Ken Scholes contest winner

This lucky bastard will receive a complimentary copy of Ken Scholes' Lamentation, courtesy of me! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

- Ian Backman, from Portland, Oregon, USA

Thanks to all the participants!

A FANTASY MEDLEY contest winner!

Thanks to the folks at Subterranean Press, our winner will get her hands on a copy of the A Fantasy Medley anthology (Canada, USA, Europe, and, which features short fiction by Robin Hobb, Kate Elliott, Kelley Armstrong, and C. E. Murphy.

The winner is:

- Kara Hash, from Tallahassee, Florida, USA

To those who wanted to get the anthology at a discount on Amazon, I was told that Subpress should be able to honor the first few orders they get from the Amazon websites. Otherwise, go through the Subpress website to make sure you secure your copy!

Thanks to all the participants!;-)

A Fine and Private Place

In order to promote the classic works of "older" SFF authors who are sadly not as widely read as he feels they should be in this day and age, George R. R. Martin selected Peter S. Beagle's A Fine and Private Place as the first title I should read and review for losing our NFL wager. Beagle is better known for The Last Unicorn, but A Fine and Private Place is GRRM's favorite work by the celebrated speculative fiction writer.

As I felt was the case with Jack Vance's Tales of the Dying Earth, I was afraid of the possibility that this book had not aged well. Nothing could be further from the truth. Granted, the current edition contains Beagle's most recent set of revisions. Yet I get the feeling that A Fine and Private Place is an ageless story that should strike a chord with countless readers, both old and new.

Nearly two decades before, Jonathan Rebeck turned his back on his life and elected to make his home in the Bronx's Yorkchester Cemetery. Befriending the newly dead, he lives in an abandoned mausoleum. Other than the spirits of the dead, Mr. Rebeck's only companion is a talking raven. Then one day, this eccentric recluse's existence is disrupted by an unlikely love story between two ghosts. Soon, Rebeck is drawn toward a living woman who visits the cemetery, and nothing will ever be the same again.

Written in a thoughtful prose filled with grace, A Fine and Private Place is a tale of love and what it means to be alive -- and dead. At times sad and at times whimsical, it's a wonderful story of hope.

NYC being one of my two favorite cities in the world, I was delighted to be brought back in time to a "New York that was." As I mentioned, though the story occurs during the sixties, it is nevertheless accessible to basically any reader looking for a quality read. It truly has that "timeless" feel. . .

Although the narrative sets the mood, it's the characterization which infuses this one with life. Jonathan Rebeck might be the principal protagonist, and yet it's the ghosts of Michael and Laura who are the veritable heart of the novel. And the raven steals the show in every scene it appears in.

This book has remained in print for decades and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand why. I'm glad Martin "punished me" by forcing me to read this one. A Fine and Private Place is considered a modern fantasy classic, and you won't get any argument from me.

Peter S. Beagle will soon release We Never Talk About my Brother (Canada, USA, Europe), a collection of short stories that I will probably take a look at, hopefully sooner than later.

If, like me, you have yet to give Beagle a chance, A Fine and Private Place will not disappoint. Moreover, it will undoubtedly make you want to read more of Peter S. Beagle's body of work.

The final verdict: 7.75/10

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

This week's New York Times' Bestsellers (February 24th)

In hardcover:

Stephenie Meyer's The Host is up one position, ending the week at number 3.

Patricia Briggs' Bone Crossed debuts at number 5. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Charlaine Harris' From Dead to Worse is down one spot, finishing its 21st week on the charts at number 17.

Dan Simmons' Drood debuts at number 18. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dream Warrior remains at number 1 for its second week on the bestseller list. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Carrie Vaughn's Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand is down three positions, ending its third week on the NYT list at number 28. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Video interview of Joe Abercrombie

For those poor souls (like me) who have yet to meet Abercrombie in the flesh, here's a video interview of the man talking about the forthcoming Best Served Cold (Canada, USA, Europe) and more.


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Patrick Rothfuss on THE WISE MAN'S FEAR release date

Patrick Rothfuss just wrote a post regarding the delay of his forthcoming The Wise Man's Fear. You can read the whole thing here.

Here's an excerpt:

Okay folks, here's the deal....

Whatever release date you've heard for book two is simply untrue. There is no release date because the book isn't finished yet. I'm working on it right now. Or rather, I would be working on it if I wasn't writing this blog.

Yeah. It sucks. I wish it was finished too. My life would be really great right now if book two were done.

I've been avoiding writing this blog for a while. It's not fun to write, and it's not going to be fun for most people to read. The truth is, I'd much rather work on the book.

But recently, a remarkably courteous and lucid e-mail from a fan made me realize that a lot of people out there are more curious than pissed about it.

So. There's the news. The Wise Man's Fear won't be out for a while. This won't come as a surprise to many of you. Especially those who know not to trust everything Amazon says. Plus, I've been pretty open about the fact that I'm still working on revisions.

You see, even if I finished the book today and it was perfect, it couldn't be on the shelves by April. It takes a long time to get a book into print. Months and months. There are a lot of steps.

Since many of you will be disappointed by this news, I figure the least I can do is explain why it's taking so long.

Check out Rothfuss' blog to learn more. . .:-)

Quote of the Day

Authority always trumps reason, unless reason is the authority.

- L. E. MODESITT, JR., Imager

Because other lists suck. . .

If you hang out at, you obviously have heard of the infamous Stego. William Lexner used to run the excellent, but he's been on hiatus for many months now. Too bad, as the guy was probably my favorite SFF blogger. . .

In any event, Stego appears quite fond of lists. And why not, as these lists and his contributions on the forum at Westeros allowed me to discover authors such as Ian McDonald, Peter Watts, Joe Abercrombie, as well as many others. He recently came up with this list of 100 seminal SFF titles. Here's what he had to say:

I put out an SFF Reading List a few years ago with about 500 works on it. People threw rocks. It was kind of amusing. Here is a far more condensed list of what I believe to be the seminal works of SFF since Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. Limited to a mere 100. The paring down was heartbreaking.

This is my first reading list in years and is certainly an opinionated result of my years of amateur scholarship.

The only thing I do promise is that there is merit in all of these works. Chances are you would fall in love with most, if not all, if you give them a chance.

