Saturday, May 31, 2008

Interview Bill Hussey

Bill Hussey is the author of the novel "Through A Glass, Darkly", a novel that will be released on 10th July 2008 by Bloody Books. I really enjoyed the novel and you can read my review of the book here, on my blog. Bill Hussey was very kind to answer my questions for an interview and you can see the result of our conversations in the next lines.

Dark Wolf: Reading your blog I found out about your passion for stories and books, passion inflicted by your grandfathers. But from where comes the passion for writing?
Bill Hussey: This is a tricky one as I can't remember a time when I haven't loved writing, or at least telling a tale. Some of my earliest memories are of drawing little comic books - unashamed rip-offs of Spider-man and the Fantastic Four that had at least some narrative flow - and of writing plays and roping in my family to take their parts. As I've said on my website, from a very early age I remember my grandfathers reading to me and making up their own wonderfully inventive stories. I could see the joy these two very different old men took in telling a tale. There was a light behind their eyes that peeled back the years and showed me a glimpse of the boys they had been. That kind of joy in storytelling is pretty darn infectious. I guess I just wanted to emulate them, to start entertaining with my own stories. I also think that, in my writing, there is a bit of the showmanship of my forebears (my dad comes from a long line of travelling showmen). Showmen have a genetic imperative to tell stories and there isn't much difference between spinning a yarn orally and setting it down on paper. In fact, oral storytelling teaches you a great deal about momentum, pacing and holding a reader's/audience's attention. The only real difference - and a vital one - is editing.

Dark Wolf: From all the stories that you heard or read is horror your favorite genre? Why did you choose this genre for your debut?
Bill Hussey: I wouldn't say horror is my favourite genre as that is a little too specific. I love all tales of the weird and fantastical, be they horror, sci-fi, fantasy, magical realism or government dossiers of mass destruction (actually, that last one is a little too weird and fantastical, even for my liking!).
I think I would put "Through A Glass, Darkly" (TAGD) into the category of "dark fiction" rather than straightforward horror. That is not to say I dislike the label - I get really irritated by those who look down their noses at horror. I only say TAGD is dark fiction because there are fantasy and even romantic themes in the book too. But if others label it horror then I am more than happy to accept that classification. Until recently, horror has had a tough time in the publishing world, and there is certainly a snobbishness about the genre in literary circles. Luckily, I think there are signs that horror's reputation is about to undergo a renaissance similar to that which the crime genre enjoyed a decade or so back...
Sorry, I went off at a bit of a tangent there!
Anyway, I chose to write in this genre area because the idea of the extraordinary (in this case a haunted village, a demonic presence) rubbing shoulders with the rigorously logical (a police investigation) has always appealed to me. As I'll explain later, I find that short step from one world into another a terrifying and captivating concept. There are also great freedoms given to a writer working in this area, but there are restrictions too. For example, you can create a world from scratch but it must be credible within its own mythology and terms of reference. This notion of a genre, in which the limitless bounds of the imagination is curtailed only by the story it conceives, I find to be incredibly exciting. Horror also gives a writer the opportunity to tackle real life issues - loneliness, the price of isolation, fear of aging and death - in a more figurative environment than straight fiction would allow. Not only is this much more fun from a writing perspective, it allows the writer to push his/her characters into the extremes of the human condition, which is always interesting. In a less profound sense, horror also gives me the chance to try to creep myself out - always an enjoyable experience during a 2am editing session!

DW: Can you tell us, please, who are your favorite authors and favorite books?
From the authors and books read anyone in particular influenced your work?
BH: Can I take these questions together? I ask because those writers I love have inevitably had an influence on my writing, and particularly on TAGD...
I know I'm going to miss out a few favourites, and kick myself later, but here goes: Dickens has got to be my favourite author. I was completely miserable when I finished reading "Bleak House"; the thought that I'd never be able to read it again from scratch, without knowing the outcome of Jarndyce & Jarndyce or the machinations of Mr Tulkinghorn was almost painful! Dickens was a writer of such passion and declaratory power that even now, a century and a half later, you can't help being moved to tears by the deaths of (look away now spoiler-phobes!) Sydney Carton in "A Tale of Two Cities" or Jo the crossing sweeper in "Bleak House". In my own way, I wanted to channel a little of that power for the climatic scenes in TAGD.
Other than ol' Charlie boy, let me see... My favourite horror story in Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" (my adaptation of J&H for the stage was produced last winter). The image Stevenson dreamed up (literally - his wife woke him from a nightmare in which he witnessed the transformation scene) of one man's physical and moral regression into an underdeveloped but seductive "other self" is such a powerful and chilling one. Here, for really the first time in horror fiction, Man is Monster. When I came to write TAGD, I guess Jekyll & Hyde must have been ticking away at the back of my mind. There is something of a transformation scene in the book, as well as one of the main characters being called "Malahyde". "The demon within" is certainly a theme TAGD shares with Jekyll & Hyde.
At the risk of sounding obsessively Victorian, Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories were my bedtime reading when I was a kid. As a teacher of pure, narrative drive you can't do better than to read those old Strand Magazine tales. And while we're talking detectives, Agatha Christie seems to get a bad rap these days. Sure, she's no great shakes when it comes to elegant prose, but for plotting and pacing there is none better. I read a great deal of Christie as a young teen - I thought the resolution of "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd" to be the cleverest thing in the world! - and I am happy to acknowledge TAGD's debt to her ingenous detective stories. My book is a mystery as much as it is a horror story. The clues are there, fairly placed I hope, for the reader to work out the twist ending before he/she gets there. TAGD owes something to Christie's tuition, both in the sprinkling of clues and pacing.
A contemporary of Christie in the thriller field, but of a different genre slant, is Dennis Wheatley. I absolutely loved his breathless supernatural thrillers. Their fast pace, their occult-heavy overtones - epitomised in "The Devil Rides Out" - are, I think, echoed in my book. I certainly like to think of TAGD in that same mystery-action-horror vein.
Another obvious influence is that grand old master, HP Lovecraft. Jack Trent's demons simply wouldn't exist without the Cthulhu Mythos. One of Lovecraft's central themes is the thinness of the "normal world" and the great weight of terrifying things that lurk behind the veil. Ever since I read "At the Mountains of Madness" that idea has fascinated me and has clearly found a place in TAGD.
In your review, Mihai, you detected traces of Stephen King in the book. Most young horror writers these days would have to admit that they labour under King's shadow! I think what he does especially well - apart from coming up with iconic scenarios and great characters - is exactly what Ian Fleming did in the Bond books: he juxtaposes the everyday with the fantastic. By citing brands of cars, cigarettes and song lyrics etc - essentially the recognisable elements of a shared culture - he grounds the story in the real world. This makes it even more exciting and disturbing when he slips us through the veil and we see the mayhem beyond. It's a great narrative device which, used sparingly, can have a wonderful effect.
I suppose my biggest influence, however, has to be the true master of the ghost story: Montague Rhodes James. MR James stands head and shoulders above any other practitioner in the spine-tingling field because, for him, the extraordinary is so bound up with the dry, the everyday - dare I say it? - the dull. I have taken shamelessly from James in my writing. The most obvious influence he has had on me is that I find the bookish world he creates to be both alluring and terrifying. That is why you will come across libraries, books, incunabula and the pursuit of the scholarly in TAGD.
If I'm allowed a shorlist of other favourite writers off the top of my head: Truman Capote for his wonderful short stories and the detailed and morally difficult "In Cold Blood"; Ian Rankin for the dour brilliance of his Rebus books; GK Chesterton simply for creating Father Brown; Iain Banks for writing "The Wasp Factory", a first novel that shows all other first-timers how it should be done; Shirley Jackson because, as Stephen King said, she never had to raise her voice; Robert Aickman for reminding me that ghost stories can be different; Neil Gaiman for taking me to new worlds, and Ian McEwan, Jorge Luis Borges and Doris Lessing, whose books make me strive to be better and remind me to be humble! As I say, as soon as I finish this interview I know I'm going to remember at least fifty other great scribblers I should have included...

