Saturday, January 31, 2009

In the mailbox

I am always happy when I receive books and it almost always brightens my day. I am expecting a package next week that certainly will make me very happy, a Romanian publishing house made an almost unbelievable cost reduction and I got 10 books (some of them hardcover) at the price of a little more than 2 $ each. But here are some of my latest received books, although one of them I received it for some time now, but I haven’t got the chance to thank its sender properly until now.

- "The Reach of Children" by Tim Lebbon (through the courtesy of Tim Lebbon);
- "The Crown Conspiracy" by Michael J. Sullivan (through the courtesy of Robin Sullivan and Michael J. Sullivan);
- "Twelve" by Jasper Kent (through the courtesy of Jasper Kent and Bantam Press UK);
- "Heaven's Bones" by Samantha Henderson (through the courtesy of Samantha Henderson);
- "EON: Rise of the Dragoneye" by Alison Goodman (through the courtesy of Alison Goodman and David Fickling Books);
- "The Suicide Collectors" by David Oppegaard (through the courtesy of David Oppegaard and St. Martin's Press);
- "Johnny Gruesome" by Gregory Lamberson (through the courtesy of Gregory Lamberson).

Thank you all very much!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fantasy Art - Les Edwards/Edward Miller

© The artwork presented on this post is used with the permission of its author. All the artwork is copyrighted. Please do not use the images without the permission of the artist or owner.

Les Edwards is a professional illustrator, with a great career of over 35 years, and renowned for his fantasy, horror and science fiction illustrations. He studied at Hornsey College of Art from 1968 to 1972 and after graduation he was recruited by the Young Artists Agency. Besides the huge number of book jackets and covers made in Fantasy, Horror and Science Fiction genres Les’ wonderful career gathers works produced in film and gaming industry, advertising campaigns and movie posters for John Carpenter’s “The Thing” and Clive Barker’s “Nightbreed”. Les Edwards also illustrated two graphic novels based on stories by Clive Barker, “Son of Celluloid” and “Rawhead Rex”. Recently Les started to work under the pseudonym Edward Miller for a more different style of art. Les Edwards’ talent, and Edward Miller’s as well, was recognized and rewarded through time with 7 British Fantasy Award for Best Artist, nominated 5 times for the World Fantasy Award (winning it in 2008 as Edward Miller) and nominated 5 times for the Chesley Award. Les Edwards was the Guest of Honor at the 2005 World Science Fiction Convention.

Interview - Les Edwards

Dark Wolf: Les, thank you very much for the opportunity of this interview.
Your biography states that you were advised that you would never be an illustrator, but what attracted you toward art in the first place? Do you remember the first attempt to manifest your lack of talent? :)
Les Edwards: I can't remember a time when I didn't draw. It was something that came naturally to me and I think I assumed when I was very young that everyone could do it. I was forever drawing the things that excited me at the time like movies or comic strips. When I went to Art School I was told that it was too difficult to become an illustrator and I should stick to graphic design. It was the general opinion among the teaching staff and they said the same thing to most students. They were partly right because it is a very insecure existence.

Dark Wolf: You start studying at the Hornsey College of Art in a tumultuous year in the history of college, 1968, and I know that in that period many artists visited the college. Did you met with such an artist that later influenced your work? Did other artists inspire and influence your career?
Les Edwards: It was certainly a very interesting time in '68. My most abiding memory is that the person chosen to deal with the college “troubles” was Lord Longford. He was well known as an anti-pornography campaigner and, later, as the champion of Myra Hindley, a notorious child murderer. Although he was well meaning I can't think of anyone less likely to have been able to deal with a bunch of disaffected students. Sadly I don't think I learned much at college which was of use in later years.

Dark Wolf: In your long and inspiring career you worked in different genres. Which one is your favorite one? Do you feel more attracted by the fantastic themes than by the more realistic ones?
Les Edwards: I still think that Horror is my favourite genre, although there is less and less Horror being published today. Most of what there is seems to be aimed at teenagers, which I am not, and it's usually some sort of TV tie-in. There are some great Horror writers around still but the major publishers seem uninterested in them. I've always been attracted to the strange and the bizarre in any form so it was natural for me to gravitate towards the fantastic genres. However I do occcasionaly like to paint something more realistic. It's all painting after all which is what I really like.

DW: You have a great number of pieces produced in the Fantasy, Sci-Fi and Horror genres. Is your interest in these genres only professional or is a more personal one? Do you enjoy these genres outside art as well?
LE: I do read Science Fiction and Horror, although not exclusively, and I tend not to read much in the way of “High Fantasy” these days, although some of the things I've read in that field for work recently have been truly excellent. It's not that I don't like High fantasy, it's just that it seems to have slipped under my radar in recent years.

DW: Your Horror pieces are part of your “Red Period” part of your career. May I ask what the “Red Period” is? And how did it manifest?
LE: The “Red Period” is a joke because I went through a time when there was a lot of blood in my paintings. For a while publishers seemed to compete to see who could have the goriest covers. It didn't last very long but I used to joke about buying extra large tubes of red paint. I think I'm in a “Blue Period” now.

DW: Many books covers and jackets benefit from your work. Can you tell me what such a work involves? Do you talk to the authors as well for a better result?
LE: Ideally I will be given a manuscript to read and will come up with a few ideas from that. More often, especially with the larger publishers, I will be given pretty strict instructions about what image is to go on the cover. This has usually been decided by a committee. Obviously I prefer to work in the former manner which is why I like working for the independent publishers. They tend to be more flexible. I occasionaly talk to the author, which I enjoy, but it doesn't happen too often and I have the impression that the big publishers positively discourage it.

DW: You made some wonderful pieces for smaller publishing houses. But for which one do you prefer to work for the smaller or the big names of publishing?
LE: Both have their advantages. I like the independents because they are happy to give me much more freedom, but, of course their fees don't compare with the larger publishers. I think that is gradually changing though. The big publishers are much more restrictive and usually insist that you do exactly as they instruct you.

DW: I’ve seen on your portfolio a few works made with the digital tools. How different is working with these tools? Do you prefer the traditional way (oil, acrylics, pencil) to the digital ones?
LE: I still prefer traditional tools although I do enjoy playing around on the computer. I can't quite think of it in the same way. The possibilities are endless with digital tools and you don't need the discipline that is required for, say, oil paint because the computer will let you do anything. Obviously you can create wonderful effects in the digital medium which you could never achieve with traditional methods. There is some beautiful work being created by digital artists but I find that I enjoy the restrictions that real paint imposes on you.

DW: Your work seems focused on portrait. Do you prefer working on portraits than on landscapes or scenes? Is the work on a portrait more challenging than the one on scenes?
LE: I certainly enjoy portraits and I do tend to concentrate on faces because that's where we see character and emotion. Perhaps I should have been a portrait painter. For a long time I felt that I didn't really understand landscapes. In a way I thought that I didn't know what the rules were. However it's just a difficult to create a good landscape as it is to paint a convincing portrait. It's just that you have to concentrate on different things.

