Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Received:// Tides From The New Worlds - Tobias Buckell

Buy From: Amazon.com (Kindle Store)/iBooks

Caribbean born novelist Tobias Buckell established himself as a gifted new voice in science fiction with his stunning first novel Crystal Rain. Now, in his first collection, Buckell demonstrates his strengths in the short form, offering readers a collection of stories that are compelling, smart, wonderfully imagined, and entertaining.

Tides from the New Worlds contains 19 stories that range from multicultural science fiction to magical realism, some in print for the first time.

Spotted this in my feeds, it's previously been published as a rather gorgeous looking limited edition hardcover from Wyrm Publishing, which is a little out of my price range once shipping to the UK is added. Thankfully it's been released as an ebook for cheap dates like me and you can get it at either the Kindle store or iBooks. Not sure about iBooks but it's $2.99 at Amazon or $3.51 for my fellow tea drinkers due to the stupid 'VAT on ebooks but not paper books' rule we have.

The author has very kindly sent me a copy to review, so I'm going to stick this at the top of my reading list in thanks and hopefully get a review up as soon as real life will allow.

Batman on a Budget

City of Scars is a seriously impressive - at least visually - Batman film made for just $27,000. It's a pretty cheesy story with some dialogue to match but the look and atmosphere they've created is pretty cool.

When the Joker escapes from Arkham and murders the parents of a young boy, Batman recalls the pain of losing his own parents as a child. He is pushed past his limits to the point where his focus becomes revenge on all who stand in his way, including many of Gotham’s underworld. Finally, Batman is forced to look at the psychological profile of his own mind and accept the consequences of his life to find resolve.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Smurfing Mothersmurfers

This has to be some kind of horrible joke. It's like Howard the smurfing Duck all over again.

Want:// Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery - edited by Jonathan Strahan & Lou Anders

Published By: Eos
Buy From: Amazon.co.uk

A truly breathtaking new anthology edited by Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders, Swords & Dark Magic offers stunning new tales of sword and sorcery action, romance, and dark adventure written by some of the most respected, bestselling fantasy writers working today—from  Joe Abercrombie to Gene Wolfe. An all-new Elric novella from the legendary Michael Moorcock and a new visit to Majipoor courtesy of the inimitable Robert Silverberg are just two of the treasures offered in Swords & Dark Magic—a fantasy lover’s dream.

Being a short fiction hound I just keep spotting really great anthologies I want. I spotted this one doing the rounds on various blogs and it looks like it could be next on my shopping list since I waited all of a few hours to buy my last want. :)

I don't read much modern sword & sorcery, I've read a lot of the old pulps, and some newer stuff but I read far more science fiction than I do fantasy so this looks like a nice taster selection. I am currently catching up on Joe Abercrombie so you can see I'm a little behind on the current torrent of fantasy novels.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Listen:// The Neil Gaiman Audio Collection - Neil Gaiman

Buy From: Amazon

I've been thoroughly enjoying reading Gaiman's "Crazy Hair" to my daughter Sophie so I picked up this audio collection containing four of his children's stories plus a short interview with his daughter asking the questions.

I've read all but one of these stories before and whilst I miss the art that goes with them, Gaiman is an excellent narrator and the stories stand by themselves as modern fairytales that make me wish I grew up with them. Funny, strange, even slightly dark in places; I grew up with Roald Dahl and his wonderfully twisted yet funny short stories, Gaiman is one of the few modern authors that manages to strike that same balance.

