Thursday, 8 October 2015

Shout-Out: The Faithful by S. M. Freedman

For Agent Josh Metcalf, memories are ghosts. They are blood-soaked backpacks and the smell of strawberry Chap Stick. Josh is haunted by a little girl who went missing his first summer on the force. Decades later his search has become an obsession, and he's pinned the photos of hundreds of missing children to his wall of tears. All the children had psychic abilities. All the cases went cold -- with no witnesses, no useful tips, and no children ever recovered. Until a woman gets injured trying to stop an abduction, and Josh comes face to face with his personal ghost. 
For Rowan Wilson, a meteorite hunter for NASA's Spaceguard program, memories are lies. The childhood she thought she knew has been erased, leaving a black hole in its place. New recollections are flaring to life: men dressed like priests, a ranch in the mountains, mind control, and rape. Each new memory draws her closer to one of the other missing children, Sumner Macey; and to I Fidele, the underground organization for whom kidnapping is just the beginning.
For Sumner, memories have become weapons. He's sharpened each of his with surgical precision: the ranch, the doctrine, the mind-wash, and the murders. He's eager to slice at the black sludge pumping through I Fidele's heart, desperate to cripple those who stole his childhood.
To I Fidele, non-psychics are cockroaches in need of extermination, an inferior species destroying the earth. They're ready to enforce eugenics on a global scale. If they succeed, only those faithful to their doctrine will survive. 

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Video: Five Nights at Freddy's Live Action Music Video

I really enjoy watching Screen Team's music video parodies.  Since all the DMCA takedowns become more common they've started doing more original music.  They've done a remarkable job with this Five Nights at Freddy's music video.  It's the right mix of creepiness.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Book Review: All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

Translated by: Joseph Reeder with Alexander Smith

Pros: great sense of perspective, deals cleverly with repeating days

Cons: starts in the middle of the action so it’s harder to get a grasp of the situation

When Keiji Kiriya dies in his first battle with the alien Mimics he doesn’t expect to wake up the previous morning as if those days were just a dream.  He quickly realizes that time is repeating and decides to train hard and become a great Jacket jockey like Rita Vrataski, aka the Valkyrie, aka the Full Metal Bitch.

This novel was the basis for the film Edge of Tomorrow, which I thought was really well done.  Sure, the ending didn’t make much sense, but it was a fun film.  The ending in the book is different, and does make sense.

You get point of view chapters from both Keiji and, later on, Rita, which help put you into the action and understand why those two act the way they do.  They’re interesting characters, with a lot of supporting characters around them that you get to know fairly well.

There’s enough exposition to understand the armoured suits the soldiers wear (the Jackets) and the alien menace, but beyond that there are only snippets here and there about how the world has coped with the war and how Keiji and Rita ended up enlisting.

While a few days are heavily detailed, the majority are skipped outright, giving you a good impression of time passing and Keiji learning how to fight without becoming boring or repetitive.

It’s an action packed story that’s also a quick read at just under 200 pages.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Shout-Out: Last Song Before Night by Ilana Myer

Her name was Kimbralin Amaristoth: sister to a cruel brother, daughter of a hateful family. But that name she has forsworn, and now she is simply Lin, a musician and lyricist of uncommon ability in a land where women are forbidden to answer such callings-a fugitive who must conceal her identity or risk imprisonment and even death.

On the eve of a great festival, Lin learns that an ancient scourge has returned to the land of Eivar, a pandemic both deadly and unnatural. Its resurgence brings with it the memory of an apocalypse that transformed half a continent. Long ago, magic was everywhere, rising from artistic expression-from song, from verse, from stories. But in Eivar, where poets once wove enchantments from their words and harps, the power was lost. Forbidden experiments in blood divination unleashed the plague that is remembered as the Red Death, killing thousands before it was stopped, and Eivar's connection to the Otherworld from which all enchantment flowed, broken.

The Red Death's return can mean only one thing: someone is spilling innocent blood in order to master dark magic. Now poets who thought only to gain fame for their songs face a challenge much greater: galvanized by Valanir Ocune, greatest Seer of the age, Lin and several others set out to reclaim their legacy and reopen the way to the Otherworld-a quest that will test their deepest desires, imperil their lives, and decide the future.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

News: Angry Robot Announces Open Door for Submissions in December

Have a polished manuscript and looking for a publisher?  Well, starting December 1 and going until January 31st, Angry Robot Books will open its door to unsolicited manuscript submissions.

