Future Treasures: At the Table of Wolves by Kay Kenyon

Monday, June 26th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

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I love science fiction conventions. They’re an opportunity to meet old friends, make new ones, and catch up on current events in the genre. And especially, they’re a chance to sit in on readings and — if you’re lucky — get a tantalizing early glimpse of upcoming new novels. That’s exactly what I did at the World Fantasy Convention last year, and I was rewarded with some of the most enjoyable readings I’ve attended in years. And among all that literary glory there was one reading, and one novel in particular, that really stood out. Kay Kenyon’s At the Table of Wolves, set in an alternate Britain where the psychic trauma of World War I has triggered the rise of paranormal abilities in ordinary people, and Nazi Germany has secretly begun to weaponize its most gifted citizens, completely captivated me. At the Table of Wolves is the novel I’ve anticipated most in 2017 and, after long months of waiting, it finally arrives in hardcover next month.

In 1936, there are paranormal abilities that have slowly seeped into the world, brought to the surface by the suffering of the Great War. The research to weaponize these abilities in England has lagged behind Germany, but now it’s underway at an ultra-secret site called Monkton Hall.

Kim Tavistock, a woman with the talent of the spill — drawing out truths that people most wish to hide — is among the test subjects at the facility. When she wins the confidence of caseworker Owen Cherwell, she is recruited to a mission to expose the head of Monkton Hall — who is believed to be a German spy.

As she infiltrates the upper-crust circles of some of England’s fascist sympathizers, she encounters dangerous opponents, including the charismatic Nazi officer Erich von Ritter, and discovers a plan to invade England. No one believes an invasion of the island nation is possible, not Whitehall, not even England’s Secret Intelligence Service. Unfortunately, they are wrong, and only one woman, without connections or training, wielding her talent of the spill and her gift for espionage, can stop it.

Publishers Weekly calls the novel “A superb adventure, worthy to launch a distinguished historical fantasy series,” and Black Gate author Martha Wells calls it “A fabulous read. It’s got the feel of Foyle’s War and the tense mystery plot of a spy thriller.” We previously covered Kay’s 2015 novel Queen of the Deep, and her last blog post for us was “When Ideas Collide.”

At the Table of Wolves is described at the first novel of Dark Talents. It will be published by Saga Press on July 11, 2017. It is 421 pages, priced at $26.99 in hardcover and $7.99 for the digital version. The cover is by Mike Heath.


Bookriot on 5 Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazines You Should Be Reading

Monday, June 26th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

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Over at Bookriot, Amy Diegelman sheds some light on a handful of top-notch magazines that deserve more attention.

The old science fiction and fantasy magazines whose over-the-top covers and bizarre ads we often chuckle at were some of the first to publish names like Heinlein, [Asimov], and Butler. Today, some of the best new writers are being published in science fiction and fantasy magazines, which take chances on women, authors of color, and genre innovators who have more trouble breaking into large-scale publishing. The best part about this content, though, might just be how easy it is to access. Try these five science fiction and fantasy magazines to take your reading to the next level.

Amy is absolutely right — these magazines are publishing the breakout writers of today and tomorrow, and their content has never been easier to access. Here’s a few of my favorites among her choices. Check out the links to the sample stories she recommends.

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Vintage Treasures: The Worlds of Jack Vance

Monday, June 26th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

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We live in an age where an astonishing amount of pulp science fiction and fantasy is readily available, both in print and digital formats. Want to read the complete stories of Leigh Brackett, or Fredric Brown, or Robert E. Howard, or Clark Ashton Smith, or Harold Lamb, or dozens of other fabulous pulp writers? For the first time in decades, they’re all available in handsome permanent editions and digital compilations. As well as inexpensive pulp reprints, if that’s your thing. And if you’re a serious collection who really wants the joy of tracking down each story in its original format… well, that’s easier than ever as well, thanks to online sites like eBay and Amazon.

So really, if you’re a fan of 20th Century SF and fantasy, you don’t have much to complain about. Unless, like me, you remember mass market collections and anthologies. Gone are the days when books like The Worlds of Jack Vance would line bookstore shelves, and that’s a shame.

The Words of Jack Vance is a delightful collection of some of the very best of Vance’s early fiction, including “The Moon Moth” (1961), one of his most brilliant stories, alongside three Magnus Ridolph tales, a novella in his Nopalgarth story cycle, and four other stories. It’s terrific introduction to one of the most gifted fantasists of the 20th Century. Sure, there are similar collections published today — the five volumes of The Early Jack Vance from Subterranean Press, for example. But they cost $45 each, which means not too many people (if any) will be buying them to try Vance for the first time. That Ace paperback? It’s $1.25.

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Gaming Summer Camp

Sunday, June 25th, 2017 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook Fifth EditionMostly, those of us who are passionate about roleplaying games fell into the hobby in a fairly informal way. But as the hobby becomes more widespread, there have also become more formal ways of being introduced to the games. Conventions often have panels or gaming tracks that are specifically designed for introducing new gamers to either gaming in general or to a specific game system. I’ve even heard of college courses that include elements from roleplaying games as part of the curriculum.

