Monday, June 30, 2008


My friend Harry, the proud owner of the review blog Temple Library Reviews, has a wonderful competition in which the winner will get a copy of the novel "Black Magic Woman", the first book in the Quincey Morris Supernatural Investigation series, written by Justin Gustainis.

Occult investigator Quincey Morris and his "consultant", white witch Libby Chastain, are hired to free a family from a deadly curse that appears to date back to the Salem witch trials. Fraught with danger, the trail finds them stalking the mysterious occult underworlds of Boston, San Francisco, New Orleans and New York, searching out the root of the curse. After surviving a series of terrifying attempts on their lives, the two find themselves drawn inexorably towards Salem itself - the very heart of darkness.

For more details and how to enter the competition you can visit Temple Library Reviews.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Cover art

Through my wandering on the Internet I've met yesterday another very good artist, Greg Staples.

Greg Staples was born in 1970 in Sheffield, UK. The beginning of his career is marked by the work at Judge Dredd comic books as an artist and illustrator. Besides working for 2000AD, the weekly British comic featuring Judge Dredd, DC Comics and Dark Horse, Greg Staples worked for the games company Wizards of the Coast. He was voted the best artist of 2005 by "Fantasy Magazine". He also made the cover for "The Hills Have Eyes: The Beginning" a title by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray and illustrated by John Higgins.

This year Del Rey will release a collection of short stories by Robert E. Howard, "The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard", which beside the cover art made by Greg Staples will feature a series of interior illustrations made by the artist and if I'm not mistaken will be 12 paintings, 10 black and white drawings and 45 spot illustrations.

I will also recommend a visit to his website where I found some excellent works that put in the spotlight the talent of Greg Staples (my favorites are "Hell's Caretaker", "Morrigan" and "Crusader").

Friday, June 27, 2008

"The Goonies"

Being in a nostalgic mood after finishing "The Shadow of the Wind" I’ve decided that it was time to see again one of my favorite movies, one that relaxes me a great deal, "The Goonies".

A group of misfits children, nicknamed The Gooines, are spending some time together depressed by the upcoming turn of their community land in a golf course. They spend their time in Mikey Walsh’s house and while they rummage through the attic they find a treasure map. The map shows the way to the hidden treasure of a 17th century pirate, One-Eyed Willie. They see in this the opportunity to save their neighborhood and to help their parents to keep their houses. They start an adventure that involves a family of criminals, a scary looking fellow, underground passages and pirates.

The movie was released in 1985 but it seems ageless. It is a delight for the children of all ages and I know that I have one inside me. The movie shows the adventure of a bunch of kids, but it reminds me of all the childhood days when my biggest worry was what game to play next. And it reminds me of those days when me and my friends dreamed only at adventures, we dreamed being the heroes we read about or we saw in the movies. “The Goonies” is a statement for friendship, for innocence and for believing in what seem impossible dreams. Watching and enjoying this movie again reminded me of one quote from another classical one involving children and the innocence of childhood, “Stand by Me”:
“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?”

Besides the adventure and the pace of the movie I really like the characters but one of them a little more, “Chunk”. He is a very funny character and I like his made up stories, I like his clumsiness and I loved the scene when the Fratellis threat to put his fingers in the mixer. Also his “truffle shuffle” is pretty amusing. I also love how Ma Fratelli, played by Anne Ramsey, hits her sons and I know that that hitting is a state of art further developed in “Throw Momma from the Train”.

I will always enjoy “The Goonies” and I know that it will always entertain the child in me and it will always cheer me up.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Format: Paperback, 512 pages
Publishers: Orion

"The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafón is fantasy. "The Shadow of the Wind" is horror. It is mystery, it is romance and above all it is absolutely lovely.

Mister Sempere, a librarian from Barcelona, takes his son, Daniel, to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Here, Daniel finds all the books in the world, which are forgotten and abandoned. Daniel has to adopt a book from the library and has to take care of it. He chooses “The Shadow of the Wind” by an unknown author, Julián Carax. But after his visit to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, Daniel finds out that a lot of people are in search for his adopted book. And from here he embarks in an adventure of a lifetime.