From their email:

We are looking for full-length novels. Not novellas, poems, short stories or similar. Please, only full-length novels.

We're pretty broad in our tastes, genre-wise. We love anything science fiction, fantasy or WTF. If it's a spaghetti western set in space with pirates, we're down for that. We aren't down for Young Adult titles at this time. Sorry.
Diverse Voices: We Want You!

Anyone who has written a thoroughly entertaining, full-length science fiction or fantasy novel is more than welcome to submit to us during the open door, um, window.

We do want to mention the following though. We appreciate diversity at Angry Robot. Our track record at AR speaks for itself, but we can do even better. We also know that writers from diverse backgrounds are sometimes hesitant to submit. So we’re saying this in big letters:

We want to explicitly invite writers from diverse backgrounds and lived experiences to submit to this Open Door.

Several of our most commercially and critically-successful books have come from writers speaking from diverse backgrounds and/or about diverse characters.

This genre belongs to everyone, and we at Angry Robot want to be a part of making that maxim true in practice by championing diverse voices and helping them reach a wide audience.

So everyone, send us your best work. Show us worlds real and imagined with all their glorious complexity and diversity, that reflects the reality of today’s culture.

More information, including a FAQ section, will go up on their website soon.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Publisher Spotlight: Evil Girlfriend Media

Established in 2011, Evil Girlfriend Media publishes sci-fi, fantasy and horror.  Their line-up right now includes several short story collections (both by a single author and edited anthologies).  They've got a bunch of short stories published on their website that you can read for free.  While they're currently closed for manuscript submissions, they're open to flash fiction and non-fiction shorts.

Here's a sampling of their current titles:

The Archivist by Tom Wright

In 2052, Artificial Intelligence surpasses humans, and global technology collapses overnight. Thirty years later, primitive communities struggle to survive. Throughout this broken world, a secret organization called The Archives seeks to preserve what knowledge and technology has been left in the ashes. However, a Luddite cult-The Disciples of Earth-is just as determined to ensure there will be no technological rebirth for humankind. 
Retrieval Archivist K’Marr’s mission seems : make contact with a source in a remote port town and trade vital technology that could secure humankind’s future.
But few retrievals are ever easy. 
While keeping his promise to a dying man and avoiding Disciples who seem to know his every move, K’Marr fights to complete his mission and get back home to the woman he loves. Against the odds, The Archivist must do everything he can to return to The Archives.

Women In Practical Armor Edited by Ed Greenwood and Gabrielle Harbowy

Eighteen stories of seasoned women warriors fighting in practical armor. 
Steve Bornstein – “Serendipity”
Cassandra Rose Clarke – “A Night in New Verashtin”
Erik Scott de Bie – “King’s Shield”
Kristy Griffin Green – “The Family Business”
Amy Griswold – “The Raven and the Swans”
Sarah Hendrix – “Hero of Ithar”
Crystal Lynn Hilbert – “Stone Woken”
Chris A. Jackson – “First Command”
Mary Robinette Kowal – “The Bound Man”
Eric Landreneau – “Pride and Joy”
Wunji Lau – “No Better Armor, No Heavier Burden”
Todd McCaffrey – “Golden”
Rhonda Parrish – “Sharp as a Griffin’s Claw”
Anya Penfold – “The Lioness”
Mary Pletsch – “The Blood Axe”
Alex C. Renwick – “Ravenblack”
David Szarzynski – “Armor the Color of War”
Judith Tarr – “Attrition”

Stamps, Vamps & Tramps Edited by Shannon Robinson

Eternally stamped, eternally damned… 
Grecian prostitutes and blood guzzling birds, pickle-sized vampires who wear their hearts on their sleeves, sexy immortals that fear human greed and memories that become tattoos; Stamps, Vamps & Tramps crosses genres to deliver bone-chilling stories that will keep you up at night. 
Sixteen talented authors take you on a journey where stamps aren’t always inked, tramps aren’t always hookers, and vampires aren’t always at the top of the food chain. From the colonnade of ancient Greece to a small town amusement park, from the battlefield to the urban center, this anthology will suck you in to the very end.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Books Received in September 2015

Many thanks again to those who have given me books this past month.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson - This is a brilliant novel that shows how powerful economics really is.  I've already reviewed it.

In Seth Dickinson's highly-anticipated debut The Traitor Baru Cormorant, a young woman from a conquered people tries to transform an empire in this richly imagined geopolitical fantasy.

