The Tower of the Hand

I'm prepping up to read GRRM's A Storm of Swords soon (finally, I know!), and I just wanted to point out that is the perfect ASOIAF resource! I knew the website existed, but I hadn't realized that it was that detailed.

Their chapter-by-chapter breakdown of every ASOIAF volume is wonderful, and each section contains everything you'd possibly want to know, including special spoiler portions.

I was just looking for a detailed outline or synopsis for both A Game of Thrones and A clash of Kings, so I got a lot more than I expected. Took me a few hours to get through everything, but I am now ready to start volume 3!

It better be good. . .;-)

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (December 27th)

In hardcover:

Terry Goodkind's Confessor is down position, ending its sixth week on the charts at number 16. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

J. R. R. Tolkien's The Children of Húrin is up one spot, finishing the week at number 24. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Jim Butcher's Captain's Fury is down eighteen positions, ending its second week on the NYT list at number 35. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Richard Matheson's I am Legend remains at number 2. This marks the novel's eighth week on the bestseller list. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Cormac McCarthy's The Road is down one spot, finishing its 37th week on the prestigious list at number 8. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Orson Scott Card's Empire debuts at number 21. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

More Joe Abercrombie news

The folks at Pyr have just informed me that Abercrombie's debut, The Blade Itself, is now the bestselling title in the history of the imprint!

Way to go, Joe! You won't be able to say that you can't afford the drinks you owe me, if we ever meet in person!:p

Now, if only that damned copy of Last Argument of Kings can reach me so I can see for myself whether or not it's that good. . .:-)

2007 Year-End Awards: The Hotties

Well, it's that time of year again!:-)

Originally, this was going to be another Goodkind spoof. Last year's awards turned out to be so popular that it had to be that way, right!?! But a few days back someone suggested another name that stuck, so my year-end awards will henceforth be known as the Hotties! With this being the Hotlist, methinks the Hotties have a nice ring to them.

The categories are more or less what you have come to expect since 2005. This is my third annual year-end awards, which means that you should know by now what you're going to get! By popular demand my SFF Top 10 of 2007 was posted a while back. As promised, you'll find it here, with the 10 runner-up titles as an added bonus.

It's been another very good year for speculative fiction fans, so here's to hoping that 2008 will be even more satisfying!

As always, feel free to disagree with my selections. . .:-)

SFF TOP 10 OF 2007

1- Black Man/Thirteen by Richard Morgan (Del Rey/Gollancz)
2- Reaper's Gale by Steven Erikson (Tor Books/Bantam Press)
3- Ink by Hal Duncan (Del Rey/Pan MacMillan)
4- Brasyl by Ian McDonald (Pyr/Gollancz)
5- Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay (Penguin Books/Simon & Schuster)
6- The Terror by Dan Simmons (Little, Brown and co./Bantam Press)
7- Dreamsongs, Volume 1 by George R. R. Martin (Bantam Dell/Gollancz)
8- Red Seas under Red Skies by Scott Lynch (Bantam Dell/Gollancz)
9- Fatal Revenant by Stephen R. Donaldson (Putnam/Gollancz)
10- Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik (Del Rey/Voyager)
11- Renegade's Magic by Robin Hobb (Eos/Voyager)
12- Feast of Souls by C. S. Friedman (Daw Books/Orbit)
13- The Dark River by John Twelve Hawks (Doubleday/Bantam Press)
14- Killswitch by Joel Shepherd (Pyr)
15- The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (Daw Books/Gollancz)
16- Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie (Pyr/Gollancz)
17- The Electric Church by Jeff Somers (Orbit)
18- The Devil You Know by Mike Carey (Warner Books/Orbit)
19- Kitty Takes a Holiday by Carrie Vaughn (Warner Books)
20- Making Money by Terry Pratchett (Eos/Doubleday)


- Gollancz

With 5 titles in my Top 10 and 7 titles overall if you include the runner-up titles, Gollancz deserves the nod. Kudos to Simon Spanton and his crew for a terrific year!


- Joe Abercrombie

The Blade Itself was a nice debut, but Abercrombie took it up a notch or two with Before They Are Hanged. And I'm told that Last Argument of Kings is even better. Could Joe win back-to-back awards???


- The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson and Ian Cameron Esslemont

2008 will bring us Toll the Hounds by Erikson and the eagerly awaited Return of the Crimson Guard by Esslemont. All in all, a good year for Malazan fans!


