Only the worst Sci-fi/Fantasy book covers

Came across the Good Show Sir website via a Westeros thread on the worst SFF book covers out there. This website is amazing!

Their mission:

There are many pieces of cover art that are beautiful to behold. Yet, there are others which exhibit a rarer, odd form of beauty. We think that such conflicts of focal points, lettering choices, false perspectives, anatomical befuddlement, ridiculous transport vehicles, oversized and frankly unusable monster-hunting weaponry, clothing choices that would get you killed walking down the street let alone hiking a through a frozen wasteland, clichéd cat-people, and downright bad art deserve their own special form of tribute.

Some of the things to look for in a cover, at least according to the folks at Good Show Sir:

1. So much going on it burns your eyes. We want covers with elves, dragons, space ships and large busty women, all on the same glorious cover!

2. Terrible art. Awful… just awful. Crazed monsters that are congenital disorders with no skeletal support, brush strokes that display a hilariously misinformed understanding of anatomical proportions, unreadable and/or multiple horrible fonts, magical light orbs that lack even the most basic digital imaging techniques. That sort of thing.

3. Epic things happening. Look for people doing crazy things, such as holding a staff to a dragons eye, firing a laser pistol with one hand whilst doing stunts on a a hover bike with the other, or summoning interdimensional beasts whilst surrounded by improbably-clad warrior priestesses who are fighting off invisible fairies on top of a mountain made of crystal and sand.

So what are you waiting for!?! Head on out to Good Show Sir and have fun! You know you want to!

The caption underneath the cover art I posted above read: Baen Books – Putting all other cover choices to shame since 1983.

It doesn't speak well of me, I know, but I almost pissed myself when I saw that! :P

Gratuitous Chuck Norris clip!!!

With all the crap and negativity thrown my way these last couple of weeks, I felt that we needed something to lighten the mood a little.

Some of my detractors will certainly opine that this qualifies as the vapid content Pat's Fantasy Hotlist is known for, true. But seriously, a Chuck Norris clip trumps whatever drivel I can come up with, right!?!

Anyone read this book???

Just received a review copy of Tim Lebbon's Echo City (Canada, USA, Europe). It looks pretty good, but I can't find any reviews about it. Has anyone read and enjoyed it?

Here's the blurb:

Surrounded by a vast, poisonous desert, Echo City is built upon the graveyard of its own past. Most inhabitants believe that their city and its subterranean Echoes are the whole of the world, but there are a few dissenters. Peer Nadawa is a political exile, forced to live with criminals in a ruinous slum. Gorham, once her lover, leads a ragtag band of rebels against the ruling theocracy. Nophel, a servant of that theocracy, dreams of revenge from his perch atop the city’s tallest spire. And beneath the city, a woman called Nadielle conducts macabre experiments in genetic manipulation using a science indistinguishable from sorcery. They believe there is something more beyond the endless desert . . . but what?

It is only when a stranger arrives from out of the wastes that things begin to change. Frail and amnesiac, he holds the key to a new beginning for Echo City—or perhaps to its end, for he is not the only new arrival. From the depths beneath Echo City, something ancient and deadly is rising. Now Peer, Gorham, Nophel, and Nadielle msut test the limits of love and loyalty, courage and compassion, as they struggle to save a city collapsing under the weight of its own history.

The Kathleen Lynch cover art caught my attention, and the blurb piqued my curiosity. I have a few Tim Lebbon novels awaiting my attention, but I have yet to give this author a shot.

Wouldn't mind beginning with Echo City, but I'd like to know if it's any good. . .

There is an extract available here.

Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson's TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT now shipping!

According to my Amazon Associate Program, I've just discovered that started shipping Jordan and Sanderson's Towers of Midnight yesterday. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

The Last Battle has started. The seals on the Dark One’s prison are crumbling. The Pattern itself is unraveling, and the armies of the Shadow have begun to boil out of the Blight.

The sun has begun to set upon the Third Age.

Perrin Aybara is now hunted by specters from his past: Whitecloaks, a slayer of wolves, and the responsibilities of leadership. All the while, an unseen foe is slowly pulling a noose tight around his neck. To prevail, he must seek answers in Tel’aran’rhiod and find a way—at long last—to master the wolf within him or lose himself to it forever.

Meanwhile, Matrim Cauthon prepares for the most difficult challenge of his life. The creatures beyond the stone gateways—the Aelfinn and the Eelfinn—have confused him, taunted him, and left him hanged, his memory stuffed with bits and pieces of other men’s lives. He had hoped that his last confrontation with them would be the end of it, but the Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills. The time is coming when he will again have to dance with the Snakes and the Foxes, playing a game that cannot be won. The Tower of Ghenjei awaits, and its secrets will reveal the fate of a friend long lost.

Get it now! ;-) You can get the book at 46% off via the USA link and 40% off via the Europe link (though hasn't started shipping copies yet).

Daniel Abraham on urban fantasy

Came across this interesting post by Daniel Abraham (writing as M. L. N. Hanover) regarding urban fantasy titled "Why Jayne Heller Won't Get Raped."

Here's an excerpt:

I think — as I’ve said elsewhere — that urban fantasy is a genre sitting on top of a great big huge cultural discomfort about women and power. The typical UF heroine (as I’ve come to understand her) is a kick-ass woman with a variety of possible lovers. She’s been forced into power which she often doesn’t understand, and can face down any danger while at the same time captivating the romantic attention of the dangerous, edgy men around her. She’s been forced into power — either through accident of birth or by being transformed without her permission — and is therefore innocent of one of the central feminine cultural sins: ambition. She is in relationships primarily with men rather than in community with women. “Bad boys” want her, and they won’t be bad to her. Etc, etc, etc.

The thing that sets almost (and there are exceptions I’ll talk about in a minute here) all the urban fantasy heroines apart from real women as found in the real world is this: they don’t fear rape.

I understand and sympathize with them. As a man, I don’t fear rape either. I understand intellectually that I could be a victim of it, but it just doesn’t seem plausible. It doesn’t impinge on my consciousness the way that it does for women. And so — while urban fantasy embodies so many of the insecurities about women and power — here, it falls into real fantasy. They’re immune to traditional masculine power (that’s to say violence) because they have internalized it. They’ve become it. Urban Fantasy heroines are — for the most part — weaponized.

Click on this link to read the entire article.

A conversation with the Malazan co-creators

At the World Fantasy Convention, set up a chat with Steven Erikson, author of the forthcoming The Crippled God (Canada, USA, Europe) and Ian Cameron Esslemont, author of the upcoming Stonewielder (Canada, USA, Europe).

