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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Paul Kincaid’s From the Other Side, July 2016: NewCon Press turns 10, collections from Alastair Reynolds and M. John Harrison, sf/f and “mainstream” novels, and the strains of the fantastic in this year’s Booker Prize

[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, July 2016
By Paul Kincaid

Ian Whates’s NewCon Press celebrated its 10th birthday with a party in London at the beginning of the month. Those who attended, including a goodly number of NewCon’s authors and others including Anne Charnock, Kim Lakin-Smith, Nick Wood, Edward Cox, Keith Brooke and David Langford, all received a free copy of X Marks the Spot a celebration of the past ten years including contributions by Adam Roberts, Ian Watson, Hal Duncan, Chaz Brenchley and others. The party also saw the launch of no less than four new books. There are two anthologies, both edited by Whates: Now We Are Ten contains 16 new stories on the theme of ten by writers including Ian McDonald, Nancy Kress, Tricia Sullivan, Peter F. Hamilton and Nina Allan; while Crises and Conflicts contains 15 military sf stories by Adam Roberts, Tade Thompson, Mercurio D. Rivera and Gavin Smith among others. And there are two collections: The Spoils of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky brings together new and old tales related to his long-running Shadows of the Apt sequence; while Secret Language is the first new collection in ten years by Neil Williamson, including four new stories written specially for this collection. The party also saw the appearance, one week early, of Ian Whates’s own collection of stories, Dark Travellings (Fox Spirit), thirteen stories ranging from post-apocalyptic science fiction to vampire horror.

Crises and Conflicts: Celebrating the First 10 Years of NewCon Press The Race Cover

Thinking of NewCon Press, one of the highlights of 2014 was their publication of Nina Allan’s first novel, The Race; now it has been republished by Titan with an extra novella-length chapter that gives an extra twist to everything that has gone before. Continue reading

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The Exploding Spaceship reviews An Accident of Stars, Blood of the Earth, and Spiderlight

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Review of An Accident of Stars: Book 1 of the Manifold Worlds by Foz Meadows (Angry Robot, August 2, 2016)

So an Australian teenage girl who feels like no adults care about her problems gets anti-bullying advice from a woman she doesn’t know outside her high school. Saffron feels a connection with the woman to the extent that she follows her, and when a portal to another world opens and the woman goes through it, Saffron steps through after her. Gwen is extremely surprised and annoyed to discover she was followed because she has no way to re-open the portal and send Saffron home.

Gwen is black and Saffron is white, although this difference seems to mean little to Saffron. It was more important to her that Gwen gave her advice that neither her parents nor any other white adult had given her. In Kena the races have vastly different cultures based on religion and geography. Luckily Gwen lives in an area with a mixed population but the differences do cause confusion to Saffron when she is trying to sort out the cultural nuances of Kena.

accident of stars cover

Going through the portal leads to a brief travelogue through Kena, an alternate world with more primitive technology than our world. Saffron gets separated from Gwen and this has great consequences for Saffron and the entire world. The world is matriarchal and the bisexuality that made Saffron feel so weird at home is more of an accepted norm there, so although things are strange, Gwen admits that she likes it better than home. Continue reading

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July/August Newsletter: Events with Tony Daniel, Gwenda Bond, Christos Gage, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, and Drew Magary, and the 2016 Manly Wade Wellman Award goes to…

Vol 6 No 7. Thursday, July 28, 2016: Oh, what’s another newsletter coming out near the tail end of the month? At least this time I’m going to go ahead and call it now: there won’t be another newsletter going out until September.

First, though, while there are events tonight and tomorrow and this weekend that deserve your attention, it’s only once a year that I get to pass along North Carolina science fiction and fantasy news at this level: The 2016 Manly Wade Wellman Award goes to…

Raising Hell Cover IMG_4637

Charlotte author John G. Hartness for his novella Raising Hell. Presented at ConGregate during an awards ceremony on Saturday, July 16, this is the third annual award, voted on by the combined membership of North Carolina science fiction and fantasy conventions (illogiConConCarolinasConTemporal, and ConGregate), covering works published in 2015 written by North Carolina authors. In his acceptance speech, Hartness expressed his honor at being included among his fellow nominees this year: Darin Kennedy (for The Mussorgsky Riddle), Ursula Vernon (for Castle Hangnail), and Gail Z. Martin (Vendetta and War of Shadows) and Gail Z. and Larry N. Martin (for Iron and Blood). 115 titles were eligible, from 65 different authors. It was an incredible year of new science fiction and fantasy from the authors of our state! The news has already been picked up by both regional places like the Charlotte Observer and the NC Writers’ Network as well as by Locus Magazine and File 770, among others.

All right. Now on to those imminently forthcoming events:

    Continue reading

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