An old high school friend of mine is doing his part, running a summer camp centered around Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition in Durham, NC. Unfortunately, he’s already completed the first of three weeks of the camp, but there are two remaining, so still plenty of time to get your kids involved if you live in the area. It runs from 11:00 am to 3:30 pm at the Dimensions Family School, with more information and registration available here.

In speaking with my friend, Brock, about what he had planned. He’s taught courses on Dungeons & Dragons at Dimensions Family Camp for 3 quarters now:

Each quarter I try something different. The first quarter was a multi-generational epic, where they played the same heroes, re-incarnated over and over, battling the same world-ending villain from the creation of the world until the climactic apocalype-averting battle at the end of class. The 2nd quarter was a world-hopping romp through the D&D settings, where they met all the most iconic heroes and villains from D&D history. The 3rd quarter was a “bottle episode”, where they spent almost the entire quarter in the same dungeon, over a period of only a few days, with a high body count and many tough ethical choices, rounded out with a grand finale involving the Deck of Many Things and the Tarrasque.

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June 2017 Clarkesworld Now Available

Sunday, June 25th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Clarkesworld 129 June 2017-smallOver at Tangent Online, Rebecca DeVendra reviews the riches at hand in the latest Clarkesworld.

Andy Dudak writes the mind-bending tale “Fool’s Cap.” There [were] points when I felt like my brain had been melted and hung over a clothesline. It was great. Most stories that try to write about time-loops and parallel universes fall into many paradoxical traps: this is the nature of the thing. Dudak handles these ingredients like a master chef. The story follows Beadith, a Tribunal agent chasing a killer, and she gets stranded on an island with him. Weak and helpless, he has given himself over to a sentient moss that affixes itself to his head and shows him several versions of himself. Beadith communes with the moss as well, and starts to converse with other versions of herself…

“Neptune’s Trident” by Nina Allan is a dark post-apocalyptic tale shot through with tension that never really crescendos. Allan’s sybaritic prose beguiled me, so much so that when I got to the end of the story I felt as if I’d had an odd dream, filled with a dread I couldn’t define. The story tells of an invasion by nonhuman beings that work through infection, making people sick. They are called “flukes” in the story and all sorts of political misfortunes befall them, from internment camps to executions. Allan’s world is full of suspicion and dread, and I admit I felt a bit flensed after being immersed in it.

Read her complete review here.

The June Clarkesworld contains original fiction from Andy Dudak, Julia K. Patt, Nina Allan, Sam J. Miller, and A Que, plus reprints from Jay Lake and Aliette de Bodard.

The cover, “Sea Change,” is by Matt Dixon.

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.

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2017 Locus Award Winners Announced

Sunday, June 25th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

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The Locus Science Fiction Foundation has announced the winners of the 2017 Locus Awards, one of the most prestigious (and certainly one of the longest running) fan-voted awards in the industry.

The winners are selected by fans in an online poll. The awards began in 1971, originally as a way to highlight quality work in advance of the Hugo Awards. The winners were announced yesterday, during the annual Locus Awards Weekend in Seattle WA. The winners are:

SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

Death’s End, Cixin Liu (Tor)

FANTASY NOVEL

All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor)

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New Treasures: Wilders by Brenda Cooper

Sunday, June 25th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

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Brenda Cooper got her start collaborating with Larry Niven. They co-wrote eight short stories between 2001 – 2007, and one novel, Building Harlequin’s Moon, in 2005. She branched out and began writing short fiction of her own in 2003; her first solo novel was The Silver Ship and the Sea, which won the 2008 Endeavour Award, and kicked off The Silver Ship trilogy. She followed up with the Ruby’s Song duology (The Creative Fire, The Diamond Deep) and The Glittering Edge (Edge of Dark, Spear of Light).

Her latest is the start of a brand new series, Project Earth, set in a near-future Earth where “rewilding crews” work to remove all traces of civilization from vast tracks of terrain, returning the planet to its natural state. Gray Scott calls it “A fantastic voyage into a beautifully intricate solarpunk future,” and Karl Schroeder says it’s “A vision of future America that’s by turns exhilarating and terrifying… one of the best near-future adventures in years.” It’s available now in paperback.

Wilders was published by Pyr on June 13, 2017. It is 367 pages, priced at $18 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital version. The cover is by Stephan Martiniere. Click the covers above for bigger versions.


Building Your Own Writing Master Class

Saturday, June 24th, 2017 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

600x600bb I started writing seriously when I was 15 years old. At 46, I have almost twenty short stories published and one novel sold and more news I can’t talk about yet.

Most days, I feel pretty good about my skill level and experience matching what I’m hoping to do. But, I still spend an *enormous* amount of time in learning about the craft of writing.

I’m less concerned now about the mechanics (dialogue, editing, paragraphing, word choice, etc, although that took me a good 20 years to get right), but I still worry about giving an emotionally compelling and thematically meaningful story every time I go to the plate.

