Atomic Fury: The Original Godzilla on Criterion Collection Blu-ray

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

bill-sienkiewicz-godzilla-criterion-coverThis week’s release of the original 1954 Japanese Godzilla (Gojira) on Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection is a major step in recognition for the film in the U.S. Yes, that’s the Criterion Collection, the premiere quality home video release company, acknowledging that Godzilla is a world cinema classic.

As a life-long Godzilla and giant monster fanatic, I can tell you what a long journey we’ve taken to get to this point. When I became feverishly interested in Japanese fantasy cinema, beyond the boyhood love, in my early twenties, Godzilla and its brethren had almost zero respect in North America. And zero quality home video releases. Even as the awful Roland Emmerich Godzilla hit screens to howls of hatred, there was no corresponding move to get the real films out to North American viewers in editions with subtitles and decent widescreen presentations.

In the mid-2000s, the shift started. The original Godzilla, not the Americanized version with Raymond Burr, got a theatrical stateside release, and then a DVD from Classic Media. G-Fans such as myself were finally freed from having to see the movie on bootleg VHS tapes and could recommend it easily to friends, promising them that the Japanese original would blow their mind with its quality. Now, we’re getting into the big-time cineaste world with Hi-Def and the Criterion Collection.

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Steampunk Spotlight: Cherie Priest’s “Tanglefoot” & Clementine

Monday, January 30th, 2012 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

clementineClementine (Amazon, B&N)
Cherie Priest
Subterranean Press (208 pages, Sept. 2010, $4.99)

“Tanglefoot” (free online)
Cherie Priest
Subterranean Press (Fall 2008, free)

Reviewed by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

Cherie Priest has become one of the biggest names in the steampunk sub-genre, starting mostly with her groundbreaking 2009 book Boneshaker that introduced most readers to “The Clockwork Century,” the alternate history 1880’s storyline that she created. There are three main features of “The Clockwork Century”:

  1. The Civil War has been going on for over 20 years.
  2. There are airships (and other steampunk accoutrements, such as goggles).
  3. There are zombies (or close enough approximations)

Boneshaker focused on features 2 and 3, with the Civil War really just a background note that has little direct bearing on the story. After all, it’s set in Seattle, which is far outside the territory where the Civil War is being fought.

Clementine, on the other hand, leaves the zombies behind to focus on the Civil War (and the airships) in far greater detail.

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J.M. McDermott’s Never Knew Another

Sunday, January 29th, 2012 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

Never Knew AnotherNever Knew Another
by J.M. McDermott
Night Shade Books (240pp, $14.99 USD, trade paperback February 2011)
Reviewed by Matthew David Surridge

J.M. McDermott’s third book, Never Knew Another, is a secondary-world fantasy tale told in a sparse yet elegant style, about hunters seeking dangerous magical prey — and also about two people drawing closer to each other without knowing it, despite having to hide their true natures from the world around them. Perspectives nest one inside another; the book’s always clear, but leaves much meaningfully unsaid, and effortlessly holds the voices of its characters in a delicate balance, allowing them to contrast with each other without any given one being overwhelmed. It’s a remarkable accomplishment, and a strong, unconventional beginning to a promising trilogy.

It starts with a pair of holy werewolves, following a trail to a human city they call Dogsland. The werewolves are hunting demons, or humans with demonic ancestry. Creatures with demons in their family tree are dangerous; their sweat is acidic, and their blood can wither plants, or make normal humans very sick indeed. It’s as though they’re radioactive, potentially causing illness and death around them even if they don’t consciously intend evil. The hunters see their task as a sacred duty. Their story, though, is effectively a frame for the main action; one of the hunters communes with the memories of a dead demon-descended man, searching through those recollections for hints of the whereabouts of others of his kind. The stories of that man, Jona Lord Joni, and of the others of his kind that he knows, provide the meat of the book.

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Thomas M. MacKay Reviews The Spirit Thief

Sunday, January 29th, 2012 | Posted by Bill Ward

the-spirit-thiefThe Spirit Thief
Rachel Aaron
Orbit Books (327 pp, $7.99, October 2010)
Reviewed by Thomas M. MacKay

Eli Monpress is a thief, and he would be the first to tell you that he is a pretty good one. That is not the reason the wizards of the Spirit Court have put a bounty on his head and sent one of their top troubleshooters to hunt him. Eli Monpress is also a wizard, and he is giving the wizards a bad name. He is deuced hard to catch, though. He travels with a swordsman who carries a magical sword he refuses to use, a demon-possessed girl who refuses to succumb to her demon, and the voices of all the spirits that live in every tumbled rock and growing tree. And Eli Monpress has a goal – it may not be his only goal, it may not even be his most important goal, but Eli Monpress intends to have the bounty on his head grow to be the largest there has ever been.