- Stego's Top 100 SFF books/series of all time:

Asimov, Isaac: The Best of Isaac Asimov 1974

Asimov, Isaac: The Gods Themselves 1972

Atwood, Margaret: The Handmaid's Tale 1985

Bakker, R. Scott: The Prince of Nothing 2004-2007

Ballard, J.G.: High Rise 1975

Banks, Iain M.: Use of Weapons 1990

Beagle, Peter S.: A Fine and Private Place 1960

Bester, Alfred: The Stars My Destination 1956

Blish, James: Cities in Flight 1955-1962

Brackett, Leigh: The Long Tomorrow 1955

Bradbury, Ray: The Martian Chronicles 1950

Bradbury, Ray: Fahrenheit 451 1953

Brunner, John: Stand on Zanzibar 1968

Bulgakov, Mikhail: The Master and The Margarita 1940

Card, Orson Scott: Ender's Game 1985

Clarke, Arthur C.: Rendezvous With Rama 1972

Clarke, Arthur C.: Childhood's End 1953

Clarke, Arthur C.: The Fountains of Paradise 1979

Crowley, John: Little, Big 1981

Danielewski, Mark Z.: House of Leaves 2000

Dick, Philip K.: The Man In The High Castle 1962

Dozois, Gardner: Best of The Best: 20 Years of The Years Best SF 2005

Dozois, Gardner: Best of The Best 2 2007

Dunsany, Lord: The King of Elfland's Daughter 1924

Ellison, Harlan: Dangerous Visions 1967

Ennis, Garth: Preacher 1995-2000

Ford, John M.: The Last Hot Time 2001

Gaiman, Neil: American Gods 2001

Gaiman, Neil and Pratchett, Terry: Good Omens 1990

Gemmell, David: Legend 1984

Gibson, William: Neuromancer 1984

Grimwood, Ken: Replay 1987

Haldeman, Joe: The Forever War 1975

Heinlein, Robert A.: Starship Troopers 1959

Heinlein, Robert A.: Stranger In a Strange Land 1961

Heinlein, Robert A.: Have Spacesuit -- Will Travel 1958

Herbert, Frank: Dune 1965

Hoban, Russell: Riddley Walker 1980

Huxley, Aldous: Brave New World 1931

Jackson, Shirley: The Haunting of Hill House 1959

Joyce, Graham: The Tooth Fairy 1998

Kay, Guy Gavriel: Tigana 1990

Keyes, Daniel: Flowers For Algernon 1966

LeGuin, Ursula K.: The Dispossesed 1974

LeGuin, Ursula K.: The Left Hand of Darkness 1969

Lem, Stanislaw: Solaris 1961

Lovecraft, H.P.: The Dunwich Horror and Others 1963

Lynch, Scott: The Lies of Locke Lamora 2006

MacDonald, George: The Princess and The Goblin 1872

Martin, George R.R.: A Song of Ice and Fire 1996-Present

Matheson, Richard: I Am Legend 1954

McCarthy, Cormac: The Road 2006

McDonald, Ian: River of Gods 2004

Meynard, Yves: The Book of Knights 1998

Mieville, China: Perdido Street Station 2001

Miller Jr., Walter M.: A Canticle For Leibowitz 1960

Moore, Christopher: Lamb 2002

Morgan, Richard K.: Black Man 2007

Newman, Kim: Anno Dracula 1992

Niven, Larry: Ringworld 1970

Orwell, George: 1984 1949

Pangborn, Edgar: Davy 1964

Poe, Edgar Allan: Tales of Mystery and Imagination 1837-1845

Pohl, Frederick: Gateway 1977

Pohl, Frederick and Kornbluth, C.M: The Space Merchants 1953

Powers, Tim: The Anubis Gates 1983

Powers, Tim: The Fisher King Trilogy 1992-1997

Priest, Christopher: The Glamour 1985

Robinson, Kim Stanley: The Mars Trilogy 1992-1996

Russ, Joanna: The Female Man 1975

Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein 1818

Shephard, Lucius: The Best of Lucius Shephard 2008

Shippey, Tom: The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories 1992

Silverberg, Robert: The Book of Skulls 1972

Silverberg, Robert: The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume One 1970

Simak, Clifford D.: City 1952

Simmons, Dan: Hyperion 1990

Smith, Cordwainer: The Rediscovery of Man 1993

Smith, Michael Marshall: Only Forward 1998

Stapeldon, Olaf: Odd John 1935

Stephenson, Neal: Snow Crash 1992

Stevenson, Robert Louis: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1886

Stewart, George R.: Earth Abides 1949

Straub, Peter: Ghost Story 1979

Sturgeon, Theodore: More Than Human 1953

Tiptree Jr., James: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever 1990

Tolkien, J.R.R.: The Lord of The Rings 1954-1955

Vance, Jack: The Jack Vance Treasury 2007

Verne, Jules: Journey To The Centre of the Earth 1864

Vonnegut, Kurt: Cat's Cradle 1963

Vonnegut, Kurt: Slaughter-House Five 1969

Wells, H.G.: The Time Machine 1895

Wilde, Oscar: The Picture of Dorian Gray 1891

Wolfe, Gene: The Wizard Knight 2004

Wolfe, Gene: The Book of The New Sun 1980-1983

Wyndham, John: The Day of The Triffids 1951

Wyndham, John: The Midwich Cuckoos 1957

Zelazny, Roger: Damnation Alley 1969

Zelazny, Roger: Lord of Light 1967

For more information about any of these titles: Canada, USA, Europe. There you'll find hundreds of reviews and you can get used copies of most of these books for a handful of pennies.

Love him or hate him, these lists make me realize how many authors and novels I have yet to sample and enjoy.

More, you say? Well, you can always tackle Stego's recommended 500-something titles in this extended list. It should keep even the most avid readers occupied for a little while. . .

Erikson's GARDENS OF THE MOON limited edition

Speaking of Subterranean Press, Malazan fans rejoice!

The limited edition of Gardens of the Moon (Canada, USA, Europe, and is now in stock and shipping!

Yes, my friends, the wait is over!;-)

Win a copy of the limited edition of Naomi Novik's BLACK POWDER WAR

I have a copy of the Subpress limited edition of Naomi Novik's third volume in the Temeraire series, Black Powder War, up for grabs, compliments of the folks at Subterranean Press. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe, and

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

Another milestone

One million visitors. . .

Shit man, that's like a LOT of people. More than I ever thought possible, to tell the truth. More than I probably deserve. But for some reason, more SFF fans stop by the Hotlist than any other fantasy and science fiction book-reviewing blog out there.

A million visitors is a hell of a lot of people, to be sure. Yet numbers are just numbers. Of course, Neil Gaiman gets that many hits on any given week. Then again, my friend John gets more hits than Gaiman and Scalzy combined and most of you have never heard of him. So what the heck, right?

