July Newsletter: Jay Posey, ConGregate/DeepSouthCon and SuperCon, Scott Reintgen, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, and more

Vol 7 No 5. Saturday, June 10, 2017: There are some fantastic new events this month — starting this afternoon! — and two big centerpiece conventions to preview, as well as run down some of the new books from North Carolina authors this summer and spill the beans about a new writer’s group and a new horror book club. Let’s get to those new events first:

  

July 8 (Saturday) 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm — The Streets at Southpoint Barnes & Noble hosts Jay Posey for a signing of Sungrazer, the second book in his science fiction thriller series Outriders. “In a new Cold War between Earth and the colonies on Mars, when devastating weapons go missing, there’s only one team you can call — the Outriders. A crack force of highly specialized super-soldiers, their clone bodies are near-immortal.”

July 15 (Saturday) 6:30 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts Southern YA authors fantasy panel hosted by Scott Reintgen. “Fantasy is alive and well in the South.  We host a panel of regional fantasy authors, writing for children and YA audiences.  Join us on Saturday, July 15, at 6:30 pm for a look at their recent or upcoming releases. Aspiring writers, we bet there’ll be a bit of shop talk and advice! Among the busy panelists: Amanda McCrina, Shaila Patel, Beth Bowland, Chris Ledbetter, Leigh Statham, Brynn Chapman, E.M. Fitch, and Julie Reece.”

July 22 (Saturday) 5 pm — Flyleaf Books hosts Jeff VanderMeer for a conversation with Ann VanderMeer, about Jeff’s new science fiction novel Borne. “In Borne, a young woman named Rachel survives as a scavenger in a ruined city half destroyed by drought and conflict. The city is dangerous, littered with discarded experiments from the Company—a biotech firm now derelict—and punished by the unpredictable predations of a giant bear. Rachel ekes out an existence in the shelter of a run-down sanctuary she shares with her partner, Wick, who deals his own homegrown psychoactive biotech. One day, Rachel finds Borne during a scavenging mission and takes him home. Borne as salvage is little more than a green lump—plant or animal?—but exudes a strange charisma. Borne reminds Rachel of the marine life from the island nation of her birth, now lost to rising seas. There is an attachment she resents: in this world any weakness can kill you. Yet, against her instincts—and definitely against Wick’s wishes—Rachel keeps Borne. She cannot help herself. Borne, learning to speak, learning about the world, is fun to be with, and in a world so broken that innocence is a precious thing. For Borne makes Rachel see beauty in the desolation around her. She begins to feel a protectiveness she can ill afford.” [Facebook Event]

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June Newsletter: John Claude Bemis, Sina Grace, The Writers Coffeehouse, Steampunk MidAtlantic, Wellman Award finalists, and more

Vol 7 No 4. Saturday, June 10, 2017: New events, new books, and awards news await in this month’s newsletter. Without further preamble, here’s this month’s new events highlights:

  

Today in Hillsborough, John Claude Bemis hosts the latest in his fantastic series of launch parties — er, I mean, celebrates the release of the latest of his fantastic books for young readers! No, seriously, if you haven’t been to one of John’s book launch parties at the Eno Farmer’s Market Pavilion, expect live music, giveaways, interactive art, and a lot of fun. This year the festivities are for Lord of Monsters, the second book in his alchemical retelling of Pinocchio for Disney-Hyperion Books.

Tomorrow, June 11 (Sunday) from 12 pm to 5 pm, Fight or Flight Comics (Falls of Neuse Rd, Raleigh) hosts Sina Grace, writer for Iceman. “Come meet Sina Grace, the writer of the brand new Iceman series from Marvel Comics.”

On June 24 and 25, Steampunk MidAtlantic hosts its convention at the Ramada Raleigh, with guests of honor Stephen Chapman, Papa Stro Maestro, and the Blibbering Humdingers. There’s a vendor expo, cosplay contest, panel discussions, a film festival, and a welcome party on Friday June 23. Tickets are $10 for one day and $15 for both days, with kids under 12 admitted for free.

