30 December 2011

Best of 2011

Ok, admittedly there's still 2 days worth of reading left in the year... (well, one and a half) but as discussions seem to be popping up, here are my favourite fictiony goodies of the year...

Short stories first, as I've been going on a bit of a binge this year...

Stand out ones were:
Card Sharp by Rajan Khanna - Way of the Wizard ed. John Joseph Adams
Dancing the Warrior, Pt. 1 & Pt. 2 by Marie Brennan – Beaneath Ceaseless Skies #66 & #67
Daughters of Kali by Neesha Meminger – Expanded Horizons #27
Ghostweight by Yoon Ha Lee – Clarkesworld Magazine #52
Grey Magic for Cat Lovers by Jan Edwards - New Horizons/ BFS Journal (Summer 2011)
Lavender & Lychgates by Angela Slatter - Best New Horror #22
Lessons from a Clockwork Queen by Megan Arkenberg - Fantasy Magazine
The Thief of Precious Things by A. C. Wise - Bewere the Night, ed. Ekaterina Sedia
The Yew’s Embrace by Francesca Forrest - Strange Horizons

But also liked:
Christmas with the Dead by Joe R. Lansdale - Best New Horror #22
Demon Song by A. R. Williams – Heroic Fiction Quarterly #8
The Devil in Gaylord's Creek by Sarah Monette - Fantasy Magazine
The Dog King by Holly Black - Fantasy Magazine
The Fortune-Teller Makes Her Will by Kari Sperring - After Hours: Tales from the Ur-Bar
Lebkuchen by Priya Sharma – Fantasy Magazine
The Lizard Dance by Gio Clairval and Jeff VanderMeer – Fantasy Magazine
Love, Resurrected by Cat Rambo – Beneath Ceaseless Skies #65
The Magick by Kristina C. Mottla - Beneath Ceaseless Skies #78
Objects In Dreams May Be Closer Than They Appear by Lisa Tuttle - House of Fear
Pataki (Part 1)&(Part 2) by Nisi Shawl – Strange Horizons
Perfect Lies by Gwendolyn Clare – Clarkesworld Magazine #54
起狮,行礼 (Rising Lion—The Lion Bows) by Zen Cho – Strange Horizons
Shiny by Rachel Caine - Chicks Kick Butt
Staying Behind by Ken Liu - Clarkesworld #61

Anthologies:
After Hours: Tales from the Ur-Bar – ed. Joshua Palmatier & Patricia Bray
Bewere the Night – ed. Ekaterina Sedia
Chicks Kick Butt - ed. Rachel Caine and Kerrie L. Hughes
Further Conflicts - ed. Ian Whates
House of Fear – ed. Jonathon Oliver
Pandemonium: Stories of the Apocalypse - ed. Anne C. Perry and Jared Shurin
Way of the Wizard ed. John Joseph Adams

Collections:
A Glass of Shadow by Liz Williams
Somewhere Beneath Those Waves by Sarah Monette
The Bone Key by Sarah Monette
Sourdough and Other Stories by Angela Slatter

Magazines that shouldn't be missed:
Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine
Albedo One
Abyss and Apex
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Clarkesworld Magazine
Daily Science Fiction
Expanded Horizons
Fantasy Magazine (merging into Lightspeed in 2012)
Heroic Fantasy Quarterly
Interzone
Lightspeed
Strange Horizons

Novels:
Neon Court – Kate Griffin
Deadline – Mira Grant
Desdaemona – Ben Macallan
Harbinger of the Storm - Aliette de Bodard
The Broken Kingdoms – N. K. Jemisin
One Salt Sea – Seanan McGuire
God's War - Kameron Hurley
Consorts of Heaven - Jaine Fenn
Department 19 - Will Hill
Cyber Circus - Kim Lakin-Smith
The Office of Lost and Found - Vincent Holland-Keen
Songs of the Earth - Elspeth Cooper

22 December 2011

Shiny Shorts: Lavender and Lychgates

Found in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #22 (ed. Stephen Jones), Lavender and Lychgates by Angela Slatter is definitely a story that should be read at least twice to get full appreciation of something that is both moving and creepy.

It tells the story of a girl finding her place in the world, but it also tells the story of the living coming to terms with the dead (and possibly vice versa) and the old trouble that haunts the family.
There's a dead brother and a restless sister, and an ill timed trip giving blood to his grave. There's a fox-woman who's trying to stir up some revenge and a lost woman who's willing to help from the shadows and all told with an evocative fairy tale quality that easily enchants the reader.

The characters are excellent and the family relationships and interactions both completely real and quite appealing. Oh, and there's a street where 'books are born', which is quite possibly the loveliest bit of city-setting I've ever seen. What with the print shops and paper makers and ink makers and bookshops, is it any wonder that our heroine chooses to take up the book-binding trade?

Now if I can just find an e-book version of the Tartarus Press collection Sourdough & Other Stories that this was originally published in, I'd be a very happy bunny indeed.

08 December 2011

Double Dutch

OU goes well. Quite well actually. Got an excellent mark on the last assignment (stunned, shocked, amazed) and so far it's all rather enjoyable, if not easy, then at least logical and full of all those lovely a-ha moments. Which is rather surprising as m'fellow students are of the opinion that this particular module is a bit of a dog. (Mind, I suffered through the compressed archaeology course so after that, anything is light relief...) ;-)

The essays do tend to take up a considerable amount of brainage, however. This month it's all about the European Reformation. (Something I have so far managed to avoid knowing anything about!) And now I totally get all those Spanish Inquisition jokes! And Iconoclasm. And Calvinism. And William of Orange! (And the Grand old Duke of York - but that was last month's bit of the course! Yes, I might have sung a bit when I realised the connection there... History is so cool!)

Have also discovered that I prefer the historian side of things to the archaeologist side of things. (Possibly the aforementioned archaeology course is a bit to blame for that too!) Possibly it's also got to do with the fact that analysing pot sherds and corn husk impressions and wotnot makes me snooze off but give me some juicy text on what people have been doing and I'm so there! Scandals! Shenanigans! Revolutions getting mucked up due to hard-line militancy and lack of funding! But mainly, I think, it's discovering all the connections between everything. Connections and getting to put into context all those vague people and events that get lodged in the brain through other means.

Did I mention History is cool? ;-P

03 December 2011

Fictional Archaeology

I am, it must be said, something of a fan of fictional archaeology. In real life there’s oodles of paperwork, funding issues, and a metric ton of research that needs doing before you even contemplate going anywhere (and even then you risk being pipped to the post by some random metal detectorist having a lucky day); and once you get to your site, you then have to spend months, years, even decades carefully sifting though every minute particle in order to maintain a proper archaeological record of everything. Which is a good thing. Really.

Fictional archaeologists, however, have it much easier.

They often come from a family of archaeologists or similarly talented historians, linguists or adventurers – thus giving them a step up when it comes to knowledge, experience and contacts in the field. Little Lara Croft and Indiana Jones went out in the field with their parents, little Evelyn Carnahan had a childhood steeped in all things Egyptian (and a dad who was on the King Tut tomb expedition), little Nina Wilde, Ben Gates and Daniel Jackson were heavily influenced by their parents occupations.