Here's a brief teaser:

We've been pretty firm on future plans for some time. Even as Cam has been telling me about the Darujhistan novel (which was always coming next), I have been telling him about the first Kharkanas novel (The Forge of Darkness): what makes this such a blast is each of us finding out what happens to various characters, so in that sense we're just like all you readers.

Follow this link to read the whole thing!

Game of Thrones: The Artisans

Costume designer Michele Clapton shares her sketches and explains the process of fashioning a cohesive look for the clothing of Westeros.

Musical Interlude

This song will forever remind me of the best Contiki tour ever! Our Simply Italy tour of May 2001 was the absolute shit and one the main reasons why I became the globetrotter I am today.

This tune takes me back to Florence, Italy. If you've been there and you like to party, then chances are that you spent a night at the popular Space Electronic disco. It's the place where foreign girls officially lose faith in Florentine men in particular, and Italian men in general!

We had an authentic Toscan dinner in the hills earlier that evening. It was an all-you-can-drink red/white wine affair, so I was loaded when they dropped us off at the club. The drinks were expensive and the exchange rate was killing me, but I nonetheless spent a little fortune dancing the night away.

Can't quite remember much, other than the Florentine guys hitting on foreign chicks like their plane was going down, and the fact that someone (don't know who or why) drove a few of us back to the hotel in a black convertible, speeding dangerously through the narrow cobblestone streets of Florence. That and this Jennifer Lopez track.

All in all, a great night!

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (October 26th)

In hardcover:

R. A. Salvatore's Gauntlgrym is down six positions, ending the week at number 19. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Guillero del Toro & Chuck Hogan's The Fall is down four spots, finishing the week at number 29. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Sean Williams' Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II is down twelve positions, ending the week at number 33. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson's The Gathering Storm is up two spots, finishing the week at number 11.

Patricia Briggs' Masques is down four positions, ending the week at number 24.

Drew Karpyshyn's Star Wars: Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil is up three spots, finishing the week at number 30.

New Poll: Most Eagerly Awaited SFF Title

December 31st is looming, what with about 8 weeks left to go before the end of the year. And though I haven't made up my mind just yet about whether or not to hang 'em up, last week's latest tempest in a teacup makes it less likely that I'll stick around. . .

A while back I posted a list of eagerly anticipated SFF titles I'd love to polish off before calling it quits. So far I've read Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson's Towers of Midnight (Canada, USA, Europe), Ian Cameron Esslemont's Stonewielder (Canada, USA, Europe), and R. Scott Bakker's Disciple of the Dog (Canada, USA, Europe).

I have already received my ARC of Joe Abercrombie's The Heroes (Canada, USA, Europe), yet I have no idea if Patrick Rothfuss' The Wise Man's Fear (Canada, USA, Europe) and Scott Lynch's The Republic of Thieves (Canada, USA, Europe) will be within the realm of possibilities. We'll have to wait and see. . .

I'll get both Steven Erikson's The Crippled God (Canada, USA, Europe) and R. Scott Bakker's The White-Luck Warrior (Canada, USA, Europe) as soon as the final copy-edit is completed.

But the time constraint means that I might not get the chance to read and review them all if I do decide to retire from the SFF blogosphere. If that's the case, I want to know which of these major releases you'd like me to polish off the most. =)

Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson contest winners!

Our three winners will received an autographed copy of Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson's Towers of Midnight, compliments of the nice folks at Tor Books. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winners are:

- Mario Fiset, from Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Canada

- Brett Oblack, from Avon, Indiana, USA

- Jeremy Zerfoss, from Henderson, Nevada, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

Charles Stross on Steampunk

Award-winning science-fiction author Charles Stross isn't too fond of all the Steampunk novels that are being peddled to the SFF readers these days. The Hard Edge of Empire is a blog post in which he gives his two cents regarding this particular subgenre. Here's a teaser:

It's not that I actively dislike steampunk, and indeed I have fond memories of the likes of K. W. Jeter's "Infernal Devices", Tim Powers' "The Anubis Gates", the works of James Blaylock, and other features of the 1980s steampunk scene. I don't have that much to say against the aesthetic and costumery other than, gosh, that must be rather hot and hard to perambulate in. (I will confess to being a big fan of Phil and Kaja Foglio's Girl Genius.) It's just that there's too damn much of it about right now, and furthermore, it's in danger of vanishing up its own arse due to second artist effect. (The first artist sees a landscape and paints what they see; the second artist sees the first artist's work and paints that, instead of a real landscape.)


But there's a dark side as well. We know about the real world of the era steampunk is riffing off. And the picture is not good. If the past is another country, you really wouldn't want to emigrate there. Life was mostly unpleasant, brutish, and short; the legal status of women in the UK or US was lower than it is in Iran today: politics was by any modern standard horribly corrupt and dominated by authoritarian psychopaths and inbred hereditary aristocrats: it was a priest-ridden era that had barely climbed out of the age of witch-burning, and bigotry and discrimination were ever popular sports: for most of the population starvation was an ever-present threat. I could continue at length. It's the world that bequeathed us the adjective "Dickensian", that gave us a fully worked example of the evils of a libertarian minarchist state, and that provoked Marx to write his great consolatory fantasy epic, The Communist Manifesto. It's the world that gave birth to the horrors of the Modern, and to the mass movements that built pyramids of skulls to mark the triumph of the will. It was a vile, oppressive, poverty-stricken and debased world and we should shed no tears for its passing (or the passing of that which came next).


You probably think I'm going a little too far in my blanket condemnation of a sandbox where the cool kids are having altogether too much fun. But consider this: what would a steampunk novel that took the taproot history of the period seriously look like?

Forget wealthy aristocrats sipping tea in sophisticated London parlours; forget airship smugglers in the weird wild west. A revisionist mundane SF steampunk epic — mundane SF is the socialist realist movement within our tired post-revolutionary genre — would reflect the travails of the colonial peasants forced to labour under the guns of the white Europeans' Zeppelins, in a tropical paradise where severed human hands are currency and even suicide doesn't bring release from bondage. (Hey, this is steampunk — it needs zombies and zeppelins, right? Might as well pick Zombies for our single one impossible ingredient.) It would share the empty-stomached anguish of a young prostitute on the streets of a northern town during a recession, unwanted children (contraception is a crime) offloaded on a baby farm with a guaranteed 90% mortality rate through neglect. The casual boiled-beef brutality of the soldiers who take the King's shilling to break the heads of union members organizing for a 60 hour work week. The fading eyesight and mangled fingers of nine year olds forced to labour on steam-powered looms, weaving cloth for the rich. The empty-headed graces of debutantes raised from birth to be bargaining chips and breeding stock for their fathers' fortunes. In other words, it's the story of all the people who are having adventures — as long as you remember that an adventure is a tale of unpleasant events happening to people a long, long way from home.