I also want to mention a new literary horror book club hosted by Jon Caroll Thomas getting kicked off in July: “The Literary Horror Book Club will focus on the darker side of literature, from gothic classics  to current award winners. We like dark fantasy, supernatural and existential horror, or anything that’s both well-written and blood-chilling. Moderated by Quail Ridge staffer and life-long horror enthusiast, Jon Carroll Thomas (look for the guy to the left).  The club meets the second Thursday of each month at 7 pm. July 13: Universal Harvester by John Darnielle; August 10: The Vegetarian by Han Kang; and September 8: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff.”

NEW BOOKS

Three — count ’em! — three North Carolina authors had new books out last week:

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Happy Release Day: Natania Barron, A.J. Hartley, and John Claude Bemis

Three — count ’em! — three North Carolina authors have new books out today:

Frost and Filigree by Natania Barron is a novella in the new The Shadow Council Case Files novella series from Falstaff Books, a spin-off shared world of stand alone novellas set in John Hartness’ Quincy Harker Demon Hunter series. “They have worked behind the scenes of society for centuries, protecting humans from threats beyond their understanding. They are The Shadow Council, and these Archives are the stories of their members and adventures throughout recorded history. From folk heroes to monsters out of darkest nightmare, the Shadow Council Archives explore the world beyond mundane understanding.” In Frost and Filigree, “Vivienne du Lac and Nerissa Waldemar — a.k.a. la belle dame sans merci and the lamia — have been living among the elite of Tarrytown for quite some time, undetected but for the trail of goats in their wake (one must eat, after all). But just as their eccentricities begin to raise eyebrows, a dark evil arises, intent on murder. They meet a with a young woman named Christabel Crane and a group of bumbling cultists calling themselves the Circle of Iapetus, who beg for help combating the creature. As they plunge deeper into the mysteries surrounding the New York elite, old flames rekindle, and old grudges, too. Vivienne and Nerissa agree to help fend off the darkness, but will spilled blood mean the end of their reform? And if not, at what cost?”

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May newsletter: Cory Doctorow, FCBD, The Writers Coffeehouse, Ursula Vernon, Renée Ahdieh, GeekCraft Expo, Moogfest, and more

Vol 7 No 3. Thursday, May 4, 2017: This month sees readings with Cory Doctorow, Ursula Vernon,  Renée Ahdieh, and Daniel Wallace, along with Free Comic Book Day this weekend, a new monthly writers networking group, and the international music/art/technology festival/conference Moogfest.

But before I turn to the events, I want to urge one last round of participation in this year’s Manly Wade Wellman Award nominations. Voting is open until Monday, May 22, and this will set the lineup of finalists to be announced at ConCarolinas. If you have lost your ballot email (searching your mail archives for “CIVS Wellman” should turn it up) a reminder can be sent, or if you have not yet registered to vote, there’s still time! And if you have any such questions or issues, or if the lengthy eligibility list makes the ballot confusing, don’t hesitate to reach out. I suppose I had better make my own final rankings and submit my own ballot as well!

THIS WEEKEND

 

Cory Doctorow visits Chapel Hill’s Flyleaf Books tomorrow (Friday!) at 7 pm, where he’ll be joined in conversation by Durham author Mur Lafferty. Doctorow’s new book Walkaway is an “optimistic disaster novel” which sees a near-future movement of “walkaways” abandoning the artificial scarcity of cities and nations for an abundance fueled by open source software, drones, and 3D printing. Last week, Mur and I had the opportunity to talk with Doctorow on Carolina Book Beat, as the first half of a two-guest program which also featured Raleigh author John Kessel, talking about his new novel The Moon and the Other.

