Saturday, 20 May 2017

The Warded Man Still Life

Peter V. Brett's fifth and final Demon Cycle book has a name (The Core), covers (with an interesting creation story for how the US and UK covers were designed), and a release date (October 3, 2017 - pushed back from August).



When I worked at the World's Biggest Bookstore, I often went to publisher run bookseller events. SFF wasn't often represented, outside of YA. The Warded Man was the first adult Random House title I was mailed outside of an event, because I specialized in SFF at the store and they wanted to promote the book. So it has a special place in my heart beyond simply being an incredible debut. In 2009, a few months after it came out in the US/Canada I interviewed Mr. Brett, asking questions about the writer life. A few years later, while handselling book two, The Desert Spear, I opened the book and realized my review of it was quoted in the front! For some reason publishers don't notify reviewers when they do this so it was a complete surprise and only one of two instances (that I know of) that this has happened to me.



About a month ago I noticed that Peter V. Brett was hosting a still life contest on his blog. I'd intended to enter and then completely forgot about it. Well, yesterday I saw a twitter post with some of the entries and decided to do it anyway, even though the contest is over now.

Here's what I came up with:



I think the first shot is better, as it shows the scales and other objects closer and at an angle, but I like that you can see that the cloth is a cloak in the second shot. My idea behind this was that Leesha had just entered her hut, thrown her cloak down and was frantically preparing an herbal remedy for a patient (hence the knocked over bottles).

This second scene isn't as detailed (and yes, the hora should be bone not crystal, and warded to boot), but I wanted to do something to honour Inevera, one of my all time favourite characters.


Friday, 19 May 2017

Graphic Novel Review: Lady Mechanika Volume 2: The Tablet of Destinies by M.M. Chen

Pencils by Joe Benitez and Martin Montiel
(collects issues 1-6 of Lady Mechanika: The Tablet of Destinies)

Pros: gorgeous artwork, fast paced story, lots of women

Cons: 

Lady Mechanika returns to London in time to witness the kidnapping of Lewis’ niece. Seems the girl’s grandfather is part of an African expedition uncovering a long lost underground city. And within that city is the tablet of destinies, rumoured to be a powerful weapon.

Once again the artwork is incredible. It’s lush and detailed.

The story’s fast paced, going from one crisis or revelation to another. I enjoyed that this book had several diverse locations, and peoples.

Lady Mechanika’s a fantastic protagonist. I’m impressed with the number of women the series has introduced, and the great costumes they wear (some sexy, others practical).


I’m loving this series.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Shout-Out: Forever On by Rob Reid

The definitive novel of today’s Silicon Valley, Forever On flash-captures our cultural and technological moment with up-to-the-instant savvy. Matters of privacy and government intrusion, post-Tinder romance, nihilistic terrorism, artificial consciousness, synthetic biology, and much more are tackled with authority and brash playfulness by New York Times bestselling author Rob Reid.

Meet Phluttr—a diabolically addictive new social network and a villainess, heroine, enemy, and/or bestie to millions. Phluttr has ingested every fact and message ever sent to, from, or about her innumerable users. Her capabilities astound her makers—and they don’t even know the tenth of it.

But what’s the purpose of this stunning creation? Is it a front for something even darker and more powerful than the NSA? A bid to create a trillion-dollar market by becoming “The UberX of Sex”? Or a reckless experiment that could spawn the digital equivalent of a middle-school mean girl with enough charisma, dirt, and cunning to bend the entire planet to her will?

Phluttr has it in her to become the greatest gossip, flirt, or matchmaker in history. Or she could cure cancer, bring back Seinfeld, then start a nuclear war. Whatever she does, it’s not up to us. But a motley band of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and engineers might be able to influence her.

Forever On achieves the literary singularity—fusing speculative satire and astonishing reality into a sharp-witted, ferociously believable, IMAX-wide view of our digital age.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Kameron Hurley Podcast

If you haven't heard, Kameron Hurley (The Stars are Legion, The Mirror Empire, God's War) has started a podcast. While it's funded by her patreon, it's free to listen to online. She's got 2 episodes up and they're really good, with some writing advice as well as ways to cope with the insanity that is the current world. Be aware, there is some profanity.
  • EPISODE ONE: The Business is Writing, The Business is Death. Chat about broken stairs in the publishing world, multiple income streams, writing and entitlement. With bonus apocalypse Q&A.
  • EPISODE TWO: How to Get to Work When the World Wants to Get You Down. Chat about how to create and promote work during tough times, how to balance caring for your sanity and health with being a good, active citizen, and why you should tell everyone to f*ck themselves and just write what you want!

