Dueling Rakes, Mysterious Women, and the Goblin Aristocracy: The Queen’s Necklace by Teresa Edgerton

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

oie_1605134EiRbubaPThe Queen’s Necklace (2001) by Teresa Edgerton (with its title borrowed from Alexandre Dumas) is a perfectly splendid swashbuckling adventure in an Age of Reason-like world as it teeters on the precipice of collapse.

For five thousand years Goblins using powerful magical gems ruled the world, keeping Humans enslaved and uneducated. Fifteeen hundred years ago Humanity rose up and slaughtered most — but not all — of the Goblins. Now a millennium of plotting by the Goblin aristocracy is about to culminate in their return to power in a wave of chaos and destruction.

The Queen’s Necklace (TQN) is one of the many (too many!) books that’s sat unread for years on my shelf. Ocassionally the thought would occur to me to pull it down and finally give it a go but I never followed through. When I reread and reviewed Edgerton’s earlier novel Goblin Moon this summer, she suggested I give The Queen’s Necklace a try, mentioning that it was possibly going to be reprinted in the autumn. So I figured, what the heck, I had bought it with every intention of reading it at some point so why not now? And I’m glad I did.

While not connected to Goblin Moon and its sequel, The Gnome’s Engine, TQN occurs in a similar Enlightenment setting. There are perfumed fops, dueling rakes, mysterious women, and equal parts quackery, science, and magic.

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Hearing the Voices of Dead Authors in the Present Tense

Monday, September 15th, 2014 | Posted by Nick Ozment

tolkien lighting pipeThere are a number of citation styles for a variety of fields, but the two biggies are MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association). The latter is used in the natural sciences and research fields. The former is used in the humanities — literature, philosophy, visual and performing arts — so it’s the one I grew intimately familiar with while earning my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English Literature and Language.

MLA is also the one I primarily taught my first-year composition students during my nine years as an English instructor (which, in retrospect, was a bit of a disservice to all the kids who were going on to pursue non-humanities degrees). In my defense, it is the style primarily used in high school, so it is the one that most students entering college have some degree of familiarity with — which is strange when you think about it: it’s as if our secondary-school system assumes most students will go on to pursue degrees in theater or English. The way I couched my presentation of MLA went something like this: “Whatever field you go into, you will have to write papers that follow a particular formatting and style guide. It may not be this one — it may be APA or Chicago — but using this one will get you accustomed to using one.”

In recent years, I’ve had to get more familiar with APA because I do a fair amount of copy-editing on the side for education, sociology, and psychology professors who write their chapters and academic papers in APA style. The differences between the styles are myriad — each one, after all, has its own labyrinthine manual of hundreds of rules in small type (with sometimes counter-intuitive indexing — as anyone who has spent wasted minutes vainly searching for the guideline pertaining to this one particular set of circumstances knows). Whatever the differences in details, though, their main purpose is to provide a consistent way for other scholars to easily locate the sources one has cited.

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Remembering The Tragic Fate of Moonbase Alpha, Fifteen Years Later

Monday, September 15th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Space 1999 moon breakaway-smallOver at SF Signal, Jeff Patterson recalls the tragic accident that hurled the brave men and women of Moonbase Alpha out of our solar system and into the cold reaches of space fifteen years ago.

On September 13, 1999, our dear Moon experienced a catastrophic nuclear explosion which hurled it out of orbit into deep space. It took with it the brave men and women of Moonbase Alpha. In the years that followed the Alphans encountered Joan Collins, Christoper Lee, Brian Blessed, and whip-wielding women in red catsuits.

Space: 1999 still gets a lot of flak for being cheesy SF TV, but one cannot understate the profound impact the show had on fans in the 1970s. It was the only new effects-heavy space-based show at the time, and a syndicated show at that. It had a fairly diverse cast, at least by 70s TV standards. It featured the distinct Gerry Anderson vibe that had made Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet such eye candy, mostly due to the astounding effects work of Brian Johnson and Martin Bower.

As a child of the 70s, I remember racing home after school to catch the show in re-runs. The rockin’ theme music in the opening credits still gets me.

Read the complete article at SF Signal.

The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Doyle in The Resident Patient?

Monday, September 15th, 2014 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Resident_Richardson Bell

One of my favorite Holmes’ also played Joseph Bell

Apologies for this post running a bit long. While I’m a devoted Sherlockian, I’m not particularly a great fan of Conan Doyle himself. However, I find this tidbit from his life to be pretty interesting. So…

Biographers and devotees of Sherlock Holmes have written much regarding who the detective was modeled after. Joseph Bell is widely regarded as the primary inspiration, a belief bolstered by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s own words more than once.

