Sunday 31 July 2011

Science Fiction and Fantasy Events in Toronto, August 2011

These events are from the science fiction & fantasy calendar I run.  If you have an event that's not listed, email me ( and I'll put it on the calendar and add it here.  While I try to get the details correct, always check the links to confirm event information. I'll be updating this post as I learn of more events. 

Wednesday August 3

Ray Fawkes Book launch for Fawkes's new graphic novel, One Soul.
Where: , Lillian H Smith Library, 239 College
When: 7:30 pm
Admission: Free

Wednesday August 10

Chiaroscuro Reading Series: The Unholy Three
Where: The Augusta House (152 Augusta Avenue, Toronto)
When: 8:00 PM - 11:00 PM

We're very proud to welcome some of the best new voices in dark fantasy and horror: the sultans of scare, the princes of panic, the grusome threesom...
Simon Strantzas is the author of the critically-acclaimed COLD TO THE TOUCH (Tartarus Press, 2009), a collection of thirteen tales of the strange and supernatural. His first collection, BENEATH THE SURFACE (reprinted by Dark Regions Press, 2010), has been called "one of the most important debut short story collections in the genre". Strantzas's stories have appeared in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST NEW HORROR, CEMETERY DANCE, and POSTSCRIPTS. In 2009, his work was nominated for the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction. His third collection, NIGHTINGALE SONGS, is due for publication in 2011. He lives in Toronto, Canada, with his wife and an unyielding hunger for the flesh of the living. Please visit him at
Ian Rogers is a writer, artist, and photographer. His short fiction has appeared in several publications, including Cemetery Dance, Supernatural Tales, and On Spec. He is the author of the Felix Renn series of supernatural-noirs ("supernoirturals"), including "Temporary Monsters" and "The Ash Angels," from Burning Effigy Press. He is also the author of the Weird Western novella, "Deadstock," from Stonebunny Press. Ian's first book, a collection of dark fiction, is forthcoming from ChiZine Publications.
Richard Gavin has been lauded as a master of numinous horror fiction in the tradition of Algernon Blackwood and Arthur Machen. He has authored three collections: Charnel Wine (Rainfall Books, 2004), Omens (Mythos Books, 2007), and The Darkly Splendid Realm (Dark Regions Press, 2009), with a new volume in preparation. Richard has also penned criticism and various essays of arcanum. He lives in Ontario with his beloved wife and their brood. At Fear's Altar, the author's website, can be witnessed at

Friday August 12 - Saturday August 13

OSRCon: a gaming convention
Where: Merril Collection, 3rd Floor of Lillian H. Smith Library (239 College Street)
Cost: $20 before July 1, $25 afterward.
OSRCon is a two-day mini-convention for people interested in retro role-playing games (ie Dungeons & Dragons) created between 1975-1985. This event is co-sponsored by The Friends of the Merril Collection. A lecture and supporting display will take place in the Merril Collection reading room on the 3rd floor. Phone 416-393-7748 to register.

Sunday August 21

Space-Time Continuum:
Meet at Indigo (Bay & Bloor in the SF section) to see a movie

[No time given on their website]

Thursday August 25

Rue Morgue presents NEAR DARK 35mm Screening
Featuring star Lance Henriksen in person!

Where: Toronto Underground Cinema - 186 Spadina Ave., Toronto
When: 9:00 pm
Cost: Advance tickets $15

Rue Morgue presents a rare 35mm print screening of Kathryn Bigelow's NEAR DARK, including an exclusive question & answer session with star LANCE HENRIKSEN, hosted by TV personality Richard Crouse.

Thusday August 25 - Sunday August 28

Fan Expo Canada
Where: Metro Toronto Convention Centre, South Building (222 Bremner Blvd)
When: Thursday 2-9 pm, Friday 10-8, Saturday 10-8, Sunday 10-6
Cost: Varies based on days & pass types

Friday August 26 

Rue Morgue presents

Featuring Ghoultown

Where: The Courthouse - 57 Adelaide Street E.
When: 10:00 pm

Cost: FREE!

Festival of Fear Offsite Event! Rue Morgue presents its 8th Annual SHOCKTAIL PARTY featuring a performance from Texas gothabilly act GHOULTOWN and DJ Peter Black.

Saturday August 27

Rue Morgue and Daniloff Productions presents JOHN WATERS: THIS FILTHY WORLD Filthier and Dirtier! An intimate evening with the legendary JOHN WATERS.
Where: Toronto Underground Cinema - 186 Spadina Ave.
When: 7:00 pm
Cost: $35 door, $30 advance, $125 VIP Meet & Greet Ticket Package (Includes: Priority Admission, Reserved Seating, Post-event Meet & Greet reception with John Waters, Event poster autographed by John Waters)

Rue Morgue and Daniloff Productions present THIS FILTHY WORLD Filthier and Dirtier - An Intimate Evening with JOHN WATERS featuring Waters in his one-man "vaudeville" act celebrating the career and tastes of the man William Burroughs once called "The Pope of Trash." Focusing in on his early artistic influences and his fascination with true crime, exploitation films, fashion lunacy and the extremes of the contemporary art world, this joyously devious monologue elevates all that is trashy into a call to arms to Waters lovers everywhere.

Rue Morgue presents

The official party of the Rue Morgue Festival of Fear 2011.

