Paul Kincaid’s From the Other Side, January 2015: Adam Roberts, sequels, and the James Herbert Award

From the Other Side, January 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.]

It’s a new year, a time of change, of novelty, a time when we throw out all the old familiar stuff from 2014 and welcome in fresh work and different writers. So let’s see what 2015 has in store for us.

And we start with a new book from … Adam Roberts. Hm, sorry about that, for a moment there it felt as if 2014 hadn’t quite ended. Oh, no, there really is a new book from Adam Roberts. Saint Rebor is a new collection of short stories from NewCon Press, part of their Imaginings series which are all well worth a look. Saint Rebor is the second collection of stories from Adam Roberts, after Adam Robots which came out just over a year ago. This collection includes ten short stories and a poem. I note that the publicity material tells us that it includes “two stories that have never appeared in print before and three that are completely original to this book”, though I’m not exactly sure how that is supposed to work. All I’ll say is that the opening story, “What Did Tessimond Tell You?”, was included in two best of the year collections. Given how many other stories by Adam Roberts seem to have cropped up in various places recently, I shouldn’t wonder if he had enough for a third collection already in stock. Be that as it may, I have a feeling this won’t be the last time I mention Mr Roberts in this column in 2015.

 The Galaxy Game Read the rest of this entry »


The Exploding Spaceship Reviews Winter Good Reads Part 2: Urban/Modern Fantasy Titles

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Review of Paradigms Lost by Ryk E. Spoor (Baen, Nov 15, 2014)

This is an urban fantasy set in an alternate 1999-2001. This is a vastly expanded and revised volume which contains the contents of the story entitled “Digital Knight”. Jason Wood is an expert in information searches, image processing and enhancement, pattern matching and data forensics. Some of his contracts are with law enforcement.

A dead contact on his doorstep sends Jason and his girlfriend Sylvie into an adventure involving people who don’t appear on film, werewolves (including an entire town full of them), court appearances relating to werewolf prostitution, and parties which lead to murder. This story is formatted as a murder mystery but actually Jason ends up investigating multiple crimes which are all linked together by werewolf involvement.

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As the existence of werewolves being public knowledge is relatively new, the laws written with only humans in mind have not been adapted to include how they apply to werewolves. As some werewolves kill humans in order to gain power, and they are very difficult to kill or arrest, a new approach is needed. Read the rest of this entry »


Read Across Durham Event Seeks Volunteers

Karlene Fyffe Phillips, Manager of Family Literacy and Community Services for Durham County Library, writes to ask for help recruiting volunteers for Read Across Durham, a city-wide event taking place in every 3rd grade classroom: “I need your help as we begin recruiting volunteers for our Read Across Durham event scheduled for March 2. Please share the link with as many folks as possible. We need volunteer readers for every third grade classroom. The details are included in the link.”

The details include: “Volunteers are needed on (Monday) March 2, 2015, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. to read to third graders. We will meet at 9:00 a.m. at the DPS Staff Development Center for a mini training and presentation. The address is 2107 Hillandale Road, Durham, NC 27705. Breakfast snack items will be available from 9-9:30.”

Interested volunteers can click on “Sign Up” links at the event’s VolunteerSignup page: https://www.volunteersignup.org/PY9RC

Durham County Library


The Exploding Spaceship Reviews Winter Good Reads Part 1: Science Fiction and High Fantasy Titles

 

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Review of  The Fortress in Orion: Dead Enders Book One (Pyr, Dec 2, 2014) by Mike Resnick

It’s the first volume in his new space opera series set in his Birthright Universe. Cyborgs, aliens, convicts, or war heroes can all make interesting main characters. But what if you make them into an ensemble cast of a space adventure book? Resnick has taken these different character types and made them into a mostly non-military special ops team.

This is old-school space opera with the only military character leading a bunch of civilians. There is plenty of intrigue and some interesting characters that use brains and special skills to do their jobs, not just guns. Three members of the group are women: Snake, Pandora and Circe are all strong characters, but each of them shows strength in a different way. They have very distinct looks, personalities and skill sets. The other two team members are a male human and an alien who looks like a male human, but that is really a visual illusion; his appearance won’t fool electronics or cameras.

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The team has to go to a space station full of aliens to switch an alien military leader with a clone version trained to lead the aliens to peace with humanity. Nothing goes quite according to plan, of course, but we do get a battle and some very impressive fast-talking from the clone.

Your Humble Reviewers really enjoyed this book and greatly appreciated the believable relationships of the women with each other and with the male (or visually male) members of the team including the alien clone. We look forward to more volumes of Dead Enders tales.

