Saturday, 26 April 2008

Science fiction and Fantasy Books Coming In June

I usually post this on the first of the month but as I'll be away for a few weeks I'm posting it early. I've noticed that a lot of publishers and other sites have been slow in updating their upcoming books sections, so I'm sure some things have been missed on this list.

I probably won't be posting anything until the end of May/beginning of June, so have a great month everyone and check back later for more book reviews, author interviews and reading lists.

Coming in June

Into the Storm - Taylor Anderson
Ninth Circle - Alex Bell
A Fire in the North - David Bilsborough
Kushiel’s Mercy - Jacqueline Carey
Tigerheart - Peter David
Grantville Gazette IV - Eric Flint, Ed.
Daemons are Forever - Simon Green
Valor’s Trial - Tanya Huff
Havemercy - Jaida Jones
Snow Queen - Mercedes Lackey
Escapement - Jay Lake
Hawkspar - Holly Lisle
Very Hard Choices - Spider Robinson
Wise Man’s Fear - Patrick Rothfuss
King’s Shield - Sherwood Smith
After the Downfall - Harry Turtledove
Summer Palace - Lawrence Watt-Evans
Forgotten Realms: Dragon Forge - James Wyatt

Trade Paperback:
Dmitri: A Tale of Old & New Russia - Olive Jeanfreau Alexander
Sidewise in Crime - Lou Anders, Ed.
Invisible Ring - Anne Bishop (reprint)
Midnight Never Come - Marie Brennan
The Books of the South: Tales of the Black Company - Glen Cook
The Mall of Thulium - Seamus Cooper
Star Trek DSN: These Haunted Seas - David George III & Heather Jarman
A Wind Named Amnesia - Hideyuki Kikuchi
Hounds of Ash - Greg Keyes
Lenkhmar 6: Swords and Ice Magic - Fritz Leiber
The Execution Channel - Ken Macleod
Masters of the Pit - Michael Moorcock
The Spider: City of Doom - Norvell Page
Dragonlight - Donita Paul
House of Suns - Alastair Reynolds
Blood heir - Brian Rubkley
Son of Man - Robert Silverberg
Spectre - Phaedra Welson
Mirrored Heavens - David Williams

Mass Market:
Metal Swarm - Kevin Anderson
Blood & Iron - Elizabeth Bear
Tower of Shadows - Drew Bowling
Alton Gift - Marion Zimmer Bradley
Final Sacrifice - Patricia Bray
Ragamuffin - Tobias Buckell
Lost Fleet Valiant - Jack Campbell
Passage at Arms - Glen Cook
Touching Silver - Jamie Craig
Infoquake - David Louis Edelman
Night of Knives - Ian Esselmont
Murder in LaMut - Raymond Feist & Joel Rosenberg
Shadows Return - Lynn Flewelling
Man With the Golden Torc - Simon Green
Future Americas - John Helfers
Magic The Gathering: Eventide - Cory Herndon
Hart of Valor - Tanya Huff
Cold Minds - Kristin Landon
Dragonforge - James Maxey
Star Wars: Jedi Twilight: Coruscant Nights - Michael Reaves
Deeper Blue - John Ringo
Last Vampire - Patricia Rosemour
Paladin II: Knight Moves - Joel Rosenberg
Everfree - Nick Sagan
Forgotten Realms: Siege of Darkness - R.A. Salvatore (reprint)
Mistborn - Brandon Sanderson
Gordath Wood - Patrice Sarath
Outrageous Fortune - Tim Scott
Forgotten Realms: Ascendancy of the Last - Lisa Smedman
New World - Michael Stackpole
Halting State - Charles Stross
The Margarets - Sheri Tepper
War Hammer: Runefang - C.L. Werner
Exodus - Steve White
Star Trek DSN: Fearful Symmetry - Olivia Woods
Pound of Flesh - Susan Wright
Dragon & Judge - Timothy Zahn

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Interview Endcap

The author interviews I'm posting online are also being displayed in store. As my latest interviewee asked to see photos, I've decided it would be fun to post them here to show what my endcaps look like and how I plan them.