While real life archaeologists have to have basic knowledge of assorted disciplines, it’s the fictional archaeologist who really takes this to extremes. There’s the acceptable archaeological skills – history, languages and assorted archaeological and scientific techniques, but your fictional archaeologist will be an expert in multiple disciplines: their in-depth knowledge of history covers all periods and includes knowledge of some of the most obscure things in existence, they know how to use and have access to all the latest gadgets to make finding and analysis quicker and easier, and languages? Well, you can guarantee that your fictional archaeologist is going to be a world-class expert in at least one long-forgotten barely-translated dead language and is also fluent in at least a dozen or so other more used ones.

But, fictional archaeologists also have pretty impressive skills in other fields and often have second jobs as international spies or similar. They will have picked up a wide range of combat related skills, extreme sports, computer skills that are just a bit scary; and the fictional archaeologist always has useful friends if they need emergency transport to some out of the way location or a favour pulled in high places.

When it comes to funding, they usually don’t need to worry about grants (unless it’s plot specific) – if they’re not independently wealthy, they get commissioned for their expedition by some wealthy benefactor or government organisation (often mysterious, probably wants to take over the world), or they have the ill-gotten gains of their last big haul to draw on.

They will always be the one to make an amazing breakthrough when it comes to finding the long lost site or artefact of legend. Doesn’t matter how many people have spent their life looking for the aforementioned objects of desire, it’s the fictional archaeologist who’ll get the essential last clue, or put the random pieces together, or just accidentally stumble on it while getting their morning cup of coffee.

They always find what they’re looking for, and it’s always in near-perfect condition. If aboveground, a lost city will have plenty of remaining standing buildings and a secret room somewhere that’s ceiling high in shinies. If underground, the entire complex will be intact with all devices still working hundreds of years past installation (we’d like their builder’s number.) Yes, there will be a few booby traps lying around (there’s always at least one), but your fictional archaeologist will, quite luckily, be the only one who can navigate them safely.

Any guardians, either living or undead, who might have issues with an expedition trundling in and nicking off with their heritage will cease to be a problem once the fictional archaeologist gets talking to them, as, guess what? Turns out your archaeologist is also destined by ancient prophecies (or that handy memento found at another site and worn for luck) to be the saviour of the ancient people/the world/all existence. If this doesn’t work, however, the fictional archaeologist will be the one who can out fight, out think and generally out manoeuvre the protectors who have trained for centuries to do their job.

Some fictional archaeologists work in partnership with museums and other organisations interested in preserving an accurate site or artefact record, but if a site happens to get accidentally totalled in the midst of an expedition, no one is going to make too much noise – especially if the archaeologist comes back with something impressively shiny. After all, it won’t have been the archaeologist’s fault, there’ll have been a crew of naughty tomb raiders, bandits or minions from a secret organisation set on world domination involved somewhere.

And bullet holes in things just add to the mystique. ;-)


(1) Tombraider pic from totalfilm.com
(2) Daniel Jackson pic from danieljackson.ashtonpress.net
(3) Mummy pic from from news.bbc.co.uk
(4) Indiana Jones pic from rottentomatoes.com

27 November 2011

Apocalyptic Week!

This week on Girl's Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse, I've posted five (yes, five!) thingybobs:
For Movie Week there's very short word-burps on 28 Days/Weeks Later and Stonehenge Apocalypse (because, really, SA is such delightful bobbins it has to be mentioned!)
In the Know Your Idols category, I've wittered on about Major Eden Sinclair (of Doomsday fame) and Martha Jones and then there's the next one in the Getting Around series - By Water.

But don't just go for me, the fab Apocalypse Girl collective have posted on a wide variety of movies for our Movie Week, and also new this week are more music and clothes for the apocalypse, useful survival skills, defense against zombies from a proper martial artist, kick-ass mothers, weaving your own rug when resources are low, and, ooh, lots of loveliness!

And we're now on twitter - @ApocalypseGirls - who knew the apocalpse could be so much fun!

11 November 2011

Apocalyptic Fun

So today, spud, I'm on the very awesome Girls' Guide to the Apocalypse blog (go check it out!) talking about how to get around in your post-apocalyptic environment by the cunning use of air travel. (Road, sea and space to follow in later posts!)

If you haven't already discovered the Guide, then you've missed out on a variety of funky tips such as picking your team and knowing your idols, how to pack, what to grow when the world settles down, home defence, what to wear, what to listen to, knowing your enemy, handy crafts... and, ooh, loads more!

Check it out now!

12 October 2011

Fantasycon 2011

Just a little late doing this, but then, all things BFS have been a mite distracting lately...

So, forgetting the furore that has spread around the internetz and back again, how was that there Fcon? Darlings, it was awesome. Totally, absolutely, best Fcon yet. Despite the heatwave. And how weird is that, a Fantasycon in sunny weather? It shouldn't be allowed, really. Fcon is all about the freezing cold and fog drenched landscapes. (And that's just the hotel bedrooms!) ;-)

It was also the highest attended Fcon in recorded history, with somewhere between 530 - 560 people bravely trying to find their way through the maze that was the Royal Albion's lower reaches. But despite the mass amount of people stuffed into rooms with no air-con, there was an amazing vibe to the whole weekend. (And I got to be an official Red-Shirt this year! Woohoo! Red-Shirts Rock!)

Didn't actually get to see much, what with the Registration Desk duties but what I did see was worth it. The previously posted about Louise Morgan reading was fab (Blood and Feathers, buy the book next year!) - and Lou has a talent for performance that made it a fun reading. The Jo Fletcher Books launch was jam packed - wall to wall people, so not for the claustrophobic. (And Fcon attendees got all sorts of JFB free goodies. Swag, darlings, swag!)

Was dead on my feet early Saturday night so didn't make it to the disco - apparently it was a good one. Also apparently, the blackmail pictures are circling...

Here's hoping next year is just as good.

25 September 2011

Fcon countdown!

Exxxxxxxxcellent, Smithers! The Fantasycon programme grid is now up on the website here! Gosh, is that packed or what! Is it me, or are there more parties and readings than ever before? And a disco! And burlesque! And masterclasses!
(And I'm on registration during the Friday & Saturday daytime hours so I'll just gaze wistfully as you all wander past to heckle the panels!)

Friday night, though, peeps of unerring good taste must wander over to Louise Morgan's reading (and make a note to get her book Blood and Feathers when it comes out from Solaris next year - because it is teh awesome!)

22 September 2011

Alice in Zombieland

So over on Floor to Ceiling Books is my rambling post on the awesomeness that is Alice from the Resident Evil movies. Go see! ;-P

21 September 2011

Resident Evil Rewatch

So, very recently I opened wide my gob and promised the fabulous Amanda Rutter of Floor to Ceiling Books a guest blog post on Alice from Resident Evil. (Which will be online tomorrow. Oo-er!) Now the Resident Evil films may have their flaws but I unashamedly love them anyway – and of all the films in the series, the first one remains my favourite. The Alice/Rain double act is a joy to behold, the visuals are glorious and it's extremely quotable.

But good lord, is it a tease with the set up. I was watching it for the seventy squillionth time the other day and after the verrrrry slow sequence of dude in the haz-mat suit playing with twisty test tubes (and what is it with the twisty test tubes? How is that a sensible design feature?) realised it's thirty seven minutes until you get some actual zombie action! (But then I have the patience of someone with not very much patience so those thirty seven minutes were looooong ones.)

My brain went a little something like this:

00:03:55 - Uh oh, it’s fire drill time. Counting down to total carnage…

00:05:40 – Aaaaand this is why the lifts in convention hotels make me nervous.

