Marie Brennan’s “A Natural History of Dragons” is a gorgeous little novel, one of my delights of this reading year. I know I keep saying that I need to find a little time to put my thoughts of my readings in a proper form, so nothing new there I am afraid, but hopefully that would finally become true sooner rather than later. Anyway, “A Natural History of Dragons” is not only a wonderful reading, but also a very attractive book because of its cover artwork and interior illustrations. As a matter of fact, after I finished reading Marie Brennan’s “A Natural History of Dragons”, I returned with great pleasure several times to view again all its illustrations. Responsible for the situation is none other than the master Todd Lockwood. And since “A Natural History of Dragons” is the first novel in the “Memoirs of Lady Trent” series, not only that I’ve welcomed with delight the sight of the second novel’s cover, “The Tropic of the Serpents”, released on March (I am waiting for my copy of the novel so I can lose myself within the interior illustrations too), but also thrilled by Todd Lockwood’s artwork for the cover of the third novel, “The Voyage of the Basilisk”. This artwork follows wonderfully the line of the previous covers, but also adds something extra this time. The feeling of a scientific treaty, the true sense of a journal keeping track of a naturalist’s studies, is increased this time by the image presenting the dragon in length comparison with other species, a picture fit for any excellent zoological atlas, real or fictive. Even more, this cover holds the promise of adventure as well, the presence of the rowing boat next to the dragon hints at Isabella Camherst’s new extraordinary exploits. A gorgeous piece of art by Todd Lockwood, one we can admire at comfortable leisure since Marie Brennan’s “The Voyage of the Basilisk” is out in March 2015.
Friday, April 18, 2014
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Ever since I discovered it a couple of years ago Shimmer Magazine has become one of my favorite speculative fiction periodicals. Providing excellent short stories with each issue and a medium for discovering new writing talents I become fonder of Shimmer with its every single appearance. After 18 issues, released since 2005 in both print and digital format, Shimmer Magazine takes a step forward nowadays and changes its publishing model. Starting with the 19th issue, Shimmer will have a new 4 story appearance every other month, in digital format. Each issue will be delivered to the subscribers of the magazine in convenient DRM-free digital formats at the beginning of every month when Shimmer is published, while for the readers who enjoy their fiction free the 4 stories of each issue will be made available on Shimmer’s website one every two weeks. This year Shimmer plans four such appearances, on May, July, September and November. It doesn’t mean that Shimmer will renounce its print appearance completely, the stories published during a year will be collected in an annual print anthology released in early December. The table of contents for the 19th issue is already available and the readers can expect the following stories:
“The Earth & Everything Under” by K.M. Ferebee (available on website from May 6)
“Methods of Divination” by Tara Isabella Burton (available on website from May 20)
“Jane” by Margaret Dunlap (available on website from June 3)
“Lists of Items Found in Valise on Welby Crescent” by Rachael Acks (available on website from June 17)
To celebrate the change of format Shimmer Magazine is also holding a giveaway for 3 subscriptions. Anyone helping to spread the word of this change on Twitter, linking to the Shimmer website and using the hashtag #NewShimmer, enters in a contest for a chance to win a 6-issue subscription. The winners will be announced on Friday, April 18th, at noon, MT.
Monday, April 14, 2014
The nominees for the 2014 Sir Julius Vogel Awards have been announced. The Sir Julius Vogel Awards are awarded each year and recognize the best works published the previous year in New Zealand science fiction, fantasy and horror. The awards were presented for the first time in 1989 as a fan award and from 2002 are run by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand (SFFANZ) and aimed at the professional science fiction and fantasy community. The winners of the 2014 Sir Julius Vogel Awards will be announced on Saturday, 26th April in a ceremony held at The Surrey Hotel, Auckland, during ConClave 2, the 35th New Zealand National Science Fiction & Fantasy Convention.
