Sunday, 30 August 2009
Looking for some more artistic inspiration for your writing? Check out this unique but fascinating art form by Brandon McConnell.
His website: Space Paintings
And check out "Spray Paint Art #3" on youtube to see how he does it.
Friday, 28 August 2009
A while back I posted about fantasy artists and how their art can inspire writers. Here's a photographer that proves that sometimes reality can be just as intriguing and inspiring as fantasy art.
I think my favourite is the last picture where a 'mermaid tail' is perfectly visible... Pictures like these Make me want to write a stories explaining what's happening or why those moments in time are important - beyond their obvious beauty.
Check out his website, where a book of his photos is on sale.
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
7 Foot Shelves
The Accidental Bard
A Boy Goes on a Journey
A Dribble Of Ink
Adventures in Reading
A Fantasy Reader
The Agony Column
A Hoyden's Look at Literature
A Journey of Books
All Booked Up
Alexia's Books and Such...
The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
Australia Specfic In Focus
Author 2 Author
Babbling about Books
Bees (and Books) on the Knob
Big Dumb Object
The Billion Light-Year Bookshelf
Bitten by Books
The Black Library Blog
Blog, Jvstin Style
Blood of the Muse
The Book Bind
The Book Smugglers
The Book Swede
Book View Cafe [Authors Group Blog]
Daily Dose - Fantasy and Romance
Damien G. Walter
It's Dark in the Dark
Dark Wolf Fantasy Reviews
Dave Brendon's Fantasy and Sci-Fi Weblog
Dead Book Darling
The Deckled Edge
The Doctor is In...
Dragons, Heroes and Wizards
The Discriminating Fangirl
Dusk Before the Dawn
Fan News Denmark [in English]
Fantastic Reviews Blog
Fantasy Book Banner
Fantasy Book Critic
Fantasy Book Reviews and News
Fantasy By the Tale
Fantasy Dreamer's Ramblings
Fantasy and Sci-fi Lovin' News and Reviews
Feminist SF - The Blog!
Fiction is so Overrated
The Foghorn Review
Follow that Raven
Free SF Reader
From a Sci-Fi Standpoint
From the Heart of Europe
The Future Fire
Lair of the Undead Rat
Layers of Thought
League of Reluctant Adults
The Lensman's Children
Lundblog: Beautiful Letters
Mad Hatter's Bookshelf and Book Review
Mari's Midnight Garden
Mark Freeman's Journal
Mark Lord's Writing Blog
Marooned: Science Fiction Books on Mars
Michele Lee's Book Love
Missions Unknown [Author and Artist Blog Devoted to SF/F/H in San Antonio]
The Mistress of Ancient Revelry
MIT Science Fiction Society
More Words, Deeper Hole
Mostly Harmless Books
Musings from the Weirdside
My Favourite Books
My Overstuffed Bookshelf
Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
Patricia's Vampire Notes
The Persistence of Vision
Pizza's Book Discussion
Pussreboots: A Book Review a Day
Ramblings of a Raconteur
Random Acts of Mediocrity
Ray Gun Revival
Realms of Speculative Fiction
Reading the Leaves
Review From Here
The Road Not Taken
Rob's Blog o' Stuff
Robots and Vamps
Satisfying the Need to Read
Science Fiction and Fantasy Ethics
Science Fiction Times
Sci-Fi Fan Letter
The Sci-Fi Gene
Sci-Fi Songs [Musical Reviews]
Scifi UK Reviews
Sci Fi Wire
The Sequential Rat
Severian's Fantastic Worlds
SFF World's Book Reviews
Slice of SciFi
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
Speculative Fiction Junkie
Spiral Galaxy Reviews
Sporadic Book Reviews
Stainless Steel Droppings
Stuff as Dreams are Made on...
The Sudden Curve
The Sword Review
Walker of Worlds
Wands and Worlds
Wendy Palmer: Reading and Writing Genre Books and ebooks
With Intent to Commit Horror
The Wizard of Duke Street
WJ Fantasy Reviews
The Word Nest
The World in a Satin Bag
The Written World
Cititor SF [with English Translation]
Welt der fantasy
Thursday, 20 August 2009
I discovered there are two types of children's books. Those you love as a child and those you love at any age. Let me explain. Some books have children protagonists that are fun to read as a kid but harder to relate to as an adult, while others have situations that you can relate to at any age (or are just so strange you like despite being older). Now, the books that go into either category will be different for each individual, based on everyone's personal tastes.
