John Scalzi is getting to be quite the regular visitor to the Triangle area on his book tours, as we’ve been fortunate enough to have him come to town on his The Human Division tour in 2013 and not one but two stops on his Lock In tour in 2014, and! of course, his Guest of Honor stint this past May at ConCarolinas. And now! To promote the release of his 11th novel The End of All Things, Scalzi is on tour again, and once again it’s Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Books which is playing host. So, for those in the Triangle area and beyond, mark your calendars for Wednesday, August 12 at 7 pm, invite all your friends, etc. Because Scalzi’s tour stops reflect quite well the fact that he’s enjoying himself, and they’re a lot of fun, and folks who make it out to this year’s tour stops will get to hear some of Scalzi’s newest novella, The Dispatcher, and! I hope someone brings a ukulele. (Per Scalzi’s request, make sure it is tuned first!)
The Publishers Weekly and Kirkus starred-review-bearing The End of All Things is Scalzi’s 11th novel, and adding to that his novella The God Engines his recently announced 13-book deal with Tor will more than double his previous book-length bibliography. He’s a busy author, and he recently shared a bit about his working process on Lifehacker, also including one of the more intriguing things about Scalzi: he’s a firm believer that life (and publishing) “is not a zero-sum game”. It’s a mantra on which he walks the talk, using his very popular blog as a platform for other authors’ Big Ideas — a natural inspiration behind the Bull Spec The Hardest Part series.
In The End of All Things Scalzi returns to his bestselling Old Man’s War universe, picking up on the story more or less where The Human Division left off, though (as nearly all of the Old Man’s War novels) fully capable as a standalone entry point, as readers (and audiobook listeners) explore the ongoing saga through each of four novella-length first-person narratives. One new point of view character, CDF Lt. Heather Lee, finds herself more often in a position of trying to keep Colonial Union planets in line, rather than defending against extra-terrestrial threats: she is a finger in the tightening CDF grip through which Colonial Union star systems are slipping. Or are at least trying to. And it is through Lee’s eyes that we get to see another side of long-time Old Man’s War characters like CDF officer Harry Wilson, whose own narrative closes the new book with Wilson’s usual and distinctive aplomb. Throughout, it’s Scalzi’s trademark blend of space opera action, witty inter-soldier banter, and off-screen actions and motives combining (as the four narratives do) into a highly-entertaining, explosive package, with some chewy nuggets of technological and political import to ponder once the debris field clears.
And now! Scalzi’s first go-round in the Coming to Town interview series, in which we talk about the big Tor.com 13-book deal, discuss his books and audiobooks, and find out that Mr. Scalzi spends quite a lot of time considering the implications of the “brain in a box” theory, as it’s been enough to spawn significant elements of multiple series now. Enjoy! And see you at Quail Ridge Books on Wednesday!
1. Old Man’s War was published by Tor only 10 years ago, in 2005. When I looked that up, it surprised me, as you’ve accomplished so much in the intervening decade that it seems like I’ve been reading you quite a bit longer than that. Is it hard to believe that you were a debut novelist only 10 years ago?
It does seem a little odd that it’s only been ten years, and other people have commented about the same thing. I think it seems longer in part because the announcement that the book was bought happened very early in 2003, and the nature of its purchase (it was bought off of Whatever, where I had serialized it) was something of an event, so people had two years of me being a science fiction author before I actually had a book out. Also in part because Old Man’s War reads very old school, so it just feels like I should have been around longer. And of course Whatever has been around since 1998, so that probably has something to do with it too.
But yes: It’s only been a decade. Weird.
2. In the days after Tor announced the 13-book deal, much was been said about stability, about commitment, and so on. But maybe not quite enough about continuing to work with an editor that gets you and pushes you, an art director that has come up with brilliant covers, on and on. You’ve been with Patrick Nielsen Hayden since the very beginning; how much of this deal is loyalty and friendship, distinct from business? Or do those have to be distinct? Read the rest of this entry »
Paul Kincaid’s From the Other Side, July 2015: Adam Craig’s Vitus Dreams, Ian Sales’ A Prospect of War, infinity plus, Tom Holt, Charles Stross, Louisa Hall, and Tales from the Vatican VaultsPosted: 3 August, 2015
From the Other Side, July 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.]
We were in Wales at the start of the month, and in a small bookshop there I came across a beautifully-produced novel from a small Welsh press. Vitus Dreams by Adam Craig (Cinnamon Press) is what used to be called experimental fiction: that is, the book proceeds by puns, spoonerisms and other word play rather than by plot. There is a plot, or rather, there are several plots that rise and recede with the regularity of waves, but they are not the main focus of the novel. And the text is arranged on the page in boxes, at angles, in graceful, swooping curves. In among all of this play with how a book looks and is read, we follow Vitus Bering who sets out to discover a sea that did not exist before he dreamed of it, John Franklin who becomes lost in a map of his own making, and Ulysses wandering aimlessly on his way to Ithaka, NY. Like many such experimental novels, it is at times far too clever for its own good, but if you have patience for such kaleidoscopic inventions it is actually a very enjoyable book. And since I have seen no-one else even mention it, I draw it to your attention here.
The Exploding Spaceship Announces The Women Author Book Donation Project to Benefit the Glasgow Women’s LibraryPosted: 31 July, 2015
We are pleased to announce the start of a project to increase the size of the science fiction and fantasy collection at the Glasgow Women’s Library!
The library serves women of all ages so we want to include books aimed at middle grades, teens and adults. We would like to include as many author/editor signed books as possible but any books appropriate for a feminist audience are fine.
