Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Book trailer - "The Shining Girls" by Lauren Beukes

One of the most exciting releases of 2013 is Lauren Beukes’ third novel, “The Shining Girls”, due to be released on April in the UK by HarperCollins and on June in the US by Mulholland Books. I’ve seen a lot of crossing between speculative and noir fiction lately and the results were pretty attractive so far. However, knowing the potential showed in the previous novel, “Zoo City”, I believe that Lauren Beukes and “The Shining Girls” have something very special to offer. I still need to catch up with “Moxyland”, the debut novel of Lauren Beukes, but although I am not certain I would manage that in time for the release of “The Shining Girls” I still can enjoy the book’s interesting and catchy trailer until then.

The Time Traveler's Wife meets The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in this story of a time-traveling serial killer who is impossible to trace--until one of his victims survives.
In Depression-era Chicago, Harper Curtis finds a key to a house that opens on to other times. But it comes at a cost. He has to kill the shining girls: bright young women, burning with potential. He stalks them through their lives across different eras until, in 1989, one of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi, survives and starts hunting him back.
Working with an ex-homicide reporter who is falling for her, Kirby has to unravel an impossible mystery.
THE SHINING GIRLS is a masterful twist on the classic serial killer tale: a violent quantum leap featuring a memorable and appealing girl in pursuit of a deadly criminal.

Friday, March 22, 2013

5 years of blogging

5 years ago I wrote my first post on this blog and yet it feels like yesterday. I guess time can be like that when one enjoys what is doing. And I enjoyed immensely writing about my love for books, speculative fiction and art. There were times when I was not completely satisfied with the work I was doing on the blog and times, especially lately, when my schedule didn’t allow much space for the posts I planned to write. But I still enjoy talking about books and art. Even more than 5 years ago.

Time doesn’t stand still and neither the things around us. Plenty of changes came to pass in the last 5 years. Referring to everything related to this blog, the way I read books changed dramatically. I didn’t become more critical, but more analytical and I like to think that my perspective broadened because of it. The way I chose the books I read changed and although the past year has been a bit unfortunate in some of these choices I still believe that I am able to make a better selection of my readings now than 5 years ago. I discovered the small presses. I knew that they existed, but I didn’t pay much attention or I wasn’t aware of some of them before. I do now, because there were a series of small treasures published by independent presses I had the pleasure to read that I don’t think that would have found a home in the larger publishing houses. Thanks to them I also fell in love with a few very talented writers who I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. I re-discovered the beauty of short fiction and my love for these wonderful stories grew larger then before. I met, virtually for now, some fantastic people over these past 5 years, too many to name here, and hopefully I would be able to say a proper hello to some of them at this year’s World Fantasy Convention. There were 5 full years.

What future holds is difficult to say. Life has a way of its own and some of the plans I made for this blog took a step back because of other things than reading and blogging. Wonderful and amazing things nonetheless. Those plans are still there, but I am not sure when and how they would come to happen. They might not be a priority at the moment, but they would not be entirely neglected. With all these in mind I am looking forward to more blogging about books, speculative fiction and art. And as long as it gives me joy I’ll be here. It might not be as often as before, but I’ll be here.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

2012 Aurealis Awards finalists

SpecFaction NSW, the organizers of the Aurealis Awards, the annual literary award for excellence in Australian speculative fiction, have announced the finalists for the 2012 Aurealis Awards. This year, almost 750 entries were received in thirteen categories. The winners of the 2012 Aurealis Awards and the Peter McNamara Convenors’ Award will be announced on 18th May in a ceremony held at The Independent Theatre in North Sydney.

