Monday, July 6, 2015

Summer hiatus

I miss the carefree summer months of childhood and adolescence, even more so nowadays when the heat calls for laziness rather than the extended attention required by the increasing amount of work. But since things could be worse I’ll not press the matter further. However, with plenty of working projects to tide up before my vacation and with the actual summer holiday to come the blog will be put on hold. Not for long, although it is for a period longer than the usual. I could try to infiltrate a post or two before my weeks off the office, but I would rather write something more consistent at my return instead of a couple of flimsy ones now. It is a short hiatus and a regrouping at the same time. I will return to a regular blogging schedule on September, hopefully with the batteries fully charged. Until then, I hope you’ll all have an awesome summer!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

2015 Locus Awards

The past week-end the winners of the 2015 Locus Awards have been announced:

SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL
“Ancillary Sword” by Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)

FANTASY NOVEL
“The Goblin Emperor” by Katherine Addison (Tor)

YOUNG ADULT BOOK
“Half a King” by Joe Abercrombie (Del Rey; Voyager UK)

FIRST NOVEL
“The Memory Garden” by Mary Rickert (Sourcebooks Landmark)

NOVELLA
“Yesterday’s Kin” by Nancy Kress (Tachyon)

NOVELETTE
“Tough Times All Over” by Joe Abercrombie (Rogues)

SHORT STORY
“The Truth About Owls” by Amal El-Mohtar (Kaleidoscope) - also available on Strange Horizons

ANTHOLOGY
“Rogues” edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois (Bantam; Titan)

COLLECTION
“Last Plane to Heaven” by Jay Lake (Tor)

MAGAZINE
Tor.com

PUBLISHER
Tor

EDITOR
Ellen Datlow

ARTIST
John Picacio

NON-FICTION
“What Makes This Book So Great” by Jo Walton (Tor; Corsair 2015)

ART BOOK
“Spectrum 21: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art” edited by John Fleskes (Flesk)

Congratulations to all the winners!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Table of contents - "Terror Tales of the Scottish Highlands" edited by Paul Finch

I’ve talked extensively before about one of my favorite series of anthologies, edited by Paul Finch and published by Gray Friar Press, and it is time now to salute the eighth entry in the “Terror Tales” collections. “Terror Tales” is an excellent series travelling across the British Isles in search of old and new frightening stories, new by publishing fresh tales based on the folklore of a specific area and old by mixing these modern works of fiction with some of the spooky legends of the respective region. It is a concept that appealed greatly to me from the start and each volume published so far proved to be a delight, every single one offering a bounty of fine short stories, great legends and impressive writers. And after travelling through the Lake District, the Cotswolds, East Anglia, London, the Seaside, Wales and Yorkshire Paul Finch’s series of anthologies reaches now the Scottish Highlands, again with a promise of chilling delights. I am glad to see the “Terror Tales” anthologies going strong and I am even happier to hear that the editor and publisher intend to go further in their search and reinterpretation of horror folklore, even beyond the borders of the United Kingdom, with other short story collections of the same kind.

The Scottish Highlands, picturesque home to grand mountains and plunging glens. But also a land of bitterness, betrayal and blood-feud, where phantom pipers lament callous slaughters, evil spirits haunt crag and loch, and ancient monsters roam the fogbound moors…

The Black Wolf of Badenoch
The deformed horror at Glamis
The witch coven of Auldearn
The faceless giant of Ben Macdui
The shrieking voices on Skye
The feathered fiend of Glen Etive
The headless killer at Arisaig

And many more chilling tales by William Meikle, Helen Grant, Barbara Roden, Carole Johnstone, DP Watt and other award-winning masters and mistresses of the macabre…