- David Anthony Durham

Honorable mentions: Joe Abercrombie and Brandon Sanderson


- Ran's Westeros ( remains the best place to hang out, in my humble opinion. Sure, things heat up a little from time to time, but that's usually when the fun begins!;-) And there's the naked avatar week each fall!:p

Honorable mention:

Whether you wish to be a regular poster or simply a lurker, I invite everyone to visit more SFF message boards in 2008.:-)


- Daw Books

With the highly successful launch of Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind, C. S. Friedman's return to the fantasy genre with Feast of Souls, and Tad Williams' Shadowplay and Kristen Britain's The High King's Tomb showing up on the NYT bestseller list, I daresay it was a great year for Daw Books!


- The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner

Holy crap, this could well be the most overhyped book I've ever read! And I don't want to get into that "fantasy chick lit" debate again. . .


- M. John Harrison

Harrison managed to irritate a vast number of SFF fans with various blog posts throughout the year. The man talks and talks, but he doesn't really say much. Maybe he should have a been a lawyer. . .

The funny thing is that some people like Gabe Chouinard and Larry (Dylanfanatic) feel the need to "interpret" what Harrison is saying when the bulk of the online community is irked by his elitist quotes, which are little more than an exercice in mental masturbation for the most part. Rather prolific in that regard, one could say that M. John Harrison is quite the heavy cummer. He could well be the Peter North of SFF. . .


- Tor Books, for those awful Erikson covers

Tor Books came up with some splendid covers in recent years. One only has to think about the artwork that graces Daniel Abraham's works to realize that fact. So how the heck did they come up with the atrocious covers for The Bonehunters and other Malazan installments???

Honorable mention: Daw Books, for the "Fabio" or "gay" cover art for Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind.


- Renegade's Magic by Robin Hobb


Here's an excerpt:

- Previous depictions of homosexual characters in fantasy/scifi books have always been somewhat clumsy and didn't ring true. And yet, instead of trying to get readers to "accept" it, you just went ahead and put Jack and Puck's relationship as a central storyline throughout both volumes. Was that intentional from the beginning? INK contains graphic sex scenes between the two, and I was wondering what sort of responses those sequences generated among readers and critics?

One of my pet hates is the fetishisation you get in certain types of fantasy, particularly vampire fiction, I have to say, where gay equals frilly shirts, sensitive pouts and lingering looks with doe-eyes. Man, at least slash is subversive in applying that aesthetic to straight characters, and at least slash has the guts to get down and dirty. That stuff is just softcore boy-on-boy goth porn. Even when it's not so deeply fetishised, there still seems to be a tendency to stereotype gays as refined rather than rough, fey rather than fiery, cats rather than dogs.

The second problem with gay characters in genre fiction is that they're generally marginalised as subsidiary characters, which smacks of PC tokenism. Yeah, so your heroine has a Gay Best Friend; big deal. So your team of heroes has a tagalong queer; I'm not impressed.

The last problem is that even when you get a fully-fledged protagonist they're generally just not genre enough. By which I mean, the writer feels the need to show that it's "normal" to be gay, so the characters are rendered in a Realist mode rather than as Romantic heroes. They're intelligent, sensitive portraits of gays as "just like everyone else". Bollocks to that. The fetishised gays are annoying. The marginalised gays are frustrating. But the normalised gays are just plain dull. I want a gay character who blows shit up. I want a gay James Bond, a gay Jerry Cornelius, a gay Superman, a gay Indiana Jones, a gay Clint Eastwood in Where Eagles Dare. Achilles wasn't normal. He was an uberfag, dragging Hector's body ten times round the gates of Troy for killing his boyfriend. Now that's what I call a hissy fit!


Honorable mentions: I was very fortunate in that 2007 saw me participate, by myself or with a few partners in crime, in some interesting and insightful interviews. Some of my favorites include David Anthony Durham, Richard Morgan, China Miéville, C. S. Friedman, Katherine Kurtz, and the huge Wild Cards Q&A.


- It's a tie between Jeff Somers' The Electric Church and Mike Carey's The Devil You Know.

- Hands down, Patrick Rothfuss for The Name of the Wind.

2006 saw the emergence of a slew of talented SFF writers, but in 2007 Rothfuss was in a class of his own.


- The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

Its predecessor, The Final Empire, was a wonderful read. But this sequel was all filler, no killer. . .


- Patrick Rothfuss, for The Name of the Wind

The final numbers haven't been tallied yet, but it appears that Rothfuss' debut will beat both Terry Goodkind's Wizard's First Rule and George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones initial hardcover sales. Who else, then, could possibly have the SFF debut of the year???


