The guys at PS Publishing sent me this cover art for Steven Erikson's new novella and I wanted to share it with everyone!

Keep your eyes open for a giveaway that will hook up two lucky bastards with a signed copy of the limited edition of Erikson's The Lees of Laughter's End.

Stay tuned. . .:-)

Win a copy of Justina Robson's KEEPING IT REAL

Well, since I just wrote my book review pertaining to Robson's Keeping it Real, the timing was just perfect to run this new contest. Thanks to the great folks at Pyr, three lucky winners will get their hands on a copy of Justina Robson's latest.

The rules are the same as usual. First off, you need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "REAL." 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!

Joe Abercrombie contest winners!

Hi guys!

The names of our three winners have been drawn. Each will receive an autographed copy of Before They Are Hanged. Many thanks to Joe Abercrombie and the kind folks at Gollancz for making this giveaway possible!:-)

The winners are:

- Maciej Majewskiul, from Warsaw, Poland (Vanin on and

- William Marnoch, from Cambridge, UK (Williamjm on

- Stéphane Crouzy, from Toulouse, France (Errant Bard on

As for me, well I'm more than halfway through the novel, so you can expect a review at some point next week. I will also be doing a short interview with Joe to promote Before They Are Hanged, so stay tuned for that!

Thanks to all the participants!

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

In hardcover:

Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box debuts at number 10. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Timothy Zahn's Star Wars: Allegiance is down three positions, finishing its third week on the charts at number 16. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Christopher Moore's You Suck: A Love Story is down three spots, ending its fifth week on the NYT list at number 18. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Dan Simmons' The Terror is down seven positions, finishing its sixth week on the bestseller list at number 29. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Patricia Brigg's Blood Bound is down six spots, ending its third week on the prestigious list at number 27. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Keeping it Real

Justina Robson's books have been short-listed for the Philip K. Dick, Arthur C. Clarke, John W. Campbell, and the British Science Fiction Association Awards. In light of all this, a novel such as Keeping it Real isn't something one would normally expect from an author of this caliber. And yet, this is good news indeed. Not only is it Robson's most accessible work, but it will certainly encourage potential readers to check out her more ambitious and "serious" novels. You can learn more about the author and her work at

The publication of a book like Keeping it Real also demonstrates just how diversified Pyr's stable of writers and novels will ultimately be. Once again, it's evident that their desire to publish works that are different from what's being released by the powerhouses continues to fuel Pyr's passion for both science fiction and fantasy. And although they made a name for themselves with thought-provoking books by authors such as Ian McDonald, Sean Williams, David Louis Edelman and many others, by publishing novels such as Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself and Justina Robson's Keeping it Real they show that Pyr is not averse to release more humorous and entertaining books.

When the Quantum Bomb exploded in 2015, the fabric of the universe was torn asunder and its different dimensions were revealed. The inhabitants of Earth must now coexist with elves, elementals, demons, faeries, and other such creatures and entities. Special agent Lila Black is now more machine than woman. She's been assigned to protect elfin rock star Zal, lead singer of the No Shows, the most popular band on the planet. Zal has been receiving death threats from elfin fundamentalists, and Lila must become his bodyguard.

The worldbuilding is interesting, and Robson's portrayal of the disparate realms is done with neat imagery. The story revolves around Lila, who shows a lot more depth as the tale progresses. Seeing her "discover" all that her new cyborg body has to offer adds a little something to this book. Zal and Dar stand out from the rest of the supporting cast, but this remains Lila's story.

This is a fun, entertaining and action-packed novel. There's a lot of humor, and the pace is at times fast and furious. I was using Keeping it Real as my "commute" book, and I was always disappointed when I realized that my stop was next. Indeed, I found myself turning those pages, always eager to see what would happen next.

Don't get me wrong. The Quantum Gravity sequence (there will be a sequel released later this year in the UK) isn't Hal Duncan's The Book of All Hours or R. Scott Bakker's The Prince of Nothing. Still, it's a light yet extremely enjoyable reading experience.

Another Pyr offering, another quality read. I will have a couple of copies of this one up for grabs soon, so stay tuned for that giveaway!

The final verdict: 7/10

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

Win what could well be this year's hottest debut!

Okay, so I agree that the cover art could be better.

And yet, I'm told that it's actually better than the draft form submitted to Daw Books. While the second version of the cover art (which will also be available) is an improvement but nothing to write home about, why don't we focus on the content!?!

Last month I was the first person to review Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind (Canada, USA, Europe). I opined that it could be this year's best debut novel. You can read it here. Since then, other reviews have been creeping up, each one even more positive than my own assessment of this book.

Check out Rob Bedford's review on Also, here's Ken Fergason's review which will appear on The Neth Space. William Lexner also got an ARC, and I'm curious to see what he'll think about Rothfuss' debut.

As you can see, the consensus appears to indicate that The Name of the Wind will be one of the fantasy novels to read in 2007. Daw Books are going all out with this one, with a first printing of about 40,000 copies in hardcover. And thanks to their generosity, I have five signed copies of The Name of the Wind up for grabs!;-)

The rules are the same as usual. First off, you need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "WIND." 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!