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Originator: A Cassandra Kresnov Novel (Pyr, Jan 6, 2015) by Joel Shepherd

This is the sixth volume in his space adventure series. The series is military SF from the viewpoint of a synthetic human but is more about Cassandra’s growth and change as a character than about the big picture plot. The big picture impacts her quite a bit, so you see it, but it is really about how the events impact her life, not about the events themselves. The series has quite a great deal to say about what it means to be human and what makes humans want to be parents, even when they didn’t have parents themselves. It has enough action to satisfy space adventure and special ops fans, but is centered on characters and so should satisfy readers who want more character-driven stories. Read the rest of this entry »


The Exploding Spaceship visits MarsCon 2015

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Review of MarsCon (January 16-18, 2015), Williamsburg, Virginia, Fort Magruder Hotel and Conference Center

In the southeast US, MarsCon is one of the best-organized science fiction conventions that focuses on writers and writing, and in this, their 25th year, they had the logistics figured out well.

This year saw a bumper crop of good writers attending with David Weber, David B. Coe, Katherine Kurtz, Alethea Kontis, and Steve White all discussing their writing, signing books, and dispensing advice for other writers. With several Baen authors in attendance, they got a visit from the Baen Roadshow as well, so we got to see all the art of upcoming books.

The con hotel and several next to it were full. Parking was at a premium but they did have crew out to try and send you to where there were spaces. We opted to stay offsite and drive elsewhere for dinner and then didn’t return for evening events. The con space was large enough for the crowds but some of the auditorium style rooms with chairs and table were a bit small for some panels (like the Baen Roadshow). The dealer room had many book dealers and several game dealers as well as artists and crafts people. The tables were spaced well on two sides, but the space at the back between the row against the wall and the row opposite was too tight, if you got people looking at one table you blocked the way for people to get by or look at stuff on the opposite table. So it would be best to visit there on Friday before it gets crowded.

Buzz Lightyear in Mark I Space Ranger Powersuit

Steampunk Buzz Lightyear

There were some excellent costumes including those pictured. There were also many Honorverse uniformed fans from different ships, as can be expected when David Weber is at a convention. Your Humble Reviewers really enjoyed the round robin musical session on Sunday. Many conventions only have music at times when people are doing panels, having meals after the panel tracks end, or so late on Saturday that anyone needing to be up on Sunday morning has gone off to bed!

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Beast Boy from Teen Titans

This year most of the science fiction writers and scientists on panels were male and for next year the con chair wants to concentrate on women in STEM careers and women who write science fiction (many of the female guests were fantasy writers). Robot battles with all female teams were also mentioned as a possibility for next year. The female half of the review team has already volunteered for panels and robots for next year. We want next year’s female-focused events to be excellent so the males can’t complain, so all you female science people from the RTP area, volunteer! It’s really only a short drive away and will be fun. This con definitely had an oversupply of males of all ages, so women writers and scientists should volunteer for next year, and bring your younger female friends and relatives with you! Visit www.marscon.net and send email to guests@marscon.net .

 


The Hardest Part: Darin Kennedy on The Mussorgsky Riddle

Charlotte “doctor by day, novelist by night” Darin Kennedy‘s debut novel, The Mussorgsky Riddle, is squarely right up my alley. “The Great Gate of Kiev” (part of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition) is one of my favorite pieces of Russian symphony, and Kennedy turns the mythopoeity up to “11” combining music, paranormal mystery, and classical mythology in a heady, panpsychic mix. All set in Charlotte — and the infinite mindscapes therein. Here, Kennedy writes about the hard part of discovering the first person present tense voice of psychic Mira Tejedor, as she struggles to unravel the riddle of 13-year-old Anthony Faircloth’s catatonia. In person, in addition to appearances at MystiCon, ConCarolinas, and ConGregate on the regional convention circuit, Kennedy will take part in the Bookmarks Movable Feast – Winston-Salem, NC on Sunday, January 25 from 3 pm to 5 pm.

By Darin Kennedy:

Tom Petty said “The waiting is the hardest part,” and I have to agree with him. The writing process does seem to be fraught with lots of hurry up and wait. Read the rest of this entry »


“Friday” Quick Updates, Thursday Morning Edition: new Piedmont Laureate James Maxey this afternoon, Stephen Hren tonight, MWWA nominations open, and other news and events

Thursday, January 22, 2015: Two events today of interest and some big news to pass along merit a early edition of Friday Quick Updates this week.

First, at 3:30 pm, Chapel Hill Public Library hosts a Meet the Author Tea with newly announced Piedmont Laureate for Speculative Fiction, James Maxey. I’m looking forward to what Maxey does with this fantastic platform this year, as he’ll be tapped for a series of blog posts and appearances throughout the region, throughout the year. (Speaking of Maxey, he has also just unveiled new print and ebook editions of his Dragon Apocalypse series.)

Second, this evening at 7 pm, The Regulator Bookshop hosts Durham author Stephen Hren for a reading from his latest novel, Max’s Hungry Ghost. It’s a recommended Indy Pick and I’m looking forward to a lively talk, as Hren attempts to explain how his non-fiction work (Tales from the Sustainable Underground) intertwines with his speculative fiction. Read the rest of this entry »


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