- The Wanderer's Tale by David Bilsborough

If someone farting the national anthem is your brand of humor, this one might just be for you!


- Terry Goodkind for this delightful quote from an interview:

Gang rape, after all, is democracy in action.

There's another quote about raping Swedish grandmothers in a recent interview with Goodkind, but the gang rape bit takes the cake, no question.


- Patrick Rothfuss

Though I didn't enjoy The Name of the Wind as much as other reviewers did, I can't possibly give this award to any other writer. Few SFF authors have had such an immediate impact, both commercially and critically, in the history of the genre. In a few short months, Patrick Rothfuss has made a name for himself on both sides of the Atlantic. Moreover, Rothfuss was all over the place, giving interviews and doing more than his part to help promote his debut.

Okay, so this wraps up the Hotties! Let me take this opportunity to thank each and everyone of you for helping me make Pat's Fantasy Hotlist the most popular SFF book reviewing blog on the internet.:-) I wouldn't be where I am without you guys, and I'll try to keep up the good work so you'll continue to drop by in such vast numbers!

Happy Holidays!

The Devil You Know

More or less disenchanted with Chris Roberson's Paragaea: A Planetary Romance, I wanted to close the year on a more positive note. Perusing my shelves in the hope of finding a novel that would do the trick, I came across Mike Carey's The Devil You Know. The book had been sitting there for months, ever since my contact at Warner Books told me that it was a title I would probably enjoy.

Right off the bat I realized that this supernatural thriller was exactly what I needed to end 2007 in style. Indeed, I was sucked into the story in no time. It was a lot of fun to read about Felix Castor's misadventures. A freelance exorcist, Castor is trying to quit the business. In need of cash, he has no choice but to accept what seems to be a simple ghost-hunting gig. But Castor soon finds himself in a position where he must solve a mysterious murder case before being killed himself.

Carey's debut occurs in London, and the author makes the city come alive in this one. I was impressed by how easily Mike Carey appears to have managed to capture the very essence of London in this novel. If you've ever been there, you'll understand what I mean. . .

Felix Castor, as a down-on-his-luck exorcist, is an endearing character. Much like Scott Lynch's Locke Lamora, wise ass Castor goes through much abuse throughout the book. Though he's not the sharpest tool in the shed, you can help but root for the poor fellow.

The pace is excellent, with Mike Carey keeping the reader turning those pages to learn what happens next. The author's snarky writing style and his witty sense of humor help create a balance with the darker elements of this novel.

I was quite pleased to discover that two sequels are already out in the UK, so there will be more Felix Castor adventures coming my way! You can expect me to review them at some point in 2008.

If you're looking for an entertaining paranormal thriller, look no further. The Devil You Know should scratch that itch!

The final verdict: 7.5/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

Dragonlance Movie Trailer

Considering that they've been talking about a Dragonlance movie for over two decades, this Dragons of Autumn Twilight movie trailer sucks big time.

The funny thing is that I'm supposedly part of the target audience, and Weis and Hickman's Dragons of Autumn Twilight was the novel that introduced me to the fantasy genre. You would think that I'd want to see this flick, right??? Well, after watching this trailer, I don't think it's even worth my time, let alone my money...

Cover art for Brian Ruckley's BLOODHEIR

I've been meaning to post this for a while now, but getting ready for the Holidays sort of got in the way. . .:-)

Having enjoyed Ruckley's debut, Winterbirth, I'm curious to read the upcoming sequel, Bloodheir.

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays to everyone!;-)

Paragaea: A Planetary Romance

Chris Roberson's Paragaea: A Planetary Romance garnered a lot of rave reviews when it was initially released in 2006. So much so that I was extremely disappointed not to have had the opportunity to read and review it last year. I was thus excited to finally have a chance to give it a shot.

The novel was advertized as a great old pulp adventure story, grounded in the latest thinking in the fields of theoretical physics, artificial intelligence, genetics, and more. Paragaea is indeed a throwback to those science fiction pulp stories of yore made popular by authors like Edgar Rice Burroughs, Alex Raymond, Leigh Brackett, etc. Roberson demonstrates that he has a fertile imagination by cramming this work with cool and fascinating themes and ideas.

Unfortunately, I felt that Chris Roberson was never quite able to make this book rise above the traditional scifi pulp subgenre. All the tropes are present, from original monsters and creatures and swashbuckling to narrow escapes from certain doom. With lots of action, Paragaea is an entertaining read. And yet, the storytelling, relying too heavily on action in typical pulp manner, precludes this one from reaching a higher level.