A website dedicated to the novel is on its way and will contain sample chapters. I'll put a link to it as soon as it goes live!

Advances, Royalties, Foreign Sales, yada yada yada

If you have ever wondered how the whole business of writing works, John Scalzi wrote an in-depth post pertaining to his science fiction income.

Very interesting. Read it here.

Hal Duncan offers his two cents

Hi guys!

Hal wrote a rather long post pertaining to escapism, elitism, worldbuilding, etc, on his blog. It's sort of a follow-up to what Gabe Chouinard and I began a few weeks back.

Check it out!;-)

Win the Coldfire Trilogy by C. S. Friedman

Ah, look at this marvelous Micheal Whelan cover!:-) To this day, it remains one of my favorite fantasy covers ever.

Not unlike many fans in the early 90s, I picked up Black Sun Rising because of that gorgeous cover art. Little did I know back then that this novel would mark the beginning of what I still consider to be one of the very best fantasy series ever written. In my humble opinion, the Coldfire Trilogy is a "must read" work. If you haven't already, buy/borrow/steal these books now!

Black Sun Rising: Canada, USA, Europe

When True Night Falls: Canada, USA, Europe

Crown of Shadows: Canada, USA, Europe

As a big fan of hers, I was thrilled when I secured an interview with C. S. Friedman. Understandably, even though the Q&A is meant to promote her latest book, Feast of Souls, many of the questions have to do with the Coldfire Trilogy. Hence, I thought it would be neat to have a contest in which the prize would be set of all three books. That way, I figured it could introduce new readers to this great fantasy trilogy.

Thanks to both Daw Books and Orbit's generosity, I have a set of the US trade paperbacks and a set of the UK paperbacks up for grabs! You can't say I'm not looking out for you guys!;-)

The rules are the same as usual. First off, you need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "COLDFIRE." 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!

YSABEL contest winners!

Hi there!

The names of our five winners have been drawn! Thanks to Penguin Books USA, each of them will receive a complimentary copy of Guy Gavriel Kay's Ysabel delivered right to their mailbox!

The winners are:

- Kathryn Baron, from Los Angeles, California, USA

- Brian Gibbons, from Orlando, Florida, USA

- Jeff Halfhide from Chattaroy, Washington, USA (shurque's biatch on

- Kristen Murphy, from Orono, Maine, USA (Fastia on and

- Dremain T. Moore, from Washington, DC, USA (Rugbyplayingashaman on

Thanks to all the participants!

Submit your questions for a Scott Lynch interview

Scott just got back to me, and there will be a Q&A to promote the release of Red Seas Under Red Skies! As always, I welcome questions from the fans, so feel free to submit your own. The best will be selected to comprise the interview.

In case you didn't know, there is a new excerpt from RSURS available here.

Red Seas Under Red Skies will be THE major release of this coming summer, there's no doubt about it. For more info about it: Canada, USA, Europe. And yes, I will have copies up for grabs!;-)

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (February 20th)

In hardcover:

Timothy Zahn's Star Wars: Allegiance is down three positions, ending its second week on the charts at number 13. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Christopher Moore's You Suck: A Love Story is down four spots, finishing its fourth week on the bestseller list at number 15. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Dan Simmons' The Terror is down 2 positions, ending its fourth week on the NYT list at number 22. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Patricia Brigg's Blood Bound is down 8 spots, finishing its second week on the prestigious list at number 21. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The Hal Duncan contest winner!

Hi there!

The name of our winner has been drawn. The lucky bastard will received a signed copy of Hal Duncan's Ink. Many thanks to Del Rey Books for their generosity.

The winner is:

- Simon Hedley, from Thousand Oaks, California, USA (Callindril on

Thanks to all the participants!:-)

Stay tuned for an upcoming interview with Hal Duncan. . .

Please, no more bitching. . .

Here is an excerpt from George R. R. Martin's website:


I finally finished A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, but my dog ate the manuscript and there was no copy, so I'm starting over.

What, you don't believe me?

Okay, okay. We don't have a dog at present, and A DANCE WITH DRAGONS is not done.

I'm still writing. Certain storylines are going well. Others, not so much, but that's what rewriting is for, yes?

I have to admit, these updates aren't working the way I hoped they would. I started them in the hopes that they would help stem the flood of emails asking about the next book. They haven't. I get just as many emails, only now they're asking about the next update. Yes, I know I said I'd have an update in "early January," and January came and went and there was no update. I can read a calendar too. The reason there was no update...

Well, the book's not done. And we've had home renovations. And the book's not done. And there's been work on other projects, on comics and The World of Ice & Fire and the games and the new Wild Cards book, Inside Straight. And there was football, and cons to attend, and a signing tour, and the holidays, and did I mention those home renovations?

The truth is, these updates do make me feel like a twelve-year old trying to explain to teacher why he isn't turning in his essay, and knowing she isn't going to buy the "dog ate my homework" ruse any more than you guys do.

