Monday, August 31, 2009

In the news

Looking over the Brian Ruckley’s recently finished trilogy, “The Godless World”, I have to say that I was easily engrossed in his novels and that I enjoyed his series a lot. Naturally after finishing “The Godless World” series I was wondering what it will be next in the writing career of Brian Ruckley and with a visit to his website my question got an answer. Brian is working on a new title, a dark, heroic fantasy entitled “The Edinburgh Dead”. Here is a small presentation in Brian Ruckley’s own words:

The working title (and so far everyone, including me, seems to quite like it, so I imagine it'll probably survive all the way through to publication) is The Edinburgh Dead. The setting is, as you might guess, Edinburgh; specifically, Edinburgh in the first half of the 19th century. Since I write fantasy rather than history, though, it's not quite as simple as that.
I'm taking some gruesome and rather famous aspects of Edinburgh's past and spicing them up a bit with veteran warriors, magical conspiracies, killers both human and decidedly not, desperate combat and sinister goings-on in general. In short, it's a dark, heroic fantasy set in 19th century Edinburgh. With swords and gaslamps.

My next shopping list has in its top Joe Abercrombie’s new novel, “Best Served Cold”. But until I’ll receive my copy of his novel and be able to read it, a wonderful piece of news caught my attention. Joe Abercrombie on his blog announces that he works on a new novel, “The Heroes”, which is also a standalone (or a semi-standalone as Joe’s puts it) and it will be most probably available in 2011. Joe Abercrombie’s teaser made me check the date in my calendar for this book so far in advance:

Both because the action centres around a ring of standing stones called the Heroes, and because it's about heroism and that (meant semi-ironically, of course). It mostly takes place over the course of three days, and is the story of a single battle for control of the North. Think Lord of the Rings meets A Bridge Too Far, with a sprinkling of Band of Brothers and Generation Kill. It's about war, you get me? Principally it follows the (mis)adventures of six assorted persons on both sides and different levels of command, whose paths intersect during the course of the battle in various fateful, horrible, wonderful, surprisingly violent, surprisingly unviolent, and hilarious ways. With the Northmen: a veteran losing his nerve who just wants to keep his crew alive, an ex-Prince determined to claw his way back to power by any means necessary, a young lad determined to win a place in the songs for himself. With the Union: A depressive swordsman who used to be the king's bodyguard, a profiteering standard-bearer, and the venomously ambitious daughter of the Marshal in command. But of course a fair few familiar faces show up on both sides...

One of the most awaited titles is Scott Lynch’s “The Republic of Thieves”, the third book in the “Gentleman Bastard Sequence”. I have to admit to my shame that although Scott Lynch’s first two novels received glowing reviews I failed to read any of them. But, Scott made available on his website a preview of his future novel and gave me one more motive to start reading his series soon. You can find the preview here.

Last, but not least. With so many titles to look forward in the distant future it is good to look over one title that is nearly on the door. I a huge fan of Clive Barker and this new project brings me great joy seeing it. It is an anthology edited by Paul Kane and Marie O’Reagan, entitled “Hellbound Hearts” and containing 21 short stories that pay homage to Clive Barker’s novella, “The Hellbound Heart”. The book will be released by Simon & Schuster on September 29th. The book features a foreword by Clive Barker, an introduction by Stephen Jones and a line-up that makes my heart jump even higher, with authors like Conrad Williams, Sarah Pinborough, Christopher Golden, Tim Lebbon, Kelley Armstrong, Neil Gaiman and Steve Niles:

Foreword by Clive Barker
Introduction: Raising Hell, Again by Stephen Jones
Prisoners of the Inferno by Peter Atkins
The Cold by Conrad Williams
The Confessor’s Tale by Sarah Pinborough
Hellbound Hollywood by Mick Garris
Mechanisms by Christopher Golden and Mike Mignola (illustrated by Mike Mignola)
Every Wrong Turn by Tim Lebbon
The Collector by Kelley Armstrong
Bulimia by Richard Christian Matheson
Orfeo the Damned by Nancy Holder
Our Lord of Quarters by Simon Clark
Wordsworth by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean
A Little Piece of Hell by Steve Niles
The Dark Materials Project by Sarah Langan
Demon’s Design by Nicholas Vince
Only The Blind Survive by Yvonne Navarro
Mother’s Ruin by Mark Morris
Sister Cilice by Barbie Wilde
Santos del Infierno by Jeffrey J. Mariotte
The Promise by Nancy Kilpatrick
However… by Gary A. Braunbeck and Lucy A. Snyder
‘Tis Pity He’s Ashore by Chaz Brenchley
Afterword by Doug Bradley
Special Bonus Material: Wordsworth Graphic short story Original Script by Neil Gaiman

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cover art - "The Many Deaths of the Black Company" by Glen Cook

Please bear with me once again, because I can’t get enough of this. Here is another cover art for an omnibus of novels by Glen Cook and that has the unmistakable touch of the wonderful artist who is Raymond Swanland. “The Many Deaths of the Black Company” gathers other two novels in the Black Company series in an omnibus edition, “Water Sleeps” and “Soldiers Live”, and it will be published by Tor Books on January 2010. This title went immediately on my shopping list for the next year and leaves me dreaming that one day I’ll be able to buy an art album featuring Raymond Swanland’s works.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Speculative Fiction Reviewer's Database

John from the blog Grasping for the Wind put together the project called Speculative Fiction Reviewer’s Database, found already at its second edition. Once again we have a wonderful and comprehensive list of blogs dedicated to the Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror fiction.