I'd be remiss if I didn't use this opportunity to thank you all for hanging around these parts the way you do. One can only hope that you have discovered new authors and new books along the way. That's what I'm here for, after all. I've never taken myself too seriously, yet it's undeniably nice to have such a vast audience.

I must also thank the four authors who gave me a chance at the very beginning, and whose interviews helped me get noticed. So thank you to David B. Coe, Tad Williams, L. E. Modesitt, jr., and Robin Hobb for accepting to do a Q&A with me way back when.

Many thanks to all the editors, publicists, marketing folks, and agents on both sides of the Atlantic who helped me make this as fun and interesting as I possibly could. They are too numerous to name in this post, but they're the ones responsible for most of what's going on around here. Pat's Fantasy Hotlist wouldn't be half as good without them.

Many thanks to my fellow bloggers (Jay, Rob, Larry, William, Ken, Adam, Robert, Aidan, Chris, Graeme, and many, many others) and the denizens of various SFF message boards like,,,, and all my other usual hang out spots for being such a lively online community. We seldom all agree on things, but it wouldn't be fun otherwise.

Thanks to the kudos from people such as George R. R. Martin and Joe Abercrombie. Though I've never considered myself a particularly good reviewer, it's always nice to receive compliments and realize that you are appreciated.

Most of all, thanks to all the SFF authors, past, present, and future. In genres supposedly filled with 90% crap, these men and women have filled my head with wonders for more than two decades. And for that I'll be eternally grateful.

Finally, let me close the show by quoting Glen Cook: "Stop taking it so damned seriously." At the end of the day, being part of the SFF online community is supposed to be fun. In this house at least. . .

All the best,

Patrick St-Denis

P. S. One million visitors! Fuck me. . .

Poll: What forthcoming title should I read next???

I'm done with GRRM's first punishment and my review of Peter S. Beagle's A Fine and Private Place (Canada, USA, Europe) should make its appearance in the next couple of days. It's a good read, by the way, one that should satisfy most readers. I'm currently reading the winner of our last survey, Kay Kenyon's City Without End (Canada, USA, Europe), which is interesting thus far.

And you can now pick what ARC I'll be checking out next! Here are the candidates:

- Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry (Canada, USA, Europe)

When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week there's either something wrong with your world or something wrong with your skills... and there's nothing wrong with Joe Ledger's skills. And that's both a good, and a bad thing. It's good because he's a Baltimore detective that has just been secretly recruited by the government to lead a new taskforce created to deal with the problems that Homeland Security can't handle. This rapid response group is called the Department of Military Sciences or the DMS for short. It's bad because his first mission is to help stop a group of terrorists from releasing a dreadful bio-weapon that can turn ordinary people into zombies. The fate of the world hangs in the balance....

- The City & The City by China Miéville (Canada, USA, Europe)

When the body of a murdered woman is found in the extraordinary, decaying city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks like a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he probes, the evidence begins to point to conspiracies far stranger, and more deadly, than anything he could have imagined. Soon his work puts him and those he cares for in danger.

Borlú must travel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own, across a border like no other. It is a journey as psychic as it is physical, a shift in perception, a seeing of the unseen, a journey to Beszel’s equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the rich and vibrant city of Ul Qoma.

- A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin (Canada, USA, Europe)

When a man is tired of London he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford? Samuel Johnson.

In fact, Dr Johnson was only half right. There is in London much more than life - there is power. It ebbs and flows with the rhythms of the city, makes runes from the alignments of ancient streets and hums with the rattle of trains and buses; it waxes and wanes with the patterns of the business day. It is a new kind of magic: urban magic. Enter a London where magicians ride the Last Train, implore favours of The Beggar King and interpret the insane wisdom of The Bag Lady. Enter a London where beings of power soar with the pigeons and scrabble with the rats, and seek insight in the half-whispered madness of the blue electric angels. Enter the London of Matthew Swift, where rival sorcerers, hidden in plain sight, do battle for the very soul of the city ...

- Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey (Canada, USA, Europe)

Lushly written with rich and vivid characters, Santa Olivia is Jacqueline Carey's take on comic book superheroes and the classic werewolf myth.

Loup Garron was born and raised in Santa Olivia, an isolated, disenfranchised town next to a US military base inside a DMZ buffer zone between Texas and Mexico. A fugitive "Wolf-Man" who had a love affair with a local woman, Loup's father was one of a group of men genetically-manipulated and used by the US government as a weapon. The "Wolf-Men" were engineered to have superhuman strength, speed, sensory capability, stamina, and a total lack of fear, and Loup, named for and sharing her father's wolf-like qualities, is marked as an outsider.

After her mother dies, Loup goes to live among the misfit orphans at the parish church, where they seethe from the injustices visited upon the locals by the soldiers. Eventually, the orphans find an outlet for their frustrations: They form a vigilante group to support Loup Garron who, costumed as their patron saint, Santa Olivia, uses her special abilities to avenge the town.

Aware that she could lose her freedom, and possibly her life, Loup is determined to fight to redress the wrongs her community has suffered. And like the reincarnation of their patron saint, she will bring hope to all of Santa Olivia.

Richard Morgan vs J. R. R. Tolkien

Earlier this week, Richard Morgan wrote an essay which was posted on Suvudu and which caused a bit of a stir. I'm posting the essay here, but do check out the original post as Suvudu to see the discussion Morgan's piece engendered.

Not much of a Tolkien fan myself, I think the author sums it up perfectly and hits the nail right on the head in the first paragraph of his essay.

Richard Morgan's The Steel Remains (Canada, USA, Europe) has been released in the USA last month.

Here's the essay:

I’m not much of a Tolkien fan - not since I was about twelve or fourteen anyway (which, it strikes me, is about the right age to read and enjoy his stuff). But it would be a foolish writer in the fantasy field who failed to acknowledge the man’s overwhelming significance in the canon. And it would be a poor and superficial reader of Tolkien who failed to acknowledge that in amongst all the overwrought prose, the nauseous paeans to class-bound rural England, and the endless bloody elven singing that infests The Lord of the Rings, you can sometimes discern the traces of a bleak underlying human landscape which is completely at odds with the epic fantasy narrative for which the book is better known.