DW: Can you tell us, please, about the journey taken by your novel from the idea until the publishing?
BH: The initial idea behind TAGD came to me from a debate I had with a good friend a few years ago. Our discussion ranged across embryo research, abortion and euthanasia: all pretty heavy-duty stuff, and of no direct relation to the themes eventually pursued in TAGD. We got to a point in the debate in which my friend, a committed Christian, said something along the lines of - "Why is Man so greedy for life? Is there anything he wouldn't do, any boundry he wouldn't cross, in order to survive?". In those words, the germ of an idea took root. I started to think about that primal, ruthless instinct to survive and the lengths to which it could drive a man. TAGD eventually evolved into other thematic avenues but this was the core of the story.
While working as a trainee solicitor in Leeds, I found myself pondering that old moral debate. I was continuing to write throughout this period and had started an outline for what would become TAGD. It centered around a man living an isolated life, plagued by visions of the future. At the same time, I was becoming increasingly disillusioned with the Law: a career I had fallen into after doubting that I could really make my way as a writer. One lunchtime, while watching the TV in the staff lounge, I saw a news report on a degree in creative writing offered by Sheffield Hallam University. I'm not much of a believer in Fate, but I decided that I had to take this as some sort of sign. That evening I sent off my application to Hallam, together with some sample chapters of the embryonic TAGD. A few weeks later, I found out that I had been accepted on the course. I quit my career in Law the very next day.
Hallam was a joyous and somewhat arduous experience. For the first time, I was mixing with people who actually understood and shared my love of writing. I quickly learned, however, that if I really wanted to be a writer, I would have to work hard. Writing is a craft to be honed and, like any craft, an apprenticeship must be served. With the help of celebrated literary novelist Jane Rogers (of "Mr Wroe's Virgins" fame) I honed my craft, knocking the rough edges off my prose style as I went. At the same time I was passing early drafts of TAGD to my good friend Graeme Hills for his comments. We share a similar geeky sensibility when it comes to horror/sci-fi, and he's always my first invaluable critic when I finish a book. The culmination of this process was the fifth and final draft of TAGD.
The novel was then submitted to the examination board, received favourable comments and earned me my Masters Degree. One of the board markers was literary agent Bill Hamilton of the AM Heath Agency. He was very complimentary about the book and passed it on to a young, energetic agent called Ben Mason. Scince then, Ben has worked tirelessly to get TAGD into print. It eventually found a home with Beautiful Books, under their Bloody Books imprint, and I am overjoyed at the enthusiasm displayed by publisher Simon Petherick and his team. We're now six weeks away from publication (10th July 2008).
The book itself changed very little from the one submitted on the MA to the one being published on 10th. My editor, Jonathan Wooding, has provided invaluable notes which have improved the book immensely, but the structure - the essential story - hasn't really changed. At its core it is still about that ruthless survival instinct. The only other thing of note about the development of the book was the months of research it entailed - a fascinating process of looking through archaic, esoteric texts, during which I pieced together my "ritual of the transmigration of souls"...

DW: On your blog I read that "Through A Glass, Darkly" was inspired by the lonely Fen villages. But did you have any other inspirations for this novel?
BH: I have always found the Fens and their villages an eerie environment. There is an emptiness to them - a beautiful vacuum - that haunts me. To set a horror novel here just seemed so perfect. Other inspirations can be found in the authors I've cited and that moral debate I had with my friend. There were also lots of mini inspirations during those long months of research, the most important of which was my discovery of metempsychosis. One other inspiration - a newspaper report I read many years ago about a man who sold his eldest child into slavery in order to maintain an elevated quality of life for himself and his young wife...

DW: "Through A Glass, Darkly" is a quote from the Corinthians, from the New Testament, and it has inspired many works. What inspired you to give your novel this title?
BH: I'm actually really bad with titles. I'm constantly changing them around to see which one fits. There were many discussions with my agent and publishers about "Through A Glass, Darkly". Eventually, we all come to the conclusion that, although it has been used for many other works of fiction (notably Sheridan Le Fanu's collection of short horror stories - although he used "In" rather than "Through"), there is no better title for this book.
I chose it primarily because it tells us the story of Jack Trent. With his visions, he sees an imperfect picture of the story unraveling around him. He understands that story a little better as he progresses through the book, but his comprehension of the truth is always somewhat askew. That is what the quote means: we, as fallible humans, see God's Truth as if in a mirror, darkly - we understand bits of it, perhaps, but not the complete picture. That is how Jack sees what is happening to him, until the very end of the book when all is revealed...
The lines preceding "through a glass..." in Corinthians talk about being a child and of putting away childish things - a message which has a certain resonance at the end of the tale! There is also the symbolism of the mirror/glass throughout the book - we open with Jack's vision reflected in a mirror, Jack's demons come to him through a window - and this feeds into the Lewis Carroll-Alice references and quotations peppered across TAGD. After all, Jack Trent exists in his own dark Wonderland.

DW: The story has any ideas based on your personal experience too?
BH: Not directly. I did once have quite a remarkable supernatural encounter which, as hard-headed as I am, I just can't explain. That experience, however, doesn't feed directly into the events of TAGD. And yet, perhaps the chill which that memory still evokes helped me in the writing of TAGD's creepier scenes! As I say in my blog, the locations in the book and their atmosphere were inspired by those long walks I used to take with my grandfathers when I was a kid. The bleakness of the Fens just infected me, I guess. But no, I've never met a Jack Trent, Asher Brody or - thank God! - a Dr Mendicant!

DW: Did you settled on the story and the storyline from the beginning or you did some changes when writing the novel?
BH: Some writers will find this absolutely abhorrent, but I do tend to plot out my stories before I start. In my defence, I will say that these are very loose structures, not chapter-by-chapter breakdowns. I find that if I don't have some idea of the progression of the book, I'll get to page 30 and dry up. That isn't to say I stick religiously to that structure. If the characters lead me in another direction, or I feel that the story is taking me down other avenues, I always obey that natural narrative flow. But I must say, I find having an outline very freeing. Knowing that there is a structure to return to if I get lost means that I can go off on flights of fancy whenever I feel like it, and never be afraid of losing the thread. I can understand why some writers think that plotting takes all the thrill out of writing and that the story should be allowed to grow organically. But I think my stories do grow in that organic way, there's just a little trellis framing put up to prevent them sprouting all over the place! If you don't treat the structure like a Bible then it can be very useful. And, sure, in TAGD the plot changed quite a bit during the writing process. For example, in the original, Jack's professional partner was a man and there was no love interest. I felt the book lacked heart and so I turned this character into Dawn Howard, Jack Trent's long-suffering lover. A pretty significant change which altered the dynamic of the story considerably!