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Review: Saiensu Fikushon 2016 (Haikasoru)

Saiensu Fikushon 2016 by [Fujii, Taiyo, EnJoe, Toh, Hirotaka, TOBI]

Saiensu Fikushon 2016 (Haikasoru, 2016) is a sushi sampler sized feast of bizarre, compelling, and legitimately technophobia-inducing speculative fiction from Japan, launching a new annual (we can hope!) mini-anthology series that hearkens back (with its conception and cover design, at least) to classic Japanese manga anthologies. Here’s the publisher description: Continue reading

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March newsletter: Mur Lafferty, Renee Ahdieh, Samantha Shannon, John Scalzi, Roshani Chokshi, Oak City Comicon, more events, awards news, writing camps, and more

Vol 7 No 2. Monday, March 6, 2017: Thankfully February was a short month again this year, so I hope you’ll forgive me for not having a newsletter out last month. Unfortunately I must ask your further indulgence for still not including a full “news and notes” or even “new books and audiobooks” section in this newsletter, even as (especially) publication notes begin to pile up to the ceiling! But enough of my groveling, let’s jump right in and talk about some upcoming events:

  

The big event this week is actually tonight, March 7 (Tuesday) at 7 pm as Flyleaf Books hosts Durham author Mur Lafferty to discuss her new books Six Wakes: A Novel and the first collected volume of Bookburners.

Later this month sees events with Renée Ahdieh (Quail Ridge Books, Monday March 13), Samantha Shannon (Flyleaf Books, Tuesday March 14), Asheville author Robert Beatty (Quail Ridge Books, Sunday March 19), John Scalzi (Quail Ridge Books, Wednesday March 22, and Flyleaf Books, Thursday March 23), and Roshani Chokshi and Ryan Graudin (Flyleaf Books, Thursday March 30), along with an even more “bigger” Oak City Comicon, this year called NC Comicon Oak City, on March 18 and 19 at the Raleigh Convention Center. Continue reading

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Paul Kincaid’s From the Other Side, December 2016: Ken MacLeod, Jonathan Oliver, NewCon Press, Infinity Plus, and a farewell for now

From the Other Side, December 2016
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. For this installment, again my apologies to all for the extreme lateness of publication. The fault is, again, entirely mine.]

And another year is dead and gone. Let’s face it, 2016 didn’t exactly do any of us any favours, so I suspect we’re all pretty pleased to see the back of it. Except, of course, that 2017 doesn’t particularly fill us with hope …

Ah well, at least there were some pretty good books we could escape into. And the books kept coming right into December. It used to be that December was pretty much a graveyard slot in which nothing much of any note was published, but that is no longer the case. Last year, for instance, Gollancz chose to publish The Thing Itself by Adam Roberts in December, and that turned out to be the best sf novel of the year. While this year we have The Corporation Wars: Insurgence by Ken MacLeod (Orbit), the second part of his current trilogy. (The first part, The Corporation Wars: Dissidence appeared in May, but it looks as if we’ll have to wait until this coming September before we get the concluding part, The Corporation Wars: Emergence.) As the middle volume in a trilogy, this is doing the familiar job of setting up an explosive climax, but that doesn’t make it any the less readable. And with rebel AIs, resurrected mercenaries, and interstellar corporations at war with each other, there’s no lack of drama.

The Corporation Wars: Insurgence (Second Law Trilogy, #2) Five Stories High: One House, Five Hauntings, Five Chilling Stories Continue reading

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January newsletter: illogiCon welcomes Daniel Jose Older, Jeremy Whitley signs “Wasp”, the 2016-17 Manly Wade Wellman Award season gets underway, and more

Vol 7 No 1. Friday, January 13, 2017: Welcome, already, to illogiCon weekend, which kicks off its 6th annual convention with today’s opening ceremonies at 3 pm and continues all weekend at the Embassy Suites RDU with guests of honor Daniel José Older (Half-Resurrection Blues, pictured below, left) and Dave Ellis, along with program participants Natania Barron, Samantha Bryant, Richard Butner, Tony Daniel, Richard Dansky, Nicole Givens Kurtz, J.L. Hilton, Mur Lafferty, Josh Leone, Ian Malone, Gail Z. Martin, Misty Massey, James Maxey, Gray Rinehart, and many more.