“Heartwood” by Freya Robertson (Angry Robot Books)
“Journey of Shadows” by Sam J. Charlton
“A Cold Day in Hell” by Sharon Hannaford
“Night’s Favour” by Richard Parry
“Crystal Venom” by Steve Wheeler (Harper Voyager)
“The Wind City” by Summer Wigmore (Steam Press)
Best youth novel:
“Talisman of Vim” by Robert Wainwright (Makaro Press)
“Pratibhashali (The Talented)” by Sanjay Joshi (Silver Leaf Publishing)
“Raven Flight” by Juliet Marillier (Pan Macmillan)
“Fountain of Forever” by K.D. Berry (Bluewood Publishing)
“When We Wake” by Karen Healey (Little Brown)
“Cave Fever” by Lee Murray (“Regeneration”/Random Static)
“Wings, Fangs and Shadows” by Cindy Hargreaves
“In a World Full of Birds” by I.K. Paterson-Harkness (“Regeneration”/Random Static)
“This Other World” by Anna Caro (Crossed Genres)
“At the Bay of Cthulhu” by Matt & Debbie Cowens
Best short story:
“Waking the Taniwha” by Dan Rabarts (Wiley Writers)
“Ahi Kā” by Eileen Mueller & Alicia Ponder (NorthWrite 2013)
“All That Glitters” by Dan Rabarts (“Ministry Protocol – Thrilling Tales of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurances”/Imagine That Studios)
“Love Hurts” by Jan Goldie (“Baby Teeth”/Paper Road Press)
“By Bone-Light” by Juliet Marillier (“Prickle Moon”/Ticonderoga Publications)
“Lockdown” by Piper Mejia (“Baby Teeth”/Paper Road Press)
Best collected work:
“Beyond This Age” edited by Lee Murray & Piper Mejia (Oceanbook)
“Baby Teeth” edited by Dan Rabarts & Lee Murray (Paper Road Press)
“Twisty Christmas Tales” by Eileen Mueller, Alicia Ponder & Peter Friend (Phantom Feather Press)
“Regeneration: New Zealand Speculative Fiction 2” edited by Anna Caro & Juliet Buchanan (Random Static)
“Prickle Moon” by Juliet Marillier (Ticonderoga Publications)
Best professional artwork:
Samara Kirkham for the cover of “Beyond This Age” edited by Lee Murray & Piper Mejia (Oceanbook)
Emma Weakley for the cover of “Regeneration: New Zealand Speculative Fiction 2” edited by Anna Caro & Juliet Buchanan (Random Static)
Best professional production/publication:
“The Hobbit: Unexpected Journey, Chronicles: Creatures and Characters” by Daniel Falconer (HarperCollins)
“WearableArt” (Craig Potton Publishing)
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Chronicles: Art and Design” by Daniel Falconer (HarperCollins)
Best dramatic presentation:
“The Almighty Johnsons” (Season 3) - Created by James Griffin & Rachel Lang, Producer - Mark Besley, Executive Producers - James Griffin, Chris Bailey, Kelly Martin, John Barnett (South Pacific Films)
“Eternity” - Written, directed and produced by Alex Galvin (Eternity Productions)
Fan Award Nominees:
Best fan production/publication:
“Novazine” - Jacqui Smith
Filking concert at Au Contraire 2013 - Murderous Little Toys (Daphne Lawless, Alastair Gibson, Tanya Gardner, Tricia Hall)
“Angels in the Fog” - Live-Action Role-Playing Game created by Russ Kale
“Phoenixine” - John & Lynelle Howell
Best fan artwork:
“Gorgth Goes Shopping” by Matt Cowens (Au Contraire 2013 convention book)
Best fan writing:
Alan Robson and Jane Lindskold
Sam J. Charlton
Best new talent:
Service to fandom:
The League of Victorian Imagineers
Services to Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror:
Congratulations and good luck to all the nominees!
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Yet another gorgeous cover artwork from Joey Hi-Fi. This time for Chuck Wendig’s “The Hellsblood Bride”, the second novel in the Mookie Pearl series, coming in December from Angry Robot Books.
Yes, we’re going back deep underground for another twelve rounds with Mookie Pearl.
Father, barkeep, former Mafioso, ruler of his subterranean crime-kingdom. The Organization is back, and they’ll do anything to get Mookie on board, but Mookie has gone legit, and it’s taking every ounce of effort for him to keep his new bar from crashing and burning.
To top it all, his daughter is missing, and when Nora’s not in plain sight, that’s usually a sign of bad things to come! On one hand, the Organization. On the other, Nora.
Why can’t Family ever be easy..?