Where: Revival Event Theatre - 783 College St.
When: 10:00 pm

Cost: $15 door/$10 advance
Rue Morgue presents NIGHT TERRORS - Official Party of the 2011 Festival of Fear featuring a Midnight Costume Contest hosted by TOM SAVINI and others along with the hypnotic sounds of Witch Rock pioneers BLOOD CEREMONY. Plus! Terror tunes form Rue Morgue Radio's Tomb Dragomir, Oz and LaMort.

Friday 29 July 2011

Fantasy Artist: Dehong He

I noticed a new PYR book with a gorgeous cover a few weeks back and had to check out the artist.  Dehong He is a Chinese illustrator who started working with comics, helped launch several MMO games and now does game and other art.  He goes by the name GBrush on deviant art.

 Check out his website for more artwork and an interview he did for Imagine FX.

Thursday 28 July 2011

Movie Review: The Omen (1976)

Director: Richard Donner, 1976
IMDB listing

Pros: atmospheric music, good pacing, Gregory Peck
Cons: 70's clothes

Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) substitutes an orphaned child for his own stillborn son, born June 6th at 6 am.

On his 5th birthday, Damien's nanny commits suicide. One of the priests present at Damien's birth, tries to warn Robert about his son's demonic nature. By the time Robert listens it's almost too late.
The movie begins slowly. After the adoption, Robert is appointed Ambassador to London.  Damien seems to grow up a normal, happy boy.  When things start going wrong it's easy to attribute the happenings to normal phenomenon until a photographer notices something odd when he prints pictures of the priest.

Only the musical score hints at Damien's true nature.  His rosy cheeks and black curls look positively angelic. A very creepy contrast.

The only downside to the film is the obviously dated wardrobes. It's hard not to laugh at some of the fashions, which is rather detrimental to the mood of the film.

The acting is superb and the plot subtle and intricate. There are a few disturbing scenes, though mild by modern standards and little gore.

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Now For Something Completely Different

I don't like getting political on my blog, but I'd like to congratulate the people of New York state who were finally granted their civil liberties and able to tie the knot on the weekend.  Someone on facebook posted this link, to some great pro gay marriage protest signs.  My favourite is this one:
My second favourite is this one:
* Please note, this part of the post has some mature content.

While I like the protest sign, it's an unfortunate reminder of what things used to be like.  One of the first series of books I read that dealt with GLTBQ content was Orson Scott Card's Homecoming series.  I can't remember if he turns up in the first or second book, but there's a character named Zdorab, a servant, who's forced to join this group of people leaving their homeland to search for Earth.  The group is paired up in marriages, which causes a problem for Zdorab, who's a closet homosexual.  He's had to hide this as the people of his world, including those he's travelling with, don't accept that behaviour.

Here's where things get interesting.  Despite being LDS (or Mormon), and following that church's guidelines regarding the GLTBQ community (ie: 'love them as people while condemning their actions' - I'll not comment on how well they achieve this or if it's even possible to love someone you're taught is fundamentally evil.  And before people harp on my not understanding the Mormons, or choose my blog to bash them, I was raised in that church and have left if over this issue, so I do know what I'm talking about and don't need Mormon bashing here.)  Anyway, despite being LDS, Card has a highly sympathetic view of Zdorab.  Here's a man who is only attracted to other men, who must marry this woman in order to hide who he is.  I (still a Mormon when I read this) expected Card to have Zdorab change sexualities and discover he's really straight.  Ie, to 'cure' him.

What happens is this: the woman's not keen on a forced marriage either and agrees to keep his secret. The two of them eventually develop mutual affection so when she decides she wants a child, he agrees to try.  Card describes their attempts as being entirely due to friction and him thinking of men during sex, as he can't get off with a woman.  Regardless of what he's said and done since, with those books Card taught me that one's sexuality is what it is and can't be changed, something I've never stopped believing.

So I'm glad I now live in a world where people are increasingly able to be who they are, to stop hiding and ruining their lives (and the lives of others) in an attempt to be 'normal'.  Hopefully the next few years will have other states following suit.

Here's to a better, more loving world!

Tuesday 26 July 2011

New Author Spotlight: Will McIntosh

New Author Spotlight is a series designed to introduce authors with 3 books or less in the different SF/F subgenres.

Today's spotlight shines on Will McIntosh.

Will McIntosh's books include:

  • Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh (Night Shade Books)

Here's the cover copy for Soft Apocalypse:
What happens when resources become scarce and society starts to crumble? As the competition for resources pulls America's previously stable society apart, the "New Normal" is a Soft Apocalypse. This is how our world ends; with a whimper instead of a bang.

New social structures and tribal connections spring up across America, as the previous social structures begin to dissolve. Soft Apocalypse follows the journey across the Southeast of a tribe of formerly middle class Americans as they struggle to find a place for themselves and their children in a new, dangerous world that still carries the ghostly echoes of their previous lives.

If you like this title, you might also like:

  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler (Grand Central Publishing)
  • Homeland by Paul William Roberts (Key Porter Books)
  • Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson (Warner Books)

Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Pros: character growth, creepily atmospheric, high quality physical book, creatively meshes backstory with mythology and history

Cons: don't learn as much about the kids as you'd like, doesn't fully explain their abilities or why they're born as they are

For Parents: some swearing, some violence (mostly offscreen), kissing

If ever there were an argument against ebooks, it would be Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.  Yes, you can read it on an ereader, and yes, the story would still be creepy and fun, but you'd miss something about the experience.  This is a beautiful hardcover, with thick pages and gorgeous black and white photographs scattered throughout.  Holding it and turning the pages is part of the ambiance the story creates.