Baru Cormorant believes any price is worth paying to liberate her people-even her soul.

When the Empire of Masks conquers her island home, overwrites her culture, criminalizes her customs, and murders one of her fathers, Baru vows to swallow her hate, join the Empire's civil service, and claw her way high enough to set her people free.

Sent as an Imperial agent to distant Aurdwynn, another conquered country, Baru discovers it's on the brink of rebellion. Drawn by the intriguing duchess Tain Hu into a circle of seditious dukes, Baru may be able to use her position to help. As she pursues a precarious balance between the rebels and a shadowy cabal within the Empire, she orchestrates a do-or-die gambit with freedom as the prize.

But the cost of winning the long game of saving her people may be far greater than Baru imagines.

The New Hunger by Isaac Marion - This is a prequel novella to the hit zombie novel (and film) Warm Bodies.

The end of the world didn’t happen overnight.
After years of societal breakdowns, wars and quakes and rising tides, humanity was already near the edge. Then came a final blow no one could have expected: all the world’s corpses rising up to make more.
Born into this bleak and bloody landscape, twelve-year-old Julie struggles to hold on to hope as she and her parents drive across the wastelands of America, a nightmarish road trip in search of a new home.
Hungry, lost, and scared, sixteen-year-old Nora finds herself her brother’s sole guardian after her parents abandon them in the not-quite-empty ruins of Seattle.
And in the darkness of a forest, a dead man opens his eyes. Who is he? What is he? With no clues beyond a red tie and the letter “R,” he must unravel the grim mystery of his existence—right after he learns how to think, how to walk, and how to satisfy the monster howling in his belly.The New Hunger is a glimpse of the past and a path to an astonishing future…

The Apex Book of World SF 4 Edited by Mahvesh Murad - I won this book through a LibraryThing giveaway.  I've heard a lot of great things about this collection and am really looking forward to reading it.

Now firmly established as the benchmark anthology series of international speculative fiction, volume 4 of The Apex Book of World SF sees debut editor Mahvesh Murad bring fresh new eyes to her selection of stories.
From Spanish steampunk and Italian horror to Nigerian science fiction and subverted Japanese folktales, from love in the time of drones to teenagers at the end of the world, the stories in this volume showcase the best of contemporary speculative fiction, wherever it’s written.
Vajra Chandrasekera (Sri Lanka) — "Pockets Full of Stones"
Yukimi Ogawa (Japan) — "In Her Head, In Her Eyes"
Zen Cho (Malaysia) — "The Four Generations of Chang E"
Shimon Adaf (Israel) — "Like a Coin Entrusted in Faith" (Translated by the author)
Celeste Rita Baker (Virgin Islands) — "Single Entry"
Nene Ormes (Sweden) — "The Good Matter" (Translated by Lisa J Isaksson and Nene Ormes)
JY Yang (Singapore) — "Tiger Baby"
Isabel Yap (Philippines) — "A Cup of Salt Tears"
Usman T Malik (Pakistan) — "The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family"
Kuzhali Manickavel (India) — "Six Things We Found During the Autopsy"
Elana Gomel (Israel) — "The Farm"
Haralambi Markov (Bulgaria) — "The Language of Knives"
Sabrina Huang — "Setting Up Home" (Translated by Jeremy Tiang)
Sathya Stone (Sri Lanka) — "Jinki and the Paradox"
Johann Thorsson (Iceland) — "First, Bite a Finger"
Dilman Dila (Uganda) — "How My Father Became a God"
Swabir Silayi (Kenya) — "Colour Me Grey"
Deepak Unnikrishnan (The Emirates) — "Sarama"
Chinelo Onwualu (Nigeria) — "The Gift of Touch"
Saad Z. Hossain (Bangaldesh) — "Djinns Live by the Sea"
Bernardo Fernández (Mexico) — "The Last Hours of the Final Days" (Translated by the author)
Natalia Theodoridou (Greece) — "The Eleven Holy Numbers of the Mechanical Soul"
Samuel Marolla (Italy) — "Black Tea" (Translated by Andrew Tanzi)
Julie Novakova (Czech Republic) — "The Symphony of Ice and Dust"
Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Netherlands) — "The Boy Who Cast No Shadow" (Translated by Laura Vroomen)
Sese Yane (Kenya) — "The Corpse"
Tang Fei — "Pepe" (Translated by John Chu)
Rocío Rincón (Spain) — "The Lady of the Soler Colony" (Translated by James and Marian Womack)