When I sat in front of my PC to write the review for Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s “The Shadow of the Wind” I thought that it will be the easiest I’ve written so far, but it proved to the most difficult one. The novel is a rollercoaster of emotions. If I remember exactly, I think that are about 8 years since a book made me cry, but this novel did that. Carlos Ruiz Zafón took me by the hand and showed me his museum of human emotions. In my journey in meeting his characters and their emotions, I’ve cried along with them, I’ve despair, I tasted bitterness, I laughed, I hoped, I dreamed with them. Sometimes the novel had such sadness that I was afraid that can be infectious, but I could find the treatment through the pages of the novel.

The characters of “The Shadow of the Wind” are great. They are very well made and seem real. When I read the novel, I’ve had moments when it seemed like the characters had stepped down from the pages of the novel and stood beside me, telling me their story. Every single character, major or minor, has his own story, a story that can make a new novel all on its own. I enjoyed the main character, the young Daniel, because sometimes I could identify him with me. In equal measure I enjoyed Fermín Romero de Torres, one of the best characters that I encountered in my reading. He is so complex and simple altogether, he is funny, he is serious and he is unique. He is an absolutely delicious character.

The story made by Carlos Ruiz Zafón is beautiful. He builds it with care, the story grows and took me in her depths. And when I believed that I could figure the entire mystery the author twists the story and gives the reader a completely new element that changes its course, until one point of the novel that stunned me and blew my mind in surprise. I can’t talk too much about the language used by the author, because I read a translation in Romanian of the original novel, but I’m convinced that the original descriptions and language is as good (if not better) as the Romanian version. The ironies and the humor made me burst into laughter and the descriptions made me see the images as if they were real.

And all these are written on the background of Barcelona. The city of Barcelona is described marvelously and as I read the novel it gave me the sensation that I saw a postcard, a moving postcard, of Barcelona in the 40s and 50s. In “The Shadow of the Wind” I could see a gothic Barcelona, with rainy, misty and even snowy days. I could see a Barcelona hurt by the Civil War and which tries to recover from the wounds made by war. I could see the author’s love for Barcelona and as Fermín says:
“This city is a witch, you know, Daniel? It creeps under your skin and steals your soul without your notice.”
I’ve been to Barcelona and I can testify that this affirmation is quite true. And this novel deepened my love for this great city.

“The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafón is a breathtaking read. I picked up the book and after that with difficulty I put it down until the end. It made me want to see Barcelona again, it made me want to read more works of Carlos Ruiz Zafón and it climbed up dizzily in my personal favorite list.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"The EC Archives: Tales from the Crypt, Volume 1"

"The EC Archives: Tales from the Crypt, Volume 1"
by Al Feldstein, Wally Wood, Johnny Craig, Graham Ingels, Jack Kamen
Format: Hardcover, 212 pages

Before 1989 in my country comic books were almost inexistent. You could find in rare occasions some French comic books, "Pif et Hercule" and "Rahan", but besides those almost nothing. After the 1989 revolution the situation didn't change much, but you can see now an improvement. You can find now English titles, translated or with the possibility to order them from abroad. When I got the chance to read and review "Tales from the Crypt" you can understand my joy.

The volume gathers the first complete 6 issues of "The Crypt of Terror" and "Tales from the Crypt" in excellent conditions and in a great book. I was familiar with "Tales from the Crypt", but I saw only one issue until now. But this volume, besides the stories of the first 6 issues, gathers information about the creators of these comics, about the process of creation and about the innovations brought in the comic books art. So this volume besides the comic books is also a great source of information regarding "Tales from the Crypt".

