Friday, April 30, 2010

Fantasy Art - Tuomas Korpi

© 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.

Tuomas Korpi is a Finnish artist, born on October 18th, 1985 and who currently lives in Espoo, Finland. He studied art at the Espoo School of Art and the Helsinki Upper Secondary School of Visual Arts and currently he is following the classes of Architecture at the Helsinki University of Technology. Tuomas Korpi works as a freelance artist, but also with Piñata and has experience in the computer games industry and marketing and advertising industry.

Interview with Tuomas Korpi

Mihai (Dark Wolf): Tuomas, thank you for the opportunity of this interview.
Which is your first recollection when it comes to art? Do you remember when you start drawing for the first time?
Tuomas Korpi: I don't have a first recollection but I do remember drawing at a very early age. Usually I drew on our kitchen table before going to bed or when I was visiting grandparents. They always gave me some pencils and pastels to play with since my grandma used to paint at the time. She also tried to give me some good advice about the colors I had picked but I remember my dad telling her not to criticize me all the time haha. I was like five years old or something.

Mihai (Dark Wolf): Who is your favorite artist? Who do you consider to have been the most influential figure on your art so far?
Tuomas Korpi: I have so many. But maybe the most influential artist for me is Finnish 19th century painter Albert Edelfelt. His style is really like a mixture of realism and impressionism with historical and Parisian themes. He was following the artistic movements in Paris at the time but did kind of his own thing, never went to impressionism all the way. Most of his paintings depict historical events and women but I really admire his way to paint Finnish nature - there his talent really speaks for itself. Amazing colors. There are also many other painters and concept artists I really like, but I think it was an Edelfelt painting that really spoke to me the first time.

Mihai (Dark Wolf): What other influences did you have in your working experience so far?
Tuomas Korpi: I try to follow everything that's happening in the vfx industry and what other artists are doing. Meaning watching the newest cg effect spectacles, advertisements, music videos, visiting forums and that sort of stuff. I guess it all influences my work somehow. I've also had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented retouch and 3d artists, designers and animators in Finland, it's all been a very influential and useful experience. At the studio we criticize each other’s work all the time so you get to hear a lot of different opinions. Very educational.

M(DW): Do you prefer to work with a specific tool, I mean do you prefer the traditional tools or the digital ones?
TK: Both. I usually do the early rough sketches traditionally and then move on to digital at some point. With real inks you get this certain level of looseness and roughness that is hard to achieve digitally. You don't have the undo button there, I guess that's what it's all about ;)

M(DW): Many pieces from your portfolio have Science Fiction themes. Does the Science Fiction genre influence your work? Do you have an interest in this genre beside art?
TK: I have to admit that I'm not very familiar with the genre. Yeah I've watched the regular Star Wars, Blade Runner and Alien movies and some Star Trek episodes but that's mostly it. Most of my sci-fi influences are from painters like John Berkey and Stephan Martiniere or from video games. I enjoy watching good sci-fi movie or read a book every now and then but it's not something I do every week.

M(DW): Also many of your art pieces have historical themes. Are you interested in history as well? Do you enjoy this type of paintings more?
TK: Very interested. I find different cultures very interesting and visiting historical sites or looking at historical paintings gets me carried away for a moment quite often heh. I have no any favorite periods, but I'm somehow drawn to South America and North-East Asia. I don't necessary enjoy these "historical" themes more, I think I always find the painting I'm working on at the very moment the most interesting and enjoyable for me… until I start working on something else.

M(DW): Does the historical works require a deeper documentation for the details (I mean for clothing, weapons, etc.) or there is room for improvisation as well?
TK: Usually the more history oriented paintings I'm painting have some sort of a fantasy twist in them, so there's always room for some improvisation. But I love adding details and making things look "right", so if there's some documentation, reference images or information available, I try to make it as accurate as possible. That's part of the fun!

M(DW): You worked on many advertising projects. Can you tell me please how was working in the advertising field? Do you consider that the freedom of creation in this domain is more restricted than in other domains which use art?
TK: I would say that the freedom is more restricted yes. It depends a lot, but generally speaking the inquiries I get are already very thought-through. There's always a change to suggest new ideas or improve the concept, but most of the time they are minor artistic things like lighting, colors, camera angles/perspective and things like that. Sometimes there's only a rough idea and you get to be responsible for the whole visual and how it's going to be presented, but in my job it's quite basic things most of the time.
And I like it. With advertising I have no interest in thinking about the brand strategy, how the concept of a new product should be presented or coming up with crazy visual ideas every week... I like my job as it is, dealing with the artistic side of things only. When creating concept art for movies or game companies it's different, there I'm working mostly on visual ideas for one project at a time and I want to be involved more even in the designing and ideating process. It's a different freedom for creation compared to advertising.