DW: One of your passions is fencing. When painting a fighting scene does your passion for fencing help? Does your fencing experience help you make a more realistic scene?
LE: There is a big difference between Fencing as a sport and real combat and an even bigger one between either of those and what you see in the movies. What you see on screen is meant to look good but is usually hopelessly unrealistic. However, looking good is just what you need for a painting so no “real” Fencing gets into my work; it just wouldn't look right. I do have an interest in arms and armour though, so I try to make my weapons look realistic and practical. Some of the weaponry you see in fantasy art is pretty hilarious.

DW: You illustrated two graphic novels based on stories by Clive Barker. What involves the work on a graphic novel? How much different is such a project than the creation of a single piece?
LE: Steve Niles, who adapted Clive Barker's stories for the Graphic Novel medium, supplied me with a detailed break-down of each page and, as I'd never worked in comics before, I was very happy to follow his suggestions. I would draw up a page in the way I wanted the panels to be arranged and then just paint each individual panel. Obviously you can't put in as much detail as you might in a single piece and I learned that the hard way. Some panels need more work than others and some are just there to progress the story. Frank Miller is a master at this, and if you look closely at his work you'll see what I mean. Also it's important to remember that you are telling a story and that's what's important. Artistic “showing off” is not a good idea; your artwork should help the story along and not get in the way. I learned a lot doing those books and I'd like to have another go at it one day.

DW: You also have worked on film and gaming productions. What new satisfactions brought you these work experiences? Would you like to work again on these fields?
LE: I like to be involved in different fields because I've always wanted to do a wide variety of work and it's always interesting to meet a new group of people and perhaps, reach a wider audience. The really important thing to me though is painting, so it's not all that important what area I'm working in as long as I can keep doing that.

DW: I know that you gathered your works in a book, “Blood and Iron”. Is there a chance for the lovers of your works to have a new book containing your works?
LE: There are no definite plans for a new book but it's an idea that crops up from time to time. Part of the difficulty would be finding a publisher as books of that kind rarely make any money. I'd really like to do a book featuring the best of Les Edwards and Edward Miller.

DW: Why did you choose to adopt the pseudonym Edward Miller?
LE: Edward Miller was invented because, as Les Edwards, I was very well known for doing a particular kind of work. I felt that I wanted to branch out into different areas but most clients only thought of me as a ”Horror” illustrator. The idea was that Edward could work in a different way and not have the Les Edwards “baggage”. Clients would have no preconceived ideas.

DW: What differences are in the works of Les Edwards and Edward Miller? When do you decide that a particular work is made by Edward Miller?
LE: The difference is both in technique and approach. Les paints in oils on a smooth board and Edward uses acrylics on canvas board. Also because Les tends to concentrate on figures and characters Edward always takes a more landscape oriented approach with smaller figures. The important thing about an Edward Miller painting is the atmosphere and the “feel” whereas Les's work is more about portraying imaginary things in a more precise manner, without, of course, trying to be photographic, something that really doesn't work in the fantasy fields.

DW: You have an impressive list of Awards and Award nominations. How do you feel when winning such an award? Isn’t Les Edwards envious on Edward Miller for winning the World Fantasy Award? :)
LE: Winning awards is always wonderful because people actually go to the trouble of voting. It's always said that being nominated is an honour and that's true. It means your work has been noticed. Yes Les is jealous of Edward, but those two are always arguing anyway.

DW: What aspects of your work would you like to still improve? If it were possible is there anything you would like to change in your career?
LE: The great thing about painting is that you can never learn everything, but you can improve throughout your life. I just hope to get better at what I do. As far as changing anything I feel that in the past I've been rather disparaging of my own work when I compare it to others. I could wish that I was more confident of my own abilities. On the other hand there are some illustrators with egos the size of Antarctica, so perhaps I should aim for a happy medium.

DW: At what are you working now and what are your future projects?
LE: I'm about to start illustrating “Conan's Brethren” for Gollancz, which is a collection of Robert E Howard's stories of heroes other than Conan. Then I will be doing some things for next year's Terry Pratchett calendar. There are some non-genre jobs in the pipeline and a few things that have yet to be confirmed but about which I'm quite excited.

Thank you very much for your answers and amiability. It has been an honor and a pleasure.
For complete information about Les Edwards and a comprehensive portfolio, please visit his website, The Art of Les Edwards. Also for a complete portfolio of works made under the pseudonym Edward Miller, please visit the website, The Art of Edward Miller.

© The artwork presented on this post is used with the permission of its author. All the artwork is copyrighted. Please do not use the images without the permission of the artist or owner.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"Grants Pass"

With the great help of books like Stephen King’s “The Stand”, movies like the three Mad Max and games like Fallout I fell in love with the post-apocalyptic scenarios. And since my first encounter with a post-apocalyptic world I am always looking for such scenarios to read, watch or play. Last year I came upon news from Morrigan Books announcing one their upcoming titles, “Grants Pass”, a collection of stories set in a post-apocalyptic world it immediately caught my interest. The synopsis of that title stirred my interest further one:

The world has ended.
It was an act of bio-terrorism gone horribly wrong. A drug resistant version of the Black Death, an airborne mutation of the Ebola virus and the “Super Flu” were let loose on the world. Barely anyone survived.
A year before the collapse, Grants Pass, Oregon, USA, was labelled as a place of meeting and sanctuary in a whimsical online, “what if” post. Now, it has become one of the last known refuges, and the hope, of mankind.
Would you go to Grants Pass based on the words of someone you’ve never met?

As I eagerly await the release date of “Grants Pass”, July 2009, I was treated recently with the line-up of the anthology edited by Jennifer Brozek and Amanda Pillar:

Prelude by Kayley Allard
An Unkindness of Ravens by Stephanie Gunn
Boudha by KV Taylor
Hells Bells by Cherie Priest
Ascension by Martin Livings
Animal Husbandry by Seanan McGuire
Men of Faith by Ivan Ewert
The Chateau de Mons by Jennifer Brozek
The Few that are Good by Scott Almes
Rites of Passage by Pete Kempshall
A Perfect Night to Watch Detroit Burn by Ed Greenwood
Final Edition by Jeff Parish
The Discomfort of Words by Carole Johnstone
Newfound Gap by Lee Clark Zumpe
Ink Blots by Amanda Pillar
Black Heart, White Mourning by Jay Lake
By the Sea by Shannon Page
Remembrance by James M. Sullivan
Epilogue by Kayley Allard

Also it looks like two stories set in the “Grants Pass” universe, “Warlord of Rhode Island” by Rick Silva and “Snake Oil” by David Priebe, will be released online prior to the official launch. The release date is already marked on my calendar.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cover art - "Desolation Road" by Ian McDonald

This July a much appreciated novel will see a reprint. Ian McDonald’s debut novel, “Desolation Road”, published for the first time in 1988 will be re-published by Pyr SF. The novel was nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award and gathered many praising words since its first publishing.