00:06:25 – Woah, wait, how is this is the first time I’ve noticed how very identical the suits are that the office drones are wearing. Say bye bye, office drones.

00:07:30 – Nooooooo, silly woman, don’t try and squeeze out of the lift! And, seriously, how on earth do you think you’re getting through that teeny tiny hole anyway? Behave.

00:08:09 – Splat! I'm so not going near the Fcon lifts.

00:08:12 - Enter Leeloo Multipass! In the obligatory nekkid Milla shot.

00:10:30 – Don’t mess with the Milla, she keeps guns in her undie drawer.

00:11:35 - Eeep. There is a Weeping Angel under that there plastic. Do not blink!

00:12:55 - Finally, some excitement! SWAT is in da house!

00:14:40 – Yay, it’s the train from the games! Have to say, one of the things I do love about this film (and something that wasn’t quite followed up so much in the later films) is all the video game elements. The computer vision and map segments are particularly good touches, and the disappearing bodies, while possibly a smidge illogical in places, are a great nod to the magically disappearing corpses in the games.

00:19:30 – Infodump time! With handy computer graphics. Everything is fake and classified, just so you know.

00:22:18 - Okay, that whole underground aboveground office view with bonus traffic noise thing is just disturbing.

00:24:16 – Mermaid! Undead mermaid! Undead mermaid in a lab coat!

(1)

00:29:35 - Uh oh, the Corridor of Doom! Do not enter the Corridor of Doom. No matter how shiny it looks. And especially do not enter it when you’ve just said how you’re going to fry the crazy AI at the other end of it.

00:32:00 - Colin Salmon is such a badass. (Alas, he is now a cubed badass.)



00:35:15 - ‘You’re all going to die down here.’ Love that line!

Plot hole, though. So, there you are, able to actually ask the crazy AI why she killed off a whole facility full of people and at this point, not one person asks the question? Or attempts to get any information about the incident out of her at all? Hello? Anyone? (Also, calling the Red Queen a crazy AI does, technically, do her a bit of a disservice as the whole facility lock down thing was perfectly logical given the insane communicability of the T-virus. Though she can totally put the crazy pants back on later when she unleashes the Licker…)

00:37:35 - Fiiiiiiinally, some zombie action!


00:38:45 ‘We found a survivor.’ ‘And you shot him?’ Hah!

00:40:00 - Bring on the zombie hoards!

00:46:55 - And this is why I hate dogs - I remain secretly convinced that behind every fluffy puppy is one of these waiting to rip your throat out. Now if I could just learn to do that very awesome running up a wall kick move…



00:56:00 – Annnnnnd, finally they start asking the very sensible questions…

00:59:50 - Alice kicks ass, as only Alice can.

01:02:00 – Pipe walking over the zombie hoards. See, this? Is exactly what you need during a zombie apocalypse. Stay above them! (Unless there's a Licker nearby, then you're screwed.)

01:06:18 – ‘When I get out of here, I think I’m gonna get laid.’ ‘Yeah. You might wanna clean up a little bit first.’ Hah!

01:10:30 – And this is why you never put your gun down on random tables…

01:12:01 – And this is why you shouldn’t indulge in evil overlord monologues…

01:14:12 – The Red Queen’s been a bad, bad girl. And has now got her crazy pants well and truly on. (And, incidentally, is it me or does Spence look just a little too professional at the shooting up thing. Umbrella are really not doing their background checks are they?)



01:18:18 - And is there any logical reason why you would have a bunch of random metal poles just hanging from the middle of your cargo train? Really? (Apart from the obvious monster killing usage?)

01:20:54 – ‘I’m not dead yet.’ (Alas, poor Rain, don't speak too soon...)

01:25:34 – They’re coming to take you away… (eeew, tentacle arm!)

01:28:24 - Luckily being head of security for the Hive means knowing how to disable the very expensive high tech locks with only a medical needle thingy. (While wearing only two bits of strategically placed paper held together with string.)

01:29:15 – And yet, somehow, that very empty hospital hallway is even creepier than if it had been filled with bodies…

01:29:43 - Okay, I do get the sly reference, but seriously though, when, during their zombie apocalypse, did they have time to put out a newspaper detailing it? Would they not have been a bit busy with the whole screaming in terror and eating of brainzzzzz?

Ah logic, we knew you not. Never mind, in the next one there's more ass-kicking, the legendary (oh yes it is) motorbike scene and the delectable Oded Fehr...


(1) Pic from http://www.cinemorgue.com/annabolt.html

10 September 2011

Academic Jollies

So, it being September (it's September! So soon!) means that the next batch of OU courses are kicking in. Woohoo! Was initially a little worried about being able to do stuff, what with the insane price rises due to bastard!government!practices! but, luckily, the OU is keeping prices stable for peeps already in the midst of studying degrees. (Newbies, however, are totally buggered. Unless they happen to have a won a lottery or two.)

Anyhoo, this still-friendly pricing means I can happily continue on with the next course in the History BA - Exploring History: Medieval to Modern. Not my favourite era as I'm more an ancient history kinda gal, but on the plus side, shiny new information! (And a scary exam in June! Arrrgh! Must refine my (lack of) revision skills!)

Plus, just for fun, there's the short science courses. Given that I hated science at school this is probably a slightly twisted definition of fun. (Also I'd quite like to write some decent SF one day so a basic understanding of that there science thing might be helpful...)

So, right now I'm doing a shortie Human Nutrition course (and getting a crash course in the chemical composition of stuff) which is actually quite fascinating and fodder for dropping all kinds of 'and did you know' into random conversations with the parentals. (They did not, in fact, know, and are also quite fascinated. Which is nice.)

Then once the scary history exam is done and my brain's clear from nasty revision stuff, there's a couple of environmental science shorties I can squeeze in for doing over the summer break. I say couple, but actually there's four I've got my eye on but what gets done will depend on finances at the time.

Then come next September it's the Empire history course with a couple more shortie science courses and possibly the shortie Welsh history course fitted around it. Then 2013... (yes, I have planned that far ahead. That I've got a spreadsheet going to do so will surprise no-one I know.) ... 2013 will be From Enlightenment to Romanticism, with more shortie science things. Then after that, all I need to finish the degree will be Myth in the Greek & Roman worlds and Exploring the Classical World. (More scary exams! Double argh!)

Fun times!

05 August 2011

Shiny Shorts: The Thief of Precious Things

The Thief of Precious Things by A.C. Wise

"The world has been still too long, crows above, foxes below, and men somewhere in between."

There is a glass tower in the city, a place where the humans congregate and work on secret things, but fox-girls have a habit of getting into secret things - especially when there's Crow Lords to get the better of.

There is a fox-girl who dared what her sisters wouldn't and had her name stolen from her. She breached the tower but those memories, too, have escaped her and now what she found and what she stole is wanted by humans and Crow Lords alike.

There are a man and a woman whose goodwill and need for peace get them tangled up in trickster games, and when you play with tricksters, change is inevitable.

I'll confess, I have a thing for trickster tales and this one is a rather glorious example. It's about freedom and becoming something else and shaking the world up when its gotten stuck in a rut. This latter can be seen particularly by the division between the two trickster races - the brotherhood of Crow Lords get authority (and capitalisation) while the sisterhood of fox-girls have submission as one of their recognisable natural attributes; a display of extremes that illustrates the need for something a little more balanced if things are to move forward.