As Rob Thurman just had her third book published, I've put her interview on my new author endcap (for authors with 2 books or less). In other cases I've been putting the interivews either on my SF endcap (currently Military SF) or my fantsy endcap (On the Wings of... which recently switched out to Blast from the Past, for pulp SF/Fantasy).

Again in Rob's case, the top row has her books framed by the two pages of her interview. If authors have numerous books they get the second row too. As there are several newer authors who, like Rob, have male protagonists, I've showcased them on the second row. I've cheated a bit and added the Supernatural tie-ins (since they crossover nicely with her novels). This allows customers to discover a new featured author or, if they've read her books before, find sometheing comparable.

Who said sales is boring?

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Author Interview - Rob Thurman



> Pitch your latest novel or the first novel of your series.

That's a difficult choice. The first book, Nightlife, is a rollercoaster from beginning to end with the added kick of seeing how a villain thinks from a first person point of view. And villains aren't always brooding and dark as they torment their enemies. Some villains have one helluva good time doing it. In that way I think Nightlife is a rare opportunity to see evil from the inside and find out it tends to enjoy its work much more than the rest of us. My latest novel in the series, Madhouse, is a mixture of urban fantasy and horror (with the requisite snark and sarcasm.) So, in a way, you get two genres in one--and as horror seems to be disappearing as a separate genre and being gobbled up by general fiction, it was a great chance to showcase one very seriously insane monster and yet keep the other elements of urban fantasy combined with it.

> What are your favourite books?

The Stand is and always will be the greatest book ever written. As for the others, I'm going to have to go with series: The Jhereg series by Stephen Brust, the Tiger and Del series by Jennifer Robeson, the Elvis Cole series by Robert Crais, and I'll have to finish up old school: The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny.

> In the books you've written, who is you favourite character and why?

Truthfully, I don't have a favorite between the three: Cal, Niko, and Robin Goodfellow. However, Niko is pure wish fulfillment. I always wanted a brother who'd have your back no matter what, kick the ass of anyone who messed with you, was unwavering in his loyalty and yet had a sarcastic give and take that kept you on your toes. Of course, in reality, if I had a brother, it would've been nothing but atomic wedgies and purple nurples until one of us buried the other in the backyard. Reality...who needs it?

> If you could, would you change places with any of your characters?

Are you kidding? Even my characters wouldn't change places with themselves. They live in a deadly and dangerous world. It's nothing but kill, angst, snark, kill, angst, snark, kill, angst, get the picture. If they could get hold of me, they'd make me pay for what I've inflicted on them and it would not be a pretty picture.

> What was the first novel (published or unpublished) that you wrote and how long did it take to write it?

Casanova...a mystery. Unpublished and it took a year. Nightlife was my second novel and it took about nine months.

> Share an interesting fan story.

A fan wanting her book signed plopped an enormous amount of cleavage on the table in front of me and wouldn't leave once I signed her book. As the minutes dragged on, I rather feared she wanted me to sign the twins, so to speak. It was a bit of an awkward moment.

> What was the most fun book signing, convention, etc. you've attended and why?

San Diego Comic Con...because I can be a fan there along with everyone else. They have it all. Movies, television, comics, video games and gaming. Over a 100,000 fans all gathered together to share in mass geekiness. I saw so many Sci-Fi actors I lost count. I even saw Clive Owen.

> What's the worst thing about writing?

The starvation.

> What is something you didn't know about the publishing industry before you had your fist book published?

I didn't know anything about the publishing industry. Not a fact, not a clue. If I had known how the publishing/agency business worked before trying to sell a book, I never would've even made the attempt. Sometimes ignorance is definitely bliss.

> How many rejection letters did you get for your fist novel or story?

Too many to count. It was quite literally rejected by every agent and/or publishing house in the country. It was only on the second time around it was picked up by an editor who wasn't afraid to try something a little different from the norm (as in 'no women in leather pants slaying vampires--although only the unsexy vampires naturally.') In fact, the agent I have now also rejected Nightlife. Yet now she's the agent for the series. It's a bizarre field, boys and girls.

