Friday, October 31, 2014

Short film - "The Body", directed by Paul Davis

For 24 hours, in celebration of Halloween, we have the chance to see for free Paul Davis’ award winning short movie, “The Body”. “The Body” recently won the prestigious Méliès d’Or, awarded by the European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation, for best short film.

A professionall killer (Alfie Allen, GAME OF THRONES) discovers he can get away with anything on Halloween night, including dragging his latest victim around as a prop amidst a sea of oblivious London partiers.

Happy Halloween!

Directed by Paul Davis
Screenplay by Paul Fischer & Paul Davis
Produced by Paul Fischer
Starring: Alfie Allen, Hannah Tointon, Jack Gordon, Christian Brassington

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Table of contents - "Imaginarium 3: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing" edited by Sandra Kasturi & Helen Marshall

I was relieved when finally news about the new volume of “The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror” reached me, not because there are no more such anthologies of year’s best out there, on the contrary I do have a couple I follow devoutly together with this one, but because this excellent collection showcased some wonderful fiction from Down Under. At a first glance, collections such the Australian Best Fantasy and Horror might seem as a narrowing in selection, but I actually find them a welcome expansion of similar anthologies that have a wider coverage. As time and the first three volumes of “The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror” proved there are plenty of talented voices and outstanding stories that deserved a presence in any year’s best but missed the more established ones due to the available space. Therefore I thrilled with the publication of yearly collection dedicated to a certain country or region, such as the already mentioned “The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror” and “Imaginarium: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing”. The latter sees this year its third edition being published and, after Sandra Kasturi joined forces with Halli Villegas and Samantha Beiko for the editing of the first two volumes, this year none other than the very gifted Helen Marshall is one of the editors. I am as excited as I was with the publication of the first “Imaginarium” two years ago, if not even more enthusiastic since I was rewarded with some high-quality stories in the first two volumes of this “Best Canadian Speculative Writing”. This year seems no different, there are a couple of my nowadays favorite writers on the table of contents together with some who are just waiting to be discovered. And with a release date set for November, 4th it appears that the end of this year I have my hands full with such yearly collections. I see no reasons for complaining however, in such cases the more of them, with such quality, the better.

“The Book with No End” by Colleen Anderson
“Frankenstein’s Monster” by James Arthur
“Social Services” by Madeline Ashby
“The Correspondence between the Governess and the Attic” by Siobhan Carroll
“Red Doc” (excerpt) by Anne Carson
“A Charm for Communing with Dead Pets During Surgery” by Peter Chiykowski
“Turing Tests” by Peter Chiykowski
“In the Year Two Thousand Eleven” by Jan Conn
“Jazzman/Puppet” by Joan Crate
“The Runner of n-Vamana” by Indrapramit Das
“Firebugs” by Craig Davidson
“By His Things You Will Know Him” by Cory Doctorow
“Lost” by Amal El-Mohtar
“:axiom: the calling” (excerpts) by Daniela Elza
“Trap-Weed” by Gemma Files
“Oubliette” by Gemma Files
“Ushakiran” by Laura Friis
“A Cavern of Redbrick” by Richard Gavin
“All My Princes are Gone” by Jennifer Giesbrecht
“A Tall Girl” by Kim Goldberg
“Ksampguiyaeps Woman-Out-to-Sea” by Neile Graham
“The Easthound” by Nalo Hopkinson
“Harvesting Lost Hearts” by Louisa Howerow
“Your Figure Will Assume Beautiful Outlines” by Claire Humphrey
“Salt and Iron Dialogues” by Matthew Johnson
“The Salamander's Waltz” by Catherine MacLeod
“Said the Axe Man” by Tamara MacNeil
“Nahuales” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
“The Fairy Godmother” by Kim Neville
“Black Hen à la Ford” by David Nickle
“Jinx” by Robert Priest
“Knife Throwing Through Self-Hypnosis” by Robin Richardson
“How Gods Go on the Road” by Robin Richardson
“Conditional Sphere of Everyday Historical Life” by Leon Rooke
“Stemming the Tide” by Simon Strantzas
“Book of Vole” (excerpts) by Jane Tolmie
“Fishfly Season” by Halli Villegas
“Lesser Creek: A Love Story, A Ghost Story” by A.C. Wise

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Uncanny Magazine starts its appearances next Tuesday

Following a successful Kickstarter campaign this summer a new professional magazine of speculative fiction was born, Uncanny: A Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Founded and edited by three-time Hugo Award winner Lynne M. Thomas and three-time Hugo Award nominee Michael Damian Thomas Uncanny Magazine wishes to showcase in each issue new and classic speculative fiction, fiction podcasts, poetry, essays, art and interviews. Each issue will contain at least 4-6 new short stories, 2 reprinted stories, 2 poems, 2 non-fiction essays and 2 interviews, written by award-winning contributors and emerging new talents, with a clear aim towards “intricate, experimental stories and poems with verve and imagination that elicit strong emotions and challenge beliefs from writers from every conceivable background. Uncanny believes there’s still plenty of room in the genre for tales that make you feel.” Uncanny Magazine’s issues will be published in electronic formats bimonthly and will be available on all major online ebook stores, but also for free online, with the first half of each issue available on the magazine’s website from the second Tuesday of the respective issue’s first month and the second half a month after that. The first issue, November/December 2014, comes with very interesting content and a wonderful cover art by Galen Dara and it will be available next Tuesday in ebook version and released for free online in two stages, the first half on the day of the ebook version release and the second half in December.