Our fox-girl protag makes for a heroine who is both charming and daring, as she gets herself into trouble then finangles her way out of it and the changes wrought in her wake promise interesting times ahead. While the Crow Lords are identikit ciphers, the human support, Yuki and Ani, have character enough to make you care about their divergent needs and fates.

Thief is set in a post-apocalyptic world but it has the kind of enchanting storytelling that can be found in the best Charles de Lint. Definitely a world to which the author should return to as I'd love to read more stories set here. All in all, a fantastic tale.


Found in Bewere the Night, ed. Ekaterina Sedia
Published in April 2011 by Prime books, $14.95 (or thereabouts) from assorted retailers.
More about A.C. Wise here.

31 July 2011

30 Days of Genre - Masterlist!

Alrighty then, so that was the 30 Days of Genre!

Started by Bibliotropic and picked up by such funky peeps as Floor to Ceiling Books, The Erudite Ogre, A Fantastical Librarian and SMZb (go check out their answers!) - here's the 30 Days (and then some) that was:

Questions:

Day 1 – Very first genre novel.
Day 2 – Your favourite character.
Day 3 – A genre novel that is underrated.
Day 4 – Your guilty pleasure book.
Day 5 – Character you feel you are most like (or wish you were).
Day 6 – Most annoying character.
Day 7 – Favourite couple in a genre novel.
Day 8 – Best fan soundtrack.
Day 9 – Saddest scene in a genre novel.
Day 10 – Best writing style, or the style that resonates most with you.
Day 11 – Favourite genre series
Day 12 – A genre novel everyone should read.
Day 13 – A genre novel you’ve read more than five times.
Day 14 – Favourite book trailer from a genre novel.
Day 15 – The cover from your current (or most recent) genre read.
Day 16 – Genre novel with the most intriguing plot
Day 17 – Favourite antagonist.
Day 18 – Favourite protagonist.
Day 19 – World/setting you wish you lived in
Day 20 – Favourite genre.
Day 21 – Genre novel with the most interesting character interactions
Day 22 – A sequel which disappointed you.
Day 23 – Genre novel you haven't read, but wish you had
Day 24 – Favourite classic genre novel.
Day 25 – A genre novel you plan on reading soon.
Day 26 – Best hero.
Day 27 – Most epic scene ever.
Day 28 – Favourite publisher of genre novels.
Day 29 – A genre novel you thought you wouldn’t like, but ended up loving.
Day 30 – Your favourite genre novel of all time.

30 July 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 30

Day 30 – Your favourite genre novel of all time.

Charles de Lint - Spirit Walk.



My first De Lint, and a rather lovely one to be getting going with. There's something very appealing about Tamson House with it's eclectic community of people and the close merging with the spirit world. I love the mixture of Celtic and Native American mythology that gets woven in, the characters are lovely - particularly Esmeralda Foylan and Whiskey Jack - and there's just so many beautiful elements to it that taken as a whole it becomes this enchanting patchwork story that hits something deep.

29 July 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 29

Day 29 – A genre novel you thought you wouldn’t like, but ended up loving.

Hannu Rajaniemi - The Quantum Thief



It's hard SF. I don't do hard SF. And yet... I landed a copy that had to be read for BFS purposes, so, I read it expecting not to understand word one... but, actually, it's quite an easy read. It's got an excellently conceived world, with some fab character interactions. The detective story elements hang together beautifully, it's brain twisting and has a thoroughly enthralling story. And, just generally, it's bloody fantastic.

28 July 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 28

Day 28 – Favourite publisher of genre novels.

Ooh, there's a dangerous question! Gotta be a flip between Orbit and Angry Robot who both have a knack of picking up some excellent authors and make their lovelies available on Kindle. That last is now a very important factor in my book buying decisions and publishers as I'll hesitate over physical copies of books but show me a nicely priced e-book (of any format) and I'm in there.

So - Orbit - manage to come out with scads loads of cool series ranging from the urban fantasy to trad fantasy stuff to funky space sci-fi/space opera - their books tend to make for great comfort reading and there's so many of them! Meanwhile, Angry Robot is just plain fun and have a knack for putting out all kinds of the off-the-wall stuff.

27 July 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 27

Day 27 – Most epic scene ever.

How do you judge epic, anyway? Do you go for the wide sweeping epicness such as, well, pretty much the whole of David Gemmell's Legend. (Which is the cheat's way of saying that I can't find my copy to pinpoint a particular scene, but I do distinctly remember that there was plenty to be found in the epic scene department.)

Or do you go for the 'OMG, that was so epically cool' aspect? Because in that case it would be that scene in Deadline, which I'm not going to spoil, but if you've read it, you know the one I mean. Chapter 27. The Coda. It's short and a total gut punch, coming, as it does, after the characters had been adjusting to the world as it was, and then, everything changes... (Damn you, Mira Grant!)

26 July 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 26

Day 26 – Best Hero

Crumbs. Tricky one. So, the definition of a hero, as splattered about in multiple places (the definition, not the hero, that is), is that your hero is a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for their brave deeds and noble qualities.

Noble qualities then. Yeah, this is going to cause problems. Noble qualities tend to bore me. Scoundrels are more fun. Like the Marquis de Carabas in Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. Noble in title, perhaps, definitely distinguished in ability, but you wouldn't call him a hero or admired for brave deeds. (Although Paterson Josef could totally make you believe otherwise. ;-) )

I guess Jack Churchill from Mark Chadbourn's Age of Misrule books could technically count - except for the whole finding him an extremely irritating character thing. Although this affliction didn't manifest until the later Kingdom of the Serpent trilogy so taking him just on Misrule, he could just slide in.

Livak from Juliet McKenna's Tales of Einarinn? Not noble, but definitely courageous and admired for her ability and brave deeds. Yep. She's definitely a hero. And I think we have a winner!

16 July 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 25

Day 25 – A genre novel you plan on reading soon

Leaving aside the very many books I have to read for assorted BFS purposes... the next up on the TBR pile are:

Aliette de Bodard - Harbinger of the Storm




Kameron Hurley - God's War



Terry Pratchett - I Shall Wear Midnight



Jaine Fenn - Consorts of Heaven





Marianne de Pierres - Nylon Angel



Lauren Beukes - Zoo City

15 July 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 24

Day 24 – Favourite classic genre novel



Hmm, I think it would have to be The Hobbit. It had something of a lasting effect on my childhood. I first encountered it at primary school when we had it read to us by a teacher whose name I have, alas, forgotten. But he did all the voices and so I can't read gollum and the trolls without hearing his version of them.

And the songs! As a wee lass I loved the songs in the book to the extent where I'd make up tunes for them and go around the house singing them. And then when we got a computer program that could read out the written text... well, that was hours of fun typing them in then changing the spelling to get the right inflections.

Ooh, and translating the runes at the front was also a favourite thing. Once I'd worked out the alphabet (and was very proud at having cracked it) I spent an entire summer writing secret things in runes. (It is quite possible that The Hobbit is responsible for turning me into a huge nerd!)

And that's before you get to the riddles and the map (maps in books was a new thing for me then) and the dragon and the sneaking around invisible and the spiders in the forest... and I went through two copies of the book before I ever got near The Lord of the Rings.

12 July 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 23

Day 23 – Genre novel you haven't read, but wish you had



Lud in the Mist by Hope Mirrlees. It's on my shelf looking at me, last time I tried it I got as far as one page then got distracted... (This happens a lot with the more classic genre books... I have a tendency to total focus!fail!)