“Bitter Greens” by Kate Forsyth (Random House Australia)
“Stormdancer” by Jay Kristoff (Tor UK)
“Sea Hearts” by Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin)
“Flame of Sevenwaters” by Juliet Marillier (Pan Macmillan Australia)
“Winter Be My Shield” by Jo Spurrier (HarperVoyager)

“Sanaa’s Army” by Joanne Anderton (Bloodstones, Ticonderoga Publications)
“The Stone Witch” by Isobelle Carmody (Under My Hat, Random House)
“First They Came” by Deborah Kalin (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 55)
“Bajazzle” by Margo Lanagan (Cracklescape, Twelfth Planet Press)
“The Isles of the Sun” by Margo Lanagan (Cracklescape, Twelfth Planet Press)

“Suited” by Jo Anderton (Angry Robot)
“The Last City” by Nina D’Aleo (Momentum)
“And All the Stars” by Andrea K Host (self-published)
“The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf” by Ambelin Kwaymullina (Walker Books)
“Confusion of Princes” by Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin)
“The Rook” by Daniel O’Malley (Harper Collins)

“Visitors” by James Bradley (Review of Australian Fiction)
“Significant Dust” by Margo Lanagan (Cracklescape, Twelfth Planet Press)
“Beyond Winter’s Shadow” by Greg Mellor (Wild Chrome, Ticonderoga Publications)
“The Trouble with Memes” by Greg Mellor (Wild Chrome, Ticonderoga Publications)
“The Lighthouse Keepers’ Club” by Kaaron Warren (Exotic Gothic 4, PS Publishing)

“Bloody Waters” by Jason Franks (Possible Press)
“Perfections” by Kirstyn McDermott (Xoum)
“Blood and Dust” by Jason Nahrung (Xoum)
“Salvage” by Jason Nahrung (Twelfth Planet Press)

“Sanaa’s Army” by Joanne Anderton (Bloodstones, Ticonderoga Publications)
“Elyora” by Jodi Cleghorn (Rabbit Hole Special Issue, Review of Australian Fiction)
“To Wish Upon a Clockwork Heart” by Felicity Dowker (Bread and Circuses, Ticonderoga Publications)
“Escena de un Asesinato” by Robert Hood (Exotic Gothic 4, PS Publishing)
“Sky” by Kaaron Warren (Through Splintered Walls, Twelfth Planet Press)

“Dead, Actually” by Kaz Delaney (Allen & Unwin)
“And All the Stars” by Andrea K. Host (self-published)
“The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf” by Amberlin Kwaymullina (Walker Books)
“Sea Hearts” by Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin)
“Into That Forest” by Louis Nowra (Allen & Unwin)

“Stilled Lifes x 11” by Justin D’Ath (Trust Me Too, Ford Street Publishing)
“The Wisdom of the Ants” by Thoraiya Dyer (Clarkesworld)
“Rats”by Jack Heath (Trust Me Too, Ford Street Publishing)
“The Statues of Melbourne” by Jack Nicholls (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 56)
“The Worry Man” by Adrienne Tam (self-published)

CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through words)
“Brotherband: The Hunters” by John Flanagan (Random House Australia)
“Princess Betony and the Unicorn” by Pamela Freeman (Walker Books)
“The Silver Door” by Emily Rodda (Scholastic)
“Irina the Wolf Queen” by Leah Swann (Xoum Publishing)

CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through pictures)
“Little Elephants” by Graeme Base (author and illustrator) (Viking Penguin)
“The Boy Who Grew Into a Tree” by Gary Crew (author) and Ross Watkins (illustrator) (Penguin Group Australia)
“In the Beech Forest” by Gary Crew (author) and Den Scheer (illusrator) (Ford Street Publishing)
“Inside the World of Tom Roberts” by Mark Wilson (author and illustrator) (Lothian Children’s Books)

“Blue” by Pat Grant (author and illustrator) (Top Shelf Comix)
“It Shines and Shakes and Laughs” by Tim Molloy (author and illustrator) (Milk Shadow Books)
“Changing Ways #2” by Justin Randall (author and illustrator) (Gestalt Publishing)

“The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2011” edited by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (Ticonderoga Publications)
“Bloodstones” edited by Amanda Pillar (Ticonderoga Publications)
“The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year Volume 6” edited by Jonathan Strahan (Night Shade Books)
“Under My Hat” edited by Jonathan Strahan (Random House)
“Edge of Infinity” edited by Jonathan Strahan (Solaris Books)

“That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote” by K. J. Bishop (self-published)
“Metro Winds” by Isobelle Carmody (Allen & Unwin)
“Midnight & Moonshine” by Lisa L. Hannett & Angela Slatter (Ticonderoga Publications)
“Living with the Dead” by Martin Livings (Dark Prints Press)
“Through Splintered Walls” by Kaaron Warren (Twelfth Planet Press)