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Crowdfunding campaigns - "Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat", the graphic novel & "Aghast, A journal of the darkly fantastic" edited by George C. Cotronis
There are plenty of blessings and curses to be found around the Internet, but I am fortunate enough to count more of the former than the latter. I cannot claim a dependency to the easiness with which information can be accessed, but it certainly comes in handy. As it happened in the case of Andrez Bergen’s “Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat”, one of the novels I loved reading in recent times and that without the existence of the Internet I would not have been aware of its existence. This excellent cross between post-apocalyptic and noir fiction left me dreaming of ““Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat” becoming a cult movie too if someday technology makes it possible for Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall to play in a production directed by Ridley Scott.” Well, that might not be possible any time soon, but a graphic novel based on Andrez Bergen’s novel is on the brink of coming into existence. “Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat”, the graphic novel, is written and illustrated by Andrez Bergen together with his daughter, Cocoa Bergen, and adapts the story of the novel published in 2011 to a 130+ pages comic book, while at the same time includes minor tweaks for the key characters and their world and some plot elements that were not part of the original novel. To help turn this project into reality Andrez Bergen put together a crowdfunding campaign with the stretched goal of 3,500 Australian Dollars. The campaign proves to be successful so far, with 43 days to go before this crowdfunding enterprise is over the project is funded in a proportion of almost 70%. So, if you want to back this project up or if you want to learn more about Andrez Bergen’s “Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat” graphic novel you can find details at the Kickstarter page of this project.
Through “Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat” not only that I discovered a wonderful novel and a very interesting writer, but I was also once again delighted with the work made by a small press. Bold and nonconformist I am thrilled to see these independent publishing houses offering most of the times delightful little gems for the readers. One such small publisher, recently born, is Kraken Press, dedicated to dark fiction. Run by the energetic George C. Cotronis, illustrator, writer and editor, Kraken Press published 3 titles so far, a novella by Adam Aresty, “Recovery”, a collection of short stories, “Staring Into the Abyss”, signed by Richard Thomas and an anthology edited by George Cotronis, “American Nightmare”, with five other titles scheduled to be released this year. Another of Kraken Press’ future projects is “Aghast”, a new, bi-annual magazine of dark fantasy and horror short fiction. “Aghast” will be available in both print and digital formats, will feature original short fiction, each issue aiming for content between 30k and 50k words and each story being accompanied by a black and white illustration made by George Cotronis, who is also the editor of the magazine. To get this magazine started and to support the publishing of the first few issues George C. Cotronis created a crowdfunding campaign with a stretched goal of 1,000 Pounds, the project being backed in a proportion of 79% with 19 days left of this campaign. The first issue of “Aghast” already looks promising, it will feature original stories by Megan Arkenberg and Tim Waggoner, while other goodies besides this initial appearance would become available if certain funding stretch goals are reached, including an issue #0 with short stories by Gemma Files, Jonathan Maberry and Jeff Strand. You can find all these stretch goals and further information about “Aghast” at its dedicated Kickstarter page.
Monday, April 7, 2014
Saturday, April 5th, on a ceremony held in Canberra at the Australian National University the winners of the 2013 Aurealis Awards have been announced:
Best illustrated book or graphic novel (tie):
“Burger Force” by Jackie Ryan (self published)
“The Deep Vol. 2: The Vanishing Island” by Tom Taylor and James Brouwer (Gestalt Publishing)
Best children’s book:
“The four seasons of Lucy McKenzie” by Kirsty Murray (Allen & Unwin)
Best young adult short fiction:
“By Bone-light” by Juliet Marillier (“Prickle Moon” / Ticonderoga Publications)
Best young adult novel (tie):
“These Broken Stars” by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (Allen & Unwin)
“Fairytales for Wilde Girls” by Allyse Near (Random House Australia)
Best horror short fiction:
“The Year of Ancient Ghosts” by Kim Wilkins (“The Year of Ancient Ghosts” / Ticonderoga Publications)
Best horror novel:
“Fairytales for Wilde Girls” by Allyse Near (Random House Australia)
Best fantasy short fiction:
“The Last Stormdancer” by Jay Kristoff (Thomas Dunne Books)
Best fantasy novel:
“A Crucible of Souls” by Mitchell Hogan (self published)
Best science fiction short story:
“Air, Water and the Grove” by Kaaron Warren (“The Lowest Heaven” / Pandemonium Press)
Best science fiction novel:
“Lexicon” by Max Barry (Hachette Australia)
Best anthology (tie):
“The Year's Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2012” edited by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (Ticonderoga Publications)
“One Small Step An Anthology Of Discoveries” edited by Tehani Wessely (FableCroft Publishing)
“The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories’ by Joanne Anderton (FableCroft Publishing)
The Peter McNamara Convenors’ Award for Excellence:
Kris Hembury Encouragement Award:
Congratulations to all the winners!