“Skye’s Skary Places” by Ian Hunter
Phantoms in the Mist
“The Dove” by Helen Grant
Prey of the Fin-Folk
“Strone House” by Barbara Roden
The Well of Heads
“Face Down in the Earth” by Tom Johnstone
The Vanishing
“The Dreaming God Is Singing Where She Lies” by William Meikle
The Curse of Scotland
“The Housekeeper” by Rosie Seymour
From Out the Hollow Hills
“The Executioner” by Peter Bell
Saurians of the Deep
“You Must Be Cold” by John Whitbourn
Glamis Castle
“The Fellow Travellers” by Sheila Hodgson
Daemonologie
“Shelleycoat” by Graeme Hurry
Evil Monsters
“The Other House, the Other Voice” by Craig Herbertson
The Mull Plane Mystery
“Myself / Thyself” by D.P. Watt
The Bauchan
“Broken Spectres” by Carl Barker
The Big Grey Man
“Jack Knife” by Gary Fry
Tristicloke the Wolf
“The Foul Mass at Tongue House” by Johnny Mains
The Drummer of Cortachy
“There You’ll Be” by Carole Johnstone

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

2015 Chesley Awards finalists

The Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists has announced the finalists of 2015 Chesley Awards. The awards ceremony will be held during Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention, taking place in Spokane, Washington between August 19th and 23rd.

Best Cover Illustration / Hardcover
Julie Dillon - Shadows Beneath: The Writing Excuses Anthology edited by Brandon Sanderson; Dragonsteel Entertainment, June 2014
Jon Foster - Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi; Subterranean Press, 2014
Todd Lockwood - The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan; Tor, March 2014
John Picacio - Endymion by Dan Simmons; Limited Edition, Subterranean Press, December 2014
Michael Whelan - Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson; Tor, March 2014

Best Cover Illustration – Paperback
John Harris - Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie; Orbit October 2014
Jon Sullivan - The Return of the Discounted Man by Mark Hodder; Pyr, July 2014
Raymond Swanland - The Lady by K.V. Johansen; Pyr, December 2014
Danielle Tunstall - Unseaming by Mike Allen; Antimatter Press, October 2014
Raoul Vitale - Nebula Awards Showcase 2014 edited by Kij Johnson; Prometheus/Pyr

Best Cover Illustration – Magazine
Julie Dillon - Analog April 2014
Matt Dixon - Clarkesworld #90 March 2014
Wayne Haag - Interzone #253 July/August 2014
Patrick Jones - Analog March 2014
Jae Lee - Batman/Superman #14 DC Comics October 2014
Peter Mohrbacher - Lightspeed #48 May 2014
Dan Dos Santos - Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #3 Dark Horse, March 2014

Best Interior Illustration
Anna Balbusso and Elena Balbusso - “Ekaterina and the Firebird” by Abra Staffin-Wiebe; Tor.com, January 2014
Galen Dara - “A City of Its Tentacles” by Rose Lemberg; Lackinton’s #1 February 2014
Julie Dillon - Imagined Realms: Book 1 July/August; Kickstarter December 2014
Scott Gustafson - Classic Bedtime Stories; Artisan, September 2014
Karla Ortiz - “The Walking Stick Forest” by Anna Tambour; Tor.com May 2014
John Picacio - Nuestra Senora de la Esperanza; Tor.com October 2014

Best Gaming Related Illustration
Noah Bradley - Drown in Sorrow Magic card, Born of the Gods; WotC, Feb. 2014
Eric Deschamps - Ephara, God of Polis Magic card, Born of the Gods; WotC, Feb. 2014
Michael Komarck - D&D The Rise of Tiamat; WotC, Oct. 2014
Peter Mohrbacher - Pharika, God of Affliction Magic card, Journey into Nyx; WotC, May 2014
Karla Ortiz - Ghoulcaller Gisa Magic card, Commander 2014; WotC, Nov. 2014
Chris Rahn - Ajani the Steadfast Magic card, 2015 Core Set; WotC, July 2014

Best Product Illustration
Frank Cho & Brandon Peterson - Fast Food New York ComicCon 2014 art print
Donato Giancola - George R.R. Martin Song of Ice and Fire 2015 calendar Bantam, 2014
Patrick Jones - Conan The Conquered Illuxcon promotional art
John Picacio - La Calavera Loteria card Lone Boy
Raymond Swanland - One with the Light Limited Edition Giclee on canvas Acme Archives 2014

Best Color Work – Unpublished
Linda Adair - “Dragonsbride” oil
Michael C. Hayes - “Alegretto” oils
Reiko Murakami - “Giving Name” Photoshop
Mark Poole - “Omens” oils
Dorian Vallejo - “Crossing” oil on canvas
Annie Stegg Gerard - “The Lady of Lorien” oil on linen