The only update that I want to write is the one that says, "A DANCE WITH DRAGONS is done." That's the one you want, and that's the one that I want to write... but when the book isn't done, having to come online and say so every few months becomes a stressful and unpleasant task. I really do appreciate the fact that so many people are so eager to read the next installment in A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE and I wish I could get it to you right now, but you guys read a lot faster than I can write.

When A DANCE WITH DRAGONS is finished, I will post that news here. The moment I finish the book, I will log on and make the announcement. If this message is still here, that means the book is not done yet. Until such time as I can trumpet that news, however, this page will remain the same.

The next update will be the one that announces that the DANCE is done.

—George R.R. Martin, February 15, 2007

Already, on various message boards, people are moaning and whining, claiming that Martin is no longer into it, that he has lost heart and wishes to pursue other writing endeavors instead of finishing the series, yada yada yada. What a load of crap!

The funny thing is that the people who are clamoring that A Dance with Dragons might not be published in 2007 are likely the exact same people who were bitching about the fact that A Feast for Crows was not everything it was meant to be. Cut the man some slack, will you! A Song of Ice and Fire will most probably be considered one of the very best fantasy series ever written when all is said and done -- perhaps the very best. Do you believe that writing new installments to such a series gets easier with time? No way!

I know that A Feast for Crows was postponed several times, and fans ended up waiting for 5 years to get their hands on it. Such is not the case at the moment. Work is still progressing, even though some storylines are more difficult to write than others. Can anyone fault Martin for accepting to publish nothing but his best effort? Not I.

So please stop complaining. There is still a good chance that A Dance with Dragons will see the light before the year is out. And if it's not 2007, then it will hit the stores worldwide next year. There are enough great novels out there to keep everyone satisfied till then!

The Terror

To be honest, I never thought I would enjoy this novel as much as I did. The Terror was meant to be some sort of break from my preferred speculative fiction picks. The book being based on the true story of the ill-fated Franklin expedition, I was expecting a detailed historical thriller. The Terror is indeed that, and then some! I should have known that an author such as Dan Simmons would have integrated a few "fiction" elements to the mix.

What is beyond the shadow of a doubt the most brilliant facet of this novel is the fact that it reads like a firsthand account. The acknowledgements at the end of the book demonstrate the kind of extensive research which was required to produce such a detailed work. Still, it took a master storyteller to weave all those disparate elements into such an excellent whole. À la Patrick O'Brian, Dan Simmons literally plunges the reader into the day-to-day life aboard HMS Erebus and Terror. Sailors, it seems, at least based on a number of references, share a proclivity for farting. . . As one reads along, you can definitely feel all an expedition through Arctic ice encompasses. Moreover, Simmons captures the frigid landscape and the Siberian temperatures beautifully. The narrative conveys the bone-chilling cold and its repercussions on the two ships and their crews in a manner I've never encountered before.

The characterizations are "top notch," another aspect which makes The Terror a "must read." Much like George R. R. Martin, most of Simmons' chapters showcase a different POV character. Witnessing the crews' struggle for survival through the eyes of such contrasting characters makes for an even better reading experience.

My only complaint would have to be that the book is at times overlong. Of course, any tale that recounts such a voyage down to the smallest of details will not engender a crisp pace. For the most part, this was no problem. And yet, I feel that speeding things up in certain portions of the novel would have helped with the overall rhythm.

I found The Terror to be an intense and satisfying read. If this book doesn't make my Top 10 of 2007, it will have been an incredible year!

If anyone elected not to pick this one up because of The Time Traveler short story/essay, you are missing out on an exceptional novel.

To all you fans looking for quality stand-alone books, look no further. The Terror is what you need!

The final verdict: 8/10

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

The Tad Williams contest winners!

Hey there!

Okay, so the names have been drawn. I must admit that we really went global with this book giveaway. Indeed, this contest marks our first Aussie and Kiwi winners!;-) Each and everyone of them will get their hands on a copy of Shadowplay. Many thanks to both Daw Books and Orbit for their support.

The winners are:

For the signed US edition:

- Kevin Roe, from San Jose, California, USA

- Jason Gallant, from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

- Dodzie Sogah, from Brookline, Montana, USA (Dodzie on

- Grant Peters, from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada (Gatael on

- Michael Trevors, from Calgary, Alberta, Canada (Keyoke on

For the UK hardback edition:

- Graeme Flory, from London, UK (Deornoth on the SFX forum)

- Robert Baigent, from Auckland, New Zealand

- Eléonore Durand, from Breuillet, France (Goldberry on

- Leisa Morello, from Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia

- Hans-Christoph v. Zahn, from Augsburg, Germany (Alarich on

Thanks to all the participants! Stay tuned for another Tad Williams giveaway, this time for a signed copy of Rite.

The Alan Campbell contest winners!

Many have complained that an awful lot of guys and gals who hang out at Westeros keep winning these giveaways. All I can say is that those people are lucky bastards, because every winner is randomly selected. Still, the fact that all three winners of this contest hail from Ran's board appears to signify that their collective good fortune is holding up!;-) Not to mention that Ran himself won three of these things! If you haven't won anything yet, perhaps you should register to become a member of that message board!

Okay, so thanks to the good people at Bantam Dell, our winners will each get their hands on an autographed copy of Alan Campbell's Scar Night. Even better, the novel will be shipped right to their mailbox!