Roald Dahl had books that went into both categories for me. During my reread, I found that The BFG, which I loved as a child, was no longer 'realistic'. I just couldn't relate to or believe in the seven year old girl who saves the world. On the other hand, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory remains one of my favourite books of all time.
And many of those early books gave me a taste of the impossible, the improbable, fantasy and letting my imagination run wild.
What are some books you've read as an adult that you still like? Or ones you found you could no longer enjoy?
A few examples of children's books I still enjoy are:
James and the Giant Peach - Roald Dahl
The Seventh Princess - Nick Sullivan
Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh - Robert C. O'Brien
The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
Dragonsong - Anne McCaffrey
(Note, this list would be longer if I included children's books I read only as an adult, if I'd reread more titles (I'd love to reread the Mouse and the Motorcycle) and if I gave myself more time to think of books.)
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
Meant to be read after Night Watch and Day Watch, Twilight Watch picks up Anton's story 3 years after it's discovered a Great One will be born. The story begins with Anton's wife and daughter on vacation while he's in Moscow, getting a new assignment. A human has discovered the truth of the Others and is demanding he be turned into one - something that is supposed to be impossible. Anton's job is to discover who this human is and the name of the blackmailed Other.
Like his other books, Lukyanenko has split the story of Twilight Watch into three parts. Each part seemingly separate, but ultimately essential to your understanding of the whole. Trying to figure out who the culprit of the various mysteries is before Anton (whose POV all three stories are seen from) is a lot of fun. And for once I was able to discover the ending first!
Mr. Lukyanenko again brings in philosophical questioning of what is light and dark, good and evil. Anton is brought to a fuller understanding in this book of what the Others truly are, and it's not something he's happy to have learned.
If you're interested in Russian culture, like philosophy in your books and want to try something different, this series is an excellent one.
Thursday, 13 August 2009
Johnny Depp plays Benjamin Barker, a man unjustly accused by a local judge and sent to work on a ship for 15 years. He returns under the alias of Sweeny Todd, determined to find his wife and get revenge on the judge.
Enter Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett, the woman who has a failed meat pie shop on the main floor of what used to be Barker's barbershop. The two come to an agreement, and 'Mr. Todd' opens his new barbershop, hoping to lure the judge in.
Pale make-up, dark sets and atmospheric music make this a very fun movie to watch. There is some gore - the progatonist becomes a serial killer after all - but it's kept to a minimum and almost fades to the background as you watch Todd get swallowed up in his quest for vengeance.
Tuesday, 11 August 2009
The story is told, without dialogue punctuation or chapters, from the point of view of a man, walking along the road, with his son. Frequent breaks allow the 'action' to progress quickly while also allowing for flashbacks. The man is heading to the coast, to a warmer climate, in the hopes of finding a place where he and his son can survive the coming winter. He has a gun with two bullets, and a shopping cart with food and supplies. Which run out.
The book is one long struggle to survive. Against nature (cold, hunger) and man (cannibals, thieves). It is a very primal story.
For me the downside was that you learn so little about the protagonists (the boy is never named nor are you told his age) and what caused the apocalypse (though you can guess) that it was hard to fully immerse myself in their situation. The ending especially seemed weak and fanciful, considering what we've seen of this new world and the people in it. Indeed, given how closely we follow this pair, I was not as upset by the ending as I thought I should have been. (By which I mean, upset in a good way - the way that means you cared about the characters and you want them to have a happy ending even if you can't see how that could come about.) Which was strange, as within the present you become quite close to them and their plight. Perhaps for me the tone was too bleak, to the point that after a time I stopped believing that things could get better for them.
I think if this had been the first post-apocalyptic novel I'd read I would have liked it a lot more. If you only read one post-apocalyptic novel then I still have to suggest The Postman, by David Brin (forget the film, the book is MUCH better). He shows the power of hope in impossible circumstances and what it does to people - and what it makes people do.
To sum up with The Road, though McCarthy tried to add the hope element into his bleak landscape, it didn't really succeed for me. There wasn't enough of a past for the characters for me to fully immerse myself in their present. The writing however, was superb and the story is an excellent one. He tries several things that succeed very well - in tone and character. Just be prepared to be depressed by it.
And here's link to the movie trailer. You can't go wrong with Viggo Mortensen!
Monday, 10 August 2009
Attention fans of Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson! The authors will be in Toronto to promote their new book The Winds of Dune on August 18th. Details are below. Tuesday August 18th @7PM Launch at the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation, and Fantasy 239 College Street, 3rd Floor Toronto, Ontario M5T 1R5 Hope to see you there!"