Romanian French Chinese Danish Portuguese German


7 Foot Shelves

The Accidental Bard

A Boy Goes on a Journey

A Dribble Of Ink

Adventures in Reading

A Fantasy Reader

The Agony Column

A Hoyden's Look at Literature

A Journey of Books

All Booked Up

Alexia's Books and Such...

Andromeda Spaceways

The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Ask Daphne

ask nicola

Audiobook DJ


Australia Specfic In Focus

Author 2 Author



Barbara Martin

Babbling about Books

Bees (and Books) on the Knob

Best SF

Bewildering Stories

Bibliophile Stalker


Big Dumb Object

The Billion Light-Year Bookshelf

Bitten by Books

The Black Library Blog

Blog, Jvstin Style

Blood of the Muse

The Book Bind



Booksies Blog


The Book Smugglers


The Book Swede

Book View Cafe [Authors Group Blog]

Breeni Books


Cheaper Ironies [pro columnist]

Charlotte's Library

Circlet 2.0

Cheryl's Musings

Club Jade

Cranking Plot

Critical Mass

The Crotchety Old Fan


Daily Dose - Fantasy and Romance

Damien G. Walter

Danger Gal

It's Dark in the Dark

Dark Parables

Dark Wolf Fantasy Reviews

Darque Reviews

Dave Brendon's Fantasy and Sci-Fi Weblog

Dead Book Darling

Dear Author

The Deckled Edge

The Doctor is In...

Dragons, Heroes and Wizards

Drey's Library

The Discriminating Fangirl

Dusk Before the Dawn


Enter the Octopus

Erotic Horizon

Errant Dreams Reviews

Eve's Alexandria


Falcata Times

Fan News Denmark [in English]

Fantastic Reviews

Fantastic Reviews Blog

Fantasy Book Banner

Fantasy Book Critic

Fantasy Book Reviews and News

Fantasy By the Tale

Fantasy Cafe

Fantasy Debut

Fantasy Dreamer's Ramblings


Fantasy Magazine

Fantasy and Sci-fi Lovin' News and Reviews

Feminist SF - The Blog!


Fiction is so Overrated

The Fix

The Foghorn Review

Follow that Raven

Forbidden Planet

Frances Writes

Free SF Reader

From a Sci-Fi Standpoint

From the Heart of Europe

Fruitless Recursion

Fundamentally Alien

The Future Fire


The Galaxy Express


Game Couch

The Gamer Rat

Garbled Signals

Genre Reviews


Got Schephs

Graeme's Fantasy Book Review

Grasping for the Wind

a GREAT read

The Green Man Review

Gripping Books



Hero Complex

Highlander's Book Reviews


The Hub Magazine

Hyperpat's Hyper Day


I Hope I Didn't Just Give Away The Ending

Ink and Keys

Ink and Paper

The Internet Review of Science Fiction



Janicu's Book Blog

Jenn's Bookshelf

Jumpdrives and Cantrips


Kat Bryan's Corner

Keeping the Door

King of the Nerds


Lair of the Undead Rat

Largehearted Boy

Layers of Thought

League of Reluctant Adults

The Lensman's Children

Library Dad

Libri Touches

Literary Escapism

Literaturely Speaking

ludis inventio

Lundblog: Beautiful Letters


Mad Hatter's Bookshelf and Book Review

Mari's Midnight Garden

Mark Freeman's Journal

Mark Lord's Writing Blog

Marooned: Science Fiction Books on Mars

Martin's Booklog


Michele Lee's Book Love

Missions Unknown [Author and Artist Blog Devoted to SF/F/H in San Antonio]

The Mistress of Ancient Revelry

MIT Science Fiction Society

Monster Librarian

More Words, Deeper Hole

Mostly Harmless Books

Multi-Genre Fan

Musings from the Weirdside

My Favourite Books

My Overstuffed Bookshelf


Neth Space

The New Book Review


Not Free SF Reader



OF Blog of the Fallen

The Old Bat's Belfry

Only The Best SciFi/Fantasy

The Ostentatious Ogre

Outside of a Dog



Pat's Fantasy Hotlist

Patricia's Vampire Notes

The Persistence of Vision

Piaw's Blog

Pizza's Book Discussion

Poisoned Rationality

Popin's Lair


Post-Weird Thoughts

Publisher's Weekly

Pussreboots: A Book Review a Day



Ramblings of a Raconteur

Random Acts of Mediocrity

Ray Gun Revival

Realms of Speculative Fiction

Reading the Leaves

Review From Here

Reviewer X

Revolution SF

Rhiannon Hart

The Road Not Taken

Rob's Blog o' Stuff

Robots and Vamps


Sandstorm Reviews

Satisfying the Need to Read

Science Fiction and Fantasy Ethics

Science Fiction Times


Sci-Fi Blog


Sci-Fi Fan Letter

The Sci-Fi Gene

Sci-Fi Songs [Musical Reviews]