Click on the link above for the full post and the 100+ comments it generated.

Tobias S. Buckell responds via his Facebook page. Here's an extract:

If the industrial revolution was harsh, remember that the peasants fleeing the country-side for the Dickensian, coal-stained air of London were leaving the countryside for a better life, the same pastoral life that people like Tolkien and his later imitators and admirers hold up as a world like ours, but purer and with horses.

However, the period that steampunk holds up so dear is the same period that perfected genocide, racism, wholesale destruction of Africa, manifest destiny, and so on and so forth.

To be true, I hold that steampunk is a just a modern iteration of the previous generation’s pastoralism. Tolkien was looking back a couple hundred years to a time just outside his horizon and thinking of it as ‘a better age,’ which is not uncommon with human beings (it’s been going on since… forever).


In that manner steampunk is more of an aesthetic rejection of modern aesthetics, it’s primarily a manufacturing/cultural manifestation, as evidenced, I think, by the fact that the bulk of steampunk’s appeal is in the objects (the movies, bulk produced mass consumer objects, have failed to do as well) and the style, which have penetrated further out than the literature objects.

Follow the link for the whole thing.

Buckell points out that Nisi Shawl also wrote a piece concerning some of the literature that has used steampunk while exploring that reactionary/pastoralist nature. Here's an extract:

Because while steampunk’s nonliterary components—fashion, art, music—are some of the most diverse scenes around, steampunk books and stories I was familiar with often seemed nostalgic for an imaginary vanished age of whiteness. Almost without exception they glorified British Victorian imperialism. They did this despite the fact that many of the cultural, scientific, and aesthetic elements steampunk celebrates had been appropriated from nations the British Empire conquered, and the related fact that the machinery steampunk focuses on had primarily been maintained by nonwhites.


So at this point there is discussion: new ideas are being articulated, new questions are being asked. There is change: new stories are being told. Lately, in the world of steampunk, there is a chance to make a burgeoning art form more inclusive, more intricate, more verisimilitudinous. More fun.

People who move forward physically by walking must fall and catch themselves repeatedly. Moving forward intellectually means being willing to risk falling intellectually: being willing to say stupid things and then catch yourself. You catch yourself intellectually by making those stupid statements true, or restating them so they are right. Repeatedly. And moving forward.

Steampunk is in the process of constantly restating itself.

Not a big fan of Steampunk myself, but I reckon that this might interest many of you. . .

RIP: Realms of Fantasy

In A Farewell Note from the Publisher, Warren Lapine sadly announced that Realms of Fantasy was folding. Here's an extract:

I purchased Realms of Fantasy with the intent of restoring it to its former glory.

In the past I have published two magazine that had larger circulations than Realms: KISS Magazine and the Whole Cat Journal. So I knew exactly what I was undertaking. I got the relevant numbers on Realms’ overall performance for the past 12 issues. Based on my experience with purchasing other defunct magazines such as Weird Tales, Fantastic Stories, Science Fiction Chronicle, and The Whole Cat Journal, I had every reason to believe that I could turn Realms around quickly and easily.

But that didn’t turn out to be the case.

I invested more than $50,000.00 of my own money into reviving this magazine. I tried every traditional method I could think of to increase the circulation, but nothing worked. I also spent a great deal of money trying nontraditional methods. I advertised online with Google and Facebook, neither of which came close to covering their costs. And we created DRM-free electronic versions of the magazine to see if that would help increase our circulation. Sadly, the DRM-free versions never sold more than twenty five copies per issue, and the Kindle editions sold fewer still.

As things stand, I would need to invest another large amount of money simply to continue publishing the magazine at its current level—an investment that I do not believe would have any chance of repaying itself. So, unfortunately, I have no choice but to close Realms of Fantasy and Dreams of Decadence. I have written more than $10,000.00 worth of checks to contributors of Realms in the last two weeks. Tir Na Nog Press, Inc., is still owed money by distributors and advertisers, and as that money trickles in we will pay the handful of contributors that are still owed money. We did all of the work on the December issue and had it ready for press in the hopes that things might turn around. We will be placing a PDF of that issue on our website for our subscribers to download at no charge. We may do the same with Dreams of Decadence. I will also try to find another magazine to assume the subscriptions so that the readers will get something for the unfulfilled portion of their subscriptions.

Ultimately, I believe Realms failed because of a terrible economic climate. When I purchased the magazine I did not believe that the worst economy since the Great Depression would actually get worse; that was a mistake.

Before the coming of SFF websites, message boards, and blogs, I used to read basically every issue of Realms of Fantasy. So I'm sad to see it go, regardless of the fact that I haven't been a steady reader in the last decade or so.

But then Cheryl Morgan came up with this post, in which it seems that Warren Lapine blames free online magazines for the fold. Here's an extract:

I’ve not seen what Warren actually wrote, and I suspect he’s mainly just a bit upset, but my own view is that if online magazines are doing better than print ones it is because they are more accessible rather than anything else. One of the main reasons that Clarkesworld has such good content is that we pay very well (and are picky about what we publish). And we are able to pay well because people give us money. It is a virtuous circle. The better the content you publish, the more money you get, and the better content you can afford.

Now this is interesting, especially since blogs like mine became a target when print media started to cut down on SFF book reviews a few years back.

The Homeless Moon's Online Didn't Kill the Print Star elaborates even more on online magazines. Here's an extract:

Economic factors are stacked against all short fiction magazines these days, not just print ones. The readership for short fiction was declining for decades before this. On top of all that, it’s a time of great flux in all facets of publishing–readers are fundamentally changing the ways and places that they read.

It’s short fiction publishers’ responsibility to adapt to this changing landscape, not only in weathering the economic factors as much as possible but also in reaching the readership in the ways they want.

Online magazines are less economically risky because they’re cheaper to operate. True, there is no ideal business model yet, but a bunch of free pro-rate mags are subsisting fine, some using for-profit models (Clarkesworld, Fantasy, Lightspeed) and others as non-profits taking tax-deductible donations (Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies).

Online magazines better provide fiction in the new ways readers have shown they want it: as web pages to read at home or at work or anywhere there’s wifi; as audio podcasts to listen to during a commute or workout; and as e-books, available for instant purchase and read on dozens of different devices already owned by millions of readers.

The low or free price of online fiction also attract readers. The only hope of slowing or reversing the decline in the short fiction readership is making it as easy as possible for them. Escape Pod reportedly has 20,000 subscribers, which shows that the audio short fiction ‘readership’ rivals that of the “Big Three.” Asimov’s in 2009 had an increase in subscribers, the first year that’s happened in decades, and it was because of Kindle subscriptions.

Check out the aforementioned links and join the debate.

