Saturday, August 20, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Today, Bantam Press releases the UK edition of Jasper Kent’s third novel in “The Danilov Quintet” series, “The Third Section”. “The Third Section” is one of the titles I am looking forward to read this year, since I enjoyed a lot “Twelve” and “Thirteen Years Later”, but until I have that chance I am happy to have Jasper Kent as my guest on the blog with the occasion of “The Third Section” UK release day.
The Same – But Different
by Jasper Kent
It’s an answer that many an author must have heard. And the question? It comes after a novel has done reasonably well; a question that every author asks his (or her) editor: What next? The answer – the same, but different – is not plucked from the air. It’s a reflection of the views of the readership. If they wanted exactly the same, they could just read the book again. On the other hand, given that they liked the first book, what interest would they have in something totally different?
The author turns away, his lips intoning the counter-question: How different? He rarely bothers to ask the editor; the answer is obvious: Just different enough.
I think I err more towards the different than the same. As the name suggests, there will be five books in The Danilov Quintet, the last separated from the first by 105 years. If at the end things weren’t different from the beginning, then history would be failing in its duty. But if nothing remained the same, history would be unfathomable.
Just now we’re at the half-way point. From today you can (and should) buy the middle book of the series – The Third Section – and when you hit page 237 (out of 474) you will, in some sense, be exactly at the middle. Temporally, you’ll be a little earlier; 43 years from the beginning, 62 from the end. By the end of the book a conception and a death will have marked the true midpoint for the Danilov family. The first two books had one hero – the last two will have another.
The Third Section has a heroine.
Tamara Valentinovna Komarova, the central character of The Third Section, is the same, and is different. She has the same love of her country as Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov; the same faith towards her friends – often misplaced; the same cunning; the same hatred of the voordalak. But, unlike Aleksei Ivanovich, she is a woman – a woman in imperial Russia. She cannot rely on her physical strength, or even upon the respect of her fellow Russians. To defeat, or even survive, the enemy that Aleksei once faced; she can only fall back on her wits, her beauty and her guile. The problems she faces are the same – or at least similar; her solutions to them are quite, quite new.
Vive, as they must surely say in Russia, la différence.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
But in the desert beyond the Dread Empire: a young victim of the Great War becomes the Deliverer of an eons-forgotten god, chosen to lead the legions of the dead. And the power of his vengeance will make a world's schemes as petty as dust, blown wild in the horror that rides the east wind.
Many of the characters from past volumes take center stage, and the climatic events of this book shake the world of the Dread Empire to its very core, creating A Path to Coldness of Heart.
Far away in Kavelin, Bragia's queen and what remains of his army seek to find and free their king, hampered by the loss or desertion of their best and brightest warriors. Kavelina's spymaster, Michael Trebilcock, is missing in action, as is loyal soldier Aral Dantice. Meanwhile, Dane, Duke of Greyfells, seeks to seize the rule of Kavelin and place the kingdom in his pocket, beginning a new line of succession through Bragia's queen, Dane's cousin Inger. And in the highest peaks of the Dragona's Teeth, in the ancient castle Fangdred, the sorcerer called Varthlokkur uses his arts to spy on the world at large, observing the puppet strings that control kings and empires alike, waiting... For the time of the wrath of kings is almost at hand, and vengeance lies along a path to coldness of heart.
Friday, August 12, 2011
“I am thinking sometimes that I am a chopping machine. A monstrous chopping machine from which, like endless worms, the words are crawling outside. I am a chopping machine, a silent mill that grinds memories, that crashes readings, music and people, I am a chipped mixer that mingles fragments of dusty myths and caught on the fly ideas, I am a neuronal grater that lays on the paper a compact paste in which the smiles of friends, the grins of strangers, the moans of lovers, the morning coffee or the breakfast eaten at noon can still be read.” (Marian Coman – “White Nights, Black Days”)
The quote from Marian Coman’s “White Nights, Black Days” firmly touches autobiography, although it is from a work of fiction. One work of fiction that has a place high on my list of preferences together with the other Marian Coman’s published fiction book, “The Chocolate Testament”. Indeed the compact paste that Marian Coman lays on paper bares strong emotions and touches intimately the reader. It was the same case with his latest short story, “White Butterfly”, a new piece of fiction after two years of pause.
Still, it was the exclusive privilege of the Romanians to enjoy Marian Coman’s wonderful prose and overflowing imagination. Not anymore. Because for the first time Marian Coman’s fiction is available in English. In electronic format for the moment and I do hope that it will have the chance to be released on paper too. “Fingers and Other Fantastic Stories” features four short pieces of fiction, one better than the other. “Fingers”, “The Bathroom Door”, “Unwired” and “Between Walls” are beautiful choices, poised to make a mark on the reader. They left a mark on me. “Fingers” a fantastic story that shows you an image of a childhood spent under the Communist regime led by Nicolae Ceaușescu. The Romanians have different connections with this story and although others readers do not have the same purchase on its background I believe that they would still find its beauty. “The Bathroom Door” has accents of horror, but it is more than that, “Unwired” has elements of science fiction, while “Between Walls” journeys deep within one of the most essential Romanian myths, giving the respective legend a new dimension.