The comic books art is a classical one. I really enjoy the art from "Tales from the Crypt" and even though it is not like the present art from the comic books or graphic novels, denying its value is like denying the movie "Casablanca". These classic comics remain in the top of their line and they have that unique flavor of the old and beautiful things. And you can see its value in the limited possibilities of its time, the limited options for color, equipment and print. In an excellent article I could find out about the coloring made for these comic books, the method used then and the great amount of work that was necessary in realizing it. Also it was interesting to find the evolution of the comic book name and of the Crypt logo.

The stories have all the horror themes, werewolves (like "Curse of the Full Moon!"), vampires (like "Blood Type V!"), ghosts (like "Ghost Ship!" and "Zombie!"), monsters (like "The Thing from the Sea!"), murders (like "Impending Doom!" and "Death's Turn!"). But all the stories have delightful ironies and unexpected ends for their protagonists. And those ironic ends contribute successfully to my entertaining. My favorite stories are: "The Maestro's Hand!" (a doctor that contributes to the death of his love rival, but who will find his death by a surprising hand), "A Fatal Caper!" (in which a joke can turn ugly, and who will laugh at the protagonists?) and "Death Suited Him!" (be careful what you are wearing because it might not suite you).

"The EC Archives: Tales from the Crypt, Volume 1" was a very fun and entertaining read, a foray in the history of comic books and I will certainly look to read the next volumes of the collection, too.

Monday, June 23, 2008

2008 Locus Awards

The winners of the 2008 Locus Awards have been announced this Saturday, 21 June 2008. This year winners are:
SF Novel: "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" by Michael Chabon
Fantasy Novel: "Making Money" by Terry Pratchett
Young Adult Novel: "Un Lun Dun" by China Miéville
First novel: "Heart-Shaped Box" by Joe Hill
Novella: "After the Siege" by Cory Doctorow
Novelette: "The Witch's Headstone" by Neil Gaiman
Short Story: "A Small Room in Koboldtown" by Michael Swanwick
Collection: "The Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories" by Connie Willis
Anthology: "The New Space Opera" by Gardner Dozois & Jonathan Strahan (Editors)
Non-Fiction: "Breakfast in the Ruins" by Barry N. Malzberg
Art Book: "The Arrival" by Shaun Tan
Editor: Ellen Datlow
Magazine: F & SF
Publisher: TOR
Artist: Charles Vess


Saturday, June 21, 2008

In the mailbox

I recently received the following books:

- "Night of Knives" by Ian C. Esslemont (through the courtesy of Transworld UK)
- "Acacia" by David Anthony Durham (through the courtesy of Transworld UK)
- "30 Days of Night" by Tim Lebbon (through the courtesy of Tim Lebbon)
- "Mind the Gap" by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon (through the courtesy of Christopher Golden and Bantam Spectra)
- "Foundling" by D.M. Cornish (through the courtesy of David Fickling Books)
- "Lamplighter" by D.M. Cornish (through the courtesy of David Fickling Books)
- "Paper Cities" edited by Ekaterina Sedia (through the courtesy of Senses Five Press)

I want to thank everybody for their amability and for the books I've received.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Book Tag

Ken which runs his very cool blog, Neth Space, tagged me, thank you Ken, and the tag goes like this:

Grab the nearest book and turn to page 123. Write down the fifth sentence, post it, and then tag 5 others to do this.

This tag is the first one for me and I'm kind of excited about it. But I hope you can keep a secret, I'm at work right now and I sneaked my book in. The sentence is from "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I don't guarantee for her accuracy because it is translated by me since I have the Romanian edition of the book:

"The window facing the interior court was covered with the yellowed pages of a newspaper."

Now I know that I'm a little late at this tag and I've seen that almost everybody I know got tagged, but I''l do it anyway:

- Fantasy Book Critic
- The Book Swede
- Temple Library Reviews
- Val's Random Comments
- Ugolino's Teeth

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Interview Peadar Ó Guilín

Peadar Ó Guilín is the author of the several short stories published in magazines, e-zines and anthologies like "Adventures in Swords and Sorcery", "Black Gate", "Walk on the Dark Side" and "Weird Tales: The 21st Century, Volume 1". He published his first novel, the excellent "The Inferior", in September last year. Peadar Ó Guilín was very kind to answer my questions for the following interview.