Yet the sad truth remains: Realms of Fantasy is no more. . .

Disciple of the Dog

I've been extremely curious about this book ever since it was announced that Bakker, writing as Scott Bakker, had another thriller in the pipeline. I'm a big fan of the author's fantasy novels and I was impressed with his first thriller, Neuropath. Hence, I felt that the premise of this work promised Bakker's most accessible book to date.

Here's the blurb:

“And you wonder why I’m cynical. I’ve literally ‘seen it all before.’ The truth is we all have, every single one of us past the age of, say, twenty-five. The only difference is that I remember.”

No matter how hard he drinks, gambles, or womanizes, Disciple Manning simply cannot forget: not a word spoken, not an image glimpsed, not a pain suffered. Disciple Manning has total recall. Whatever he hears, he can remember with 100% accuracy. He can play it back in his head for an infinite number of times without a single change. This ability makes him a dangerously unorthodox private investigator.

When a New Jersey couple hires Manning to find their daughter, who joined a religious cult before vanishing in a small rust-belt town called Ruddick, he finds himself embroiled in a mystery that will pit his unnatural ability to remember against his desperate desire to forget.

I am aware that Bakker's thrillers are meant for a more mainstream crowd, and this one fits the bill rather perfectly. Neuropath was a little too "over the top" to be considered accessible. Not so with Disciple of the Dog, however. Rough around the edges yet at time more cerebral than meets the eye, Disciple of the Dog should satisfy Bakker fans waiting for The White-Luck Warrior and introduce the author to a new audience.

The novel features a first-person narrative, that of main protagonist Disciple Manning. As you know, first-person POV are tricky things. You witness events through the eyes of a single character, with a single narrative voice to convey what is taking place. Hence, if you don't like that particular protagonist, it's pretty much game over. It's no secret that Bakker's characterization has always been divisive among readers and has been a bone of contention on several message boards over the years. Disciple Manning won't buck that trend.

Bakker describes Disciple Manning as a put-upon, down-on-his-luck investigator who tries to get his own back by continually ducking sideways. He takes the back way home. As a private investigator, having the ability to recall with precision every single detail he has ever seen, heard, or felt should be a boon. Indeed, being able to pull conversations and scenes from the recesses of his brain at night, re-enacting them with clarity to analyze them and unearth nuances he may have overlooked, should be a veritable blessing considering the man's line of work. And it is that. On a more personal level, however, this neurological gift has left Disciple Manning so cynical that he often appears unable to feel or care about anything. And though you can't help but root for the guy, regardless of the fact that he can be an unfeeling dick at times, it is obvious that some readers will find him to be totally off-putting. I have a feeling that readers will be a love/hate relationship with Disciple Manning. As for me, though he'll never be the most likeable character or the sharpest tool in the shed, I found the guy quite endearing. Here's a quote from the book to give you an idea:

Even so, Nolen had this sour look on his face as I took the seat opposite his desk, as if I were the druggie cousin who kept hitting Grandma up for money. That was when I realized I was wearing my I WOULD RATHER BE MASTURBATING T-shirt.


I glanced at my chest then looked up at him helplessly. "Um. . . Shit. . ."

No wonder the desk sergeant couldn't stop staring. When you remember as
much as I do, you end up overlooking more than a few crucial details.

"Pretty funny," Nolen said, grinning. "Actually. . ."

A wave of relief washed over me. Nolen was good people, I realized. Anyone who would rather be masturbating is good people. Self-reliance is what makes this country great.

So yes, Disciple Manning can be a prick. But a more entertaining fellow, I'd be hard-pressed to name! His narrative is full of insightful and witty gems, and it's sometimes downright laugh-out-loud funny.

Weighing in at about 250 pages, this is a very slim novel. And I felt that it could have used more "meat." There are a lot of interesting concepts on which Bakker could have elaborated a bit more. I feel that the manuscript was trimmed down to ensure a fast-moving pace. But in the end I think it may have been to the detriment of the overall reading experience. Ruddick is full of religious crazies, I feel that not enough was explained about the Framers. Still, a thriller is meant to be a page-turner and it is certainly the case with Disciple of the Dog.

By the same token, I felt that the ending was a bit rushed. But Bakker closes the show in a way that was completely unexpected. And even though Disciple of the Dog wasn't everything it could have been, I will be lining up to read the sequel, no question.

The final verdict: 7.75/10

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

Guest Blog: Mark Hodder

As you know, I've been intrigued by Mark Hodder's The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack (Canada, USA, Europe) since I received the ARC a few months back. With my curiosity piqued in such a way, I invited the author to write a guest blog.

In the following post, Mark Hodder tells us why Sir Richard Francis Burton is the perfect steampunk hero.


When I started planning my debut novel, THE STRANGE AFFAIR OF SPRING HEELED JACK, I knew from the get-go that it would be a tale of detection and adventure, and, after a few seconds of thought, that it would have Sir Richard Francis Burton as the protagonist. Those few seconds went something like this:

"My hero needs to be a 'Sir.' Being a Knight of the Realm straight away implies that, even before the novel begins, he's done something outstanding in life. And he needs some edginess. So what would be a suitably evocative name? Sir Marcus Quarrell? Sir Daniel Bullett? Sir Terence Pride? Sir Lance Thruster? Sir Chopping Cruncher? Sir OhMyGod ThisIsn'tWorkingAtAll?"

One of the techniques I have for naming characters is to scour the indexes of biographies, so I reached for the bookshelves and, inevitably, my hand landed on a biog of Sir Richard Francis Burton. I say inevitably because I have every book about the guy ever published—he's fascinated me ever since my early teens, when I read Philip José Farmer's RIVERWORLD.

Well, that was it: the game changer. In an instant I realised that I was going to follow in Farmer's footsteps and use Burton as my main protagonist—and if I was going to use one real historical figure, then why not use others?

That's when THE STRANGE AFFAIR OF SPRING HEELED JACK started to come together.
So how about a real-life mystery to investigate, too? I quickly found Spring Heeled Jack—surely the most enigmatic riddle of the age. Unfortunately, the timing wasn't quite right: Jack's campaign of terror began while Burton was still a child. That meant I had to manipulate time in order to engineer a confrontation—adding a sci-fi element to the tale. This was intimidating. First-time novelists should steer clear of time travel; it's excessively complicated and there's a danger that your readers will unravel the whole plot by pointing out that "he just has to hop back an hour and change this one small thing. Simple. Problem solved!"

I like a challenge though, so I dived in and prayed I was up to the job.

It quickly occurred to me that any small alteration in time could have massive consequences, and that realisation gave me the "meat" of the story. It also steered it into the steampunk genre.

Everything clicked into place.