M(DW): How do you try to improve your technique? Do you try new techniques or themes often or do you try to improve your already established works and technique?
TK: I try different techniques and mediums sometimes, but at the moment I'm quite stuck to traditional-digital-combo. For me pencils, inks and a computer are the best techniques to communicate my visual ideas. What I try to improve every day is my understanding of light, colors and the world around me. In my opinion it's kind of the most important thing to become an artist - be interested in the world around you. It's something that's just come natural to me and I don't have to think it too much, I've always been curious to watch what's happening around me.
An example. I'm taking a bus to work every day, takes 20 minutes. The time I almost always keep watching the trees, sun rising/setting, clouds, different colors and materials, textures, how the light is reflected from the grass to the concrete wall, or how the reflection on the water is changing depending on the alignment of the bus to the sea, things like that. Sometimes I take quick notes or snap a photo with my cell phone!
Basically I'm trying to learn something new every day and then bring it to life in my paintings. Actually most of the ideas for my paintings start on these bus rides, when I'm seeing something inspirational and I try to think of ways to emphasize the idea I have even more.

M(DW): Did you thought about some changes in your career? I mean trying new experiences in your line of work, for example gaming concept art, movie concept art or comics industry?
TK: I'm interested in all job opportunities as a freelancer and also through our animation and illustration studio Piñata. Personally I'd like to be involved with movies more in the future, but at the moment working in advertising is very educational for me technique and style wise. I get to do so many different things and learn.
I've already done some gaming concept art and even some work for movies, but it's definitely something I'd love to do more often. We also have very good resources at our company and it would be interesting to try combining the talent we have for movies and comics industry also. We've done some work for game companies and would like to do it more.

M(DW): From all of your works do you have one that is closer to your heart? Which one do you consider to be the best you made so far?
TK: The few last ones are always the best and the rest of the stuff is too old and crappy to even look at.

M(DW): What projects do you have for the near and the distant future?
TK: In the near future I am very much involved with Piñata, working and making it succeed in every way possible. In the more distant future I'd like to see myself having more free time to do my own projects, working like a three or four-day week and have more freedom to choose clients and projects to work with. I'm not at all that picky about the clients or projects, but free time is very important for me.

Tuomas, thank you very much for your time and answers. It has been a pleasure.

For a complete portfolio of Tuomas Korpi, please visit 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.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

2010 Arthur C. Clarke Award

The winner of the 2010 Arthur C. Clarke Award has been announced yesterday in a ceremony held in London. China Miéville wins the award for the third time, for his novel “The City & The City”, after he previously has been rewarded with the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 2001 for “Perdido Street Station” and in 2005 for “Iron Council”. Also this year “The City & The City” won the BSFA Award for the Best Novel of 2009.

The list of nominees for the 2010 Arthur C. Clarke Award included also the following titles:

- “Spirit” by Gwyneth Jones
- “Yellow Blue Tibia” by Adam Roberts
- “Galileo’s Dream” by Kim Stanley Robinson
- “Far North” by Marcel Theroux
- “Retribution Falls” by Chris Wooding

I didn’t read all the nominated novels, but I did read “The City & The City”, and it is an excellent book, that certainly deserves the attention and the awards it gets.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Personal news

I am sorry that my blog lacked content and my web presence was scarce the last couple of days, but exciting things are happening here. Well, actually I am not exactly sorry, because I am very happy to announce that from December (most probably) the Dark Wolf’s family will have a new member :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Title spotlight - "Requiems for the Departed" edited by Gerard Brennan & Mike Stone

I love to travel and to discover and experience new and different cultures. I am not able to do that as often as I would like, but I always have the opportunity of a literary exploration at hand. A title that promises such a exploration is “Requiems for the Departed” edited by Gerard Brennan and Mike Stone and due to be released on June, 1st by Morrigan Books, which takes us on a journey through the Irish mythology with the help of seventeen short stories inspired by these myths. To note the cover as well, made by Reece Notley and which is quite creepy, but it makes me even more eager to make this exploration.

Watch the children of Conchobar return to their mischievous ways, meet ancient Celtic royalty, and follow druids and banshees as they are set loose in the new Irish underbelly, murder and mayhem on their minds.

Table of contents:

- "Queen of the Hill" by Stuart Neville
- "Hound of Culann" by Tony Black
- "Hats off to Mary" by Garry Kilworth
- "Sliabh Ban" by Arlene Hunt
- "Red Hand of Ulster" by Sam Millar
- "She Wails Through the Fair" by Ken Bruen
- "A Price to Pay" by Maxim Jakubowski
- "Red Milk" by T. A. Moore
- "Bog Man" by John McAllister
- "The Sea is Not Full" by Una McCormack
- "The Druid’s Dance" by Tony Bailie
- "Children of Gear" by Neville Thompson
- "Diarmid and Grainne" by Adrian McKinty
- "The Fortunate Isles" by Dave Hutchinson
- "First to Score" by Garbhan Downey
- "Fisherman’s Blues" by Brian McGilloway
- "The Life Business" by John Grant

Thursday, April 22, 2010

"Sixty-One Nails" by Mike Shevdon

"Sixty-One Nails"
Format: Paperback, 528 pages
Review copy received through the courtesy of the author, Mike Shevdon

There is a secret war raging beneath the streets of London. A dark magic will be unleashed by the Untained… unless a new hero can be found.
Neverwhere’s faster, smarter brother has arrived. The immense “Sixty-One Nails” follows Niall Petersen, from a suspected heart attack on the London Underground, into the hidden world of the Feyre, an uncanny place of legend that lurks just beyond the surface of everyday life. The Untainted, the darkest of the Seven Courts, have made their play for power, and unless Niall can recreate the ritual of the Sixty-One Nails, their dark dominion will enslave all of the Feyre, and all of humankind too.

