Sunday 30 August 2009

Spray Paint Sci-Fi Art

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

Photographer Clark Little

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

SF/F/H Reviewer Linkup Meme 2nd Edition

Comes from: Grasping for the Wind. Go there, copy the feed and pass it on.


Romanian French Chinese Danish Portuguese German


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...

Andromeda Spaceways

The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Ask Daphne

ask nicola

Audiobook DJ


Australia Specfic In Focus

Author 2 Author



Barbara Martin

Babbling about Books

Bees (and Books) on the Knob

Best SF

Bewildering Stories

Bibliophile Stalker


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



Booksies Blog


The Book Smugglers


The Book Swede

Book View Cafe [Authors Group Blog]

Breeni Books


Cheaper Ironies [pro columnist]

Charlotte's Library

Circlet 2.0

Cheryl's Musings

Club Jade

Cranking Plot

Critical Mass

The Crotchety Old Fan


Daily Dose - Fantasy and Romance

Damien G. Walter

Danger Gal

It's Dark in the Dark

Dark Parables

Dark Wolf Fantasy Reviews

Darque Reviews

Dave Brendon's Fantasy and Sci-Fi Weblog

Dead Book Darling

Dear Author

The Deckled Edge

The Doctor is In...

Dragons, Heroes and Wizards

Drey's Library

The Discriminating Fangirl

Dusk Before the Dawn


Enter the Octopus

Erotic Horizon

Errant Dreams Reviews

Eve's Alexandria


Falcata Times

Fan News Denmark [in English]

Fantastic Reviews

Fantastic Reviews Blog

Fantasy Book Banner

Fantasy Book Critic

Fantasy Book Reviews and News

Fantasy By the Tale

Fantasy Cafe

Fantasy Debut

Fantasy Dreamer's Ramblings


Fantasy Magazine

Fantasy and Sci-fi Lovin' News and Reviews

Feminist SF - The Blog!


Fiction is so Overrated

The Fix

The Foghorn Review

Follow that Raven

Forbidden Planet

Frances Writes

Free SF Reader

From a Sci-Fi Standpoint

From the Heart of Europe

Fruitless Recursion

Fundamentally Alien

The Future Fire


The Galaxy Express


Game Couch

The Gamer Rat

Garbled Signals

Genre Reviews


Got Schephs

Graeme's Fantasy Book Review

Grasping for the Wind

a GREAT read

The Green Man Review

Gripping Books



Hero Complex

Highlander's Book Reviews


The Hub Magazine

Hyperpat's Hyper Day


I Hope I Didn't Just Give Away The Ending

Ink and Keys

Ink and Paper

The Internet Review of Science Fiction



Janicu's Book Blog

Jenn's Bookshelf

Jumpdrives and Cantrips


Kat Bryan's Corner

Keeping the Door

King of the Nerds


Lair of the Undead Rat

Largehearted Boy

Layers of Thought

League of Reluctant Adults

The Lensman's Children

Library Dad

Libri Touches

Literary Escapism

Literaturely Speaking

ludis inventio

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

Martin's Booklog


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

Monster Librarian

More Words, Deeper Hole

Mostly Harmless Books

Multi-Genre Fan

Musings from the Weirdside

My Favourite Books

My Overstuffed Bookshelf


Neth Space

The New Book Review


Not Free SF Reader



OF Blog of the Fallen

The Old Bat's Belfry

Only The Best SciFi/Fantasy

The Ostentatious Ogre

Outside of a Dog



Pat's Fantasy Hotlist

Patricia's Vampire Notes

The Persistence of Vision

Piaw's Blog

Pizza's Book Discussion

Poisoned Rationality

Popin's Lair


Post-Weird Thoughts

Publisher's Weekly

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

Reviewer X

Revolution SF

Rhiannon Hart

The Road Not Taken

Rob's Blog o' Stuff

Robots and Vamps


Sandstorm Reviews

Satisfying the Need to Read

Science Fiction and Fantasy Ethics

Science Fiction Times


Sci-Fi Blog


Sci-Fi Fan Letter

The Sci-Fi Gene

Sci-Fi Songs [Musical Reviews]