Marian Coman is part of the group of Romanian modern writers who fully deserve to make appearances on the English market and not only there. I am happy to see that Marian Coman made this first step and his fiction is available to a wider audience. And since I said in my review of “White Nights, Black Days” that: “It also made me think that if I had the power I would force Marian Coman to write more. Better still, I would pay him to do it.”, I opted for the later and bought an electronic copy of “Fingers and Other Fantastic Stories” because I know that those are money well spent.
“A flock of collared doves. Of albatrosses and finches that swarm croaking in an inextricable maze. That’s how the whole lot of children seemed to me, see from the balcony of the apartment I’m living in. I looked at them and I felt as if, as small as I saw them from above, I could catch and crush them between my nails like fleas. To hear their shell crack, with that noise of strawberry seeds stuck between the teeth”. (Marian Coman – “Fingers and Other Fantastic Stories) – available on Amazon.com.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Monday, August 8, 2011
The list of nominees for 2011 World Fantasy Awards contains a few very pleasant surprises for me, one of them being the nomination of Stéphane Marsan and Alain Névant from the French publisher Bragelonne for the Professional Special Award. I am very familiar with the work of Bragelonne, mainly because my love for cover artwork and it is one of the fields where the efforts of Bragelonne are truly exceptional. Some of my favorites cover artworks come from Bragelonne and one that immediately comes to mind is Marc Simonetti’s beautiful cover for Ken Scholes’ “Lamentation”. Bragelonne continued to collaborate with the talented Marc Simonetti for the second novel in Ken Scholes’ “Psalms of Isaak” series, “Canticle”, as well as for the third one, “Antiphon”, due to be released in France on 26th of August. Marc Simonetti made another wonderful cover, although the figure appearing on the “Antiphon” cover artwork isn’t very attractive for me. However, the scene and the general sense of the artwork are at a high level, as is the work of Marc Simonetti usually. Looking over this series of covers and considering the pleasant presence of Bragelonne on the list of World Fantasy Awards nominees I do hope that someday I will see the name of Marc Simonetti on the same list too and why not, on the winners list as well.
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Thursday, August 4, 2011
However, the tsar himself knows he can never be at peace. He is well aware of the uprising fermenting within his own army, but his true fear is of something far more terrible – something that threatens to bring damnation upon him, his family and his country. Aleksandr cannot forget a promise: a promise sealed in blood … and broken a hundred years before.
Now the victim of the Romanovs’ betrayal has returned to demand what is his. The knowledge chills Aleksandr’s very soul. And for Aleksei, it seems the vile pestilence that once threatened all he held dear has returned, thirteen years later …
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Stephen Jones starts his new anthology, “A Book of Horrors”, wondering about the present situation of the horror genre: “What the hell happened to the horror genre? Whatever happened to menacing monsters, vicious vampires, lethal lycanthropes, ghastly ghosts and monstrous mummies? These days our bloodsuckers are more likely to show their romantic nature, werewolves work for covert government organisations, phantoms are private investigators and the walking dead can be found sipping tea amongst the polite society of a Jane Austen novel.”
I have to say that these days, for me, vampires and zombies are totally lost. I very rarely tend to pick a book up that feature these creatures, mainly because their romantic side looks very odd and unappealing for me. Well, I also have to admit that I don’t mind a few hard boiled, monster private investigators, but only occasionally and I do hope that this doesn’t turn into a fashion as well, because I will see myself running away from it too in that case.
But this time there is no room for the soft part of these creatures, instead Stephen Jones, one of the most prolific editors of the horror fiction, brings this genre back on his rightful track. “A Book of Horrors” is an original anthology of horror and dark fantasy and features some heavy names in its line-up, such as Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Reggie Oliver, Michael Marshall Smith, Elizabeth Hand, Richard Christian Matheson, Caitlín R. Kiernan and John Ajvide Lindqvist, just to name a few. Stephen Jones’ “A Book of Horrors” will be hosted by the newly formed imprint of Quercus Books, Jo Fletcher Books, ran by the excellent former Associate Publisher of Gollancz, Jo Fletcher, and scheduled to be released around Halloween. However, Stephen Jones’ “A Book of Horror” comes in two limited editions as well, co-published by Cemetery Dance Publications and PS Publishing, one thousand copies signed by Stephen Jones and Les Edwards (who made yet another awesome cover) and one hundred copies of the traycased edition signed by all the contributors. I am not sure if I can afford one of these limited editions, certainly not the traycased edition, but I would certainly pick a copy of Jo Fletcher Books edition, because Stephen Jones’ “A Book of Horrors” looks too good to be passed by.