It all began thirty years ago on Mars, with a greenperson. But by the time it all finished, the town of Desolation Road had experienced every conceivable abnormality from Adam Black's Wonderful Travelling Chautauqua and Educational ‘Stravaganza (complete with its very own captive angel) to the Astounding Tatterdemalion Air Bazaar. Its inhabitants ranged from Dr. Alimantando, the town’s founder and resident genius, to the Babooshka, a barren grandmother who just wants her own child—grown in a fruit jar; from Rajendra Das, mechanical hobo who has a mystical way with machines to the Gallacelli brothers, identical triplets who fell in love with—and married—the same woman.

And as you can see the new edition benefits from a very interesting cover art, which to be honest would have caught my eye although I didn’t know the title or the author. The cover was created by the multiple award winner and fascinating Stephan Martiniere.

Monday, January 26, 2009

"EON: Dragoneye Reborn" contest winner

I wish to thank to all the contestants for entering the Alison Goodman’s “EON: Dragoneye Reborn” competition. As much as I would like to award each one of you the contest has only one winner:

Melanie Galvan from New York, USA

Thank you all once again and congratulations, Melanie!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

"The Tower of Shadows" by Drew Bowling

"The Tower of Shadows"
Format: Paperback, 384 pages
Publisher: Del Rey Books

In a fantasy field of young authors dominated by Christopher Paolini and his “Inheritance” series it might be easy to overlook another young author, Drew Bowling, and his debut fantasy novel “The Tower of Shadows”. But I believe that every author deserves his chance and that’s the case with Drew Bowling as well.

Fifteen years ago Corin Starcross was saved by Dale, a wizard, and Wren Tident, a mercenary, from a village attacked by demons, but his brother Cade remained behind. Now, Cade Starcross seeks revenge on the demon that killed his parents and for that he needs his separated brother. But his revenge affects the entire world and Dale and Wren have to save Corin once again from a tragic fate.

Drew Bowling uses in his novel “The Tower of Shadows” a plot and many elements which will be very familiar for the fantasy novels. The specific good and evil characters with their occupations, a retreated mercenary, an apprentice magician, a knight in search of good, an evil wizard, assassins involved in a story of revenge and the eternal battle between good and evil. But taken as a light and easy read, without exaggerated pretentions “The Tower of Shadows” is an action packed adventure. However, I have to admit that for a short (just over 300 pages) and light novel I had difficulties finishing it.

I am always interested in my fantasy readings in world-building and characterization, I like rich worlds and appealing characters, but these aspects fall behind in this novel, mainly because it is a short one and focused on action scenes. Because of Drew Bowling’s descriptions the world looks interesting, but faltered to captivate me more than the initial interest because it is not entirely developed. The religious aspect captured my interest at first too, but after the initial introduction it fails to come to attention again. In the same line with these aspects is the characterization, with characters that fail to entertain and that in many occasions sound untrue. For instance, Wren is a mercenary, but in many fighting scenes looks rather like an amateur than a seasoned fighter and he seems to have more trouble with humans than a particular dragon. Adriel is a young wizard who just finished his apprenticeship, but who doesn’t seem to know how to use magic and who is a boy defending a boy. When it comes to the main negative character he isn’t touched almost at all, without a proper reason behind his actions and motivations.

I also have to say that despite all this Drew Bowling proves to have a talent for writing, creating some beautiful descriptions which capture the reader’s attention. Also on many places his author’s voice sounds more mature than it actually is and I mean that in the good way. I think that Drew Bowling made an effort in writing “The Tower of Shadows” which I don’t believe I would have made in my high-school years. I also believe that he has a lot of room for development and with the proper writing experience he can become an interesting author in the future.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Book Blogger Convention

As I said before the wonderful Tia, the editor of Fantasy Debut, came up with a wonderful idea about a Book Blogger Convention. Since then that idea grew and took shape in a blog, Book Blogger Convention Blog, in a forum, The Dragon Federation, and now in a ning social network, Book Blogger Convention. The last one was created by another wonderful blogger, Hagelrat the editor of Unbound. I know that there are several such social networks dedicated to the book bloggers (I am part of some of them), but I found this one to be a step closer to the initial idea and project, a Book Blogger Convention. I also think that such a convention will kick off virtually first and someday we will meet in a physical location. But until then, see you on the Book Blogger Convention as well :)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fantasy Art - David Munoz Velazquez

© The artwork presented on this post is used with the permission of its author. All the artwork is copyrighted. Please do not use the images without the permission of the artist or owner.

David Munoz Velazquez is a Spanish artist born in 1981 in Barcelona. He studied Graphic design and he specialized in character and environment concept art. David gained experience in the video games industry as well and He was rewarded with several awards from the sites dedicated to digital art such as It’s Art, 3D Total, CGSociety and CGNode. And the site Concept Art World compliments his work naming it, and I quote: “His artwork has hints of a Sci-Fi Dali”.

Interview - David Munoz Velazquez

Dark Wolf: David, thank you for this interview.
How did you become interested in art? What was your first attempt to create your own art piece?
David Munoz Velazquez: I think was watching cartoon series when I was younger (I’m still watching) I always like the fine artist, but I remember watching these canvas and thinking, that is a weird photo. My first attempt was copying the Transformers cartoons, Dragon Ball, etc. I don’t really remember the first one, I think was doing characters versions on the same style of the cartoons I liked.
I could say it was when I learned more or less to use the Wacom tablet that gave me more options to practice colours and several things.

Dark Wolf: Do you have any favorite artists? How did they influence your works so far?
David Munoz Velazquez: Difficult question, most of the influence was from the movies, I always wanted to create images and characters like the ones I use to watch. I remember that Boris Vallejo, Ciruelo and a lot of other artists, but basically the ones I had access on comic stores and libraries. Lately I get influenced from things different from art.
Today my favorite artist is Travis Charest, maybe is not the best one but to me has something special.

Dark Wolf: What other influences did you have in your working experience so far?
David Munoz Velazquez: As I said comic books, movies, fine art, architecture and also music, it is difficult to explain but in some way music gives me an attitude or inspiration, sometimes because the lyrics and other times from the rhythm. I believe that most of the time the influences are from very different things apart from art, at what happens to me.

DW: I’ve seen that your portfolio is inclined toward character building and portraits. Do you prefer working on characters and portraits?
DMV: My portfolio is mostly personal work, I work on environment at work so I rather do characters for fun. To me the most interesting thing is character design, most of them are just a design with a little bit of atmosphere to not leave it blank.
Now I rather do character design or portraits on an illustration to make it a complete image not just a design.
I like to work on both environments and characters, but I have a preference for characters.

DW: Your characters make me think of Science Fiction. Does the Science Fiction genre influence your work? Do you have an interest in this genre beside art?
DMV: Sure! I like practically everything about Science Fiction and Fantasy! I also have interest on astronomy and mystic themes. I like normal things also but I rather create things I would like to see and I can't.