Of course, in order to do that he is going to have to give a lot of people pretty significant reasons to dedicate their gold to his capture. And since he is a thief, that means stealing things – and he travels to the little country of Mellinor to do just that. Mellior’s perfect because, by law, no wizards are allowed to live there. But Mellinor doesn’t have any great treasures in its treasure room worth doubling the bounty on Eli’s head, so he will have to steal something else. Something they would notice; something they would want back. Something that usually sits on the throne. Or perhaps that should be someone…

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The Birth of Sword’s Edge Publishing

Sunday, January 29th, 2012 | Posted by FraserRonald

SEP LogoSword’s Edge Publishing released its first product in 2004. Looking back, I think that the reason for starting the company were faulty. Not because it was self-publishing – self-publishing is considered “indy” for role-playing games and not frowned on as it is in fiction – but because myself and my initial partner in the venture wanted to publish rather than be publishers. That is an important distinction. We created SEP not because we wanted to start our own business, but because we wanted to have control over our creations. This is perhaps a laudable goal, but in hindsight I think we could have achieved artistic control without self-publishing.

In truth, while there were a few companies that might have been interested in the modern military adventures for the d20 RPG market – which is what SEP was producing – none of them were “publishers” in the sense that Wizards of the Coast (producers of Dungeons & Dragons), White Wulf (Vampire) or Steve Jackson Game (GURPS) were. Most were relatively successful self-publishers that had expanded into publishing the works of others. Given that these companies were mostly publishing PDFs and that the barrier for entry into the PDF market was low, we decided to just do it ourselves. As with punk rock, DIY has a certain cachet in RPGs. It didn’t necessarily indicate quality, but DIY certainly reflects passion.

We had that.

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Selling Shadow Ops: Control Point

Saturday, January 28th, 2012 | Posted by Myke Cole

shadowopsFor my next trick, I’m going to give everyone a bunch of totally contradictory advice.

My novel Latent, which eventually became Control Point was ready for prime time (i.e. good enough to win the support of the biggest agent in the business) about 6 months before I sent it to my agent. I lost those months to a miasma of self-pity, low self-confidence and ennui.

In the end, the only reason I got up the gumption to send him the manuscript was that I was heading off to Iraq and I didn’t want to get zapped and never have him see the thing.

I’ve told this story before, but I told my agent not to tell me what he thought of it, figuring that his response (positive or negative) would distract me from what I need to be doing (like fighting a WAR).

Of course, he gets the manuscript, loves it, and spends the next four months sitting on his hands waiting for me to come home.

Add that to the six months where I was too scared to send it to him and I delayed my initial publishing deal by almost a year.

Here’s the point: You have to have guts.

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Clarkesworld Issue #64

Saturday, January 28th, 2012 | Posted by Soyka

cw_64_3001The January issue of Clarkesworld is currently online. Featured fiction: “Scattered Along the River of Heaven” by Aliette de Bodard, “What Everyone Remembers” by Rahul Kanakia and “All the Painted Stars” by Gwendolyn Clare.  Non fiction by Christopher Bahn, Jeremey L. C. Jones and Neil Clarke.  The cover art is by Arthur Wang.

All of this is available online for free; there’s even an audio podcast version of all three stories read by Kate Baker. However, nothing is really free. The magazine is supported by “Clarkesworld Citizens” who donate $10 or more.

We last covered Clarkesworld with issue #63.

I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane (and a Boat)

Friday, January 27th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

carnival_legendTomorrow morning my three children and I take a flight to Tampa, where we’ll board the Carnival Legend cruise ship, sailing to the Grand Cayman Islands, Cozumel Mexico, and Belize. The trip is part of a celebration for my parents 50th wedding anniversary, so we’ll be sailing with our entire extended family. Sixteen people — minus Alice, who’s staying home because she couldn’t afford to be away from school that long. (I understand. I’m leaving my laptop, and it was a close call whether I could bear to be away from it that long).

There’s no cell phone or Internet coverage on the ship. This will be the first time I’ve been away from the Internet for more than 24 hours in over a decade. I may need to be sedated.