“The Uncanny Valley” by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas
New Fiction
“If You Were a Tiger, I’d Have to Wear White” by Maria Dahvana Headley
“Migration” by Kat Howard
“Late Nights at the Cape and Cane” by Max Gladstone
“Celia and the Conservation of Entropy” by Amelia Beamer
“Presence” by Ken Liu
“The Boy Who Grew Up” by Christopher Barzak
Classic Fiction
“Her Fingers Like Whips, Her Eyes Like Razors” by Jay Lake
“Mars (and Moon and Mercury and Jupiter and Venus) Attacks!” by Sarah Kuhn
Worldcon Roundtable featuring Emma England, Michael Lee, Helen Montgomery, Steven H Silver, and Pablo Vazquez
“Does Sex Make Science Fiction ‘Soft’?” by Tansy Rayner Roberts
“The Short List – The Ten Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Shorts on the Web” by Christopher J Garcia
“Kissing song” by Neil Gaiman
“The New Ways” by Amal El-Mohtar
“The Whalemaid, Singing” by Sonya Taaffe
Maria Dahvana Headley, interviewed by Deborah Stanish
Beth Meacham on Jay Lake, interviewed by Lynne M. Thomas
Christopher Barzak, interviewed by Deborah Stanish
I wish Uncanny Magazine all the best and hopefully it would soon become one of the favorite places to visit by the fans of speculative fiction!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

R.I.P. Ştefan Ghidoveanu (1955-2014)

Unfortunately the Romanian speculative fiction lost one of its pillars these days. Ştefan Ghidoveanu was a writer, editor and translator, one who put great effort into the promotion and development of modern Romanian science fiction. He departs too early, leaving behind an important legacy to the local speculative fiction, but sadly not as rich as could have been. May his travels beyond be far and wide!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

"Barracuda - 1. Slaves" by Jean Dufaux (script) & Jérémy (artist)

"Barracuda - 1. Slaves"
by Jean Dufaux (script) & Jérémy (artist)
Publisher: Cinebook
The review is based on a bought copy of the book

Pirates have appeal, it seems they always had. It is a very interesting thing to observe for such a criminal, violent activity producing such an attraction, for such vicious villains becoming romanticized heroes more often than not. Yours truly is no exception, in historical books or pure fiction I surprise myself picturing them as valiant adventurers before starting to consider their savage nature and brutal acts. It is no different with the comics written and illustrated by the Belgian duo, Jean Dufaux and Jérémy Petiqueux, “Barracuda”.

The famed pirate ship Barracuda, led by the infamous captain Blackdog, seizes a vessel and capture some of the passengers travelling on it, Doña Del Scuebo, her daughter Maria and Emilio, a young servant boy who disguises himself as a girl in order to avoid being killed by the pirates, the fate of almost every man on board of the captured ship. The three of them are brought to Puerto Blanco and sold as slaves under the supervision of Blackdog’s son, Raffy.

There is nothing romanticized in the pirates of this first volume of “Barracuda”, they are a lot as vicious as they can be. Even from the beginning their courses of action lead to utter violence, exploitation and abuse. However, Jean Dufaux and Jérémy manage to keep the ugly side of the story in check, the ferocity of vile acts are more hinted at rather than treated in full graphic, verbal violence preceding the physical one and plenty of the misdeeds taking place off screen, sparing characters and readers alike from full front extreme brutality. The conflicts still escalate, but most often only into swashbuckling scenes typically associated with such adventures. “Barracuda – Slaves” is still a dark and fierce story, but nicely rounded so it cannot turn into an offensive tale.

Caught in this world of violence are three young people, Maria, Emilio and Raffy, the three characters that emerge as the main protagonists of this volume. Colliding here and there and ending up stranded in Puerto Blanco the three youngsters approach the story from different sides. And from different perspectives as well, since Emilio’s part is told from first person point of view and the other two from third person, yet it turned out that it didn’t exercise more sympathy from my part for Emilio and it does not make him a more developed character than Maria and Raffy. Crisscrossing paths these three characters seem to be heading towards a common point in the story, but this doesn’t happen in “Barracuda – Slaves”, the volume feels and is the introduction part. It is the starting point for a larger story, taking into account the initial details of setting, plot and characters.