Jakob Portman grew up hearing his grandfather's fantastic stories about the children's home he was sent to in England as a Jewish Polish immigrant in World War II.  The stories were about children who could do peculiar things, like levitate, hold fire and lift very heavy things.  But the violent death of his grandfather, along with the old man's last words, make him wonder if there was some truth to his stories.

This is a slow paced coming of age story.  Mr. Riggs takes time to develop Jakob as a character, especially regarding his mental state, as well as the settings, in the book.

At first glance, the children seem like X-Men rip offs.  They're said to be the next step in evolution and have different, extraordinary abilities.  But while some of the abilities are useful, others - like having 2 mouths or bees living inside your body - are not at first glance advantageous.  And while one group of peculiars thinks it would be grand to use their abilities to subjugate normals, the rest simply want to live in peace. 

I loved how the author amalgamated their existence with history as witches, changelings and circus performers.  It gave the book a sense of history, and the kids a practical reason to hide.

The downside of the novel is that you don't learn as much as you'd like about certain things: the kids (their histories and abilities), how the loops work and why people are born peculiar.  I'd love to see Riggs bring out a book of the grandfather's stories or a photo album of Miss Peregrine's home, with the stories of how each child came to be there.

There seems to be a move in SF towards the reimagining of history with a horror slant.  While Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children is mostly set in the present, it reminded me of Eutopia by David Nickle and Mr. Shivers by Robert Jackson Bennett.

This is an open ended novel with series potential.  It's a slow, atmospheric work that adults and teens will love.

I still think the book has one of the best book trailers out there.

Ransom Riggs, who has done book trailers for others, did his own. Here's a video of him touring Belgium looking for a good decaying home to use in it.

SF Signal Turns 8 Years Old!

One of the best SF sites on the internet, SF Signal, turned 8 years old on the weekend.  I'm honoured to work with such a great group of people making the site the best we can.  Here's wishing the site many years to come!

Friday 22 July 2011

Puzzlewood - The Forest That Inspired Middle Earth

Found this link to Kuriositas on Paperback Writer.  Apparently it's the forest that inspired Middle Earth.  Looking at the photos, it's not hard to see why.  Check out the Kuriositas website to see more pictures or go to Puzzlewood's website.

Thursday 21 July 2011

The Problem With Pseudonyms

Yes, it's time for another semi rant.  Now, I like pseudonyms, I use one myself.  But I understand there are limitations to using a name that's not your own (for example, it's hard to friend people on facebook if they don't know your real name).

In the past pseudonyms were chosen for a few reasons: because the author's name was the wrong gender to match their genre (or, historically, just by women trying to get their books sold period).  That's why a lot of female SF writers use initials, and why some men writing urban fantasy do too.  Or they were used to differentiate writing between genres (so Nora Roberts writes romances but J. D. Robb writes mysteries).  Or because the author's name was unpronounceable or otherwise unsuitable and so a nom de plume was used instead. *

That's no longer the case.  More and more frequently I'm finding 1) authors whose first series didn't do so well so the author's forced to change names to start over, hopefully building a following under this new name.  And 2) authors who use a new name per inter genre series (ex: Alayna Williams and her alter ego Laura Bickle both write urban fantasy).

Why is this a problem?  The obvious reason is that it doesn't allow authors to build an audience.  Sure, people might not have flocked to your first series, doesn't mean they won't like your next one - and liking it, go back to read your first.  In other words, you lose repeat business by making it hard for readers to know what else you've written. This is why some authors works are later republished with new covers, clearly stating the author's real name (Dawn Cook's books now advertise that they're written by Kim Harrison, so her urban fantasy readers will pick up her traditional fantasy novels).  Jim Hines has done some great posts about how much his books and ebooks have earned.  His Goblin books have sold less than his Princess books (I'd say the increase in sales for his newer books is because his writing has improved over the years and the Princess books appeal to a wider audience, as fairytale retellings are becoming increasingly popular again).  But for his Princess readers to pick up his Goblin books, and vice versa, they have to be next to each other on the shelf, not hidden under some other name elsewhere in the store.

The other problem with changing names per series is that readers are often hesitant to try out a brand new author.  They want to know that the author is capable of finishing a story (trilogy, etc.) and often wait for word of mouth recommendations.  If you're constantly a debut author, there's little chance for word of mouth to help you (unless you're one of those freakishly lucky souls whose debut causes ripples on the internet and beyond so everyone's looking for your book).  This is even more crippling if your book debuts in hardcover (VERY few people will pay hardcover price to test out a new author, especially in today's economic climate, unless they've got an amazing marketing campaign or celebrity endorsement of some sort).

Working at a bookstore, I like to showcase new SF/F authors - those with 3 books or less.  It's become increasingly necessary for me to google new authors to see if they're actually new.  This is even more challenging for my SF Signal New Author Spotlights, where I'll disqualify someone if self-published books push them past the 3 books limit (ie, if they've got 1-3 professionally published books and I discover they've self-published several others, they no longer qualify for that post).

Most surprising, and frankly disappointing recently, was when Joe Kimball's debut novel, Timecaster came out.  New SF authors are few and far between (though they seem to be increasing :) ), so when one comes along I look forward to showcasing them.  Seems Mr. Kimball is another name for J. A. Konrath, which surprised me as he's been doing so well with epublishing.

Ultimately, it's getting to the point that if you like someone's work, google them.  You may discover they've written something else, under another name.