DW: When you wrote the novel did you had moments without ideas or when you were blocked?
BH: No, I've never had writer's block. I'm not sure I actually believe in it. Look, most writers - including me - are procrastinators. We sit at the desk in the morning with the best of intentions. But then we decide, instead of writing, we need to count our paperclips or write up our research notes in a neater hand... Anything to avoid the tyranny of the blank page. In reality, we could write something if we put our mind to it but it's easier not to. And so we call it writer's block. I'm not saying writers don't get into problems, such as narrative cul-de-sacs etc, I just mean that we can always put something down on paper. I tend to find that the much maligned loose structure is a big help here - it gives you the freedom to overcome the so-called block.

DW: Jack Trent is a very well build character, one that I enjoyed a lot. Are there any connections with a real person or he is just fictional?
BH: Jack is, for the most part, fictional, but I guess there's a little bit of me in him. A bit of my late grandfather, Len Sanford, too, because he's an honourable man. I'm not at all sure that the honourable part applies to his creator as well, but I do think Jack gets both his light and shade from me. I'm a pretty cheerful guy most of the time, but I do have the odd bout of melancholia, from which Jack suffers. I also identify with his sense of isolation. Most writers will tell you that writing is a brilliant job, but can be an incredibly lonely one. There are no colleagues to distract you, no office banter to take you out of the working day. You're on your own, buddy. So, yeah, I get Jack's loneliness - I get his yearning for the company of others. On a lighter note, I also gave him my love of comic books and old B movies! In many ways, Jack Trent is a contradiction - light and dark, hopeful and despairing, hungry for life but timid and afraid. He's also an optimistic pessimist, just like me!

DW: I also loved the idea with the atemporal library and the sacrifices the library keeper demands from the visitors. From where did this idea came up?
BH: I'm glad you enjoyed Yeager! That ol' metaphysical, trans-dimensional library is one of my favourite babies in the book. It's just so out there as a concept, I wasn't sure it would fit, but that's the benefit of that loose structure - it gave me the freedom to experiment and, you know what, it did fit! Yeager Library is another debt I owe to MR James - the weird and scholarly found their place in TAGD after all.
I'm not entirely sure where the specific idea came from. In a general sense, I've always loved libraries. I spend a huge amount of time in them and consider them to be magical places: all those avenues of knowledge, all that weight of experience pressing around you. And the fact that the treasures they contain come for free.. Or do they? I've sometimes wondered what the bibliophile gives up in exchange for spending so much of his time in libraries. Books contain the wisdom of the ages, but reading about life is no substitute for going out there and really living it. Is that the price the scholarly pay for all theri knowledge, for all their years walled in by paper - Life? I think MR James sometimes thought so, and I often wonder myself. The rules of the Yeager Library reflect this potential danger...
The fact that Yeager moves through time and space is another reflection of the book's title: the Yeager Library houses Truth, but it is a shifting truth which can't be pinned down.

DW: In the future do you plan trying a different genre for your works?
BH: I would love to write an historical crime novel. I have an idea that I think could work very well but not the time, at the moment, to execute it. A lot of research is called for. But I'm no real hurry to leave dark fiction just yet.

DW: Can you tell us something about your future projects?
BH: I'm busy writing a rather nasty short story which I may put up on my website soon.
Other than that, I am on the point of submitting my next horror novel to my agent and publisher. At the moment it's called "The Absence" and I'm blogging about its development on my website. Again, it's set in the Fens, but with a very different plot and tone to TAGD. This novelis centered around the mythology of the Fens themselves, which has hardly, if ever, been touched upon in the genre. It concerns a family breaking apart after a tragic loss. They inherit a house set in the bleak expanse of Fen country, beneath a brooding three-quarter sky. While there, they find that something from the old times - the times of Water and of Marsh - has been left behind...
The second book aside, I think I'm going to be pretty busy throughout July publicising TAGD! Check out my website and that of Beautiful Books for news!
Many thanks to Dark Wolf for this opportunity - I'm so glad you enjoyed the book!

Thank you very much Bill Hussey for your time, answers and amability. It has been a pleasure reading your novel and realizing this interview. I'm looking forward for your future works and for the opportunity to talk with you again.

Friday, May 30, 2008

"Road of the Patriarch" by R.A. Salvatore

"Road of the Patriarch"
Format: Paperback, 352 pages

R.A. Salvatore concludes his series "The Sellswords" in "Road of the Patriarch". And I think that even though the outcome is good it could have been better.

Jarlaxle and Artemis Entreri continue their adventures in Bloodstone Lands that began in the previous novel of the series, "Promise of the Witch-King". After their contribution in the elimination of Witch-King's remnants they found themelves in the grace of the king Gareth Dragonsbane. But their actions lead them to a very different position and situation. And in the end is all about the inner feelings and thoughts.

Overall I liked the novel, but I think is a little under the expectations I had after reading "Promise of the Witch-King". The pace had slowed a little, but I think that is because "Servant of the Shard" and "Promise of the Witch-King" have a lot more action and "Road of the Patriarch" considers more the inner feelings of the characters and the consequences of their actions. So all together is not such a bad thing.

I thought that the first part of the book was a excuse for the final part. After I had finished reading the novel I was more impressed by the end rather than the beginning. And I think of the beginning not as a follow of the previous novel, but as an introduction for the outcome of this one. And at a personal level I didn't liked the Heroes of Bloodstone. I found them too good to be true, without flaws in their actions. And Riordan Parnell annoyed me with his interventions.

I prefered to start with what I think that are the weaker points of the novel, because I love the works of R.A. Salvatore and the things that I liked in "Road of the Patriarch" are many more those I didn't like. As usual in the author's works, the fighting scenes are great, imposing a sense of fluidity and speed. And even if some of the scenes go to a predictable point I couldn't wait for the outcome because that was unpredictable. For example the scene when Olwen encounters Artemis Entreri.

I loved the amusing scenes, like that of the orc courier, and I loved that the author kept the humour of some dialogues. I liked Jarlaxle as character, I liked the turmoil of Artemis Entreri and I liked that R.A. Salvatore developed this characters, going in their past and introducing their personal history. And this is available also for the new character, Athrogate. And I loved that the author reintroduces the thoughts and feelings of Drizzt Do'Urden in the beginning of each part of the novel. Those moments I enjoyed the most in the novels featuring the renegade drow elf.

In conclusion I have to say that I liked the novel, even though a little less than the previous two of the series. I liked the end of "Road of the Patriarch" and I will recommend this read if only that would be the sole good thing, but it's not the only one.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

In the mailbox & on the blogosphere

I received new books this week, so here they are:

- "Bitterwood" by James Maxey (courtesy of Solaris Books)
- "Dragonforge" by James Maxey (courtesy of Solaris Books)
- "The Mirrored Heavens" by David J Williams (courtesy of David J Williams and Bantam Spectra)
- "The Wolf Sea" by Robert Low (courtsey of Harper Collins UK)
- "School's Out" by Scott Andrews (courtsey of Abaddon Books)
- "Dawn Over Doomsday" by Jaspre Bark (courtesy of Abaddon Books)

Thank you very much and I can't wait to start reading them.