That little twist of urban angst quoted above is one such trace. It comes at the end of The Two Towers and is part of an on-going set of dialogues between two orc captains at the tower of Cirith Ungol. And for a while - until Tolkien remembers these are Bad Guys and sends the wearyingly Good and Wholesome Sam up against them - we get a fascinating insight into life for the rank and file in Mordor. The orcs are disenchanted, poorly informed and constantly stressed by the uncertainties that lack of information brings. They suspect that the war might be going badly for their side, and that their commanders, far from being infallible, seem to be making some serious errors of judgment. They worry that if their side loses, they can expect scant mercy from their victorious enemies. They mutter their misgivings sotto voce because they know that there are informers in the ranks and a culture of enforcement through terror bearing down from above. They also seem possessed of a rough good humour and some significant loyalty to the soldiers they command. And they’re not enjoying the war any more than Frodo or Samwise; they want it to be over just as much as anybody else.

For me, this is some of the finest, most engaging work in The Lord of the Rings. It feels - perhaps a strange attribute for a fantasy novel - real. Suddenly, I'm interested in these orcs. Gorbag is transformed by that one laconic line about the city, from slavering brutish evil-doer to world-weary (almost noir-ish) hard-bitten survivor. The simplistic archetypes of Evil are stripped away and what lies beneath is - for better or brutal worse - all too human. This is the real meat of the narrative, this is the telling detail (as Bradbury's character Faber from Fahrenheit 451 would have it), no Good, no Evil, just the messy human realities of a Great War as seen from ground level. And I don't think it's a stretch to say that what you're probably looking at here are the fossil remnants of Tolkien's first-hand experiences in his own Great War, as he passed through the hellish trenches and the slaughter of the Somme in 1916.

The great shame is, of course, that Tolkien was not able (or inclined) to mine this vein of experience for what it was really worth - in fact he seemed to be in full, panic-stricken flight from it. I suppose it's partially understandable - the generation who fought in the First World War got to watch every archetypal idea they had about Good and Evil collapse in reeking bloody ruin around them. It takes a lot of strength to endure something like that and survive, and then to re-draw your understanding of things to fit the uncomfortable reality you've seen. Far easier to retreat into simplistic nostalgia for the faded or forgotten values you used to believe in. So by the time we get back to Cirith Ungol in The Return of the King, Gorbag and his comrades have been conveniently shorn of their more interesting human character attributes and we're back to the cackling slavering evil out of Mordor from a children's bedtime story. Our glimpse of something more humanly interesting is gone, replaced once more by the ponderous epic tones of Towering Archetypal Evil pitted against Irritatingly Radiant Good (oh - and guess who wins).

Well, I guess it's called fantasy for a reason.

I only wonder why on earth anyone (adult) would want to read something like that.

And I've written a fantasy novel for all those adults who wouldn't.

Hope you like it.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (February 17th)

In hardcover:

Stephenie Meyer's The Host is down two positions, ending the week at number 4.

Charlaine Harris' From Dead to Worse remains at number 16 for its 20th week on the charts.

Kelley Armstrong's Men of the Otherworld is down seven spots, finishing its second week on the NYT list at number 26.

In paperback:

Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dream Warrior debuts at number 1.

Carrie Vaughn's Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand is down twelve positions, ending its second week on the bestseller list at number 25. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

A FEAST FOR CROWS art gallery

Tom Canty set up an art gallery of the various illustrations he created for the Subterranean Press limited edition of George R. R. Martin's A Feast for Crows. Think it looks great!?! Too late, for this collector's item is sold out.


Musical Interlude

Rob Zombie (White Zombie) - Dragula
Uploaded by cramchur

Before directing crappy movies, Rob Zombie put out some cool music!

Hugo nomination from GRRM

This from George R. R. Martin's Not a Blog:

For Hugo Consideration: Best Fanzine

A fanzine is an amateur magazine devoted the science fiction or fantasy or the fannish subculture. SF fandom was born in fanzines, way back in the 20s and 30s. In the old days most of them were mimeographed, and some -- the comic fanzines that I cut my teeth on back in high school -- were produced by even more arcane and primitive methods of duplication called "ditto" and "hekto" and "spirit duplication," which wasn't nearly as cool as it sounds.

Mimeographed fanzines are fewer these days, and ditto is gone entirely (thank ghu). And now we have a new sort of fanzine rising up... the webzine.

It's past time the Hugo Awards gave some recognition to this new breed. The age of the stencil is gone, the age of the blog has arrived, and the liveliest discourse about SF and fantasy is now taking place on the internet. So when I fill out my Best Fanzine ballot, I will be nominating


There are lots of great webzines and book blogs out there, but none as lively, informative, and regular as Pat's, with its mix of reviews, interviews, commentary, and contests. If you haven't seen it, check it out at and see for yourself.

Proprietor Patrick St. Denis is a Dallas Cowboys fan, it's true, but try not to hold that against him. Rooting for the Cowboys is enough punishment in itself. Pat's also from Montreal, so what could be more appopriate than giving him a nod at Anticipation, the first Montreal worldcon?

As was the case last year when GRRM nominated the Hotlist, I'm deeply honored by the kudos. It's pretty sweet, especially since I don't think I can ever make it to the final ballot.

But see how he had to bring up the Cowboys!?! He is right on one account, however. Being a Dallas Cowboys fan is enough punishment in and of itself. . . Three Super Bowl championships in four years. Ah, the memories. . .

So vote for me!:p

Exclusive excerpt from Mark Charan Newton's NIGHTS OF VILLJAMUR

Mark Charan Newton will release the first volume in a new fantasy series known as Legends of the Red Sun later this spring. So here's a little teaser from Nights of Villjamur, courtesy of the folks at Pan MacMillan. For updates on the novel and the rest of the series, check out Newton's blog at For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

Political intrigue and dark violence converge in a superb new action series of enthralling fantasy. An ice age strikes a chain of islands, and thousands come to seek sanctuary at the gates of Villjamur: a city of ancient spires and bridges, a place where banshees wail the deceased, cultists use forgotten technology for their own gain and where, further out, the dead have been seen walking across the tundra.

When the Emperor commits suicide, his elder daughter, Rika, is brought home to lead the Jamur Empire, but the sinister Chancellor plans to get rid of her and claim the throne for himself. Meanwhile a senior investigator in the city inquisition must solve the high-profile and savage murder of a city politician, whilst battling evils within his own life, and a handsome and serial womanizer manipulates his way into the imperial residence with a hidden agenda. When reports are received that tens of thousands of citizens are dying in a bizarre genocide on the northern islands of the Empire, members of the elite Night Guard are sent to investigate. It seems that, in this land under a red sun, the long winter is bringing more than just snow.