DW: I also noticed that not all your characters are entirely human and I could find a cross between humans and animals and characters and materials such metal and plastic. What inspires the creation of a character? Can such a character suffer changes from the inspiration point to the final point of creation?
DMV: I really like the life forms that aren't sure what the body or what is armour or clothing, on some point I was amazed by the exoskeleton animal, which means to me that something that can look as armour or something weird is the actual body of the creature and is completely organic. I like to mix organic with solid and soft surfaces on the character... I just like it.
That's the cool thing about improvising and I get quite a lot of freedom on shapes for a design that can change a lot and adapt while inspiration on some shapes appears and looks fresh or more interesting to me, plus I don't use to have an idea of what I'm going to create so, improvising is the base of my work flow, is slow but really fun.

DW: Your characters seem to give the viewer a threatening perspective. Do you like to add your characters a dark and sober atmosphere?
DMV: Yes! Absolutely! That doesn't mean I don't like it other way but that is my favorite. My parents use to tell me your characters look like bad guys but there is some solemnity that makes them be just weird and not that "bad".
I think this gives them a different looking, even though being a bit dark or aggressive. I like characters without mouths or nose or eyes, that makes them show less feelings and I try compensating with something else as much as I can.

DW: Also you work a lot with black and white, shades of black and white, light and dark. Do you think that a black and white piece can be more powerful than a colour one? How important is the use of light and shadows?
DMV: I spend most of the time drawing with pencils, when I jumped on to digital painting I wasn't used to apply colour, so my first work was black and white and slowly I was introducing colours. Now, I start the painting with colours straightaway. Of course the use of light and shadows is basic at least to me to give a solid looking and gives depth and power to the image.

DW: One of my favorite works of yours, “Spanish Girl”, shows a careful attention to the details. How important are the minor details in a work and how do they contribute to the general perspective?
DMV: I thing depends of the intention of the artist and also the style you want to use. To me is interesting to detail some areas and give other less detail or looseness, it looks less saturated of things and gives it more interest from my point of view. It is about making a focus on the things you want to show with more details.

DW: Beside your character concept you have works in environment concept. From these ones do you prefer one more than the other? How much different is the process of creation when it comes to an environment?
DMV: I like both, but I think characters are more interesting to me. Because in my jobs I do mostly environments I like to spend the spare time on characters. But as I said both things are interesting. For the creation things are quite different at least to me, for an environment can be more loose and I think has to be more interesting from colours, perspective, lighting, several basic things that has to come right just for the picture to look correct or believable, than the creative process that has to work at the same time. Also you can be more abstract creating shapes and spend more time refining details... to me it has differences but may be just the way I work on them.

DW: You worked in the video games domain. How was working in this field? What new things did you learn working in the gaming industry?
DMV: When I started my first serious job with Eurocom UK was working on environments, but until that time I was doing drawing and I did some small things on 3D. I learn pretty much everything about 3D and modeling, texturing and especially lighting which is my specialty. For lighting is interesting and difficult because the goal is that every view that the player can see needs to have an interesting lighting.
Since a year and a half more or less I'm working on Kandor Moon which is a 3D animation studio, I'm doing basically lighting but on the movie industry I learn a lot of things, such high-poly modeling, compositing, matte painting and a lot of other things that are needed for films.

DW: What would be a dream job or project for you? If it were possible in what past project involving conceptual art would you have liked to take part?
DMV: I think my dream job would be modeling my own character and some others for a figure action or sculptures. I also would like to specialize on matte painting, I'm still needing a lot of practice on that field.

Thank you very much for your time and answers. It has been a pleasure.
Thank you for the interest on my artwork and for giving me the opportunity to talk about it. It is my pleasure as well!

You can find many other works of David Munoz Velazquez and news about him on his website,

© The artwork presented on this post is used with the permission of its author. All the artwork is copyrighted. Please do not use the images without the permission of the artist or owner.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

In the mailbox

The end of the 2008 and the beginning of 2009 didn’t let my mailbox go dry, to my great delight. So, I’ve noticed that my library is growing steadily and constantly and I’ve also noticed that my personal catalogue isn’t update since two years now (Larry's article made me notice this as well). I am thinking that the time has come for me to rearrange my library (although the space on my shelves seems to reach its limits) and updating my catalogue, but I have to take from my reading time and therefore I am undecided yet.

- "Plague Year" by Jeff Carlson (through the courtesy of Jeff Carlson);
- "Plague War" by Jeff Carlson (through the courtesy of Jeff Carlson);
- "Beware" by Richard Laymon (through the courtesy of Leisure Books);
- "The Reach" by Nate Kenyon (through the courtesy of Leisure Books);
- "The Condemned" by David Jack Bell (through the courtesy of David Jack Bell);
- "Eternal Vigilance" by Gabrielle S. Faust (through the courtesy of Immanion Press);
- "Vampires in Vegas" by R.A. Lura (through the courtesy of R.A. Lura and Raular Publishing).

Thank you all very much for these wonderful books!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cover art

I have to say that the Fantasy, Science-Fiction and Horror genres are still at their beginning in my country. And they are not properly appreciated as well. Still, I am happy to say that the things are moving forward, now you can see many classic and new names reaching the book market in Romania. And with a strong community the future looks bright indeed.

But if it’s a field where the things are moving even more slowly is the cover art. Unfortunately, the majority of cover art used in Fantasy, Science-Fiction and Horror genre are impersonal and stereotypical. Many covers use the same concept and although the art is changed a bit I cannot notice the resemblance with other books (usually released by the same publishing house) and the déjà-vu feeling they gave me. If I am not mistaken only one publishing house uses the original cover art, but not always.

Until I discovered the cover you see above I was thinking at the publishing costs, but this release made me re-think the aspect. You see in Romania the books are pretty expensive. And if I talk about the hardcover editions I don’t know how many of the readers are ready to pay the price. To give you an example I personally prefer to use Amazon most of the time, because although I am paying a great amount of money on shipping costs I usually have an average price per outside book cheaper than the price of the Romanian edition. So I was thinking that they were cutting the costs of production from the cover art.

But the Romanian edition of Gene Wolfe’s “Lake of the Long Sun” published by Alexandria Publishing House proved to have the same price as many of the books on the market, but with an excellent cover art and with a superior quality in aspect. What impresses me even more is that Alexandria is a new publishing house on the market and “Lake of the Long Sun” is their only forth release. But if they keep their work on this standard I believe that they have a bright future ahead. The artist credited for the cover art is Mariusz Kozik and I hope I am not mistaken but I think he is a Polish artist nicknamed Lacedemon and who has some wonderful works on his website. Anyway I think that this is one of best covers (if not the best) I’ve seen on the Romanian editions of Fantasy, Sci-Fi and Horror books and an example to follow by the other Romanian publishing houses.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Giveaway - "EON: Dragoneye Reborn"

Well it looks like Dark Wolf’s Fantasy Reviews reached another milestone, the 200th post. When I’ve start my blog I didn’t set any goals for it and I was doing for fun. Well, I am still having fun and as long as I keep having a wonderful time I will try to blog about my passion. Still, I had a lot of help along the way and I like to thank all of you, my friends for helping me start and keep going, readers for coming here and making all even more worthwhile and publishers and authors for all their help and reading and reviewing material. And if I am late in reviewing some of the books received, please accept my apologies and let me assure you that sooner or later I will get to them :)

Also a big thank you goes to the nice people of Penguin and their marketing campaign. With their help I am able to associate my milestone with the first giveaway of my blog (hopefully it will not be the last as well). So, with this occasion you have a chance to win a copy of Alison Goodman’s novel “EON: Dragoneye Reborn”, an EON poster and an EON pin. “EON: Dragoneye Reborn” was released on December, 26th, 2008 and here is a synopsis of Alison Goodman’s novel:

Under the harsh regime of an ambitious master, young Eon is training to become a Dragoneye, the human link to an energy dragon's power. His intensive study of Dragon Magic, which is based on the Chinese zodiac, involves two kinds of skills: sword-work and magical aptitude. Eon is lamed, and lacks the physical strength of his fellow trainees, but his unnaturally strong connection to the energy dragons helps him rise above the rest.