Sir Richard Francis Burton and steampunk—what a fascinating combination! To me, they both exist on the threshold of change. Steam powered machinery, in its day, symbolised strength and hope and a golden future, but it was also the last hooray of visible, comprehensible technology, before it vanished inside itself to become the esoteric, mysterious thing that it is today.

Burton, meanwhile, was regarded by his fellow Victorians as dangerous and eccentric. He was "Ruffian Dick," a man who all too frequently pushed the mores of the age to their limits; a daring adventurer, an outcast, a faulted scholar, and, perhaps, his own worst enemy. One can't help but feel that he was well-aware of his own shortcomings and would, perhaps, have been more content had he been able to observe his life through our eyes, regarding himself as a sort of proto- modern man; a free-thinker who questioned limits and assumptions.

In THE STRANGE AFFAIR OF SPRING HEELED JACK, one historical event is interfered with, and from this change, ripples spread out. People are presented with challenges and opportunities that they didn't have in the original timeline, and this changes them completely. Technology, too, takes a different path. In my alternate world, I have it developing far too quickly and without any forethought as to how it will change society.

Sir Richard Francis Burton is a great personality to drop into the middle of this chaos, for on the one hand he is just about Victorian enough to fit into British society, while on the other, he's an outsider who can observe it, and comment upon it, dispassionately. In other words, he becomes the reader's eyes.

Employing Burton as my hero also gave me a fantastic opportunity. It has always disturbed me the way the second half of his life didn't live up to the first. Somehow, it seems like circumstances cheated him. In THE STRANGE AFFAIR OF SPRING HEELED JACK, I was able to give him the opportunity to continue adventuring. No fruitless consulships for my Burton!

He is also perfectly placed for a little political commentary.

Steampunk has as its backdrop the British Empire. Empires, seen from the 21st Century, are not particularly nice things. They suppress, pillage and obliterate. In my opinion, if steampunk is your genre, then you are somewhat obliged to address the issue of imperialism. Burton is a great protagonist through which to explore it. He had witnessed first-hand the damage that so-called "civilisation" could wreak; was very aware that other cultures possessed a validity that his contemporaries refused to acknowledge; but, at the same time, he was very inconsistent in his views, as if he had one foot in his own world and the other in ours.

THE STRANGE AFFAIR OF SPRING HEELED JACK was my first novel. When I started it, I didn't even know whether I was capable of writing one. The fact that I did, and that it has been well received, is thanks to Sir Richard Francis Burton. For me, he is the perfect steampunk hero!

New Peter F. Hamilton video interview

The folks at Tor UK interviewed bestselling science fiction author Peter F. Hamilton to help promote The Evolutionary Void (Canada, USA, Europe).

You can view both parts here:

Excerpt from Gail Z. Martin's THE SWORN + Giveaway

Once again this year, I've accepted to be part of Gail Z. Martin's Days of the Dead blog tour. Follow this link to learn more about all the goodies available! Martin is the author of The Summoner (Canada, USA, Europe), The Blood King (Canada, USA, Europe), Dark Haven(Canada, USA, Europe), and Dark Lady's Chosen (Canada, USA, Europe)

An exclusive extract of the forthcoming The Sworn (Canada, USA, Europe) will follow, but I also have an autographed Advance Reading Copy up for grabs!

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "SWORN." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!


“I fail to see how this is any of our concern.” Astasia leaned back in her chair, letting her long, chestnut-colored hair fall across her shoulders, spilling down over full breasts barely hidden by her revealing neckline. The vayash moru’s pale skin was a sharp contrast to the deep burgundy of her gown. Astasia met Jonmarc’s eyes with a look that combined both seduction and malice.

“It’s your concern because you’re the Blood Council, dammit!” Jonmarc glared at Astasia. Once, being the only mortal in a room of vayash moru might have tempered his comments. Now, a year after he had come to Dark Haven as its lord, he had fought and bled for its residents, living and undead. The insurrection he’d quelled that winter had set him directly against two of the
Blood Council’s members, Uri and Astasia, at peril of his life. He still had a scar from two puncture wounds at the base of his throat, where Malesh, one of Uri’s renegade vayash moru, had tried unsuccessfully to kill him. Surviving that attack had made Jonmarc a legend, as had returning alive from making Istra’s Bargain, a pledge to forfeit his soul in exchange for the death of his enemy. Having stared down both the goddess and Malesh, Jonmarc found his fear of the undead was considerably diminished.

“My brood has no quarrel with the Durim,” Astasia said blithely.

“Then you are a fool.” Riqua wheeled on Astasia. “The Dark Gift is no protection against their torches. They hunted me when I lived, and I hid from them when I was first brought across. No more. I will fight.” In life, Riqua had been the wife of a wealthy merchant, and that sensibility still served her. She was a handsome woman in her mid-fifties, with upswept, dark blonde hair. Her gown was of the most current fashion favorable at court, and the expensive jewelry that glittered at her throat and on her wrists were a testimony that undeath had been favorable for building wealth.

“Of late, you seem ready to battle anyone,” Astasia purred.

Riqua’s scorn was evident on her face. “I’m not ashamed that my brood fought alongside Lord Gabriel’s to defeat Malesh. We preserved the Truce with mortals to protect ourselves. I paid a price for that; half my brood was destroyed in the fighting. You might not have dirtied your hands with battle, but I recognized many of your brood among those who fought for Malesh.”

“So?” Astasia pouted. “It’s the way of things. Uri’s fledge started the war. Mine just played along. Immortality without conflict is….boring.”

“You brought our kind to the edge of destruction because you were bored?” Riqua hissed. “You were a stupid, empty-headed whore in life and you haven’t learned anything in death to improve on that.”

Astasia started from her seat, and Jonmarc thought she might attack Riqua, but just then, Gabriel rose to his feet. He fixed Astasia with a cold glare, and she sat down. She’s afraid of him, Jonmarc thought, suppressing a smile. He knew just how formidable Gabriel could be. Astasia might be willful and utterly self-centered, but if she recognized Gabriel’s power, she wasn’t quite as stupid as Riqua supposed.

“One war is behind us,” Gabriel said. When he was certain Astasia was silenced, he turned his gaze toward the other members of the Blood Council, the ruling body whose word was law to the vayash moru in much of the Winter Kingdoms. “Now, another threat has risen. The question is: What will we do about it?”

Gabriel’s cold gaze went first to the Council’s chairman, Rafe. Though dead for centuries, Rafe still had the look of a priest or scholar. He had the ebony skin of an Eastmark noble, and eyes that were almost black. Although he’d been in his early thirties when he’d been brought across, his hair had grayed early to a sand color. “You’re certain the Durim are behind this?”