Garudas swooped by, engaged in city patrols, whilst cats looked up from walls in response to their fast-moving shadows.

One of these bird-sentries landed on the top of the inner wall of the city, and faced the dawn. The weather made the ambience, was the ambience, because the city forever changed its mood according to the skies. These days, there was little but grey.

The sentry was attached to Villjamur. He admired the citizens who were its fabric, from the slang-talking gangs to the young lovers who kissed under abandoned archways. All around were the signals of the underworld, discreet and urgent conversations in the dark. It was the only place he knew of where he might feel a nostalgia for the present.

His precise vision detected another execution taking place on the outer wall. Didn’t remember any being scheduled today.

‘Anything you wish to say before we release the arrows?’ a voice echoed between the stone ramparts.

The garuda looked on with dull satisfaction from his higher battlement. He ruffled his feathers, shivered as the wind built up momentum over the fortifications, a chill quietly penetrating the furthest reaches of the city, a token of invading winter.

The prisoner, some distance away, wore nothing more than a rippling brown gown. He looked from left to right at the archers positioned either side of him on the outermost wall, their bows still lowered to one side. Down at the city-side base of the wall in its shadow, people marched circles in the freezing mud, staring upwards.

A thin, pale man in green and brown uniform, the officer giving the orders, stood further along the crest of the wall, as the prisoner opened his mouth cautiously to answer him.

He merely said, ‘Is there any use?’

A girl screamed from the crowds gathered below, but no one bothered to look down at her except the officer, who said, ‘A crime of the heart, this one, eh?’

‘Aren’t they all?’ the prisoner replied. ‘That is, of the heart and not the mind?’

A harsh rain, the occasional gust of something colder, and the mood turned bellicose.

‘You tell me,’ the soldier growled, apparently irritated with this immediate change in weather.
Some sharp, rapid commands.

As the girl continued her wails and pleas from the base of the wall, the two archers nocked their arrows, brought their bows to docking point, then fired.

The prisoner’s skull cracked under the impact, blood spat onto the throng underneath, and he buckled forwards, tumbling over the city wall, two arrows in his head. Two lengths of rope caught him halfway down.

A primitive display, a warning to everyone: Don’t mess with the Empire. State rule is absolute.

It was followed by a scream that seemed to shatter the blanket of rain.

The banshee had now announced the death.

With the execution over, the garuda extended his wings, reaching several armspans to either side, cracked his spine to stretch himself, crouched. With an immense thrust, he pushed himself high into the air, flicking rain off his quills.

He banked skywards.

Villjamur was a granite fortress. Its main access was through three consecutive gates, and there the garuda retained the advantage over any invading armies. In the centre of the city, high up and pressed against the rock-face, beyond a lattice work of bridges and spires, was Balmacara, the vast Imperial residence, a cathedral-like construct of dark basalt and slick-glistening mica. In this weather the city seemed unreal.

The refugee encampments pitched off the Sanctuary Road were largely quiet, a few dogs roaming between makeshift tents. The Sanctuary Road was a dark scar finishing at Villjamur itself. Further out to one side, the terrain changed to vague grassland, but well-trodden verges along the road suggested how the refugees never stopped hassling passing travellers as they sought to break away from their penurious existence. Heather died back in places, extending in a dark pastel smear to the other, before fading into the distance. There was beauty there if you knew where to look.

The garuda noticed few people about at this time. No traders yet, and only one traveller, wrapped in fur, on the road leading into the city.

Back across the city.

Lanterns were being lit by citizens who perhaps had expected a brighter day. Glows of orange crept through the dreary morning, defining the shapes of elaborate windows, wide octagons, narrow arches. It had been a winter of bistros with steamed-up windows, of tundra flowers trailing down from hanging baskets, of constant plumes of smoke from chimneys, one where concealed gardens were dying, starved of sunlight, and where the statues adorning once-flamboyant balconies were now suffocating under lichen.

The guard-bird finally settled on a high wall by a disused courtyard. The ambient sound of the water on stone forced an abstract disconnection from the place that made him wonder if he had flown back in time. He turned his attention to the man hunched in furs, the one he had noticed moments earlier. A stranger, trudging though the second gate leading into the city.

The garuda watched him, unmoving, his eyes perfectly still.

* * *

There were three things that Randur Estevu hoped would mark him as someone different here in Villjamur. He didn’t always necessarily get drunk when alcohol was at hand, not like those back home. Also he listened with great concentration, or gave the illusion at least, whenever a woman spoke to him. And finally he was one of the best - if not the best - dancers he knew of, and that meant something coming from the island of Folke. There everyone learned to dance as soon as they could walk - some before that, being expected to crawl with rhythm even as babies.

Provincial charm would only add to this allure of the stranger, a little accent perhaps, enough for the girls to take an interest in what he had to say. A tall man, he’d remained slender, to the eternal envy of fat gossiping women back home. Altogether, he rated his chances well, as he advanced upon the last of the three gates under the dawn rain, armed with only his few necessary belongings, a pocketful of forged family histories, and a thousand witty retorts.

Randur already knew his folklore and history, had learned further during his journey. You had to be prepared for an important city like this, because Villjamur was the residence of the Emperor Jamur Johynn, and this island called Jokull was the Empire’s homeland. Once known as Vilhallan it had been a collection of small farming settlements scattered around the original cave systems, now hidden behind the current architecture. Most of the city’s current population were in fact direct descendants of those early dwellers. Eleven thousand years ago. Before even the clan wars began. The community thrived on myth. With such a history, a wealth of cultures and creatures, the city was said to possess an emergent property.

Randur had been travelling for weeks. Somewhere on the way, on a superficial level, he’d become someone else. His mother was back in Ule, on the island of Folke. A stern yet strangely faithful woman, she’d raised him on her own in spite of the collapse of their wealth, which had happened when he was too young to know about it. He remembered hearing her coughing upstairs, in a musty room, the stench of death all too premature. Every time he entered it, he never knew what to expect.

She’d found him a ‘job’ in Villjamur. It came through the influence of one of his shady uncles who was well connected on Y’iren and Folke as a trading dignitary, though he’d never shared his wealth with them. The man had always commented on Kapp’s good looks as if this was a hindrance in life. Then that same uncle informed Kapp’s mother that a man the same age and appearance as the lad had disappeared only the previous week. His name was Randur Estevu, and it was known that he was headed for employment in the Emperor’s house. He had even been a rival of Kapp’s at dance tournaments and in Yuralris bladework during the island’s festivals. The young man had made enemies all right, boasting all too often that he had sanctuary guaranteed in Villjamur before the Freeze came.