The winners are:

- Casey Buell, from Long beach, California, USA (Myshkin on

- Josh Williams, from Fairfield, Ohio, USA (Ser Mosh on

- Charles Biada, from Staten Island, New York, USA (Mercury Poisoning on

Thanks to all the participants!

The Signed Page

It has just come to my attention that you can get your hands on signed copies of three new hot releases at The Signed Page. Indeed, Guy Gavriel Kay's Ysabel, China Miéville Un Lun Dun, and Tad Williams' Shadowplay can be purchased. And they still have autographed copies of George R. R. Martin's A Feast for Crows.

For those of you who can't make it to an author's appearance and get your novel signed, check it out:

Interview with Tad Williams

Hi guys!

Well, with Shadowplay just around the corner, here is a little Q&A to whet your appetite!;-)


- Without giving anything away, could you give your readers a taste of SHADOWPLAY?

It takes the stories in the first volume and deepens them. We find out more about what really exists BEHIND the world that the main characters knew -- what they thought was the truth. We also see a lot more of both the human world and the lands behind the Shadowline, and get to know some of the "bad guys" a lot better and learn why they're doing what they're doing. And there's monsters and stuff. (I always like monsters and stuff.)

- Authors often claim that the second volume of a trilogy is the most difficult one to write. Was it the case with SHADOWPLAY? Working on SHADOWMARCH was in all likelihood different from any of your previous writing endeavors for it started off as a web-based project. Was it more or less "business as usual" working on its sequel?

It was definitely difficult, because I had to do a lot of plotting and world-construction that would normally have been done during the first volume, but didn't because at the time (while it was an online serial) I was just making it up on the fly and writing for deadline. So in the second volume I was often figuring out answers for things I would normally have already known AS I WAS WRITING those things. Interesting. Not restful. But I think in the long run the odd origin will work, as most hurdles do, to make the story interesting and unique.

- What was the spark that generated the idea which drove you to write SHADOWMARCH and the rest of the series in the first place?

Way back when -- and I mean WAY back, like mid-90s -- I had some talk with artists Roger Dean and Mike Kaluta about working on a fantasy film. That never happened, but I started thinking the genre was better suited for episodic television, since one of fantasy's glories is extensive worldbuilding, something you can do a lot better over 26 episodes or whatever than in a 2 hour movie. So I began to construct a story that would mostly be based in a single location. I never managed to make it happen as a television show, but I became interested in the characters and the setting and wanted to do something with it, so I made SHADOWMARCH first an online project, then a book.

- Have the plotlines diverged much since you began writing the series, or did you have the entire plot more or less figured out from the very beginning? Were any characters added or further fleshed out beyond your original intention? Have you made any changes to your initial plans during the course of the writing of the series?

Yes, yes, and yes. I had some general ideas, some of which are still in play, for the overall story, but I didn't think much beyond what's become the first volume precisely because I didn't want to lose the air of spontaneity -- otherwise, why bother to publish online as you write. I'd like to say I always know everything that's going to happen in my books, but I find that although I need to know a lot of the ending, and lots of highlights, I also need to discover things along the way. That's what makes books more than simply plot, at least for me.

- Were there any perceived conventions of the fantasy genre which you wanted to twist or break when you set out to write SHADOWMARCH and its sequel? What about Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn?

Not so much break conventions as to take what I'd learned in the past fifteen or twenty years of writing and apply it to another epic fantasy. I'm not really an iconoclast so much as a BENDER of icons and expectations. I like to create an unconscious dialogue with the readers who are trying to outthink me. It's like being a baseball pitcher: even if you have great stuff, a blazing fastball and a vicious curve, you still do best against professional hitters if you also change speeds a lot on those pitches and mix them up -- deliver them at unexpected moments. Fantasy readers tend to read, well, a lot of fantasy fiction. I like to use that against them and keep them off-balance. (It also works for readers who aren't as deeply into the genre, but they may not realize what's happening to them.)

- After what can only be called an illustrious and prolific career, what motivates you to keep on writing?

Samuel Johnson said the prospect of being hanged "concentrates the mind wonderfully." With me, it's the prospect of not paying the mortgage and having to go live with my wife and children in an old refrigerator box under the freeway. Of course, if you're talking about the ARTY side of the whole thing, there's also the fact that every year that goes by as a writer I discover a hundred new things I don't know how to do and wish I could. One of the great things about being a writer, or any kind of artist or craftsman, is that the challenges still remain right up until the day you pop your clogs.

- You have been writing novels for over two decades. What has changed the most in the fantasy genre since you began your career?

Not enough. It's still largely (as far as I can tell) a comfort genre for a lot of readers -- that is, many people will read any old rubbish as long as it has enough fantasy tropes in it. I still can count the number of writers whose work I look forward to on the fingers of two hands, and that's because the ones I used to wait for eagerly have mostly died and only a few new ones have come along to take their places.

I should clarify this, actually. When I say "fantasy", I'm talking about the more traditional part of the genre. If you interpret "fantasy" in its broadest form, including a lot of what gets called modern fiction or magic realism, then there's plenty to read, and a lot of it very good.