SciFi Squad

Scifi UK Reviews

Sci Fi Wire

Self-Publishing Review

The Sequential Rat

Severian's Fantastic Worlds

SF Diplomat



SF Gospel


SF Revu

SF Safari


SF Signal

SF Site

SFF World's Book Reviews

Silver Reviews

Simply Vamptastic

Slice of SciFi

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

Solar Flare

Speculative Fiction

Speculative Fiction Junkie

Speculative Horizons

The Specusphere


Spiral Galaxy Reviews

Spontaneous Derivation

Sporadic Book Reviews

Stainless Steel Droppings

Starting Fresh

Stella Matutina

Stuff as Dreams are Made on...

The Sudden Curve

The Sword Review


Tangent Online

Tehani Wessely

Temple Library Reviews

Tez Says

things mean a lot [also a publisher]

True Science Fiction


Ubiquitous Absence



Urban Fantasy Land


Vast and Cool and Unsympathetic

Variety SF

Veritas Omnia Vincula


Walker of Worlds

Wands and Worlds


Wendy Palmer: Reading and Writing Genre Books and ebooks

The Weirdside

The Wertzone

With Intent to Commit Horror

The Wizard of Duke Street

WJ Fantasy Reviews

The Word Nest


The World in a Satin Bag


The Written World



Young Adult Science Fiction



Cititor SF [with English Translation]




Foundation of Krantas

The SF Commonwealth Office in Taiwan [with some English essays]

Yenchin's Lair






Fernando Trevisan

Human 2.0

Life and Times of a Talkative Bookworm

Ponto De Convergencia




Fantasy Seiten

Fantasy Buch

Fantasy/SciFi Blog


Welt der fantasy

Bibliotheka Phantastika

SF Basar

Phantastick News



Phantastick Couch


Fantasy News

Fantasy Faszination

Fantasy Guide

Zwergen Reich

Fiction Fantasy


Romanian French Chinese Danish Portuguese German

Thursday, August 27, 2009

In the mailbox

I am always happy to come back home and find a mailbox full of books. And it seems that it happened again, to my great joy, with three titles I was looking forward to read since the beginning of the year.

- "The Edge of the World" by Kevin J. Anderson (through the courtesy of Orbit Books);

After generations of friction, the leaders of two lands meet in the holy city of Ishalem to bring an end to the bloodshed and to divide the world between them.
Sadly, this new spirit of fellowship is shortlived. A single tragic accident destroys, in minutes, the peace that took years to build. The world is once more cast into the fires of war - and this time the flames may burn until nothing remains. From the highest lord to the lowest servant, no man or woman will be unchanged by the conflict.
But while war rages across both continents, a great quest will defy storms and sea serpents to venture beyond the horizon, where no maps exist - to search for a land out of legend. It is a perilous undertaking, but there will always be the impetuous, the brave and the mad who are willing to leave their homes to explore the unknown.
Even unto the edge of the world …

- "Warbreaker" by Brandon Sanderson (through the courtesy of Tor Books);

Warbreaker is the story of two sisters, who happen to be princesses, the God King one of them has to marry, the lesser god who doesn’t like his job, and the immortal who’s still trying to undo the mistakes he made hundreds of years ago.
Their world is one in which those who die in glory return as gods to live confined to a pantheon in Hallandren’s capital city and where a power known as BioChromatic magic is based on an essence known as breath that can only be collected one unit at a time from individual people.
By using breath and drawing upon the color in everyday objects, all manner of miracles and mischief can be accomplished. It will take considerable quantities of each to resolve all the challenges facing Vivenna and Siri, princesses of Idris; Susebron the God King; Lightsong, reluctant god of bravery, and mysterious Vasher, the Warbreaker.

- "Green" by Jay Lake (through the courtesy of Tor Books);

She was born in poverty, in a dusty village under the equatorial sun. She does not remember her mother, she does not remember her own name—her earliest clear memory is of the day her father sold her to the tall pale man. In the Court of the Pomegranate Tree, where she was taught the ways of a courtesan…and the skills of an assassin…she was named Emerald, the precious jewel of the Undying Duke’s collection of beauties.
She calls herself Green.
The world she inhabits is one of political power and magic, where Gods meddle in the affairs of mortals. At the center of it is the immortal Duke’s city of Copper Downs, which controls all the trade on the Storm Sea. Green has made many enemies, and some secret friends, and she has become a very dangerous woman indeed.

