Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A prosperous week for the Romanian speculative fiction

Last week, in Bucharest, the Gaudeamus National Book Fair took place and as much as I planned and wished to attend it unfortunately in the end it was not possible. I regret even more missing this edition when I look at the momentum gathered by the local speculative fiction at the book fair held last week.

Besides the two titles I already presented here, Narcisa Stoica’s “Taxidermy” and Ștefan Ghidoveanu’s anthology “The S.F.Crone’s 1001 inventions”, Millennium Books released a new volume, “Transfer”, by one of the most important names of Romanian speculative fiction, Michael Haulică.

The publisher’s website has a presentation of Michael Haulică’s “Transfer” written by Bogdan-Alexandru Stănescu: “The transfer concept, the passing in another human’s body, at a cost, a prostitution taken to paroxysm, an entertainment for the rich (in its “safe” circumstances), and for the poor (on the black market), it is nothing more but a disguise in sci-fi clothes of a phenomenon identifiable in 70% of the Bucharest’s apartments. Be that in form of RPG games or bloggers without an assumed identity.
The loss of identity, with this volume’s extreme face, it’s no longer a shadow of the future. And for predicting this thing, William Gibson truly deserves this monument raised by Michael Haulică. I could go even further and say that “Transfer” is a realistic book (and I would support my opinion with pretty powerful arguments), and what gives it strangeness are just the elements only talked in the everyday life, without a real foundation.”

The fifth issue of “Galileo Magazine” features the same mix of international and local fiction together with a couple of non-fiction articles.
Editorial: “The abundance’s eulogy” by Horia Nicola Ursu
Fiction: “Memorare” by Gene Wolfe
“The Homecoming” by Mike Resnick
“The Amsterdam Circus” by Paul Tudor
“The Sphere” by Eugen Cadaru
“A usual day after the end of the world” by Laura Sorin
“Human Resources” by Florin Pîtea
Non-fiction: “The gothic literature: value, works and representative names” by Oliviu Crâznic
“Mythology and luxury: Vladimir Colin” by Mircea Opriţă

Together with these titles Millennium Books also released an editorial volume by Cătălin Badea-Ghercostea, “Brought to day”, gathering articles of SF&F critique.

Nemira, one the most active publishers of speculative fiction on the Romanian market, revived one of the oldest and most important brands of science fiction in Romania, The Anticipation magazine, born in 1955 and dead after the 1989 revolution. This excellent initiative is materialized with a first issue featuring the following content:
“In the best of the worlds” by Alexandru Mironov
“The Island” by Peter Watts
“Science and Fantastic” by Alina Sârbu
“The Collection of Science Fiction stories: Short history” by Mircea Opriţă

On this occasion “The Anticipation Almanac 2013” was released too.

Nemira also presented two volumes by Romanian authors at this edition of Gaudeamus National Book Fair, Marian Truţă’s “The Second Coming” and Liviu Radu’s “The Moth Army”.

In 1960 Gagarin misses his landing and arrives somewhere near Calafat, in a village in the Danube’s Meadow. Only Romania is a kingdom, USSR doesn’t exist and the political map of the world looks very different than we know it.
Somewhere in Bucharest, in the 80s, an amateur wireless-operator is caught in a bizarre clash between two sides: a world of a probable, but inexistent past, and a world of a virtual, but improbable future.
In 1989 Ceaușescu won the game. We are in 2010, in full communist dictatorship and we witness the struggle of an obscure science-fiction writer. In spite of his innocence, he finds himself guilty of “hostile thinking against the regime”.
“The Second Coming” shows us a Romania that manipulates the Europe and world’s political games with the help of the alchemists. We have another Romania, in which the Orthodox Church and the Vatican are united against the Swiss plan of starting the God’s Machinery, a gigantic particle accelerator meant to hasten the second coming of Christ.
Four different faces of Romania, four alternative histories, in which the characters struggle to build an oasis of normality despite the events they are forced to live.