The worldbuilding is colorful and interesting, but the author only gives his readers a perfunctory glimpse at the setting. Roberson never truly explores his world in too much depth, which results , in my humble opinion, in a panoply of missed opportunities.

The same could be said about the characters. Both Leena and Hyeronymous Bonaventure showed a lot of promise early on. Sadly, with the emphasis on speeding the story along with countless twists and turns, there is very little character growth. As for the romance aspect of this book, it plays a decidedly minor role in the overall scheme of things.

The premise underlying this tale was engaging. Leena Chirikov, a rational Soviet cosmonaut, finds herself into another dimension shortly after launching into space in 1964. Along with Bonaventure and the jaguar man Balam, she must travel across the strange and exotic world that is Paragaea in search of a way to return to Earth.

If you are craving a novel which is a throwback to those old scifi pulp adventure stories, Paragaea: A Planetary Romance is exactly what the doctor ordered. But if you are looking for a work that rises beyond that, then you are bound, as I was, to be disappointed.

The final verdict: 6.75/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

How much is the Hotlist worth???

My blog is worth $94,842.72.
How much is your blog worth?

Whoever is buying, I'm selling!;-)

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (December 18th)

In hardcover:

Terry Goodkind's Confessor is down five positions, ending its fourth week on the charts at number 15. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Jim Butcher's Captain's Fury debuts at number 17. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Somehow, J. R. R. Tolkien's The Children of Húrin is up four spots, finishing the week at number 24. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Cormac McCarthy's The Road is up one position, ending its 36th week on the NYT list at number 7. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Anne and Todd McCaffrey's Dragon's Fire debuts at number 23. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

New cover art for Patrick Rothfuss' THE NAME OF THE WIND

Rothfuss' immensely popular debut, The Name of the Wind, is going into a 4th printing. Some of the books will have this cool new cover, which means that it's time to put Fabio to rest. Finally!

Here's a scan of the book jacket. I'll post a high resolution jpeg as soon as I get one. . .:-)

Inside Straight

Alive and kicking since 1987, the Wild Cards sequence is the longest-running series in an SFF shared universe. I was curious to read Inside Straight because the 18th volume represents a new beginning. Although there is more than enough to please old fans, this new triad published by Tor Books is meant to introduce a new generation of readers to the series.

I have to admit that, other than being acquainted with the principal premise of the series, I'm not too familiar with its characters and major storylines. I remember reading two or three Wild Cards books circa 1990, but I wasn't too impressed with them at the time. Keep in mind that from the height of my 16 years of age, I considered myself a bit too "mature" for this super heroes and that kind of stuff.

Well, I'm now 33 years old and I'm not sure just how mature I am today.:p Maybe it's a case of regression, or could it be progression!?! In any event, I thoroughly enjoyed Inside Straight. The book does the job, on several levels. Mind you, this is not the sort of novel whose scope can rival with Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, Jordan's The Wheel of Time, Erikson's The Malazan Book of the Fallen, etc. Nevertheless, there is a lot more to this book than meets the eye. Naturally, I can't truly compare this newest volume to its predecessors. If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that GRRM and his collaborators have hit this one out of the ballpark! And as it reads well as a stand-alone, it makes Inside Straight the perfect starting point for potential readers.

Some have voiced their worries about the lack of "big names" on message boards, fearing that it might make for an inferior product. Nothing could be further from the truth. I mean no disrespect, but George R. R. Martin's story isn't any better than that of Carrie Vaughn, Daniel Abraham, or Michael Cassutt. If anything, I firmly believe that, like me, after finishing Inside Straight readers will be intrigued and they'll wish to learn more about the works of Melinda M. Snodgrass, Caroline Spector, John Jos. Miller, Ian Tregillis and S. L. Farrell. While no one really stands out from the rest of the pack, no one's star shines any less than the others.

As a mosaic novel, I was concerned about possible glitches in terms of continuity, consistency, chronology, style and tone. I was also worried about how the individual stories would fit and further the plot of the overall story arc. But the various plotlines are woven together almost seamlessly, and the entire cast of writers involved in the production of this book maintain an even style and tone throughout.

I love how the "reality tv/trash tv" angle was played. It was a lot of fun to read about American Hero, a Wild Cards tv show which is a blend of American Idol, Survivor, and Big Brother. They even have their Simon-like judge!