- "Traitors' Gate" by Kate Elliott (through the courtesy of Tor Books);

In Spirit Gate and Shadow Gate, Kate Elliott took readers to the fascinating world of the Hundred, a land teeming with an array of cultures, gods, and conflicts blighted by the shadow of chaos and destruction. Now, with the same intensity and dramatic sweep that has brought this epic to life, Elliott returns to the exquisitely crafted cities and landscapes of the Hundred, in a thunderous conclusion to the saga.
In the darkness of war and destruction, forces gather to reclaim the peace: Those immortal Guardians who still serve justice seek a means to end the devastating reign of one of their own; a hired outlander army struggles to halt the advance of the horde that has despoiled vast lands and slaughtered countless people in its murderous wake, while still guarding against a burgeoning threat from an aggressively expansionist empire; and the eagle reeves who have long been the only law enforcers of the Hundred struggle to reorganize after a devastating massacre has decimated their numbers. But even as these forces give hope to those who would live in peace, a terrible danger looms: a traitor with Imperial ambitions, the most dreaded, least anticipated threat of all…
In the unfolding drama of political upheaval and violent change, nothing is certain, as alliances dissolve and power shifts with the unpredictability of a desert sandstorm. A riotous epic with the vast breadth and excitement only masterful storyteller Kate Elliott can summon, Traitors’ Gate will leave her many readers begging for more.

- "Leviathan" by David L. Golemon (through the courtesy of Thomas Dunne Books).

The ships of the world are under attack, attacks so sudden and vicious that many ships are lost without a single distress call. The navies of the world start a frenzied search, but even these ships disappear without a trace.
Enter the Event Group, the most secret organization in U.S. history. Armed with proof that history is repeating itself, the Group finds themselves in the grasp of an insane genius straight out of the pages of Jules Verne. They are up against the descendent of the man who was the inspiration for the captain of a vessel known to the world as Nautilus.
Legend comes to life in the form of Leviathan, the most advanced undersea vessel in history. She will stop at nothing to save the seas and to render justice to humankind for a world that has long been dying, a world Leviathan plans to alter forever, unless the Event Group can stop her!

Thank you all very much!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Fall of Thanes" by Brian Ruckley

"Fall of Thanes"
Format: Hardback, 512 pages
Publisher: Orbit Books

Tension between the clans of the Black Road and the True Bloods is mounting, as each side in the conflict becomes ever more riven by internal dissent and disunity. And Aeglyss the na’kyrim continues to spread chaos in the world, exerting a dangerous, insidious influence over events both near and far.
As events mount to a climax, the world will change and no side can anticipate the twisted pattern of what lies ahead.

Last year I began a journey with “Winterbirth” in the universe of “The Godless World” trilogy continued with “Bloodheir” and concluded these days with the last novel in the Brian Ruckley’s series, “Fall of Thanes”. And what a journey it was.

I must admit that I find myself attracted many times by readings dark and gritty and Brian Ruckley in the conclusion of his trilogy offered me such a dark reading. I liked the atmosphere built in the first two novels, but I liked even more the one unfolded in “Fall of Thanes”. A dark atmosphere in a shattered world, built through wonderfully crafted descriptions and scenes that make the reader feel edgy and create tension. Brian Ruckley proved to be very skillful when it came to world-building in his trilogy, but with the conclusion on “The Godless World” he proved to be having a talent for descriptions as well. I found images which felt like moving right before my eyes.

The first two novels set into place the action and the conclusion of the series and “Fall of Thanes” only brings them to conclusion. This novel is not the fast moving one and it will seem to be dragging compared with the first two or with other genre novels. But although my desire for a bit more action is not fulfilled, I don’t feel disappointed or cheated by the conclusion of the series at all. I like how Brian Ruckley brought the trilogy to an end through a further building of characters, making them even stronger. I still remained at my opinion of Orisian and kept rather disliking him, but don’t put that on the author. Orisian improves too and develops further on, with an important role in the end which I didn’t see coming, but he didn’t appeal to me mostly because it is not exactly what I like my characters to be like.

The characters I liked kept appealing to me and I was happy to meet them once again and discover their destiny. What came as a very pleasant surprise was that one of the characters I was rather indifferent to came into focus and I ended up liking him the most from the ones in the “Fall of Thanes”, Kanin. And looking back over the all novels of the trilogy I loved how Brian Ruckley developed him from the initial point until the end. Also two other characters with minor roles until “Fall of Thanes”, Theor and Nyve, offered me surprises and picked my interest. Above all what I loved at the characters of Brian Ruckley’s series is the fact that I cannot say about even one of them that is good or bad. Each one of them and each involved party in the series’ conflicts is driven by the personal interest and line of conduct and not by a moral code on one way or another.

“Fall of Thanes” offered me a conclusion of “The Godless World” trilogy that it wasn’t expected by me, but which satisfied me in the fullest and which makes the waiting for a trilogy to unfold its events until the end worthwhile. From the first steps taken in my journey through “The Godless World” trilogy and until the last step of that journey I loved Brian Ruckley’s series.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Personal news

A few months ago I was thrilled to make a debut in the Romanian e-zine, Nautilus, where my reviews and interviews are being published. Now, I am happy to come home and see that my review of David Moody’s “Hater” was published in the latest issue of another e-zine, Three Crow Press. This brings me great joy, but it also still amazes me to see that there is interest in my works on a publishing level.

