Paul Kincaid’s From the Other Side, December 2014: new books from Ben Elton, Russell Brand, Neil Gaiman, Jenny Erpenbeck, and Brian Baker

From the Other Side, December 2014

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.]

It’s the time of year when publishers (like the rest of us) tend to concentrate on parties, on closing early for the holidays, and on hoping that books published earlier in the year keep providing an income now. So I have, inevitably, less that’s new to talk about this time around.

Christmas is, of course, the time for celebrity books. And science fiction is not, alas, immune from the disease. This year, for example, we have Ben Elton, stand-up comedian and one of the writers of Blackadder, with a time travel novel, Time and Time Again (Bantam). Elton is no stranger to writing novels, this is his 15th, and one or two have played with genre ideas before. In this one, alas, the familiar title leads us into a very familiar plot: someone travels back in time to prevent the First World War by assassinating the Kaiser. It’s mostly a sightseeing tour of Europe immediately before the war, with a distinctly shop-soiled plot tacked on.

Time and Time Again The Pied Piper of Hamelin (Russell Brand’s Trickster Tales, #1) The Sleeper and the Spindle

Read the rest of this entry »

Coming to Town: Christopher J Garcia for illogiCon, interviewed by M. David Blake

Introduction and interview by M. David Blake:

Christopher J Garcia, who bears the dubious distinction of having delivered the only Hugo Award acceptance to ever subsequently receive its own nomination for a Hugo Award in a different category, is the fan guest of honor at this weekend’s illogiCon at the Embassy Suites RDU. His schedule includes speculation upon the future, spacefaring worth of contemporary, earthbound culture; steampunk, and the “Weird West”; Thunderbirds, Bone-Sharps, and their kin (think Jim Ottaviani’s comic novel, Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards, rather than anything having to do with Gerry Anderson’s Supermarionation); Greek sports; and a star-studded, far-ranging, extemporaneous exploration of “The History of Anything You Wanna Know”.

Christopher J Garcia

Q: You’ve had an interesting relationship with fandom, from a very early age. Arguably, any of us who ventured into editing did so because it was cheaper than therapy… but it takes a special type of insanity to assemble a fanzine. What made you want to do so? Was it simply a matter of exposure, or were there deeper influences at play?

A: I’ve always loved writing. That’s really my passion, and I foolishly majored in it at Emerson College. I was taught to read from copies of Granfalloon and Niekas, so maybe it was pre-determined, but for years, I just had no interest. I guess it was a combination of turning 30 and having my first mid-life crisis, followed by basically deciding to give up on fiction writing that led me to look for an outlet for my own words. It also helped that made it very easy to get a zine out to a wide swatch of people, and that I was reading Earl Kemp’s eI regularly, which is enough to inspire anyone to go out and try their hand at it!

Q: Seems to have worked out well, because the last time I saw you was only a few hours after your memorable acceptance of the 2011 Hugo Award for Best Fanzine. At that point you told me about your big plans for the 300th issue of The Drink Tank. Now, a few minutes ago I glanced at, and realized you are fast approaching another milestone. So, more big plans? How do you top the post-Hugo extravaganza with which you celebrated, a little over three years ago? Read the rest of this entry »

The Hardest Part: Stephanie Ricker on The Battle of Castle Nebula

I met Cary author Stephanie Ricker through publishing her story “Inseparables’ War” in Bull Spec #7, and her reading of the story at a NC Speculative Fiction night event. I was very happy to see her have a story in the Rooglewood Press anthology Five Glass Slippers: A Collection of Cinderella Stories in June of 2014, and very excited when I learned that she would be continuing the universe of her story “A Cinder’s Tale” in a novella series The Cendrillon Cycle. In December, Ricker published the first of those novellas, The Battle of Castle Nebula, and as you might be able to guess from the cover art, this is a planet-spanning science fictional retelling. And here, Ricker tells us about the hardest part of, well, everything.

The Battle of Castle Nebula (The Cendrillon Cycle, #1)

By Stephanie Ricker:

When asked what the hardest part of writing The Battle of Castle Nebula was, I’m tempted to gaze back with haunted eyes and melodramatically whisper, “Everything.” Looking back on the process from a comfy couple months without looming deadlines, I’m forced to admit that’s not really true.

But, wow, did it feel that way. Read the rest of this entry »

The Hardest Part: Bridget Ladd on Ardent Ascension

I don’t have too much of an intro for you this time as I’ve only almost met Raleigh author Bridget Ladd. I can tell you that she came to my attention by way of Bull Spec art director (and fellow ECU grad) Gabriel Dunston, and that her 2013 dystopian Steampunk debut novel The Lotus Effect has received (and continues to pick up) acclaim and readers and reviews, including being named a Cygnus Award Winner. (It’s also available in a fantastic audiobook edition, narrated by Elizabeth Klett.) Last year, Ladd published a sequel, book two in her “Rise of the Ardent” series, entitled Ardent Ascension, and here she writes about “forging” ahead in her series. (For which, incidentally, she’s just unveiled the cover for Soul Arbor, the forthcoming third book.)

