Saturday, July 31, 2010

Haul

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Let me tell you about the haul of books I have added to my collection today.

It had been a while since I last visited Uncle Hugo's, the wonderful independent SFF bookstore in Minneapolis, and it was time to check out what I've been missing.

First, I found a used copy of Jeff VanderMeer's Shriek: An Afterword.  I'm backing my way into VanderMeer's work after just loving his newest novel Finch (review)

Then, strolling around into the used mmpb section, I hit a solid load of Steven Brust novels.  Phoenix, Athyra, Orca, Dragon, and Dzur.  My library is a touch sketchy in the Brust department, and this now gives me the next set of Vlad Taltos novels, in publication order (minus Issola, which should be between Dragon and Dzur).

Then...then...folks, I'm excited about this next one.  I've been looking for a copy of Glen Cook's Red Iron Nights for over a year now.  It's out of print and will run me $20+ for a used copy elsewhere online.  Found it!  $3.  Hell yeah!  This lets me back into the Garret PI series.  I don't like skipping books in a series and this was the next one for me.

The only thing that could have made the trip better would be if I was able to score a copy of Death Draws Five.  It's the only Wild Cards novel I don't own and is over $100 at various online locations.


Bonus news: Shades of Milk and Honey (review), Mary Robinette Kowal's debut novel, has been spotted out in the wild.  You know you want to read this! 


And finally, I received a review copy of The Greyfriar from Pyr.  It's written by Clay and Susan Griffith. I don't know who they are either.

Here is how you know a publishing house is quality and owns a great reputation.  When you see that the a book is the first volume of the Vampire Empire and you don't immediately scoff.  This should cause me to scoff.  I am not immediately sold by notions of alternate histories or vampire empires.  But because Lou Anders have built such a strong reputation for picking outstanding novels, I am instead intrigued.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My 2010 Hugo Ballot

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Just for the curious, here are the works I nominated for the Hugo. There's some overlap with what actually made the ballot, though perhaps not as much as I would prefer.

Below is my ballot, in rank order of how I voted. Brief category commentary follows. I've linked to what reviews I managed to write up.

Best Novel
1. Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest (review)
2. The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi
3. Palimpsest, by Catherynne M. Valente (review, sort of)
4. Wake, by Robert J. Sawyer
5. The City & The City, by China Mieville
6. Julian Comstock, by Robert Charles Wilson

I loves me some Cherie Priest. Big fan of Boneshaker and of Priest. I can flip-flop Bacigalupi and Valente's novels and be okay with that decision, too. Both are ambitious novels that didn't quite connect with my reader-brain to get excited by, but they are quality. Palimpsest, in particular, may be more rewarding on a second or third read, which makes me wonder if my vote should have gone the other way. I actually "enjoyed" Wake more than the Bacigalupi or Valente novels, but at the same time, it wasn't as "good" as either. That's more than a bit vague, but it'll do. I think it makes sense. I wish I had read the Mieville novel because I think I would have rated it higher, possibly as high as #2 (Boneshaker is tough to beat). I don't wish I had read Julian Comstock. I've read the original story and am fairly disinterested in an expansion.

Best Novella
1. The God Engines, by John Scalzi (review)
2. The Women of Nell Gwynne's, by Kage Baker (review)
3. "Palimpsest", by Charles Stross
4. "Act One", by Nancy Kress (review)
5. Shambling Towards Hiroshima, by James Morrow (review)
6. "Vishnu at the Cat Circus", by Ian McDonald

If I had to guess, I would say that Kage Baker will win this category. It's a combination of the story being quite good and Baker's passing earlier this year. I just don't think it is as good as what Scalzi did - and The God Engines was Scalzi stretching beyond his familiar writing style and still nailing the landing. Stross surprised me here. I'm not a big fan of his work, and how the prose connects to the storytelling is unremarkable, but Stross's "Palimpsest" (no relation to Valente's) has ideas that really draw the reader in. Alternate history and time travel has been done before, and the possible futures has, too, but it's just so damned interesting and smartly conceived.