- The fact that you have an official website on the internet is an indication that interaction with your readers is important to you as an author. How special is it to have the chance to interact directly with your fans?

I love meeting readers, either virtually or in real life. I can't talk about it much without sounding sappy. I like the people who read my books, and not just because they help keep my family out of that refrigerator box. After all, it stands to reason that if a writer like me writes things HE'D like to read, then the people who like his work will often share other similarities and interests.

- Characters often take a life of their own. Which of your characters did you find the most unpredictable to write about?

The first and classic example for me was the monk Cadrach in MEMORY, SORROW, AND THORN. He was intended to be a minor character -- a walk-on, basically -- but just kept growing in importance until he was central to the story. That's happening a bit in the SHADOWMARCH books with the poet Matty Tinwright, although I'm still not completely certain what he's going to do in the last volume.

- In the long run, what will differentiate SHADOWMARCH from the other popular fantasy series on the market?

I hope the depth of characterization, the depth of worldbuilding, and the intricacy of the plotting. In short, all the obsessive-compulsive stuff that I bring to my work instead of having treated by respectable physicians so I could lead a normal life.

- Subterranean Press has just released a collection of short-stories and assorted works from you titled RITE? Can you tell us a little more about this book?

I've always thought I had more strings to my bow than most people realized, so when Subterranean Press contacted me I was pleased to do the collection. It gives me a chance to show readers some of the stuff -- the less genre-specific stuff, the humor -- that I also like, and consider to be part of my writing that doesn't always get highlighted in my novels.

- Are you still working on A CHRONICLE IN STONE (short stories set in Osten Ard) while writing the current series, or has this project been postponed?

I'm still planning to do it, and I still look forward to it. I kind of got waylaid by SHADOWMARCH, and multi-volume waylayings take a while to recover from.

- If you'll pardon the boxing analogy, critics and fans alike have often claimed that you are a notorious slow starter. Is this an aspect you have tried to improve on over the years, or do you simply need time to lay the groundwork that will allow everything to fall into place later on in a novel/series?

That's certainly the reason on my end that my stories often start slowly. I find that if you start a story at high speed, the readers get impatient if you don't keep that pace up all the way through, and for three thousand pages or whatever, it's not very practical. Also, I like readers to get to know the world that WAS so they'll appreciate the drama of what begins to happen to it.It might be instructive to look at some of my shorter works and see if they start slowly too, or if it really is a case of "horses for courses".

- How would you like to be remembered as an author? What is the legacy you'll leave behind?

I secretly suspect/hope that people will realize OTHERLAND was a unique story. I'm very proud of it. And I hope that when I'm gone, people feel the same connection with my work that I feel with my favorite writers, many of whom are no longer around. That's the main thing -- the connection with readers. We all seek to connect.

- Do you have an idea what project you'll be tackling next when SHADOWMARCH volume 3 is completed? Does the novel have a working title at the moment?

I have two ideas that are currently foremost, a Cold-War-between-Heaven-and-Hell book tentatively titled "And Ministers of Grace" and a science fiction superhero-terrorists-fighting-galactic-war book (with echoes of the Mahabharata) equally tentatively called "Arjuna Rising". But who knows what will be on top of the pile in a year or so?

- Honestly, do you believe that the speculative fiction genre will ever come to be recognized as veritable literature? Truth be told, in my opinion there has never been this many good books/series as we have right now, and yet there is still very little respect (not to say none) associated with the genre.

As long as a large portion of the genre is "commercial", meaning bought because people read it for comfort the way they read airport thrillers and romance novels, no. The reason literary fiction is "literary" is that it's not worthwhile to publish the really stupid end of the literary genre because people barely buy the smart end, so the literary folk don't have to have their idiot cousins in the living room when company comes to call.

- Anything else you wish to share with your fans?

Just my profound gratitude that people read my work, and the promise that I will never publish a book I don't believe in.

Thanks, Patrick, and sorry again for the delay.


Win a copy of Guy Gavriel Kay's YSABEL

Hi guys!

Thanks to the generosity of the good folks at Penguin Books USA, I have five copies of Kay's latest up for grabs! As you know, I loved Ysabel and I encourage everyone who has yet to read this novel to register! I reviewed it last month, so if you're interested, just scroll down. As a huge Guy Gavriel Kay fan, I'm quite pleased to be bringing you this second book giveaway!;-)
For more info about Ysabel: Canada, USA, Europe.

The rules are the same as usual. First off, you need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "YSABEL." 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!

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (February 13th)

In hardcover:

Timothy Zahn's Star Wars: Allegiance debuts at number 10. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Christopher Moore's You Suck: A Love Story is down five positions, ending its third week on the bestseller list at number 11. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Dan Simmons' The Terror is down three spots, finishing its fourth week on the NYT list at number 20. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Patricia Brigg's Blood Bound debuts at number 13. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Keri Arthur's Kissing Sin debuts at number 18. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

L. E. Modesitt, jr. has a new website!

It's long overdue, but Modesitt now has an "official" website. It's a joint effort between the author and Tor Books.