“Does being dead affect your hearing?” Jonmarc growled. “I just took a strike force of vayash moru and mortals into the caves to burn out a group of Durim. It took a mage and a hell of a fight to get out of there in one piece. They were draining vayash moru and slaughtering vyrkin. I’ve got a manor house full of vayash moru and vyrkin refugees. The war has already started.”

“You’re good at burning things, aren’t you?” Uri tented his fingers over his chest. He had the olive skin and dark features of a Trevath or Nargi native, and even centuries after his death, he still had the air of a card sharp and two-skrivven hustler.

Jonmarc met his eyes. “When I have to be. Yes.”

Uri made a show of sighing, a completely artificial gesture since he no longer had to breathe. “As much as it pains me, I actually agree with you for once.” Uri toyed with the heavy gold rings on his fingers. “The Durim’s threat is real. Like Riqua, I also remember when the followers of Shanthadura drove us from our homes and then, from our crypts. I have no desire to see their ilk return to power.” His expression darkened. “It was plague that brought them to the fore, long ago. Lady knows, I have no love for the Crone priests, but they are nothing compared to the Durim.” He leaned forward, looking past Astasia toward Rafe. “We must do something.”

Rafe frowned. “What would you have us do? We’ve only barely restored the Truce. The people of Dark Haven may suffer the Lord of Dark Haven to lead his guards against other mortals, but if we begin to strike the living, they’ll all turn against us.”

“Leave the Durim to Jonmarc and King Staden’s men,” Gabriel countered. “Our own kind needs our help. Riqua and I have been funneling supplies and funds to help the Ghost Carriage.” He met Uri’s dark eyes. “Kolin has led dozens of vayash moru and vyrkin out of Nargi and Trevath to safety in Dark Haven. As plague spreads, the need becomes more desperate. Even in those areas where the Durim have not yet gained power, as the mortals die with the plague, they fear and hate us because we’re untouched. And the burnings begin.”

A shadow seemed to pass over Uri’s face. For once, all bluster was gone. “Unlike Jonmarc, I did not get out of Nargi alive. I swore I would never return.”

“You’ve done business there, through intermediaries,” Gabriel replied. “Kolin needs money, horses, safe houses. He needs connections who have no love for either the Crone priests or the Durim.”

Uri gave a short, sharp laugh. “Honor among thieves, is that what you’re expecting?” His eyes darkened. “There are a few of my associates who have their own reasons to wish to see the Durim become nothing but a bad memory. The Crone priests are bad enough.

“To a point, fear is profitable. It keeps order. But when people are terrified, they stop spending money, stop hiring whores, stop betting their gold. Bad for business.” Uri touched the heavy gold bracelets that hung from his wrist. “I have names I can give Kolin, and I can change his skrivven to Nargi coin. But he should remember that my contacts have no love for me—or him—because he is vayash moru. They tolerate me because I make them a profit. They will help Kolin only so long as it protects their interests.”

“Thank you,” Gabriel said. “It’s gotten bad enough that even a dimonn’s bargain looks good.”

Uri clapped his hands and gave a deep belly laugh. “Is that what you think of me? A dimonn’s bargain. That’s rich. I’ll take that as a compliment.”

“I see no benefit in bringing more vayash moru into our territory,” Astasia said. She could be beautiful when she wished. Her looks and body had brought her wealth and position as a consort to rich old men, until one of her suitors brought her across to make her a more permanent possession. Like Uri, it was rumored that she had eventually destroyed her maker. Jonmarc looked at her pale blue eyes, and did not doubt that she was capable of anything to preserve her interests.

“Will these newcomers respect the Council? Must we take them into our broods, knowing nothing about their makers? Will Old Ones arise to challenge us?” She crossed her arms across her bosom. “What’s in it for us? The mortals in Dark Haven tolerated us—before Malesh’s war—better than in many places. They put up with us because they know they still outnumber us. If they fear that we’re growing in strength, will they still observe the Truce? Maybe not—and maybe they’re right to doubt. There is, after all, only so much blood to go around.”

“Astasia is correct that as new vayash moru come to Dark Haven, the Council must be the ultimate law, “ Gabriel said. Jonmarc noticed that Gabriel avoided looking at Astasia directly.

“It would be best if we could replenish our broods by accepting refugee vayash moru instead of turning mortals,” Riqua said. From her expression, Jonmarc guessed that it galled Riqua to agree with Astasia in any way. “Both methods have risks. Without broods of sufficient strength, we lack the strength to hold our seats on the Council. Turning mortals—given the situation—could lead to reprisals. But accepting strangers into our broods can be dangerous, even if we know their makers. Our power over our broods must be ruthless, and absolute. Otherwise, some of these newcomers will see an opportunity to better their station at our expense.”

“Then you see my point.” Astasia’s voice was a cool purr.

“Much as it pains me, on this, we agree in principle even if our means may differ,” Riqua replied.

“With the Durim’s power growing, you’ll also need to keep a close eye on your broods,” Jonmarc said. “The Durim are opportunists. They’ll go after lone vayash moru who make an easy target . They’ve also been going after the mortal families of the vayash moru.”

“What do you propose?” Rafe asked. There was an edge to his voice.

Jonmarc kept his expression neutral. “Secure your day crypts. Alert your mortal family members and arm them so they can protect themselves. Your people are at risk if their families can be used against them. Don’t take unnecessary risks.”

Rafe leaned forward. “We’re predators. We don’t hide.” His eye teeth showed plainly, something Jonmarc knew was intentional.

He met Rafe’s eyes. Jonmarc knew it disquieted Rafe that the vayash moru could not use his glamour or compulsion against Jonmarc’s natural resistance. “Until we defeat the Durim, you can hide or you can burn. It’s your choice.”

SFF authors vs Facebook

Thanks to James and Adam for pointing this out. China Miéville has been trying without much success to get Facebook to shut down several profiles belonging to people impersonating him. Fed up, he forwarded a letter to Facebook.

China Miéville's letter is reprinted here:

1601 S. California Avenue
Palo Alto
CA 94304

6 October 2010

Dear Facebook People,


1) The short version:

At least one person, if not more, is/are impersonating me on Facebook, with (a) fake profile(s) claiming my identity. Despite me repeatedly bringing this to your attention, you have taken no action to remedy the situation. And I’m getting very annoyed.

2) The full version:

This thing you hold is called a letter. This is the third time I’ve contacted you, and I’m doing so by this antiquated method because, and I realise this may shock you so brace yourself, I have no Facebook account. Which means it is nigh-on impossible for me to get in touch with you. Kudos for your Ninja avoidance strategies.

Back when you had a button allowing me to alert you to a fake profile despite not having an account myself, I contacted you that way. I was answered with a resonant silence. Subsequently, when the problem persisted, I hunted lengthily for, found and left a message on the phone number you go out of your way to hide. Absolutely nothing happened. So here we go again: third time’s a charm.