‘You lot’ll turn to ice, fuckers,’ the lad had said at the time, ‘while I got me safe digs at the warmest place in the Empire. Can’t say more, though, because I wouldn’t want you lot getting in on my connections.’

They’d found his body, or what was left of it, stuffed inside a crate on a decaying boat that hadn’t left the harbour at Geu Docks for as long as anyone could remember. No one was even shocked the boy was dead. They were more interested in the old boat itself, as it seemed to fulfil some maritime prophecy someone had mentioned the week before.

Kapp then became Randur Estevu. Fled south with fake identification to the Sanctuary City.
He was told by his mother to seek his fortune there, where the family line might have a chance to survive the arrival of the ice. He had no idea what the real Randur Estevu was to be doing in Villjamur, as the stolen papers didn’t explain. Besides, Randur, as he would now be known, had his own schemes.

He fingered the coin in his pocket, the one the cultist had handed him all those years ago, in the darkness, on that night of blood.

Garudas loomed above on the battlements beside the final gate leading into the city. They stood with folded arms. Half vulture, half man: wings, beaks, talons on a human form. Cloaks and minimal armour. White faces that seemed to glow in this grey light. During his few days in a Folke station of the Regiment - which he joined on a poetic whim, and primarily to impress this girl who was all longing glances and unlikely promises - the men talked much about the skills of the garuda. It seemed only a talented archer stood a chance of deleting one from the skies.
Soldiers had checked his papers at the first and second gates. At the third they searched his bags, confiscated his weapons, and questioned him with an alarming intensity.

‘Sele of Jamur,’ Randur said. ‘So, then, what news here in the Sanctuary City?’

One of the guards replied, ‘Well, the mood ain’t good, to be honest. People ain’t happy. See a lot of miserable faces, both outside and in. Can understand it out there, like,’ he indicated the closed gates behind which huddled the refugees. ‘But in there they’ve got faces like slapped arses, the lot of ’em. They’re the ones who’re safe, too, miserable sods.’

‘Perhaps no one likes being trapped, even if it is for their own good,’ Randur speculated.

‘Hey, they’re free to fuck off any time,’ the guard grumbled. ‘Nah, it’ll bring more than just ice, this weather.’

After this final search, Randur continued through, and at last he found himself standing inside the Sanctuary City.

Whoever built Villjamur, or at least whoever designed its intricate shapes and eerily precise structures, could surely not have been a human. Garish buildings were coated with painted pebbles, whilst other oddities possessed coloured glass in the stonework so they glistened like fractured gems. Randur stared around in awe, not quite sure which way to go first. Possibilities grew exponentially. The chilling rain transformed into drizzle then began to stop. Fish was cooking in some far alleyway. Nearby, two signs said ‘firewood’. From the windows of one of the terraced houses, a couple of women started hanging out sheets. Two young men talked in some local hand-language, their sentences needing a gesture and a glance for completion. Ahead of him, roads branched on two sides, each leading uphill in a gradual arc, while pterodettes raced up the cliff faces looming in the distance. Kids were sliding on patches of ice in horizontal freefall. A couple walked by, the blonde woman much younger than the man, and he judged them ‘respectable’ by the quality of their clothing. Randur was tempted to make eye contact with the woman, and perhaps tease a reaction out of her. It seemed to matter, stealing a smile from that man’s life. Not just yet, though. He had only just arrived. He had a cultist to find.

* * *

In a top-floor bedroom, in one of the expensive balconied houses gracing the higher levels of Villjamur, a woman with a scarred face relaxed on top of a man who was still panting from his sexual exertions.

They kissed. Tongues slid across each other - only briefly, as it didn’t quite feel right, and she wasn’t sure which of them was causing that reaction. She pulled away, then clutched his chest, began playing with the grey hairs. His face was small, his features delicate, and his hands were rough, but at least they were touching her. Neither of them had ruined the sexual act with words, something she at least was grateful for. Meanwhile he continued to run his hands along her sides, rubbing her hip bones gently with his thumb, as if he had a fetish for the firm ridges of her body.

She pushed herself forward till her long red hair fell across his face. She then waited for him to brush it aside, and slowly, she could see the inevitable disappointment appear in his eyes, just as she had learned to notice it regularly over the last few years. At first his eyes remained fixed on hers. Then she saw his pupils clearly register the terrible blemish on the side of her exposed face. This one’s reaction isn’t so bad, she reflected. He had been a little drunk when they met, and his vision easily blurred. She had remained disappointed, though, in his overall ability to maintain his erection.

It always seemed to end up the same when she sought her own pleasure - something very different from when she was merely doing it for the money. Her job made it hard for her to meet normal men, certainly stopped her having a decent relationship. Her visible disfigurement didn’t help either, that blistering down the right side of her face.

But this was her night off, and she had wanted a fling to make her feel better. She so much wanted to feel close to someone, had wanted that for so long.

In her younger days, she had known the world was cruel, how people judged you by first appearances. How that childlike prejudice against the unnatural could continue into adulthood as people merely found a way of better hiding their revulsions.

She pushed herself off him slowly, and then reached for her dressing gown. Walking over to the window, she looked out across the spires and bridges of Villjamur as if she was now trying to put the greatest possible distance between the two of them. In the opposite corner of the room, covered canvases of various sizes were stacked against the wall. She could still smell the chemicals from the painting she had begun yesterday evening.

‘Wow,’ he said at last. ‘By Bohr, you’re amazing.’

She now gazed at the bruised skies hanging over the city, the last of the rain driving lightly across its architecture. Lifting the window sash, she could hear a cart being drawn across the cobbles, could smell the scent of larix trees from the forest to the north. She looked up and down Cartanu Gata and the Gata Sentimental, alongside the art gallery - a place where she doubted her own paintings would ever hang. People merged with shadows, as if they became one. Directly under her window, a man stumbled in and out of her vision, his sword scraping against the wall. For some reason she couldn’t understand, each of these qualities of the city merely heightened her sense of loneliness.

‘Your body . . . I mean, you move so well,’ he was saying, still praising her performance like they often did when it was clear they had little in common.

She eventually spoke. ‘Tundra.’


‘In the tavern, last night - the lines you used to get me back here. I suppose politicians are good with words. You said my body is like the tundra. You said I had perfect, smooth white skin, like drifts of snow. You even said that my breasts are as dramatic as the crests of snow banks. You admired my breasts and my smooth skin. You said I was like ice incarnate. Yes, you fed me lines as awful as that. But what about my face?’