Check it out! It contains tons of information about L. E. Modesitt, jr. and his novels. There is also a link to his forums.

You can find it here:

Valentine's Day wine selection

Hi guys!

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, here are a couple of wines that are worth checking out. As always, we're looking for something good at an affordable price. So if you want to impress your date/girlfriend tomorrow, even though we all know she knows you don't know crap about wines, here are a few bottles you might want to pick up!:-)

- Nero-d'avola Zonello sicilia i.g.t. 2005

- Tempranillo/cabernet-s. Osborne Solaz vino de la tierra de castilla 2004

- Réserve de Louis Eschenauer bordeaux 2004

- Cabernet-sauvignon/syrah J.P. Chenet vin de pays d'oc 2005

I've bought a couple of bottles lately, so I remain on the lookout for more tasty and reasonably priced red wines.

Okay, back to fantasy now!;-)


Last December, the Managing Editor of Wizards of the Coast contacted me, asking if I'd be willing to read the bound galley of an upcoming (April 2007) Forgotten Realms book by Richard Lee Byers. Unclean, a blend of horror and fantasy, appeared to be interesting, so I told him to send it my way. I made no promises pertaining to a book review, as I now receive too many novels to reading and reviewing even half of them.

Well, the new year saw me attending Bar classes and seminars and workshops, and that until next May. Forced to rely on public transportation to go downtown (I'm not getting stuck in gridlock and I'm not paying 12$ for parking every day -- no way!), I hence needed something to read for my morning/afternoon commute -- something "lighter" than what I read at home. Unclean seemed to be just what the doctor ordered! Anyone who knows me will tell you how much I hate Montréal's subway. In all fairness, I don't much prefer Berlin's U-Bahn, Paris' métro, or New York City's subway system. Still, Unclean helped me cope with this frequent ordeal. I'm aware that this is not the sort of quote that will find its way on the book's back cover, but from me that's saying something!

The first volume of The Haunted Lands trilogy, as a typical sword and sorcery offering, suffers from the habitual shortcomings of that sub-genre. There's too much action and unnecessary battle scenes. Sadly, the format precludes multilayered storylines and in-depth characterizations. Having said that, kudos to Byer for the crisp pace he sets, insuring that there is no dull moments.

The tale takes place in Thay, the Land of the Red Wizards. I would have liked to learn a lot more about the power struggle between the Zulkirs and the Tharchions, but the politicking is kept to a minimum to make room for fighting sequences. Which, in the end, is a shame, since the very same politicking lies at the heart of the story. Had a bigger portion of the narrative been dedicated to the political backstabbing which occurs throughout the book, it would have have fleshed out the conflict in a manner that would have made for a more enjoyable reading experience. Indeed, the transition between the various plotlines would have been smoother. Things feel rushed toward the end, as there's a relatively clumsy attempt to bring everything together in a very Palpatine-like, Revenge of the Sith sort of way. In my opinion, a little less action and a little more storytelling would have prevented that and would have assured a better ending.

And yet, though the novel suffers from the usual shortcomings associated with sword and sorcery works, I must admit that Byer's multiple-POV approach was a bit refreshing. The author's prose is also much better than what is commonly the norm in tie-in fiction books/series, which was a pleasant surprise.

If you're into lots of action, magical battles pitting wizards and soldiers against hordes of undead creatures, demons and other supernatural creatures, unhole alliances, a lich making its move to conquer all, and a doomed love story, then this rousing tale of good vs evil is for you! Fans of Cunningham, Denning, Salvatore and Kemp should enjoy this one!

Unclean is a cut above the conventional sword and sorcery fare. I doubt that Richard Lee Byer will make a lot of noise outside that sub-genre, yet, along with Kemp, he should continue to please fans who are looking for something to read while eagerly awaiting the release of the next R. A. Salvatore book.

The final verdict: 6/10

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

R. Scott Bakker hops on the bandwagon!

Hi guys!

I recently told you that Steven Erikson, Ian Cameron Esslemont and Jacqueline Carey had all agreed to do mini-interviews to promote their newest releases. Add to that the Tad Williams and Greg Keyes interviews which are already in the works, plus the upcoming ones with Peter F. Hamilton and Patrick Rothfuss, and that's a lot!

This week I received confirmation that a Q&A with both Katherine Kurtz and C. S. Friedman would see the light!:-) And now, R. Scott Bakker has accepted my invitation, though our interview will take place later this spring (probably around May). The only one I'm still waiting to hear from is Scott Lynch. . . I mean, there has to be a Q&A with him prior to the release of Red Seas Under Red Skies!

Anyway, you have already been invited to submit your questions for the other interviews. Now, if you have a question for Bakker (and God knows many people seem to!), feel free to leave it here in the comment section. As always, the most interesting questions will be selected to comprise the interview.

I know that Bakker is not as popular as many fantasy writers out there and that's a shame. In case you're wondering, he's the author of The Prince of Nothing trilogy, which -- in my opinion -- deserves a place in any fantasy collection. Here are links to all three volumes -- all out in paperback now, with the US edition of The Darkness that Comes Before selling for an incredible 5.99$! You can't possibly go wrong!;-)

The Prince of Nothing

The Darkness that Comes Before: Canada, USA, Europe

The Warrior-Prophet: Canada, USA, Europe

The Thousandfold Thought: Canada, USA, Europe



REAPER'S GALE cover art

Hi guys!