Still, there is a lot more to this new generation of Wild Cards than just a group of them competing for a million dollars. A crisis is brewing in the Middle East, and the assassination of the current Caliph leads to what could become a genocide. I was terribly afraid that the authors would fall in the same trap as most artists: Either take the far-Right approach, or go down the brown-nosing, ass-kissing, UN-loving, "there are no bad people on this planet, just misunderstandings" Leftist road -- both of them too black and white, and both of them inaccurate. I'm glad to report that the writers and editors understand that there are many nuances to be considered when one elects to tackle with the religious and political problems that are endemic to the Middle East and beyond. Hence, this particular plotline is written intelligently, taking into account both sides of the story.

With good characterization and way more depth than meets the eye, Inside Straight is hip, cool, fun and fresh. Fans of the Wild Cards series should flock back in droves, their numbers increased by new readers eager to learn more about all those aces and jokers.

Kudos to George R. R. Martin, Melinda M. Snodgrass, Carrie Vaughn, Michael Cassutt, Caroline Spector, John Jos. Miller, Daniel Abraham, Ian Tregillis, and S. L. Farrell for a job well-done! The franchise is in very good hands, which bodes extremely well for the future. I'll be lining up for the forthcoming Busted Flush.

To learn more about the Wild Cards series in general and Inside Straight in particular, check out and

If Inside Straight is any indication, 2008 could be a terrific year for SFF fans!:-)

The final verdict: 8/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

In case you didn't know. . .

Amazon has purchased J. K. Rowling's The Tales of Beedle the Bard at an auction held by Sotheby’s in London. The handwritten book fetched an astounding four million dollars, and is one of the only seven handmade copies in existence.

At least the money goes to charity. . .

Click here for the full story.

Top 10 Speculative Fiction Titles Published in 2007

I wasn't planning on revealing my Top 10 until my year-end awards were posted later this month, but many have been asking for it. I guess you guys want to include some of these novels on your Christmas shopping list!;-) Hence, I've decided to post the Top 10 now, with links to each review, and I'll include the 10 runner-up titles when I post the awards. So without further ado, here it is:

1- Black Man/Thirteen by Richard Morgan (Del Rey/Gollancz)
2- Reaper's Gale by Steven Erikson (Tor Books/Bantam Press)
3- Ink by Hal Duncan (Del Rey/Pan MacMillan)
4- Brasyl by Ian McDonald (Pyr/Gollancz)
5- Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay (Penguin Books/Simon & Schuster)
6- The Terror by Dan Simmons (Little, Brown and co./Bantam Press)
7- Dreamsongs, Volume 1 by George R. R. Martin (Bantam Dell/Gollancz)
8- Red Seas under Red Skies by Scott Lynch (Bantam Dell/Gollancz)
9- Fatal Revenant by Stephen R. Donaldson (Putnam/Gollancz)
10- Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik (Del Rey/Voyager)

As always, feel free to disagree. But remember that if you do agree with me, it means that you are a brilliant and discerning reader. If you don't, then you simply don't know shit!:p

So those are my picks for 2007. All right, have at it!
And remember that buying any of these novels via the Amazon links helps raise funds for breast cancer research. . .:-)

Cover art for Ian Cameron Esslemont's RETURN OF THE CRIMSON GUARD

Here are the beautiful covers drawn by Edward Miller for the PS Publishing 2-volume slipcased limited edition of Ian Cameron Esslemont's forthcoming Return of the Crimson Guard.

Absolutely gorgeous!:-)

If you wish to pre-order this collector's item, click on this link.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (December 11th)

In hardcover:

Terry Goodkind's Confessor is down five positions, ending its third week on the charts at number 10. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Incredibly, J. R. R. Tolkien's The Children of Húrin returns at number 29. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Clive Barker's Mister B. Gone is down six spots, finishing its fifth week on the NYT list at number 33. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Richard Matheson's I am Legend maintain its position at number 4. This marks the book's sixth week on the prestigious list. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Cormac McCarthy's The Road is up one spot, finishing its 35th week on the bestseller list at number 8. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Sad news for Terry Pratchett fans

Just saw this sad piece of news here:

Folks,I would have liked to keep this one quiet for a little while, but because of upcoming conventions and of course the need to keep my publishers informed, it seems to me unfair to withhold the news. I have been diagnosed with a very rare form of early onset Alzheimer's, which lay behind this year's phantom "stroke".