A very young imprint, Angry Robot Books, published among its first titles the debut novel of Mike Shevdon, “Sixty-One Nails”, which is also the first novel in the “Courts of the Feyre” series.

It happens sometimes to get a book that doesn’t offer me a satisfying reading and in that case I stop reading the book in question. Lately, I didn’t get to close many books before finishing them, but although I did reach the end of “Sixty-One Nails” I have to say that it wasn’t a book on my liking. It is true that I passed two such moments, but maybe due to the fact that Mike Shevdon offers a light and quick reading or that I wanted to fortify my impression of the novel I finished “Sixty-One Nails”.

The novel is based on maybe the oldest conflict in the world, the battle between good and evil, focusing on the struggle of Niall, the main character, to stop the Untainted to reach and subdue our world. There is nothing wrong with the eternal battle between good and evil, but in this case I have to say that I failed to engage with the story. The Untainted try to overpower our world for their own dark interest, but the presence of the negative side is scarce, they are only slightly detailed and Mike Shevdon doesn’t concentrate much on them. Therefore although the story suggests that the world is in a big danger, I didn’t feel at any moment that this menace is real and didn’t care much if in the end Niall Petersen managed to stop them or not.

Contributing to my failed engagement with the story is the main character as well, Niall Petersen. He failed to stir any feelings from me towards him (well, it did stir some, but not in his advantage) and within the story Niall made me raise my brow more than a couple of times. For instance, Niall is described as a man focused on building a successful career, capable to sacrifice even his family for that career, but he drops everything when a complete stranger presents him with a story of his bloodline. Which in the situation given would seem more than unbelievable for a man such as Niall, so I think. Also, Niall is capable of using magic, but he seems to do that all of the sudden and without anyone explaining him how to use his capabilities.

The story moves very slowly, taking too much time to pick up some speed, which happens only in the last third of “Sixty-One Nails”. The scenes take a long time to unfold and I ended up with more pages than necessary for the same scene. What helped me ignore a bit this situation is the way how Mike Shevdon describes London and how he manages to create a lively setting. I could feel that he knows the city well and that he puts a lot of effort in the research. I could feel that from the ritual described by Mike Shevdon in his novel and I was pleased to find out details of this ritual.

I have nothing but respect for Mike Shevdon’s efforts and work, but “Sixty-One Nails” is definitely not for me.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

2010 Locus Awards finalists

The finalists for the 2010 Locus Awards have been announced. The winners will be awarded at the Science Fiction Awards Weekend in Seattle WA, June 25-27.

Science Fiction Novel:
- "The Empress of Mars" - Kage Baker (Subterranean; Tor)
- "Steal Across the Sky" - Nancy Kress (Tor)
- "Boneshaker" - Cherie Priest (Tor)
- "Galileo's Dream" - Kim Stanley Robinson (HarperVoyager; Ballantine Spectra)
- "Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America" - Robert Charles Wilson (Tor)

Fantasy Novel:
- "The City & The City" - China Miéville (Del Rey; Macmillan UK)
- "Unseen Academicals" - Terry Pratchett (Harper; Doubleday UK)
- "Drood" - Dan Simmons (Little, Brown)
- "Palimpsest" - Catherynne M. Valente (Bantam Spectra)
- "Finch" - Jeff VanderMeer (Underland)

First Novel:
- "The Windup Girl" - Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade)
- "The Manual of Detection" - Jedediah Berry (Penguin)
- "Soulless" - Gail Carriger (Orbit US)
- "Lamentation" - Ken Scholes (Tor)
- "Norse Code" - Greg van Eekhout (Ballantine Spectra)

Young-Adult Novel:
- "The Hotel Under the Sand" - Kage Baker (Tachyon)
- "Going Bovine" - Libba Bray (Delacorte)
- "Catching Fire" - Suzanne Collins (Scholastic; Scholastic UK)
- "Liar" - Justine Larbalestier (Bloomsbury; Allen & Unwin Australia)
- "Leviathan" - Scott Westerfeld (Simon Pulse; Simon & Schuster UK)

- "The Women of Nell Gwynne's" - Kage Baker (Subterranean)
- "Act One" - Nancy Kress (Asimov's 3/09)
- "Vishnu at the Cat Circus" - Ian McDonald (Cyberabad Days)
- "Shambling Towards Hiroshima" - James Morrow (Tachyon)
- "Palimpsest" - Charles Stross (Wireless)