Before going in vacation I was asked if I would like to be a part of a new blog project together with a few wonderful people. Because of the people involved I accepted it and in a short time, after Beyond Fiction will begin its development, I will have some of my reviews posted there as well. That doesn’t mean that I will dedicate less to my blog, only that some of the links in my index of reviews will go to a Beyond Fiction page.

I love to travel and I don’t mean this only on physical level, but in fiction too. I like to see authors from different countries and regions and their approach on literature. Because of this one of the titles that drew immediately my attention, especially since it’s a speculative fiction one, is “The Apex Book of World SF” edited by Lavie Tidhar and published by Apex Books Company. As you see in the anthology line up it truly offers a great travel in the world of literature.

The world of speculative fiction is expansive; it covers more than one country, one continent, one culture. Collected here are sixteen stories penned by authors from Thailand, the Philippines, China, Israel, Pakistan, Serbia, Croatia, Malaysia, and other countries across the globe. Each one tells a tale breathtakingly vast and varied, whether caught in the ghosts of the past or entangled in a postmodern age.
Among the spirits, technology, and deep recesses of the human mind, stories abound. Kites sail to the stars, technology transcends physics, and wheels cry out in the night. Memories come and go like fading echoes and a train carries its passengers through more than simple space and time. Dark and bright, beautiful and haunting, the stories herein represent speculative fiction from a sampling of the finest authors from around the world.

S.P. Somtow (Thailand)—“The Bird Catcher”
Jetse de Vries (Netherlands)—“Transcendence Express”
Guy Hasson (Israel)—“The Levantine Experiments”
Han Song (China)—“The Wheel of Samsara”
Kaaron Warren (Australia/Fiji)—“Ghost Jail”
Yang Ping (China)—“Wizard World”
Dean Francis Alfar (Phillippines)—“L’Aquilone du Estrellas (The Kite of Stars)”
Nir Yaniv (Israel)—“Cinderers”
Jamil Nasir (Palenstine)—“The Allah Stairs”
Tunku Halim (Malaysia)—“Biggest Baddest Bomoh”
Aliette de Bodard (France)—“The Lost Xuyan Bride”
Kristin Mandigma (Phillippines)—“Excerpt from a Letter by a Social-realist Aswang”
Aleksandar Žiljak (Croatia)—“An Evening In The City Coffehouse, With Lydia On My Mind”
Anil Menon (India)—“Into the Night”
Mélanie Fazi (France, translated by Christopher Priest)—“Elegy”
Zoran Živković (Serbia, translated by Alice Copple-Tošić)—“Compartments”

Monday, August 24, 2009

Back to the usual program

Hello everyone, how are you doing?
Well, the vacation days are over so I am back home and ready to resume the usual schedule. It was a longer vacation this year than usually is, but it was a relaxing and fun one. We had a good time in Greece, but I have to admit that the best of it was in Italy, where we enjoyed marvelous landscapes, a few very interesting trips and a quite and relaxing time. I have to admit that while I was in Fiera di Primiero I tried to obtain an early retirement, but the guys from the Italian lottery didn’t approve my numbers. My usual involvement with the lottery games is set for one or two times a year. And this year I thought that the appropriate time is in Italy and for a prize of 146,000,000 euros. But it looks like my place in the millionaire club has to wait a while longer. Still, I gained a nice experience and time for relaxation and for finishing another three novels, Warren Hammond’s “Kop”, Conrad Williams“One” and T.A. Moore’s “The Even”. So, now I really need to start working on the reviews since the other three I finished in Greece are still waiting for their review to be written. I am certain that the reviews will be soon ready and I hope that steadily I’ll resume the usual blog activity.
It is nice to see you again.

The sunny Greece.

We missed the Olympics by a year but we’ve been to the initial site of the games, Olympia.

This landscape greeted us each morning.

We went up to a little over 2800 meters where we found this amazing view.

Once again we visited Venice (although I would not recommend a visit in August), the same incredible and beautiful city.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Back on vacation

Well, I am off to my second part of vacation. I will be back in two weeks time and I will not be able to post until my return home, but I hope I'll see you then. Take care of yourselves!

Interview - Ekaterina Sedia

Photo by Tait Chirenje

Ekaterina Sedia was born and raised in Moscow, Russia and who is currently living in New Jersey, USA. She wrote numerous short stories published in magazines such as Analog, Baen’s Universe, Fantasy Magazine, Clarkesworld and Dark Wisdom. Ekaterina Sedia also published three novels, “According to Crow” in 2005, “The Secret History of Moscow” in 2007 and “The Alchemy of Stone” in 2008, with a fourth, “The House of Discarded Dreams”, scheduled to be released in 2010. She also edited the anthology “Paper Cities” released in 2008.

