Eight Barbarian Body Building (3B) Tips

Friday, May 29th, 2015 | Posted by mariebilodeau

Luke would be more buff if he wasn't such a tauntaun riding wuss.

Luke would be more buff if he weren’t such a tauntaun riding wuss.

It’s beach season! In the frozen north where I live, we’re currently shedding our polar bear and Sasquatch skins to show off our tummies once again!  Except, after six months of trudging through snowdrifts and blizzards, our thighs may be tree trunks of victory, but our abs have lost that chainmail bikini flattering glory.

Fear not, there is hope. Here are some tips for fighting off that winter bulge!

Chase Down a Pack of Wild Wolves

Nothing will get you sweating faster than chasing down wild canines, especially when they turn on you and you have to fight them off with nothing but your wit and might. Make sure to pack your wit or, failing that, lots of sharp steeled might.

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May 2015 Locus Magazine Now on Sale

Friday, May 29th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Locus magazine May 2013-smallI had a subscription to Locus magazine for over 20 years. It was the only magazine I decided I couldn’t live without the year I moved to Belgium, and I paid the exorbitant fees to have my copies mailed overseas every month (and then I paid a small fortune to American Airlines to ship all those issues back to the states when I flew home).

When I was unemployed for three months in 2012, I decided I’d have to cancel at least one of my magazine subscriptions. I noticed that the last nine months of Locus were stacked by my desk, still in their protective mailing wrappers, unopened and unread. Reluctantly, I decided to cancel Locus.

I’m sure you can guess what happened next. I bought an issue of Locus the next time I went to the newsstand. And I started reading it again. I pick up the latest issue, without fail, every month. It costs me more than a subscription…. but hey, I figure, at least this way I’m reading this issues.

Locus is called the Newsmagazine of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Field, and that description is entirely accurate. Every issue is packed with news, reviews, photos, interviews, gossip, convention reports, list of upcoming releases, news on other magazines, and a ton more. It can take you a very long time to read an issue cover to cover (I know — that’s the way I read them.)

The May issue includes a detailed breakdown of the 2015 Hugo controversy (including a long quote from Yours Truly — the first time I can recall being quoted in Locus), reports on the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts and Norwescon 38, interviews with Ken Liu (The Grace of Kings) and Nnedi Okorafor (Who Fears Death), entertaining short fiction reviews from Gardner Dozois and Rich Horton, plenty of books reviews, and a lot more. See the complete Table of Contents here.

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Goth Chick News: World War Z Rages On…

Thursday, May 28th, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist

World War Z poster-smallIt definitely would have been a very good scoop to have landed back at C2E2. Then again, I might have been too busy having a fan girl swoon to have caught on anyway.

Earlier this month I had the chance to chat with Max Brooks, author of one of my favorite novels, World War Z. At the time I pressed him as much as I dared on the topic of a sequel as it seemed to be a rather touchy subject. Brooks stated he’d do it when the spirit moved him to and not a moment before.

This week I learned two things – first, something has definitely moved Brooks, and second, a possible reason why the topic of a follow up story might have been a tad touchy at the time I asked about it.

Paramount Pictures has just set a release date for the sequel to World War Z, effectively ending speculation, and Max Brooks is on board as one of the writers.

Granted, we’ve been hearing rumors about this for some time. In spite of the original production being plagued by so many problems it came close to being scrapped, World War Z ultimately became a blockbuster hit ($540M worldwide) and is in fact considered the highest grossing film in Brad Pitt’s career.

As Pitt not only starred in but produced the original film via his Plan B production company, it seemed inevitable that Paramount would green light a follow up at some point.

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Review: Three Fictional Non-Fiction Books from Osprey

Thursday, May 28th, 2015 | Posted by M Harold Page

Coming June 23!

Coming June 23!

Kurtzhau – aged 11 – squees. “It’s got all the tropes. They’ve obviously read Scott Westerfield…!”

I’ve just unpacked Osprey’s Steampunk Soldiers: Uniforms and Weapons from the Age of Steamone of three review copies acquired as a result of me ruthlessly parlaying a short story gig – Frostgrave tabletop game, coming soon, it rocks – into a pipeline of free books to review.

OK — Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! — moral hazard! Integrity in heroic book reviewing! Disclaimer! I wrote a short story for Osprey. I’d love to write a book for them. However, the reason I want to do all this is because Osprey rock. So bearing that in mind, read on.