Best Novelette
1. "It Takes Two", by Nicola Griffith
2. "Eros, Philia, Agape", by Rachel Swirsky
3. "One of Our Bastards is Missing", by Paul Cornell
4. "The Island", by Peter Watts
5. "Overtime", by Charles Stross
6. "Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast", by Eugie Foster

Griffith and Swirsky are far and away ahead of the class here. Nicola Griffith is mostly known as a novelist, but I would very much like to see more short fiction from her. Swirsky is on the cusp of winning a crapload of awards and is one of the best emerging writers working today. The only thing preventing Swirsky from gaining wider recognition is that she has been working exclusively in short fiction - but a Swirsky story is worth seeking out.

Best Short Story
1. "Spar", by Kij Johnson (review)
2. "Bridesicle", by Will McIntosh (review)
3. "Non-Zero Probabilities", by N.K. Jemisin (review)
4. "The Bride of Frankenstein", by Mike Resnick
5. "The Moment", by Lawrence M. Schoen

"Spar" is not the sort of story that one gets excited about and exclaims how much one "loved" it. It's uncomfortable and there is a level of squick involved. But, it is one of the best short stories published in 2009 and it is very, very good. "Bridesicle" doesn't quite hit the mark like "Spar" does, but it is conceptually fascinating and well executed.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
1. Moon
2. Up
3. District 9
4. Star Trek
5. Avatar

Part of me wanted to put Up as #1 based solely on the first ten minutes of the movie. Those ten minutes were good enough to win an Oscar, let alone the entertaining rest of the movie. Squirrel! I thought of this category in the sense of the actual story and storytelling, and not just the visual and visceral responses I had. Avatar was a marvelous experience, but if you actually think about the story - it's kind of weak. Moon is minimalist, but is an outstanding movie with a well-written and well thought out story.

Best Editor, Short Form
1. Jonathan Strahan
2. Ellen Datlow
3. Sheila Williams
4. Gordon Van Gelder
5. Stanley Schmidt

Call this Jonathan Strahan and company. Jonathan Strahan's name on a book is enough for me to take notice and often, buy a copy. Datlow consistently produces quality work. Williams, Van Gelder, and Schmidt? The editors of the Big Three? When you highlight one story or another, they are able to identify some of the best work of the year. But I can do that with a number of other editors who aren't on this ballot, too. When I look at their magazines as a whole, I'm disinterested. They don't publish enough fiction that I want to read. I've subscribed to Asimov's and let it lapse. I've done several trial issues of F&SF and it doesn't work for me. Stanley Schmidt is the one getting a slightly raw deal here, though. I'm not familiar enough with Analog to be able to speak about it, but I also did not want to throw a "No Award" in front of Schmidt.

Best Editor, Long Form
1. Lou Anders
2. Juliet Ulman
3. Liz Gorinsky
4. Ginjer Buchanan
5. Patrick Nielsen Hayden

This was one of the more difficult categories to vote for. Ulman edited some excellent novels in 2009, but Lou Anders IS Pyr and for its size, Pyr is publishing some of the best work year in and year out. 2009 was no exception. Gorinsky's best two or three books for Tor last edged out Ginjer Buchanan's books from Ace. While I would have considered Neilsen Hayden for Editor, Short Form (Tor.com is excellent), if the list I found is at all accurate, most of what he edited in 2009 was paperback reprints of previous Tor hardcovers. It's stuff that he already acquired and published and would have been a stronger list on first publication. PNH is a fine editor (again, love what he's doing with Tor.com's fiction), but this wasn't a Hugo year.

Best Professional Artist
1. Daniel Dos Santos
2. Stephan Martiniere
3. John Picacio
4. Shaun Tan
5. Bob Eggleton

Thanks be to the Hugo Voters Packet for highlighting the 2009 work of each artist. I admire Picacio's work and am always happy to see a new Picacio cover (his work on the Chadbourn editions from Pyr is outstanding), and I think that he is very much due to pick up a Hugo very soon, but I thought (in my uneducated fan perspective) that the 2009 work from Dos Santos and Martiniere was just a touch stronger. The Warbreaker cover from Dos Santos, especially, was a year's highlight.