Friday, 18 April 2008

The Martian General's Daughter - Theodore Judson

The year is 2293. The emperor of the Pan-Polarian Empire is dead. General Peter Black is unwillingly hailed as a potential contender to the throne.

His story, narrated by his daughter through his present actions and flashbacks, is that of the last honourable man in a world ruled by an Emperor worse than Nero. As the Empire declines due to the indulgences of its ruler and various viral and metalic plagues, we see how history repeats itself.

The dreary potential future is lightened for the readers by such things as the religion of El Bis, the Supreme Singer of Songs and the use of recent literary characters as 'classics'.

Throughout the book General Black's enemies come to learn that his naivete when it comes to politics does not equal incompetence when it comes to battle - political or otherwise.

- an obviously well developed though untold 'history' that brings our world to this impass
- the metal plagues that slowly wipe out electronics was unique and used to advantage
- clever use of 'classics'
- alternating chapters allow the reader to learn the past as necessary to understand present events

- since the story is narrated there is a distance between the reader and the story
- the title is a bit misleading as the characters are only on Mars for about 10 pages (in real time only a few months)

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

The Plucker - Brom

This book may be illustrated but it is definitely not for kids. The story is witty, sad and downright terrifying at times.

Meet Jack. He has recently, much to his surprise and horror, been relegated to the Underbed, the place where unwanted toys go. With his cheery bells and his acrobatic abilities Jack doesn't understand how he's ended up under the bed, watching the other toys play out there. But then ten year old Thomas's dad gives him a really creepy toy. Thomas chucks it under the bed too and the toy breaks, unleashing a plucker. At which point Jack discovers there are worse fates than being forgotten.

Though told through toys, Brom's book packs a punch and shows you what it feels like to be on the outside looking in. It's a remarkable coming of age story with a touch of romance, voodoo and fighting. And the illustrations are fabulous.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

It All Started On A Farm

This list started as an endcap idea, but as there weren't enough titles I couldn't actually use it. Still, it's pretty impressive the number of SF and F books that begin with characters on a farm, dreaming of better things... Once again, the list isn't comprehensive. I've either read the books, skimmed them or looked at the first chapter and found out that's where they begin. I'm sure I've missed some other good titles. But for now here's the list.

Star Wars - George Lucas
Eragon - Christopher Paolini
Magic of Recluse - L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Deed of Parksenarrion - Elizabeth Moon
A Plague of Angels - Sheri Tepper
A Brother's Price - Wen Spencer
Mort - Terry Pratchett
Pillars of the World - Anne Bishop
Airs Beneath the Moon - Toby Bishop (horse farm)
Song in the Silence - Elizabeth Kerner (horse farm)
Devlin's Luck - Patricia Bray (the book doesn't start on a farm but the story does, if you read far enough)
Princess Bride - William Goldman (Buttercup's part at least)

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

The Last Wish - Andrzej Sapkowski

The basis for the video game THE WITCHER, The Last Wish is an interesting novel. Built as a frame story incorporating several short story adventures that Geralt, the Witcher, undertakes, the book blends several fairy tales (Snow White, Beauty and the Beast) and a lot of common and uncommon mythology (vampires, striga, djinn). But don't expect the traditional interpretations for any of the stories or creatures he borrows.

good writing
interesting stores with unique takes on a variety of mythologies
Geralt as a killer with a conscience makes for a great protagonist

confusing at times
each story is left without a conclusion (you have a fair idea of what's happened but the stories end just that bit too soon for proper satisfaction)

Monday, 7 April 2008

Bookseller Interview!

Are you an aspiring author? Want to know how to get booksellers to sell your books? Want some dos and don'ts about bookstores? Interested in a peacock-dragon? Check out Jim Hines's interview with yours truly at his blog here.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Author Interview - Maria V. Snyder

Poison Study
Magic Study
Fire Study


>Pitch your latest novel.