On the blogosphere things are very interesting as always:

- Robert at Fantasy Book Critic has a very nice review of Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon's "Mind the Gap" and three very attractive giveaways Dean Koontz's "In Odd We Trust", James Rollins' "The Judas Strain" & "The Last Oracle" and Jay Lake's "Mainspring" & "Escapament";

- Tia at Fantasy Debut has an interview with Jennifer Rardin, the author of the "Jaz Parks" series;

- Graeme at Graeme's Fantasy Book Review has a review of one of the books I received this week, "Dawn Over Doomsday" by Jaspre Bark and of the classic horror movie "Child's Play";

- John at Grasping for the Wind reviewed the book "Klassic Koalas" and interviewed the author, Lee Barwood;

- Larry at OF Blog of the Fallen has early thoughts about Gregory Frost's "Lord Tophet" and Tobias S. Buckell's "Sly Mongoose", a review of Howard Zinn's graphic novel "A People's History of American Empire" and an author spotlight: D.M. Cornish;

- Jay at The Bodhisattva has an interview with the author of another book I received, David J Williams and a giveaway of "The Mirrored Heavens" signed by the author.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine, July 2008

I was familiar to Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine, but I never had the chance to read a full issue. When the editors of the magazine offered the reviewers the opportunity to get a free issue I didn't hesitate and I don't regret my decision.

"Fullbrim's Finding" by Matthew Hughes - The novelette opens the July 2008 issue and it's about a detective that is hired to find a missing person, Doldan Fullbrim, a seeker of substance. The investigation leads the detective to a far-away planet and in a cave where the seekers find their answers, even though those answers aren't exactly what they're looking for. I liked this story and I also liked the idea with God's helper.

"Books to Look For" by Charles de Lint - Charles de Lint reviews two interesting novels in his article, "Duma Key" by Stephen King and "Jack: Secret Histories" by F. Paul Wilson.

"Books" by James Sallis - In a different approach, but reviews none of the less, we find presented "The New Weird", the anthology edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer, and "The Dragons of Babel" by Michael Swanwick.

"Reader's Guide" by Lisa Goldstein - The portagonist of this story is a Shelver in a fantastic library. The main job is to shelve books, already written and not yet written. The library has books with every possible ending of the existing stories. I liked the idea of the story and I imagined some different endings for my favorite stories after I finished reading it.

"The Roberts" by Michael Blumlein - This novella is the center piece of this issue. Robert Fairchild needs women in his life to progress. In school he manages to find his calling after meeting his first love, Claire, and so he becomes an architect. When he's love for work affects the relationship with Claire, she leaves him. He is unable to make new projects until he meets Felicity, but inspired by her he throws himself again in work and she leaves him too. After a period of inactivity caused by the miss of a muse in his life, Robert is having made a manufactured woman that can't be hurt by him. When the work affects his relationship again, he and Grace make duplicates of him to take his place while he is absent. And from here you get the complication and the conflicts. Well, I didn't enjoy this story too much, mainly because I find it a little too long and too slow.

"Plumage from Pegasus: Galley Knaves" by Paul Di Filippo - This article is about the innovative methods that publishing houses choose for sending ARCs to reviewers and make the book reach the top of their reading pile. The article made me laugh and I was thinking if this method applied by the crime fiction publishers will inspire the fantasy, Sci-Fi and horror publishers the outcome would be one to remember forever.

"Enfant Terrible" by Scott Dalrymple - In this short story a man is searching for a parasite that feeds with neural energy. What I found interesting is that the story is told in the second person and that gives a sense of involvement to the reader.

"Films: Superpowers Do Not a Superhero Make" by Kathi Maio - Is an excellent review of the movie "Jumper" compared with the book it was based on. And I think it's not the first ecranization that doesn't follow the book exactly.

"Poison Victory" by Albert E. Cowdrey - This novelette is my favorite of this issue. It's an alternate history in which the Nazis win the battle of Stalingrad and the War World II. The main character is a war hero and a landowner in Führerburg, the new name of Stalingrad, but he reconsiders the war and its outcome. I know that this subject isn't new, but I always liked alternate history and I enjoy seeing what the authors make of this. I enjoyed this story a lot because it has some very interesting ideas and it's well written.

"The Dinosaur Train" by James L. Cambias - This story doesn't get much action. Basically is about a circus that displays dinosaurs and the story of a boy that takes care of them. When the star of the show fells ill, he must overcome his grandfather's conservatorism to heal her.

Overall the July 2008 issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction was a pretty entertaining read, with two stories I really liked "Poison Victory" and "Reader's Guide", another one close behind, "Fullbrim's Finding" and an article that was pretty funny, "Plumage from Pegasus".

Monday, May 26, 2008

"30 Days of Night"

I have to say from the beginning that I'm a fan of horror movies. Even though this movies are not masterpieces of the 7th art, I really enjoy seeing them. I also have to admit that for about 60% of them I feel dissapointment. I'm happy to say that "30 Days of Night" is not a part of that 60%.

The action takes places in Barrow, Alaska, a town that is preparing for the usual 30 days of darkness of every year. But this time the night comes along with a menace, a group of vampires that attacks the remaining inhabitants.

Let me start by saying that I know that in reality there is any place on Earth to have 30 days of complete night. Even at the poles the sun appears for a couple of hours in the winter days. But, considering the movie situation I liked this idea, especially because it contributes to the sensation of trapping felt by the protagonists.

What I also liked at "30 Days of Night" is the change in the classical vampire image. I liked the change in vampires' dentition and I liked that the characters don't use silver bullets, holly water or wooden sticks to kill them. It's good to see that someone can step outside the pattern.

The movie has its amount of gore and action, the tension is pretty good, but I think it should a little shorter, because sometimes the pace is slowed down. Overall is an entertaining movie and an original setting for vampires.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Cover art

Sometimes I think that being a fantasy, Sci-Fi and horror literature lover involves a love for fantasy art and really good cover art too. At the excellent blog of the Solaris editors, When Gravity Fails, you can find the new cover art for a Brian Lumley title that will be released in the future by Solaris. The artwork is made by Bob Eggleton and he has done an amazing job once again. I assume that the cover art is for a "Necroscope" title, as you can see from the other covers made for those novels by Bob Eggleton.

Friday, May 23, 2008

"The Soulstealer War: The First Mother's Fire" by W.L. Hoffman

Format: Paperback, 284 pages

"The First Mother's Fire" by W.L. Hoffman is the second self-published fantasy novel that I received and this time it is more difficult for me to write the review. Despite my consideration for the author's work and for his amability in sending me a copy of his novel, I have to say that I stopped reading the book after approximately 100 pages. I usually like to finish the books I start reading, but sometimes I make exceptions. I don't think writing a review is the right thing to do, since I didn't finish the novel, but I think that an explanation for my reading interruption is normal.

So far as I read, Kenneth McNarry, a law school graduate, hikes on the Appalachian Trail trying to figure the future course of his life. Here, he is transported through a natural portal in a fantastic world, a world threaten by a magic wielder race, named Nosferu. Why I stopped here? Because I found Ken's wandering through the new land very slow and almost nothing happens for nearly half of the book. He meets Aldren, one of this land denizens, and saves him in an encounter with the Nosferu, but besides that, nothing much happens.