The feeling of introductory part is felt even from the title of the series and the cover of the first volume, “Barracuda” sporting the portrait of Blackdog, the captain of the title eponymous pirate ship, on the cover of “Barracuda - Slaves”, but both making the slightest of appearances in the story of this comic. However the plot leaves plenty of room for the development. A map pointing the directions to a certain extremely valuable diamond falls into Blackdog’s hands and he sets sail in search of it at the end of the book. The pirate island’s governess has her own plans for Barracuda and its captain and together with her right hand starts a little game of politics. The mysterious figure, who exerts a powerful influence among Puerto Blanco’s pirates, entering into Emilio’s life promises interesting things for his story arc. Spread elements of a wider plot, but all very interesting and holding the potential for making the “Barracuda” series even better than it already started. Only one thing kept bugging me at the entire enterprise, although we are dealing with merciless scoundrels they seem to conceal an odd respect for the religious representatives. Blackdog’s crew spares for no reason the life of a priest when they seize the ship he is on, although Emilio needs to disguise himself as a girl in order to escape the pirates’ habit of killing every single man on the captured ships. And in Puerto Blanco, the harbor of a pirate island festering with villains, where even the governess rule is based on the principles of piracy, there is present a church that escapes unscathed although it plays a role into the island’s slave trading. I am aware of the place these elements have on the whole and the role they play within the story, but they do look awkward, especially when the cast is brimming with characters of low morals, farfetched from the pious bunch.

The art of Jérémy adds further vividness to the world of “Barracuda”. Battle scenes and settings nicely done, colors used with ability and above all, the excellent rendering of characters. Each and single one is portrayed with talent, each is given individuality and personality. Emotions are captured effortlessly, feelings are depicted with accuracy. Every panel would work wonderfully on itself as a small piece of art, but together with the story it creates an excellent combination, fusing Jérémy and Jean Dufaux’s efforts harmoniously, with the best possible outcome.

“Barracuda – Slaves” opens the road for a wider story, it is a mood setter, but it does so leaving the reader itching for Jean Dufaux and Jérémy’s continuation of this comic book series.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cover art - "On a Red Station, Drifting" by Aliette de Bodard

I loved Aliette de Bodard’s “On a Red Station, Drifting”, it is a wonderful and touching story, but I still hold a regret at the time of my first reading of this short novel. I believed, and I still do, that the cover artwork for the hardcover edition of “On a Red Station, Drifting” was no match for the beauty of the novella. I felt that with more effort the cover could have been better, as it is proved by the artwork of the ebook edition. A far better choice and a more representative and engaging one. And since I do like quite a bit the books in physical form, especially those volumes I loved reading and cherish because of it, I do love them with beautiful cover artworks. Even more so considering that the cover of an ebook is easily left behind after opening the file, while that of a physical edition is met by the eye each time the reader picks up the respective book. Well, it seems that Aliette de Bodard’s “On a Red Station, Drifting” has the chance to have the beautiful cover of the ebook edition on a printed volume as well. Aliette de Bodard is publishing a new printed edition of “On a Red Station, Drifting” through Createspace and this volume comes with the cover designed by Nhan Y Doanh for the ebook edition. And since we are at this chapter, here is also the cover artwork for the Spanish edition of “On a Red Station, Drifitng”, published by Fata Libelli at the end of the year. The artist Omar Moreno went on a different road with his cover, coming with a more simple approach, more suited for the publisher’s line of book covers.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"The Invincible Sun" by K.J. Parker on the horizon

I find K.J. Parker to be one of the best and most original fantasy writers, her/his works have always surprised and thrilled me. And the form of the said works has little relevance, no matter if it is a series or a stand-alone novel, a novella or a short story, fiction or non-fiction K.J. Parker excels with every single one of them. Therefore each piece of news about a new book or short story signed by this excellent writer brings me nothing but delight, as it is the one hinting at K.J. Parker’s new novel. With a release date set for February 2015 “The Invincible Sun” is the first novel in a new trilogy by K.J. Parker. There is not much more information to be had at the moment and even the scarce one surfaced so far is pretty general.

The first in a epic trilogy from the acclaimed author of Sharps. K.J. Parker's new series is a perfectly executed tale of intrigue and deception that will leave you breathless. THE INVINCIBLE SUN tells the story of an empire. With an extraordinary cast of characters, from soldier and generals to politics and princes, THE INVINCIBLE SUN will appeal to a broad range of fantasy readers and is destined to become a landmark work in the genre.

However, I am certain there is nothing of standard issue about K.J. Parker’s “The Invincible Sun”. After all, I don’t have only my preference for K.J. Parker’s works to back me up, but also the short stories sharing the same universe as the upcoming novel. Three of which can be enjoyed for free online, “Amor Vincit Omnia”, “One Little Room an Everywhere” and “The Sun and I”, with the last one depicting the birth of the religion of the Invincible Sun.

For me, K.J. Parker’s “The Invincible Sun” is the most anticipated book of February 2015.