My main learning now, my kind of grad school of writing is listening to experts. I like podcasts and they fit into my lifestyle (driving, washing dishes, cleaning the house, etc). Lots of famous and skilled writers, editors, artists, directors, producers, etc are interviewed all the time for podcasts.

These luminaries also appear on panels, which are also recorded and published on the internet for free. The kinds of people speaking about story and form and theme are the kinds of people you’d seek out as you progressed from apprentice to journeyman.

I probably listen to 20-30 hours of podcasts a month in the course of living my life (think dishes…), and I do feel like I’m getting a masterclass out of my listening. I thought I’d share some of my free education in case writers out there wanted to take advantage of this too.

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The Eighth Samurai: An Interview with Author T.C. Rypel

Saturday, June 24th, 2017 | Posted by Joe Bonadonna

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Back in the 1970s and 1980s, many authors were churning out their own versions of big, iron-muscled barbarian heroes like Conan of Cimmeria. There were exceptions, of course, like Michael Moorcock, Fritz Leiber, and Jack Vance, to name three authors I’ve always favored. But then along came T.C. Rypel, who hit the ground running with something different, something uniquely his own . . . his character of Sabatake Gonji-no-Sadowara, the half Scandinavian and half Japanese samurai. Gonji was truly a breath of fresh air in the genre of Sword and Sorcery, although I think Rypel’s novel are much more epic and actually closer to Heroic Fantasy in scope and theme. His setting wasn’t some imaginary world filled with ancient gods, powerful warlocks and fanciful kingdoms, but was instead deeply rooted in and around Romania and the Carpathian Mountains of 16th century. Perhaps a parallel world, but close enough to the Europe of that era to lend it a flavor of historical reality. Besides the non-barbaric character of Gonji, who was introspective, poetic, and humble, as well as a total bad ass with a sly sense of humor, what also set Rypel’s novels apart from so many others was the fact that he worked gunpowder and firearms into his stories, right along with the sorcery and creatures and other elements of the fantastic. And like Robert E Howard’s Solomon Kane before him, Rypel made it all work, too.

from my Amazon review of T.C. Rypel’s Dark Ventures.

I knew of Ted and Gonji back in the 1980s, when I first read his Deathwind Trilogy, when it was originally published by Zebra Books. Then I broke away from reading fantasy for a while and never knew that he followed that up with two more volumes. Sometime in the 1990s a mutual friend “introduced” us, and we shared a few letters, discussing writing and music and movies. Then I revisited the Deathwind Trilogy, and finally read volumes four and five. When we connected via the internet, emails, and later Facebook, Ted and I got to know each other very well. He enjoyed my tales of Dorgo the Dowser and played a key role in helping me shape the six novellas in the first Mad Shadows volume, and helped again with Mad Shadows II — which is why I dedicated the book to him. No one writes like Ted; he is a walking dictionary and Thesaurus, for one, and he knows how to tell a story. He is also a great editor, having a gift for character insight, plotting, and drama that have been of great help to me. And whenever anyone praises my battle scenes, I tell them, “I owe it all to Ted.” He taught me how to write those scenes from the “inside of a character’s head.” That’s the only way I can put it. If you’ve read any of his books, you know how well he handles character, drama, humor, and dialogue, as well as writing some of the most exciting battle scenes set down on paper. Although we have never met in person, he is a good friend, mentor, and sensei. And now, with the Wildside Press reissues of his original five novels of Gonji, and with the recent release of a sixth volume, I thought it was time to sit down and have a little “talk with him.” It’s high time that Ted is recognized and read by a whole new and younger audience of Heroic Fantasy aficionados.

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Nobles, Pirates and Supernatural Creatures in 15th Century Venice: The Assassini Trilogy by Jon Courtenay Grimwood

Saturday, June 24th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

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This week I received a review copy of Moskva, the upcoming thriller by Jack Grimwood, aka Jon Courtenay Grimwood, author of the SF novels Stamping Butterflies (2004), 9Tail Fox (2005), and the British Science Fiction Award winner End of the World Blues (2006). It’s good to see one of the most talented writers in our genre branching out… but I must admit that mostly what the book did was spark an interest in some of Grimwood’s early genre books. I ended up digging up his Assassini trilogy, which Library Journal called “A tale of politics, love, and the supernatural… 15th Century Venice springs to life, along with a varied cast of nobles, pirates, and supernatural creatures.” It was published in paperback by Orbit earlier this decade:

The Fallen Blade (417 pages, $14.99 trade paperback/$9.99 digital, January 27, 2011) — cover by Larry Rostant
The Outcast Blade (432 pages, $14.99 trade paperback/$9.99 digital, March 26, 2012) — cover by Emma Graves
The Exiled Blade (338 pages, $15.99 trade paperback/$9.99 digital, April 2, 2013) — cover by Emma Graves

It’s fascinating to contrast Larry Rostant’s photo-based cover for The Fallen Blade with his stylistically similar (and yet markedly different) cover for Jay Posey’s Sungrazer, which we posted here just two days ago. Rostant’s cover work is almost entirely photo-based; he has some striking examples — including some gorgeous dance photos — at his website.

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