I just listened to this whilst watering the garden with a big grin on my face and I'm looking forward to sharing them with Sophie. I'm not sure she is ready for the Wolves In the Walls but I think she might just fancy swapping me for two goldfish.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Read:// A Science Fiction Omnibus Edited by Brian Aldiss [And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill's Side - James Tiptree Jr]

Published by: Penguin Classics
Buy From: Amazon

 "And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill's Side" from the pseudonymous James Tiptree Jr is a cracking little tale on the human race's sexual obsession with 'the alien', or in this case actual aliens and the consequences of that obsession. I don't necessarily buy the premise but there's no doubt it's a story that makes you think.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Read:// A Science Fiction Omnibus Edited by Brian Aldiss [Skirmish - Clifford Simak]

Published by: Penguin Classics
Buy From: Amazon

Next up is 'Skirmish' by Cliffod Simak, early shades of the Matrix in this light-hearted take on man's dependence on machines leading to the now much more common theme of the machine revolution. It feels dated and at 1950 it is but I find credulity straining ideas like 'all types of machines becoming self aware' date it far too much. I know it is of it's time but talk of self aware typewriters and sewing machines makes me think fantasy when it was clearly written as science fiction. Fun if you accept it for what it is.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Read:// A Science Fiction Omnibus Edited by Brian Aldiss [Lot - Ward Moore]

Published by: Penguin Classics
Buy From: Amazon
Second story is "Lot" by Ward Moore, a modern - or at least modern when it was written in 1953 - telling of the biblical story of Lot with American cities under nuclear attack standing in for Sodom and the main character David Jimmon takes the part of Lot.

Jimmon is quite frankly an arse, though well prepared for the reality of a world after nuclear war. He already has an emergency plan which is underway as the story begins with Jimmon, his wife, his two sons and his daughter readying to leave in their well provisioned car and make their way to the wilds for some post-apocalyptic fun and games. He pretty much despises his wife and holds a very low opinion of her and his two sons, only finding any intelligence to match his own in his daughter.

It's the story of a man making decisions in order to survive, decisions which I didn't find entirely credible but then I'm not a complete arse and the bombs haven't started dropping so who knows how things would turn out. I enjoyed the tale, and I'll be seeking out "Lot's Daughter" by the author which continues the story.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Read:// A Science Fiction Omnibus Edited by Brian Aldiss [Sole Solution - Eric Frank Russell]

Published by: Penguin Classics
Buy From: Amazon

In the mood for some good science fiction short stories and I've had this sitting on my shelf for a while now. I've no doubt read a few of these before but I'll work my way through it and post my thoughts.

First up is the very short opener "Sole Solution" by Eric Frank Russell. It's really short, verging on flash fiction but perfectly formed. I can't say much about it without giving away the ending though you'll see it coming anyway. He could almost be talking about writing too, oh go and read it, you can find it online if you look.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Want:// Stories - Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio

Published by: Headline
Buy from: Amazon.co.uk

One hell of a huge book of great, exciting stories which will become a uniting force for readers of all forms of imaginative fiction.

Rather than being dictated by genre, for co-editors Gaiman and Sarrantonio there is only one true distinction in fiction: the one dividing realistic and imaginative fiction. STORIES is a collection of the very best original fiction from some of the most imaginative writers in the world, as well as a showcase for some of fiction's newer stars.
Contributors include: Roddy Doyle; Joyce Carol Oates; Joanne Harris; Neil Gaiman; Michael Marshall; Smith; Joe R. Lansdale; Walter Mosley; Richard Adams; Jodi Picoult; Michael Swanwick; Peter Straub; Lawrence Block; Jeffrey Ford; Chuck Palahniuk; Diana Wynne Jones; Stewart O’Nan; Gene Wolfe; Carolyn Parkhurst; Kat Howard; Jonathan Carroll; Jeffrey Deaver; Tim Powers; Al Sarrantonio; Kurt Andersen; Michael Moorcock; Elizabeth Hand; Joe Hill

I've seen quite a few things I'd like to point my eyeballs at lately but this one really appeals. I'm a fan of Neil Gaiman's work in general and I'm hugely into short fiction and anthologies so this just has 'buy me' written all over it.

