Paul Kincaid’s From the Other Side, February 2015: Iain Banks and Ken MacLeod’s Poems, E.J. Swift’s Tamaruq, Naomi Foyle’s Rook Song, Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Signal to Noise, Jonathan Barnes’ Cannonbridge, and much more

From the Other Side, February 2015
By Paul Kincaid

[Editor’s Note: From the Other Side is Paul Kincaid’s monthly column on books and news from the other side of the Atlantic.]

Most poignant publication of the month has to be Poems by Iain Banks and Ken MacLeod (Little Brown). The book came out on 16th February, which would have been Banks’s 61st birthday, and also, incidentally, the 31st anniversary of the publication of The Wasp Factory. The book was planned before his death in 2013, and includes 50 poems that he wrote between 1973, when he was at university at Sterling, and 1981, which was the year he began writing The Wasp Factory and abruptly stopped writing poetry. There are a couple of familiar pieces in there, including both “Zakalwe’s Song” and “Slight Mechanical Destruction” which bookended Use of Weapons, and, of course, he used odd lines from his poetry as song lyrics in Espedair Street, but mostly this is stuff we’ve never seen before, and if they betray strong influence from T.S. Eliot and also from the songs he was listening to in the 70s, they are still good and in some cases very good poems. They are accompanied by 28 poems from Ken MacLeod, who began writing poetry at about the same time as Banks, but never stopped, so these cover a longer period of time and in some cases are even more accomplished.

When Poems came out, we also learned that Banks had hoped that MacLeod would write another Culture novel. Unfortunately, he died earlier than anticipated, so his notes for the novel were not far enough advanced to make the project possible.

What can you say after that? So, a moment’s silence … and then onwards.

Poems Rook Song (The Gaia Chronicles, #2) Read the rest of this entry »


Friday Quick Updates: Oak City Comics Show on Sunday, and Wake County Library’s “Let’s Talk Sci-Fi” series kicks off with Drake and Van Name discussing Heinlein

Saturday, February 28, 2015: A belated Saturday edition of “Friday Quick Updates” this weekend, ahead of several events today and tomorrow. First! Today Ultimate Comics hosts comics creator/author/illustrator Chris Giarrusso (G-Man Super JournalMini Marvels) for a day of signings and quick sketches:

This appearance is ahead of Giarrusso’s appearance at the Oak City Comic Show tomorrow (Sunday, March 1) at the Hilton North Raleigh/Midtown, with a fantastic lineup including Mick Foley, Tommy Lee Edwards, Dale Mettam, Richard Case, John Van Fleet, Daniel Way, Jeremy Whitley, Johndell Snead, Addy Miller, Amber Dawn Fox, and more. The show runs from 10 am to 5 pm, and admission is only $5 for adults and free for kids 10 and under, not to mention “the first 200 cosplayers get in for free!”

Sunday also marks the first event in Wake County Libraries’ month-long Let’s Talk Sci-Fi series, bringing pairs of fantastic local authors together to talk about classic works of science fiction: “Science Fiction & Fantasy authors discuss classic, iconic authors of the genres, including their body of work and influence. Take part in the discussion, share your thoughts and ask questions of the authors. Registration requested.” Events include: Read the rest of this entry »


The Exploding Spaceship Reviews Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

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Review of Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear (Tor hardcover, February 3, 2015)

Karen is a teenager in Rapid City who works in a brothel. She’s bright and inquisitive, qualities which lead her into trouble but also allow her to learn some information that is useful to Madam Damnable, her boss.  Rapid City feels like a strange steampunk San Francisco mixed with Seattle. The city is so textured and vibrant that it is itself a character in the book.

Many types of characters populate this novel, including a wide variety of ethnicities and sexualities, including Karen herself.  Madam Damnable does not allow anyone to be mistreated or looked down upon and Karen follows her example. However, the setting is Victorian in flavor so the views of society and the law often conflict with the views held in the brothel.