Beside the slow rhythm, I found Ken annoying, he is always expaining us what he sees and why that things are as they are, even the obvious ones. It will not be nothing wrong with it if the story wouldn't be written in the third person and so I got to see the same things twice, once unfold by the story and once in Ken's thoughts. Also, the main character, Ken, seems to have no fear and seems that nothing surprises him. For example, when he is transported in the new land he realizes almost instantly that he left the Earth and entered in a new world, without an obvious change of setting. Also the instant realization hits him when he finds out that he can use magic.

As I said, I usually like to finish what I read, but this time, I'm sorry to say but I will make an exception.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pax Britannia competition

I mentioned this competition the other day, but in the meantime my imagination went wild. As you know from the previous post, Jonathan Green, the author of "Pax Britannia" novels "Unnatural History" and "Leviathan Rising", has a very interesting competition with an attractive prize. The winner of the competition gets the chance to see his name in print, as one of the characters in Jonathan Green's next "Pax Britannia" novel, "Human Nature". Thinking about it I realized that I would really love to see myself as a novel character and above all I would like to be a negative one (I think I don't take in consideration the saying be careful what you wish for :), as it might come true). So, I'm signing up for this competition and if you want to do the same, visit Jonathan Green's Pax Britannia blog until Saturday 31 May 2008, the limit day for entering the competition.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Through a Glass, Darkly" by Bill Hussey

"Through a Glass, Darkly"
by Bill Hussey
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Publisher: Bloody Books

In my horror reading experience I never read a debut novel of the genre, every time I read authors that had already made a name for themselves. When I picked up "Through a Glass, Darkly" I didn't know what to expect, but I found the debut of Bill Hussey an impressive one.

Detective Inspector Jack Trent is assigned to investigate the disappearance of the young Simon Malahyde and for this case he has to partner with his former girlfriend, Dawn Howard. Putting aside their divergences they work on a case that becomes more complicate after two bodies of murdered children are discovered. But Jack Trent has visions of another murder, a murder of a child in a forest, and he thinks that the victim of that murder will be Dawn's son. Trying to save the boy's life Jack has to deal with himself, his suppressed visions of the future and the self-imposed loneliness after the death of his mother. Helped and guided by Father Asher Brody, Jack ends up facing both outer and inner demons.

Bill Hussey builds a powerful novel, using the needed ingredients of a good horror novel, mystery, tension and terrifying scenes, with psychological and supernatural aspects. "Through a Glass, Darkly" takes place through the length of 7 days, each day being a part of the novel and contributing intensely to the novel's rhythm. The author manages to build the tension gradually, reaching the highest point at the end of the novel, keeping the mystery and slowly uncovering all the aspects of the story. The end part is as good as it is unexpected, with a twist that I never considered or thought of, and it took me by surprise. Also, in other occasions Bill Hussey turns the scenes, suddenly changing on obvious outcome of the respective scene in a less obviously one.

The novel's characters are strong, sounding true and acting properly to their condition. The author manages the language well, creating true impressions, for example when a character is panicked or scared you can feel him panicked or scared in his conversations, thinking and acting. Also they behave properly to their occupation, like Asher Brody being a priest, Richard Jarski the police chief or Jamie Howard being a school boy. And above all, Jack Trent made me feel for him and with him, with very well caught psychology and very well described childhood memories. Bill Hussey also creates powerful and terrifying images, scenes vivid and grotesque, like those of Peter Malahyde and his decaying health, Jack Trent's visions or the final images of Jamie Howard.

The novel has some things that reminded me of Stephen King's novels, like song lyrics, car models or movies mentioned in the novel. It has the ingredients of the modern novels too, like sex scenes, but those are not too ostentatious or too pornographic and also like some of Stephen King novels that I love, it leaves a sense of bitterness and sadness at the end.

"Through a Glass, Darkly" is the best horror novel that I read this year and Bill Hussey's debut is an outstanding one. With certainty I will look forward for Bill Hussey's future works.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

In the news

Yesterday feeling a little bit under the weather I didn't feel like reading or to write the review for Bill Hussey's book. I'm sorry for the delay in this review, but I promise that will be done. Anyway, yesterday I just wandered through the Internet. And to my great joy I stumbled upon some very exciting news. R.A. Salvatore has a new book coming up and it's not any kind of book. "The Stowaway" is the first novel in the "Stone of Tymora" series, a brand-new fantasy trilogy for young readers, it features one of the heavy names in fantasy world, Drizzt Do'Urden, and it is written together with his son, Geno Salvatore. You can find the news on R.A. Salvatore's website. The book will be published by Mirrorstone and I think that will be published this September, but I'm not sure.

First it was the news that Stephen King will work together with his son, Joe Hill, now the news about the collaboration between R.A. Salvatore and his son, Geno Salvatore, and I end up wondering what to expect next? I wait with excitement this works, because I love the works of this authors and I also love Drizzt Do'Urden.

Still riding the waves of the Internet I found a very interesting thread at wotmania: until Saturday May 31, 2008 you are asked to name your top 5 best authors regardless of genre. I have to admit that I have a difficult time naming mine and I'm still working on it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

In the mailbox

At my return from the trip I was waited, to my great joy, by a full mailbox. As you can see I've changed the presentation of my received books inspired by Larry, from OF Blog of the Fallen, and I adopted his book porn method. So, it looks like pretty much to read, but I don't mind, I'm actually very happy and I will read them as fast as I can. Here are the books received last week:

- "The Inferior" by Peadar Ó Guilín (courtesy of Peadar Ó Guilín)
- "Winterbirth" by Brian Ruckley (courtesy of Brian Ruckley and Orbit Books)
- "Bloodheir" by Brian Ruckley (courtesy of Brian Ruckley and Orbit Books)
- "Scar Night" by Alan Campbell (courtesy of Alan Campbell and TOR UK)
- "Iron Angel" by Alan Campbell (courtesy of Alan Campbell and TOR UK)
- "Promise of the Wolves" by Dorothy Hearst (courtesy of Simon & Schuster)
- "Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine", the July 2008 issue (courtesy of F & SF)

Also I received, along with the review copy of Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine, a special offer for bloggers and blog readers for subscriptions, so don't hesitate to check out this offer.
And with the help of Graeme, from Graeme's Fantasy Book Review, I found out about a very interesting competition. The competition has a very special prize, if you win you can see your name in the next "Pax Britannia" novel, one of the imprints of Abaddon Books. You can check out Jonathan Green's blog for this competition.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I'm back

Picture: The Black Sea

Hi everyone. I came home one day early from my business trip. It was a very successful trip and I had time for walks (as you can see in the picture) and for reading too. I've finished Bill Hussey's "Through A Glass, Darkly" and I have to say that is the best horror book I read this year and also one of the best novels and debuts of the year. It will be a busy day today, with me catching things up, with an announced visited of my parents and hopefully with writing the review for the book (if it is not possible today, I hope it will be finished tomorrow). And I have to say with all the honesty that I missed my blog and I missed you guys.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Business trip

Tomorrow I'm leaving in a business trip for 6 days, so I will not be able to post this week. I'm taking a few books with me in hope for some reading time, although I don't know how much it will be (I hope that it will be as much as possible, because Bill Hussey's "Through A Glass, Darkly" is a very pleasant surprise so far). Anyway, until we meet again feel free to browse through my posts if you like and to check the links from the left side for some great blogs and sites.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

"Witness" by Bill Blais

Format: Paperback, 312 pages
Publisher: iUniverse

"Witness" by Bill Blais is a self-published fantasy novel, first in a series named "All Prophets are Liars". The author was kind enough to send me a copy of his novel and considering the amount of work made by him I feel a bit awkward knowing the outcome of my review.