Dark Wolf: Hi Peadar, thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions.
Considering the many notions present in your novel, "The Inferior" and the presentation made on the cover that the novel has echoes of Tarzan, Conan and the Truman Show can you tell us, please, where did the idea for your book come from?
Peadar Ó Guilín: Oh, bits of it come from all over the place, I'm sure. But the seed was planted many years ago during a strange dream I had. A number of creatures were hunting me for food and I knew - in the way you always "know" things in dreams - that if I managed to catch one of them, I could eat it instead.

Dark Wolf: As a reader do you enjoy the same genre as those you prefer as a writer? What are the works and the authors which you enjoy? Did anyone in particular influence your work?
Peadar Ó Guilín: I grew up as a fanatical reader of Science Fiction and Fantasy. "The Hobbit" was the first book to really light a spark in me, but there were a great many other authors I enjoyed. At school, my favorite was Harry Harrison, especially his "Death World" books. I loved Bob Shaw too. And yet, if you were to pick one influence on "The Inferior" that is stronger than all the others, it would probably have to be the writings of Brian Aldiss. It certainly wasn't intentional on my part, but looking at the world I made, echoes of "Hothouse" and "Helliconia" are everywhere to be found.
These days, my favorite authors are people like George R.R. Martin, Neal Stephenson and R. Scott Bakker, but the influences on my writing still seem to derive more from the books I read as a teen.

DW: I’ve seen that you had some short fictions written, but which one is your favorite, the short fiction or the long one?
PÓG: I like them both pretty much equally. However, it has to be said that if you want to make a living out of fiction, you'd better be writing novels. Even so-called professional pay rates for shorter works would leave you feeding your family on boiled-grass soup.
But knowing this didn't stop me writing short stories. I always thought that their quicker turnaround times would make them an ideal tool for learning to write and I think it worked, at least for me.
Among the many lessons learned was the fact that it's not good enough to send off a manuscript that isn't as perfect as you can make it. I'm a lazy sod and it took me dozens of magazine rejections to fully grasp that point.
When you're writing and rewriting a novel, you can become very needy. You're desperate for somebody to validate all the hard work you've put into it as soon as possible and it's hard to overcome the temptation to submit it while it's still too raw for an editor to digest. My whole short-story education gave me the strength to avoid that mistake.

DW: Considering that the fantasy genre starts so many controversies and the fact that “The Inferior” has many fantasy elements, do you think that this genre of literature is underappreciated?
PÓG: To be honest, I don't care about these controversies. My goal is to have my readers love my books; to become, some day, their favorite author. I also want to make a living doing my dream job. I want to go to conventions and make friends with people who speak my language. Beyond that, I'm not too worried about so-called mainstream recognition. I'm having fun.

DW: In your novel the communication between races can be a problem. But in real world the humans regardless of their origins can find a common point, one being the literature. How do you feel knowing that your novel travels the world and is read in different countries?
PÓG: It feels pretty amazing. I'm looking forward to seeing "The Inferior" appear in Russian, Japanese and Korean. It's the whole 'alien' alphabet thing :-)

DW: I’ve seen that you are a constant presence on the Internet, on forums, blogs, websites etc. Do you think that in a fantastic scenario that mankind can adapt to a way of life that resembles the one from “The Inferior”?
PÓG: Well, in a way, that's what the book is all about. Could we adapt? How far would we have to sink in order to survive? You've seen my answers to that in the events that occur in the novel, but as for the moral implications of hunting sentient aliens for food, I can only provide more questions.

DW: The characters of your novel are almost exclusively carnivores. Do you prefer meat or vegetables?
PÓG: An interesting question. I eat both, but I do wonder if it's justifiable to be carnivorous in this day and age.

DW: I really liked the variety of species in your novel; do you plan to develop one of them in particular or to introduce new ones?
PÓG: I have to be careful about spoilers here. But it's likely there will be a bit of both.