11 July 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 22

Day 22 – A sequel which disappointed you.

Can we make it plural, because then I can go for the easy answer and pick the later Anita Blakes. Pr0nification ahoy!

Not that the earlier Anita Blakes didn't have flaws - the obsessional description of clothing and hair being one of the major irritants, but at least there was a plot somwhere in there. And then... then came the ardeur, and the long haired groupies and the power ups and the orgies that led to more power ups until any decent plot was relegated to the epilogue.

Which is shame, because initially there was potential for some interesting stories in the Blake-world. There was the balance of assorted preternatural group politics and how an out-ed spook world mixes with regular human types. There was the potential interference from the black ops groups, the potential of lots of lovely conflict as assorted law organisations dealt with new kinds of perps, and yet... orgies. And power ups. Such a waste.

06 July 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 21

Day 21 – Genre novel with the most interesting character interactions

Had been having trouble deciding on this one - then I read the very excellent Desdaemona by Ben Macallan (which, if you haven't read it yet, do so, pronto!) - so, answer sorted!

The main interactions being between lead chap Jordan and the titular character Desdaemona - deliciously argumentative and snarky, with some growing affection and nifty surprises thrown in for good measure. Also worthy of note are the interactions between Jordan and his brother Asher, and then the trio together, being pure gold. Could have happily read more of them.

28 June 2011

BFS awards shortlist

So then, the BFS awards shortlist has now been published here. Which is nice. Bit of an odd mix this year and first impressions are: um, hello, can we have some more women on the shortlist sometime soon? Ta. Also, good grief, look at all that horror. Wasn't there some fantasy and SF on the long list? I'm sure there was somewhere. (Alas, can not find a link to it to check as the only link I could find led to the longlist voting form - which has, of course, been taken down...)

::headdesks:: at the amount of horror. Not that there's anything wrong with horror but this being the British *Fantasy* Society you'd think there'd be enough members voting for fantasy stuff to get at least one or two more things up there...

Whinging aside - very pleased to see that Strange Horizons made the shortlist in Best Magazine. And m'friend Jan E. has made it to the Best Short Story shortlist (she was stunned and amazed and is currently incoherent!)

So women visibility count - (which I'm fairly certain Juliet McKenna has also mentioned somewhere...)

Best Novel: 5 noms, Sam Stone (for Demon Dance) is the only female author
Best Novella: 5 noms, no women
Best Short Story: 5 noms, 2 female authors (Jan Edwards with Otterburn, Sam Stone with Fool's Gold)
Best Collection: 5 noms, no women
Best Anthology: 5 noms, 1 women co-editor (Allyson Bird with Never Again)
Best Non-Fiction: 5 noms, no women
Best Artist: 5 noms, no women
Best Small Press: 5 noms, no female editors/publishers
Best Magazine: 5 noms, 1 female editor! (Susan Marie Groppi for Strange Horizons. Woohoo!)
Best Graphic Novel: 5 noms, no women as primary creators

::headdesks again::

Having said that, though, the list for Best Newcomer is happily nice and diverse. Without naming names, as we apparently don't do that... noms from the BFS/Fcon membership = 14 authors. Of which, 7 are female! (I swear I'm not making this up!) We also have an interesting balance between fantasy, SF & horror (F: 8, SF: 2, H: 4) covering both small press (2) and big press (12), with both adult (10) & YA (4) books. 4 authors are PoC. Now m'fellow judges just have to finish reading them all... ;-P

(For comparison, last year there were 5 noms for Best Newcomer, of which: 3 female authors/2 male authors; 2 fantasy, 2 SF, 1 horror; 4 big press, 1 small press; all adult; 1 PoC)

25 June 2011

Deadline

Ooh, hey, and my proper review of Mira Grant's Deadline is up on the BFS website. Awesome-cakes!

24 June 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 20

Day 20 – Favourite genre.

Definitely urban fantasy, no question. Though I'm not so keen on the ones with too many romantical bits (mushy stuff, ick!) I've a definite fondness for the genre, uh, generally.

Mostly, I like that UFs have myths and magic bleeding into the contemporary world, bonus points if the characters are dropping pop culture references while they kick naughty spook ass. (Why yes, I'm a Buffy/Supernatural fan. How did you guess! ;-P)

I mean, secondary world fantasies are fun and all, but an UF makes you feel like the cool weird stuff is hiding just out of sight in the world we actually live in. I like that. (And when the borders between worlds open up and let loose the freaky creatures, the UF fans will be completely prepared! ;-P)

And I love the high proportion of dynamic female protags to be found in UFs. Not just the obvious ass-kickers that you get from folks like Lilith Saintcrow, Patricia Briggs or Jennifer Rardin; but also, for example, Charles de Lint heroines who come from all walks of life with a whole range of different personalities and non-combat skill sets and still manage to rise above whatever plot related shenanigans are happening.

23 June 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 19

Day 19 – World/setting you wish you lived in.

Well now, here's the thing... while there are many cool fantasy-lands, I have to confess to a liking for decent indoor plumbing and the internet - and I prefer my magic out in the contemporary world - it's more fun that way. So, first pick would have to be one of the urban fantasy ones. Maybe Charles De Lint's Newford, or Seanan McGuire's Toby Daye 'verse or Kate Griffin's Matthew Swift 'verse...

Though having said that... there is something very appealing about a SF-nal 'verse. Something with space ships with FTL or similar drives, plus teeny tiny human-computer interfaces. Maybe the Elizabeth Moon Serrano/Vatta book-verses. Or the Marianne de Pierres Sentients of Orion 'verse.

22 June 2011

Mammoth Dracula!

Why, hello there, I appear to have committed review!

Mammoth Book of Dracula, on the BFS site right here!

Plus my review of M.D. Lachlan's Wolfsangel will be appearing in the Summer BFS Journal, due out in the next week or two...

30 Days of Genre - Day 18

Day 18 – Favourite protagonist.

Ooh, this is a tricky one. No one character immediately jumps out as absolute favourite so... contenders:

Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden. He has a talking skull for a friend, he animated a dinosaur skeleton and rode it into battle, he has an army of pizza loving faeries at his command and despite being surrounded by powerful enemies always manages to cludge together something to save the day. Except the leching over the nubile apprentice gets a tad squicky... so not a runaway win there.

Kate Elliott's Marit, from Shadow Gate (book 2 of the Crossroads trilogy)
Because being assassinated hasn't stopped her getting up and kicking ass. (Erm, does that count as a spoiler?)

Mirabel Stonefist from Elizabeth Moon's stories of the Ladies Aid & Armor Society (as found in assorted Chicks anthologies) - because she's a fun warrior lady.

Terry Pratchett's Granny Weatherwax (for all the reasons mentioned in the Favourite Character post)

Stephen Hunt's Amelia Harsh - a tomb raider done steampunk style! So soooo awesome!

16 June 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 17

Annnnd, we're back again...

So - Day 17 - Favourite antagonist

Gotta be Pratchett's Lord Havelock Vetinari, whose machinations shape an entire city.



Although, I'm not sure he technically counts as an antagonist, because, yes, he constantly challenges assorted protagonists and he is considered the primary threat in Ankh Morpork, but, ultimately, his deeds stablise the city and give positive opportunities to assorted characters.

Nevertheless, this is a man so terrifying that the mere sight of him was enough to make a previous patrician die of fright and, let's face it, the guy's a sneaky genius, and, just, well, quite cool!