When Stephen tries to teach Rick a lesson, for dating his ex-girlfriend, Sarah, the two protagonists find themselves in the middle of a conflict between factions from a fantasy world. Stephen and Rick in their conflict kill the prophesied hero of that land and they are thrown through a portal in the Valley, the fantasy world. The two characters begin an adventure in a land ravished by civil war, with different races that fight for power and supremacy.

I have to start by saying that for the first half of the book I was lost and I didn't know what to think. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of epic fantasy and I don't have problems with large numbers of characters, races and places, but Bill Blais throws you in the middle of a whirlpool of characters and races. It is difficult to follow all the characters and their actions because of the great number of them. For example when Abrastus, the man that takes in Rick and Stephen, introduces his family it takes two pages to the author to finish the presentation and you are introduced to 10 or 12 family members that you rarely meet after that. Also because of that number the characters seem unreal, lacking the time to develop and unfortunately, in this category enters the main characters too.

I'm afraid that the world-building has problems too. The world build by Bill Blais has potential, with interesting races like Heccan, Hijiim, Kerosian, Narician and Skyrran, each race with its own particularities, like occupations and language, but overall the world and the races are underdeveloped. The land is insufficiently introduced and described, but that is a bit curious because the author spends a lot of time in describing places, landscapes, persons and clothes. Bill Blais shows talent in this case, using well the words and the language, but the amount of details is exaggerated. Don't get me wrong, I like to see the details of the worlds present in the fantasy works, but I think that the author should find a balance between description and world-building.

The magic system is another flaw of the novel. Even though we find magic users, magical items and enchants, the system is not explained. For example when Ptereseus uses magic he just snaps his fingers and a potion mix lights up. And the memories of his training years miss details and the information is rather scarce. On the other hand this character, Ptereseus, a Skyrran ambassador, is the one I liked the most, even though he is not fully developed either. I also liked Keeper, Finder and their pack of werewolves despite their little presence.

I have to admit that "Witness" wasn't exactly on my liking, but I think that Bill Blais has the potential for improvement and for making his next novels better.

Friday, May 9, 2008

In the mailbox & on the blogosphere

Recently received books:
"Corsair" by Tim Severin (through the courtesy of Pan MacMillan UK)
"Buccaneer" by Tim Severin (through the courtesy of Pan MacMillan UK)
"Touch the Dark" by Karen Chance (through the courtesy of Karen Chance)
"Claimed by Shadow" by Karen Chance (through the courtesy of Karen Chance)
Thank you very much for the books and the amability.

On the blogosphere you can find very interesting post as always:

- Robert at Fantasy Book Critic you can find two great giveaways, a set of Jacqueline Carey's Imriel Trilogy and a copy of Andrzej Sapkowski's "The Last Wish" + The Witcher Video Game. Also Robert has a great review of Andrzej Sapkowski's "The Last Wish";

- Chris at The Book Swede has also a great giveaway. a signed copy of Pamela Freeman's "Blood Ties" and the review of this novel;

- Joe at Adventures in Reading has an interesting post, "On Authors and Finishing Series";

- John at Grasping for the Wind has a review of "Return of the Sword" an anthology edited by Jason M. Waltz;

- last by not least, Gordon van Gelder at the F&SF forum has a promotional giveaway regarding the July 2008 issue of "Fantasy & Science Fiction".

That's about everything I can think of for now, but I'm sure you can find more interesting things.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Cover art

I found today an excellent cover and with her help, an excellent artist. The cover is designed for "The Return of the Sorcerer: The Best of Clark Ashton Smith", a collection of stories selected by Robert Weinberg and with an introduction by Gene Wolfe. The book will be published in October 2008, the hardcover format by Prime Books and the paperback format by Wildside Press. The author of this great cover is Peter Bergting, a 30 years ol Swedish artist, with illustrations published by Dragon Magazine, Dungeon Magazine, Spectrum Fantastic Art, Mage, just to mention some of them. Peter Bergting also wrote, drew and colored "The Portent", a comic book title that is available in English, French, German, Spanish and Swedish. Now, I'm not sure, but I think that this art appeared in a Swedish RPG game, Gemini, and also it was used for the cover of a Nick Perumov's novel translated in Swedish, "Diamantsvärdet och träsvärdet, första delen". I enjoyed very much this cover and also I enjoyed the illustrations from his website.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Interview: John Joseph Adams

John Joseph Adams is an American science fiction and fantasy editor and critic (conform Wikipedia). He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from The University of Central Florida in December 2000. He is an assistant editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and a reporter for SCI FI Wire. He also is the editor of the very good anthology "Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse" (Night Shade Books, January 2008), that I reviewed recently, and of the future published anthologies "Seeds of Change" (Prime Books, Summer 2008) and "The Living Dead" (Night Shade Books, Fall 2008). And he was kind enough to answer my questions.

Dark Wolf: To start with, where does your interest in reading came from and why SF & F in particular?
John Joseph Adams: I came to SF via a long and circuitous path. As a kid, I read a lot of fantasy novels, such as Piers Anthony's "Xanth" books and Robert Asprin's "Myth" novels, but those books, and most of the other ones I read as a kid were given to me, and so I never really identified as a genre reader until much older. I played a lot of Dungeons & Dragons as a teen, which lead me to read a lot of epic fantasy.
The first SF I read was probably Douglas Adams's "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and its sequels. In my late teens, I read a lot of medical thrillers, which got me interested more in science, and lead me to Michael Crichton, which lead me to the SF section because I wanted more stuff like that. For some reason, I'd always thought that SF books would be too complicated for me to follow, or that they would be so full of info-dumps that it would be like reading a technical manual for technology that doesn't exist yet. Thankfully I had people point out that if I could follow the science in "Jurassic Park", then I'd be pretty well equipped to handle the science in any SF novel. "Star Trek" and "Star Wars" were also instrumental in getting me into SF - I loved both of those franchises, and so I read a bunch of those media tie-ins. One of the first, if not the very first, SF novels I read as an adult was "Mars" by Ben Bova, primarily because I was told it was basically a medical thriller set on Mars (which is true, to some degree). Shortly after I discovered Robert J. Sawyer. The first I read of his was "The Terminal Experiment", which also has a strong resemblance to a medical thriller, and then "Starplex", which is like the coolest episode of "Star Trek" never made. From there I continued to explore the genre and basically started reading SF and fantasy almost exclusively.