The story structure is that of a mystery with both private detective and law enforcement characters present in the forms of Karen (the detective) and Marshall Reeves (the law enforcer). The marshall has a Native American sidekick, and so reminded Your Humble Reviewers of a more sophisticated Lone Ranger and Tonto. As with all good detective stories there is some romance in there as well. Because Karen is so young, it is really her first relationship. Her fumbling about trying to figure out how to approach Priya, a boyish young Hindu woman is quite adorable and very believable. Teenagers in love can be so sweet that adults want to smack some sense into them! It takes the girls a bit to sort out their relationship and having the confusion of a brothel fire just added to the messed up nature of teenage romance.

The clothes are described in detail and we liked that the men and boyish women got cool descriptions of their clothes too, not just the gowns. Also we liked how Bear demonstrated that class was depicted by the clothes and that this could be manipulated to make people see what you wanted them to.

The steam mech sewing machine was quite cool and used for several functions beyond sewing great gowns. The use of airships and submarines added interesting transportation complexities to the plot. The technology has a steampunk-style fantasy logic, so the odd things that some of it does are acceptable. The fantasy element is clear enough from the beginning that Angela’s engineer’s brain got the message to ignore realistic rules, that it was more like Star Wars tech rules, so that we didn’t get pulled out of the story.

Overall, it is a very interesting and quick read, one which kept Your Humble Reviewers up far too late finishing it. The book has a very sexy cover illustration, but it would have been nice to see Priya and that amazing sewing machine as well. This setting and cast of characters have great potential so please write quickly, Liz Bear, so we can read more soon!

Adult content note: While the setting is a brothel and some sex and violence are mentioned, none to speak of is on camera so it is a good read for more mature teens and adults. There are victims of violence against women depicted but sexual details are not dwelt upon and the result of the violence is not detailed. The situations dwell more on the characters’ reactions to someone who could do such horrible things. This would make a good family read for Mom with teenage girls in order to bring up some normally uncomfortable topics.


The Hardest Part: Uri Kurlianchik on Tales from an Israeli Storyteller

Israeli author and game designer Uri Kurlianchik was the first person with whom I had a Google audio chat, way back when we were discussing edits on his short story “The Sad Story of the Naga” in Bull Spec #2. (Or it might have been about his choose-your-own-adventure project I never figured out how to publish in a magazine?) Over the years now, I’ve enjoyed hearing his stories of teaching kids to play roleplaying games — the foolish or genius things that “his” kids try both in and outside of the rules and their understanding thereof has proven quite entertaining, as has watching him develop his own RPG, RATS, about “the rat holy war against humanity”. And his photos of the various landscapes in his travels are mind-blowing. Back in early 2012, he launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund an illustrated 20-story cycle of stories generated from those travels and those landscapes, and from the many peoples who have and still inhabit them. Last fall he e-published the collection as Tales from an Israeli Storyteller, but it took until January of this year for Uri to wrangle a print edition. That epic struggle with margins and fonts is only part of his essay on the hardest part(s) of putting this collection together.

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By Uri Kurlianchik:

I have written numerous adventures and locales for various role playing games over the years. I often had to deal with rather capricious clients who insisted on reasonable deadlines, some semblance of readability, and not making offensive remarks about their mothers. This experience made me think that crowd-funding and self-publishing a story collection of my own should be a piece of cake.

In retrospect, I have no idea why I thought this. Read the rest of this entry »


Coming to Town: Lynne Hansen and Jeff Strand for The Nevermore Film Festival, interviewed by Richard Dansky

By Richard Dansky:

Lynne Hansen and Jeff Strand are one of horror fiction’s power couples. A perennial host of the Bram Stoker Awards, Jeff blends humor and horror in acclaimed novels like Pressure and his short story collection, Dead Clown Barbecue. Lynne’s prolific in YA horror (The Return, The Change) as well as working in film (Hes Not Looking So Great, Chomp). And there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that in their last trip to North Carolina, Jeff failed to finish his side of hush puppies at a Durham BBQ restaurant and paid a fearful price.

Nevermore Film Festival: Feb 20-22

Q: What brings you to the Triangle?

Lynne: The Nevermore Film Festival at the historic Carolina Theatre Durham. And friends. (Definitely not the snow.)

Jeff: Also BBQ.

Q: Tell us about the films you have showing at Nevermore.