- "By Moonlight" - Peter S. Beagle (We Never Talk About My Brother)
- "It Takes Two" - Nicola Griffith (Eclipse Three)
- "First Flight" - Mary Robinette Kowal ( 8/25/09)
- "Eros, Philia, Agape" - Rachel Swirsky ( 3/3/09)
- "The Island" - Peter Watts (The New Space Opera 2)

Short Story:
- "The Pelican Bar" - Karen Joy Fowler (Eclipse Three)
- "An Invocation of Incuriosity" - Neil Gaiman (Songs of the Dying Earth)
- "Spar" - Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld 10/09)
- "Going Deep" - James Patrick Kelly (Asimov's 6/09)
- "Useless Things" - Maureen F. McHugh (Eclipse Three)

- Analog
- Asimov's
- Clarkesworld
- F&SF

- Baen
- Night Shade
- Pyr
- Subterranean
- Tor

- "Lovecraft Unbound" - Ellen Datlow, ed. (Dark Horse)
- "The New Space Opera 2" - Gardner Dozois & Jonathan Strahan, eds. (Eos; HarperCollins Australia)
- "The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection" - Gardner Dozois, ed. (St. Martin's)
- "Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance" - George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, eds. (Subterranean)
- "Eclipse Three" - Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Night Shade)

- "We Never Talk About My Brother" - Peter S. Beagle (Tachyon)
- "Cyberabad Days" - Ian McDonald (Pyr)
- "Wireless" - Charles Stross (Ace, Orbit UK)
- "The Best of Gene Wolfe" - Gene Wolfe (Tor); as "The Very Best of Gene Wolfe" (PS)
- "The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny: Volumes 1-6" - Roger Zelazny (NESFA)

- Ellen Datlow
- Gardner Dozois
- David G. Hartwell
- Jonathan Strahan
- Gordon Van Gelder

- Stephan Martinière
- John Picacio
- Shaun Tan
- Charles Vess
- Michael Whelan

Non-fiction/Art Book:
- "Powers: Secret Histories" - John Berlyne (PS)
- "Spectrum 16: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art" - Cathy & Arnie Fenner, eds. (Underwood)
- "Cheek by Jowl" - Ursula K. Le Guin (Aqueduct)
- "This is Me, Jack Vance! (Or, More Properly, This is "I")" - Jack Vance (Subterranean)
- "Drawing Down the Moon: The Art of Charles Vess" - Charles Vess (Dark Horse)

Congratulations and good luck to all!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cover art - "Lamentation" by Ken Scholes

I am happy to be back to the usual schedule, with a new reading started this morning, a review that will be finished today and with a new post. And I return for this post to the French fantasy market again, for yet another jaw-dropping cover artwork. Bragelonne publishes the French edition of Ken Scholes“Lamentation” and as this amazing publishing house used its readers the book benefits from a very beautiful artwork on its cover, made by the very talented artist Marc Simonetti. I’ve posted about the Spanish and German covers of “Lamentation” before, but I have to say that I like this one a lot more. Marc Simonetti has done an excellent work once again, after we have seen the book covers he made for Patrick Rothfuss’ “The Name of the Wind” and George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire”. I am more than happy now that I had Marc Simonetti as my guest for one of my fantasy art interviews and I really wish to see his work on one of the English editions someday.

Friday, April 16, 2010

An update

This week I had a new project at work that occupied most of my time. This project is close to an end now, but it still requires a few more days of work, therefore my Internet presence was and it will be scarce at best. I’ve managed to finish Mike Shevdon’s novel, “Sixty-One Nails”, but I have to postpone the writing of the review for next week. Have a great week-end and see you next week again!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A glimpse of the Romanian speculative fiction market

The Top for 2009 of Cititor SF (SF Reader) is a top made by fans, for the fans and with the fans. It is not an official award, although it is a bit similar with the David Gemmell Award in terms of titles proposed, short listing and voting for the winners, all the process involving the fans of speculative fiction, but also writers, editors publishers and translators. The top takes into consideration all the works of speculative fiction available in 2009 in Romania, be they written by local authors or translated for the first time in Romanian. This is in my opinion a praiseworthy initiative and I would certainly love to see this top turned into an annual award for the Romanian speculative fiction scene. Until then though, here is a glimpse of what the fans from my country enjoyed last year from the speculative fiction:

Best translated SF novel: “Hyperion” by Dan Simmons (published by Nemira)

Best translated Fantasy novel: “A Storm of Swords” by George R.R. Martin (published by Nemira)

Best translated Horror novel: “The Call of Cthulhu” by H.P. Lovecraft (published by Leda)

Best Romanian work: “Îngerul păzitor” (The Guardian Angel) by George Lazăr (published by Millennium Press)

Best anthology: “Wastelands” edited by John Joseph Adams (published by Nemira)

Best translated short fiction: “Dark, Dark Were the Tunnels” by George R.R. Martin (Wastelands, published by Nemira)