15 June 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 16

Oops, that was a bit of a break... where were we then...?

Day 16! Genre novel with the most intriguing plot.

Well it's deffo going to have to be Mira Grant but will it be Feed or Deadline? Oh, definitely Deadline.



Great mother of pumpkins, people, Deadline! And I can't even tell you why it's an intriguing plot without giving away the jawdropping revelations that pop up.

So, generally speaking, what you have is a glorious post-zombie-apocalypse world where your average peeps are co-existing with the shambling undead. Who, as I recall, get smarter the more of them in a swarm. (The undead, that is, not the average peeps, who one might imagine go the other way when in crowds...) There's plenty of mad science and even madder scientists. There's blogger and other online writer types as the heroes who have to navigate their way through increasing peril and crazed conspiracies. There's the persistent threat of the mutating virus that has more to it than previously thought, there's the dodgy genetic engineering and the clones and...and... mad science, people, mad science!

And dear god that ending. It is lethal. Lethal, I tell you. And reading the preview of the next book is even worse because it's going to be soooooo long until it's out in May 2012.

28 April 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 15

Day 15 – The cover from your current (or most recent) genre read.



Just reviewed this for the BFS - fun book, utterly brutal with some truly jaw dropping plot developments. Plus bonus vikings! Wolfmen! Bonkers gods!

27 April 2011

30 Days of Genre - Days 13/14

Yep, it's a twofer, given that I forgot again yesterday... (am having a totally braindead week this week...)

Sooooo....

Day 13 – A genre novel you’ve read more than five times.

Stephen King. My ultimate comfort reading. IT probably takes the prize as most read as I'm on my third (very ratty) copy, but The Stand is another favourite (at least, up until it gets all over religious towards the end. Apocalypse hijinx!). Also various of the early short story collections. And bonus points because once you read the Dark Tower books you keep seeing all the connections between all the rest, which makes you go back and re-read again. Which is fun.

A similar thing happens with Charles De Lint. The Newford books have an excellent criss-crossing of characters so you'll get a walk on in one book becoming the lead in another. I think, on reflection, that Someplace to be Flying (crow girls!) would be one of my most read. Also Spiritwalk (my first De Lint!), and, again, like with King, the short story collections get more rereading than the novels do.

There is also the legendary Lord of the Rings. It has to be done at least once a year (although I don't re-read the Hobbit quite as much and have only touched the Silmarillion once.) I find I skip different bits on each reading, though. Currently, I can not being doing with the interminable Frodo angsting (the movies have ruined me...) and so I tend to give more attention to the rest of the Fellowship shenanigans; while in earlier times it was the other way around.

And as I tend to re-read collections and anthologies more than novels, Esther Friesner's Chicks in Chainmail anthologies are a definite favourite. Comic fantasy full of excellent action heroines - what's not to love?

Day 14 – Favourite book trailer from a genre novel.

No idea. Have to confess to not completely getting the big deal with book trailers - I get sold on books by either reading the reviews of and/or articles/interviews by the author, or listening to the author at a convention. Actually, especially that last one. Authors at conventions tend to make me immediately pick up at least one of their books, even if I'd only vaguely heard of them before and never gotten around to searching out titles. Especially if they give good panel.

25 April 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 12

Day 12 – A genre novel everyone should read.

Eaaaaaaasy. Kari Sperring's Living with Ghosts. It is brilliant! Swashbuckling ghostie adventures wrapped up in beaaauutiful language. Soooo much love. :-)

30 Days of Genre - Day 11

Argh. Forgot this yesterday!

Day 11 – Favourite genre series

This is a tricky one - just one? Insanity! Lillith Saintcrow's Jill Kismet books? Jim Hines' Princess books? Jim Butcher's Dresden Files? Seanan McGuire's Toby Daye books? Jo Graham's Numinous World books?
All told, though, this week I'll go for Kate Griffin's Matthew Swift series. Excellent stories, fabulously told and it even manages to make London and surrounding boroughs sound interesting. (Look, I get that people love London, really, but I'd quite like to read UK urban fantasy that is set somewhere else please... ta!)

23 April 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 10

Day 10 – Best writing style, or the style that resonates most with you.

Oh good, an easy one! While Charles de Lint writes the stories I most like to read and Kate Griffin has that wicked combo of action prose done with some fantastic quirky stylistic choices and excellent turns of phrase; it is a truth universally acknowledged that the absolute lord high king and emperor of gorgeous prose has to be: Chaz Brenchley/Daniel Fox/(and possibly even Ben Macallan!)

The man delivers the most beautiful writing you'll ever read -lyrical, fabulous, and utterly enchanting, all of which subtly entangles you in the story he's telling. Read Daniel Fox's Moshui books (with their very beautiful covers), read the Selling Water by the River books, read the Outremers. Hell, read everything, you won't be disappointed.

22 April 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 9

Day 9 – Saddest scene in a genre novel.

Ooh, tricky one. Especially since I've got the emotional depth of a puddle in a drought. And the memory of a leaky sieve.

One that springs to mind is the gut punch that is Gage's death in Stephen King's Pet Sematary (and if I could find my copy I'd be able to go into more detail on the why. (Alas, the great house tidy has mysteriously vanished many things...) That whole damn book creeps me out, but Gage's death comes out of nowhere and is utterly tragic.

And, actually, now I think about it, there's a similar such saddest scene in Chaz Brenchley's Shelter (which I also can't find...) - as I recall, there's a particular scene near the end that is all the more wrenching by the fact that when you're reading it, you're absolutely certain there's no way he's not going to deliver the predictable happy ending. And yet... I do recall having to flip back and re-read it a couple of times to check, that, yes, actually, he really did let that happen...

21 April 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 8

Odd one today...

Day 8 – Best fan soundtrack.
I have no idea what this even means. (Goes to consult the multi-faceted wisdom of teh internetz... internetz suggests it's something to do with applying songs to characters or something? I dunno. I'm making up my own interpretation...)

So. Music. Books. Don't know about best fan soundtrack, but there are certain books I can't read without instantly hearing the albums I was listening to at the time. Stephen King's Pet Semetary & The Shining, f'rinstance, will always and forever have Roxette's 'Look Sharp' album playing in my head. And the first three Terry Brooks Shannara books are doomed to be intermingled with the strains of Enya's 'The Celts' album. (I was 14, what can I say!)

20 April 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 7

Day 7 – Favourite couple in a genre novel.

Hawk and Fisher! How is this even a question? Found in the Hawk and Fisher & Forest Kingdom series by Simon R. Green; she's the princess who was sent to be a sacrifice to a dragon, he's the younger prince who was sent to slay it. Only, turns out the dragon is the one who needs rescuing from her. And when they're done with the whole save the kingdom from terrrrrible peril thing, they throw in the royalty business in favour of wandering off, changing their names and becoming cops in a far off city. Much hijinx ensue.

And as a couple, they rock. They have an excellent relationship that, as written, shows them as absolute equal partners who trust each other implicitly while they get on and do much heroic stuff. And the witty banter is just an extra bonus.

19 April 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 6

Rant time! Because Day 6 is:
Most annoying character.

There is no doubt in mind who my most annoying character is - characters, plural, actually: Ruth Gallagher and Jack Churchill from the Age of Misrule/Dark Age/Kingdom of the Serpent trilogies by Mark Chadbourn.