The Lotus Effect (Rise Of The Ardent, #1) Ardent Ascension (Rise Of The Ardent, #2)

By Bridget Ladd:

Last night, after what felt like hours of scouring through my extensive Netflix queue, I finally settled for a Nova documentary, Secrets of the Viking Sword, which showcased the legendary Viking sword ‘+VLFBERH+T’ which may have you thinking, what’s that got to do with this article? Well, many things! First off, now you know I’m a dweeb and secondly, I’m going to illustrate how forging a sword (an awesome sword) relates to writing a great second novel. Read the rest of this entry »

Coming to Town: Jacqueline Carey for illogiCon, interviewed by Sharon Stogner

NY Times bestselling author Jacqueline Carey is the author of 16 novels, from her 2001 epic fantasy debut Kushiel’s Dart (in the Top 10 of’s Best of the Decade poll) to her current urban fantasy series, Agent of Hel, most recently Poison Fruit. She’s the author guest of honor at this weekend’s illogiCon at the Embassy Suites RDU, and along with panels on “Contemporary Culture Influences on Dystopian Futures”, “Diversity and Representation in Genre Fiction”, “Religion and Mythology in Science Fiction and Fantasy”, “Sexuality in Science Fiction and Fantasy”, and “That Which Yields Is Not Always Weak: Feminism and Submission”, and Worldbuilding, she also has a reading (Saturday at 1 pm), and will surely be signing books sometime in the dealer room. I’m looking forward to meeting Carey, and thank her for her time via email for this interview by Sharon Stogner.

Poison Fruit (Agent of Hel, Book 3) published November 2014 by Roc Hardcover

Interiew by Sharon Stogner

Q: Hello Jacqueline, and congratulations on being the Illogicon 2015 guest of honor. Have you ever been to our state? If you had the time, where/what would you like to visit most in NC?

Thank you! This is my first visit, and I’m looking forward to exploring the Raleigh-Durham area insofar as time permits. I’ve read that there’s a vibrant food and wine culture, and as a huge foodie, I’ll spend my holidays researching restaurants to put on my wish list.

Q: I saw all the picture of tattoos inspired by your books on your website. How does that feel, knowing people want to wear your words on their bodies…forever? Read the rest of this entry »

January newsletter: illogiCon preview, Kickstarter roundups, and Manly Wade Wellman Award coverage

Vol 5 No 1. January 3, 2015: Happy New Year! Since the November/December newsletter, we’ve had some fantastic events, seen a pile of new books and audiobooks, and! remembered that Bull Spec turned 5 years old in early November as well.

Let’s start with a bit of an illogiCon preview, as in just less than a week the convention will open on Friday with a 3 pm Opening Ceremonies, with guests of honor Jacqueline Carey and Christopher J Garcia, and a fantastic panel of local, regional, and further-afield authors, illustrators, and other creators, including new (to me at least!) guests Clay Gilbert, Garth Graham, Ray Haggerty, Chris Holmquist, Chris Kennedy, Cheralyn Lambeth, Ian J. Malone, Lynn McNamee (publisher of Garner-based Red Adept Publishing), Raulie Raulerson, Terri-Lynne Smiles, and Scott Smith and many familiar faces from across NC including Michael G. Williams, Jeremy Whitley, Mark Van Name, Fraser Sherman, Ed Schubert, Gray Rinehart, James Maxey, Misty Massey, Gail Z. Martin, Debra Killeen, John Kessel, J.L. Hilton, Clay and Susan Griffith (who have four novels coming out in 2015!), Tera Fulbright, Bill Ferris, Richard Dansky, Tony Daniel, Betty Cross, Ada Milenkovic Brown, Natania Barron, and more. Throughout the weekend there’s plenty of panels and readings, as well as a film festival, a Mikey Mason performance, a Nerdvana show, the dealer’s room, and more to explore as well.


Quite a few of that last big list of names are included in the 2015 Manly Wade Wellman Award preliminary eligibility list announcement and already a few updates are in ahead of the final eligibility list’s announcement at illogiCon. Unfortunately several of those updates weren’t in time to make the Carolina Book Beat podcast episode focusing on the list, but if you want to hear a one-minute description of each of the 80 or so books, there you go. Speaking of Carolina Book Beat, Mur Lafferty and I talked with Ursula Vernon at length about her Danny Dragonbreath books and her writing for adults as T. Kingfisher on the previous episode.

Next, since time is of the essence for these, I wanted to roundup some ongoing local- and regional-interest Kickstarter campaigns: Read the rest of this entry »

The Hardest Part: Michael Jasper on Finders, Inc.

I used to rely on (former) local author Michael Jasper to help manage magazine deliveries to Wake Forest’s Story Teller Bookstore. Now that he’s been living in Boone for a few years, I can only continue to rely on him for fantastic stories. The author of a fantastic collection (Gunning for the Buddha) and digital comic series (In Maps & Legends), novels of first contact sf (The Wannoshay Cycle) and contemporary fantasy (A Gathering of Doorways, which is excerpted in Bull Spec #1), a YA contemporary fantasy series (“Contagious Magic”), and the best supernatural historical baseball novel I’ve ever read (The All Nations Team), Jasper is back with a new novel, out yesterday, starting a new series set in Boone. Here he writes about the struggles of finding the right voice and perspective for that novel, Finders, Inc.


By Michael Jasper:

While the actual writing, editing, and revising of my novel Finders, Inc. took less than half a year, the book itself required over five years for me to figure out how to write it. That was definitely the hardest part.

The novel is a mystery set in the northwestern corner of North Carolina, and it features two misfits from the mountains: Hank Johnson, a 5’5″ black guy obsessed with fitness and his personal code of honor, and Bim Mayer, a 350-pound white guy with no fashion sense and the ability to connect psychically to other people. Together, they fight crime! Read the rest of this entry »


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