The always readable Speculative Scotsman has a great review of it over at his blog which has only served to further whet my appetite, so I'll hopefully grab a copy at some point. I see it's also coming out as ebook and audiobook but as much as a I love audiobooks the hardback looks lovely so I may grab that for a spot on my shelves.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

News:// Free Doctor Who Game From the BBC - City of the Daleks

OK so maybe starting a new blog the week my baby daughter decides to develop a habit of screaming all day with trapped wind probably wasn't the best idea. Typing is pretty hard whilst holding a writhing, yelling infant most of the day but she appears to have worn herself out, providing me with a couple of hours of peace. So what to do...apart from posting here? Well I was about to pick up a book when I remembered seeing an advert for the Doctor Who games, so I checked the BBC website and it appears the first episode has finally launched.

The BBC had mentioned releasing a set of free game episodes based on Doctor Who quite a while ago so I'd been keeping an eye out for them. I've only had a very quick play and they seem like a lot of fun for what is a free game, certainly better than most game give-aways and compared to other Doctor Who games, well are there any?

I have a soft spot for Doctor Who, it's silly, it makes almost no sense if you even scratch the surface of the plots but it's fun and so very British and I love it. So I'm off to play a bit more while I can.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Read:// The Lord of the Sands of Time by Issui Ogawa

I'm always interested in how other cultures and countries approach genre fiction so I was very interested when the imprint Haikasoru was launched with the plan to bring translations of Japanese science fiction to us barbarians in the West. Time and money has led to me only recently picking up a few of these books at lower prices and from my rather impressively stocked local library.

So how does science fiction in Japan differ from that in the UK? Well not much really it turns out, apart from maybe some of the tropes you may have seen in anime turning up it's all quite familiar feeling, though that's no bad thing. I guess I'm just still searching for stories that have ideas I've never come across before, or ways of tackling them that are very different.

This could also be a result of the quality of the translations, which without being able to read the originals appear to be excellent. I don't know how insanely difficult it is to translate a Japanese science fiction novel into English and still have it readable but I'm going to go with quite insanely difficult at a guess.

Anyway I'm not going to write long reviews in these "Read://" posts, I'm keeping them for quick notes on things I've read recently, plus any other comments like those above.

Sixty-two years after human life on Earth was annihilated by rampaging alien invaders, the enigmatic Messenger O is sent back in time with a mission to unite humanity of past eras--during the Second World War, in ancient Japan, and at the dawn of humanity--to defeat the invasion before it begins. However, in a future shredded by love and genocide, love waits for O. Will O save humanity only to doom himself?
It's a fun book if you can ignore the inconsistencies with the time travel that takes place.

It goes with the idea that changes in the past create brand new timelines and thus Messenger O is not fighting for the people he left behind but the people in timelines he is creating. This idea also means that O can never return to the people he left including his love. That loss plus his passion for saving humanity sets him up as a tragic hero just ready for the love interest that was introduced at the beginning of the book in ancient Japan.

The battles are fun, the characters are pretty interesting, and though the book jumps around a little with flash-forwards it's an easy, quick read.


Thursday, 3 June 2010

News:// Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show Subscription Deal

Looks like it's a good week for short fiction, I just had an email from Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show online fiction magazine detailing about the relaunch of the website, which does look improved, plus details of their new subscription deal.

Subscriptions are $15 for a year which gives you six bi-monthly issues but even better gives you access to all sixteen issues which have currently been published. For people who have not bought any issues previously it's a whole lot of short fiction for your money. I'd previously only bought one issue and had been meaning to buy a few more so I'm very happy to grab a subscription.

I've not read many of the stories but from what I have they mostly seem like easy, fun read, which is just what I need at the moment with a new baby and limited concentration. :)

1)  Our web designer worked long and hard to give IGMS a cleaner, sharper look. Navigation around the site will be simpler. With each new issue, the background will change to showcase some aspect of the issue's cover art. Explore it; I think you'll find it an intuitive and pleasantly easy experience.