Lynne: Chomp is a short horror comedy about a little old lady named Millie who is determined to prove she’s captured a real zombie—even if he’s not one. Last weekend at the GeekFest Film Festival at Shock Pop Comic Con in Fort Lauderdale, Chomp won Best Short—and our very first Best of Fest award. I couldn’t be more tickled.

Jeff: Gave Up The Ghost is also a short horror comedy, directed by Gregory Lamberson. It’s about a very pretentious writer who loses his ultimate masterpiece novel in a computer crash, and ends up seeking supernatural assistance to retrieve the file from the netherworld. It also features brief appearances by zombies, vampires, mummies, cannibals, and Bigfoot.

Chomp (2014) Poster 

Q: Both of you come from a background in writing fiction. What led you to working in film? Read the rest of this entry »


February newsletter: Monica Byrne, Zine Machine, Oak City Comics Show, Wake County Library’s “Let’s Talk Sci-Fi” series, James Maxey named Piedmont Laureate, Read Across Durham, new books, news, and more

Vol 5 No 2. February 16, 2015: Well, the month is half over and the ice storm is here, so no time like the present to finally get the February newsletter out, right? I’ve got some news, upcoming events, and the monthly avalanche of new books to tell you about, so let’s get started.

NEWS

First, while there is still a lot of seasoning left in this year’s award season, NC authors have already been on the receiving end of a long and lengthening list of nods. The 2014 Locus Recommended Reading List includes Monica Byrne’s The Girl in the Road in its First Novel list, as well Lewis Shiner’s novella “The Black Sun” and novelettes from both Dale Bailey (“The End of the End of Everything”, easily one of my favorite short reads of the year) and Nathan Ballingrud (“Skullpocket”), not to mention bullspec.com columnist Paul Kincaid for his non-fiction collection Call and Response. Speaking of Byrne, The Girl in the Road is also on the shortlist for the Kitschies Award’s Golden Tentacle award for best debut; meanwhile Bailey has another short story, “Sleep Paralysis”, on the Bram Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot which also lists Boone author Scott Nicholson’s young adult novel Intentional Haunting. And! The audiobook of Charlotte author A.J. Hartley’s novel (with David Hewson) Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is an Audie Award nominee for best Original Work.

 Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel | [A. J. Hartley, David Hewson] The End of the End of Everything DALE BAILEY illustration by VICTO NGAI (Tor.com)

This year’s Manly Wade Wellman Award last month announced the opening of its nominations period, which continues through Monday, May 18. The nominating “jury” is comprised of the entire combined memberships of illogiCon, ConCarolinas, ConTemporal, and ConGregate; to register to place a nominating ballot, please submit a voter registration form; ballots have already gone out to all voters already registered. Last year’s inaugural award was in the news in late 2014 and early 2015, with articles in The Chapel Hill NewsThe Durham News, and The News & Observer. Read the rest of this entry »


Upcoming fiction readings: selections from the full event listings for books without spaceships or ghosts

As I mentioned in last week’s roundup of upcoming young reader events, in looking over the newsletter event listings, I didn’t see many “grown up” speculative fiction readings in the coming months — other than of course Monica Byrne’s paperback launch of The Girl in the Road on February 17 and the Wake County Library “Let’s Talk Sci-Fi” series in March. While the picture changes quickly when you turn your focus on middle grade and young reader books, it’s even more crowded if you turn your attention to “mimetic” fiction. So! Here’s a quick preview of what’s coming soon for mystery, historical, literary, and other fiction readers: [Note: one or more of the novels may!? have a ghost, which may or may not exist only in the mind(s) of one or more characters. Close ’nuff.]

  

FEBRUARY 2015

10 (Tue) 7 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts Charles Belfoure – ‘The Paris Architect’. (Fiction.)

10 (Tue) 7 pm — Flyleaf Books hosts Chapel Hill native Nic Brown discusses In Every Way, his new novel set in Chapel Hill and Beaufort. (Fiction.)

11 (Wed) 7 pm — Flyleaf Books hosts Melissa Pimentel discusses her novel Love by the Book, with a free drinks/appetizers reception at Lucha Tigre at 6:30 pm. (Fiction.) Read the rest of this entry »


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