In a spectacular sequence of events, Eon is thrust into the heart of a lethal struggle for the Imperial throne. In this new, treacherous world of hidden identities and uneasy alliances, Eon faces a vicious enemy who covets the young Dragoneye's astounding power, and will stop at nothing to make it his own. But Eon is playing a dangerous game: he is in fact Eona, a young woman whose true identity must remain hidden, for discovery would mean instant death.

Inspired by the rich myths and traditions of Ancient China, shimmering with energy dragons, filled with dazzling swordplay and fraught with tension, this is a fast-paced, exhilarating page-turner.

But that’s not all, the lucky winner will find that the prize includes two other books, Frank Beddor’s “The Looking Glass Wars” and Robin McKinley’s “Chalice”. To enter in the competition send me an e-mail at MihaiTheDarkWolf AT gmail DOT com (please replace the AT and DOT with the proper symbols) until Sunday, January 25th, with your name and adress, only one entry per person. The competition is open worldwide. I’ll announce the winner on Monday, January 26th.

Good luck to all!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fantasy Art - Mats Minnhagen

© The artwork presented on this post is used with the permission of its author. All the artwork is copyrighted. Please do not use the images without the permission of the artist or owner.

Mats Minnhagen is a Swedish artist born in 1979. Mats has a Masters in Archaeology and at first he followed an academic career. After discovering the digital art his career focused changed toward art. Between 2004 and 2006 he attended the courses of Gotland’s School of Art. His preferred genres are fantasy and sci-fi and preferred medium of work is digital art. He has realized many works featured on book covers, role playing games, magazines and posters. Mats Minnhagen won a Master Award in the Creatures Category of Exposé 6.

Interview - Mats Minnhagen

Dark Wolf: Mats, thank you for this interview.
You have a Master in Archaeology and you pursued an academic career. What made you turn to art? What motivate such a change in your life and career?
Mats Minnhagen: I have always been drawing, and as a kid I envisioned myself someday becoming an illustrator. But for a time there were other things that interested me more. This was before the digital art revolution; I didn't know then about digital painting tools. Neither did I realize how computer games and the internet was creating new markets and opportunities for illustrators. When I finally did realize this my interest in art was renewed. I bought a wacom and soon started doing small commissions. I had the feeling I'd almost "missed the train"; I was getting older and realized I had a long way to catch up. But I also felt that, after all, this was my true calling. So I decided to leave my academic pursuit and go for a career in illustration.It was a gradual decision, but if I had to pinpoint an important moment it would be my first encounter with digital art: I stumbled into Craig Mullins' website late one night and ended up going though his entire enormous gallery, completely awestruck. I had never seen anything like it and it made a huge impression.

Dark Wolf: How did you start drawing? Was it difficult to return to school for studying art?
Mats Minnhagen: As a kid, I used to be "the guy who could draw", but I was almost completely self-taught and when I finally decided to go to art school I wasn't quite sure how big or small the gaps in my artistic knowledge would prove to be. I soon found my place, however, and had the best two years of my life. It was a traditional school - lots of life drawing and no digital tools - but that was what I wanted. The digital techniques I taught myself in the evenings, from internet and magazines.

Dark Wolf: What influences has your work and who was most influential on your career so far?
Mats Minnhagen: When I was younger it was definitely Tolkien illustrators Alan Lee, John Howe and Angus McBride. I had the walls of my room all covered with prints of their paintings. Later when I discovered digital art it was, of course, Craig Mullins, but also Sparth, John Wallin Liberto and several others. I'm also a big fan of Paul Bonner, who did some amazing interpretations of nordic folklore for a Swedish rpg ("Drakar och Demoner").

DW: You worked using the traditional tools (oil, acrylic, pencil) and the digital tools as well. Which one do you prefer? Which one gives you the more freedom of action?
MM: I'll have to say digital tools. It's quick, there's no mess and you can experiment with your painting a lot more. Almost all of my commissioned work has been digital. I very much appreciate the way you can, when you're done painting, just save and turn off the computer without having to clean your brushes and tidy up. There are no fumes either. Back when I studied at the university I used to paint with oils in my tiny student apartment - not a great thing for your health!

DW: Many of your works are focused on fantasy and Sci-Fi genres. Do you feel attracted by these particular themes? Does your interest for these genres go outside art?
MM: Yes. Fantasy and Science Fiction (or more generally Surrealism) is for me all about viewing mankind though a mirror, in order to see things that you were blind to before. Much like when you're painting and mirror your image to see it with fresh eyes, by taking us humans out our familiar context and putting us in exotic ones, we can suddenly stand out clearer. Fantasy and Sci-Fi isn't just about escapism; it's not really about elves and dwarves or robots and space ships, but something much more important. It's about us; our nature and our place in existance. Through these genres you can deal with questions that other, more worldly genres don't reach. As far as a distinction is necessary between Fantasy and Sci-Fi, the former does so on a poetical level, the latter on a more philosophical one. I think I've always been fascinated by "mirroring" the world. I read a lot of Fantasy when I was younger (and still do) and it was also part of what drew me to Archaeology. Our real history is also a mirror; humans have been the same for two hundred thousand years but have been placed in many diffent, strange worlds during the millennia. How have we responded, and what can it tell us of our nature? As a scientist you search for the answer, as an artist you try to put it into words.

DW: You made a few book illustrations. How much did you enjoy creating those works? Is there a book which you would like to illustrate in particular?
MM: I enjoy doing book illustration. The challenge is to choose which scenes to illustrate and decide what to focus on in those scenes. A scene from a book can be illustrated in many different ways, depending on which aspect of the story you want to get across. I also feel that a good book illustration should work just as well even if you haven't read the story, so there should be a balance between specific and universal storytelling elements.As for a specific book I'd like to illustrate, a few years ago I would have said "Lord of the Rings". By now, however, it's been so thoroughly explored that I'd rather not! I like older fairytales, the original folklore and mythology that fantasy was derived from. These tales are often complex, colourful and mingled with historic realities in interesting ways. So my answer would be "nordic folk tales" or something of the sort.