Best Semiprozine
1. Weird Tales
2. Clarkesworld
3. Interzone
4. Locus
5. Ansible

I like the fiction 'zines. What can I say? Weird Tales and Clarkesworld consistently publishes some of the finest fiction you're likely to find, and if there was a "Best Prozine" category (Editor Short Form, I know), I would honestly put Ann VanderMeer and Neil Clarke above any of the Big Three editors. I probably should have put "No Award" above Ansible.

Best Fan Writer
1. Frederik Pohl
2. James Nicoll
3. No Award

This is the first of the categories for which I wonder if I did the right thing. I'm familiar with the work of Pohl and Nicoll, and I think they are deserving of the slots, but I never familiarized myself with the other three nominees. Are they really worse than a No Award? Probably not, but I didn't feel comfortable ranking them, either.

Best Fanzine
1. File 770
2. StarShipSofa
3. No Award

Here you can repeat much of what I said for Fan Writer, except that the whole concept of a "Fanzine" I think is a touch outdated. I don't know if File 770 still publishes a print edition, but I follow it like a blog. StarShipSofa runs a podcast, and I think that's a perfect example of what the modern fanzine is.

Best Fan Artist
1. Brad W. Foster
2. Dave Howell
3. No Award

Unlike Fan Writer and Fanzine, my vote perfectly reflects how I feel about the nominees. Foster's work is head and shoulders above the other nominees and Howell's design of the Hugo Award base is outstanding. The other three? Honestly, they shouldn't be on the same ballot.


Best Related Work
Best Graphic Story
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
John W. Campbell Award

The Hugo for Short Form aside, these are the categories I semi-regret not voting for (as far as true regret goes for something like this). I'm a big fan of the John W. Campbell Award. I think it's a great way to recognize some of the Up-And-Coming or Newly Arrived talents. Except for maybe a couple of stories, I haven't read these writers. It's a shame, but I can't vote for what I don't know.

Likewise, I think the Best Graphic Story is a wonderful category that I made sure to familiarize myself with enough to nominate - but I've only read Fables: The Dark Ages and it wasn't good enough to actually vote for it blindly. Despite having the Hugo Voters Packet, which includes all of the nominees, I just never got around to reading them. Alas.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Blood in the Fruit, by L. Timmel Duchamp

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Blood in the Fruit
L. Timmel Duchamp
Aqueduct Press: 2008

Blood in the Fruit is a novel which deserves a more meticulous review than I am able to give at this time, but I also do not want the book to go unremarked on. So here we are.

Blood in the Fruit is the fourth volume on the Marq’ssan Cycle written by L. Timmel Duchamp. The first three are Alanya to Alanya, Renegade, and Tsunami. The Marq’ssan Cycle, as a whole, is a series of social and moral ideas played out in bold and clear strokes with characters actively conscious of motivation, identity, and theory. The ideas here are what is important.

As I mentioned in my review of Tsunami

This is a highly political novel filled with depth of thought. Duchamp uses dialogue and the inner narration of the characters to explain political and power philosophy. Duchamp may be a bit blunt and obvious in the handling of this political discourse, but by this point it is part and parcel of the story Duchamp is telling. She is telling a political and feminist story, and if that was going to be a problem it would have been a problem in Alanya to Alanya.


With a lesser writer this would be a flaw. With Duchamp it is simple intent and purpose, though nothing is truly “simple” with L.Timmel Duchamp’s writing.

Set some ten years after the events of Alanya to Alanya, Blood in the Fruit focuses on Hazel Bell (assistant to Elizabeth Weatherall, a major player in this series), Celia Espin and Alexandra Sedgewick (daughter to Robert Sedgewick, the primary antagonist of Alanya to Alanya, though that term does not quite convey his role in the series).

With Elizabeth Weatherall’s defection in the previous book, the ruling Executive of the United States is in shambles and fighting to come to grips with its growing ineffectiveness in doing anything to stop the “alien agenda” or protect its grasp of power, and to combat this, the formerly retired (and broken) Robert Sedgewick is stepping back into a position of clear authority. Through the eyes of his sixteen year old daughter, Alexandra, the extent of his character is laid clear. Sedgewick is grooming Alexandra, much to her dismay, to assume a greater degree of authority and power in the Executive.