Dark Wolf: How did you start writing reviews, essays and articles?
John Joseph Adams: It all started with audiobooks. I was (and still am) a big fan of audiobooks, but back around 2001 I found the lack of SF/fantasy audiobook review coverage problematic; after all, the narrator of an audiobook is just as important as the author is (if he's terrible, he can ruin the book just as much as an author can), and back then it wasn't easy as it is now to go online to listen to a sample of the narrator's style. So, over lunch one day, I was complaining to my boss at F&SF, Gordon Van Gelder, about this lack of review coverage, and he suggested that I pitch a review column to Locus. So I did, and they went for it. The column only ran twice, but it opened the doors for me to new opportunities. Shortly after the Locus column fizzled, I started reviewing audiobooks for Publishers Weekly.
With those two publications on my resume, it became easier to pursue other opportunities. I had a review column for a while in Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show. I reviewed books for Kirkus Reviews, one of the top publishing trade journals. I also did some reviews and interviews for - in fact, my first book review (regular book, not audiobook) was published in Science Fiction Weekly. I went on to do some interviews for them, and then became a correspondent for SCI FI Wire (the news service of the SCI FI Channel), and nowadays provide pretty much all of their book-related coverage, with an interview by me appearing there pretty much every day of the week.
I'm kind of an accidental - or reluctant - critic/freelance writer. I always thought that if I got paid for writing, it would be fiction, but my fiction writing kind of got put on hold once I started working at F&SF. And I never had much interest in writing book reviews, so it's kind of funny that I ended up doing so much of that. Mainly it was just to earn some extra cash, but it all turned out to be beneficial in other ways too - reviewing and doing interviews really helped get my name out there more than it was already, and allowed me to build up a comprehensive network of contacts, which has proven useful.

DW: I saw that a lot of your works appeared in various magazines and I know that you are an editor for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. I also know that a lot of people would love to do your job. How is it for you? Do you enjoy what you're doing? Is it hard, is it stressful, it takes a lot of time?
JJA: It's a great job. I mean, hey, I get paid to read all day! Ever since I became obsessed with books, it was kind of a goal of mine to find a job in which I could read all day. When it first occurred to me, I kind of thought I'd find some boring job that had lots of downtime in which I could goof off and read, but actually being part of the creative process is much more rewarding, I'm sure.
I wouldn't sat that it's particularly stressful; there's other aspects of my career - some of the freelance stuff I do - that I find much more stressful. It does take up a lot of time, but it's my day job, so it's a regular schedule, so it's easy enough to manage.

DW: Where did the idea of "Wastelands" came from?
JJA: One of the first articles I wrote was an article about post-apocalyptic SF for a short-lived British magazine called 3SF. They had a column called "Readers' Guide" which served as a sort of introduction to a sub-genre and included a recommended reading list. I loved post-apocalyptic SF, so I pitched that idea to them. They bought it, but unfortunately, they went out of business before my article could be published (or I could be paid!). I'd already written the article, though, so I looked around for someone else to publish it. Right around that time The Internet Review of Science Fiction launched, and I sold the article to them, under the new name "Sub-Genre Spotlight". I went on to do a couple more of those for them, and other folks have written some as well.
But more to the point, my interest in post-apocalyptic SF comes from video games. Specifically, two computer role-playing games, Wasteland and Fallout. Wasteland introduced me to the sub-genre, but it was Fallout that really made me fall in love with it. Playing those games inspired me to seek out fiction on that subject, and from there I just read voraciously in the sub-genre. Which came in handy when the time came to write that "Sub-Genre Spotlight" article.
But even with all my reading, I did even more research for the article, so it was really because of that that I became an expert on the topic. During my research, one of the things I was astonished to discover is that there were very few anthologies devoted to post-apocalyptic fiction. So I decided I'd try to sell one myself. I started off trying to sell an anthology of original (never before published) stories, but when that didn't work out, I decided to try and sell a reprint anthology. And the rest is history.
It's kind of funny - I guess I was about four or five years ahead of the curve on this surge of interest in post-apocalyptic fiction. I initially perceived a rise in interest in the submission pile at F&SF - post-9/11 a lot of writers were writing about post-apocalyptic scenarios. That was partially what made me think it might be a good time to try selling an anthology on the subject. It took about four years for the publishing world to realize I was right, but everything worked out pretty well in the end, so I'm not complaining.

DW: How was the work at "Wastelands"? Have you met some of the authors?
JJA: Because I'd done so much research in the sub-genre, when the time came to assemble the table of contents, I already knew much of what I wanted to go in the book. I knew probably 75% of the contents off the top of my head, and then did some additional research and reading to find the rest.
I've met several of the authors, and have gotten to know some of the others via email. I've even been on Jack McDervitt's home! Coincidentally, my college roommate was living in the same town as Jack, and when I went down there for a visit, Jack had me over for dinner. I go to a lot of SF conventions, so I've met a lot of them at those over the years. I knew a few of them before assembling the anthology, too.

DW: Do you prefer one of the stories published in your anthology? And why?
JJA: Well, that's a bit like asking a parent which child is their favorite, so I can't really answer that. But I will say that a few of the stories are special to me for other reasons than simple favoritism. Before I mentioned that I'd tried to sell an original anthology of post-apocalyptic fiction before assembling "Wastelands". Well, in order to shop such a thing around to publishers, you have to get a bunch of authors to commit to writing stories for it, so you can go to the publisher and say "Here's the idea, and these are the people who have promised to write stories for me", so that the publisher can assess the commercial potential of the book. Well, Carol Emswhiller's and John Langan's stories were both written at my instigation, originally for that aborted original anthology. Carol wrote her story for me right away, and let me hold onto it for a long time, so I'm very appreciative of that. John finished up his story after I'd already given up on selling the anthology, so he (like Carol) sold it to F&SF. But he sold it just in time for F&SF to publish it, and for me to reprint it shortly thereafter.

DW: I have expected your answer, because you very well described my question, "that's a bit like asking a parent which child is their favorite". But do you belive in an apocalyptic scenario, or do you see our world in a post-apocalyptic era?
JJA: I'm not sure any of the scenarios depicted in "Wastelands" are likely to come to pass as described by the authors, but if I had to pick one that I thought most likely, I might go with Stephen King's "The End of the Whole Mess", not necessarily that that specific scenario will play out, but that the ultimate cause will be the same: our own arrogance - which can be incredibly destructive, even, as in the King story, when we're trying to do something good.
If you're asking which apocalypse in "Wastelands" would I be most in favor of surviving through, well the answer to that is easy: Jerry Oltion's "Judgment Passed". Why? Well, since the cause of the apocalypse is the Rapture (or something like it), it leaves the world empty save for the few astronaut survivors (who were off-world when the event happened), and yet leaves the planet relatively unscathed - there's no irradiated wastelands, no plague-infested quarantine zones, the cities are still standing, there's still food to be had. It's really not so bad.

DW: Can you tell us something about "Seeds of Change", your new anthology? What about "The Living Dead"?
JJA: I asked the contributors to "Seeds of Change" to write about paradigm shifts - technological, scientific, political, or cultural - and how individuals and societies deal with such changes. The idea was to challenge our current paradigms and speculate on how they might evolve in the future, either for better or for worse.
It contains stories by Ken MacLeod, Tobias S. Buckell, Jay Lake, and others. It should be out in August. Actually, I just got an advance review copy from the publisher earlier today. I have to say, and admittedly, I'm totally biased, but it looks awesome. I can't wait to see the finished project.
"The Living Dead" is a bit easier to summarize: it's a reprint anthology containing some of the best zombie fiction ever published. It's a huge book - more than 230,000 words - and contains an all-star line-up, including authors such as Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, Dan Simmons, Laurell K. Hamilton, Neil Gaiman, and many others.