In his autobiography, Memories and Adventures, Doyle said, “I thought of my old teacher Joe Bell, of his eagle face, of his curious ways, of his eerie trick of spotting details. If he were a detective he would surely reduce this fascinating but unorganized business to something nearer to an exact science.”

Add another comment, “Sherlock Holmes is the literary embodiment… of my memory of a professor of medicine at Edinburgh University.”

Now, it has been asserted that one can find bits of Doyle himself in the great detective. His second wife said that her husband had the Sherlock Holmes brain, solving mysteries that puzzled the police.

Son Adrian Conan Doyle vehemently (even militantly) argued that his father was Holmes. Seemingly more likely is that the stolid, patriotic Doctor Watson drew in great part from his creator.

But can we examine one of the sixty Holmes tales and discover biographical pieces of Conan Doyle? As a matter of fact, we need look no further than “The Adventure of the Resident Patient” and Dr. Percy Trevelyan.

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Future Treasures: Check-Out Time by Mark Rigney

Sunday, September 14th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Check Out Time Mark Rigney-smallMark Rigney’s Tales of Gemen — a three-part adventure tale featuring a deadly tomb, a ruined gateway, and the mysterious trader Gemen, who risks everything to plumb their secrets —  have consistently hovered near the top of our Fiction charts since we first published them in 2012. Tangent Online called the tales “Reminiscent of the old sword & sorcery classics,” high praise in our book.

More recently, Mark has turned his attention to a series of thrillers starring the occult investigators Reverend Renner and Dale Quist. Bill Maynard raved about the first, The Skates, in his review for us last year.

I envy Rigney for his talents… Rigney can write circles around most of us as he seamlessly blurs the lines between genres and switches voice from one first person narrator to the other…

Rigney’s odd couple (in more ways than one) comprises a stuffy Unitarian minister and a rather crude, sometimes boorish, ex-linebacker. Together they solve occult mysteries… Make no mistake, this book is grand entertainment.

Simply put, I love this book.

The second in the series, “Sleeping Bear,” appeared in February, and anticipation has been building for their first novel-length adventure. Check-Out Time finally arrives next month.

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Arthur C. Clarke: Sci-Fi Psychic

Sunday, September 14th, 2014 | Posted by Brandon Engel

Arthur C Clarke The Sentinel-smallKnown as a member of science-fiction’s “big three” alongside Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein, Clarke had a penchant, not only for writing superb science-fiction stories, but also for anticipating what sort of role technology would play in future societies.

His work as a science fiction writer (particularly his screenplay and novel 2001: A Space Odyssey) has stimulated endless conversation about the role technology plays in our day-to-day lives and the degree to which it reflects our propensity to transcend our genetic inadequacies as a species.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke was born on December 16, 1917 in Minehead, Somerset, England, UK. At a very early age, he was exposed to (what were at the time) cutting edge communications technologies by his mother, who was a radio operator in England. He was also blessed with an amazing imagination that allowed him to see things more as they could be, instead of how they were.

But although he had demonstrated a high capacity for abstract thinking, Clarke also showed a propensity for natural sciences, and he was adept at navigating technological interfaces. During World War II, he served as a radar specialist with the elite Royal Air Force of Great Britain. After the war, he took up studies in mathematics and physics and earned a degree from King’s College London. Most of his writings during this time were non-fiction science books about the possible future of rocket technology and space flight. The influence of his time in the Air Force became very evident.

In the late 1930s, Clarke began writing science-fiction pieces about space travel and futuristic technology for fanzines. In the “The Sentinel” (1948), he suggests that alien life forms could be vastly superior to humans. This theme would be central in many of his future novels.

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Forbes on the World’s Top-Earning Authors

Sunday, September 14th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Veronica Roth joins Forbes list of highest-earning authors for the first time

Veronica Roth joins Forbes list of highest-earning authors for the first time

Forbes Magazine reported on the World’s Top-Earning Authors this week and as always the list includes several genre writers — and a few new names.