They shouldn't be annoying. I mean, Church is an archaeologist who becomes a Destined!Champion! and Ruth starts out being pretty cool what with the solicitor becoming a witch thing. And in the first trilogy they take up Legendary!Weapons! and save the world (kinda). That their supposedly epic romance was just silly and over done was a minor annoyance, the fact that the Romance!Of!Doom! sucked in Laura (a much more kick-ass female character than Ruth, thankyekindly) and Ryan (secrets!mysteries!) was a tad more annoying. Luckily Shavi managed to dodge the Love!Triangle! and retain full-on awesomeness.

Then we got the middle trilogy which focused on a whole new set of destined heroes (who inherited the roles from the first five, who were the latest in a line of fives...)

And then... oh, then was the last trilogy where everyone gets dragged back together for the mother of all apocalyptic battles across different times and otherworldly dimensions... and yet... Ruth and Church... dear god but suddenly they were overly whiny, overbearing and sanctimonious and every moment they were on the page was a moment I wanted to skip to get to the better characters. Maybe I'm not buying Church as the big hero he was supposed to be by the end, maybe Ruth was acting far too passive for the super!witch! she was supposed to have evolved into... or possibly it was too much being told that their Romance! Was! Epic! I don't know, I just know that by the last trilogy my hatred for them as characters reached irrational proportions. (And someday I'm going to have to attempt a re-read just to see if time makes them any better...)

If you're playing along, don't forget to check out the other peeps of Day 6:
Floor to Ceiling Books
A Fantastical Librarian
Bibliotropic
SMZb
The Erudite Ogre (Day 6 not up at time of blogging!)

18 April 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 5

Coo, day 5 already!

Day 5 – Character you feel you are most like (or wish you were).

We'll go with wish you were like, and the fact that I'm picking Lara Croft will come as no surprise to anybody (points to userpic).

Because, c'mon, who wouldn't. Genius archaeologist who gets to adventure around the world, finding lost sites and mysterious treasures (and we'll ignore that whole wanton destruction of aforementioned sites of important archaeological interest...) beating up bad guys while in possession of cool gadgets and, hey, the outfits aren't bad either!

17 April 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 4

Annnnd today:
Day 4 – Your guilty pleasure book.

Yep, this is me, cheating again... my guilty pleasure book would actually be movie & video game novelisations/tie-ins. In most cases I'll have read the books before seeing the film or playing the game and one of the endearing qualities of the tie-in book is that they're generally short fun reads, so excellent when you need something light and easy. They're also great for filling in the gaps of the story and fleshing out the characters.

Personal faves include Resident Evil (excellent for the movie versions but the VG tie-ins have jumbled continuity with the games which makes it...interesting), Tomb Raider (extra movie scenes! Wahey! Although, again, the VG tie-in books don't quite hold up as well), the Riddick books (arrgh, one of the names is wrong in the Pitch Black one!), Doom, the Mummy books, X-Men (novelisations of films adapted from comics! Hee!) and the Alien books. Indiana Jones novelisations and the odd Star Wars short story anthology do creep in occasionally too.

For more Day 4 fun, check out:
Floor to Ceiling Books
The Erudite Ogre
SMZb
Bibliotropic

16 April 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 3

Aaaaaand today's 30 Days of Genre thingy...

Day 3 – A genre novel that is underrated.

Not so much a novel, more a collection of stories - The Paladin Mandates by Mike Chinn. I love these! They're supernatural pulp detective adventures, set in the thirties, starring the immortal Damian Paladin (who goes back to at least Ancient Egyptian times!). Paladin is ably abetted by long time girlfriend Leigh Oswin, herself with some pretty interesting secrets in her background.

The historical details (both of the thirties and the earlier eras that get touched upon) are amazing, the spook stuff is nicely subtle and they're generally fun, cracking reads with barnstorming plane chases, mobsters and weird creatures all over the place!

There's a couple of additional short stories floating around in magazines in places, and rumour has it that a second collection of stories is on the way, but what I'd really like to see is a lovely novel length Paladin adventure. Or even series of. (May have to do a Misery on the poor boy! ;-P )

15 April 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 2

Right then, today's 30 Days of Genre -

Day 2 – Your favourite character.

Oh, this is a tricky one. Think I'm going to cheat and split it into comics and books.

So, comics is easy... Jenny Sparks from Stormwatch/The Authority, Warren Ellis era.


She's an ass-kicking 100 year old super-heroine who doesn't take nonsense from anyone, has spent a century romping around the world and hanging with notable historical peeps both real and fictional, and she sacrificed her life to save the world by electrocuting God.

Random quotes -
Sparks: "We are the Authority. Behave."
Known bad-ass Midnighter:
"Is it wrong for me to find that woman utterly terrifying."


As far as books go, oooh, choices...

Charles de Lint's Crow Girls? Neil Gaiman's Marquis de Carabis? Juliet E. McKenna's Halice? Kate Griffin's Matthew Swift?



Better be the classic: Terry Pratchett's Granny Weatherwax - the best witch in, on or under the Discworld.

Feared and respected by, oh, pretty much everyone, she's survived confrontations with Death, elves, vampires and wizards, usually by her skillful application of headology.
Also, she has an interesting approach to her place in the universe.
"Granny's implicit belief that everything should get out of her way extended to other witches, very tall trees and , on occasion, mountains."


(Don't forget to check out more 30 Days of Genre at Floor to Ceiling Books!)

14 April 2011

30 Days of Genre - Day 1

Meme time! (Ganked from Floor to Ceiling Books)
30 Days of Genre
Day 1 – Very first genre novel.
Day 2 – Your favourite character.
Day 3 – A genre novel that is underrated.
Day 4 – Your guilty pleasure book.
Day 5 – Character you feel you are most like (or wish you were).
Day 6 – Most annoying character.
Day 7 – Favourite couple in a genre novel.
Day 8 – Best fan soundtrack.
Day 9 – Saddest scene in a genre novel.
Day 10 – Best writing style, or the style that resonates most with you.
Day 11 – Favourite genre series
Day 12 – A genre novel everyone should read.
Day 13 – A genre novel you’ve read more than five times.
Day 14 – Favourite book trailer from a genre novel.
Day 15 – The cover from your current (or most recent) genre read.
Day 16 – Genre novel with the most intriguing plot
Day 17 – Favourite antagonist.
Day 18 – Favourite protagonist.
Day 19 – World/setting you wish you lived in
Day 20 – Favourite genre.
Day 21 – Genre novel with the most interesting character interactions
Day 22 – A sequel which disappointed you.
Day 23 – Genre novel you haven't read, but wish you had
Day 24 – Favourite classic genre novel.
Day 25 – A genre novel you plan on reading soon.
Day 26 – Best hero.
Day 27 – Most epic scene ever.
Day 28 – Favourite publisher of genre novels.
Day 29 – A genre novel you thought you wouldn’t like, but ended up loving.
Day 30 – Your favourite genre novel of all time.

Soooooo - Day 1 - Very first genre novel.

My very first genre novel was likely to have been one of the Buccaneer Series books by Sheila K. McCullagh. Pirates! Magic paintings that let our hero fall into the world where the pirates were! Thrilling adventures! I burned through those books several times at primary school and was subsequently told off by one of the teachers for reading them too fast...

Coming close second would probably have been Narnia or The Hobbit. (The latter of which I discovered when an awesome primary school teacher began reading it out in class. And he did the voices! And it turned out mum had a copy of it at home so I could get ahead of the story!)