We are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism. For now work is continuing on the completion of Nation and the basic notes are already being laid down for Unseen Academicals. All other things being equal, I expect to meet most current and, as far as possible, future commitments but will discuss things with the various organisers. Frankly, I would prefer it if people kept things cheerful, because I think there's time for at least a few more books yet.

Terry Pratchett

PS I would just like to draw attention to everyone reading the above that this should be interpreted as 'I am not dead'. I will, of course, be dead at some future point, as will everybody else. For me, this maybe further off than you think it's too soon to tell. I know it's a very human thing to say "Is there anything I can do", but in this case I would only entertain offers from very high-end experts in brain chemistry.

Man, it's a tough year for the genre's most popular authors. . .:-(

My thoughts and prayers are with Pratchett and his family.

The Golden Compass

I had the day off, so I decided to beat the crowds and take advantage of a cheap afternoon ticket to go see The Golden Compass. I wasn't expecting much, which probably explains why I ended up enjoying the movie more than I thought I would.

As was the case with Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, this movie is intended for a young audience, even more so than the book. I've read The Golden Compass a few years ago, so I can't say with certainty if memory serves me right. Still, it looks as though the producers followed the essence of Pullman's novel. With one major exception being the absence of the Church. The Magisterium and Oblation Board are present, but the Church is not. . .

Visually, the movie is great. A neat soundtrack sets the mood, and the actors do a wonderful job to plunge the viewers into the tale. Kudos to the young actress playing the role of Lyra, for she is a perfect fit for the role.

All in all, a nice family movie for the Holidays. And you also get to see the trailer for the upcoming Narnia movie as well. . .

How Have Online Reviews Affected the Publishing World

SF Signal just posted this interesting interview with editors, authors, bloggers, etc.

As a matter of course, opinions differ from one person to the next.

Check it out here.

Brandon Sanderson to finish Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time

Here's Tor Books' press release:

Tor Books announced today that novelist Brandon Sanderson has been chosen to finish writing the final novel in Robert Jordan's bestselling Wheel of Time fantasy series. Jordan--described by some as Tolkien's heir--died Sept. 16 from a rare blood disease. The new novel, A Memory of Light, will be the 12th and final book in the fantasy series which has sold more than 14 million copies in North America and more than 30 million copies worldwide. The last four books in the series were all #1 New York Times bestsellers.

Harriet Popham Rigney, Jordan's widow and editor, chose Sanderson to complete A Memory of Light--which Jordan worked on almost daily for the last few months of his life--and will edit it. Rigney said some scenes from the book were completed by Jordan before his death, and some exist in draft form. "He left copious notes and hours of audio recordings," she said. He also revealed details about the end of the series to close members of his family.

Sanderson, who acknowledged Jordan as an inspiration to him as a writer, has established a loyal fan base as the author of three fantasy novels: Elantris, Mistborn and The Well of Ascension (Tor), as well as a YA novel, Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians (Scholastic Press). Sanderson said, "I'm both extremely excited and daunted by this opportunity. There is only one man who could have done this book the way it deserved to be written, and we lost him in September. However, I promise to do my very best to remain true to Mr. Jordan's vision and produce the book we have all been waiting to read."

A Memory of Light is scheduled for publication in fall 2009.

In terms of styles, Sanderson and Jordan are like night and day. I wonder what made Harriet select him. . .

Oh man. . .

Acacia: The War with the Mein

Hype has a funny way of creating expectations in a reader's mind. Naturally, with critics calling David Anthony Durham's novel one of the best fantasy debuts of 2007, my expectations were quite high. Too high? I think not -- not with everything that's been said about Acacia: The War with the Mein. Nevertheless, I'm sad to report that this book, in my humble opinion, doesn't live up to the hype which was generated by the incredibly positive buzz surrounding this novel.

I feel bad about having to write a somewhat negative review about this one. As was the case with Brandon Sanderson's The Well of Ascension, Durham is a great guy and I really wanted to like Acacia. The near totality of the reviews I've read pertaining to this book -- online and in print -- make it sound as one of the best fantasy titles of the year. Hence, I was more than a little disappointed to discover that the novel suffered from a number of shortcomings.

My favorite aspect of Acacia turned out to be the worldbuilding. Indeed, David Anthony Durham created a fascinating universe, simultaneously traditional and exotic, which serves as a backdrop for his epic fantasy tale. His multiethnic cast, though not as well-done as Erikson's, is a welcome change to what has been the norm in the genre for years. The author's background in historical fiction is evident, thus allowing him to create an environment exuding a "realistic" feeling.