DW: Do you have other future projects?
JJA: Based on the success of "Wastelands" and their general happiness with the way I've assembled "The Living Dead", Night Shade Books wants me to do another reprint anthology for them. I've discussed it with them, but we haven't decided on the subject just yet. We've tossed a few ideas around, but I don't want to mention anything until I know for sure which direction we're going to go with that.
Other than that, it looks like I'll be doing a couple more original anthologies for Prime Books (the publisher of "Seeds of Change"). I'm not ready to make any announcements about either of those just yet either, but stay tuned to my website for updates on those and any other forthcoming projects.

DW: In the end, may I ask what do you think about the review blogs? Do you read one constantly?
JJA: In addition to my editing and freelance writing, I also do some publicity work, so I keep track of several review blogs. One of the best that focuses solely on SF/fantasy, I think, is SF Signal. I particularly like their coverage of anthologies and collections because of the attention they give each and every story.
But there's a lot of good reviewing being done in the blogosphere. In general, I think it's a good thing. Not everyone reads every blog or review site, so having plenty to choose from is a good thing. And every little bit of coverage helps.

John, thank you very much for your time and answers, it's been a pleasure and I wish you all the best and good luck.

Monday, May 5, 2008

"The Mist"

As you may know by now, I am a big fan of Stephen King. I read all his works that fall in my hands and also I like to see the ecranizations of his works. In time I found some poor ecranizations, but others were really good. For "The Mist" I can't make a comparison, because I haven't read the novella that inspired the movie, and I will write only about the movie.

After a thunderstorm, a small town is covered by a thick and unusual mist. The people of the town are attacked by mysterious creatures that are unleashed and concealed by the mist. Some inhabitants of the town who were shopping at the local supermarket are forced to seek cover in the shop. When a local religious fanatic pretends that the mist is a punishment from God, some people find themselves facing a new threat. So those people, including the main character, a commercial artist, David Drayton, face a dilemma, to stay in the supermarket and wait for the creatures or to go outside and deal with this terror? Also will they find out what caused the appearence of the mist and of the roaming creatures?

First of all I have to say that I loved what the movie director, Frank Darabont, made with "The Shawshank Redemption" (1994) and "The Green Mile" (1999), the previously ecranizations of Stephen King's works directed by him. In "The Mist" he creates a good horror movie, with a very well building tension, with terror and suspense and with an excellent end. Also knowing the psychological aspect of Stephen King's works, Frank Darabont manages to catch this aspect well in his movie. Also, the visual effects are very good and I read that Darabont asked Guillermo Del Toro who created the visual effects for "Pan's Labyrinth" and at his recommendation Darabont worked with the same studio. I liked also the interpretation of Marcia Gay Harden, as Mrs. Carmody, and of William Sadler, as Jim Grodin.

Overall "The Mist" is an entertaining and enjoyable movie and I will certainly look to read the novella too.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

"Spellbound" by Margit Sandemo

"Spellbound: The Legend of the Ice People 1"
Format: Paperback, 277 pages
Publisher: Tagman Press

"Spellbound" is the first book in a 47 volume series, "The Legend of the Ice People", a series by Margit Sandemo that was a best-seller in Scandinavia and that now will be published in English.

The first book, "Spellbound", is set in Norway in 1581. Here, Silje Angrimsdotter, a 17 year old girl, finds herself thrown on the streets of Trondheim after the plague, that ravishes the country, kills her family. Starving and freezing she finds two children that she takes in her care, Sol a little girl who lost her mother and Dag an abandoned newborn child. And also she encounters Tengel of the Ice People who helps her find a new place to live and even takes her to his home in the mountains of the Ice People. And all this time Silje must overcome her fear for this people and the superstitions regarding them.

Margit Sandemo creates an excellent historical fiction and mainly because her care for the details. She describes the country very well, you can see Norway of those years and also you can feel the medieval atmosphere, with the fear for the "black death" that threatens every life, with the fear and the despise for the unfair authorities and Inquisition and with the usual superstitions of that era.

Another strong point of the novel is the characterization. The author does a great job with the characters, they are well build, they have depth and they seem very real. The characters background is carefully explained and they act as their condition. And when a character acts above his condition, for example Silje using a higher class language, the author is carefully explaining us why the character can do that. Margit Sandemo manages to catch also the psychology of the characters, with inner conflicts, with weaknesses and turmoil. Also the secondary characters are carefully build, like Charlotte Meiden, with her great interior struggle and Abelone, who appears for a short while in the novel, but reminded me of the Dickensian characters.

One thing didn't sound me right and that was the easy way with which the main characters talk about sexuality. First of all I don't think that in that period of time such notion existed and considering the condition of women in the 16th century I don't think that such a conversation would exist, even though the persons are in love. Secondly it seems strange because while Silje would talk about her sexuality, she would cover her knees in front of a man.

Sometimes the pace of the novel is slow, but I have to consider that the main theme of the novel is love and to admit that I haven't read many romantic books. So even if I have liked more action in the novel it is possible that the pace seem slow only to me.

I like historical fiction, I like epic books and I liked Medieval Scandinavia described by Margit Sandemo in "Spellbound". Also I have to confess that I eye picked through Internet about the next volumes and I am curious about the next novels in the series.

Friday, May 2, 2008

In the mailbox & on the blogosphere

I have received recently more books to review, so to my joy I will have work to do. I have to say that half of them are horror books. Spooky...

"Through a Glass, Darkly" by Bill Hussey (courtesy to Bloody Books)
"Meat" by Joseph D'Lacey (courtesy to Bloody Books)
"Ravenous" by Ray Garton (courtesy to Leisure Fiction)
"The Mamooth Book of Jack the Ripper" by Maxim Jakubowski and Nathan Braund (courtesy to Constable & Robinson)
"The First Mother's Fire" by W.L. Hoffman (courtesy to the author)
"The Great Planet Robbery" by Craig DiLouie (e-book format, courtesy to Salvo Press)

On the blogosphere you can find very interesting posts:

- as usual at the beginning of the month you can find the excellent Spotlight: Books of May made by Robert at Fantasy Book Critic. Also you can find an interview with Chris Evans, the debutant author of "A Darkness Forged in Fire: Book One of the Iron Elves". The book was reviewed by Jeff at Fantasy Book News & Reviews;

- Chris at The Book Swede has also some interesting news about the upcoming releases and an excellent interview with Marie Brennan, the author of "Midnight Never Come";

- Joe at Adventures in Reading has the nominees for the 2008 Locus Awards;

- Graeme at Graeme's Fantasy Book Review has a review of "The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction (Volume Two)" edited by George Mann;

- John at Grasping for the Wind has a review of "Empress" by Karen Miller and an interview with the author too. Also you can find an interview with Karen Miller at The Book Swede;

- Larry at OF Blog of the Fallen has the nominees for the Shirley Jackson Award;

- this one I shouldn't post if I want to increase my chances of winning one of this great prizes offered Pat and the respective editors at Pat's Fantasy Hotlist. You can win the hole series of L.E. Modesitt, jr.'s "Recluce Saga", Tad Williams' "Memory, Sorrow and Thorn", Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's "The Deathgate Cycle" and Stephen R. Donaldson's first two "Chronicles of Thomas Covenant";

- James at Speculative Horizons has a review of "Gardens of the Moon" by Steven Erikson, that to my shame still lies in my Pile o' Shame;

- Harry at Temple Library Reviews has a review of "Savor Me Slowly" by Gena Showalter;

- and last but not least, Adam at The Wertzone has an excellent nostalgic post about the StarCraft game.

So have fun, I know I have :).