Addendum: I've started a list of author pseudonyms so that when someone asks at the store for recommendations, I can suggest other books by the same authors.

* I came up with 2 more reasons people use pseudonyms after writing this post.  The first is for anonymity - especially when writing erotica, the second is to get around contract language that states you can only publish with one publisher at a time, thereby reducing the number of books you can get out a year.  By writing under a second name, you can sell two series to two different publishing houses.

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Novella Review: World More Full of Weeping by Robert Wiersema

The World More Full of Weeping is a 77 page novella told from two points of view.  The first is the view of Jeff Page, as he discovers his son hasn't returned from playing in the woods.  The second is that of the son, Brian, as he meets a girl in the woods who shows him marvelous things.

It's a sweet, compelling story of love and loss.  And a reminder that doing what you believe is best for someone doesn't usually take into account their own preferences on the matter.

Monday 18 July 2011

New Steampunk Web Series - Mantecoza

For all you steampunk aficionados out there, there's a new steampunk web series starting soon called Mantecoza.

The premise:


Every decision you make results in a tiny disturbance in the fabric of reality, like a ripple in still water emanating from the toss of a single pebble.  Big decisions, like what career you pursue.  Small decisions, like which breakfast cereal to eat.  Some of these ripples, when they combine with waves of other origins, give rise to an entirely new set of circumstances... and can lead to the creation of an altogether new realm of existence.

Somewhere across the Atlantic, early on in the 1800's, a convergence of disturbances violently shifted the known world - enough to split reality in two.  Unbeknownst to us, there is another existence, governed by different rules and an alternate history.  This other world is powered by the energy from steam, and its populace still embraces the wonders of magic.  It is a reality that is out of phase and completely inaccessible to all of us - save one.

These are the stories of one common person who would cross that boundary.  Sebastian King has a destiny, but it is a destiny with endpoints in two worlds.  How he would fulfill this purpose, with friends that would help him along the way, is the subject of our tale.

Sunday 17 July 2011

Weird Al Yankovic in Concert!

I was lucky enough to see what was one of two taped performances of Weird Al Yankovic in concert yesterday.  (So if you buy his 'live' DVD for Alpocalypse, I'm in the audience.)

It was a great concert, with a lot of old and new songs mixed together.  I didn't take any photos as I thought that might get me kicked out, though I saw others taking plenty.  So I've nothing to share but this, taken off youtube.  I was a fan of his work back when he wrote 'Fat', 'Like a surgeon', etc., but lost touch until I started hearing newer singles like 'White & Nerdy'.  Which is my excuse for not knowing he'd done a song about Spiderman to Billy Joel's 'Piano Man', a song I really like.

And if he's touring near you and the show's not sold out yet, he puts on an incredible performance.

Friday 15 July 2011

Author Interview: Kevin Hearne




> What can readers expect from the Iron Druid Chronicles?

Atticus O'Sullivan is a likable, funny hero whose old Irish gods won't leave him alone. The last of the Druids, he's hiding out in modern-day Tempe in hopes that the Tuatha De Danann won't find him. As the series progresses, he draws the attention of more pantheons who thought the last Druid had died centuries ago, and they all have different agendas.

>What interested you about druids and why set the series in modern times?

Part of the attraction was my own Irish heritage, and part of it was a genuine curiosity about what one of the old Druids would think about our modern, petroleum-based society. And once I got into the research, I found the Irish myths to be fascinating in themselves and thought they deserved a wider audience.

>  You're a consummate reader of comic books.  Have any of them affected your writing style or content?  If so, how?

I can't point at any single comic and say, "THAT one affected me!" but I can point to comics as a whole and tell you that they help me think episodically, which translates into chapters, and they help me envision the way a fight scene would look. It also tends to make me leave out descriptions, since in comics you can see the characters and settings for yourself. My editors always have to ask me to go back and describe this or that; my dialogue and action sequences are great, but I often forget to include what characters look like.

> Now that you've got books published, will you go back to writing your own comic?

If I found an artist who would want to work with me and some publisher willing to take a chance on me as a writer, sure, that would be a blast!

> What made you want to be a writer?

Ken Kesey and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Brilliant book. I'm not in his league, but he's the guy that made me pick up the pen.

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

Sure, it would be awesome to be Atticus. I'd like to have the body of a 21-year-old again―who wouldn't?

> Do you still teach high school English, and if so, how do you find time to write?

Yes, I still teach English and Creative Writing (go figure). I do take advantage of weekends and school holidays. Summers are quite productive for me. On school nights, if I'm caught up, I can eke out 500-1,000 words after dinner, and that's not bad at all. Write 500 words a night and you have a 90,000-word novel in six months. That's a realistic goal for most anybody.

> What was the hardest scene for you to write?

Fight scenes are tough for me. I have to actually get myself worked up to write them, because I'm not a violent person. I have to drink something strong to lower my inhibitions and listen to heavy metal to build up my aggression, and then it flows pretty well. Later I have to go back and clean up my prose and that's not very efficient, but at least it keeps me and my character in the fight.

> When and where do you write?

Mostly it's at my kitchen table whenever I have time. There's a bird feeder outside and that's pretty relaxing, and the cat sits on the table and dreams of catching a bird. I like the mix of peace and predatory tension. Sometimes I'll write in a coffee shop or a bar because it's possible to really get into a zone there, but it's also horrifyingly expensive after a while.

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

I think the best thing about it is people telling me they were entertained. To take people away from their cares for a while―that's what it's all about for me. The worst part is the waiting to see if you're going to be rejected or not. I can handle rejection; it's the waiting that kills me. Tom Petty wrote a song about it.