The prose is neat, and Durham paces Acacia adroitly. The initial premise and the ensemble of storylines woven together to assemble this tale are all very interesting. I found the plotlines involving the Lothan Aklun, the Quota, the Other Lands, the mist, the Numrek, the Mein and the Tunishnevre, and the Santoth to be absorbing. Those are the storylines that fueled my interest and urged me to read on. So where did it all go wrong?

What killed Acacia: The War with the Mein for me turned out to be the characterization. To say that they are lacking or leave something to be desired would be an understatement. For some unfathomable reason -- this is a first for me -- I absolutely hated all the main protagonists, good or bad. Throughout the book I kept hoping for the Arkan siblings -- Aliver, Dariel, Corinn and Mena -- to die. I kept wondering how Durham could come up with such an interesting setting, yet populate it with clichéd, two-dimensional characters that lacked a lot in the way of realism. Needless to say, I was unable to get into any of the siblings' storylines. As I mentioned in my review of Tad Williams' Shadowplay, it's decidedly hard to make royal teenagers likeable. Moreover, there were quite a few similarities between them and GRRM's Stark siblings. The fact that they achieve everything so easily, with all that's require of them falling into place perfectly, as if by magic, didn't sit well with me either. The supporting cast is a bit lame and unbelievable, which is what ultimately prevented me from enjoying the book beyond Durham's first-rate worldbuilding.

I found many of the concepts underlying the story to be engrossing enough to want to read the upcoming sequel. My only hope is that David Anthony Durham will up his game where characterization is concerned.

Acacia: The War with the Mein showed great promise. Unfortunately, poor characterization makes it impossible for this novel to fulfill its full potential.

The final verdict: 6.75/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

Jack Whyte contest winner

That lucky person will get his hands on an autographed copy of Jack Whyte's latest, Standard of Honor, compliments of Penguin Books. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

Scott Walker, from Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada

Thanks to all the participants!:-)

Facebook Group

I've been asked a few times if I'd consider creating and/or becoming part of what would be the "official" speculative fiction Facebook Group. Though it's a neat idea, running this blog takes too much of my time as it is. Understandably, there's no way I can find the time to create yet another online SFF venue.

From what I've been told, people would like a Facebook Group that would allow readers to get all the SFF scoops and all that jazz. Since it's what I'm doing with the Hotlist, I have a feeling that some folks want to drive me out of business!:p

The idea certainly has merit, especially when one considers that most speculative fiction readers don't necessarily frequent message boards, etc, yet many of them likely have a Facebook account (as do I). Hence, such a venue could perhaps bring even more SFF fans together. But my fear is that it could also become just a place where bloggers pimp their stuff and little else. . .

Though I can't possibly be a front man for such a project, I wouldn't mind working "behind the scenes" to help the group see the light. So if anyone has any ideas they believe would be good, feel free to share them with the rest of us.:-)

Let's see if we can make this become a reality. . .

ASOIAF Art Prints from the Dabel Brothers

Here are two art prints from George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire -- one of Ned Stark, and the other of Sansa Stark -- that can be purchased from the Dabel Brothers on their website,

As the press release states, just in time for the Holidays!;-)

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (December 4th)

In hardcover:

Terry Goodkind's Confessor is down three positions, ending its second week on the charts at number 5. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Laurell K. Hamilton's A Lick of Frost is down four spots, finishing its fifth week on the NYT list at number 21. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

R. A. Salvatore's The Orc King is up two positions, ending its ninth week on the bestseller list at number 22. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Clive Barker's Mister B. Gone is down five positions, ending its fourth week on the NYT list at number 27. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Richard Matheson's I am Legend is up seven spots, finishing its fifth week on the prestigious list at number 4. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Cormac McCarthy's The Road is down one position, ending its 34th week on the charts at number 9. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Signed copies of Robin Hobb's RENEGADE'S MAGIC

If you fancy an autographed copy of Robin Hobb's Renegade's Magic (Canada, USA, Europe), visit, where you can get your hands on that and other signed books.

Also, both Steven Erikson and Terry Brooks will soon be signing copies that can be purchased via that website.

If you're into that sort of thing, check it out!:-)

I reviewed Renegade's Magic when it was released in the UK last June. For those of you who are about to buy the North American edition, here's a link to the book review. For my money, it's the best volume in this trilogy!

Yet another interview with Steven Erikson

I kid you not!