Taravik is an independent courier and a contracted brawler. He has an exciting life – transporting packages and letters through the wastelands, with the help of Kostik, his one winged Pegasus. A run into the desert, a cold beer, a jump into a ravine – the time passes in an interesting way. Until one morning, when Marieţa, his lover, chases him away from home because he has no manners and doesn’t know to behave. He never offered her a gift – one small bronze ring, at least, since one of gold can’t be mentioned.
And so, Taravik’s adventure starts. Looking for a ring for Marieţa, the brawling courier sets in motion occult forces, attracts the sympathy of the gods and competes with wizards from other lands. But, especially, he resurrects the Moth Army.
Taravik walks with innocence through all the chaos he involuntary unleashes, chatting peacefully with Kostik, while around him incredible battles are fought. Because, as Marieţa said, “You, men, see life as a game full of pain. You like crafts where you can hit your fingers with a hammer, you like games where the opponent is allowed to kick your legs and you like the entertainment that causes a terrible hangover the following day. So you cannot plant flowers for a long time before longing for trips in the wastelands and jumps in ravines.”

Tracus Arte publishing house released the second edition of Florin Pîtea’s novel, “The Final Year”, a love story set in a dystopian future, with accents of violence, hard SF and pulp fiction.

Also at the second edition is Dănuţ Ungureanu’s collection, “Marilyn Monroe on a closed curve”, published by Tritonic.
“I am young, I am a good hunter. I catch the rumor’s trace. It sounds dimmed in me, as the sound of rain is repressed… Run! Humans are naked beings. Under the organic cover, their thoughts crawl multicolored. Through their veins fluid thoughts are streaming, their lungs are filled with thoughts. The humans are not all humans. The humans are thoughts, rumors badly wrapped…”
“It snows under the Diomat block”

Voyager Premium Books gave a new life to the “Knights” series by Ioan Dan, a very personal favorite of mine since the high-school years. This is not speculative fiction, but cloak and dagger in its purest form. Published in the 70s I don’t believe that Ioan Dan’s swashbuckling knights lost their humor and appeal for adventures. This is a new and wonderful opportunity to re-live these stories.

Last, but not least, a new imprint was born on the Romanian speculative fiction market. Art Editorial Group founded a new imprint, Paladin, led by Michael Haulică and dedicated to the fantasy and science fiction. For now is focused in bringing the most important titles of speculative fiction on the Romanian market or offering a new edition of those already translated and published here. The honor of opening this new imprint goes to the new edition of Isaac Asimov’s “Pebble in the Sky”, the first novel in the “Empire” trilogy. This title will be followed by novels signed Jo Walton, Gene Wolfe, Ray Bradbury, China Miéville, David Brin or Brian Aldiss.

It is true that my budget was saved from a serious shacking by me not being able to attend this edition of the Gaudeamus National Book Fair. I am happy to see, however, that the Romanian speculative fiction offered plenty of good reasons for spending money and I only hope that such occasions would arise again in the future.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Table of contents - "The S.F. Crone's 1001 inventions" edited by Ștefan Ghidoveanu

As I said in the presentation of “The S.F. Crone’s 1001 inventions” Ștefan Ghidoveanu’s anthology is one of the most exciting projects of the modern Romanian speculative fiction. This new collection was released the past week-end by Millennium Books at the Gaudeamus National Book Fair and here is the complete table of contents of Ștefan Ghidoveanus’ anthology, “The S.F. Crone’s 1001 inventions”:

“Literature and internet or About the S.F. Crone’s inventions (Foreword)” (Literatură și internet sau Despre „Scornelile” Moshului SF (Cuvânt înainte)) by Ștefan Ghidoveanu
“The letter of Mil Neajlov from Deveselu for his brother, Grigorie, from Craiova” (Scrisoarea lui Mil Neajlov din Deveselu către fratele său, Grigorie, din Craiova) by Adrian Buzdugan
“Self-adjustment mechanism” (Mecanism de autoreglare) by Cirpian Mitoceanu
“Phase displacement” (Defazaj) by Ioana Vișan
“Golem, golem...” (Golem, golem…) by Liviu Radu
“The exile” (Exilul) by Ștefana Cristina Czeller
“The phases’ space” (Spațiul fazelor) by Cristian M. Teodorescu
“Metaphagy” (Metafagie) by Antuza Genescu
“The punishment” (Pedeapsa) by Raluca Băceanu
“The story of the last bookworm” (Povestea ultimului şoarece de bibliotecă) by George Lazăr
“The bullet from the brain, the world from the eye” (Glonţul din creier, lumea din ochi) by Lucian-Vasile Szabo
“The return of the wizard” (Întoarcerea vrăjitorului) by Ana-Veronica Mircea
Glitcherine” (Glitcherine) by Michael Haulică
“The queen of the night” (Regina Nopţii) by Narcisa Stoica
“White cabbage butterfly” (Albilița) by Marian Coman
“A new home” (O nouă casă) by Roxana Brînceanu
“White fairies” (Spiriduşii albi) by Oliviu Crâznic
“The dreams maker” (Făuritorul de vise) by Sergiu Someșan
“The book with locked, silver bindings” (Cartea cu scoarțe de argint, ferecate) by Florin Pîtea
“Afterword. The alpha reader” (Postfaţă. Cititorul alfa) by Cătălin Badea-Ghercostea

Friday, November 23, 2012

"Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat" by Andrez Bergen

Publisher: Another Sky Press
Review copy received through the courtesy of the author, Andrez Bergen

Cut to Melbourne, Australia–the most glamorous city in the world. It also happens to be the only one left standing, but nevermind that, we’re there now and I’d like you to meet your narrator, a certain Floyd Maquina, a likable chap with one hell of a story to share. See, the powers that be are knuckling down on the Deviant menace that plagues the city, and our boy Floyd’s unknowingly got himself in the thick of it. Cue guns, intrigue, kidnappings, conspiracy and all sorts of general mayhem that make for cracking good headlines.
Does Floyd stop the bad guys? Does he get the girl? Does he make Humphrey Bogart proud? Grab some popcorn and read on.

Bookshops seem to be one of the endangered species of nowadays. It saddens me, more so since I love walking the bookshops’ aisles in search of new books, be them written by familiar and dear writers or by the new, waiting to be discovered, authors. And when a reader finds himself faced with a name that is a mystery at the time of the search the cover is one of the things that attract, however the book titles are not to be neglected. This was the case with “Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat”, although the search did not take place in a physical bookshop, a title that allured me towards Andrez Bergen’s debut novel and pushed it on my reading table.

Of course, that was only the initial impact, the promise of a dystopian tale with noir influences were the elements that presented the case of Andrez Bergen’s “Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat” with more power when it came to reasoning the reading of the novel. Post-apocalyptic fiction can be seen as a genre on itself. With the news feeds presenting our world as in brink of collapse it is a popular trend too, but not often the settings of these stories are diverse. However, “Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat” takes place in Melbourne, the only city in the wide world surviving an apocalyptic event. Why the world as we know it came to an end is a question that remains unanswered, as it is left the one of why Melbourne is the only standing metropolis following this catastrophe. But looking over the story of the novel these questions can be rendered easily rather personal curiosity and they held no importance for the development of the plot.

These are only events that led to the present lived in “Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat” and together with assembling pieces create the setting of the story. An interesting setting, a society that did not die completely with the apocalyptic event, but continued its existence in an adapted form, keeping however plenty of its original features. The economic and political system and the social stratification adopt the characteristics of the new reality and not for the better. The society doesn’t seem to be willing to recover from the events that led it to the present situation, but on the contrary it appears to be nihilistic to the point of seeking its own total destruction. Because Andrez Bergen takes this approach with the setting of his novel the reader has an accessible way to relate with a society that although futuristic keeps plenty of elements of the surrounding existence.