Best Romanian short fiction: “Epidemia” (The Epidemic) by Sebastian A. Corn (Millennium Fantasy & Science Fiction Vol.1, published by Millennium Press)

Best translation: Mihai Dan Pavelescu – “Hyperion” by Dan Simmons (published by Nemira)

Best graphic presentation: “The Drawing of the Three” by Stephen King (published by Nemira)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Book trailer - "King Rolen's Kin" by Rowena Cory Daniells

After seeing the beautiful covers made by Clint Langley for the Rowena Cory Daniells’ series, “King Rolen’s Kin”, due to be released by Solaris Books this year, we also have a trailer for Rowena Cory Daniells’ series. It is quite an interesting one and it makes me even more interested in the “King Rolen’s Kin” series. I already moved these books closer to the top of my wish list.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Title spotlight - "Legends of the Australian Fantasy" edited by Jack Dann & Jonathan Strahan

I’ve spotted this title on the Jonathan Strahan’s blog and this little discovery thrilled me. Not only because it is a fantasy anthology, but because it features Australian authors and it can help me get a better feeling of the Australian fantasy. The line-up features authors such as Garth Nix, Trudi Canavan, Sean Williams, Juliet Marillier or Jennifer Fallon and as I can see, many of the stories published in the anthology edited by Jack Dann and Jonathan Strahan are set in one of the authors’ series. “Legends of the Australian Fantasy” is due to be released in June 2010 by HarperCollins Australia.

- "Introduction: Homegrown Legends" - Jonathan Strahan and Jack Dann
- "To Hold the Bridge: An Old Kingdom Story" - Garth Nix
- "The Mad Apprentice: A Black Magician Story" - Trudi Canavan
- "’Twixt Firelight and Water: A Tale of Sevenwaters" - Juliet Marillier
- "The Dark Road: An Obernewtyn Story" - Isobelle Carmody
- "Crown of Rowan: A Tale of Thrysland" - Kim Wilkins
- "The Spark (A Romance in Four Acts): A Tale of the Change" - Sean Williams
- "The Corsers’ Hinge: A Lamplighter Tale" - D M Cornish
- "Tribute to Hell: A Tale of the Tainted Realm" - Ian Irvine
- "A Captain of the Gate" - John Birmingham
- "The Magic Word" - Jennifer Fallon
- "The Enchanted: A Tale of Erith" - Cecilia Dart-Thornton
- "About the Editors"

Saturday, April 10, 2010

In the mailbox

Here are the latest arrivals in my mailbox, the majority of them received through the courtesy of Gollancz:

- "A Matter of Blood" by Sarah Pinborough (through the courtesy of Gollancz);

The recession that grips the world has left it exhausted. Crime is rising in every major city. Financial institutions across the world have collapsed, and most governments are now in debt to The Bank, a company created by the world's wealthiest men.
But Detective Inspector Cass Jones has enough on his plate without worrying about the world at large. His marriage is crumbling, he's haunted by the deeds of his past, and he's got the high-profile shooting of two schoolboys to solve - not to mention tracking down a serial killer who calls himself the Man of Flies.
Then Cass Jones' personal world is thrown into disarray when his brother shoots his own wife and child before committing suicide - leaving Cass implicated in their deaths. And when he starts seeing silent visions of his dead brother, it's time for the suspended DI to go on the hunt himself - only to discover that all three cases are linked . . .
As Jones is forced to examine his own family history, three questions keep reappearing: what disturbed his brother so badly in his final few weeks? Who are the shadowy people behind The Bank? And, most importantly, what do they want with DI Cass Jones?

- "Shadow's Son" by Jon Sprunk (through the courtesy of Gollancz);

Treachery and corruption lurk at the end of every street, in the holy city of Othir. It's the perfect place for a freelance assassin with no loyalties and even fewer scruples.
Caim makes - or perhaps more accurately, takes - his living on the edge of a blade. Murder is a risky business, but so far he reckons he's on the right side of it. Or he was . . . because when a short-notice contract job goes south, Caim finds himself thrust into the middle of a sinister plot in which he seems to be one of the primary marks. Pitted against crooked lawmen, rival killers and the darkest kinds of sorcery, it's going to take more than luck if he's to get through this alive.
He may lack scruples, but he's still got his knives, and his instincts, to rely on - and a developed sense of revenge, or should that be justice? - to fall back on. But when his path leads him from the hazardous back streets of Othir and into the highest halls of power, will instincts and weapons alone really be enough?
If Caim is really going to unravel the plot which has snared him, to unmask a conspiracy at the heart of the empire, he will have to finally claim his birthright as the Shadow's Son . . .