Open this book at your own peril! That is because this volume is exactly what it say on the cover—A Book of Horrors contains all-original stories by some of the most successful and exciting names in modern horror fiction. For the first time in many years, here is an original anthology of horror and dark fantasy in all its many and magnificent guises—from classic pulp-style tales of Dark and Stormy Nights, through more contemporary and psychological terrors, to the type of cutting-edge fiction that only the very best horror fiction can deliver. Brought together from around the world by World Fantasy Award-winning editor Stephen Jones, one of Britain's most acclaimed and experienced anthologists of horror fiction, here are many of the authors who have helped shaped the genre in all of its forms, along with terrifying tales of unease by a new generation of storytellers devoted to the Dark Side. But be warned: once you begin to delve within these pages, your imagination and senses will be assaulted by terrors both grim and gruesome, literary and lethal, that will stay with you long after you have closed its covers and tried to put aside the images and situations which have wormed their way deep within your mind. Don't blame us for the bad dreams or cold sweats that these tales will induce. We did tell you—this is A Book of Horrors, and once you open it there is no way that these scarifying stories will ever be forgotten... no matter how much you wish that the nightmares will just go away!
“Introduction: Whatever Happened To Horror?” by Stephen Jones
“The Little Green God of Agony” by Stephen King
“Charcloth, Firesteel and Flint” by Caitlín R. Kiernan
“Ghosts With Teeth” by Peter Crowther
“The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter” by Angela Slatter
“Roots and All” by Brian Hodge
“Tell Me I’ll See You Again” by Dennis Etchison
“The Music Of Bengt Karlsson, Murderer” by John Ajvide Lindqvist
“Getting It Wrong” by Ramsey Campbell
“Alice Through The Plastic Sheet” by Robert Shearman
“The Man In The Ditch” by Lisa Tuttle
“A Child’s Problem” by Reggie Oliver
“Sad, Dark Thing” by Michael Marshall Smith
“Near Zennor” by Elizabeth Hand
“Last Words” by Richard Christian Matheson
Monday, August 1, 2011
“Zoo City” by Lauren Beukes (Jacana South Africa; Angry Robot)
“The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms” by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
“The Silent Land” by Graham Joyce (Gollancz; Doubleday)
“Under Heaven” by Guy Gavriel Kay (Viking Canada; Roc; Harper Voyager UK)
“Redemption In Indigo” by Karen Lord (Small Beer)
“Who Fears Death” by Nnedi Okorafor (DAW)
“Bone and Jewel Creatures” by Elizabeth Bear (Subterranean)
“The Broken Man” by Michael Byers (PS)
“The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon” by Elizabeth Hand (Stories: All-New Tales)
“The Thief of Broken Toys” by Tim Lebbon (ChiZine Publications)
“The Mystery Knight” by George R.R. Martin (Warriors)
“The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window” by Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Summer 2010)
“Beautiful Men” by, Christopher Fowler (Visitants: Stories of Fallen Angels and Heavenly Hosts)
“Booth’s Ghost” by Karen Joy Fowler (What I Didn’t See and Other Stories)
“Ponies” by Kij Johnson (Tor.com 11/17/10)
“Fossil-Figures” by Joyce Carol Oates (Stories: All-New Tales)
“Tu Sufrimiento Shall Protect Us” by Mercurio D. Rivera (Black Static 8-9/10)
“The Way of the Wizard” edited by John Joseph Adams (Prime)
“My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me” edited by Kate Bernheimer (Penguin)
“Haunted Legends” edited by Ellen Datlow & Nick Mamatas (Tor)
“Stories: All-New Tales” edited by Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio (Morrow; Headline Review)
“Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror” edited by S.T. Joshi (PS)
“Swords & Dark Magic” edited by Jonathan Strahan & Lou Anders (Eos)
“What I Didn’t See and Other Stories” by Karen Joy Fowler (Small Beer)
“The Ammonite Violin & Others” by Caitlín R. Kiernan (Subterranean)
“Holiday” by M. Rickert (Golden Gryphon)
“Sourdough and Other Stories” by Angela Slatter (Tartarus)
“The Third Bear” by Jeff VanderMeer (Tachyon)
Kinuko Y. Craft
Richard A. Kirk
John Joseph Adams, for editing and anthologies
Lou Anders, for editing at Pyr
Marc Gascoigne, for Angry Robot
Stéphane Marsan & Alain Névant, for Bragelonne
Brett Alexander Savory & Sandra Kasturi, for ChiZine Publications
Stephen Jones, Michael Marshall Smith, & Amanda Foubister, for Brighton Shock!: The Souvenir Book Of The World Horror Convention 2010
Alisa Krasnostein, for Twelfth Planet Press
Matthew Kressel, for Sybil’s Garage and Senses Five Press
Charles Tan, for Bibliophile Stalker
Lavie Tidhar, for The World SF Blog