One of the surviving humans is Floyd Maquina, who haunts the land – to be read Melbourne – in search of deviants after his sick wife’s outrageous expensive medical bills has forced him to take a job as a Seeker. Not exactly a voluntary private investigator Floyd Maquina is obsessed with old movies and alcohol, both close to the point of addictiveness if that was not already passed. Possessed by his past, tormented by the present and with only the faintest shimmer of future in sight Floyd Maquina is not what can be called a hero. A hard-boiled detective that to a certain point encompasses the tropes built by the noir movies and novels he often quotes and mention, but with a unique voice and witty language and remarks. Sometimes all the references made can seem to be tiresome, but put on the obsessive nature of the character with old movies it can be passed easily. I believe that Floyd Maquina is a tribute brought by Andrez Bergen to his influences, but without making the character a mindless offering and losing its originality.

With the setting and character properly introduced the only thing left to be discovered is the plot. Which fails to happen for about two thirds of “Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat”. I know, it sounds bad. But don’t let the appearances mislead you, it only sounds worse than it actually is. Plot elements are included into the story from early on, but only when the entire intrigue is revealed they make their presence felt. Threads appear to be loose, almost every one holding a little story on themselves, but only when weaved together in the final part of the novel revealing the entire design. It would seem that Andrez Bergen fails to put them together in a proper manner, but in fact he carefully arranges them, taking his time and letting the reader savor the built-up. Quirky dialogue, amusing lines and familiar references are mixed with an assured and mature use of language and canny slang to give the reader a measure of entertainment necessary for what would seem for a while a directionless plot. But when the story hits, it hits hard and in full swing. Action blooms unexpectedly and ends in the perfect manner leaving the reader fully satisfied. Read the novel twice and the experience is enhanced.

“Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat” might not have the action often seen in post-apocalyptic fiction or the adventures of the noir novels, but it is original and unforgettable. It has the needed quality to help it stand the passing of time. And in the style of the cult cinematography mentions encountered in its pages I see “Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat” becoming a cult movie too if someday technology makes it possible for Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall to play in a production directed by Ridley Scott. I am not sure if the future holds something like this but I am certain that Andrez Bergen has enough talent to offers us again some remarkable novels such as “Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat”.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Table of contents - International Speculative Fiction, Issue 1

International Speculative Fiction Magazine was launched in June with a landmark issue featuring fiction by the excellent Aliette de BodardCristian Mihail Teodorescu and Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro. Now, the project dedicated to the promotion of international speculative fiction, especially non-anglophone authors, will release a new issue, with a cover artwork by Rafael Mendes and the following content:

Editorial by Ricardo Loureiro
“Metal Can Lanterns” by Joyce Chng
“59 Beads” by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz
“Hunt Beneath the Moon” by Marian Truţă
Non-fiction: “Philip K. Dick: A Visionary Among the Charlatans” by Stanislaw Lem

International Speculative Fiction, Issue 1, will be available for download through the magazine’s website.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Free fiction - "Our Man in the Sudan" by Sarah Pinborough

Published for the first time in “The Second Humdrumming Book of Horror Stories” and re-printed in “The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 20”, Sarah Pinborough’s “Our Man in the Sudan” was nominated in 2009 for the World Fantasy Award at the Best Short Story category. “Our Man in the Sudan” is a mix of spy and supernatural fiction at its best, with a haunting atmosphere. Sarah Pinborough combines local mythology with an excellent drawn setting creating the perfect sense of place for the reader. With such a background and an obsessive ambiance the fact that “Our Man in the Sudan” doesn’t reveal the conclusions in their full front nudity, leaving them covert enough for the imagination of the readers to do as it pleases with the story, makes Sarah Pinborough’s tale even more appealing. You can enjoy “Our Man in the Sudan” for free now on Sarah Pinborough’s website.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Table of contents - "Fish Eats Lion" edited by Jason Erik Lundberg