- "Tome of the Undergates" by Sam Sykes (through the courtesy of Gollancz);

Lenk can barely keep control of his mismatched adventurer band at the best of times (Gariath the dragon man sees humans as little more than prey, Kataria the Shict despises most humans, and the humans in the band are little better). When they're not insulting each other's religions they're arguing about pay and conditions.
So when the ship they are travelling on is attacked by pirates things don't go very well. They go a whole lot worse when an invincible demon joins the fray. The demon steals the Tome of the Undergates - a manuscript that contains all you need to open the undergates. And whichever god you believe in you don't want the undergates open. On the other side are countless more invincible demons, the manifestation of all the evil of the gods, and they want out.
Full of razor-sharp wit, characters who leap off the page (and into trouble) and plunging the reader into a vivid world of adventure this is a fantasy that kicks off a series that could dominate the second decade of the century.

- "Metro 2033" by Dmitry Glukhovsky (through the courtesy of Gollancz);

The year is 2033. The world has been reduced to rubble. Humanity is nearly extinct. The half-destroyed cities have become uninhabitable through radiation. Beyond their boundaries, they say, lie endless burned-out deserts and the remains of splintered forests. Survivors still remember the past greatness of humankind. But the last remains of civilisation have already become a distant memory, the stuff of myth and legend.
More than 20 years have passed since the last plane took off from the earth. Rusted railways lead into emptiness. The ether is void and the airwaves echo to a soulless howling where previously the frequencies were full of news from Tokyo, New York, Buenos Aires. Man has handed over stewardship of the earth to new life-forms. Mutated by radiation, they are better adapted to the new world. Man's time is over.
A few score thousand survivors live on, not knowing whether they are the only ones left on earth. They live in the Moscow Metro - the biggest air-raid shelter ever built. It is humanity's last refuge. Stations have become mini-statelets, their people uniting around ideas, religions, water-filters - or the simple need to repulse an enemy incursion. It is a world without a tomorrow, with no room for dreams, plans, hopes. Feelings have given way to instinct - the most important of which is survival. Survival at any price.
VDNKh is the northernmost inhabited station on its line. It was one of the Metro's best stations and still remains secure. But now a new and terrible threat has appeared. Artyom, a young man living in VDNKh, is given the task of penetrating to the heart of the Metro, to the legendary Polis, to alert everyone to the awful danger and to get help. He holds the future of his native station in his hands, the whole Metro - and maybe the whole of humanity.

- "The Toymaker" by Jeremy de Quidt (through the courtesy of David Fickling Books);

What good is a toy that will wind down? What if you could put a heart in one? A real heart. One that beat and beat and didn’t stop. What couldn’t you do if you could make a toy like that?
From the moment Mathias becomes the owner of a mysterious piece of paper, he is in terrible danger. Entangled in devious plots and pursued by the sinister Doctor Leiter and his devilish toys, Mathias finds himself on a quest to uncover a deadly secret.

- " When the Night Comes Down" (through the courtesy of Dark Arts Books).

TRAPPED WITHIN THE TWILIGHT… Call it what you like: dusk, twilight, sunset. It’s that magical moment between daylight and darkness when anything is possible — the evening ahead promises untold enchantment… or nameless dread.
Within are 16 tales of the oncoming blackness, including more than the usual cast of characters.
There are shapeshifters and gravediggers, but also supernatural private detectives and — perhaps most terrifying of all — beautiful creatures that prey on… horror writers. Murder, death — and things worse than death — are all waiting for you When The Night Comes Down.
Our newest title features more of the great stories that are a hallmark of Dark Arts Books’ selections.
Joseph D’Lacey, in stories like “The Unwrapping of Alastair Perry,” writes in the vein of the Clive Barker of the 1980s.
Bev Vincent, already renowned for his non-fiction, shows off some impressive range in his fiction — from hard-edged horror (”Silvery Moon”) to Bradbury-esque whimsical (”Something in Store”) to knowing humor (”Knock ‘em Dead”).
Legend Robert E. Weinberg delivers perhaps the all-time greatest behind-the-scenes send-up of genre convention weekends with “Elevator Girls.” And rising young gun
Nate Kenyon, in gritty stories like “Gravedigger” and “The Buzz of A Thousand Wings,” showcases why he has earned all those raves.

Thank you all very much!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Cover art - "A Crown of Swords" by Robert Jordan

The ebook editions of the Robert Jordan’s series, “The Wheel of Time”, released by Tor reached the 7th novel, “A Crown of Swords”. As Tor Books’ objective is to have each of the covers of these ebook editions made by a different artist we can see the work of the 7th illustrator, Mélanie Delon. As always, Irene Gallo in an article on throws a light on the interesting and captivating process behind the creation of the cover. I am not very fond of the character driven covers, but this one is stunning. I usually don’t have two copies of the same book in my library, but if Tor Books decides to re-issue the Robert Jordan’s series with these covers I am determined to buy them.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cover art - "Ares Express" by Ian McDonald

This week-end the cover made by Stephan Martiniere for the edition published by Pyr of the Ian McDonald’s novel, “Desolation Road”, won a BSFA Award for 2009 Best Artwork. As I mentioned yesterday I love this cover artwork and it was one of my favorite 2009 covers, so I was happy to see it win the BSFA Award. I was also very happy to see that Stephan Martiniere made another cover for a Pyr edition of a novel by Ian McDonald, “Ares Express”, released this month. And as “Ares Express” takes place in the future of Ian McDonald’s “Desolation Road” I love that the artwork follows the same lines and that Stephan Martiniere used the same colors in general, colors that worked their magic on me from the cover of “Desolation Road”.