Twenty-six year old Veronica Roth, author of the Divergent series, joins the list for the first time at #7 — ahead of John Grisham, Stephen King, and J.K. Rowling. Once again, James Patterson tops the list, as he has for the last several years, earning $90 million in 2013. He produced an amazing 14 books last year (same as the previous year), most written with an assortment of co-authors; his novels account for one out of every 17 hardcover novels purchased in the United States. His successful series include the Alex Cross and Michael Bennett titles; in addition to adult fiction, he’s also the bestselling living author of young adult and middle grade books.

Next on the list is Dan Brown at $28 million, mostly on the successof  Inferno, the fourth in his Robert Langdon series (The Da Vinci Code and others), which sold more than 1.4 million copies in the U.S. Third and fourth are Nora Roberts and Danielle Steel.

I was pleased to see Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney on the list at #6; Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins ranks #10, and George R.R. Martin clocks in at #12. The top authors on the list are as follows.

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Self-Publishing Checklist: The Random No One Tells You, Part II

Saturday, September 13th, 2014 | Posted by Patty Templeton

Patty Templeton's Self-publishing Checklist-smallIn Part One of this series, we looked at Firming Out Your Expectations, Picking Your Publisher, and how to do a Reality Check on Your Book Format.

How are we doing so far? Still okay? Good.

So you have a manuscript. You have decided on a publisher. You know weird tips about how your book’s format can affect its price and distribution. Now what?

4. Find or Commission Art

  • What is your vision for your front cover, back cover, and spine?
  • What are examples of books you admire that are in your book’s genre?
  • Do you want to create your own cover, hire someone to do it, or hire your POD publisher to do it?
  • What artists do you admire who fit the tone of your book?

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Record of Lodoss War and Subtle Subversions

Saturday, September 13th, 2014 | Posted by Elwin Cotman



If you like high fantasy, do yourself a favor and watch Record of Lodoss War, the original 13-episode OVA from the early ‘90s. For a while it was the most notable fantasy anime, though the years have seen its acclaim diminish. Thankfully, the years have also provided a more varied amount of fantasy within the anime medium. Back in the day, the first three episodes were on constant rotation on SciFi Channel’s “Saturday Anime.”

I first watched it when I was a boy and it left a large impression. Character designs were by the great Nobuteru Yuuki, who did the legendary Vision of Escaflowne and the legendarily awful Angel Cop. Out of all anime designers, he gets the idea of weight. The characters’ armor looks heavy to wear, even painful. Their clothing is wrinkled and creased. Books are coated in dust, staffs are gnarled, elves have rabbit-sized ears, and oh LORD the dragons!

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New Treasures: The Ghost Pirates and Others: The Best of William Hope Hodgson by William Hope Hodgson

Friday, September 12th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Ghost Pirates and Others-smallNearly ten years ago, I bought The Collected Fiction of William Hope Hodgson, a five volume set from Night Shade Books. It’s a terrific group of hardcovers, with eye-catching cover art by Jason Van Hollander, and there’s no reason anyone who possesses that handsome collection would ever need to spend another penny on William Hope Hodgson.

And yet here I am, shelling out for The Ghost Pirates and Others, a beautiful trade paperback collection of the best short fiction of William Hope Hodgson, selected and edited by Jeremy Lassen. Maybe it’s the marvelously spooky cover. Maybe it’s the thought of having Hodgson’s best, including his finest Carnacki tales and the famous title story, under one cover, where I can curl up with it in my big green chair. Or maybe, as my wife Alice suggests, it’s a compulsion and I need psychiatric help. You decide — I’m busy with my latest treasure and will be unreachable for the next few hours.

“With its command of maritime knowledge, and its clever selection of hints and incidents suggestive of latent horrors in nature, [The Ghost Pirates] reaches enviable peaks of power.” — H.P. Lovecraft.

William Hope Hodgson was a contemporary of H. P. Lovecraft, and Clark Ashton Smith, and was one of the most important and influential fantasists of the 20th century. His novel The Ghost Pirates is a take-no-prisoners supernatural adventure story that is just as powerful today as it was 100 years ago.

In addition to his landmark novel, this volume contains some of his most influential short fiction; from his supernatural detective Thomas Carnacki to tales of the mysterious Sargasso Sea. The Ghost Pirates and Others is the perfect introduction to the magic, mystery and adventure of William Hope Hodgson.

The Ghost Pirates and Others: The Best of William Hope Hodgson was edited by Jeremy Lassen and published by Night Shade Classics on December 4, 2012. It is 264 pages, priced at $16.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital edition. The gorgeously spooky cover art is by Matt Jaffe.

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