Best Monochrome Work – Unpublished
Kristina Carroll - “Dragonslayer” charcoal
Sean Murray - “Gateway: The Storkfriars” graphite
John Picacio - “El Venado” graphite
Olivier Villoingt - “The Soul of War” graphite & acrylic
Allen Williams - “Sphynx” graphite
Rebecca Yanovskaya - “Wisdom” ink & mixed media

Best Three-Dimensional Art
Dan Chudzinski - The Mudpuppy, resin & mixed media
David Meng - Sun Wukong, the Monkey King
Michael Parkes - Meditation, bronze
Forest Rogers - A Fish from Versailles, Kato polyclay
Virginie Ropars - Morrigan, polymer clay & mixed media
Vincent Villafranca - Modernity’s Squeaky Child, bronze & steel

Best Art Director
Lou Anders, Pyr
Shelly Bond, DC/Vertigo Comics
Irene Gallo, Tor & Tor.com
Jeremy Jarvis, Wizards of the Coast
Lauren Panepinto, Orbit Books

Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award
Kinuko Craft
John Harris
Gregory Manchess
Iain McCaig

Congratulations and good luck to all the nominees!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Table of contents - "Cassilda's Song" edited by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.

© Steve Santiago
Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. put together with “A Season in Carcosa” an excellent tribute anthology to Robert W. Chambers and “The King in Yellow”, one of the most memorable short story collections I had the pleasure to read over the years. This year Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. embarks on a second project with the same theme, another tribute collection to Robert W. Chambers and “The King in Yellow”, but this time with an all women line-up. After all, two of the major characters of the imaginary play “The King in Yellow” are Cassilda and Camilla and the Act 1, Scene 2 of the said play, entitled “Cassilda’s Song”, title borrowed by Joseph Pulver’s new anthology, reflects on its verses the strangeness and delirium of Robert W. Chambers’ book. “A Season in Carcosa” and the general theme make strong recommendations for “Cassilda’s Song”, but they are not the only things that make this new collection of short stories look extremely appealing, its table of contents is also packed with some of the most gifted writers of today’s speculative fiction, Lynda E. Rucker, Helen Marshall, Allyson Bird, S.P. Miskowski, Damien Angelica Walters, Mercedes M. Yardley, Molly Tanzer and E. Catherine Tobler are very talented writers and make this line-up a stellar one. I am always happy to discover and read their new stories so it comes as no surprise that I am waiting with the eager anticipation the moment when I can start reading this promising anthology. I am not sure when “Cassilda’s Song” will be available, only that it will be published by Chaosium Inc. and the cover features an artwork (seen above, but not finished yet) by Steve Santiago. I’ll return with the final cover and the publishing date when they are available.

“Black Stars on Canvas, a Reproduction in Acrylic” by Damien Angelica Walters
“She Will Be Raised a Queen” by E. Catherine Tobler
“Yella” by Nicole Cushing
“Yellow Bird” by Lynda E. Rucker
“Exposure” by Helen Marshall
“Just Beyond Her Dreaming” by Mercedes M. Yardley
“In the Quad of Project 327” by Chesya Burke
“Stones, Maybe” by Ursula Pflug
“Les Fleurs Du Mal” by Allyson Bird
“While The Black Stars Burn” by Lucy A. Snyder
“Old Tsah-Hov” by Anya Martin
“The Neurastheniac” by Selena Chambers
“Dancing The Mask” by Ann K. Schwader
“Family” by Maura McHugh
“Pro Patria!” by Nadia Bulkin
“Her Beginning is Her End is Her Beginning” by E. Catherine Tobler & Damien Angelica Walters
“Grave-Worms” by Molly Tanzer
“Strange is the Night” by S.P. Miskowski

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Cover art - "The 2nd Spectral Book of Horror Stories" edited by Mark Morris

