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.

Continue reading

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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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Paul Kincaid’s From the Other Side, August 2016: The Arthur C. Clarke Awards, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Nalini Singh, Martin MacInnes, Gaie Sebold, Jeff Noon, 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, August 2016
By Paul Kincaid

We’ve become used to the fact that any science fiction event these days is going to be held in a crowded, low-ceilinged room with no chairs and a noise level barely short of deafening. But when it’s the Arthur C. Clarke Award ceremony in the middle of a broiling August you have the additional delight of heat. “At least it’s air conditioned,” the man said brightly, as he welcomed me at the door. If he hadn’t said, I wouldn’t have known; I think it would have taken an industrial refrigeration unit to keep that room bearable. Still, there was plenty of wine, and the company of John Clute, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Geoff Ryman, Nina Allan, Ian Whates, Paul McAuley, Tade Thompson, among many others, including, for the first time in quite a few years, Angie Edwards, Sir Arthur’s neice.

The speeches seemed to go on even longer than usual, or maybe it was just the heat. But then, there seemed to be a lot of plans to announce. I got the impression that the mid-August ceremony may become a fixture; there’s a link-up between the Clarke Award and a charity helping Sri Lanka; there was a shout-out to the new Nommo Award for African science fiction that both Geoff Ryman and Tade Thompson are involved with; and there was news that, from next year, the Clarke Award will accept submissions of ebooks and self-published books. I’m not at all sure how this will work without leaving the judges with an impossible reading load, but I’m sure that will become clear in time.

And finally there was the announcement. The winner was … Adrian Tchaikovsky for Children of Time. Judging by the reception, this was clearly a very popular winner. A clearly delighted if flabbergasted Tchaikovsky took to the stage, but by then I was melting quietly out of the door.

Children of Time Cover Spiderlight Cover Continue reading

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September Newsletter: Sabaa Tahir and Renée Ahdieh, The Bookmarks Festival, Colson Whitehead, W. Scott Poole, and (in October) Marie Lu and Jonathan Lethem

Vol 6 No 8. Tuesday, September 6, 2016: Well, by skipping a newsletter in August, the September newsletter is at least coming out in the neighborhood of the beginning of the month. There are dozens and dozens of pieces of news and announcements and new events to pass along this month, but first! there are also two events on the calendar for TODAY so let’s get to them first, shall we?

The Last Kids on Earth and the Zombie Parade (Last Kids on Earth, #2) 

At 4 pm, McIntyre’s Books presents The Last Kids on Earth and the Zombie Parade, with Max Brallier. “Join us at the Chatham Community Library on Tuesday, September 6th at 4PM to meet the author! MAX BRALLIER is the author of more than twenty books and games, including the middle-grade series The Last Kids on Earth. He writes children’s books and adult books, including the pick-your-own-path adventure Can YOU Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? He is the creator and writer of Galactic Hot Dogs, a sci-fi middle-grade series from Aladdin. He writes for licensed properties including Adventure Time, Regular Show, Steven Universe, and Uncle Grandpa. Max lives in New York City with his wife.”

And at 7 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts Sabaa Tahir for A Torch Against the Night, “the highly anticipated sequel to her acclaimed debut, An Ember in the Ashes. The follow-up novel continues Tahir’s suspenseful tale of rebellion in a land of oppression and fear. . Catch up to the action with Ember, a captivating tale with “… the addictive quality of The Hunger Games combined with the fantasy of Harry Potter and the brutality of Game of Thrones.”— Public Radio International. For ages 14+.” North Carolina author Renee Ahdieh, the bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger, will be joining Tahir as her “in conversation” partner. If you pick up this week’s Indy Week you can find my preview of the Tahir/Ahdieh event, and I had the opportunity to talk with both Tahir and Ahdieh on this week’s episode of Carolina Book Beat. Continue reading

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Coming to Town: W. Scott Poole for In the Mountains of Madness: The Life, Death, and Extraordinary Afterlife of H.P. Lovecraft, at Malaprop’s Bookstore and Scuppernong Books, reviewed by Nick Mamatas