DW: Your novel is marked as Young Adult but has many harsh scenes of hunting, of cannibalism. Would you recommend your book to young readers or to the older ones?
PÓG: I would recommend it to anybody who is ready for it. The 14 year old Peadar would have absolutely loved this book - I know that much. I've also had mail from plenty of young readers who feel the same.
On the other hand, I've come across a few adults who were turned off by the horror of the situation. Maybe they understood the implications of it more fully than the younger readers and were appalled by it.

DW: Did the publication of “The Inferior” change your life?
PÓG: Yes. It paid for the deposit on my house. I'd never have been able to afford that otherwise. It allowed me to work part time so that I could dedicate two days a week to writing.

DW: I know that you said that “The Bone World” almost certainly will be a trilogy. Can you reveal us something from the future two novels of your trilogy?
PÓG: I'm afraid not, although there's been a lot of very perceptive speculation on certain web-sites. What I can say, is that I haven't forgotten about Wallbreaker.

DW: Have you thought about what you’re going to do after the publication of “The Bone World Trilogy”? Do you plan to write something else?
PÓG: Oh yes. I want to be writing for the rest of my life. Even then, I suspect I'll die with a drawer full of unused ideas.

Thank you very much Peadar for your time, your answers and your amiability.
Thank you :-)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Comic Book: "Necronomicon"

This August BOOM! Studios will release a new mini-series of four issues, „Necronomicon”, in which the writer William Messner-Loebs and the artist Andrew Ritchie will reveal the origins of legendary author H.P.Lovecraft’s book of knowledge. Over at Comic Book Resources you can find two very captivating articles, in the first one, William Messner-Loebs Opens the “Necronomicon”, the writer talks about the future title and in the second one, Portrait of Cthulhu as an Old God: Woodward & Ritchie on “Necronomicon”, the artist and the cover illustrator, J.K. Woodward, talk about the forthcoming release. The articles kept my full attention, with glimpses of the story and of the images, and with excellent cover arts. Also I really liked one very original method used by J.K. Woodward in creating his covers:

“So I put a lot of decomposition, textures, anything that would visually bring out this look of decay. On one of the covers, I actually lit some scrap paper on fire and put it out with coffee, crumpled it up, dried it in the sun, scanned it in and applied it as a texture to the corners of my painting. It gave me just the look I wanted and it was fun to do! It's not art if you're not making a mess.”

I already put this title on my shopping list.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"The Inferior" by Peadar Ó Guilín

"The Inferior"
Format: Hardback, 448 pages

The debut novel of Peadar Ó Guilín, "The Inferior", received many positive reviews since the publication so I was very curious about his book. And I will start by saying that all those reviews are well deserved.

A Tribe of humans has to hunt on an almost every day basis to feed all his members, and if the hunters are not active than the only way to keep the food supply is by trading with the species which have a pact with the humans. When it comes to trading the weaker members of the Tribe have to "Volunteer" so that the exchange might provide food to their families. Stopmouth, a member of the Tribe, is considered disabled by the other humans because of his stuttering, but he is considered a valuable hunter too. Gone to hunt one day he sees one of the Globes that fly on the Roof of his world explode and a strange human falls from the sky. From here the entire Stopmouth's life is changing. Betrayed by his brother he has to flee along with Indrani, the woman which fell from the Globe, and Rockface, his friend.

Peadar Ó Guilín's novel is a captivating one. It has a lot of action which held me from the beginning and didn't release me until the end. Life in the Tribe is a constant battle for survival and the events surrounding the Tribe and the main character, Stopmouth, occur in a rapid succession. The author manages to properly tie the chain of events so the storyline is constantly developing.