I am being imitated on Facebook. I believe the only reason anyone is bothering to do this is because I’m a novelist (published by Macmillan and Random House), a writer and broadcaster, with a minor public profile. I think there are one or two community pages about my stuff on Facebook – that of course is very flattering and nice of people to bother. The problem is that there is or are also pages by someone(s) purporting to be me. This is weird and creepy. What’s worse is I know for a fact that some readers, friends and colleagues are friending ‘China Miéville’ under the impression that it is me, and that others are wondering why ‘China Miéville’ refuses to respond to them. And I have no idea what dreadful things or ‘likes’ or ‘dislikes’ are being claimed as mine, nor what ‘I’ am saying.

I know lots of people enjoy being on Facebook. Great. More power to them. Vaya con Dios. Me, though: not my thing. I have absolutely no interest in it. I am not now nor have I ever been a Facebook member. Short of some weird Damascene moment, I will not ever join Facebook – and if that unlikely event occurs, I promise I’ll tell you immediately. In the meantime, though, as a matter of urgency, as a matter of courtesy, as a matter of decency, please respond to my repeated requests:

• Please delete all profiles claiming to be me (with or without the accent on the ‘é’ – last time I looked, I found one ‘China Mieville’, and one more accurately rendered).
• Please do not allow anyone else to impersonate me. I have neither time nor inclination to trawl your listings regularly to see if another bizarre liar has sprung up.
• And while you’re at it, please institute a system whereby those of us with the temerity not to sign up to your service can still contact you on these matters and actually get a [insert cuss-word] answer.

I appeal to you to honour your commitments to security and integrity. Of course as a multi-gajillion-dollar company I have absolutely no meaningful leverage over you at all. If David Fincher’s film doesn’t embarrass you, you’re hardly going to notice the plaintive whining of a geek like me. All I can do is go public. Which is my next plan.

I’m allowing a week for this letter to reach you by airmail, then three days for you to respond to me by phone or the email address provided. Then, if I’ve heard nothing, on 16 October 2010, I’ll send copies of this message to all the literary organizations and publications with which I have connections

some of the many books bloggers I know; and anyone else I can think of. I’ll encourage them all to publicise the matter. I’m tired of being impersonated, and I’m sick of you refusing to answer me.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

China Miéville

George R. R. Martin and his representatives are also investigating Facebook. It appears that there are quite a few impostor pages, as well as a fan page containing copyright material used without permission.

A bit of humor. . .

Ah, the chainmail bikini!

Thanks to Maria for sharing this on Facebook!

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (October 19th)

In hardcover:

R. A. Salvatore's Gauntlgrym debuts at number 13. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Sean Williams' Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II debuts at number 21. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Mercedes Lackey's Intrigues debuts at number 23. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Guillero del Toro & Chuck Hogan's The Fall is down seven positions, ending the week at number 25. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson's The Gathering Storm is up one spot, finishing the week at number 13.

Patricia Briggs' Masques is down three positions, ending the week at number 20.

Stephen King's Under the Dome is down two positions, ending the week at number 22 (trade paperback).

Drew Karpyshyn's Star Wars: Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil is down one spot, finishing the week at number 33.

Musical Interlude

Slayer- raining blood, black magic
envoyé par domchimic. - Regardez plus de clips, en HD !

Yeah, it's been that kind of day. . .

That tour was. . . violent!

First TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT interview with Brandon Sanderson

Though he feels I should be shunned by society for my Towers of Midnight (Canada, USA, Europe) update, WoT fans should definitely check out John's Q&A with Brandon Sanderson.

Here's a teaser:

Working on A MEMORY OF LIGHT is going to be a different experience, because the greater amount of what Robert Jordan worked on is weighted toward the end of the book rather than all along one character viewpoint. But there will still be a lot of it there, and in that case I’m writing toward it. You have to remember that the way I write these books often is to take a viewpoint cluster, a group of characters, and write them through from the beginning of the book to the end of the book. Which means that I’ve already, even in THE GATHERING STORM, had to work on viewpoint lines for which there was less from Robert Jordan to use. So it’s been the same experience–it’s really divided by plotlines.

Follow this link for the full interview.

The Magicians (reviewed by Peter V. Brett)

When I passed the word that I was looking for SFF writers who'd like to become guest reviewers on the Hotlist, Peter V. Brett was one of the first to step up to the plate.

Author of The Painted Man/The Warded Man (Canada, USA, Europe) and the NYT bestselling The Desert Spear (Canada, USA, Europe), Brett also has a new novella in the works with Subterranean Press titled Brayan's Gold (Subpress).

For all things Peter V. Brett, check out

Peter elected to review Lev Grossman's The Magicians (Canada, USA, Europe). Read on and discover how he shows me how it's supposed to be done! ;-)


When I first heard of The Magicians, I was immediately intrigued. Not by the marketing blurb, but by the fact that it was written by Lev Grossman, the brother of Austin Grossman, author of Soon I Will Be Invincible, a book I seriously loved. (Even now, I sometimes think about Dr. Impossible and chuckle to myself.)

Having grown up with a brother who couldn’t be more different from me, I was curious as to how the Grossman brothers’ work would compare. Would Lev’s writing be as witty and fun as Austin’s, or would he be heavier and more serious? Did I dare hope he might be even better?

I pretty much decided to read the book then, but I was busy and didn’t get around to buying it for a while. In that time, I heard both good and bad reviews from people whose opinions I respect, which was all the more intriguing. Reviews (including this one) are subjective. One person's refreshing is another's pretentious. Much of what we take from a reading experience comes from what we bring into it. Not just our likes and dislikes, but also our general mood at the time of reading.

So I rolled the dice and bought the eBook on my iPad. This is only the second book I’ve read this way, the first being Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie. A tough act to follow, but Grossman acquits himself well.

Quentin, the protagonist in The Magicians, is not very likeable. His self-loathing, coupled with an enormous sense of superiority and entitlement, bleeds from the page. You feel a little greasy just reading about him, and it’s easy to loathe him just as he loathes himself.

But this, in some ways, is what makes him so compelling a character, and one I found myself relating to in odd ways. At its core, The Magicians is the story of Quentin’s quest to find happiness. He keeps setting goals, telling himself “If I can do this, then I will be happy.” But then he does that, and it doesn’t. So he sets a new goal, “If I can do this, then I will be happy.”

Lather, rinse, repeat.

It’s a familiar story, and one that lives in the very core of human nature. We thrive on misery. Every great advancement in technology or quality of life in human history has quickly generated its own set of complaints. The entire human race has a sense of entitlement, but it is that very sense that pushes us to strive for greater and greater things.