So, Soft Skull Press is set to publish College of Charleston historian and Lovecraft aficionado W. Scott Poole’s new book In the Mountains of Madness: The Life, Death, and Extraordinary Afterlife of H.P. Lovecraft in September, and Poole is set to launch the book at Asheville’s Malaprop’s Bookstore on Wednesday, September 7, with a second reading in North Carolina on Thursday, September 22 at Greensboro’s Scuppernong Books. The book comes bearing blurbs from Victor LaValle, author of The Ballad of Black Tom, Grady Hendrix, Jonathan Maberry, and Sheri Holman, among others, and starred reviews from Booklist and Library Journal. But who else, really, would I turn to for a review of this book other than frequent Bull Spec contributor (and, OK, fellow Lovecraft aficionado and Bram Stoker Award winning editor) Nick Mamatas? So, I asked him to write one. Nick’s got his own recent Lovecraftian book out, the horror-murder-mystery-at-a-Lovecraft-convention novel I Am Providence, which I’m giving away 5 copies of to promote people coming to read this review and check out Poole’s book and events. To enter and find out more about Nick’s novel, see the contest details at the bottom of this post! But now, without further adieu, here’s what Nick — never one to pull his punches — thought of Poole’s work of biography and criticism of Lovecraft, In the Mountains of Madness: The Life, Death, and Extraordinary Afterlife of H.P. Lovecraft.

In the Mountains of Madness Cover

— Review by Nick Mamatas —

Given S.T. Joshi’s titanic two-volume biography of H.P. Lovecraft, I Am Providence, does the world need another treatment of the writer’s life, just a few years later? When it comes to the details of Lovecraft’s life, certainly not. When it comes to matters of interpretation and context, there is always room for more. Lovecraft is a major twentieth-century writer, and, like Poe or Dickens, will be reinterpreted and recontextualized for as long as the twentieth century, with its Holocaust and Hiroshima, remains important. So here we are then, with the release of In the Mountains of Madness: The Life and Extraordinary Afterlife of H.P. Lovecraft by historian and pop culture scholar W. Scott Poole.

But is it any good?

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Statement on suspending The Exploding Spaceship column

It has come to my attention that Angela and Gerald, the authors of the Bull Spec column “The Exploding Spaceship”, violated the anti-harassment policy at MidAmericon II, the 74th WorldCon, as well as a specific “do not contact” request by one of the attendees, in effect since the previous WisCon, by repeatedly approaching an attendee who had asked to be left alone, and attempting to grab the badge of someone who placed themselves between that attendee and Angela and Gerald. In the semi-public discussion in the aftermath of these events, it came to light that this behavior was not an isolated event, and that similar reports have been made about Angela and Gerald at ConCarolinas.

Having no reason to doubt the veracity of these reports, I have accordingly suspended “The Exploding Spaceship” column, and ask convention and other event organizers to no longer honor their Bull Spec press credentials, until further notice.

Angela and Gerald were attending the convention both as fans, which they are, and specifically as representatives of Bull Spec, to take photographs and conduct brief interviews as part of an upcoming installment of their column. I apologize to those attendees who were made to feel uncomfortable or threatened by their unwanted approaches.

This is not an easy thing to do. I have known Angela and Gerald in fandom for nearly seven years, and they have been both financial supporters of and material contributors to the magazine for most of that time. We have had dinners together, gone to panels together, and I consider them my friends. I honestly believe they mean no one any harm, and that these incidents of harassment are in their point of view an expression of their enthusiasm as fans, of their earnest desire to be and feel included as a part of fandom. However, good intentions are not enough, they are never enough, when it comes to respecting the wishes of people who express the desire to be left alone, to respecting personal physical boundaries without permission, with or without a harassment policy. (For example, Bull Spec has no explicit policy for columnist behavior, a lack which will be remedied as soon as is practically possible.)

I am sure that Angela and Gerald feel confused, bewildered, and saddened by this development, and that saddens me greatly as well, though not, of course, as much as the results of their actions themselves. My hope is that in time they can come to understand where they made mistakes and learn to respect personal boundaries and requests for no contact. Until that time, I cannot in good conscience continue to publish their column. In the meantime, my phone is on and my door is always open.

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Friday Quick Updates: Edmund R. Schubert’s This Giant Leap, new-new and updated events, award news, and more

Friday, August 12, 2016: As promised there isn’t a newsletter coming this month, but that certainly isn’t to say there isn’t a lot of news to pass along. So! Here we go, starting with a “new-new” event tonight in Greensboro that a lot of Triangle (and beyond) folks are excited about:

At 7 pm, Greensboro’s Scuppernong Books (304 S Elm St) hosts Edmund R. Schubert for a reading and signing of his new science fiction collection This Giant Leap. Published earlier this year by Charlotte’s Falstaff Books (John G. Hartness, publisher) it’s got a beautiful print edition to go along with digital formats. Long-time editor of Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, Schubert has been an essential editor and mentor to writers from North Carolina and beyond, and this collection is a fantastic demonstration of his skill as a writer as well. It’s his first new book in quite a while, and as Ed was traveling overseas during ConGregate, it’s also a chance to people to get their books signed if you picked them up from Falstaff’s table.

There’s another pair of “new-new” events I’ve inserted into the July newsletter, both from a College of Charleston historian whose new book on Lovecraft has been picking up some fantastic reviews and blurbs:

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