2)  We now have something available that our readers have been asking for for a long time: an annual subscription. From now on, instead of having to purchase each issue individually, you can buy a year's worth of IGMS at one time and then not have to worry about it again; each issue will be there for you, ready and waiting as soon as it's published. And there's particularly good news (and a good reason to subscribe); the way our new subscription will work, you will not only have access to each new issue as it is published, you will immediately have access to every issue already published. That means that if you missed any of our previous issues, your $15 dollars will gain you access not just to the next six bimonthly issues, but to all sixteen issues already published. And that unrestricted access will last as long as you keep your subscription current. That means for those of you who've only read an issue or two, you'll be getting every story we've ever published for less than a buck an issue. So if you've seen IGMS mentioned in numerous Year's Best anthologies, on Locus's recommended reading list, or on any number of awards ballots, and wondered what the magazine was all about, there's never been a better time to try us out at: www.intergalacticmedicineshow.com or www.oscigms.com.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

News:// New Online Short Fiction Magazine "Lightspeed" Launches

I just checked http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com as there has been a "Coming June 2010" page up for a while now and I was pleasantly surprised to see they have launched on the first day of the month. Just in time for my first real post too.

I love short fiction, I consume large amounts of it. I think it suits the short periods of time I have for reading but more than that I just really get a kick out of the form, it's where the really great ideas seem to crop up. It seems the restricted nature of short stories forces a different kind of storytelling, the author has to hook you quickly with no room for flabby back stories and world building. I imagine it is incredibly difficult to do well but when it is, it's beautiful. I mourned the closure of Borders mostly because it was one of the few places to stock Asmiov's, Analog, F&SF and the wonderful Interzone so I've been reading more and more of the online fiction magazines and it's always great to see a new one, particularly one with such great names attached to it.

John Joseph Adams is editing fiction, he's put out some really great anthologies (maybe a review or two in the future) and also co-hosts the Geeks Guide to the Galaxy podcast which I always enjoy. So I'm looking forward to seeing what stories he runs.

They also have Stefan Rudnicki as Audio editor, one of the best audio book narrators around among the many other things he does so really excited to see what happens with the podcast.
They are releasing one story and one piece of nonfiction from the magazine each week, for free or you can buy the whole thing as an ebook for $2.99. I'll definitely support the venture and buy a copy, if I get a chance to read it I might even report back. :)
Lightspeed is an online magazine focusing exclusively on science fiction. Here you can expect to see all types of science fiction, from near-future, sociological soft sf, to far-future, star-spanning hard sf, and anything and everything in between. No subject will be considered off-limits, and we encourage our writers to take chances with their fiction and push the envelope.
Each month at Lightspeed, we bring you a mix of originals and reprints, and featuring a variety of authors—from the bestsellers and award-winners you already know to the best new voices you haven’t heard of yet. When you read Lightspeed, it is our hope that you’ll see where science fiction comes from, where it is now, and where it’s going.
Lightspeed also features a variety of nonfiction features, fiction podcasts, and Q&As with our authors that go behind-the-scenes of their stories.
Our regular publication schedule each month includes two pieces of original fiction and two fiction reprints, along with four nonfiction articles. Fiction posts on Tuesdays, nonfiction on Thursdays.

Welcome to Dummies and Death Rays

OK Daddy, you can make a Star Wars spaceship with my Lego while I'm out.
That was my four year old daughter Sophie just a few weeks ago.

That's my  two and a half week old daughter Charlotte, lying on me, stopping me from getting any of that precious, sanity saving sleep that I stupidly took for granted just a few weeks ago.

Me? I'm a sci-fi loving stay-at-home-dad fighting a losing battle against the forces of princesses, tea parties and all things pink. Even the cat is a girl.

So here it is...Dummies and Death rays....sci-fi, fantasy and horror filtered through the brain of a sleep deprived homedad who knows more about Disney princesses than a thirty-something man should.

If I get some sleep, it might even all make sense.

Wish me luck,