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

I actually wrote a series of blog posts about this―Stuff They Never Told Me About Publishing. One of the surprising tidbits is how much of your own publicity you'll do and how much fun it can be. There's not only the blog to worry about, but Facebook and Twitter and other social media. Probably the greatest pleasure, however, has been getting to know book bloggers. They're COOL. They're funny, literate people who really like to read. What's not to love?

> Do you have any advice for hopeful authors?

Read a lot in your chosen genre and analyze how those published authors are getting it done. Then look for a niche in the market that's not being filled, and go fill it! That's what I did. Hardly anyone writes about Druids in urban fantasy. There's me and this one other fella, and our Druids are completely different. There are plenty of other opportunities like that out there, but you have to put in the time and do the analysis.

> Any tips against writers block?

Work on several different projects. If you get stymied on one, say, "Neener neener!" and work on something else. Your subconscious will work on the problem in the meantime and eventually you'll be able to come back to it.

> How do you discipline yourself to write?

Hmm. There are people who would say that discipline and I are not very friendly, and that's probably true. I don't think of being disciplined; for me, the mind set is not "I have to write" but "I get to write."

Thursday 14 July 2011

Interactive Book: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

I saw this on Lou Anders' blog. I'm not sure how I feel about interactive books on the whole, but when I see things like this, well, this is pretty cool...

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore iPad App Trailer from Moonbot Studios on Vimeo.

Movie Review: Vidocq

Director: Pitof, 2001
IMDB listing

Pros: amazing special effects, vibrant colours giving the film a surrealistic feel, interesting plot and characters

Cons: told mostly in flashbacks, which can be confusing

Vidocq (Gerard Depardieu), once a police inspector and now a private investigator dies while on a case.  Etienne Boisset (Guillaume Canet), a young journalist and Vidocq's biographer, follows up on his investigation to determine who his, apparently supernatural, killer was and bring the fiend to justice. 

As Etienne questions each person a flashback begins showing what they know.  It makes the movie more interesting, but the transitions can be confusing if you don't know what to expect.

The visuals are striking, being so vibrant in colour they look fake.  Yet this creates the right atmosphere for the film.  The costumes include a lot of billowing cloaks, reds and greens.

The setting is Paris, and the backdrop of political unrest keeps the film grounded in reality, even when things start to become more surreal.

And the theme song, Hope Volume 2, by ApocalypticA is fabulous.

It is a French movie, so be prepared for some minor nudity and sexual scenes (generally in the background, but not always).

Watch the French trailer first, even if you don't speak the language.  The music they use in the English trailer, calling it Dark Portals, doesn't fit the mood of the film.

Wednesday 13 July 2011

New Author Spotlight: Jesse Bullington

New Author Spotlight is a series designed to introduce authors with 3 books or less in the different SF/F subgenres.

Today's spotlight shines on Jesse Bullington.

Jesse Bullington's books include:

  • The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart by Jesse Bullington (Orbit)
  • The Enterprise of Death by Jesse Bullington (Orbit)

Here's the cover copy for The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart:
Hegel and Manfried Grossbart may not consider themselves bad men - but death still stalks them through the dark woods of medieval Europe.

The year is 1364, and the brothers Grossbart have embarked on a naïve quest for fortune. Descended from a long line of graverobbers, they are determined to follow their family''s footsteps to the fabled crypts of Gyptland. To get there, they will have to brave dangerous and unknown lands and keep company with all manner of desperate travelers-merchants, priests, and scoundrels alike. For theirs is a world both familiar and distant; a world of living saints and livelier demons, of monsters and madmen.

The Brothers Grossbart are about to discover that all legends have their truths, and worse fates than death await those who would take the red road of villainy.

If you like these titles, you might also like:

  • Peter & Max: A Fables Novel by Bill Willingham (Vertigo)
  • Company of Liars: A Novel by Karen Maitland (Delta)
  • Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard (Anchor)

Friday 8 July 2011

SFF GLBTQ Reading List

I did a shorter list a few months ago and here's the promised expansion.  While I've added a teen section, it's still not a comprehensive list and in several cases the authors have other books with GLTBQ characters.  If you want more titles, check out the Lambda and Gaylactic Spectrum award winners for the past few years.  I've included their winners for 2011, 2010 and 2009, but both awards go back further.  

I also got titles for this list from several Querring SFF articles.  

Titles with *s are ones I've either read or know for a fact have GLBTQ content.  While most of the books on this list come from reliable sources, mistakes do happen, so if you know one of the books here doesn't belong, tell me and I'll remove it.  Conversely, if you want titles added, post a comment and I'll add the books to the list.  Because I haven't read all of the books I didn't separate out the books with GLBTQ protagonists vs ones with supporting characters.  For the ones I do know, I've put supporting in brackets beside them, and left the ones with protagonists blank.

ETA: SF Signal had a fantastic guest post with a lot of great suggestions.