If you’re one of the 60-100 people who e-mail me on an average day, I apologize in advance for ignoring you. If you really need to reach me because there’s a problem with your subscription, or you sent me a story during the Civil War and I haven’t responded yet, or you’re just lonely, your best bet is probably a postcard. (I’m kidding. If you really need to reach me in the next 10 days, forget it).

I’ve never been on a cruise before. My parents (and my co-worker Corey) tell me they’re wonderful. Last time I was on a ship bigger than a rowboat, I was crossing the English channel on my honeymoon. Our brief stop-over in Dover turned into a two-night stay while I recovered from near-fatal sea sicknesses.  Our trip to Ireland had to be completely scrapped (16 hours in a ferry? No thank you!). I’m hoping the cruise ship Carnival Legend will have better stabilizers. Seven days is a long time to be clinging to a balcony railing.

I’ve spent the past week agonizing over what books to bring (come on, you know you’d do exactly the same thing). I plan to be on a deck chair on the sunny side within five minutes of departure. Here’s the final list.

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Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops: Control Point On Sale Next Week

Friday, January 27th, 2012 | Posted by John ONeill

shadowopsMyke Cole’s “Naktong Flow,” the tale of a desperate battle in the final stages of an apocalyptic war, was one of the most well-received pieces in Black Gate 13. Brent Knowles praised it as “The kind of story that immerses you in a world… this story is strong, with an interesting protagonist. Great!”, and Tangent Online labeled it one of the best stories of the year:

Myke Cole’s prose in “Naktong Flow” is smooth, evocative, and thoroughly professional. Some years ago he won the Writers of the Future contest, and it shows. “Naktong Flow” is set in the forest-jungles of the Far East, and follows Ch’oe, his men, their ancestor-magician, and a strange, magically-imbued wooden machine as they travel up the Naktong river in pursuit of the less-than-human creatures named the bonesetters… Think Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now and you’re on the right track.

A writer with that much promise generates a lot of expectation, and we’ve been waiting impatiently for Myke’s first novel for some time. Now the wait is finally over as Ace releases Shadow Ops: Control Point in paperback next week. I asked Myke to tell us a bit about the book, and here’s what he shared:

It’s ironic that mashups seem so popular lately, since I’m kind of a mashup myself. I’m a warrior-nerd blend of a military officer and committed fantasy/SF geek. I’m fortunate enough to make my living in both camps and those influences greatly inform my writing. My new novel Control Point is a fusion of influences: 3 tours in Iraq and a life spent perusing the fantasy mass-market wire racks and comic book shop display stands.

Here’s the official book blurb:

Across the country and in every nation, people are waking up with magical talents. Untrained and panicked, they summon storms, raise the dead, and set everything they touch ablaze.

Army officer Oscar Britton sees the worst of it. A lieutenant attached to the military’s Supernatural Operations Corps, his mission is to bring order to a world gone mad. Then he abruptly manifests a rare and prohibited magical power, transforming him overnight from government agent to public enemy number one.

The SOC knows how to handle this kind of situation: hunt him down — and take him out. Driven into an underground shadow world, Britton is about to learn that magic has changed all the rules he’s ever known, and that his life isn’t the only thing he’s fighting for.

I’ve been enjoying my early copy — the book opens with a bang, and doesn’t let up. It’s advertised as part of a new series, and is available in mass market paperback and Kindle format for $7.99 on Tuesday.

The Nightmare Men: “The Haunted Wanderer”

Friday, January 27th, 2012 | Posted by Josh Reynolds

thumb_john_kirowanWhile Robert E. Howard is perhaps best known for creating Conan, he had his share of occult investigators of one stripe or another. There was Steve Harrison of River Street, Solomon Kane with his fiery Puritanism and cat-headed ju-ju staff and, of course, John Kirowan.

Kirowan is of an age and appearance with a number of Howard’s other characters, being tall, slender, brooding, and black haired — a Celt of the modern age. Sorrow hangs about him like a shroud, and his history is tragic. Though few agree on what form said tragedy might have taken, all believe that it has something to do with the years that he spent studying the occult arts in the black hills on Hungary and the secret places of Inner Mongolia.

What is known for certain is that Kirowan renounced these studies, and assumed the guise of a sceptic. But, when the nightmarish denizens of diabolical realms intrude upon the lives of his friends and companions, John Kirowan shows his true colours, and the haunted wanderer once more thrusts himself between the innocent and the devils in the dark.

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