Note, the Merril collection is on the top floor of the Lillian H. Smith Library.
(notice copied from a posting made on an Indigo group site)
Friday, 7 August 2009
Best Served Cold
The Blade Itself
Before They Are Hanged
Last Argument of Kings
> Pitch your latest novel.
Best Served Cold is a fantasy standalone, the fast-paced and action-packed story of a very dangerous woman who, betrayed by her employer, sets out to wreak bloody vengeance on him and his henchmen, assisted by a motley crew of poisoners, murderers, mercenaries and thieves against a backdrop of an escalating war between feuding city states. What’s not to like?
> In the books you’ve written, who is you favourite character and why or what character is most like you?
Since all the thoughts and dialogue come out of my own head, I guess every character is me to some degree. Which is a rather worrying thought. As a result it’s hard to pick a favourite. I guess like, with picking a favourite child, it’s probably something you really shouldn’t do but, in all honesty, it’s the one who’s causing you the least grief at the time...
> If you could, would you change places with any of your characters?
Most of my characters are deeply unpleasant people who experience a great deal of pain. So no. Although perhaps we’re already in not dissimilar places...
> If you could live in your fantasy world, would you? Would you live in somebody else’s?
Absolutely not. I’m far too attached to toilet paper, warm water and games consoles. Plus my sword skills are weak.
> What was the first novel (published or unpublished) that you wrote and how long did it take to write it?
The Blade Itself was my first attempt at serious writing. It took me about two and a half years, pretty part time, to come up with a first draft, and then maybe six months of occasional work editing it once it was picked up by a publisher.
> 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 was a freelance film editor, mostly of live music and documentaries, which gave me a lot of time off in between jobs. Looking for a project to fill that time off was one of the main reasons why I started writing in the first place. I’m lucky in that I don’t have to quit my day job, I can do as much or as little as I like (provided people offer me the work, of course). Over the three or four years since I was first published I’ve done less and less editing, more and more writing to the point where I’m more or less a full time writer, now. I still do the odd editing job, though, just for the variety.
> Do you think it is easier to write fantasy or science fiction?
I guess it’s easiest to write whatever you’re most enthusiastic about. In fact I’d say it’s very hard to write anything worthwhile unless you’re very enthusiastic about it. So for me, fantasy. For those who love science fiction...
> What is something you didn’t know about the publishing industry before you had your fist book published?
How little the vast majority of writers sell, or earn. You tend to think of the success stories like JK Rowling or Stephen King, but of course they’re at the tip of a very, very big pyramid. It’s pretty frightening, actually, when you first begin. Very few writers (maybe 5%, maybe less) can actually afford to write full time, let alone make superstar money. I really shouldn’t have put in the down-payment on the mansion before I read the contract.
> Any tips against writers block?
The only meaningful solution I’ve found is just to smash your head against it. Chair time. When you’re feeling unconfident, or worried, or that what you’re writing is no good, write anyway. Write anything, even if it’s rubbish. Better than writing nothing. Later on once you start cutting it all down, you never know, you may find you wrote some decent stuff.
> How many rejection letters did you get for your fist novel or story?
About eight or nine, I think. I tried most of the UK agencies that specialised in sf & f at that time. The thing I was unprepared for was the total anonymity and lack of feedback. A printed card, a standard message, thanks but no thanks. Seeing those self-addressed envelopes come back through the letter box every month or two was pretty soul-destroying. So if you’re thinking of writing yourself, prepare for some hurt...
Thursday, 6 August 2009
I did not like the Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. But the reasons I did not like it are precisely the reasons why children will/do.
I've been reading fantasy since I was a child. I no longer need 'help' in feeling I'm inside the novel. Kate DiCamillo employed a writing style wherein she asks the reader to 'picture' things or 'feel' things. She also addresses the reader so often that, for me, it made it harder to stay in the story. But this is just the sort of language that helps kids feel like they are participating in the action. In fact, I imagine reading this story to a child would be a lot of fun.
Another thing that made it hard for me was the constant starting and stopping of the story by way of introducing another main character. This is not a story that reads linearly. There are three beginnings. Each one brings the reader up to speed about the lives of the characters - Despereaux (the tiny mouse), Roscuro (the evil - or not so evil - rat), and Miggery Sow (the unwitting facilitator of Roscuro's revenge). Again, for children, this works.