So please send us books and graphic novels by women with women main characters, we will deal with getting the volumes to the library.
We have setup an information page here: http://www.blackwelldevice.com/gwlproject.html
Please send books to P.O. Box 5845 Statesville, NC 28687-5845.
If you have any questions please direct them to Angela on Twitter @ExplodnSpceship.
The Exploding Spaceship Reviews Time Salvager, Iron and Blood, Cities and Thrones, Roboteer and The Dead Man’s ReachPosted: 25 July, 2015
Review of Time Salvager by Wesley Chu (Tor July 7, 2015 in the UK, Angry Robot July 9, 2015)
The premise that the future is so bleak that they need to send people to the past to salvage energy sources and other resources makes for a very interesting setting. The main characters are salvager James, and two women, Grace and Elise. He meets both of them on trips to the past, but ends up bringing them to his own time in order for them to help him save the future. James’ efforts to balance his relationships with the two women make for some interesting scenes. They actually get along quite well but both are better at manipulating him than he is at dealing with either of the women.
The government in the future is just as screwy as the present US bureaucracy and seeing some of the workers try to get around the crazy rules was very familiar, unfortunately (Your Humble Reviewers both used to work for the US Government). In order to fix the Earth, Grace and Elise try to reverse the damage to the oceans. James makes many trips into the past for equipment and supplies with the help of his friend Smitt, who is still working for ChronoCom. This puts his life in danger because he doesn’t have the drugs needed to recover from the trips, plus he might get discovered and arrested by his former employers. James discovers that not all the time travelers follow the rules and that the world ended up a dismal mess because someone interfered with the plan to fix it many years before. This discovery makes him, Grace and Elise really pissed off so they rally everyone and fight the government people.
As expected of Chu’s novels, there is fast action with fighting both hand-to-hand and with guns. Even the bit characters have some depth and the cast is quite diverse. Elise is our favorite character, a scientist action heroine who has to use her people skills as well as her science and defense skills. She is awesome and deserves a later book from her viewpoint.
If you like SF or action adventure stories then you need to read this book!
Review of Iron and Blood by Gail Z and Larry Martin (Solaris, July 7, 2015) Read the rest of this entry »
Coming to Town: Paul Tremblay for A Head Full of Ghosts at Flyleaf Books, interviewed by Richard DanskyPosted: 22 July, 2015
Interview by Richard Dansky:
With A Head Full of Ghosts, Paul Tremblay has catapulted himself into the front rank of American horror authors. Born in Colorado but currently residing in Boston, Tremblay teaches AP Calculus by day and then unleashes an entirely different set of horrors by night. His previous works include Swallowing A Donkey’s Eye and the short story collection In The Mean Time, both from ChiZine Publishing. Nominated twice for the Bram Stoker Award, he also serves as a juror for the Shirley Jackson Awards. He was kind enough to take time out from his Guest of Honor duties at NECON to talk a little about the role of pop culture references in fiction, blogging as a framing device, and why he’s disappointed in Les Stroud, ahead of his appearance this Sunday (July 26) at 4 pm at Flyleaf Books [Facebook].
Q: First question: Do you believe in Bigfoot?
Do I believe in Bigfoot? I do not. You know, I kind of want to, but I’m kind of taking up the “no Bigfoot” position just as devil’s advocate because my ten year old daughter is so [into it]. She hasn’t watched it much in the last six to 8 months, but my daughter had a section of time where she was totally obsessed with Bigfoot. She has a Bigfoot t-shirt and loves the show [note: the reality show Finding Bigfoot, which features prominently in A Head Full of Ghosts] so I would playfully argue with her that there was no Bigfoot. “How come they don’t find any bodies” and she always responds with “well, they bury their dead”. But I have a hard time believing that there’s a Bigfoot.
Q: Just a spoiler alert here – the last few episodes of Finding Bigfoot, they have not actually found Bigfoot. I know that’s a tremendous shock. Read the rest of this entry »
The Exploding Spaceship Reviews The Oathkeeper by J.F. Lewis, Dark Run by Mike Brooks, and The Shadow Revolution by Clay and Susan GriffithPosted: 17 July, 2015
Review of The Oathkeeper by J.F.Lewis (Pyr, June 9, 2015)
This is the second volume of the Grudgebearer Trilogy. The main characters in this volume are Rae’en and Wylant. These female characters had a lesser role in the first volume because Kholster was alive then and for this volume he is a god.
Wylant and Kholster’s marriage is still ongoing even though he has passed into godhood, but the situation definitely makes for some amusing romantic confusion. Kholster wasn’t the brightest bulb about romance before he died, and becoming a god only made him more obtuse in some ways.
The Zaur attack while several of the other races are trying to make peace so that gets delayed and the city must be evacuated while also trying to fight the Zaur. It has lots of fight scenes and general confusion, including some caused by a dragon. The reptiles invaded the other races’ territories from several directions over both land and sea. They also are trying to settle a treaty with one of the races, but everyone is suspicious of this. The Zaur they are speaking with does have an ulterior motive but not the one they think.
Several characters in this book moved from being male idiots in the last book to being more sympathetic beings. This made this volume have a better overall tone than the last one (where several characters were males who deserved to have some sense slapped into them).
There is more magic use in this volume because of some changes with a few Eldrennai characters. The setting and races of beings in this are quite amazing. None of them are really typical fantasy races, although there are analogs to several. The writing is well done and it moves fast. That is actually the one problem with this volume: the scene shifts are too rapid in some cases so it is easy to get confused on where geographically you are and even in some cases whose viewpoint it is. Read the rest of this entry »