Grossman also takes a new spin on the Harry Potter or even Name of the Wind “wizard school” dynamic with Brakebills Academy. Sometimes these comparisions are less than subtle, as Grossman appears to be making a conscious effort to differentiate himself and reach a mainstream audience. Brakebills is more a university than a prep school, with all the more mature themes that setting generates. The overwhelming feeling of stress and pressure on the student body is palpable. There is no simple swish and flick of a wand at Brakebills. Magic in Grossman’s world is HARD, and not for the faint of heart or weak of will.

The first two sections of The Magicians are stellar. Really sharp, compelling reading, right up until graduation.

But at this 2/3 mark, the book seems to lose its way. It flounders for a few chapters, introducing several new and basically superfluous characters and generally losing momentum before finally picking up again as Quentin and his new unwieldy party journey to Fillory, a thinly veiled version of CS Lewis’ Narnia which depends much on the reader filling in the blanks with memories of that series. If you’ve never read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (or seen the movie, at least), you’ll miss a large component of the book.

This third act was not as integrated into the story as I would have liked. There were some small hints in the early sections about where the book was going, but they were never really developed.

There is some very good stuff in the Fillory section, but it comes off as somewhat rushed, and then begins a series of endings, each more depressing in its own way than the last. I was holding my breath, waiting for an epiphany at the end, but while Quentin did seem to have one that changed his outlook on life, I wasn't entirely clear on what it was.

Despite my feelings about the last act, there is a lot in The Magicians to recommend it. Grossman’s writing is efficient, his characters varied and complicated. His take on magic is masterful, and it is never allowed to become a deus ex machina for a weak plot. I would recommend The Magicians to others, and will likely buy Grossman's next book.

Islam and Soft-Left Intellectuals: 1 Free Speech: 0

The Society for the Furtherance & Study of Fantasy & Science Fiction issued this statement:

SF3 has withdrawn the invitation to Elizabeth Moon to attend WisCon 35 as guest of honor.

WTF??? It's nice to see that in this soft-Left Obama era, democratic values such as free speech remain the cornerstone of our society. . .

This, of course, comes in response to Elizabeth Moon's post on Islam. I also picked up the story last month in this post.

And there I was, thinking that SF3 was all about discussions of gender, race, and class? Silly me!

Two farts does not a flatulence problem make

R. Scott Bakker discusses the PW review for Disciple of the Dog (Canada, USA, Europe) in this post:

Disciple, I suppose, could be described as a put-upon, down-on-his-luck investigator who tries to get his own back by continually ducking sideways. He takes the back way home. More and more it’s starting to look as though Disciple of the Dog will be every bit as put-upon and down-on-its-luck as its namesake character. The Publisher’s Weekly review has found its way to Disciple’s Amazon page. It begins, “The cleverness Bakker displayed in his Prince of Nothing fantasy trilogy (The Darkness That Comes Before, etc.) is lacking in this suspense novel introducing Disciple Manning…” In other words, it starts with a dismissive tone. “Clever” is the word people use to describe things not quite as profound as they are: I should know, since this is how I use the term all the time myself! The review then lays out the shape of the plot before ending with: “A crude, off-putting hero with a flatulence problem may leave few readers eager for a sequel.”
Had to break for a laugh…

Too fucking funny.


It really is a game of chance with every book: not only does it need to reach the right reviewer, it needs to reach them in the right way at the right time. Reviewers are almost as heterogenous in their make-up as the general population of readers. So if you game expectations the way I do, self-consciously try to rub against the grain of certain sensibilities (in the case of Disciple, the kinds of micro-proprieties that people use to cobble together the moral character of people they meet), you are bound to get smacked. All I can do is shake my head, shrug my shoulders, and hope the next roll of the review dice doesn’t come up… craps.


Click on the link above to read the full piece.

I finished Disciple of the Dog the other day and I enjoyed it. Not as much as Neuropath, but it is a good read for sure. Having said that, Disciple Manning will certainly rub some people the wrong way, and I'm persuaded that Scott is well aware of that. The novel is a bit short, though. I wouldn't have minded an extra 50 or 75 pages to give the story more meat. But all in all, Disciple of the Dog scratched that itch.

Damn, I only recall a single fart, so I guess I missed the other! :P

Cover art for Steven Erikson's THE CRIPPLED GOD

Ah, such a nice Steve Stone cover to illustrate the endgame! Just can't wait to get my hands on The Crippled God (Canada, USA, Europe)!

Here's the blurb:

Savaged by the K’Chain Nah’Ruk, the Bonehunters march for Kolanse, where waits an unknown fate. Tormented by questions, the army totters on the edge of mutiny, but Adjunct Tavore will not relent. One final act remains, if it is in her power, if she can hold her army together, if the shaky allegiances she has forged can survive all that is to come. A woman with no gifts of magic, deemed plain, unprepossessing, displaying nothing to instill loyalty or confidence, Tavore Paran of House Paran means to challenge the gods – if her own troops don’t kill her first.

Awaiting Tavore and her allies are the Forkrul Assail, the final arbiters of humanity. Drawing upon an alien power terrible in its magnitude, they seek to cleanse the world, to annihilate every human, every civilization, in order to begin anew. They welcome the coming conflagration of slaughter, for it shall be of their own devising, and it pleases them to know that, in the midst of the enemies gathering against them, there shall be betrayal.

In the realm of Kurald Galain, home to the long lost city of Kharkanas, a mass of refugees stand upon the First Shore. Commanded by Yedan Derryg, the Watch, they await the breaching of Lightfall, and the coming of the Tiste Liosan. This is a war they cannot win, and they will die in the name of an empty city and a queen with no subjects.

Elsewhere, the three Elder Gods, Kilmandaros, Errastas and Sechul Lath, work to shatter the chains binding Korabas, the Otataral Dragon, from her eternal prison. Once freed, she will rise as a force of devastation, and against her no mortal can stand. At the Gates of Starvald Demelain, the Azath House sealing the portal is dying. Soon will come the Eleint, and once more, there will be dragons in the world.

Malazan Timeline

Many of you have been asking me where Ian Cameron Esslemont's Stonewielder (Canada, USA, Europe) fits in the Malazan timeline. Obviously, the tale takes place a few months following the events from Return of the Crimson Guard, but I couldn't say for sure beyond that.

So I went ahead and asked Esslemont, and here's his response:

As to timing. Stonewielder certainly follows Return of the Crimson Guard, by about ten months or so. Because timing is tight, the further I can push it back the better. Certain continuity limitations must apply, however. Putting it between Reaper's Gale and Toll the Hounds is a good place, but one might think of it as more current with Toll the Hounds.



There you have it! ;-)