SciFi Squad

Scifi UK Reviews

Sci Fi Wire

Self-Publishing Review

The Sequential Rat

Severian's Fantastic Worlds

SF Diplomat



SF Gospel


SF Revu

SF Safari


SF Signal

SF Site

SFF World's Book Reviews

Silver Reviews

Simply Vamptastic

Slice of SciFi

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

Solar Flare

Speculative Fiction

Speculative Fiction Junkie

Speculative Horizons

The Specusphere


Spiral Galaxy Reviews

Spontaneous Derivation

Sporadic Book Reviews

Stainless Steel Droppings

Starting Fresh

Stella Matutina

Stuff as Dreams are Made on...

The Sudden Curve

The Sword Review


Tangent Online

Tehani Wessely

Temple Library Reviews

Tez Says

things mean a lot [also a publisher]

True Science Fiction


Ubiquitous Absence



Urban Fantasy Land


Vast and Cool and Unsympathetic

Variety SF

Veritas Omnia Vincula


Walker of Worlds

Wands and Worlds


Wendy Palmer: Reading and Writing Genre Books and ebooks

The Weirdside

The Wertzone

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



Young Adult Science Fiction



Cititor SF [with English Translation]




Foundation of Krantas

The SF Commonwealth Office in Taiwan [with some English essays]

Yenchin's Lair






Fernando Trevisan

Human 2.0

Life and Times of a Talkative Bookworm

Ponto De Convergencia




Fantasy Seiten

Fantasy Buch

Fantasy/SciFi Blog


Welt der fantasy

Bibliotheka Phantastika

SF Basar

Phantastick News



Phantastick Couch


Fantasy News

Fantasy Faszination

Fantasy Guide

Zwergen Reich

Fiction Fantasy


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Thursday 20 August 2009

Children's Books

After I finished university, I decided I needed some down time and came up with a plan to read children's stories. Some were stories I read as a child and loved, others were books I'd always wanted to read and never had the chance.

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

Twilight Watch - Book Review

I love books that make me think, and the Night Watch series never disappoints in this respect. The third of Sergei Lukyanenko's excellent urban fantasy is less multi-layered than his previous books, but is a great read nonetheless.

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

Sweeny Todd - Movie Review

Looking for something a little creepy but not overly disturbing? Try Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street! I'd completely forgotten this was a musical. And boy, will you be surprised at how well these actors can sing!

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 Road - Book Review

The Road is a book best read without listening to the hype. Especially if you've read other good post-apocalyptic fiction. Cormac McCarthy's done a remarkable job at acquiring a bleak tone that still allows you to hope - if barely - that things will get better for the characters.

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

Winds of Dune Event - Toronto

For those of you who will be in the Toronto area next week, here's an H.B. Fenn event you won't want to miss:

"The Winds of Dune Event

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

Joe Abercrombie - Author Interview

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

Tale of Despereaux - Book Review

I'm going to do something I've never done on this site before: give a 'negative' review.

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

Speed of Dark - Book Review

I'd heard that The Speed of Dark, by Elizabeth Moon, was a rewrite of Flowers of Algernon by Daniel Keyes, only with an autistic man rather than a mentally handicapped one. In one respect this is true. At the beginning of the novel the protagonist of The Speed of Dark is pressured by his company to be a subject testing a drug ostensibly designed to get rid of autism. But the novel itself is about so much more, to the point that the fear of having to participate in this medical procedure almost takes a back seat to all of the other issues facing Lou Arrendale. Issues like: what is normal? What is the nature of personality (if he has this treatment will he cease to be himself? Will he still like the same things? Will he be able to do the work he enjoys?). What is the speed of Dark? (Is it the absence of light or does it travel faster than light, thereby arriving first?)

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

Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Coming in September 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

Trade Paperback:

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