There are so many places around the world I want to explore, but things like time or budget are not always on my side and I am left admiring them from home in various books, magazines and documentaries. However, an alternative exists, different but equally pleasant, exploring the world through fiction. More so with the help of speculative fiction, my favorite genre that becomes more interesting and far richer when it is approached from the worldwide diverse cultural perspectives. It does not happen too often, it seems that the market is not brave enough at the moment to leave the many captivating cultures of the world bring their own contribution to the speculative fiction. But such attempts can be found. The latest I discovered is an anthology edited by Jason Erik Lundberg“Fish Eats Lion”, a collection of Singaporean speculative fiction published this month by Math Paper Press.

Fish Eats Lion: New Singaporean Speculative Fiction collects the best original speculative fiction being written in Singapore today, a home-grown anthology featuring a refreshing variety of voices and perspectives. Here are tales that are recognizably science fiction and fantasy, and others that blend genres and tropes, including absurdism, police procedural, fairy tales, steampunk, pre- and post-apocalypse, political satire, and alien first contact. These twenty-two stories—from emerging writers publishing their first work to winners of the Singapore Literature Prize and the Cultural Medallion—explore the fundamental singularity of the Lion City.
This book is a celebration of the vibrant creative power underlying Singapore’s inventive prose stylists, where what is considered normal and what is strange are blended in fantastic new ways.

“Fish Eats Lion” is a collection that held my attention immediately, a perfect example of projects I would like to see more in the future. New approaches that can help the speculative fiction improve and achieve new heights and initiatives I would love to see being born more often.

Being a writer and editor of speculative fiction, it has worried me to see such a lack of published SF writing within a Singaporean context, and so this anthology was born. I cannot thank publisher Kenny Leck enough for taking a chance on this book, and encouraging the proliferation of further imaginative writing in Singapore. During the submissions process, I was gratified at the overwhelming amount of submitted short fiction, which only confirmed my impression that Singaporeans are indeed writing fantastical stories, and are either presumably shelving them in favour of more “realist” writing or sending them to overseas markets for publication.
Jason Erik Lundberg, “Preface”

“Preface” by Jason Erik Lundberg
“The Story of the Kiss” by Stephanie Ye
“Agnes Joaquim, Bioterrorist” by Ng Yi-Sheng
“Punggol” by Ben Slater
“Welcome to the Pond” by Wei Fen Lee
“Last Supper” by Jeffrey Lim
“Rewrites” by Shelly Bryant
“Big Enough for the Entire Universe” by Victor Fernando R. Ocampo
“The Digits” by Ivan Ang
“Apocalypse Approaches” by Daryl Yam
“010011010100010101001101010011110101001001011001” by Justin Ker
“Dewy” by Grace Chia Kraković
“Where No Cars Go” by JY Yang
“Green Man Plus” by Isa Kamari
“Mirage” by Noelle de Jesus
“Feng Shui Train” by Yuen Kit Mun
“Last Time Kopitiam” by Marc de Faoite
“Chapter 28: Energy” by The Centipede Collective
“Waiting For the Snow” by Carrick Ang
“The Moon and the Stars” by Andrew Cheah
“The Disappearance of Lisa Zhang” by Dave Chua
“Open” by Tan Ming Tuan
“Zero Hour” by Cyril Wong

Monday, November 12, 2012

2012 Helion Awards

The national competition of science fiction short stories, organized by the Helion SF Club, announced its winners. The competition held by the Helion SF Club is at the 27th edition and this year’s jury was formed by Lucian-Vasile Szabo, president, and Cornel Secu and Ciprian Ionuţ Baciu, members. The entries must be original and the winning short stories will be published on the online edition of the Helion Magazine as well as in the first print edition of 2013.