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Graphic Novel Review: Lady Mechanika volume 1: Mystery of the Mechanical Corpse by Joe Benitez

(collects Lady Mechanika issues 0-5)

Pros: gorgeous artwork, interesting characters, good story

Cons: 

Issue 0 is a prequel story that takes place about a year before the main comic. It features Lady Mechanika hunting a ‘demon’ that’s been killing children.

Issues 1-5 comprises a story about a young woman, found dead in a train station, who has similar mechanical arms to Lady Mechanika.

I LOVED the artwork. The colours are rich and bold, the backgrounds lush, and the characters vibrant.

Lady Mechanika is portrayed in a sexy fashion without showing much (or sometimes any) skin. I loved her costumes (particularly her Victorian style dresses), and the occasional steampunk elements of it. She’s intelligent, no nonsense, and kickass.

The supporting cast are also well dressed and appropriately quirky. I enjoyed the fact that there’s history between Lady Mechanika and the two lead antagonists.

The story was pretty interesting, though there was one scene where the antagonists had an expository conversation meant for the reader rather than each other.


This volume is self-contained, with a quick mention of what will begin the next volume.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Movie Review: The Mummy (1932)

Directed by Karl Freund

Pros: interesting story, good effects

Cons: mediocre acting 

In 1922 an archaeological expedition in Egypt dug up the unusual mummy of Imhotep and a strange box containing a scroll. Both disappear. Ten years later, a new expedition discovers the untouched tomb of a priestess of Isis, whose spirit, Imhotep discovers, is possessing a modern young woman.  

My understanding of this film was that it consisted of a mummy in torn and tattered bandages, roaming around killing people. So I found the film quite surprising. The mummy I expected only shows up in the first few minutes of the film, after which Imhotep (well played by Boris Karloff) appears as a wizened man.

Imhotep isn’t awakened via a spoken spell, so he was either alive in some form this whole time, the spell was uttered inaudibly, or writing out a small portion of it is enough to enact it. I actually found the magic spells Imhotep uses later in the film interesting, though not likely authentic (in terms of language or how ancient Egyptians thought of magic). The make-up and costumes were excellent. The film used white actors for the important Egyptians, and black ‘Nubians’ as servants, though Ancient Egyptians would not necessarily look like their modern inhabitants (Egypt was conquered and settled by several nations in ancient and medieval times).

Helen’s ‘illness’ reminded me of Lucy (and later Mina) from Dracula, something that was supernaturally called by the antagonist that saw her wasting away due to her attempts to avoid the summons. 

There’s a rather sudden romance, which felt kind of out of place given what’s going on and how little the characters know of each other. The fact that Helen (Zita Johann) even points this out, just made it worse as Frank ignores her concerns.  David Manners as Frank Whemple didn’t impress me much as the love interest (there was no chemistry between the couple and no time to develop any relationship), nor did the wise doctor Muller, played by Edward Van Sloan. Both were fairly wooden, and the doctor’s constant expositionary leaps of logic as to what’s going on were kind of annoying.

It’s an interesting film, more for its place in history and how inaccurately it’s remembered than because it’s great cinema.



Thursday, 11 May 2017

Shout-Out: Buffalo Soldier by Maurice Broaddus

Having stumbled onto a plot within his homeland of Jamaica, former espionage agent, Desmond Coke, finds himself caught between warring religious and political factions, all vying for control of a mysterious boy named Lij Tafari.
Wanting the boy to have a chance to live a free life, Desmond assumes responsibility for him and they flee. But a dogged enemy agent remains ever on their heels, desperate to obtain the secrets held within Lij for her employer alone.
Assassins, intrigue, and steammen stand between Desmond and Lij as they search for a place to call home in a North America that could have been.