I really like how Peadar Ó Guilín used the language. Stopmouth, Rockface and the other humans from the Tribe sound simple like their way of living. You can see this simple behavior in the names used by the humans to call themselves, the other species or the places they know. I really liked some expressions created by the author and used by the characters, for example "he still had a thousand days in him" (he still had years to live) or "jump the fire with me" (marry me), and of this expressions you are able to see how the author used the language in his characters creation. I really liked the main characters too. Stopmouth is well build and he made me care for him and follow his adventures with great interest. He is not a hero in the classical way and his feelings and fears make him more human and much closer to the reader. Rockface, Indrani and Wallbreaker are interesting and well build also.

The world-building is good. Although it leaves me wondering about its background, I easily overcome this minor issue. That is because the world is reach, besides the humans it is populated by many other interesting species. And here the author does a great job too, each race having his own characteristics, his own way of fight and hunt and his own behavior. The species range from the weaker ones, like Flim, to the most vicious ones, like Longtongues and Diggers. Also my minor issue with the world-building is easily overcome considering that "The Inferior" is the first novel in a trilogy and I believe that the author will develop further this world.

"The Inferior" is a great, interesting and enjoyable read, which I really loved. The bad part is that, it is putting my patience to a test, because I can't wait to read the next novels in the series.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Cover art

With the help from Larry, the nice guy that runs OF Blog og the Fallen and a great source for new and interesting books, I found out about a new artist, Alejandro Terán. Checking out his works I was absolutely impressed and I have added a new artist on my favorite list.

Alejandro Terán was born in 1974 in Leon, Spain. He studied at the Arts College of Salamanca and has won many prizes. Above you can see the cover art made by Alejandro Terán for the books: "Libros de Sangre" ("Books of Blood") by Clive Barker, "A Punta de Espada" ("Swordspoint") by Ellen Kushner and "La Espada del Destino" ("The Sword of Destiny") by Andrzej Sapkowski. Be sure to check his website for more great works.

Later edit:
I must apologize because due to a misunderstanding I made a mistake regarding the artwork for the Andrzej Sapkowski's "La Espada del Destino" ("The Sword of Destiny"). The artwork is made by Alejandro Colucci and the lettering by Alejandro Teran.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

"Falling Off the World" by Tim Lebbon

At the Fantasy Book Spot you can find a Tim Lebbon's story, "Falling Off the World". The story is one the stories that will be published in the forthcoming anthology "The Second Humdrumming Book of Horror Stories" selected by Ian Alexander Martin and published by Humdrumming.

The story pictures the journey of a girl, Holly, that accidentally (or not?) gets wrapped in a balloon rope and that balloon flies loose. Now, I have to start by saying that the story is a strange one, but it leaves you thinking nonetheless. The story is like reading a strange adaptation of the scene from "The Wizard of Oz" when Dorothy is taken by the tornado, Dorothy being replaced here by Holly and the tornado by the balloon. The story made me think at the one of the most common dreams of humans, falling dreams and at one of the greatest fears of humans, the fear of heights. Also, the title made me think of death, falling off the world may be synonymous with death, or with the disappearance from the face of the planet.

I liked the beginning of the story, well made, with sensation of motion very realistic and very well created. I also liked a quote that pictures the night like a blackboard where the events of the upcoming day will be written:
"Lying in bed at home, clouds covering the sky, streetlights turning off at midnight, she had always imagined darkness to be a blanked canvas of history upon which the new day could be drawn."

Even though the story is strange and I didn't get all of it, it made me curious about other Tim Lebbon's works and about the other stories that will be gathered in "The Second Humdrumming Book of Horror Stories".

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

In the mailbox

This week things run a little slow, tiring week at work, the European Championship, with a very dissapointing match made by Romania, a game made without courage and a burglary attempt on my car, nothing stolen but the right side door is damaged. Still I had some happy moments too, with new books received:

- "Havemercy" by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett (through the courtesy of Jaida Jones and Bantam Spectra);
- "The Wizard Lord" by Lawrence Watt-Evans (through the courtesy of Lawrence Watt-Evans and TOR);
- "The Ninth Talisman" by Lawrence Watt-Evans (through the courtesy of Lawrence Watt-Evans and TOR);
- "The Summer Palace" by Lawrence Watt-Evans (through the courtesy of Lawrence Watt-Evans and TOR);
- "Feast of Souls" by C.S. Friedman (through the courtesy of C.S. Friedman and DAW Books);
- "The Time of Terror" by Seth Hunter (through the courtesy of Headline Review).