Just received this from Erikson's publicist at Transworld. There has been a lot of talk recently about the change of covers in the middle of the series, and here's what she had to say on the suject:

I also had a chat with him [Steven Erikson's editor]about the new cover look and apparently there is a feeling that we should be moving away from the too-generic look to try and attract a wider audience for Steve, and also because they felt the jackets were starting to look a little dated.

Here is a jpeg of the jacket for Reaper’s Gale though it’s still in a draft form.

Win a signed copy of Joe Abercrombie's BEFORE THEY ARE HANGED

Hi there!

Although the novel doesn't seem to have an official cover yet, thanks to Gollancz/Orion and the author himself (Joe does it to squeeze a free lunch out of his publisher!) I have three autographed copies of the sequel to The Blade Itself up for grabs! Each winner will receive a hardback edition of Before They Are Hanged delivered right to their mailbox. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The rules are the same as usual. First off, you need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "HANGED." 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!

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (February 6th)

In hardcover:

Dan Simmons' The Terror is up two positions, ending its third week on the bestseller list at number 17. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

David Weber's Off Armageddon Reef is down six spots, finishing its third week on the charts at number 33. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Nothing to report in paperback. . .

Be afraid. . . Be very afraid. . .

A little over a week ago, M. John Harrison posted his thoughts pertaining to worldbuilding on his blog. Here is what he had to say:

Every moment of a science fiction story must represent the triumph of writing over worldbuilding.

Worldbuilding is dull. Worldbuilding literalises the urge to invent. Worldbuilding gives an unneccessary permission for acts of writing (indeed, for acts of reading). Worldbuilding numbs the reader’s ability to fulfil their part of the bargain, because it believes that it has to do everything around here if anything is going to get done.

Above all, worldbuilding is not technically neccessary. It is the great clomping foot of nerdism. It is the attempt to exhaustively survey a place that isn’t there. A good writer would never try to do that, even with a place that is there. It isn’t possible, & if it was the results wouldn’t be readable: they would constitute not a book but the biggest library ever built, a hallowed place of dedication & lifelong study. This gives us a clue to the psychological type of the worldbuilder & the worldbuilder’s victim, & makes us very afraid.

This insightful nugget of elitism was brought to our attention by Larry (Dylanfanatic). By posting this I'm in no way taking a jab at Larry. I have a lot of respect for Larry, but we just happen to disagree on this issue. And judging from the responses his post generated on both and westeros, it seems that I'm not the only one. I just wanted to bring this to the attention of a broader audience and see what everyone thought about this.

Let me begin by stating that I'm not one of those fans who sees Harrison's novels as a "crock of shit," as they put it. I respect the author and his work, but you'll never see me running to the bookstore when he releases a new book. Moreover, I do feel the man is a bit overrated. But that's just my opinion, and it's worth is relative.

My first beef with M. John Harrison stemmed from this quote: I think it's undignified to read for the purposes of escape. After you grow up, you should start reading for other purposes.

So it's escapism for some, myself included. I don't know if Mr. Harrison realizes that a vast majority of speculative fiction's readership is drawn to the genre for escapism. Food for thought. . . To members of the literati and to those who like to hear themselves talk, this sort of quote might bring out a condescending chuckle or two. And yet, by making such a claim you will also alienate a good chunk of potential readers, as they will, understandably, reject his way of thinking.

And now Mr. Harrison returns with this bit about worlbuilding and how afraid we should be of this aspect.

As I mentioned on, he sounds like a midlist author extremely jealous of the popularity and sales of the epic fantasy novelists. Epic fantasy is what's "in" at the moment, and worldbuilding plays a major role in this sub-genre. If he can't compete with Jordan, Martin, Erikson, Bakker and company in that regard, he shouldn't try to validate his stance by belittling the worldbuilding aspect of novels. This elitist postulation will get him nowhere, and I feel it's a bit unbecoming of an author of his caliber to come out and make such a claim. If I may be so bold, he sounds like a cry-baby. . .

I disagree with Harrison's post, and I don't understand why worldbuilding and good writing are viewed as being mutually exclusive. To me, prose, like worldbuilding and characterization, is just one element that comprise a good novel. Furthermore, prose is by no means the most important aspect of what constitutes a great novel, just one piece of the puzzle. No SFF work can stand on the sole strength of worldbuilding. Harrison's post is preposterous in that sense. And prose, no matter how impeccable and fantastic, cannot carry a story.

For in the end, it's all about the stories. I see authors/novelists more as storytellers, for that's the legacy they leave behind when a book/series is published. No one really remembers Tolkien's prose. Of course not, unless you're an English teacher or a literature grad student. What most of us remember is Frodo's quest. Prose didn't make The Lord of the Rings sell more copies than The Bible. The story of Bilbo, Frodo, Gandalf, and company did.