Fire Study is my latest novel. Fire Study continues Yelena Zaltana’s adventures. When word that Yelena is a Soulfinder—able to capture and release souls—spreads like wildfire, people grow uneasy. As the Council debates Yelena’s fate, she receives a disturbing message: a plot is rising, led by a murderous sorcerer she has defeated before.

Drawing on untested skills, Yelena becomes embroiled in the desperate fight to stop the Daviian Clan from unleashing a Fire Warper. Unfortunately, fire is one element she can’t control even if her life depended on it. And there is more at stake than just her life.

Yelena’s journey is fraught with allies, enemies, lovers and would-be assassins, each of questionable loyalty. She will have one chance to prove herself—and save the land she holds dear.

>What are your favourite three books (not by you, either in the field or out of it)?

The Gate to Women’s Country by Sheri S. Tepper
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
The Ladies of Mandrigyn by Barbara Hambly

>In the books you've written, who is you favourite character and why?

Valek is my favourite character because he is very confident and cocky. I love his sarcastic humour. He has worked hard to excel in sword and knife fighting and his loyalty is without question. He’s a fun character to write and has a lot of hidden depth to him which is revealed as the story continues.

>If you could, would you change places with any of your characters?

Yes – I wouldn’t mind being Valek for a day.

>If you could live in your fantasy/sf world, would you? Would you live in somebody else's?

I wouldn’t want to live in my fantasy world forever, but I would like to be able to visit from time to time. The same goes for other worlds. If I could spend a few months or even years, it would be a blast, but I wouldn’t want to live there – I enjoy the modern conveniences too much.

>What was the first novel (published or unpublished) that you wrote and how long did it take to write it?

Poison Study was my first novel written and published. It took me over three years to write the first draft and another two years to revise and polish the manuscript. My son was only two years old when I started the book, and I was pregnant with my daughter.

>What was the hardest scene for you to write?

The scene in Poison Study near the end of the book when Yelena and Valek are in the dungeon. I don’t want to give anything away, but working through what they needed to say to each other and what happened while they were there was very hard for me to balance. I didn’t want to get too sappy or graphic, yet I wanted the emotion to come through.

>Share an interesting fan story.

One time a reader emailed me that he was an “expiring” writer. I didn’t know if I should send him my condolences or some writing advice.

>What was the most fun book signing, convention, etc. you've attended and why?

Balticon 40 – a science fiction/fantasy convention near Baltimore, Maryland was a blast. I had the honor of winning their Compton Crook Award for best first novel in the sf/f/h genre for Poison Study. My family and parents were there to see me win, and my writing friends from Seton Hill University were there to cheer me on and help me celebrate. The whole weekend was a wonderful mix of talking to other authors in the field, meeting readers, and being with my friends and family.

>If you still have one, what's your day job? If you don't, how long did it take before you could support yourself only on your writing?

I write full time now, and I’ve been able to support myself with my writing income for the last two years.

>What is your university degree in?

I have a Bachelors of Science in Meteorology from the Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Arts in Writing Fiction from Seton Hill University.

>Do you think it is easier to write fantasy or science fiction?

All writing is hard. Each genre has its quirks and conventions, and each presents challenges to a writer. To me, characters are the most important aspect of writing, and, as long as the readers care about the characters, the genre is set dressing. I wish I could say it gets easier with each book, but I haven’t found the magic formula yet.

>When and where do you write?

I sit down at my computer in my home office as soon as my kids leave for school and I try and write until they come home. Some days, I spend my days answering emails and doing promotion for the books. Summers are harder for me to write, so I try and spend my summers updating my website and revising.

>What's the best/worst thing about writing?

The best thing is when I’m surprised while I’m writing. Surprise as in, I think I have a scene or a character all figured out, then when I’m writing, something happens that is completely unplanned and unexpected. For example, in Poison Study, when Yelena explores Valek’s rooms and discovers he carves statues from stones and is an artist, I was as shocked as she was.