  

Meanwhile, rescheduled due to last weekend’s ice storm, on January 14 (Saturday) at 10:30 am the Durham/Chapel Hill location of Ultimate Comics hosts Durham writer Jeremy Whitley for a signing of his latest book The Unstoppable Wasp #1. “Writer Jeremy Whitley will be in-store to sign your copies of Wasp #1, Princeless, and My Little Pony Friends Forever! Appearing at each store throughout the day! Durham 10:30-11:30am, Cary 12:00-2:00pm, Raleigh 3:00-5:00pm.”

Lastly in terms of upcoming January events, while not an “event” per se there are less than two weeks left to help support Lawless Lands: Tales From The Weird Frontier funding on Kickstarter through Wed, January 25. Coming from Charlotte’s Falstaff Books and edited by North Carolina’s Emily Lavin Leverett, Misty Massey, and Margaret S. McGraw, the book aims to embody “the frontier spirit of the American West with a wild left turn into the weird” with plenty of local and regional contributors including Jake Bible, Faith Hunter, Nicole Givens Kurt, and Edmund Schubert.

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Paul Kincaid’s From the Other Side, October-November 2016: Michelle Paver’s Thin Air to Dave Hutchinson’s Europe in Winter, and plenty more in between “to keep us awake as the nights draw in”

[Editor’s Note: From the Other Side is Paul Kincaid’s monthly column on books and news from the other side of the Atlantic. For these installments, my apologies to all for the extreme lateness of publication. The fault is entirely mine.]

From the Other Side, October 2016
By Paul Kincaid

It’s Halloween, so where are all the ghost stories? Well, one of the most intriguing collections of haunting new tales, with contributions by Nina Allen, Tade Thompson and K.J. Parker among others, doesn’t come out until December. I suppose a ghost story for Christmas is as much of a tradition as a ghost story for Halloween; but still, one does sometimes wonder at the ways of publishers. Still, there are plenty of other ghostly tales to keep us awake as the nights draw in. For a start, there’s Susan Hill, who has become one of the most reliable authors of disturbing tales ever since she wrote The Woman in Black, which seems to have had more of an afterlife than any other ghost story since Charles Dickens. This year she presented us with The Travelling Bag (Profile), which brings together four creepy tales: a psychic detective’s most memorable case; a mother trying to protect her child, even from beyond the grave; a childhood friend met again in unlikely circumstances; and the disruption caused by the arrival of a new office worker.

The Travelling Bag: And other Ghostly Stories Thin Air Angels of Music

There is more haunting business in Thin Air by Michelle Paver (Orion), in which a 1930s expedition to climb Kanchenjunga find it’s not just the elements they have to battle, but something rather more disturbing. Meanwhile there’s a rather more cavalier take on horrors of the past in Angels of Music by Kim Newman (Titan), in which the Phantom of the Opera has become the mastermind behind a team of female agents (they include Irene Adler, for instance) who investigate crimes and horrors that the French government would prefer to keep secret. It’s a rather gleeful rip-off of Charlie’s Angels with a selection of fictional characters all set in a Paris that never existed. Continue reading

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Paul Kincaid’s From the Other Side, September 2016: Christopher Priest’s The Gradual, Alastair Reynolds’ Revenger, Jonathan L. Howard, P.S. Publishing, and more

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

From the Other Side, September 2016
By Paul Kincaid

So, we’ve been away on holiday. Yes, Wales again. And indeed we did have a very good time, thank you for asking. Lots of reading, practically none of it science fiction (it was a holiday, you know).

Actually, I did finish one science fiction novel I’d begun before the holiday, The Gradual by Christopher Priest (Gollancz). Well, I couldn’t leave that unfinished, could I?

The Gradual Cover

Priest’s approach to genre is always, shall we say, oblique. When he writes a murder story (The Islanders), you’d be forgiven for wondering was there actually a murder? And if so, who was the victim? When he writes alternate history (The Separation) it’s so dazzling that you can hardly keep track of how many different timelines there are (for the record, I count five). When he writes a virtual reality story (The Extremes) it’s about as far from cyberpunk as it’s possible to imagine.

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