Mihai (Dark Wolf): First of all, thank you very much for the opportunity of this interview.
I grew up with the wonderful Russian fairy tales and later on I read and enjoyed many Russian writers. Being born in Russia may I ask if any of these works triggered your desire to become a writer?
Ekaterina Sedia: Not as such. I mean, I never wanted to become a writer – it was never a career aspiration. I started writing late in life, and it was because of the specific books I wanted to write and specific things I wanted to say rather than a generalized desire to be a writer. However, what I write is definitely influenced by Russian folklore and literature.

Mihai (Dark Wolf): You wrote and published your works in English, but did you start to write while living in Moscow or after your move to the United States? Did you try to publish any of your works in Russian as well?
Ekaterina Sedia: I started writing well in my thirties, and in English. I don't write in Russian – I find it more difficult to write well in Russian than in English. My agent has been working on selling foreign rights to my books, so I hope one day something will get translated into Russian. However, I won't be the one translating – it's a skill I do not possess.

Mihai (Dark Wolf): Someone told me once that in order to perfect a learned language it is necessary to think in that language. How does this work for an author who writes in her second language?
Ekaterina Sedia: Well, of course you have to think in the language you write in – otherwise, you would have to translate every sentence before writing it down and that sounds like way too much work. English is my second language, but the one I've been speaking almost exclusively for the past fifteen or so years. So it is my main language, and I'm quite comfortable with it.

M(DW): From your experience and since you also wrote an article in 2005 for Reflection’s Edge, “Making Neologisms Work in Speculative Fiction” do you think that an author who writes in a second language can enrich that language? Do you think that the speculative fiction can reach new boundaries through language?
ES: Enrich – certainly. Language very much predicates the way we write about certain things because of what it makes available to us (in Russian, for example, there are many synonyms for 'ennui', which are sadly lacking in English). It is definitely helpful to at least be familiar with more than one language to have some insight into how linguistics is shaped by experience and vice versa. As for new boundaries – I suppose that it is possible to think about alien planets and fantasy worlds while considering how their linguistic profiles could be shaped by the environments. There is of course an interesting possibility of life forms whose experiences are so different from ours as if to make translation/understanding/contact impossible due to the absence of any meaningful experiential and linguistic equivalencies.

M(DW): In your novel “The Secret History of Moscow” there are present many Russian myths and legends. Introducing them to the speculative fiction can enrich the genre? How about other worldwide folklore elements?
ES: I think most fantasy relies on folklore somehow. On one hand, I think it's probably worthwhile to explore myths other than the overly familiar Celtic/Western European ones; on the other hand, I'm apprehensive about fantasy writers plundering world mythologies for the shiny bits. Overall I think folkloric exploration should not be done apart from the culture that gave rise to it, and would require a bit of work on part of the writers as well as readers.

M(DW): The action of “The Secret History of Moscow” is taking place in your birthplace and in “The Alchemy of Stone” relates to your botany teachings. Are these autobiographical aspects of your works? Are there other such autobiographical elements present in your works?
ES: Of course. I don't think it is possible to entirely escape one's experience – all books are autobiographical in some sense, even if it's something as vague as what we choose to write about.

M(DW): “The Secret History of Moscow” also deals with the Russian Post-Communist era. Is this also a description of the modern Russia?
ES: I haven't lived in Russia in a long time, so my memories of it are very much confined to the early nineties – which is incidentally when TSHoM takes place. I wish I could remember who it was who said that immigrant writers are looking through twin funhouse mirrors of nostalgia and faulty memory (or something like that – paraphrasing here), but it seems very accurate to me. Distortions are unavoidable, but it doesn't mean this perspective is not valid. For an accurate picture of modern Russia, however, one should probably read modern Russian writers who live there.

M(DW): Your first published novel, “According to Crow”, is difficult to find at the moment. Can you describe it in a few words please?
ES: It's a coming of age story, and more of sword and sorcery (without the sorcery) genre. It's very loosely based on the Biblical story of Judith – rather, it's a sequel to what happened after Holofernes' head was cut off. Incidentally, it will be reviewed at Guys' Lit Wire first week of August, and I will be selling some of my copies. So if you want to snag a signed cheap copy, keep an eye on them for the announcement.

M(DW): Would this novel see a re-print in the future? Would you like to bring it to a wider audience?
ES: There's no talk of reprint. And even though I would of course love for more people to read it, I had moved on. I think my later books are better (not that Crow is a bad book, mind you) and I'm more focused on my next book than my first.

M(DW): “The Alchemy of Stone” has a very unusual, but powerful character, Mattie the automaton. Why an automaton as main character? What sources of inspiration lie behind the creation of your character, Mattie?
ES: An automaton seemed like a good idea for this book. First, the idea of gender: we tend to assign gender to machines, but what really makes a constructed entity male or female? Then, there's this idea of machines as being more perfect than humans often present in SF. Which is of course silly – machines always break. Always. Biological systems can repair themselves, but not manmade ones. So it was interesting for me to play with a character who has this massive limitation. And of course there was some thinking about personhood etc, but that was rather secondary.