A Mars of the imagination, like no other, in a colorful, witty SF novel, taking place in the kaleidoscopic future of Ian McDonald's Desolation Road, Ares Express is set on a terraformed Mars where fusion-powered locomotives run along the network of rails that is the planet's circulatory system and artificial intelligences reconfigure reality billions of times each second. One young woman, Sweetness Octave Glorious-Honeybun Asiim 12th, becomes the person upon whom the future—or futures—of Mars depends. Big, picaresque, funny; taking the Mars of Ray Bradbury and the more recent, terraformed Marses of authors such as Kim Stanley Robinson and Greg Bear, Ares Express is a wild and woolly magic-realist SF novel, featuring lots of bizarre philosophies, strange, mind-stretching ideas, and trains as big as city blocks.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

2009 BSFA Awards

Many award announcements this week and since this week-end another award I follow announced its winners, please bear with me for another such a post. The other reason that made me post a third consecutive award feature is that at the 2009 BSFA Awards two of the winners are among my favorites too, China Miéville’s novel “The City & The City”, an excellent novel and one of the best I read lately (reviewed here) and Stephen Martiniere for the cover artwork of Ian McDonald’s “Desolation Road” and which was one of my favorite covers of 2009.

Best Novel: “The City & The City” by China Miéville

Best Short Fiction: “The Beloved Time of Their Lives” by Ian Watson and Roberto Quaglia (The Beloved of My Beloved)

Best Non-Fiction: “Mutant Popcorn” by Nick Lowe (Interzone)

Best Artwork: Stephen Martiniere for the cover of “Desolation Road” by Ian McDonald (Pyr)

Congratulations to all the winners!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

2009 Australian Shadows Awards

The 2009 Australian Shadows Awards winners have been announced yesterday. The Australian Shadows is an annual award presented by the Australian Horror Writers Association and rewarding the works of horror fiction written or edited by an Australian.

LONG FICTION: “Slights” by Kaaron Warren (Angry Robot)

EDITED PUBLICATION: “Grants Pass” edited by Jennifer Brozek & Amanda Pillar (Morrigan Books)

SHORT FICTION: “Six Suicides” by Deborah Biancotti (A Book of Endings)

Congratulations to all the winners!

Monday, April 5, 2010

2009 David Gemmell Awards shortlist

The David Gemmell Legend Award for Fantasy held its first ceremony last year in June and the first winner of the award was the Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski for his novel “Blood of Elves”. This year, at the second edition of the David Gemmell Award, there are three categories rewarded because besides the David Gemmell Legend Award for Fantasy two new categories were introduced, The Morningstar Award for Best Newcomer and The Ravenheart Award for Best Fantasy Cover Art (I am delighted to see this one). This week-end the 2009 shortlist for the three categories were announced in a very interesting video format. The award winners will be announced in June after the voting procedure (I am member of the award too, so I have to work on the shortlist now :)). Here is the list of nominees as well:

- “Warbreaker” by Brandon Sanderson (Tor US)
- “The Cardinal’s Blades” by Pierre Pevel (Gollancz)
- “Empire, The Legend of Sigmar” by Graham McNeill (The Black Library)
- “Best Served Cold” by Joe Abercrombie (Gollancz & Orbit)
- “The Gathering Storm” by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson (Tor US)

- Stephen Deas“The Adamantine Palace” (Gollancz)
- Jesse Bulington“The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart” (Orbit)
- Amanda Downum“The Drowning City” (Orbit)
- Pierre Pevel“The Cardinal’s Blades” (Gollancz)
- Ken Scholes“Lamentation” (Tor US)

- Jon Sullivan (illustration), Sue Michniewicz (Art Direction) for the cover of “The Cardinal’s Blades” by Pierre Pevel
- Jackie Morris (illustration), Dominic Forbes (Art Direction) for the cover of “The Dragon Keeper” by Robin Hobb
- Didier Graffet and Dave Senior (illustration), Laura Brett (Art Direction) for the cover of “Best Served Cold” by Joe Abercrombie
- Larry Rostant (illustration), Loulou Clarke (Art Direction) for the cover of “Fire” by Kristin Cashore
- Jon Sullivan (illustration) for the cover of “Empire” by Graham McNeill

Congratulations and good luck to all the nominees!

Friday, April 2, 2010

"Gardens of the Moon" by Steven Erikson

by Steven Erikson
Format: Paperback, 768 pages
Publisher: Bantam Press
The review is based on a bought copy of the novel

Bled dry by interminable warfare, infighting and bloody confrontations with Lord Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii, the vast, sprawling Malazan empire simmers with discontent. Even its imperial legions yearn for some respite.
For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his Bridgeburners and for Tattersail, sole surviving sorceress of the Second Legion, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities of Genabackis, still holds out – and Empress Lasseen’s ambition knows no bounds.
However, it seems the empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister forces gather as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand…

I have on my bookshelves all the Steven Erikson’s novels in the “Malazan Book the Fallen” series published so far, but always another title got priority in reading before the Malazan novels. Until now, when every other title was put on hold and I picked my copy of “Gardens of the Moon” for reading.