While the other characters experience their own personal traumas (none moreso than Celia), Alexandra’s story is a painful bit of “coming-of-age”, shaped as it is by Robert Sedgewick.

Alexandra’s story is on the verge of being the simplest and the easiest part of the narrative, but though Duchamp tells her story in a straightforward manner, Alexandra’s “coming-of-age” is deeply problematic from a moral perspective, as grotesque in its way as anything in the previous novels – the torture of Kay Zeldin included (though, perhaps not to that extent).

By no means should one attempt to read Blood in the Fruit without having read the previous three volumes. This is almost a standalone volume, in the sense that the events of the novel can be understood without prior history with the Marq’ssan Cycle, but it is a richer story with deeper meaning if the reader has taken the full journey thus far.

Duchamp builds socio-political change in this series and does so in very stark terms. While not to every reader’s taste, Blood in the Fruit is an excellent and powerful novel. Very well done.


Reading copy provided courtesy of Aqueduct Press.

Previous Reviews:
Alanya to Alanya
Renegade
Tsunami

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sybil's Garage Number 7

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Where can you find a television that sees five minutes into the future? Where can you find dragons trapped in a jar and an illness which turns people into glass? Where might you find families who sell their brainpower to corporations for penny wages, or dead relatives that sit down for family meals?


Why, in the pages of Sybil’s Garage No. 7, of course.

In this seventh issue of the highly acclaimed series, you will find twenty-seven original works of fiction and poetry from today’s top talent, with suggested musical accompaniment, our trademark design aesthetic, and much more. But be sure to leave a trail of breadcrumbs on your way into Sybil’s Garage, or you may not find your way out.

The newest issue of Sybil's Garage is now on sale and features fiction from Amy Sisson, Hal Duncan, and Kelly Barnhill.  You will want this. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lucius Shepard news from SubPress

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To prove that if I come up with an awesome idea, someone else with the means of doing something about the idea will also come up with it: If I was ever put in the position of editing an anthology or collection, I wanted to edit a collection of Lucius Shepard’s Dragon Griaule stories. Shepard is an absolute master and it was a shame that there wasn’t a place to get all of the Dragon Griaule stories in one place.


So, it should come as no surprise that the good people at Subterranean Press will publish just that very collection that I’ve been thinking about for more than a year.


Even though I’m not getting paid for it, good on them and good for us to get all the Dragon Griaule stories in one collection. MUST BUY.

Not five minutes ago I set pen to paper on three different contracts for projects with Lucius Shepard. They include:

– A collection gathering all of his Dragon Griaule stories and novellas, including “The Skull,” a novella original to the volume.
– A collection which will feature four uncollected novellas, including one, “Repairman” written especially for the book.
– A Dragon Griaule novel, titled Beautiful Blood, on which Lucius is already working.

We’ll announce more details and post ordering info as appropriate.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

starting

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I've just started work to put together my Hugo ballot for this year. It's due by the end of the month if I want to actually vote (which I do).

I've been very distracted for the last several months and that's made me a bad blogger. I don't normally talk about anything that smacks of my personal life here, but I'll make an exception in about a month to explain - because the explanation ties into some other things for the future. It's not at all bad, and actually quite good for me, it's just one of several things occupying my mind and focus that has messed with my blogging.

I've also been a distracted reader lately with my monthly counts dropping significantly. It's hurt my Hugo reading, but luckily I've already covered most of the nominated stories. The novels are a problem. I've only read three of them, and I have another on the way from the library (the Sawyer, if you must know). Not sure if I'll be able to jam out the Mieville or the Robert Charles Wilson. On the other hand, I've read the original RCW story the novel is expanded from and, well, it didn't quite ring for me. So we'll see. Some of the other categories might get somewhat short shrift. Which is a shame, because I wanted to be a great and informed voter this year...and my focus has shifted a bit. Shrug. Not much I can do about that now.