DW: I’ve seen a number of pieces made for children. Do you enjoy working for the younger audience? How much different is working on a children illustration than one aimed for a more mature audience?
MM: I like painting in a playful style, and that fits childrens' illustration quite well. That said, I don't think a playful style necessarily excludes an older audience. I try to do something that I myself would have enjoyed as a child, but also something that the child inside me still appreciates. On a general level, I think it's important to identify a part of yourself within the target group. If you're too detached from it, your soul won't be in it and the result will suffer.

DW: You won a Master Award in Creatures Category in Expose 6. How did you feel winning this award? Did this award change your career so far?
MM: It was a total surprise! I still have a lot to learn, it feels like I've just started out as an illustrator. But it's great; I'm very happy for it and it's motivating me even more - now I have something to try to live up to. I'm not sure how much the award actually affected my career so far, there might have been a few more people contacting me because of the Exposé publicity. But there hasn't been an overnight change.

DW: When did you feel that you were most challenged in your work until now?
MM: Book illustration has propably been the most interesting artistic challenge so far. And of course, working as concept artist on EA Dice was a challenge, of a different sort; a big studio with large productions. Everything is challenging in different ways.

DW: What would be a work opportunity which will be hard to refuse? What future projects do you have?
MM: It would be great to work on a movie sometime, maybe some big fantasy blockbuster. At the moment, and in the nearest future, I'm working on a popular science project. That's also a lot of fun, and I get to revisit some old subjects from school!

Thank you very much for your time and answers.

For more information and a wider portfolio please visit Mats Minnhagen's website.

© The artwork presented on this post is used with the permission of its author. All the artwork is copyrighted. Please do not use the images without the permission of the artist or owner.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Indie Sci-Fi Fantasy "Ink" to Premiere at Santa Barbara

It’s a Wonderful Life meets Sin City in this high-concept visual thriller. John and Emma, father and daughter, are thrust into a fantastical dream-world battle between forces of good and evil in this allegorical tale of love, loss and the search for redemption. Please view the trailer here:

Jamin Winans' feature film Ink will have its world premiere at the 24th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which runs from January 22nd through February 2nd, 2009. Ink is one of only seven films in the independent features competition. This year the festival is honoring Hollywood powerhouses Clint Eastwood, Kate Winslet, Penelope Cruz, Kristen Scott Thomas and Mickey Rourke.

Winans both wrote the screenplay and directed the film - entirely shot, produced and cast out of Denver, Colorado. The Ink trailer, released in early December on YouTube, has 18,000 hits and continues to climb steadily. Distributor interest has been high and Winans is eager to get distributors into the audience at the premiere. “There is a real excitement about Ink. The thing I am most proud of is that it’s completely unique, both thematically and visually.”

Ink follows 8-year-old Emma, portrayed with excellence by Quinn Hunchar, through a mysterious dream-world. Dragged along by the mercenary Ink, colorful characters emerge to fight for Emma’s life. This fight also rages within Emma’s tragically broken father, played by the outstanding Chris Kelly, who must come to terms with his demons.

About Jamin Winans
Jamin is a 31-year-old writer/director living and working in Denver, Colorado. He established Double Edge Films there nine years ago and has made several critically acclaimed shorts and a feature film 11:59, which has worldwide distribution. His last short film Spin was the only film to win two awards at the 2006 Santa Barbara Independent Film Festival and went on to play over 80 festivals and bring home over 40 awards. Spin has 3 million hits across YouTube and has played on television in the US, Russia, Germany, France and Denmark. For more information, please visit

About Santa Barbara International Film Festival
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival is a non-profit organization dedicated to enriching local culture and raising consciousness of film as an art form. SBIFF presents quality American and world independent films, Latin American and Asian sidebars as well as documentary cinema within the beautiful setting of downtown Santa Barbara, a premier tourist destination. The SBIFF is also committed to education through its 10- 10-10 Student Filmmaking and Screenwriting Competitions, Field Trip to the Movies, and educational seminars. With a projected audience of over 70,000 viewing more than 200 films over its eleven-day run, the SBIFF attracts an affluent local and national consumer base, while maintaining strong ties with the entertainment industry in nearby Los Angeles. For more information, please visit

Thursday, January 15, 2009

"Body Count" by Shaun Hutson

"Body Count"
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Publisher: Orbit Books UK

Shaun Hutson is a well known name in the horror literature, but my encounters with his works are scarce. Still, when I had the opportunity to read his latest novel, “Body Count”, I jumped at it.

Detective Inspector Joe Chapman and his team have to deal with another case, a series of murders made in a hunting game and into snuff movies posted on the Internet. But they are clueless and seem not to break the case. And Joe Chapman has to add to his working frustration another one from his personal life, his daughter ran away from home. However, a twist in his life will bring his problems to a new level.

The novel starts in full flight, with a scene seen through the eyes of a victim. And after this initial scene the pace doesn’t slow down, on the contrary it picks a faster rhythm. “Body Count” kept me hooked in its action scenes, scenes that are present almost in every chapter. The novel is structured in short chapters and this adds to the pace keeping the reader caught in the plot. The action scenes are punctuated by gore and carnage, described closely to the smaller details and that might not be on everyone likings. But Shaun Hutson made the horror fan in me enjoy this gory scenes the most.

Also described closely to the smaller details are the weapons, but that didn’t work for me that well. I mean that knowing a weapon and ammunition caliber is all right, but to keep reminding the caliber or going to the details of speed or range too often can turn off a reader from that particular scene. Another thing that didn’t sit well with me is the fact that some situations use clichés present in action movies and a few scenes are built as seen in those movies. However, these aspects are not used in excess and I could pass the inconveniences focusing on the plot and the action pace of the novel. What also helped me pass the inconveniences are the twists and turns of some situations. Although on some scenes I predicted an outcome the author came with a turn that was unexpected.

When it comes to the characters of “Body Count” I have to say I felt rather neutral to them. They are built through the interaction with each other and through the immediate situations they face. But I have to ask myself if a more in-depth building of a character wouldn’t have faltered the steadily rising pace. The main figure is Joe Chapman, a policeman who doesn’t fit the general pattern of this type of characters. Shaun Hutson uses throughout the novel almost exclusively his last name and that didn’t help me either to connect to the character. But with Joe Chapman the author brings forth a few moral issues and a few interesting situations in which a man’s reactions would be hard to predict.

I believe that “Body Count” beside the gore and carnage present in its pages can work very well as high-paced thriller and I have to admit that Shaun Hutson’s novel was an entertaining and fun read for me.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Interview Adrian Tchaikovsky

Adrian Tchaikovsky made his debut last year with the first setting in the “Shadows of the Apt” series, “Empire in Black and Gold”, an interesting novel with a captivating concept (my review). This year on 6th of February TOR UK will release the second novel of Adrian Tchaikovky’s series, “Dragonfly Falling”. If I am not mistaken the fantasy lovers and the series fans will enjoy this year the third novel of the series, “Blood of the Mantis”, as well, which is due to be release on 7th of August. Until then I had the pleasure and opportunity to make an interview with Adrian Tchaikovsky.