Steampunk Cover

“…got all the tropes!”

I received three books from Osprey.

Steampunk, The Wars of Atlantis (coming July 21) and Orc Warfare (coming June 23).

They are odd.

Not as odd as the stand of Osprey books I once spotted in a local store…. It turned out that the manager of the History Department hated the books and would only reorder to fill gaps created by sales.

When the stand first went up, the military history gannets swooped and grabbed all the Templars/Waffen SS at War type books, and everything else with tanks and siege machines on the cover, leaving only the 10% of weird nerdy titles like German Civilian Police 1935-45, and Swiss Catering Corps 1866 (I made that one up).

So the manager filled the resulting gap with a random selection of books. 10% of these were yet more nerdy titles that did not sell. Fast forward a couple of years, and you have stand of possibly the most odd but boring military history titles in history.

Great, though, if you want to know about 19th century West Swabian Militia Civilian Servant Uniforms…

These books, in contrast, are odd, but not boring odd. They are odd because they are entirely made up and aimed squarely at tabletop gamers, without committing to a particular system.

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A Modest Proposal to Improve the Hugos

Thursday, May 28th, 2015 | Posted by Rich Horton

The Hugo AwardIn thinking about the recent unpleasantness (regarding the Hugo ballot, I mean), it occurred to me that one source of the issues with the Hugos right now has nothing much to do with slates or bloc voting or Sad Puppies or Social Justice Warriors or even taste (that much). It is simply this: there are a lot more SF stories published now than there were in the past. That makes it really hard for any reader to even come close to reading them all – something that was quite possible, I am told, back in the 1960s. I can testify: I used to try very hard to read every SF story that came my way, and there were years I read over 2000 stories. And every year I missed hundreds, at least, and some of those very good.

In a way this is one function of ballots and shortlists (and, indeed, recommendation lists): to try to condense the mass of stories published each year to a manageable set of the “the best.” My Best of the Year anthology every year serves that function (secondarily – the main function is to give readers a great book to read). So does, for instance, the Locus Recommended Reading list. But even there, note that our lists are by no means inclusive. Indeed, I signal that (as do other Best of the Year editors like Gardner Dozois and Ellen Datlow) by including a long list or recommended stories in addition to those in my book. And the Locus list is painstakingly cut from a much longer list of recommendations by all the contributors – a list that highlights the problem I cite, as all of us realize that our fellow recommenders have seen outstanding stories we have missed.

Though, I ask myself, why do I use the word “problem?” Surely it is a feature, not a bug, that there are so many stories published each year that are worthy of our attention? Indeed it is, but a result of that, I feel, is that if we want the Hugos to represent the very best stories of the year, we are failing, in the sense that it’s easier than before for a great story to slip under the radar.

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Future Treasures: The Iron Assassin by Ed Greenwood

Thursday, May 28th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Iron Assassin-smallEd Greenwood is one of the hardest working writers in the business. He’s perhaps best known as creator of the Forgotten Realms, the most popular D&D setting, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg of his creative output. In addition to his impressive contributions to gaming, he’s also written some three dozen Forgotten Realms novels, a Pathfinder Tales novel, the Niflheim series, and the best-selling Band of Four series from Tor Books, among many others.

His newest novel is a steampunk thriller set in London, featuring loyal agents of the crown, the Ancient Order of the Tentacles, and a clockwork-enhanced corpse sent to assassinate the Prince Regent…

Victoria has ascended the throne — several times in various new bodies. It is a time of gas lamps and regularly scheduled airship flights, of trams and steam-driven clockwork with countless smoke-belching stacks. In filthy, crowded, fast-growing London, the capital of the Empire of the Lion, a series of shocking murders threatens the throne itself.

Jack Straker, Lord Templeton, the energetic young inventor and Dread Agent for the Crown, believes he has created a weapon to defend the Prince Regent: a reanimated, clockwork-enhanced corpse he can control. But members of the Ancient Order of the Tentacles have other plans for the “Iron Assassin.”

Together with his friend Mr. Bleys Hardcastle and the recently recruited Dread Agent Rose Gordhammond, Lady Harminster, Jack must outwit the Ancient Order and regain control of his invention before they can assassinate the Prince Regent.