(this parenthetical is here just so that each paragraph doesn't begin with the word "I've". Ugh)

Choir Boats E-book

Okay, y'all. I've been sitting on a review copy of Daniel Rabuzzi's debut fantasy novel The Choir Boats for way, way too long. So - maybe you can help assuage my reviewer's guilt and go check out the book.

For folks who like free stuff, The Choir Boats is being offered as WOWIO's July Book of the Month and is available for free download through the end of July.

I can't tell you a thing about it, but this page right here has a bunch of reviews and stuff.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Blog You Wish Your Blog Could Be

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If you think you really want to be reading something awesome but you just don't know what it is, I've got your answer. You want to be reading Rachel Swirsky's guest posts on Jeff VanderMeer's blog about what she is learning at the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop.

I'm going to cheat just as much as Swirsky did and quote the Launch Pad website:
Launch Pad is a free, NASA-funded workshop for established writers held in beautiful high-altitude Laramie, Wyoming. Launch Pad aims to provide a “crash course” for the attendees in modern astronomy science through guest lectures, and observation through the University of Wyoming’s professional telescopes.
There are twelve students at this year's Launch Pad, and if I'm paying sufficient attention to Rachel's posts the students include: Carrie Vaughn, Kelly Barnhill, Marjorie Liu, and, in Rachel's words

The other class members have an impressive array of backgrounds. We’ve got people who write non-fiction articles, non-fiction books for kids, fantasy novels, erotica novels, Buffy the Vampire novels, hard-science fiction short stories and novels, non-fiction about science fiction, who write movies and tv and video games (including the man who wrote the dialogue for Spore… oooh, shiny), comic books, graphic novels, who fact check for magazines, who edit anthologies and novels and articles, who publish anthologies and novels and articles, and teach writing or teach science, who try to launch commercial projects to the moon… lots of variety, although the preponderance of us have written science fiction or fantasy at some point.

What Rachel is writing about is the science of what she's learning. It's kind of the cliff notes version of actually going to Launch Pad (not as awesome as reading the book, but you get a general sense of what just happened).

If you don't read Jeff's blog on a regular basis (and you should), you'll want to check out the Launch Pad tag on the posts, and that'll keep you up to date. Take this recent post from Swirsky on stuff in our solar system. Interesting as hell. This is why you want to be following her posts over this next week. It's smart stuff taught by really smart people and reported by a smart person. Smart all around.

Check it out. It's probably the coolest thing I'm going read this week.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Forthcoming 2010: Q3

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This is a couple of months late, but, welcome to the latest installment of "Stuff I'm Looking Forward To This Year". As always, I take my information from the Locus Forthcoming list, plus a little bit of extra research when I'm aware of things that should be on the Locus list and are not.

July
Kraken, by China Mieville: I have been slack in my Mieville reading, but a new Mieville novel is always a notable book.

Swords and Dark Magic, by Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders (editors): A swords and sorcery anthology from two master anthologists and filled (presumably) with absolute goodness. This can't miss. It can't.

The Fuller Memorandum, by Charles Stross: This is the third "Laundry" novel, following The Atrocity Archives and The Jennifer Morgue. I very much enjoy following the adventures of Bob Howard and am curious which writer of espionage novels Stross will pastiche this time (after Len Deighton and Ian Fleming). I have a review copy.


August
Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins: Both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire were excellent and I can't wait to see how Collins closes out the trilogy.

Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal: An absolutely delightful book from a wonderful author. See my review.

The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson: I'm reading this right now. 200 pages in and it is big and sprawling and fixing to be Sanderson's opus. It's good stuff and very big, broad fantasy.


September
The Living Dead 2, by John Joseph Adams (editor): Who doesn't want more zombies? JJA puts out excellent anthologies and I expect more of the same from this one. The first Living Dead was a reprint anthology, but this time around he blends reprints with original fiction from the likes of Cherie Priest, Robert Kirkman, and Max Brooks.

Bearers of the Black Staff, by Terry Brooks: While Terry Brooks hasn't written a truly "good" Shanarra novel in years, almost decades (Armageddon's Children is really a Word / Void novel), I still read them to see how Brooks pieces things together and in the hopes that he still has one more really good one left in him. The author who wrote Elfstones is still in there, I know he is.