She immediately ran her hand along her terrible scar.

‘I said you’re a very attractive woman.’

‘Horses can be attractive, councillor. She glanced back at him. ‘But what’s my face like?’

‘Your face is lovely, Tuya.’



He lifted his head up to take a better look at her as she dropped her gown to the floor. She knew what his reactions would be as the dreary light seemed to gather momentum on her bare skin. She reached over to a tabletop, picked up a roll-up of arum weed, but she waited until certain he was no longer looking at her before she lit it. The intense smell of its smoke wafted across the room, drifted out the window.

Still in vague shadow to his visions, she walked over to the bed, offered him the weed. He involuntarily grabbed her wrist, rubbed it gently between his fingers and thumb. His gaze was weak-willed and pathetic.

‘You’re beautiful,’ he said. ‘Delicious.’

‘Prove it, Councillor Ghuda,’ she said, climbing on his smile, watching him submit.

The roll-up fell to the floor, exploding ashes across the tiles.

* * *

Later, when he had fallen asleep again, she thought about their conversation just before he drifted off.

He talked a lot, which was unusual for a man after sex. She reflected deeply on what he had said, about the details that he had gone into.

He had shocked her.

A man in his important position should surely refrain from talking so much, but he was probably still rather drunk. They had been drinking vodka for much of the dawn. He didn’t leave her until the sun was higher in the vermilion sky, the city fully awake, and her breath sour from alcohol. When he did, there was no fond goodbye, no intimate gesture. He had simply slipped on his Council robes and walked out the door.

But it wasn’t his casual exit that caused her upset, it was the words he had spoken before he slept, those simple statements he had maybe or maybe not meant seriously.

Already his words were haunting her.

* * *

Afterwards, as he did frequently, Councillor Ghuda imagined his own cuckolding.

Four years ago it had started, four years since he realized, that he couldn’t invest all his emotions in one person, in his wife. He had caught her, Beula, in bed with her lips at work on a soldier from the Dragoons, and the image pursued him - his personal poltergeist - constantly undermining him. His sense of value in the world hung in the air like an unanswered question, and as a man he was unmade.

Sleeping with prostitutes helped his state of mind.

It was a fantasy, at first, an escape - then something more, a need for tenderness and cheap thrills with another woman. When he lost himself in the bad lines and the awkward over-stylized gestures, he managed to scramble something of an identity together. After the act, the women he paid for would watch him absent-mindedly whilst wiping themselves down with a towel to remove any traces of him from their body. These women would not love him, and the words they spoke were not their own, but Tuya, the woman from last night, seemed almost genuinely affectionate, as if in Villjamur, a city of introverts, two introverts could find a sense of belonging - if only for a night.

Ghuda looked up as the skies cleared, red sunlight now skidding off the wet cobbles, and the streets appeared to rust. He stepped from the shelter of the doorway into the relative brightness of the morning. He needed to get to the Council Spire to start the day’s work.

Whether it was a symptom of his guilt, he didn’t know, but he felt certain he was being watched. He never requested a guard to escort him anywhere, in fact usually slipped away before one might appear.

There was much to deal with for the day ahead. Primarily he had to deal with the increasing refugee problems: the labourers from elsewhere that were flocking to Villjamur to survive the coming ice age.

People were heading to the various irens to trade and shop, overseen by soldiers from the Regiment of Foot, who patrolled along the streets in pairs. It was a trenchant policy of safety he’d personally initiated to ease the citizens’ concern in these anxious times. You didn’t want general panic to set in, even though the public fear of crime was more intense than its current levels actually warranted.

Up the winding roads and passageways, he continued.

On the way he encountered an elderly man sitting on a stool with a sign beside him that said ‘Scribe - Discretion Guaranteed’. With one palm resting flat on the small table to one side, he sipped a steaming drink with a contented look on his face. There were quite a few of these men around the city, writing love letters or death threats on behalf of those who couldn’t write themselves, including those whose fingers had been broken by the Inquisition. Ghuda speculated on what he might write to Tuya, the redhead he had just spent the night with. What would he say to her? That he would like to fuck her some more because she was so good at it? That was hardly the basis of an ongoing relationship.

The incline had become a strain on Ghuda’s legs, so for a while he rested on a pile of logs heaped outside one of the terraced houses. Again, he had the uneasy sensation that someone was watching him. He looked around at the quiet streets, then up at the bridges. Perhaps someone was looking down at him.

He rose to go and heard footsteps behind him, running into the distance.

A short cut led through to an iren, a trading area located in a courtyard of stone. As he stepped through a high and narrow alleyway, seemingly endless, his heart began to beat a little faster.

He quickened his pace.

He burst out onto the busy iren . . .

Then he felt as if his chest had exploded and its contents were spilling onto the cobbles. Except it hadn’t, he was still in one piece, he was still alive, but he gaped down at the wound as it expanded, at his shredded robes exposing his flesh to the cold, damp air.

A truculent pain shot through him, and he screamed, trying to look behind him, but through welling eyes saw only a silhouette heading back, bizarrely upwards, into the darkness. He stumbled forwards, his hands clutching for wet stones, then began to spit blood on the ground. People were now crowding around him, watching wide-eyed, pointing. Sensing his life fluid filling the cracks between cobbles, the blood beetles came and began to smother him, till his screams could be heard amplified between the high walls of the courtyard. One even scurried into his mouth, scraping eagerly at his gums and tongue. He bit down so he wouldn’t choke, split its shell in two, and spat it out, but he could still taste its ichors.

Councillor Ghuda was violently febrile.

* * *

Standing outside a bistro with a rumbling stomach and a small pie raised in one hand, Randur watched the unsteady figure shamble towards him. People scrambled in fear, men holding their women protectively, as glossy beetles began to pullulate around the victim’s gaping wound.

Randur stepped aside into an alley by a gallery, too stunned now to take a first bite of the pie. A small child screamed and turned to run, while the dying man - eyes wide and aghast, and coughing blood - stumbled on into the same small passageway. He stared straight at Randur, hunching to his knees just paces away from him. He continued to howl as the insects ripped at his flesh, tossing it into the air in a fine pink mist. He fell forwards, and was silent.

Within moments, a banshee appeared into the passageway, as if she had been following the incident all this time. Cocooned in a shawl, her face was gaunt and striking against the untidy strands of jet-black hair. With a distant look in her eyes, she sucked in a deep breath, then began her keen, her mouth opening impossibly wide.