The chapters are all short, adhering a child's attention span. And any difficult words introduced are also explained within the text, making this a potentially good reading primer for young children.
Finally, the writing is superb. If you're an adult reading this to yourself, well, it's a matter of taste. But I'd suggest finding a child to share the story with. There are several fun characters if you like telling stories with 'voices'.
Wednesday, 5 August 2009
Told mostly, but not exclusively, from Lou's point of view, we get a very well researched idea of how autistic people see the world. A point of view that helps to broaden your own as a reader and human being.
It's a great novel. Well written and with an ending you won't see coming.
Saturday, 1 August 2009
Frostbitten – Kelley Armstrong
Transition – Iain Banks
Dr Who: Autonomy – Daniel Blythe
Alex Detail's Revolution – Darren Campo
Dr Who: The Krillitane Storm – Christopher Cooper
Gwenhwyfar – Mercedes Lackey
The Phoenix Transformed – Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory
Fledgling – Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
Dr Who: The Taking of Chelsea 426 – David Llewellyn
Dreamwish Beasts & Snarks – Mike Resnick
Dr Who: The Dalek Project – Justin Richards
The Sword of the Lady – S.M. Stirling
The Stoneholding – James Anderson & Mark Seabanc
The Stars, Like Dust – Isaac Asimov
The Eyes of a King – Catherine Banner
Living Outside the Lines – Lesley Choyce
Return of the Black Company – Glen Cook
Grand Junction – Maurice Dantec
Dark Road Rising – P.N. Elrod
Must Love Hellhounds – Charlaine Harris, Naolini Singh, Ilona Andrews & Meljean Brook
Racing the Dark – Alaya Dawn Johnson
Hell Can Wait – Theodore Judson
Deja Demon – Julie Kenner
Tesseracts 13: Chilling Tales of the Great White North – Nancy Kilpatrick & David Morrell, Ed.
War Hammar 40K: Space Wolf, 2nd Omnibus – William King
Legends of the Dragonrealm – Richard Knaak
Conjure Wife – Fritz Lieber
The Bell at Sealey Head – Patricia McKillip
The Serrano Succession – Elizabeth Moon
Usurper of the Sun – Housuke Nojiri
The Company – K.J. Parker
The New Uncanny – Christopher Priest
Stalking the Dragon – Mike Resnick
Chasing the Dragon – Justina Robson
The Return of the Sorcerer – Clark Ashton Smith
Twilight Zone: 19 Original Stories of the 50 Anniversary – Carol Sterling, Ed.
Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction: Sixtieth Anniversary Anthology – Gordon Van Gelder, Ed.
Mass Market Paperback:
Magic the Gathering: Artifacts II – Lynn Abbey
Doubleblind – Ann aguirre
Heart of Veridon – Tim Akers
On the Edge – Ilona Andrews
Two to the Fifth – Piers Anthony
Eberron: Word of Traitors – Don Bassingthwaite
All the Windwracked Stars – Elizabeth Bear
A War of Gifts – Orson Scott Card
Reading the Wind – Brenda Cooper
Forgotten Realms: City of Torment – Bruce Cordell
War Hammar 40K: Cadian Blood – Aaron Dembski-Bowden
When Duty Calls – William Dietz
The Drowning City – Amanda Downum
Dawnbreaker – Jocelynn Drake
Elom – William Drinkard
The Wyrmling Horde – David Farland
The Commanding Stone – David Forbes
Strip Mauled – Esther Freisner
Xombies: Apocalypse Blues – Walter Greatshell
Dark Vengeance – Ed Greenwood
Between Planets – Robert Heinlein
V: The Original Miniseries – Kenneth Johnson
Conan: the Defender – Robert Jordon
Intelligent Design – Denise Little, Ed.
War Hammar: Shamenslayer – Nathan Long
Soldier King – Violette Malan
Rosemary & Rue – Seanan McGuire
Ravens of Avalon – Diana Paxson
Biting the Bullet – Jennifer Rardin
Biohell – Andy Remic
An Old Friend of the Family – Fred Saberhagen
American Quest – Sienna Skyy
The Scourge of God – S.M. Stirling
Trick of the Light – Rob Thurman
Rolling Thunder – John Varley
Big Bad Wolf – Christine Warren
Worlds of Weber – David Weber
Spectre – Phaedra Weldon
Stargate Atlantis: Dead End – Chris Wraight
Odd Girl Out – Timothy Zahn