Dark Wolf: What initial spark generated the idea of your story? And when did you decide to put that idea to paper?
Adrian Tchaikovsky: The world of the insect-kinden has been bubbling away in the background since I first put pen to paper. I even used it as a role-playing game setting way back when I was at university. I’ve always had a fondness for insects, spiders and the like, which usually get the villain’s role in fiction. I wanted to produce a world where they were seen as, effectively, positive role models.

Dark Wolf: Did you want to make a fantasy story since the beginning or have you thought at other genres as well?
Adrian Tchaikovsky: It would probably be fashionable for me to strut my literary credentials here and explain how much of a very serious man of letters I really am, given the way the fantasy genre is so often maligned, but no: I’ve always wanted to write fantasy novels, and I’m not sure inspiration would come to me if I tried to force something else.

Dark Wolf: Do you find inspiration in other novels or fiction works? Is there an author who influenced your writing?
Adrian Tchaikovsky: I read voraciously, and I’m sure that little nuggets of writing style filter through to me subconsciously all the time. However, my first published work was in the form of some stories for the old (and sadly now defunct) Xenos magazine. After three or so had hit print I had an epiphany, and my next story, which would have been in print in the issue immediately after the poor mag went bust, was leaps and bounds better than its predecessors. The change came after I discovered Peter S. Beagle, whose use of language, especially of imagery, is exquisite and beautiful. I learned a great deal from him about what one can do with words.

DW: What difficulties did you encounter while writing your first novel, “Empire in Black and Gold”?
AT: I had the ideas, the characters, the plot and the world easily enough. Probably the biggest challenge was one of scale. Previously I had written a single volume, usually known where a sequel would take it, but tried to get that one book into print on its own. And of course the sequels never got written because nobody took on book 1. With Empire I made the decision to get several books under my belt before letting the first volume see the light of day, meaning that I would invest a great deal more time and effort into a project that might, as I thought, do no better than its predecessors. Thankfully it all paid off.

DW: I find your kinden idea, the humans possessing different insects species characteristics, original and interesting. Where did this idea come from? What researches did you make for implementing the insect characteristics to your characters?
AT: I’ve been a keen amateur entomologist since I was young, and to me (quite unscientifically) insects have always had their own character and personality. It’s baggage I’ve brought with me, rather than something I’ve had to construct specifically for the book. This sounds weird to most people, I’m sure. Think of it like this: if the book had dealt with fierce tiger-kinden, nasty hyena-kinden and cunning fox-kinden, then nobody would bat an eyelid. These are the animal achetypes our culture is familiar with. I seem to have developed my own archetypes.

DW: Do you see yourself as one of the insect-kinden presented in your novels? Would you tell me please which one it is?
AT: Well it would be grand to be a sleek and deadly Mantis-kinden like Tisamon, but I probably rate as one of the poor bumbling Beetles.

DW: The kinden in the “Empire in Black and Gold” can reach their insect characteristics using the “meditation”, but I found this concept not entirely developed. Will you try to explore and develop this concept in the next novels?
AT: The Art of the kinden is very important to the long-term plot, and there will certainly be a greater explanation of it. However I won’t necessarily nail it down in black and white. Sometimes being too explicit about the “why” of things can rob the world of its essential appeal. It’s like a magic trick, when you know how it’s done. Part of the essential strangeness of the setting is that these Art abilities, even those as extreme as being able to fly, are absolutely normal to the insect-kinden, and not remotely “magical” (magical being something else entirely).

DW: The insects are the most diverse group of animals on Earth and if I am not mistaken there are known over one million species. How did you decide which species are best for your story? With such a wide range of possibilities will you introduce new kinden in your story or will you remain at those already created?
AT: Well you’re assuming that the series won’t run to over a million volumes, of course. My agent has said that he’ll quit when we get to boll weevil-kinden. Seriously, the kinden that appear in the stories are those insects that populate the mythscape of my own childhood most, and yes, there are many more to be introduced as the books go on. The world is vast and the kinden are many.

DW: Beside the kinden idea you came with steampunk elements in your story. With these two ideas you proved that the fantasy genre can achieve new things. Did you want to bring something new to the fantasy genre and step aside the archetypes of this genre with these ideas?
AT: You’re very kind. I wanted, and still want, to do something interesting with epic fantasy, whilst not divorcing the books from the essential features that epic-fantasy-readers look for. Hence the insects, and the artificers, but also hence a very careful selection process when it comes to the basic fantasy memes. There are a lot of worn-out tropes in fantasy, and I’ve hopefully either avoided them, or given them a new spin (and so the Empire of the Wasps is neither as simple nor as black-and-white as your standard evil empire, for example, and its emperor (introduced in Dragonfly Falling) is not the Dark Lord one might expect).

DW: On your site, Shadows of the Apt, you post a series of short stories set in the same world and building its history and the events in the novels. Do you plan to gather those stories in a separate volume or to integrate them in a future novel?
AT: I’d certainly like to have a collection of short stories, and I’m hopefully going to have some third party shorts on my site soon as well. However, the publication on paper of a shorts collection is very much beyond my control at the moment.

DW: These short stories are focused on the history of Lowlands and of your world. Do you still build your world and its history or these aspects were already created when you start writing your novels?
AT: The world is constantly developing, and the shorts allow me to take a look at places that the main plot hasn’t been, to show what is happening in, say, the Dragonfly Commonweal. Many of the shorts follow up from incidents mentioned in the main text, or even provide prequel-style background material. The world is constantly being added to, but the amount I knew about when I was writing the first few books is larger than those parts seen through the window those books present. There are lots of places left to visit, and the shorts allow me to do that without needless digressions in the main plot.

DW: Speaking of history of the world and as I mentioned before of the meditation process what new elements will bring your upcoming novel “Dragonfly Falling”? Would you reveal something from the upcoming novel?
AT: We get to see a lot more inside the Empire in Dragonfly Falling – especially the higher echelons of the imperial court, and a lot of what really motivates the Wasp-kinden. We also get to know some of the Lowlands kinden in more detail, including the Mantids and Spiders, but most especially the Ant-kinden.

DW: Do you plan to finish your series with the novel “Blood of the Mantis” or it will be another novel or novels in the series? Do you have a precise end in mind for your series?
AT: To let you into a secret, a few months ago I finished what now looks like it’s going to be book 6 in the series. I do have a precise end for the series, and I can promise that things will be wrapped up and that the kinden won’t end up dragging things out for the sake of it. However, the world of the kinden will still be there at the end, however marked by the events of the imperial war, and I already have a few inklings of where I may take it all afterwards, if people want me to.

DW: What are your future plans? Do you have an idea about what you’ll write after finishing the “Shadows of the Apt” series?
AT: The novel I wrote immediately before I started Empire has a lot of potential. It’s a kind of fantasy Napoleonic (although no dragons, so I’m not stepping on any toes) best described as Jane Austen meets Bernard Cornwell by way of Ursula Le Guin. I’m very fond of it, as a story, and I’d like to rewrite it a little and see it in print eventually. I have something of a hankering to write some far-future fantasy, dying earth stuff as well. For now, though, the kinden are the ones clamouring the loudest to get their story told, and so I’d better oblige them.