Servant of the Underworld, by Aliette de Bodard: I think this is still making to the US in September. It's de Bodard's debut novel, a historical mystery set in Aztec times. It's a good chance to see what de Bodard is all about and what she can do at novel-length.

Antiphon, by Ken Scholes: Am about to start reading this third novel in the Psalms of Isaak. Scholes is a writer with a load of potential and is one of the hot new voices in secondary world fantasy. While I'm not a fan of the change in cover art (why, Tor, why?), Antiphon is a much anticipated novel. See my reviews of Lamentation and Canticle.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Aqueduct Press

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50 books, 6 years, 1 reader at a time. That’s how indie presses do it, generally. You’re that one reader now, so if you like Aqueduct, if you like me are impressed by this achievement, please re-blog the link to the feature and a link to Aqueduct’s main page for those who want to order that way instead, and support this unique publisher with some book sales love.

That's Jeff VanderMeer talking about L. Timmel Duchamp and Aqueduct Press. He's got an interview with Duchamp up at the Omnivoracious blog and it's a good one.

I haven't read as much published by Aqueduct as I would like to, but what I have read has been very, very good. I am just finishing the fourth (of five) Marq'ssan novel from Duchamp and while the narrative can be challenging to read because it often comes across as social and political theory writ large, the story itself is quite compelling. You will want to start with Alanya to Alanya (my review). I've also read the Plugged In chapbook from Duchamp and Maureen McHugh (my review). It's only two stories, but again, quite good.

I blogged about this before, but I still really want to check out Rachel Swirsky's debut collection Through the Drowsy Dark. Swirsky is fantastic.

Larry has posted some of his thoughts, too.

So, basically, I just want to show some support for Aqueduct Press. I really like what they're doing, what they stand for, and the work that they publish. If you're not familiar with Aqueduct, go check them out.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Night Shade Speaks

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Via Genreville, Night Shade Books has issued a statement regarding the allegations of non-payment from Liz Williams, Brendan Halpin, and Elizabeth Moon.

The second paragraph of the official statement:
This has led to some major miscommunication, and sometimes flat-out lack of communication, with our authors, sometimes, even amongst ourselves. We screwed up: Details were missed, one of us assumed another was handling a situation, or a reluctance to deliver bad news turned into an unprofessional excuse to procrastinate. The issues that have come up today, at their core, are really ones of communication. All this could have been avoided through simple phone calls and emails, through us letting people know what was happening.

That's a start. Night Shade has admitted that they have made mistakes, and that's good. It doesn't entirely address all of the issues raised by Williams and Halpin, such as inaccurate royalty statements with factually incorrect information regarding the advance, but that probably shouldn't be part of Night Shade's public discourse anyway.

All that Night Shade should really say is "we were wrong, we messed up, and we will make it right."

Which, essentially, is what they said.

We have already addressed the issues currently at hand involving Elizabeth Moon, Brendan Halpin, and Liz Williams. We have also contacted SFWA, and will be working hand-in-hand with them to find out if any other authors have issues with us, but haven’t come forward yet, and get those problems resolved.

What remains to be seen is whether Night Shade truly will make this right for the authors in question or whether this is something endemic at Night Shade Books. Since both Williams and Halpin have mentioned that they know of other Night Shade authors who are in very similar circumstances, this appears to be a far larger issue for Night Shade than what the thus far public conversation has been about. It's a big problem for Night Shade to resolve. They have publicly acknowledged fault, and that's an important first step.

We'll see if they are also willing to take the next one.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Umm, Night Shade?

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Nothing stays a secret for long on the internet.

Not that this was supposed to be one.

Over lunch today I ran across this post at Fantasy Book Critic noting that the future of the Detective Inspector Chen series from Liz Williams was very much in question due to issues she was having with her publisher. I didn't read the post carefully at the time, just skimmed it and thought, "that sucks, I like that series".

Until I got home from work and saw that there was perhaps a bit more to the story than I thought. Enter Rose Fox, at Genreville, shining some light with three short paragraphs. Both Liz Williams and Brendan Halpin (aka Seamus Cooper, author of Mall of Cthulhu) have had serious contractual, communication, and financial issues with their publisher, Night Shade Books.