The worst things are the details! Setting details, descriptive details, details about the fantasy world, details about the magic – Yikes! If it was up to me, my stories would be all action and dialogue!

>What is something you didn't know about the publishing industry before you had your first book published?

I didn’t know how the publisher decides how many books to print. After I met some of the sales staff for my publisher, I learned how advance orders determine the print run. I also learned if the sales staff is enthusiastic about a certain book title, it will drive the orders up.

>Do you have any advice for hopeful authors?

Persistence is my biggest advice. I’d been writing for ten years and submitting for eight before I sold anything. Learn the craft of writing as well as the business of writing and attend writer’s conferences and classes if you can. Consider that time an apprenticeship. Be wary of predators, if someone is asking you for money proceed with the utmost caution. Get feedback on your stories from fellow writers before submitting. Joining a critique group is very helpful. I also find that if I let a story sit on my desk for a few weeks I can pick out all the problems, typos and inconsistencies easier. And I agree whole heartily with Stephen King’s advice in his book, On Writing. He wrote, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” And don’t give up! Ever!

>Any tips against writers block?

Take a break! When the words won’t flow, take a walk or a shower or just do something else for a while. It helps recharge the creative batteries. And if you’re truly stuck, have a writing partner read what you have written and then talk with them about the story. Brainstorming sessions are wonderful for untangling the knots.

>How many rejection letters did you get for your fist novel or story?

Poison Study was rejected by 40 literary agents and 17 publishers before being bought by LUNA Books. I took my own advice and didn’t give up.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Those Who Walk In Darkness - John Ridley

I know I said my review would become more critical, but these last two books were so awesome it was hard to come up with negative aspects besides lots of swearing (which is a matter of taste rather than bad writing).

Fans of the X-Men and Marvel's Civil War storyline will love this 2003 publication.

After San Francisco was destroyed by a mutant, the president of the United States issued an Executive Order: mutants have 30 days to leave the country after which they will be declared enemies of the state.

Enter Soledad O'Roark, newly promoted to MTAC, the elite police task force assigned to deal with those mutants who remained.

She's created a weapon that will turn the tables on their vaunted powers. That is, if office politics don't put her and her gun out of commission first.

The short, clipped phrases, constant repitition and bad grammar, rather than irritating the reader, add to the edginess of the protagonist and the starkness of the world she inhabits.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Madhouse - Rob Thurman

If you like the TV show Supernatural, you'll love Rob Thurman's Cal Leandros series. Brothers Nick and Cal have settled into their new lives as NY paranormal investigators and are 'hired' to stop a resurrected 16th century serial killer named Sawney Beane.

Meanwhile, someone's out to assassinate Robin Goodfellow and the brothers are determined to protect him, with or without his assistance.

And as if that weren't enough, Cal's decided it's time to get laid.

A brilliant mix of action scenes and character development, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat all the way to the cliffhanger ending.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Science fiction and Fantasy Books Coming In May

Starting this month the Sci-Fi Fan Letter will be changing. The coming soon lists will still be posted on the first of the month and may or my not be accompanied by reviews. From now on I will be posting reviews as I finish reading the books. You won't find any truely negative reviews here. If I hate the book that much I'll simply stop reading it. I will be changing the format of the reviews to show pros and cons of books rather than simply the pros. I will not be starring them, as I find that kind of system unhelpful. Unless credited to someone else all reviews from here on out will be by me. I intend to keep posting author interviews and themed reading lists so check back often.

In regards to this coming soon list, perceptive people (meaning people who have been visiting this site for a while) will likely notice that this list is more comprehensive. I've discovered a few new tricks in searching for new books so this list includes more smaller press books. Please note, that publishing schedules are not absolute, so take the list with a grain of salt. Just because a publisher intends a book to come out at a certain time doesn't guarantee it. Also, Abercrombie's books are being published in the UK and US by different publishers at different times. As both are carried in my store I've included both in this post.