Adrian, thank you very much for your answers and amiability.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Farscape #1

Farscape #1
Story by: Rockne O'Bannon
Script: Keith R.A. Decandido
Artist: Tommy Patterson
Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Publisher: BOOM! Studios

Farscape #1 is the first in a four issues series released by BOOM! Studios in the renowned universe of the successful Farscape TV series.

The first issue is called “The Beginning of the End of the Beginning, Part 1: The Return of the King” and picks up the action from where the TV miniseries Farscape: The Peacekeepers Wars left it. John Crichton and Aeryn Sun are looking for a planet where to withdraw together with their son. On the other hand Rygel is looking forward to his return home and the retake of his lost throne.

I found the setting and the action familiar and I believe that many of those familiar with the TV series will feel the same. However, the issue has a two pages introduction which will help those unfamiliar with the show enjoy the series as well. Farscape #1 builds the climate for the action packed issues that will follow. I say the action packed issues because I could see the story growing toward its high climax. Also the end of the first issue and the background story sustained by a mysterious figure that follows John and Aeryn Sun promise for the next issues action in Farscape style.

The other thing which will make those familiar with the series feel right at home is the art. The drawings bring back the familiar characters and made me believe that I was still watching an episode of Farscape. The other drawings are attractive as well making a visual which pleased me and made me enjoy the comic a lot. The dialogues stand in the favor of the comic as well, with the amusing replicas and they give the same sense of familiarity as the action and drawings.

Overall, Farscape #1 offered me a pleasant reading and the same enjoyable time as the TV series. I’m certain that the rest of the series will not disappoint me and it will make me feel as the first issue did.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Book Blogger Convention

The wonderful Tia Nevitt who runs the inspirational blog Fantasy Debut came up with a very interesting idea, a Book Blogger Convention. This idea captivated me immediately and I can only imagine how such a convention would look like. I am well aware that many book blogs owners know each other and have a constant interaction and I also know that the book blogosphere gives a sense of community, I sensed it since I’ve started my blog. I believe that such a convention will bring a lot of good things, meeting with each other, sharing opinions, difficulties and experiences, meeting with the readers, meeting with the professionals of the publishing, with authors or artists if they attend.

However, as lovely as this idea is and as much support had received it encountered a problem. For the majority of us this is a hobby and each one loves what is doing, but we have a lot to cover besides our hobby, work, family, life in general, so many will not be able to attend do to various reasons. Also our community is covered worldwide and the participation to the convention will depend of this aspect too (and I have the feeling that many of us spend their savings on books ;)) But I will not lose hope and as my readings light up my imagination so is this idea, I dream of a future convention which will gather all the book bloggers.

As I said the idea received wide support and now made roots. Maybe a real convention will not be possible soon, but why not start already in a medium we all know, Internet. So for starters we can attempt to build the convention on a blog started by Tia, Book Blogger Convention, and on a forum started by Mulluane, The Dragon Federation. I’ll try to attend both of them as much as my time allows and I will keep dreaming of the day when I’ll attend the real convention.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Christmas gifts

Last year Christmas got me thinking a bit. After checking my presents (I hope you received the ones you wanted to) I came to the conclusion that my loved ones have difficulties in giving me books for gifts. I mean that the majority of my reading comes from fantasy and horror genres and these genres I cover almost immediately through review copies, advance buying options on Amazon and my visits to local library. Still I enjoyed this Christmas gifts which added to my mystery collection: 4 Agatha Christie and 6 Georges Simenon novels. But I passed my thinking period quickly because the best of the best (I’m happy with every gift don’t get me wrong) is the one that came immediately after Christmas and offered by my lovely wife: the complete collection of “30 Days of Night” graphic novels (one of them I couldn’t catch on the photo) and the graphic novels adaptation of Thomas Ligotti’s “The Nightmare Factory”. You can imagine my surprise and joy. And I hope that everyone had at least one moment of great joy around the holidays :)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

"The Secret History of Moscow" by Ekaterina Sedia

"The Secret History of Moscow"
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Publisher: Prime Books

Ekaterina Sedia made her debut with the novel “According to Crow” and “The Secret History of Moscow” is her second novel, one set as the title says in the author’s city of birth, Moscow.

Galina lives in Moscow with her mother and her pregnant sister, Masha. When Masha gives birth to a baby boy in their apartment bathroom and mysteriously disappears Galina believes that her sister transformed in the jackdaw which seats at the bathroom window. But Galina was hospitalize for schizophrenia and she hesitates to share her believe with anyone. Instead she begins the quest to find her sister, a quest that leads her on the underground of Moscow together with her new acquaintances Fyodor, a street artist, and Yakov, a policeman.

Among the stories I grew up with I was delighted by quite a great number of Russian fairytales and now Ekaterina Sedia through her novel, “The Secret History of Moscow”, made me remember those wonderful stories. In her novel Ekaterina Sedia brings to life some of the characters of the Russian folklore and legends, some historical characters and creates a few characters of our modern times, with the problems of the modern society and of the historical changes suffered by the Eastern European countries.

The main characters of the novel are three misfits, each one of them with a sad story behind, but who seem to find their places in their unique stories and on the underground of Moscow. Ekaterina Sedia works masterfully on her characters and this applies not only to the main three characters, but to the other ones as well. Through the interaction and the conversations between the three main characters and the denizens of the underground Moscow the author introduces the reader to the stories of each character and to their more or less tragic destiny. Also through their stories the author takes the reader through different periods of the Moscow history and to some of the major events of this history.

Besides the moments of history presented by Ekaterina Sedia she builds a wide picture of modern Moscow and the city situation after the fall of USSR and of the European communist bloc. I could connect with many aspects of Moscow present situation, because my country passed and still passes many of the same situations described by the author. The atmosphere created by the author is a grim one, but it is a captivating atmosphere. And the mix of history and mythology of the past Moscow adds new elements to the created atmosphere and to the pleasure of reading.

Although the story seems to falter from time to time and to be overpowered by the character presentation on some places it is an original and attractive story. Adding some amusing situation and replicas in the story (my favorite one being that when Father Frost says: “Have you dum-dums ever noticed that the moment there’s a foreign invasion, you get a record cold winter?”) I was attracted by Ekaterina Sedia’s “The Secret History of Moscow” since the beginning and the novel introduced me to an author I’ll be watching in the future.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Premio Dardos

It seems that Dark Wolf’s Fantasy Reviews got another award to my great surprise and delight. This time is “Premio Dardos” and was received from the very wonderful Christiane Below who runs a blog, Legolas Perlenuniversum, dedicated to her beautiful bead work. If she doesn’t sound familiar I have to tell you that she is the wife of one of the most frequent commenter on my blog, EdiFanoB, and who is a wonderful friend and a reader as every blogger wishes to have. Thank you very much!

The award "Dardos" appreciates the merits - culturally, literary and individually- of every blogger who expresses him/herself on his/her blog.

1. be tickled pink ;)
2. copy and paste the award picture to your blog
3. write down the regulations
4. link the blog who bestowed you the Award
5. and finally nominate 15 blogs for the Award

Here are my 15 nominees for the Award: