 18, 2011

Game of Thrones, Episode 1 - Winter Is Coming

The long wait is over, and the first episode of Game of Thrones is out. So the million dollar question - was it worth the wait? Is the show everything it promised to be? And the answer is almost entirely YES! The first scene with the White Walkers is pure joy to watch in HD, the ice-cracking sound of their movements chilling to the bone (pun intended). The opening theme is everything I would expect from the people who did the Rome opening credits. The plot develops quickly, and with so much material to cover in just ten episodes, that's definitely a good thing. The acting is top notch, the music is forgettable (and I can definitely do with less Celtic motives in the soundtrack, thank you very much), but does the job, and the setting and special effects are just fantastic!

The episode ends with Bran's scene with Jamie Lannister, and left me itching for more. All in all, Game of Thrones promises to be just as strong as the fans were hoping, while perfectly capable of attracting the non-fantasy readers at the same time. It all depends on how well the show develops, but it definitely has the potential.


Apr 17, 2011

George Martin's answer to NYT's "review"

George Martin has posted a response to New York Times' ridiculous review (see previous post) on his blog. I like that he actually posted something, rare as this kind of attitude should be. Sometimes utter ignorant crap needs to be addressed. Anyway, here's the link and make sure you read the whole thing. It's well worth it.

Apr 16, 2011

A sad Game of Thrones review

The New York Times has failed miserably in getting the point of HBO's Game of Thrones. And no, I'm not just saying that because I'm blindly defending a show I haven't even seen. Just look at the review on their website.

Here is some select beauty from that abortion:

The true perversion, though, is the sense you get that all of this illicitness has been tossed in as a little something for the ladies, out of a justifiable fear, perhaps, that no woman alive would watch otherwise. While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first. “Game of Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half.

When the network ventures away from its instincts for real-world sociology, as it has with the vampire saga “True Blood,” things start to feel cheap, and we feel as though we have been placed in the hands of cheaters. “Game of Thrones” serves up a lot of confusion in the name of no larger or really relevant idea beyond sketchily fleshed-out notions that war is ugly, families are insidious and power is hot. If you are not averse to the Dungeons & Dragons aesthetic, the series might be worth the effort. If you are nearly anyone else, you will hunger for HBO to get back to the business of languages for which we already have a dictionary.

Talk about... no, I don't even know what is happening in this review so I don't know what we're talking about...

Apr 14, 2011

Wicked Pretty Things Not So Pretty Or Wicked After All

Snatched from Pat's Fantasy Hotlist:


from Jim C. Hines website:

Last night, my six-year-old and I had a chat. I don’t remember how it came up, but he was talking about people getting married, and how boys have to marry girls. I pointed out that this wasn’t necessarily so, that in some states and many countries, boys could marry boys and girls could marry girls.

Being six, he laughed. “That’s silly. How would they have babies?”

It’s not the first time we’ve had a talk like this. I understand where his confusion comes from. Pretty much every cartoon on TV has male/female relationships only. Every movie he watches, every book he brings home from school… Any nonheterosexual relationship is simply erased.

Last month, Jessica Verday withdrew her story from the Wicked Pretty Things anthology after receiving a note from the editor which stated that her story “would have to be published as a male/female story because a male/male story would not be acceptable to the publishers.”

Wicked Pretty Things is an anthology of dark fairy romance … but apparently editor Trisha Telep assumed that meant straight romance only, going with the default erasure of any “nontraditional” relationships.

Verday later posted a response in which Telep apologized for causing offense, and said in part, “I sincerely regret the sequence of events which has led to Jessica Verday’s story ‘Flesh Which Is Not Flesh’ being excluded from the forthcoming anthology Wicked Pretty Things. This has been the result of a misunderstanding on my part which is entirely regrettable … I fully support LGBTQ issues.”

I understand and believe that Telep meant no harm. That it was a mistake, not intended to be hurtful. But it was hurtful.

Other authors such as Seanan McGuire, Lisa Mantchev, Lesley Livingston, and Karen Mahoney have pulled their stories from the anthology. Melissa Marr asked that her name not be used to promote the project (she had provided a cover blurb Correction: they were apparently describing the anthology as including stories with a “Melissa Marr-ish slant.”) Ann Aguirre pulled her story from another of Telep’s projects.

Running Press responded in an article titled The Misinformation Age, saying, “Third-party error and miscommunication went viral and led to the spread of untrue accusations of intolerance and censorship.”

Where exactly are these untrue accusations? I’m not aware of any lies in Verday’s post, or in the posts by the other authors involved. Is intolerance an inappropriate word to describe an editor who says “No gay love allowed,” even if it was a misunderstanding?

More importantly, why was this an issue to begin with? The publisher may have disavowed responsibility for Telep’s actions, but why did Telep immediately assume that a story in which two male characters were in love would be unacceptable?

Pulling a story from an anthology is scary. You risk alienating editor and publisher both, not to mention turning down a paycheck. You worry about appearing unprofessional. And you wonder if you’ll find another home for the story you worked so hard on…

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I’d like to extend an offer to any author who pulled his or her story from one of Telep’s projects as a result of this incident.

1- If you have not already found a home for your withdrawn story, I would be happy to read it.
2- If I like the story (and knowing most of the authors involved, I suspect I will), I’ll offer $100 up front to publish it here on my blog.
3- Each story will include a donations link. Once the initial $100 has been covered, further donations will be split 50/50. Half will be paid to the author, and the other half will be donated to a LGBTQ-friendly cause.
4- If I publish multiple stories, I will look into putting together an e-book collection of those stories, with profits again being split between the authors and a LGBTQ-friendly cause.

I get about 2000 unique readers each day, which is comparable to (or in some cases better than) the sales for a number of the anthologies out there. That said, I’ll certainly understand if the authors choose to look elsewhere. It sounds like Verday has already found another home for her story, which is great. My offer is not time-limited.

I am not trying to poach authors from Running Press. However, I do want to support and thank those authors who’ve chosen to publicly state that the erasure of non-straight characters and relationships is not okay. One way I can do that is by offering a home for those stories.


Let's do, as a race, maybe grow up a little and move the frak on from homophobia eh? It's getting awfully stale as a hate topic...

UK cover for Terry Pratchett's Snuff

UK cover for the upcoming next Discworld novel, due October 13. I used to be a humongous fan of Terry Pratchett's work, devouring every new book he wrote with religious zealotry. Then, around the time of Monstrous Regiment, I just... wasn't anymore. I still have nothing but fuzzy feelings towards the guy, but I am just not terribly interested in his novels, and my every attempt to read some of his newer ones has been met with a shameful failure. Still, one can hope, and the cover is pretty damn awesome!

Apr 11, 2011

Apr 8, 2011

UK cover for Brandon Sanderson's The Alloy of Law

In the style of all the other UK editions, as expected. It's really good looking, but I still prefer the more direct "fantasy art" US covers.

Apr 5, 2011

The Vampire Diaries - Season 1

Remember your favorite indie band? The one you loved so much, but nobody else had heard of? Remember how you used to persuade people to give it a shot, and how victorious you felt after every new convert? And do you remember how your world crumbled when the group got into a blockbuster soundtrack, and suddenly everybody knew about it? And how people almost laugh at you for being a sheep now when you say you are a fan?

That's what Twilight did to my infatuation with vampires. It is now degrading and embarrassing to like them, but I will have you know I was deeply in love with the children of the night long before they started sparkling in the sun. With that in mind, I knew it was only a matter of time before I started watching The Vampire Diaries, even though it looked like a soapier version of Twilight.

In truth, it turns out the show is the better Twilight. Based on J.L. Smith's successful young adult series of the same name, it is Twilight with a main character that does not cause the reader/viewer aneurysm, with vampire love interest who has backbone, and with drama and intrigue that actually make sense.

The story is set in the small town of Mystic Falls (of course), where a hundred and fifty years ago a great battle of the Civil war took place. Nowadays it is a thriving little community supported by the rich Founding Families. Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), the freshly orphaned daughter of one of those, is just beginning to reassemble her life after her parents' tragic death in a car accident that she has miraculously survived. One day a new student arrives at the school - the dashing and mysterious Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley). Elena instantly falls for him, and it seems he is falling for her as well. But Stefan has a dark secret - he is a vampire, turned a century and a half earlier in this same town. And not long after, another vampire appears. While Stefan feeds only on animal blood and wishes to build a normal life in Mystic Falls, his older brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder) is a psychotic killer who thrives on causing misery and has dedicated his life to ruining Stefan's. But he has another reason to return to his birthplace, and that has to do with the potentially devastating secret of a church fire a century and a half ago.

The Vampire Diaries takes a certain attitude to enjoy. First of all, you should not expect intelligent drama. The show is far from dumb, but just like Supernatural (another CW offering), the plot is fairly predictable where character interaction is concerned. Predictable does not equal poorly executed though, so unless you need to be surprised and challenged by character building, you will enjoy it. There is also the issue of everyone in the cast being absurdly scary hot. Seriously, so much eye candy in one place is definitely ungodly, and at the beginning it almost prevents you from taking the show seriously. Once you get over everybody's sinful hotness though, you quickly see that there is more to it than that.

The show does well what Twilight fails with, and that is plot. Sure, it's not the most original one, but the twists and turns are many, and The Vampire Diaries offers an extensive cast to soap things up. Romantic drama, secrets, intrigue, it's all there, and it works. And when it comes to the romantic part, all it takes is getting over the fact that the only type of relationship anyone in the show seems to be able to be in is True Love. After that you just root for most of them.

The acting is surprisingly good, considering (stereotyping alert!!!) the looks of the characters. The cherry for the first season goes to model-turn-actor Ian Somerhalder whose Damon is beautifully unstable, in turns psychotic, charming and unapologetically, deliciously evil. He brings most of the humor and the horror in the first episodes, and his scenes are pure delight to watch.

Another very strong point of The Vampire Diaries is the soundtrack which - again - does what Twilight isn't able to, and that is to create mood. Barely an episode passes without a "longingly staring at each other and random sad/romantic happenings happening with an epic pop song in the background" moment, and more often than not said pop song is perfectly chosen. Instead of pretentious indie-ness, the show has opted for teen pop, and it turns out it works a lot better.

There are, of course, downsides to being a guilty pleasure. First of all, the general quantity of soap and the continuous structure of the plot means that you can't jump episodes, or you'll miss important plot developments. That every episode ends with a cliff-hanger is understandable, and they're done right, but it's hard to acquire new fans when the only episode you can start watching from is the pilot.

Another flaw is the guest-starring support cast. Unlike Supernatural which suffers from a distinct lack of support, here there is a whole plethora of it - students, teachers, parents, everyone somehow involved in the vampire shenanigans surrounding Mystic Falls. They are mostly a stable presence, and some of them are extremely important to the plot. The issue are the characters that show up in random episodes, because most of the time they are done very well, but almost inevitably end up killed. Seriously, I don't think I've had so many characters I love die on me in a single show!

The final complaint is fairly predictable, considering what I already said about the character interaction - a lot of the time the romantic drama is just painfully repetitive. That said, you won't often be annoyed with it, probably, so I don't think it's that big of an issue.

So is The Vampire Diaries worth watching? Hell yeah! If you have at least a little appreciation for vampires, if you like intrigues and secrets, and if you can stomach lots of romance, then this show is a must. Fair warning though - the season ends in a gloriously satisfying cliff-hanger, introducing perhaps the best character so far, so do make sure you have access to the first episode of Season 2 when you get there!


Apr 4, 2011

A fifteen minute preview of Game of Thrones

You can now see the first fifteen minutes of Game of Thrones on HBO's site. I can barely contain my excitement. The show looks amazing! The setting of both the Wall and Winterfell looks exactly like what I imagined, and positively reeks of epic fantasy. April 17 cannot come soon enough!

Apr 3, 2011


It's not that I hated Battle: LA (Review), but somehow it really pissed me off. So when I stumbled upon this here post by Adam Roberts, I just had to reblog it. Here it is:

My review of Battle: LA is over on Strange Horizons now. In sum: 'So, yes, my preening, effete European liberal view is that this is not a good movie. Some of the design work is pretty cool—both the aliens themselves and their various craft—and very occasional moments of tension or excitement can be found within the relentless hammerdrill monotony ... But one explosion is very much like another, and ten thousand rifle rounds slamming into metal alien war machinery is nine thousand, nine hundred and twenty too many for dramatic effectiveness. Speaking roughly.'

I did think of making mock of the film's almost literally blah titular acronym, 'BLA'. But then I remembered that my next novel will have precisely this acronym. Which made me realise what a dignified and effective acronym it is, actually.

Follow the link and read the whole review - I promise you it's well worth the time!

Apr 1, 2011

Game of Thrones episode titles and release dates

Here are episode titles and release dates for Game of Thrones. Not all of them are known yet, but I am liking the ones already revealed.

101: Winter is Coming
Written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Directed by Tim Van Patten
Airdate: 17 April

102: The Kingsroad
Written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Directed by Tim Van Patten
Airdate: 24 April

103: Lord Snow
Written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Directed by Brian Kirk
Airdate: 1 May

104: Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things
Written by Bryan Cogman
Directed by Brian Kirk
Airdate: 8 May

105: The Wolf and the Lion
Written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Directed by Brian Kirk
Airdate: 15 May

106: A Golden Crown
Written by Jane Espenson
Directed by Daniel Minahan
Airdate: 22 May

107: You Win or You Die
Written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Directed by Daniel Minahan
Airdate: 29 May (tbc)

108: The Pointy End
Written by George R.R. Martin
Directed by Daniel Minahan
Airdate: 5 June (tbc)

109: tbc
Written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Directed by Alan Taylor
Airdate: 12 June (tbc)

110: tbc
Written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Directed by Alan Taylor
Airdate: 19 June (tbc)