Liz Williams' statement.

Brendan Halpin's statement
.

Now, if you check the dates of those entries, these aren't brand new statements. I think this may have been stoked by a different post from Williams regarding a short story sale she's running to help pay the bills while the financial issues with Night Shade are very much unresolved.

It is worth checking out the various posts to get the direct perspectives from Williams and Halpin. I might otherwise run quotes here but i don't want any context to be lost by poorly selecting exactly which passage to run. It is important to be clear with this and all the information I have is covered by the above posts.

***

I have to say that I'm extremely surprised by this. As I am not a writer, my relationship with Night Shade Books has been a) as a reviewer, and, b) as a consumer.

As a reviewer Night Shade was one of the first publishers willing to send me copies of their books to consider for review and, from this respect, Night Shade has been very easy to work with.

As a consumer I hold Night Shade in the highest regard. The books they publish are top of the line in terms of quality and production value. Shit, they've published Paolo Bacigalupi's first two books, Jonathan Strahan's Eclipse series, Alex Bledsoe's debut novel, a host of John Joseph Adams anthologies, republished Imaro, and...well...from a consumer's perspective, they rock.

***

Until today I would have assumed that Night Shade Books was an example of how a small press can get it right. I would have assumed that, yes, there were the minor hiccups, errors, and issues that crop up as a part of business, but also that those hiccups, errors, and issues were addressed appropriately. Because that is what good people should do.

So, as Rose Fox stated.
This is causing a lot of shock among people who have long seen Night Shade as an exemplary small genre press.
Exactly. This was very much unexpected and, without knowing a lick more than i do from the above linked posts, I am very much disappointed that these two writers are being treated in the manner they claim. I am even more disappointed that a publisher I held in high esteem is at the center of this and is the one harming Liz Williams and Brendan Halpin.

***

With the initial statements a couple of months old, this may be the extent of public statements from those involved and no other writers will come forward with similar stories. If so, I can only wish Williams, Halpin, and anyone else who may be affected or harmed a speedy resolution that is fair and equitable.

If not, well, this is something worth keeping an eye on.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Shadowline, by Glen Cook

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Shadowline
Glen Cook
1982

Sometimes a first impression does not serve the reader. The first ten chapters span a scant 32 pages and some two hundred years. More, those ten chapters bounce between different eras with different characters and it is initially difficult to get a handle on the focus of the novel. The initial impression given is that this early novel from Glen Cook, originally published in 1982, just is not as tightly controlled as readers might expect from Cook’s later work. That perhaps Cook is trying to do too much and go too big and this will be a noble failure.

That’s the impression that readers who love the Black Company and the Garrett PI novels but couldn’t appreciate the Dread Empire novels might come away with. That impression would be so very wrong.

Shadowline tells a multi-faceted story which, though initially confusing, ultimately coalesces into a very coherent tale of family and revenge (set a good thousand years in the future and in spaaaaaace). Initially offputting, the jumping around in time and character allows Glen Cook to present the origins of a conflict that should span generations, yet due to life-extending technology, still features the same major players. Cook dances around in time, and gives a number of clues to how things fit together, but the reader doesn’t know how until later.

Who is the crazy old coot called Frog? Why is this minor chapter important? What about the framing chapters of Masato Storm? Much of the focus of the novel is on Gnaeus Storm and the framing chapters are twenty years later. And the bits with the Sangaree, an alien race which keeps humans like cattle? The opening chapters are so disconnected from each other, but patience is rewarded.

Here Glen Cook’s craft and storytelling is in fine form. The characters and disparate story arcs are compelling even when the connections seem tenuous. Shadowline only improves with each passing page and though this is only the first entry of a trilogy, Shadowline feels complete and whole in its own right. This is an impressive novel, complete with generational politics, intrigue, and war spanning the stars. Oh, it’s good.

With Night Shade Books re-releasing the Starfishers trilogy, this is the perfect chance to delve into a fantastic first volume of space opera.


Reading copy provided courtesy of Night Shade Books.
 
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