12 April 2011

BFS awardy bits #2

As someone on the BFS forum was asking - if you're interesting in reading some of the short stories on the awards longlist, various web ones can be found here:

‘A Serpent In The Gears’ – Margaret Ronald – Beneath Ceaseless Skies
‘After The Dragon’ – Sarah Monette – Fantasy Magazine
‘All the Kings Monsters’ – Megan Arkenberg – Clarkesworld Magazine
'Camelot' - Patrick Samphire - Interzone #230
‘Distant Deeps Or Skies’ – Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Expanded Horizons
‘First Born’ – Megan Arkenberg – The Lorelei Signal
'Fool's Gold' - Sam Stone - The Bitten Word (Newcon Press)
‘Last Of The Monsters’ – Emil Skaftun – Strange Horizons
'Nightmare of You and Death in the Room, The' - Adam Christopher - Hub Magazine
‘Otterburn’ – Jan Edwards – Estronomicon
‘Six Skills Of Madam Lumiere, The’ – Marissa Lingen – Beneath Ceaseless Skies
‘Sunlight’ – Kelly Dwyer – Abyss & Apex
‘Things, The’ – Peter Watts – Clarkesworld
‘Undead Philosophy 101’ – Stephanie Burgis – December Lights
‘Unpopular Opinion Of Reverend Tobias Thackery, The’ – Adam Christopher – Hub Magazine
'Silent Night' - Stuart Young - Estronomicon

BFS awardy bits

For those who are curious, the BFS longlist has now been published here - at quick glance, not a bad list at all. ;-)

In other news, apparently I'm on the judging panel for Best Newcomer again. (ooh-er!) I'm joined by the fabulous Lou Morgan and the equally fabulous Jenny Davies of Wondrous Reads.

This'll be fun!

11 April 2011

Monday Morning Wake Up!

Am a new convert to My Chemical Romance shininess, and this song & video is one of my faves...


And Grant Morrison is in the vid! How cool is that?!

09 April 2011

Convention Happies

So, due to being skinter than a very skint thing at the moment, I'm having to miss Eastercon, Alt-Fiction and anything else interesting that might come up this year. (Fantasycon, however, is sacred.)

Except...being a wild and crazy thing (yes I am...shut up ;-) ) I've pre-booked for some rather juicy looking events coming up in the next 3 years. (Therefore, the world is not allowed to end in 2012. Or I'll be having words...)

World Fantasy Convention in Brighton in 2013!
Which is several different kinds of awesome. I mean, a major con in the UK! Woot!
Have never been to a WFC, so can't wait for that.

And talking of major conventions in the UK...
Worldcon in London in 2014!
Technically it's not getting voted on until the 2012 Worldcon but, last I heard, there were no competing bids so... London! Worldcon! Wheeee! Another con I've never been to, so, yay!

Also, not forgetting - Eastercon 2012
Back at the Radisson in Heathrow, which also happens to be just down the road from where I grew up. Ah, the comforting sounds of low flying aircraft. Love it.

Now to start saving up for them all... ;-)

Slushing the BFS Story Comp

And while we're talking about the BFS Story Comp... how can you (yes, you!) beat the slushpool and make it to the top 5 and, thusly, to the eyes of the celebrity judges?

Well, let me tell you... ;-P
(At this point I should mention that these are the personal opinions of someone who has been slushing the comp for maaaaaany years and in no way related to official BFS policy, etc. and so on.)

1) Read the submissions guidelines. No, really. They matter. Especially the word count. (No, the title doesn't count.) A few words over won't matter, but if you go a couple of thousand over you will be marked down. Formatting matters too, if only to make it easier for us to read. You really want to make your work easy for us to read. Trust me.
Oh, also, it's a *genre* story competition, genre meaning F/SF/horror. Make sure there's at least a little genre in your story please! The clue's in the British *Fantasy* Society.

2) Make it your best writing. Seriously. Edit it and polish it, make sure it hangs together. Send it to a reliable beta reader for a crit. And spell check. And grammar check. Then leave it to rest for a few days and check all over again.

3) Resubmissions. Yes, we remember stories. And while there's no rule against resubmissions, unless you've made some major changes to the story, if it didn't go through last year, it won't go through this year. In fact, chances are it'll get scored lower this time around.

4) Avoid cliches. Battering the same tired old tropes in the same tired old ways won't rise your story up above the rest. Do something new.

5) Trick endings rarely work. (And can be seen from, oh, the first paragraph in some cases.)

6) Make sure there's an actual story in the story. 3000 words explaining a cool world concept with a couple of character bits thrown in does not a story make.

7) Avoid excessive infodump. Trust that we can actually get the gist of the background stuff and concentrate on the actual story you're telling. We've read a lot, we *get* the shorthand in genre fiction. Honest.

8 ) Diversity! We welcome you! Without going into a long rant about default POV characters and settings...(because this is a very personal bugbear, and I'm likely to mis-speak myself if I go on too much...) I'll just quote the Strange Horizons guidelines, who say what I'm trying to say so much better -

"We'd like to help make the field of speculative fiction more inclusive, more welcoming to both authors and readers from traditionally underrepresented groups, so we're interested in seeing stories from diverse perspectives and backgrounds.

"...We like settings and cultures that we don't see all the time in speculative fiction, as long as they're well-researched and not exoticized." Special emphasis on that last bit.

And also check out Shweta Narayan's excellent post on that particular subject here.

9) Female characters! (Another very personal bugbear.) Yes, there are many excellent stories told from the male perspective. I read them. I love them. However... last year, out of 148 stories:
45 were from the female perspective
96 were from the male perspective
3 from both
3 unknown gender
1 dog (male)

Can we at least even the balance up a bit please? Like, with some active female protags? Ta muchly.

Think that's it for now - get writing, and good luck! ;-P

BFS Short Story Comp

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the 2011 BFS Short Story Competition is in mid flow. If you want a crack at it, you've got until 31st May 2011 to get something sent over.

The comp is open to both BFS members (for free) and non-members (for £5 per entry) and can be any kind of f/sf/h story so long as it's under 5000 words.

Electronic submissions and payments (where applicable) are preferred.

Prizes are: 1st - £100, a year's membership of the BFS, and publication in the BFS journal; 2nd - £50, a year's membership of the BFS, and publication in the BFS journal; 3rd - £20

Winners will be announced at the British Fantasy Awards ceremony at Fantasycon in October.

Check out the full details here.

27 March 2011

Genre for Japan - Auction Items Up!




Woot! The items for the Genre for Japan auction have now been listed on their website and lo, are they shinier than shiny! (Item 27's mine, all mine, y'hear? Get yer grubby hands off!) ;-P

Bidding starts tomorrow so don't forget to get over there to show your support!

25 March 2011

Genre For Japan!



Signal boosting (to the three people that read this ;-P )

Genre For Japan!
What is it? A funky charity auction organised by a bunch of very cool genre peeps of both the fan and professional persuasion.

Auction opens 28th March and will include many awesome, rare and quite possibly unique items donated by fabulous people involved with the SF/F/H genres, with all proceeds going to the Japan Tsunami Appeal run by the British Red Cross.

How can you help? Donate! Today is the last day for donating items for the auction so if you've got something or can do something auctionable, get in contact with them at genreforjapan@gmail.com before 5pm GMT.

Bid! Bidding opens Monday - check out their website for full details on how to do it.

That website again: Genre For Japan!