Fantasy/Urban Fantasy/Horror
Flowers of Edo – Nene Adams
By the Mountain Bound, Seven for a Secret – Elizabeth Bear
Cat in the Cradle – Jay Bell 
Wilde Stories 2010 – Steve Berman, Ed.
 * Mooncalled – Patricia Briggs (supporting)
Pumpkin Teeth - Tom Cardomone
Santa Olivia, Naamah's Kiss – Jacqueline Carey
* Changeless, Blameless - Gail Carriger (supporting)
Fist of the Spider Woman - Amber Dawn
Drowning City – Amanda Downum
Velum, Ink – Hal Duncan
* A Book of Tongues, Rope of Thorns – Gemma Files
The Exile and the Sorcerer, Wolfsbane Winter – Jane Fletcher
Luck in the Shadows, Stalking the Darkness, Traitor's Moon, Shadow's Return – Lynn Flewelling
Daughters of an Emerald Dusk – Katherine Forrest
* Of Saints and Shadows – Christopher Golden
* Stepsister Scheme, Mermaid's Madness, Red Hood's Revenge – Jim Hines (supporting)
The Enchantment Emporium – Tanya Huff
* Already Dead - Charlie Huston
* Havemercy, Shadow Magic, Dragon Soul – Jaida Jones & Danielle Bennett
The Red Tree – Caitlin Kiernan
* Swordspoint, The Privilege of the Sword – Ellen Kushner
* Magic's Pawn, Magic's Promise, Magic's Price – Mercedes Lackey (plus a lot of other books)
* Green – Jay Lake
Strange Fortune – Josh Lanyon
Disturbed by her Song – Tanith Lee
Shadow's Daughter - Shirley Meier (suggested by Shandra)
Shadow's Son - Shirley Meier, S. M. Stirling & Karen Wehrstein (suggested by Shandra)
A Companion to Wolves – Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear
The Steel Remains – Richard Morgan
* Kafka on the Shore - Haruki Murakami (supporting)
Nights of Villjamur – Mark Charan Newton
Centuries Ago and Very Fast – Rebecca Ore
The Chosen, The Standing Dead, The Third God – Ricardo Pinto
* Black Blade Blues – J. A. Pitts
Blue Moon Cafe – Rick Reed
City of Strangers – Diana Rivers
The Called – Warren Rochelle
* All Men of Genius - Lev Rosen (supporting)
Inda – Sherwood Smith
Saber & Shadow, The Cage - S. M. Stirling & Shirley Meier (suggested by Shandra)
In the Closet, Under the Bed - Lee Thomas
Nightlife, Moonshine, Madhouse, Deathwish – Rob Thurman (supporting)
Animythical Tales – Sarah Totten
Palimpsest – Catherynne Valente
Lion's Heart, Lion's Soul - Karen Wehrstein (suggested by Shandra)

Science Fiction
Ethan of Athos, Cordelia's Honor – Lois McMaster Bujold
* Homecoming series - Orson Scott Card (supporting character, Zdorab.  I can't quite remember but I think he's in books 2-4)
Dhalgren – Samuel Delany
Slow River – Nicola Griffith
* The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin
The Chronicles of Ratha: Children of the Noorthi – Erica Lawson
Diana Comet and Other Stories – Sandra McDonald
China Mountain Zhang – Maureen McHugh
* Woman on the Edge of Time – Marge Piercy (supporting)
* All Men of Genius - Lev A. C. Rosen (supporting)
The Child Garden – Geoff Ryman
* Trouble and Her Friends – Melissa Scott
Contraband – Charlie Vazquez
Zorn: A Legend of the Days to Come – Graham Wothington

Tales of Modern Faerie – Holly Black
* A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, The Sweet Far Thing – Libba Bray (don't find out supporting character's orientation until last book)
City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass – Cassandra Clare (supporting)
* Mordred, Bastard Son – Douglas Clegg
* Eon, Eona – Alison Goodman (supporting)
* Unnatural – Michael Griffo
* Shadow Walkers – Brent Hartinger
* Ash, Huntress – Malinda Lo
The Demon's Lexicon, The Demon's Covenant, The Demon's Surrender – Sarah Brennan Rees (supporting)

Bonus book: if you like mysteries, try Edward O. Phillips' Buried on Sunday.  I loved it.

Thursday 7 July 2011

Genre News: Giveaways!

Seems there are a lot of giveaways happening, so I thought I'd publicize a few of them.  These are all 'open to the world', so wherever you live, here's the chance to win some awesome books.

First up, Angry Robot Books is celebrating their 2nd birthday, and want to give away some books.  They're giving away one physical set and one set of ebooks of all the books they've published in the past 2 years.

To win, send a Hallmark style poem worthy of the occasion by July 14th to: mike.ramalho (at) angryrobotbooks (dot) com, Subject: Birthday Poem.

They've also started selling merchandise, so if you want an Angry Robot t-shirt, mug, skateboard, etc. in the UK or US, check out their sites.

Next up, Fantasy & SciFi Lovin' News and Reviews is giving away a copy of Steven Gould's 7th Sigma.

Welcome to the territory. Leave your metal behind, all of it. The bugs will eat it, and they’ll go right through you to get it…Don’t carry it, don’t wear it, and for god’s sake don’t come here if you’ve got a pacemaker.

The bugs showed up about fifty years ago—self-replicating, solar-powered, metal-eating machines. No one knows where they came from. They don’t like water, though, so they’ve stayed in the desert Southwest. The territory. People still live here, but they do it without metal. Log cabins, ceramics, what plastic they can get that will survive the sun and heat. Technology has adapted, and so have the people.

Kimble Monroe has chosen to live in the territory. He was born here, and he is extraordinarily well adapted to it. He’s one in a million. Maybe one in a billion.

In 7th Sigma, Gould builds an extraordinary SF novel of survival and personal triumph against all the odds.
For your chance to win, fill out the form on her site by Wednesday July 27th. 