Thank you very much.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

British Fantasy Society Awards 2008

The British Fantasy Society announced the list of nominees for the BFS Awards 2008. The full list has a total of 188 nominees for the following categories: Best Novel (August Derleth Fantasy Award - 39 titles), Best Novella (24 titles), Best Short Fiction (48 titles), Best Collection (9 titles), Best Anthology (17 titles), Best Artist (18 names), Best Small Press (25 publishers) and Best Non-Fiction (8 titles). Also there will be two additional awards, "Karl Edward Wagner Special Award" and "Sydney J. Bounds Best Newcomer". The comprehensive list, that you can find at the British Fantasy Society site, includes names like Richard Bachman (I wonder who is he? :)), Clive Barker, Joe Hill, Tim Lebbon, J.R.R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien, Steven Erikson and Lucius Shepard, just to name a few. The BFS Awards 2008 will be presented at Fantasycon 2008, that will take place between 19th and 21st September 2008 at Britannia Hotel in Nottingham.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

"The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper" by Maxim Jakubowski and Nathan Braund

"The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper"
by Maxim Jakubowski and Nathan Braund
Format: Paperback, 512 pages

One of the greatest mysteries of the world is that of the identity of Jack the Ripper. When I was a child I saw a movie about Jack the Ripper and since then I'm more than curious about this subject. "The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper" by Maxim Jakubowski and Nathan Braund gathers a great amount of information on the subject and some theories on the case.

The first part of the book offers us a good view on the events that occured in 1888 in the Whitechapel area of London. This section of the book introduces us the victims, the suspects, the police investigation and the events. This section offers the complete events arranged in chronological order, the facts of the case and the background of the victims. Also here we will find other information such as the witness declarations, police views completed with some autopsy reports and the Jack the Ripper's letters received by the police, the "Dear Boss" letter, the "Saucy Jack" postcard and the "From Hell" letter.

The second part of the book is composed by different theories made by Ripperologists. Their essays on the subject talk about different theories and research made on the identity of Jack the Ripper, pointing to one of the suspects which the author of the essay believe to be the true Jack the Ripper, with some of them pointing the same suspect. Also we find essays in which the author talks about his passion for the subject, about the researches made by him and about his theory on the identity of Jack the Ripper. Some of them write essays different from the general line and talk about a diary of Jack the Ripper, about a political conspiracy and about the opinion of the mystery novels author, Patricia Cornwell, on the case.

At the end of the book you'll find a list of books and movies about Jack the Ripper gathered in Bibliography and Filmography sections. I know that the true identity of Jack the Ripper remains and I think will remain a mystery, but Maxim Jakubowski and Nathan Braund's book is an excellent source for information on the case and anybody interested in Jack the Ripper will find all the needed information in "The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper".

Friday, June 6, 2008

Little pleasures

Now I know that this post walks on another path than my usual posts, but as you've seen here besides fantasy literature I'm a lover of fantasy art too. I have to tell you that a possible explanation can be that I grew up in a house were art was at her home. My mother's greatest passion is painting, although she doesn't have much time to paint nowadays, and my father was a drawing teacher, now retired.

One of my every day pleasures are offered by Google, when they change the letters of their heading with pictures that symbolize an event of the respective day. I will digress a little now and I will tell you that in John Joseph Adams' anthology, "Wastelands", that I read this year one story has something regarding this subject. In Cory Doctorow's "When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth" the main character, caught in an apocalyptic event, googles at one point of the story and finds the Os from Google replaced by two mushroom clouds of an atomic bomb (creepy!). So, today Google offers us the pleasure of meeting Diego Velázquez with the help of another very nice header.