And again, it's courtesy of Jeff VanderMeer, via Here's an excerpt:

I've just finished Toll the Hounds, which is the eighth novel in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. At the moment I am working on a co-written novella with Ian C. Esslemont set in the same world, and I confess I've started the prologue to the ninth in the series. As for Toll the Hounds, I guess I can say I'm pleased with the result; that's a statement that needs qualification, however. The novel is about love and grief, and integral to that exploration was my fair share of both this past year, as my father fell ill and in the course of four months withered away and died. There is something mercenary in writers, something that others might view with faint disgust, and that is the terrible desire to feed off one's own circumstances, using genuine emotions (including suffering) to infuse a fictional tale that is, at its core, meaningless. I don't mean that as a disparagement of fiction; as writers we play a game of illusion, pretending to a reality that does not exist, and if we can, we use that false reality to generate real emotion. And that's what can make a normal person understandably uneasy, as the writer guides that person into a very personal world; as, in this instance, I happen to be inviting him or her to share in my grief. Does all this stem from an overblown ego? I'm not sure; I feel pretty humble these days. At the same time there is an undeniable ego to the presumption of being writers: that we actually possess something worth saying, not to mention the conceit that words possess real efficacy (but those are topics for some other time). All that makes the novel sound like a downer, but while there are tragic elements to the tale, there are plenty of lighter ones, too. It's more like a wake. You get laughs, you get tears, and maybe when it's all said and done, you walk away thoughtful, standing in the afternoon light, saying goodbye to someone who is no longer there. As I did.

I figure this should whet more than a few appetites!;-)

Read the whole Q&A here.

Richard Morgan's ALTERED CARBON (limited edition)

Here's the cover art for the Subterranean Press limited edition of Richard Morgan's high-octane debut, Altered Carbon. Yep, we'll have a copy up for grabs when the time comes!;-)

For more info, check out

NFL Showdown: GRRM vs Pat (Week 13)

Dallas Cowboys 37
Green Bay Packers 27

New York Giants 21
Chicago Bears 16

The Cowboys are now 11-1 and in a somewhat commanding lead of the NFC, but the damned G-Men found a way to come back and win it against Chicago, which now makes them 8-4. As I told George, I don't want the 'Boys to face the Giants in the playoffs. This is exactly the kind of game they would lose, and with that loss my hopes of getting horribly killed in the next ASOIAF volume would go up in smoke.

Yet the odds are still in my favor. This from GRRM in his last email:

I assume you enjoyed the Cowboys win. Sad to say, looks as though we're heading for a Cowboys - Patriots Superbowl. Hitler versus Stalin. Hooboy.

I am mulling how I mean to kill you.

This is a first. . .

It has just come to my attention that the Hotlist was mentioned this afternoon during a radio show. It is, to my knowledge, the first time that this blog was ever mentioned on the radio.

Since I haven't heard what was said, I have no idea what the gig was all about. All I know is that Pat's Fantasy Hotlist was mentioned by columnist Ed Willett during The Afternoon Edition with Colin Grewar, on CBC Radio One, our national radio station. I found out about it through this link:

Ed, if you are reading this, please drop me a line (use the giveaway email address) to let me know what the show entailed.

1000th Post!

Holy shit!

I just realized that I've reached the 1000th post plateau a few days back. This is the Hotlist's 1003rd post, to be exact!:-)

That's a hell of a lot of rambling on my part, no question!:p And some of you have been there from the very beginning! So here's to another 1000 posts of senseless drivel! May you enjoy them as much as you've enjoyed the first thousand!

Fuck me, more than a thousand posts. . .

Another interview with Steven Erikson

Just found out about this!

Jeff VanderMeer interviewed Erikson for Clarksworld Magazine. Here's an excerpt:

I recently wrote a preface to a re-release of Gardens of the Moon, (the first in the series) that Bantam UK is planning, and in it I spoke of ambition; observing that through most of my career as both an unpublished and a published writer, I have often faced rejection wherein I have been criticized for being "too ambitious." Looking back, then, I realized (with bemused surprise), that in this one area I have not changed one whit. If I'm not pushing things I just don't see the point, and that's what drives my writing — it did in my very first stories and it still does.

If there is one change I can observe without too much cynicism, it's that I find I am less and less frustrated in facing that particular criticism. When young, I received it with disbelief. Now, I just shrug. Is this what scars do? Am I simply desensitized, or do I just not give a fuck anymore? I suspect that if I was as poor, as struggling, as I once was, then my feeling would be very different than it is right now. Is this what "comfort" purchases in a life? Could be.

You can read the entire Q&A here.