First place

not awarded

Second place

Ioana Vișan for the story “A Sparkling Family” (O familie de sclipicioși)

Third place, ex aequo

Sergiu Someșan for the story “Gică” (Gică)
Oliviu Crâznic for the story “Domini Canes” (Domini Canes)
Eugen Cadaru for the stories “The Oracle” (Oracolul) and “The Transformation” (Transformarea)

Honorable mentions

Narcisa Stoica for the story “De Gustibus et de Coloribus” (De Gustibus et de Coloribus)
Cătălin Cofaru for the story “Pascal” (Pascal)
Alexandru Negură for the story “The museum of stories” (Muzeul poveștilor)

Congratulations to all the winners!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Debut spotlight + Cover art - "Taxidermy" by Narcisa Stoica

The Romanian speculative fiction is struggling, but I do not find the situation hopeless. Prospects of development can be seen in the online medium where local short stories are published, but also in print at Galileo Science Fiction & Fantasy Magazine. Volumes are published too, new works of fiction and also reprints of the classical ones. I believe that hope exists for the Romanian speculative fiction. My conviction for a better future was enforced recently by the discovery of a new debut. A young Romanian writer, Narcisa Stoica, not only makes her first appearance with a novel, but it is a fantasy story, which can be seen as a rare beast here.

Narcisa Stoica published around ten short stories so far, online and in print, and she gathered personally these stories in an electronic volume, “The words with me”. Narcisa Stoica’s proper debut will be made however this November with “Taxidermy”, the first novel in a fantasy trilogy.

Jaer Verron, a young expert in taxidermy, begins a journey to the empire’s capital in search of fame and adventures, a place where dangers are everywhere and the enemies have no mercy.

Mizurro, the Emperor Raghmen’s daughter, a beautiful and intelligent woman, puts at work her strategy knowledge, gathered secretly from the dusted tomes of the imperial library, against her brothers in the competition for the title of throne successor.

The two destinies coalesce when Mizurro sends Jaer on a mission that takes him to the distant satraps of the empire, revealing the resorts that keep in fragile balance an extremely  complex and mysterious world, one of which depends not only Mizurro’s future as throne successor, but also the survival of the empire.

It sounds very interesting, more so since fantasy approached from the Romanian side is something I wished to see for some time now. I’ll add to this the excellent work done once again by Millennium Books, the publisher of Narcisa Stoica’s “Taxidermy”, with the cover artwork. They do keep this aspect at a very high standard. The artist of the cover artwork is Ehsan Dabbaghi, an Iranian artist who worked with Millennium Books before, and who in time I become to appreciate a lot. The artwork is entitled “Alone” and can be admired in its full glory at the artist’s CGSociety portfolio. As a matter of fact, my sole complaint with Millennium Books’ choice is that the actual artwork is present only on one third of the cover. However, I understand that this concession is made specifically for the entire artwork to be featured on the cover. Going with the art on full front cover was not possible. Still, I would have given Ehsan Dabbaghi’s work half of it. Nonetheless, it is yet another praiseworthy effort from Millennium Books in both publication and cover art.

Monday, November 5, 2012

2012 World Fantasy Awards

The past week-end in a ceremony held at the World Fantasy Convention 2012 in Toronto, Canada the winners of the World Fantasy Awards have been announced:

NOVEL: “Osama” by Lavie Tidhar (PS Publishing)

NOVELLA: “A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong” by K.J. Parker (Subterranean Online, Winter 2011)

SHORT STORY: “The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu (F&SF 3-4/11)

ANTHOLOGY: “The Weird edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer (Corvus / Tor Books)

COLLECTION: “The Bible Repairman and Other Stories” by Tim Powers (Tachyon / Subterranean Press)

ARTIST: John Coulthart

SPECIAL AWARD – PROFESSIONAL: Eric Lane, for publishing in translation – Dedalus books

SPECIAL AWARD – NON-PROFESSIONAL: Raymond Russell & Rosalie Parker, for Tartarus Press

Congratulations to all the winners!