My parents have an album with Velázquez's paintings and I really love his works. The Google header appears because the painter was born on June 6, 1599. He was born in Seville, Spain, his full name is Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez, but he's commonly known as Diego Velázquez and he was an important portrait artist and the leading painter in the court of King Philip IV. He died in Madrid on August 6, 1660. You can find an excellent biography of the painter on Wikipedia.

Speaking of art, at SF Signal you can find an excellent article in which several artists talk about "The 'Responsability' of Cover Art".

Thursday, June 5, 2008

"Ravenous" by Ray Garton

Format: Paperback, 342 pages
Publisher: Leisure Fiction

Ray Garton has more than 20 novels published and he was nominated for the Bram Stoker award in 1988, for his novel "Live Girls". "Ravenous" is my first intersection with Ray Garton's works.

The Californian town Big Rock has a problem with a serial rapist. When Emily Crane, a local police receptionist, is raped by a half-human being and she kills him, the town's problem is not solved, but it's getting worse. Although Emily Crane kills her attacker, the sheriff Arlin Hurley sees him walking out from the morgue. After that the madness is starting and Sheriff Hurley will be surprised to find out that his town has a werewolf's infestation.

Ray Garton steps outside the werewolves stories boundaries. He depicts them in a different light, picturing his werewolves not as a lonely and unfortunate human, but as a pack of savage and soulless beasts. Also in Garton's novel the lycanthropy is not transmitted through bite as usual in this kind of stories, but is rather a sexual transmitted disease.

The pace of the novel is pretty good, although "Ravenous" starts and ends in a fast pace, but throughout the novel it slows down. The characters are rather flat, missing an in depth description and they doesn't attract too much. Daniel Fargo, the werewolf hunter, is also a common figure and it reminds me too much of Van Helsing. On the other hand, the community of Big Rock is well build, with realistic problems and activities. The end of the novel has an illogical situation in my opinion, but I will not get into details because in that case I will spoil your read.

Sometimes all the action of the novel seems only an excuse for sex scenes. Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with sex scenes, I know that this scenes are an important part of modern novels and I remember that in my school days we had a book at the library that had hints of a sexual scene and everybody read that part, so when the book was opened it opened at that exact page because of the multiple use. Like I said in "Ravenous" lycanthropy is a sexual transmitted disease but the sex scenes are too many and some of them without an obvious relevance to the story.

"Ravenous" despite his flaws is a fun horror read that you can take in vacations or at the beach and Ray Garton has the merit of coming up with new ideas in werewolves stories.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Cover art

Subterranean Press will release this fall an edition of Orson Scott Card's fantasy novella, "Stonefather". They published on their site the cover art of the edition, an excellent work made by Tom Kidd. As the article states Tom Kidd will have some interior pen-and-ink illustrations, too. I really like the cover art and I can only imagine the interior art, so I can't wait to see the illustrations.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Todd Lockwood about Fantasy

I know that this subject isn't new and every time it has much debate around him. Nowadays you can find a thread, over at SFF World, that talks about being ashamed for reading fantasy. I'll say again this, altough you may know that already, I love fantasy because it has no boundaries, because it lets the imagination run free and because like George R.R. Martin says "The best fantasy is written in the language of dreams". And I'm not ashamed to admit that my main reading material comes from fantasy.

But I discovered yesterday that the same debate is around fantasy art too. It seems that fantasy art is treated equally with fantasy literature, I mean underappreciated. Over at Todd Lockwood's blog (one of the best artists and one that among other things gives us such a joy with his excellent cover arts) I found a very interesting answer for those who reject fantasy, art in this particular case and the entire concept in general.

Here are two quotes that filled my heart with joy:

"What we lose by dismissing Fantasy is huge. The genre is metaphor..."
"Fantasy art is about the ineffable, secret heart of human existence that our stories and cultures have sought to define for millennia. It is about Discovery."

The article is called "Red-Headed Step Child" and, like I said, you can find it at Todd Lockwood's blog.