The Iron Assassin will be published by Tor Books on June 9. It is 320 pages, priced at $25.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Cynthia Shepard.

Ancient Worlds: Medusa and the Viral Impact of Sexual Assault

Thursday, May 28th, 2015 | Posted by Elizabeth Cady

restoration_of_the_bust_of_medusa_by_gian_lorenzo_bernini_largeI may ramble on a bit this week, and I apologise in advance. You see, I have a deep attachment to Medusa. She’s the center feature of the aegis tattoo I have on my right arm. My doctoral dissertation (which I do not recommend anyone read) was entitled Medusa’s Blood because of its discussion of a lot of what I’ll cover today. And, fittingly, a review of Clash of the Titans was the first thing I ever wrote for Black Gate, a handful of years back.

Most of us know Medusa from Clash of the Titans. Hopefully the 1970s version because the newer one is pretty terrible. In any case: she’s easily recognized. Scary looking woman, snakes for hair. Turns people into stone when they look at her. Came to bloody, hero-induced end. But what we learn from Ovid is that Medusa was not always a Gorgon. In her youth, she was one of the most beautiful human women alive.

Until she was raped by Neptune.

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Paolo Bacigalupi on Black Swans, Crashing a Drought Conference, and Being in a Weird Place

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015 | Posted by Emily Mah

headshotTheWaterKnife-PaoloBacigalupi-201x300Paolo Bacigalupi’s first novel, The Windup Girl, was named one of Time magazine’s top ten novels of the year, and yet he still talks to people like me, which makes him either very strange or very cool (probably a little of both.)

On May 25th his latest, The Water Knife, will be out, and this near future science fiction novel is set in a mega-drought-stricken, American southwest. The story explores issues of water rights, climate change, and the gratuitous destruction of the state of Texas, all of which we discuss in the interview.

He also takes the time to talk about his long and winding path towards a writing career. Anyone who’s ever reached the point of despair (in other words, all aspiring writers) will want to give this a listen.

After getting off Skype with me, he had another interview with NPR. So, without further ado: Paolo Bacigalupi’s warmup interview on the day he spoke to NPR.

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Memories of Palmyra Before ISIS

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

Landscape view of colonnaded path and temples at Palmyra, Syria. Courtesy Institute for the Study of the Ancient World.

The Islamic State is erasing my memories again.

I’ve written here before about how they wrecked the Assyrian sites around Mosul and destroyed the unique desert city of Hatra, both in Iraq. Many of the photos I took there can never be taken again. Now they’re turning their sights on Syria’s heritage.

Losing territory to the Kurds in the northeast, and realizing they can’t easily push into the Shia areas of Iraq after vowing to kill them all for apostasy, Islamic State is making a renewed offensive to the west into Syria, a divided and mostly Sunni region where they have a better chance to gaining ground. It was in Syria, in 1993 and 1994, where I first got a deep appreciation for many aspects of Arab culture and gained fond memories of visiting the country’s matchless archaeological sites.

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New Treasures: Trial of Intentions by Peter Orullian

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Trial-of-Intentions-small2Trial of Intentions is the second volume in Peter Orullian’s Vault of Heaven series, following The Unremembered (2011). In his recent Black Gate article, Peter gives a tantalizing glimpse of the worldbuilding in these novels:

In the midst of these political machinations, this one regent realizes that even if she can get all the kingdoms to agree, it might not be enough. The sheer numbers of the army they could create may be insufficient this time. What do you do then?

War machines.

In the instance of my book, this takes a couple of forms. There is, in fact, an entire kingdom given to the production of what I call “gearworks.” This society is densely populated with smiths of various kinds all designing and building better war machines…

This time, the threat from beyond the veil is more dire than ever before. And to meet it, this lone regent realizes that mere muscle and bone won’t be enough. The escalation needs to go further this time. They need to exhaust approaches that might once have seemed inconceivable and forbidden…

War is coming. One of those great wars you read about. The kind people call “the war to end all wars.” And in the face of such a thing, you arm. You do all you can. Pull out all the stops. Ask impossible, impractical, maybe unholy things. Because losing isn’t an option. Losing means annihilation.

Peter has been writing a series of acclaimed short stories set in the same world, and many of those are available free online at Tor.com. It’s a great way to get introduced to to Vault of Heaven. Here’s a few helpful links.

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