Friday, November 2, 2012

On the continent of Zamonia and the stories exploring it

Walter Moers is one of the most successful German comic creators and authors, born on 24th May 1957 in Mönchengladbach. He made his debut in 1984 with comic books and later Walter Moers began to publish stories and novels too. Some of the renowned works of Walter Moers are the novels set on the imaginary continent of Zamonia.

Zamonia is a fictional continent, populated by strange creatures, known as form of life, and with very few human beings. Zamonia is described as a sunken continent in the middle of the Atlantic and with each new novel new locations and features are introduced. There are six novels taking place on the imaginary continent, the first one, “The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear”, released in 1999. The novel follows the adventures of Bluebear, a human sized bear with blue fur, in the first half of his 27 lives. Captain Bluebear encounters many mythical creatures along his adventures together with some born out of Walter Moers’ imagination.

“Ensel and Krete” is the only novel in the Zamonia series that is not available in English. It features a story in the similar fashion of Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale, “Hansel and Gretel”, with two half-dwarf characters, Ensel and Krete, lost in a forest full of dangers. It was released in Germany in 2000.

“Rumo and His Miraculous Adventures” was published in 2003. Its main character is a Wolperting, a creature very much alike a dog, named Rumo who travels across Zamonia in an attempt to save his true love, Rala, after the entire city she lives in disappears.

The fourth book in this series of novels, “The City of Dreaming Books”, received two awards immediately after its release. The novel features Optimus Yarnspinner, a lindworm, a Zamonian dinosaur, who inherits his godfather’s possessions, together with the mission of identifying the unknown author of a text found among those possessions. He travels in Bookholm, the city of dreaming books, beneath which vast labyrinthine catacombs stretch, full of hidden tomes. In “The City of Dreaming Books” we can find various authors with their names anagrams of famous writers and also plenty of invented words.

“The Alchemaster’s Apprentice” is the fifth novel set on the continent of Zamonia and as was the case with “Ensel and Krete” and “The City of Dreaming Books” Walter Moers pretends to be only the translator of Optimus Yarnspinner, the true author of these works. This time he translates the story of Echo, a crat (an animal similar to a cat), who makes a deal with Ghoolion, the alchemaster dominating the city of Malaisea, and from which he tries to find a way out.

“The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books” was released in 2011 in Germany and is the latest novel that leads the readers on Zamonia. It is the first novel in the Zamonia series that can be considered a sequel of a previous one, “The City of Dreaming Books” respectively. Here, Optimus Yarnspinner, who tells the story that Walter Moers merely “translates”, returns to the city of Bookholm after 200 years. But this time the adventures of Optimus Yarnspinner do not finish in one volume and a second one is necessary, published if possible in 2013 under the title of “The Castle of Dreaming Books”. As in “The City of Dreaming Books” the new novel also contains characters with their names anagrams of personalities from our world, some already used and some new ones.

This month, on the 8th, Overlook Press will release the US edition of “The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books” offering a new chance for the travelers accustomed to Zamonia to revisit this continent and for the readers unfamiliar with it a new chance to discover and explore this location. And if both groups of travelers need further information about Zamonia, Walter Moers and “The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books” they can find it starting from tomorrow in the following places:

Saturday, Nov 3 – TNBBC’s The Next Best Book Blog will review The City of Dreaming Books”, the predecessor to The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books”

Sunday, Nov 4 – Book Sexy Review will have an excerpt from The Lonely Lindworm’s Guide to the city of Bookholm (on a shoestring)

Monday, Nov 5 – SJ @ Book Snobbery gets all fangirl on Optimus

Tuesday, Nov 6 – Anastasia at Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog will post her review of the soon to be released (November 8th!) The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books”

Wednesday, Nov 7 – Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf & Book Review interviews the translator’s translator – John Brownjohn