Last Argument of Kings - Joe Abercrombie (UK)
Tamarisk - Lou Aronica
Forgotten Realms - Swordmage - Richard Baker
Iron Angel - Alan Campbell
Star Wars: Invincible - Troy Denning
Twisted Citadel - Sara Douglass
Incandescence - Greg Egan
The Immortal Prince - Jennifer Fallon
Avenging Fury - John Farris
From Dead to Worse - Charlaine Harris
Shadow Isle - Katharine Kerr
Time Spike - Eric Flint & Merilyn Kosmatka
Host - Stephenie Meyer
The Wolfman - Nicholas Pekearo
Primeval: Shadow of the Jaguar - Steven Savile
The Edge of Reason - Melinda Snodgrass
Bring Down the Sun - Judith Tarr
Tau Ceti Agenda - Travis Taylor
Dragon Lance: Amber & Blood - Margaret Weis
Jack: Secret Histories - F. Paul Wilson
Null-A Continuum - John Wright
Dragon & Liberator - Timothy Zahn

Trade Paperback:
Before They Are Hanged - Joe Abercrombie (US)
Firestorm of Dragons - Michele Acker & Kirk Dougal, Ed.
Shadow of the Scorpion - Neal Asher
Neuropath - R. Scott Bakker
New Amsterdam - Elizabeth Bear
The Wanderer’s Tale - David Bilsborough
Ginger Star - Leigh Brackett
Kethani - Eric Brown
Burning Man - Mark Chadbourn
The Sea Dragon’s Tears - Mio Chizuro
Cosmos Incorporated - Maruice Dantec
Valley of Day-Glo - Nick DiChario
Wizards - Jack Dunn & Gardner Dozois, Ed.
Wizards - Neil Gaiman
Ice People - Maggie Gee
Free Fall - Laura Gilman
Mind the Gap - Christopher Golden
Phobus Rising - L.A. Graf
Farmer in the Sky - Robert Heinlein
Requiem: Collected Works & Tributes to the Grand Master - Robert Heinlein
The Martian General’s Daughter - Theodore Judson
Hounds of Ash & Other Tales of Fool Wolf - Greg Keyes
The Guin Saga: Prisoner of the Lagon - Kaoru Kurimoto
Fallen - Tim Lebbon
Necronomicon: The H. P. Lovecraft Connection - H.P. Lovecraft
Day of the Burning - Barry Malzberg
Goddess - Fiona McIntosh
Parasite Eve - HideakI Sena
Wicked Game - Jeri Smith-Ready
A Kiss Before the Apocalypse - Thomas Sniegoski
Digital Plague - Jeff Somers
Solarians - Norman Spinrad
Mirrored Heavens - David Williams
Crooked Letter - Sean Williams

Mass Market Paperback:
Rogue Angel: Soul Stealer - Alex Archer
Night Child - Jes Battis
Kushiel’s Justice - Jacqueline Carey
Blackness Tower - Lillian Stewart Carl
Cruel Zinc Melodies - Glen Cook
Silver Moon Elm - Maryjanice Davidson
Forgotten Realms: Shield of Weeping Ghosts - James Davis
Serpent Bride - Sara Douglass
You Don’t Scare Me - John Farris
Best of Jim Baen’s Universe - Eric Flint, Ed.
Grantville Gazette III - Eric Flint
Year’s Best SF 13 - David Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer, Ed.
Draw One in the Dark - Sarah Hoyt
Spirit Stone - Katharine Kerr
Front Lines - Denise Little, Ed.
Omega Sol - Scott Mackay
Codespell - Kelly McCullough
Storm of Iron - Graham McNeill
Star Trek: Terok Nor: Dawn of the Eagles - S.D. Perry
Touch of Twilight - Vicki Pettersson
A Distant Magic - Mary Jo Putney
Night Errant - Anthony Reynolds
Winterbirth - Brian Ruckley
The Last Wish - Andrzej Sapkowski
Batman: Gotham Knight - Louise Simonson
One Jump Ahead - Mark L. Van Name
Hell’s Gate - David Weber & Linda Evans
Eberron: Storm Dragon - James Wyatt
Blackcollar: Judas Solution - Timothy Zahn