Finally, Paperback Writer (S.L. Veihl / Lynn Veihl) is offering 7 copies of Shadow Walkers by Brent Hartinger as well as signed copies of her own book, After Midnight.  You've got until midnight EST on Friday, July 8 to post a comment with "the title of the last book you read that you enjoyed, and why (or if you're in a reading slump, just toss your name in the hat)".

Shadow Walkers is a teen thriller.  Watch his book trailer to learn more about it.

This isn't a book giveaway, but it is free, 20th Century Fox is offering a free iPhone/iPad app for their upcoming film, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, in theaters August 5th.

The free app poses an intriguing question: are you smarter than an ape?  Based on an actual intelligence test done at Kyoto University, it parallels the central storyline of the new studio’s upcoming film, in which a scientist’s tampering with the laws of nature leads to the development of superior intelligence in apes and the onset of a war for supremacy.
In addition to the game, the app offers access to the latest content about Rise of the Planet of the Apes, including the theatrical trailer, movie tickets (when available), and the “Apes Will Rise” YouTube channel.   You can also learn more about the history of the tests that measured apes’ surprising intelligence. 
For more information about the app, check out their website.

Between 'writing' and 'being writerly'

I did a rant post several months ago wherein I decried authors who use the thesaurus too much, thus adding words to their books that they'd never use in regular life.  Nathan Bransford's page critique today bought up what I was trying to say, only much more succinctly:

Now, allow me sidetrack a bit to digress about between "writing" and "being writerly."

Writers describe. They illuminate and clarify. When you're writing you're painting the proverbial picture in the proverbial reader's head.

When you're being writerly, your writing is making things less clear with clever word play.

I don't mind authors who can use big words well in their work (like Umberto Eco, China Mieville, etc.).  What I don't like are authors who feel that in order to be Authors, with a capital A, they have to use words they're not comfortable with or metaphors that obscure rather than clarify their text.

I believe this is where those writing workshops and experience come in.  From my own reading (and writing experience) it seems that debut authors try to gain respect for their work by using all the literary conventions they learned in high school (similes, metaphors, onomatopoeia, etc.), rather than clear efficient language that tells the story they want to tell.  I guess that's why most books on writing I've read mention getting rid of all the adverbs.  They're filler words that often don't add anything to the story, just to the word count.

But if you want me to stop reading your book, use lots of big words that don't fit the characters or story and make comparisons that prompt me to say, "WTF?"

Wednesday 6 July 2011

Matt Mulholland's Matrix Lobby scene with a capella multitrack

Saw this a few days ago.  Matt Mulholland has several other fun videos on his website, like the Ghostbusters theme.  :)

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Graphic Novel Review: Blood Work by Kim Harrison

Pencilists: Pedro Maia and Gemma Magno

Pros: interesting story, kick ass female protagonist, character development

Cons: necessary background information left unexplained

Artwork: not to my taste; in some cases the heads were too large with features and arms too small;  I liked the realistic shading though

This is an original story set in Kim Harrison's Hollows world.  Ivy, a vampire, has been demoted from homicide to street detail and her new partner, Rachel Morgan, a witch, is still in training.  Their easy drug case gets complicated when they find a dead werewolf drained of blood.  And Ivy's having trouble not putting the bite on her new, maddening, partner.

As this story takes place before the novels, I assumed it would be a good starting point for someone (like me) who hasn't read the novels.  It quickly became apparent that Harrison wrote this for fans of the series, people who would know background information, like who Piscary is and his connection to Ivy and how Ivy's power works.  I'm still not sure what her ghost form in the comic is: astral projection? some sort of vampire hunting mode?  If she attacks someone with it, would they die?

I also started with the impression that Ivy was kick ass.  That impression didn't last long.  And while Rachel could be annoying at times, she WAS kick ass throughout.  Still, I liked Ivy.  The story is told from her POV so you learn how she feels about things.  And her story's intriguing to say the least.  She also develops as a character in ways Rachel doesn't get the chance to.

The artwork wasn't my favourite, as sometimes body parts were too big or small compared to the rest of the body or weren't quite symmetrical.  I thought the shading and colouring were pretty good, going for lifelike gradients rather than black shading lines.

In the end, it's a decent debut graphic novel with room for improvement.  And I'm sure fans of the series will love seeing Ivy and Rachel meet - and clash - for the first time.

Saturday 2 July 2011

Sea Lion Books Hosts Facebook Contest

Sea Lion Books is having a contest.  Their goal is to reach 1111 likes in honour of the 4th of July weekend (1+1+1+1=4). 

What do you win?  A copy of the first Storm Born graphic novel from the Dark Swan series by Rachelle Mead AND a cameo in the second volume, out next year.  Their press release hinted that there might be more prizes as well.  :)

How do you enter?  'Like' their facebook page.  Write your full name on their wall and tell them how much you like the Dark Swan series' protagonist, Eugenie Markham.

The contest closes when they reach their target likes.

Friday 1 July 2011

Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Coming in August, 2011

This list is compiled from the Chapters/Indigo website, with the exception of the Carina Press ebooks.  So far they're the only ebooks I'm adding to this list.  Due to differing publication dates, I'm going by the Canadian schedules.