Thursday, April 3, 2014
The five volumes of Ellen Datlow’s “The Best Horror of the Year” are some of the my favorite collections of short stories, not only because of the high quality of the selected tales, but also because of the excellent work done with the cover artwork. All the five volumes published so far have an unsettling artwork on their covers, something that suits perfectly the mood of the content, a little element that adds to the uncomfortable feeling inflicted on the reader. The cover artwork of the sixth volume, due to be released on June 3rd, doesn’t come second to the others, as a matter of fact I find this cover the best out of the six so far. As I said I loved the previous covers, the first two made by Santiago Caruso and the next three by Allen Williams, but I believe that the latest, created by Pierre Droal, works even better for this excellent series of anthologies. It is a troubling cover and although it makes me very uneasy it also casts a powerful tempting spell, it is something there that prevents me from averting my eyes despite my anxiety. A great companion for what promises to be another outstanding entry in Ellen Datlow’s series of “The Best Horror of the Year”.
This statement was true when H. P. Lovecraft first wrote it at the beginning of the twentieth century, and it remains true at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The only thing that has changed is what is unknown.
With each passing year, science, technology, and the march of time shine light into the craggy corners of the universe, making the fears of an earlier generation seem quaint. But this “light” creates its own shadows. The Best Horror of the Year, edited by Ellen Datlow, chronicles these shifting shadows. It is a catalog of terror, fear, and unpleasantness, as articulated by today’s most challenging and exciting writers.
The best horror writers of today do the same thing that horror writers of a hundred years ago did. They tell good stories—stories that scare us. And when these writers tell really good stories that really scare us, Ellen Datlow notices. She’s been noticing for more than a quarter century. For twenty-one years, she coedited The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, and for the last six years, she’s edited this series. In addition to this monumental cataloging of the best, she has edited hundreds of other horror anthologies and won numerous awards, including the Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy awards.
More than any other editor or critic, Ellen Datlow has charted the shadowy abyss of horror fiction. Join her on this journey into the dark parts of the human heart . . . either for the first time . . . or once again.
“Apports” by Stephen Bacon (Black Static, #36)
“Mr. Splitfoot” by Dale Bailey (Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells, eds. Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling, Tor Books)
“The Good Husband” by Nathan Ballingrud (North American Lake Monsters, Small Beer Press)
“The Tiger” by Nina Allan (Terror Tales of London, ed. Paul Finch, Gray Friar Press)
“The House on Cobb Street” by Lynda E. Rucker (Nightmare, June 2013)
“The Soul in the Bell Jar” by K.J. Kabza (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, November/December 2013)
“Call Out” by Stephen Toase (Innsmouth Magazine, #12)
“That Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love” by Robert Shearman (Psycho-Mania!, ed. Stephen Jones, Constable & Robinson)
“Bones of Crow” by Ray Cluley (Black Static, #37)
“Introduction to the Body in Fairy Tales” by Jeannine Hall Gailey (Phantom Drift, #3)
“The Fox” by Conrad Williams (This is Horror chapbook)
“The Tin House” by Simon Clark (Shadow Masters, ed. Jeani Rector, Imajin Books)
“Stemming the Tide” by Simon Strantzas (Dead North, ed. Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Exile Editions)
“The Anatomist’s Mnemonic” by Priya Sharma (Black Static, #32)
“The Monster Makers” by Steve Rasnic Tem (Black Static, #35)
“The Only Ending We Have” by Kim Newman (Psycho-Mania!, ed. Stephen Jones, Constable & Robinson)
“The Dog’s Paw” by Derek Künsken (Chilling Tales: In Words, Alas, Drown I, ed. Michael Kelly, EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing)
“Fine in the Fire” by Lee Thomas (Like Light For Flies, Lethe Press)
“Majorlena” by Jane Jakeman (Supernatural Tales, #24)
“The Withering” by Tim Casson (Black Static, #32)
“Down to a Sunless Sea” by Neil Gaiman (The Guardian.com)
“Jaws of Saturn” by Laird Barron (The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All, Night Shade Books)
“Halfway Home” by Linda Nagata (Nightmare, September 2013)
“The Same Deep Waters as You” by Brian Hodge (Weirder Shadows Over Innsmouth, ed. Stephen Jones, Fedogan & Bremer)