The sated blood beetles having scurried out of the passageway, a gathering crowd soon cast a shadow over the body. Randur having lost his appetite, handed the pie to an urchin in filthy rags.

‘Welcome to Villjamur,’ Randur muttered.

Win a copy of Ken Scholes' LAMENTATION

After awaiting for a review copy since last fall, for some reason I finally received two of them in the span of a few days. I'm giving one away, so the lucky winner can read it and see if Lamentation is indeed the SFF debut of 2009. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

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

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death

Have you ever wondered who is called upon the clean up a mess created by a man who blew his head up? Ever thought about who the cops call up when they are done with a crime scene? The sort of thing you don't see on CSI when the time comes to get rid of all the blood and gore? Well, for some unfathomable reason, author Charlie Huston not only asked himself those questions but he elected to write an entire novel on the messy subject. Not sure if that speaks well of him or not, but what the heck, right!?!

When the folks at Ballantine Books asked me to consider reviewing The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death, I was immediately intrigued by the premise. Charlie Huston made a name for himself with the Henry Thompson trilogy, the Joe Pitt casebooks, as well as his work on the Moon Knight comic book. This stand-alone was thus the perfect opportunity for me to sample his work.

The book follows the misadventures of Web, a former elementary school teacher who quit the profession following a traumatic event. Living off his only remaining friend, this lowrider and slacker extraordinaire is forced to accept a job as a trauma scene and waste cleaner to get out of debt. During a gig, Web meets a beatiful girl whose father just committed suicide by blowing his brains with a 9mm gun. Soon, he is drawn into the criminal underworld, and it's up to him to find a way to save the person who may or may not be his new girlfriend. And hopefully not die in the process. . .

There are quite a few particularly gruesome scenes in this book. Hence, reading the better part of this one during my lunch breaks at work wasn't the best idea I ever had. As Stephen King pointed out, Huston possesses a morbid sense of humor, and you'll surprise yourself by laughing at graphic scenes which should probably disturb you a bit.

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death is a balls-to-the-wall noir crime novel that hits you like a powerful dose of LSD. Better buckle up, for Charlie Huston takes the reader on quite a rollercoaster ride in this one.

At times the book reads like a movie script. Indeed, it's the dialogue which infuses this novel with so much black humor and energy. The format keeps the pace crisp and you'll reach the end before you know it.

My favorite aspect of Huston's writing was his ability to create a cast of bizarre yet lovable losers who each have a lot more depth than you think. Although the author revels in shocking the readers and taking them on a wild ride with countless twists and turns, there is a subtle human side to his writing that always shows up when you least expect it.

If you are becoming jaded with whatever genre you are reading, Charlie Huston's The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death could be what the doctor ordered.

Just don't read it while eating, or else you're bound to lose your appetite!

The final verdict: 7.5/10

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

Win an Advance Reading Copy of Robert V. S. Redick's THE RED WOLF CONSPIRACY

Since I already own the UK edition of this one, I'm giving away my US ARC of Robert V. S. Redick's fantasy debut, The Red Wolf Conspiracy. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

Scant years after a terrible war that shook empires, a six-hundred-year-old ship sets sail for enemy lands in an attempt to forge an enduring peace between the world’s two greatest monarchies. A vast city afloat, the ancient vessel bears a royal bride-to-be; a stowaway tribe of foothigh warriors; an honest young tarboy with a heritage of treason; a rat with a magical secret; and a dark conspiracy centered around the Red Wolf, a legendary and dangerous artifact.

When the conspiracy is uncovered, the voyage takes a turn into perilous waters, and the sword-wielding young bride and her quick-witted tarboy companion must face deadly assassins, treacherous mermaids, and monstrous slavers to uncover secrets at the highest levels of power—secrets that will send heroes and traitors alike careening towards a mysterious destination that could destroy both empires at a stroke.

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "CONSPIRACY." 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'm sick of all this crap. . .

Am I the only one who can't stand this shit anymore???

I mean, come on, man. This is getting old and it won't solve anything. Everyone can't wait to get their hands on George R. R. Martin's A Dance with Dragons (Canada, USA, Europe). Everyone knows GRRM is late and has been for months. Posts defending and condemning the author won't change anything. Personally, I've had more than enough of this ongoing online pissing contest. . .

And I'm not even taking sides here. I'm just fed up with all these pointless arguments. At least count your blessing. By remaining true to form, the Dallas Cowboys screwed up again this season, so George doesn't have to base a character on me and fit me into a scene where I can die horribly.

This latest round in the ongoing verbal sparring match between readers who are for or against GRRM began with a post by Shawn Speakman titled "In Defense of Georgr R. R. Martin." And following additional posts by Adam, Aidan, and more (you can find links to all of those in the next post), the now "infamous" grrrm responded with a post titled "In Offense of George R. R. Martin (and maybe Shawn)."

All of them present valid arguments, of course. But in the end, we are all still back on square one and we're not getting anywhere. So whether you are pro-George or a hater, this is all useless in the end.

Do I want George to finish A Dance with Dragons? Of course I do. But writing a book in a series that is already a landmark fantasy series is not like flipping burgers at McD's. And the detractors who say that they have given up on GRRM are deluding themselves. They can say they won't buy or read the book when it comes out if that helps them sleep at night. But like most fantasy fans, they'll get their copy as soon as it's released. And ADwD will debut at number 1 on the NYT list unless Dan Brown releases his next Robert Langdon novel on the same day. . .

I wish George would hurry it up a little, but not to get the book out faster. Just so all these fucking posts would end. . .

One would think that there's nothing else worthy of being read, inside and outside the genre. . .

New Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen trailer

This time in HD.

Looks good!

New UK cover art for Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn

Meant to post this like two weeks ago, but as is usually my wont I forgot all about it. My bad. . .

Like many, since the first links to these covers were from, I thought that these were the new North American covers. But after checking with the folks at Daw Books, I learned that this wasn't the case. They do plan to repackage the trilogy, but not now. And since then, Orbit confirmed that these were the new UK covers for the mass market paperback edition of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn.

Though I found the Otherland series superior, the fact remains that Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn is a "must read" series for all fantasy fans. Be sure to check it out, if you haven't already!

The new cover art looks great, but I will always have a soft spot for the originals!

- The Dragonbone Chair (Canada, USA, Europe)

- Stone of Farewell (Canada, USA, Europe)

- To Green Angel Tower part 1 (Canada, USA, Europe)

- To Green Angel Tower part 2 (Canada, USA, Europe)