Last year, Spectral Press kicked with “The Spectral Book of Horror Stories” a new series of anthologies inspired by and in the style of the classic short story collections “The Pan Book of Horror Stories” and “The Fontana Book of Great Horror Stories”. And the first volume was something to remember, starting with the cover art, the editorial work of Mark Morris and the stories published within the first collection. It came as no surprise then that “The Spectral Book of Horror Stories” is in competition this year for a Shirley Jackson Award at the Best Anthology category, together with two of its stories running for the same award at the Best Short Fiction category (“The Dog’s Home” by Alison Littlewood) and the Best Novelette category (“Newspaper Heart” by Stephen Volk). This October, during the FantasyCon in Nottingham Spectral Press will launch the 2nd volume of this series of anthologies, edited again by Mark Morris and with the same cover artist as of the first volume, the very talented Vincent Chong. There is no news yet about the table of contents of “The 2nd Spectral Book of Horror Stories”, but I do love the cover artwork for the second volume. Vincent Chong inflicts the same eerie, unsettling sensation of the first cover here as well, establishing a very nice trend for “The Spectral Book of Horror Stories” by offering each volume an excellent visual companionship. The cover art is something to look for as much as are the stories published in each collection, making both features memorable trademarks for the series. I am convinced that this second anthology would be as good as the first and that “The Spectral Book of Horror Stories” would easily become one of my favorite series of short story collections. If it isn’t already.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Cover art - "The House of Shattered Wings" by Aliette de Bodard (UK edition)

In March we saw the US cover for Aliette de Bodard’s upcoming novel, “The House of Shattered Wings”; in the meantime the UK cover has surfaced as well. Gollancz, the UK publisher, goes for another approach, more subtle, but no less interesting. The reference to the title can be fully glimpsed through the wings occupying the center of the cover, while their crystal like appearance leads the thought to a highly valued item, but also fragile and easily breakable. Paris being on ruins, following the Great Houses War, can be guessed by the aspect of Notre-Dame’s interior, the walls cracked here and there, graffiti written on them and the floor covered by water and debris. Now, from the synopsis we learn that Notre-Dame is actually a burnt-out shell, but this is clearer on the US cover rather than the UK one. I am not here to complain though, so I don’t have any quarrel with the Gollancz’s approach for their cover. As a matter of fact, I am not even sure which edition of Aliette de Bodard’s “The House of Shattered Wings” I would like to have on my bookshelves. Of course, I would love both of them, but due to a couple of impediments fulfilling that wish is far-fetched. But no matter the final choice, I will definitely have a copy of Aliette de Bodard’s novel on my personal library.

Here is also some of the early praise “The House of the Shattered Wings” is gathering.

“A superb murder mystery, on an epic scale, set against the fall out – literally – of a war in Heaven.
Paris has survived the Great Houses War – just. Its streets are lined with haunted ruins, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine runs black with ashes and rubble. Yet life continues among the wreckage. The citizens continue to live, love, fight and survive in their war-torn city, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over the once grand capital.
House Silverspires, previously the leader of those power games, lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls.
Within the House, three very different people must come together: a naive but powerful Fallen, an alchemist with a self-destructive addiction, and a resentful young man wielding spells from the Far East. They may be Silverspires’ salvation. They may be the architects of its last, irreversible fall…"

“THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS is a Gothic masterpiece of supernatural intrigues, loves and betrayals in a ruined and decadent future Paris — wildly imaginative and completely convincing, this novel will haunt you long after you’ve put it down.”
Tim Powers, author of THE ANUBIS GATES

“Darkly entertaining. de Bodard makes Fallen Angels entirely her own in this post-apocalyptic Paris near the turn of the century. The personal politics of necessity blend and clash with the politics of the powerful as people—mortal and immortal—attempt to survive.”
Michelle Sagara, author of THE CHRONICLES OF ELANTRA and THE HOUSE WAR series

“THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS exists in a rich, evocative Paris that is thick with magical history. Pathos and beauty intertwine in a novel filled with longing.”
Mary Robinette Kowal, Multiple-Hugo award winning author of THE GLAMOURIST HISTORIES

“Original and intriguing, this novel is a strange delight and a foretaste of great things to come.”
Justina Robson, author of THE GLORIOUS ANGELS

“An intense, beautiful, brutal journey written with an eye for the stunning, vivid detail and the cruel demands of duty, loyalty, and leadership. Its portrait of a ruined Paris ruled by fallen angels is one I won’t soon forget.”
Kate Elliott, author of the SPIRITWALKER trilogy