As soon as I opened “Gardens of the Moon” I was left wondering what made me delay the reading of Steven Erikson’s series so long, because with that first page a wide a door to a wide and impressive world was opened. There is not a single chapter in which the reader couldn’t feel the vastness of the world created by Steven Erikson. With intricate details, none of them left to chance, the world feels very much alive with a sense of reality close to perfection. There is nothing missing, a continent wrecked by war that gives only a small measure of a very large world, cities and regions that give consistency to this world, humans and a few other races that animate this world, an elaborated magic system that enriches the world and besides all these, pieces of history and myths that add the final touch of vividness to the entire structure.

Point and over again, because that is not all. There is the presence of gods as well, only a bit different from the usual existence. Like in the ancient mythology the gods from the “Gardens of the Moon” have a direct impact on the world, crossing the boundary between their realms and the world and weaving the threads of intrigue for a personal interest. Speaking of intrigue, it is necessary to say that the story is as complex as the world-building is, with a large game in play. On such a large game there are many players as well, each one following their own purpose, spying and conspiring. Not once the story looks like a chess game played with several sets of pieces, many of them playing for other players as well, on their own accord or against their wielder. But all of them for the delight of the reader.

Since the story involves so many players and factions there are many characters that populate Steven Erikson’s novel. And despite of the richness of their numbers all consist a strong presence, fulfilling successfully their roles and making the story very powerful. It is true that Steven Erikson doesn’t go too in depth with their characterization, but he goes enough and builds them through dialogues and actions. Further on, at any point in the story there is not a moment where the positive and negative characters are separated. More so, there aren’t any positive or negative characters, only plain, human ones acting according to their own beliefs.

Still, I don’t think that Steven Erikson’s “Gardens of the Moon” is for every reader, because the novel truly requires a lot of patience. For at least of the third of the novel the world, events and story are very confusing jumping from a point to another and a character to another in a way that places the reader in a state of vertigo. The magic system is a bit confusing too, because the spells are made through the access of Warrens and those although different are only slightly touched and are a bit hard to separate. Also I am not entirely sure how the system works and how the Warrens are accessed. I am certain though that all these things will continue to unfold until the final novel of the series and only then we will have the final picture of the world and story. Also, the pace is rather slow because although the novel concentrates on a military campaign “Gardens of the Moon” does this more through the politics and intrigue behind the campaign than through military actions. However, more than in any other reading the patience is heavily rewarded in the end, with a complex but beautiful novel in this case.

I am still wondering how did I start to read Steven Erikson’s series after so much time, but I am very happy that I finally did. And by the looks of it “Gardens of the Moon” is just an appetizer introducing the main courses to follow.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Book trailer - "Dimiter" by William Peter Blatty

One of my memorable readings is William Peter Blatty’s novel, “The Exorcist”. All right, to be honest it is one novel that gave me and still gives me shivers down my spine. It is also the only novel by William Peter Blatty I read, but that doesn’t lessen its effects. After a long time William Peter Blatty published a new novel, “Dimiter”, released in March by Forge Books and I think that this is an excellent opportunity for me to read a new work by William Peter Blatty and a good reason to start looking for his other works. Especially since “Dimiter” comes with such an interesting trailer and with such an intriguing synopsis:

William Peter Blatty has thrilled generations of readers with his iconic mega-bestseller The Exorcist. Now Blatty gives us Dimiter, a riveting story of murder, revenge, and suspense. Laced with themes of faith and love, sin and forgiveness, vengeance and compassion, it is a novel in the grand tradition of Morris West’s The Devil’s Advocate and the Catholic novels of Graham Greene.

Dimiter opens in the world’s most oppressive and isolated totalitarian state: Albania in the 1970s. A prisoner suspected of being an enemy agent is held by state security. An unsettling presence, though subjected to unimaginable torture he maintains an eerie silence. He escapes---and on the way to freedom, completes a mysterious mission. The prisoner is Dimiter, the American “agent from Hell.”

The scene shifts to Jerusalem, focusing on Hadassah Hospital and a cast of engaging, colorful characters: the brooding Christian Arab police detective, Peter Meral; Dr. Moses Mayo, a troubled but humorous neurologist; Samia, an attractive, sharp-tongued nurse; and assorted American and Israeli functionaries and hospital staff. All become enmeshed in a series of baffling, inexplicable deaths, until events explode in a surprising climax.

Told with unrelenting pace, Dimiter’s compelling, page-turning narrative is haunted by the search for faith and the truths of the human condition. Dimiter is William Peter Blatty's first full novel since the 1983 publication of Legion.