M(DW): One of the ideas that attracted me the most at “The Alchemy of Stone” is the Soul Smoker. Where did you come up with this idea? Are there religious aspects involved in the creation of the Soul Smoker?
ES: Urban legends/folklore again. In Scotland and England there were people called 'sin-eaters' who could (via magic) take on themselves the sins of a deceased person, thus allowing them to go to Heaven. As you would imagine, they were generally feared and often shunned. Also, in many medieval cities executioners were required to live outside of the city walls. So the soul-smoker emerged as a combination of the two, a person who could consume souls, be they of dead people (thus functioning as an exorcist) or alive (executioner). Both sin-eaters and executioners were pariahs, and Soul Smoker is no exception – and in his case there's a good reason to avoid him.

M(DW): “The Secret History of Moscow”, the anthology “Paper Cities” and your future novel “The House of Discarded Dreams” have a common element, urban legends. Do you have a passion for urban legends? Do you plan to use other urban legends in the future?
ES: Well, urban legends are folklore – except it's not yet old enough to become venerated and respectable. Urban legends represent folklore as it is being created, and we participate in it in ways we cannot participate in the mainstream culture (for example, we can consume Hollywood films but we cannot make our own art using them because of the stupid copyright laws.) Urban legends belong to everyone, and it's the purest, most fascinating distillation of nay culture. And of course I will always be using them in my work. For example, I have a Victorian YA novel in the works, where alchemy and magic are used as the urban legends of Western Europe in early industrial and pre-industrial times.

M(DW): Your works are not limited by a single genre. Would you like to explore other genres as well in your writings? Which one in particular?
ES: Well, I write fantasy, science fiction, and horror. I think that's enough for now, although I might some day produce a realist work. Who knows?

M(DW): You edited an anthology “Paper Cities”. Did your experience as a writer, and especially as a short fiction writer, influence your work on this anthology?
ES: I think the editorial work is helpful to a writer – just thinking about what makes someone else's story good or bad can change how one approaches one's own writing. But I think being a reader is more important – basically, selecting stories one likes and making sure they fit together.

M(DW): I’ve read that you work on a new anthology, “Russian Winters”. How does the work on this anthology progress? What is the common element of this collection of stories?
ES: This anthology was cancelled last year because of the economic issues. However, I will be doing another one next year – it is called RUNNING WITH THE PACK, and it's urban fantasy focusing on werewolves.

M(DW): With your experience as an editor and with such a prolific career as a short story writer there is a chance in the future to collect your stories in a personal anthology?
ES: At some point, probably. Right now I think it would be a little bit premature – short story collections are notoriously hard to sell, and one needs a strong fanbase to pull that off.

M(DW): I’ve noticed on your works a common element (not necessarily include in the work), the crows. Your first novel is named “According to Crow”, “The Secret History of Moscow” and the second edition of “The Alchemy of Stone” feature crows on the cover art, your website has crows around it. Is there a reason for these presences? Is the crow a personal talisman?
ES: I like crows and jackdaws. As for the Alchemy new cover, that crow is completely coincidental – it's not a commissioned piece of art, just something my publisher licensed.
M(DW): What future projects do you have?
ES: Running with the Pack will also be coming out then. My agent is currently shopping a couple of novels, so we'll see what happens there. I am currently writing some short stories as well. Finally, The House of Discarded Dreams is my next novel, expected next year.

Thank you very much for your time and answers. It has been an honor and a pleasure.

In the mailbox & very pleasant surprise

When I came home a few books awaited in my mailbox. I’ve been meaning to post them yesterday, but my Internet connection was down all day so a change of plans occurred. But, today when the connection was restored it came with a very pleasant surprise. It looks like my blog gathered over 100,000 hits since its birth. This is something I didn’t expected when I’ve started my blog and therefore it brings me great joy. And it is all thanks to you and I really hope that you’ll find reasons for coming back. Thank you all very much! It really means a lot to me :)

- "Marius' Mules" by S.J.A. Turney (through the courtesy of S.J.A. Turney);

It is 58 BC and the mighty Tenth Legion, camped in Northern Italy , prepare for the arrival of the most notorious general in Roman history: Julius Caesar. Marcus Falerius Fronto, commander of the Tenth is a career soldier and long-time companion of Caesar's. Despite his desire for the simplicity of the military life, he cannot help but be drawn into intrigue and politics as Caesar engineers a motive to invade the lands of Gaul .
Fronto is about to discover that politics can be as dangerous as battle, that old enemies can be trusted more than new friends, and that standing close to such a shining figure as Caesar, even the most ethical of men risk being burned.

- "Interegnum" by S.J.A. Turney (through the courtesy of S.J.A. Turney);

For twenty years civil war has torn the Empire apart; the Imperial line extinguished as the mad Emperor Quintus burned in his palace, betrayed by his greatest general. Against a background of war, decay, poverty and violence, men who once served in the proud Imperial army now fight as mercenaries, hiring themselves to the greediest lords.
On a hopeless battlefield that same general, now a mercenary captain tortured by the events of his past, stumbles across hope in the form of a young man begging for help. Kiva is forced to face more than his dark past as he struggles to put his life and the very Empire back together. The last scion of the Imperial line will change Kiva forever.