Congratulations and good luck to all the finalists!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Excerpt - "Among Others" by Jo Walton

Thursday 1st May 1975

The Phurnacite factory in Abercwmboi killed all the trees for two miles around. We’d measured it on the mileometer. It looked like something from the depths of hell, black and looming with chimneys of flame, reflected in a dark pool that killed any bird or animal that drank from it. The smell was beyond description. We always wound up the car windows as tight as tight when we had to pass it, and tried to hold our breath, but Grampar said nobody could hold their breath that long, and he was right. There was sulphur in that smell, which was a hell chemical as everyone knew, and other, worse things, hot unnameable metals and rotten eggs.
              My sister and I called it Mordor, and we’d never been there on our own before. We were ten years old. Even so, big as we were, as soon as we got off the bus and started looking at it we started holding hands.
It was dusk, and as we approached the factory loomed blacker and more terrible than ever. Six of the chimneys were alight; four belched out noxious smokes.
“Surely it is a device of the Enemy,” I murmured.
Mor didn’t want to play. “Do you really think this will work?”
“The fairies were sure of it,” I said, as reassuringly as possible.
“I know, but sometimes I don’t know how much they understand about the real world.”
“Their world is real,” I protested. “Just in a different way. At a different angle.”
“Yes.” She was still staring at the Phurnacite, which was getting bigger and scarier as we approached. “But I don’t know how much they understand about the angle of the every day world. And this is definitely in that world. The trees are dead. There isn’t a fairy for miles.”
“That’s why we’re here,” I said.
We came to the wire, three straggly strands, only the top one barbed. A sign on it read “No Unauthorised Admittance. Beware Guard Dogs.” The gate was far around the other side, out of sight.
“Are there dogs?” she asked. Mor was afraid of dogs, and dogs knew it. Perfectly nice dogs who would play with me would rouse their hackles at her. My mother said it was a method people could use to tell us apart. It would have worked, too, but typically of her, it was both terrifyingly evil and just a little crazily impractical.
“No,” I said.
“How do you know?”
“It would ruin everything if we go back now, after having gone to all this trouble and come this far. Besides, it’s a quest, and you can’t give up on a quest because you’re afraid of dogs. I don’t know what the fairies would say. Think of all the things people on quests have to put up with.” I knew this wasn’t working. I squinted forward into the deepening dusk as I spoke. Her grip on my hand had tightened. “Besides, dogs are animals. Even trained guard dogs would try to drink the water, and then they’d die. If there really were dogs, there would be at least a few dog bodies at the side of the pool, and I don’t see any. They’re bluffing.”
We crept below the wire, taking turns holding it up. The still pool was like old unpolished pewter, reflecting the chimney flames as unfaithful wavering streaks. There were lights below them, lights the evening shift worked by.
There was no vegetation here, not even dead trees. Cinders crunched underfoot, and clinker and slag threatened to turn our ankles. There seemed to be nothing alive but us. The starpoints of windows on the hill opposite seemed ridiculously out of reach. We had a school friend who lived there, we had been to a party once, and noticed the smell, even inside the house. Her father worked at the plant. I wondered if he was inside now.
At the edge of the pool we stopped. It was completely still, without even the faintest movement of natural water. I dug in my pocket for the magic flower. “Have you got yours?”
“It’s a bit crushed,” she said, fishing it out. I looked at them. Mine was a bit crushed too. Never had what we were doing seemed more childish and stupid than standing in the centre of that desolation by that dead pool holding a pair of crushed pimpernels the fairies had told us would kill the factory.
I couldn’t think of anything appropriate to say. “Well, un, dai, tri!” I said, and on “Three” as always we cast the flowers forward into the leaden pool, where they vanished without even a ripple. Nothing whatsoever happened. Then a dog barked far away, and Mor turned and ran and I turned and pelted after her.
“Nothing happened,” she said, when we were back on the road, having covered the distance back in less than a quarter of the time it had taken us as distance out.
“What did you expect?” I asked.
“The Phurnacite to fall and become a hallowed place,” she said, in the most matter- of- fact tone imaginable. “Well, either that or huorns.”
I hadn’t thought of huorns, and I regretted them extremely. “I thought the flowers would dissolve and ripples would spread out and then it would crumble to ruin and the trees and ivy come swarming over it while we watched and the pool would become real water and a bird would come and drink from it and then the fairies would be there and thank us and take it for a palace.”
“But nothing at all happened,” she said, and sighed. “We’ll have to tell them it didn’t work tomorrow. Come on, are we going to walk home or wait for a bus?”
             It had worked, though. The next day, the headline in the Aberdare Leader was “Phurnacite Plant Closing: Thousands of Jobs Lost.”
I’m telling that part first because it’s compact and concise and it makes sense, and a lot of the rest of this isn’t that simple.
              Think of this as a memoir. Think of it as one of those memoirs that’s later discredited to everyone’s horror because the writer lied and is revealed to be a different colour, gender, class and creed from the way they’d made everybody think. I have the opposite problem. I have to keep fighting to stop making myself sound more normal. Fiction’s nice. Fiction lets you select and simplify. This isn’t a nice story, and this isn’t an easy story. But it is a story about fairies, so feel free to think of it as a fairy story. It’s not like you’d believe it anyway.