Spell Bound – Kelley Armstrong
The Tempering of Men – Elizabeth Bear
The Measure of the Magic – Terry Brooks
Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
Omnitopia East Wind – Diane Duane
Legacy of Kings – C. S. Friedman
Forgotten Realms: Bury Elminster Deep – Ed Greenwood
Home Improvement: Undead Edition – Charlaine Harris & Toni Kelner, Ed.
The Sookie Stackhouse Companion – Charlaine Harris
Steel Hands – Jaida Jones & Danielle Bennett
Prince of Thorns – Mark Lawrence
Awakenings – Edward Lazellari
Ghost Ship – Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
A Blight of Mages – Karen Miller
The Moon Maze Game – Larry Niven & Steven Barnes
Low Town – Daniel Polansky
The Diviner – Melanie Rawn
Downpour – Kat Richardson
Exiled: Clan of the Claw – S. M. Stirling, Harry Turtledove, John Ringo & Jody Lynn Nye
Blood Spirits – Sherwood Smith
Kitty's Greatest Hits – Carrie Vaughn
The Submission – Amy Waldman

Trade Paperback:

Forgotten Realms: The Last Mythal Omnibus – Richard Baker
The Urban Fantasy Anthology – Peter Beagle, Ed.
Solstice at Stonewylde – Kit Berry
The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2011 – Holly Black, Ed.
Stand on Zanzibar – John Brunner
The Watchtower – Lee Carroll
First Command – A. Bertram Chandler
Introducing Garrett P.I., 3-in-1 omnibus – Glen Cook
Mayan December – Brenda Cooper
Rage – Matthew Costello
Doctor Who and the Cybermen – Gerry Davis
Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowmen – Terrance Dicks
Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion – Terrance Dicks
Agatha H. and the Airship City – Phil Foglio
Zero History – William Gibson
Isles of the Forsaken – Carolyn Ives Gilman 
The Mandel Files, 2-in-1 omnibus – Peter Hamilton
Secrets of the Wolves – Dorothy Hearst
Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters – Malcolm Hulke
Jack Cloudie – Stephen Hunt
Succubus Revealed – Richelle Mead
Picking up the Ghost – Tone Milazzo
The Package – Lisa Naraine
Cry of the Marwing – K. S. Nikakis
Stars and Gods – Larry Niven
The Clockwork Girl – Sean O'Reilly
King's Envoy: Artesans of Albia – Cas Peace
The Edinburgh Dead – Brian Ruckley
The Whitefire Crossing – Courtney Schafer
The Waters Rising – Sheri Tepper
A Fire Upon the Deep – Vernor Vinge
Doctor Who and the Crusaders – David Whitaker
Doctor Who and the Daleks – David Whitaker

Mass Market Paperback:

Blood Song – Cat Adams
Siren Song – Cat Adams
Aftermath – Ann Aguirre
Young Flandry – Poul Anderson
Embraced by Darkness – Keri Arthur
A Journey in Other Worlds – John Jacob Astor
Farlander – Col Buchanan
Working Stiff – Rachel Caine
White Tiger – Kylie Chan
Spellwright – Blake Charlton
Blood Rules – Christine Cody 
Evangelina – Mary Davidson
Omnitopia Dawn – Diane Duane
Cold Magic – Kate Elliott 
The First Collected Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach (3 novellas) – Steven Erikson
The Palace of Impossible Dreams – Jennifer Fallon
The Hour of Dust and Ashes – kelly Gay
Ghost of a Smile – Simon Green
Reality 36 – Guy Haley
Will Power – A. J. Hartley
Roil – Trent Jamieson
Water to Burn – Katherine Kerr
Stormlord's Exile – Glenda Larke
Blood Sacrifice – Maria Lima
Path of the Sun – Violette Malan
Warriors 3 – George Martin, Ed.
Germline – T. C. McCarthy
Warhammer: Defenders of Ulthuan – Graham McNeill
Warhammer: Sons of Ellyrion – Graham McNeill
Another Kind of Dead – Kelly Meding
Empress of Eternity – L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
Star Trek: A Choice of Catastrophes – Steve Mollmann
Eye of the Tempest – Nicole Peeler
The Recollection – Gareth Powell
Labyrinth – Kat Richardson
Antiphon – Ken Scholes
Blood Riders – Michael Spradlin
Crossroads – Jeanne Stein
The Crown of the Conqueror – Gav Thorpe
Warhammer 40K: Path of the Seer – Gav Thorpe
Basilisk – Rob Thurman
Ragnarok – Patrick Vanner
Blood Bound – Rachel Vincent
Cowboys & Aliens – Joan Vinge
Out of the Dark – David Weber
The Forest Laird – Jack Whyte
Oath of Vigilance – James Wyatt

eBook (Carina Press only)

Falling Hard – J. K. Coi
A Line in the Ice – Jamie Craig
Hunting Kat – P. J. Schnyder

YA Fiction

The Rise of Renegade X – Chelsea Campbell
The Devil Walks – Anne Fine
Relic Master: The Margrave – Catherine Fisher
Pathfinder Tales: Master of Devils – Dave Gross
Damned – Nancy Holder
Blood on the Moon – Jennifer Knight
I Am Number Four – Pittacus Lore
Finnikin of the Rock – Melina Marchetta 
Bloodlines – Rachel Mead
Vampire Academy – Rachel Mead
Sweetly – Jackson Pearce
Thirst: The Shadow of Death – Christopher Pike
Beyond the Grave – Mara Purnhagen
A Long, Long Sleep - Anna Sheehan
Eternal – Gillian Shields
Twisted – Gena Showalter
Tantalize – Cynthia Leitich Smith
The Haunted – Jessica Verday
Across the Great Barrier – Patricia Wrede