- "Prime" by Nate Kenyon (through the courtesy of Apex Book Company);

When simulated interactions are an essential part of life, a programming glitch can be devastating, especially for the company that controls the sims.
William Bellow is an experienced bug hunter who comes as close as any human to the anticipated Transformation that links man to machine. As he digs into the problems surrounding New London’s most advanced programming, the nature of his own memories and the events of his past are called into question. Desperate manipulations and complex deceptions take him from the corporate towers to the underground resistance as Bellow’s work quickly escalates into a fight for his life in both the physical and virtual worlds.

- "Blood of the Mantis" by Adrian Tchaikovsky (through the courtesy of Tor UK);

Driven by the ghosts of the Darakyon, Achaeos has tracked the stolen Shadow Box to the marsh-town of Jerez, but he has only days before the magical box is lost to him forever.
Meanwhile, the forces of the Empire are mustering over winter for their great offensive, gathering their soldiers and perfecting their new weapons. Stenwold and his followers have only a short time to gather what allies they can before the Wasp armies march again, conquering everything in their path. If they cannot throw back the Wasps this spring then the imperial black-and-gold flag will fly over every city in the Lowlands before the year's end.
In Jerez begins a fierce struggle over the Shadow Box, as lake creatures, secret police and renegade magicians compete to take possession. If it falls into the hands of the Wasp Emperor, however, then no amount of fighting will suffice to save the world from his relentless ambition.

- "Thorn Queen" by Richelle Mead (through the courtesy of Transworld Books).

Eugenie Markham is a shaman for hire, paid to bind and banish creatures from the Otherworld. But after her last battle, she’s also become queen of the Thorn Land. It’s hardly an envious life, not with her kingdom in tatters, her love life in chaos, and Eugenie eager to avoid the prophecy about her firstborn destroying mankind. And now young girls are disappearing from the Otherworld, and no one—except Eugenie—seems willing to find out why.
Eugenie has spilled plenty of fey blood in her time, but this enemy is shrewd, subtle, and nursing a very personal grudge. And the men in her life aren’t making things any easier. Her boyfriend Kiyo is preoccupied with his pregnant ex, and sexy fey king Dorian always poses a dangerous distraction. With or without their help, Eugenie must venture deep into the Otherworld and trust in an unpredictable power she can barely control. Reluctant queen or not, Eugenie has sworn to do her duty—even if it means facing the darkest—and deadliest—side of her nature…

Thank you all very much for the sent books!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Brief return & Chesley and Sidewise Awards

Hello everyone :)
I came home last night from our trip to Greece and for a brief period I’ll be home. As I said on Tuesday will be leaving for Northern Italy, at the Fiera di Primeiro. We had an interesting and relaxing vacation in Zakynthos and we are looking forward to more great time in Italy. I promise you I’ll be showing some photos after I return from the next part of my summer vacation. Also then I’ll have a lot of reviews to work on since I finished Brian Ruckley’s “Fall of Thanes” (good conclusion for the Godless World trilogy), David Gunn’s “Death’s Head” (a lot of fun and action) and Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s “The Angel’s Game” (not as strong as “The Shadow of the Wind”, but climbed with a giant leap straight to the top of my favorite readings of 2009) and probably I’ll have a few more books read until the end of vacation. However, until Tuesday my blog will not be silent, because I have a few posts to publish. So, first things first :)

2009 Chesley Awards

John Picacio twitted a few hours ago the winners of 2009 Chesley Awards. The Chesley Awards were established in 1985 as ASFA's peer awards to recognize individual works and achievements during a given year. So here are the winners for the works from the 2008:

BEST COVER ILLUSTRATION, PAPERBACK: John Picacio - "Fast Forward 2" edited by Lou Anders (Pyr)

BEST COVER ILLUSTRATION, HARDCOVER: Donato Giancola - "A Book of Wizards" edited by Marvin Kaye (SFBC)

BEST MAGAZINE COVER ILLUSTRATION: Matts Minnhagen - Clarkesworld (April 2008)

BEST THREE-DIMENSIONAL WORK: Vincent Villafranca - Otherworldly Procession

BEST INTERIOR ILLUSTRATION: Donato Giancola - "The Wraith" by J. Robert Lennon (Playboy)



BEST PRODUCT ILLUSTRATION: Dan Dos Santos - promotional art for the film "Hellboy 2" (Dark Horse & Universal Pictures)

BEST GAMING ILLUSTRATION: Volkan Baga - "Stoic Angel", Magic Card: Shards of Alara (WotC)

BEST ART DIRECTOR: Lou Anders - Pyr Books


Congratulations to all the winners!

2008 Sidewise Awards

I found the winners with the help of my friend Fábio Fernandes. The Sidewise Awards for Alternate History were conceived in late 1995 to honor the best allohistorical genre publications of the year. And this year winners are:

2008 BestShort-Form Alternate History: Mary Rosenblum - "Sacrifice" ("Sidewise in Crime: An Alternate Mystery Anthology" edited by Lou Anders)

2008 BestLong-Form Alternate History: Chris Roberson - "The Dragon's Nine Sons"