Celebrating the paperback release of the UK edition, Corsair Books and “Among Others” are on tour and you can find many wonderful things about Jo Walton’s novel on the following blogs too:

Monday 18th March – The Speculative Scotsman – “Giving the Game Away/ We are Among Others”

Thursday 21st March – 2606 Books

Friday 22nd March – The Book Smugglers

Saturday 23rd March – Jan Edwards

Sunday 24th March – Fantasy Faction

Monday 25th March – Curiosity Killed The Bookworm

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Argos Magazine - a new Romanian magazine of speculative fiction

It gives me great pleasure to see that things on the local speculative fiction move further on and there are new signs of a better future for the Romanian fantastic. There are eight magazines in Romania dedicated to the speculative fiction plus one featuring the suspense, mystery and horror genres; four of these magazines are in print and the others have online editions. From this month the Romanian speculative fiction became richer with the apparition of Revista Argos, an online magazine with the main goal of supporting and promoting the local talent. Argos Magazine desires to offer a professional medium for the Romanian writers of speculative fiction, new and established alike, a place for interviews with these authors and reviews of Romanian SF&F publications. One of the sources of inspiration for Argos Magazine is the work made by John Joseph Adams with Lightspeed Magazine and Nightmare Magazine and following the example of these magazines Argos will release its content progressively for each issue. In the beginning the magazine will publish six issues every two months, with an ebook edition of each issue available after the online content is released. Each issue will feature four new stories, four reviews, an interview, an editorial and sometimes an excerpt of a novel due to be released or a re-print of an older local speculative fiction story. Argos Magazine is not available exclusively for the Romanian readership, but it also has a translation button on its website making its content available in English as well. Most of the inaugural issue is already available:

Editorial“A writer’s career” by Michael Haulică
Interview made by Dan Doboș with Dan Lungu
Reviews“Stories written from a high castle” by Tudor Ciocârlie (review of “The Second Coming” by Marian Truţă)
“A debut… heroic” by Oliviu Crâznic (review of “Taxidermy” by Narcisa Stoica)
“Juliette, Romeo and the glasses of amplified reality” by Dan Doboș (review of “The Terminal Year” by Florin Pîtea)
“A French at Paralela 45” by Michael Haulică (review of “’The State’-Internet” by Daniel-Philippe de Sudres)
Stories“Edana Rose” by Oliviu Crâznic
“Atavic” (excerpt) by Liviu Surugiu
“The Run” by Liviu Radu
“The Chimaera” by Narcisa Stoica
“A millions worth smile” by Ioana Vișan

I would like to welcome Argos Magazine and wish it a very long and successful existence! Congratulations!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Schedule to resume soon

A few personal problems topped with health issues prevented me from doing much in the last couple of weeks. With things getting slowly back on track I will be able to resume my usual schedule very soon.