Similarly, during the 80s authors such as Stephen R. Donaldson, David Eddings, Raymond E. Feist, Terry Brooks, and Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman left indelible marks on the fantasy genre. With the exception of Donaldson, no one in that group has ever been commended for their prose. Be that as it may, their tales captured the heart and imagination of millions of fans around the world. Eddings once said in an interview that he was in no danger of ever winning a Nobel Prize for literature. At last count, the man had sold over 18 million copies worldwide, so I figure he got over it. What about the undisputed master, Frank Herbert? Does Dune suck because it is a feat of worldbuilding, characterization, prose and a panoply of mind-blowing storylines?

Since the mid-90s writers such as Robert Jordan, Neil Gaiman, George R. R. Martin and even Terry Goodkind (yes, it's undeniable!) have made the fantasy genre more popular than it has ever been. Not to mention J. K. Rowling, the most popular author on the planet. Their series will continue to sell long after they're dead and gone. It's no secret that worldbuilding has become more important in the last few years, and series such as The Wheel of Time, The Malazan Book of the Fallen, The Book of All Hours, A Song of Ice and Fire, and many others continue to raise the bar even higher. As a fan of the genre, I say, "Bring it on!" There has never been that many gifted SFF authors all writing at the peak of their careers at the same time, and fans should rejoice -- not be afraid. That readers are torn by the decision to save and spend their hard-earned money on the next Bakker, Hobb, Erikson, Lynch, Duncan, Kay, Hamilton, or a multitude of other talented writers out there, this can be nothing but a good thing.

If Harrison can only fall back on his prose to compete against writers who can create deep and believable characters, a vivid setting and a gripping and multilayered plot, doing it all with nice prose to boot, then he can never hope to produce works that will surpass those of his peers. Which, sadly, appears to be the case here. Hence Mr. Harrison's post.

Speculative fiction as a genre is in constant evolution, whether one likes it or not. And one cannot stop evolution. You can write for the literati and the purists, and your sales will accordingly be tepid. Be afraid of worldbuilding, you say? I say be afraid of falling into obscurity if you fail to realize what fans want. There is nothing wrong with going against the grain and doing what strikes your fancy. As an author, one must do what's in his or her heart. That's artistic integrity. But if you refuse to be mainstream, don't bitch and moan because other, more successful authors outsell you by a margin of a thousand to one or more. . .

Adam (Werthead) nailed it right on the head when he said, But I find an author who hurls around these generalisations without actually being any better himself to be verging on the hypocritical.

I invite M. John Harrison to put his money where is mouth is. If he can write a novel with no worldbuilding whatsoever, in which the prose is such that it will stir my soul, make me wet my pants and bring tears to my eyes, he'll prove me wrong. If he ever succeeds in that endeavor, I'll gladly give his book a perfect 10 and spread the word far and wide about how incredible he is.

Until then (and I'm not holding my breath), I will continue to enjoy the works of those pitiful wretches whose novels use worldbuilding to such an insulting degree. What can I say? My fellow dumbasses and I like writers such as Tad Williams, Scott Lynch, Robin Hobb, Robert Jordan, Hal Duncan, yada yada yada.

My post is a bit harsh, I know. Those who sometimes think I'm too nice should be pleased -- by the way, you guys should talk to the people in my entourage!;-) I'm not certain this was his intention, but M. John Harrison's assertion comes out as a slight to both readers and authors who particularly like the worldbuilding aspect of a book. As Ken (Kcf) mentioned, it comes across as an underhanded insult and I find that off-putting to say the least.

Still, that's just me. Do peruse both message boards to see what sort of replies Larry's post generated, and feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section.

Win an autographed copy of Hal Duncan's INK

Well, I'm pleased to announce this giveaway!

I knew that I'd have a copy of Ink up for grabs, but we didn't know for certain if the novel would be signed or not. So it's now official, the book will be autographed by Hal Duncan himself! Many thanks to Del Rey Books for supporting yet another contest. I've asked Hal to check with his UK publisher to see if they'd be interested in offering a similar prize. I'll keep you guys updated if that's the case.

There's a little more than 3 weeks left before Ink hits the shelves of bookstores nationwide. I'll draw the name of the winner a couple of days prior to its release date, thus ensuring that everyone can participate and know before the book becomes available if they won the giveaway. Europeans can already purchase this great novel (scroll down for my review), so the prize will be a collector's item for them.:-) Heck, it remains a collector's item for North Americans as well!

The rules are the same as usual. First off, you need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "INK." 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!

UN LUN DUN contest winner

Hi guys!

The name of our winner has been drawn. Thanks to the generosity of Del Rey Books and China Miéville, the lucky bastard will get his hands on a signed copy of Un Lun Dun. Now is that cool or what!?!

The winner is:

- Daniel Scanlon, from Carle Place, New York, USA (DannyBoy31 on and

Thanks to all the participants!:-)

Win a signed copy of Alan Campbell's SCAR NIGHT

Thanks to the great folks at Bantam Dell, I have three autographed copies of Alan Campbell's Scar Night, the first volume of The Deepgate Codex, for you guys to win. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The rules are the same as usual. First off, you need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "SCAR." 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!