Friday, October 29, 2010

Ghost Talkers...

Will ghost talkers or whisperers be the next big thing, the monster to oust vampires and zombies? Jan Edwards thinks they stand a good chance.

The Castings by Pamela Freeman

The Castings Trilogy by Pamela Freeman hits the bookshops early December, published by Orbit. This omnibus edition contains: Blood Ties, Deep Water and Full Circle.

“Bramble is impetuous with a talent for trouble, and she finds it when an accident brands her a criminal. But she expects no mercy with her Traveller blood - so when the village gods tell her to flee, she hits the road. In ghost-ridden Turvite, Ash leaves the road for an apprenticeship, the only one available for a Traveller such as himself. Then his employer trains him to kill on demand and his future looks bleak.”

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wild Stacks magazine announced

The Alchemy Press has announced its new online magazine: Wild Stacks, The Library Of The Imagination. The first issue will be posted in a few months. Meanwhile, issue 0, the pre-launch issue, is already available. Wild Stacks aims to publish stories from all corners of the diverse fantasy world.

Dark Matter by Michelle Paver

Out this month on Orion, Dark Matter by Michelle Paver. “'What is it? What does it want? Why is it angry with me?'

January 1937. Clouds of war are gathering over a fogbound London. Twenty-eight year old Jack is poor, lonely and desperate to change his life. So when he's offered the chance to be the wireless operator on an Arctic expedition, he jumps at it.

Spirits are high as the ship leaves Norway: five men and eight huskies, crossing the Barents Sea by the light of the midnight sun. At last they reach the remote, uninhabited bay where they will camp for the next year. Gruhuken.

But the Arctic summer is brief. As night returns to claim the land, Jack feels a creeping unease. One by one, his companions are forced to leave. He faces a stark choice. Stay or go. Soon he will see the last of the sun, as the polar night engulfs the camp in months of darkness. Soon he will reach the point of no return - when the sea will freeze, making escape impossible. And Gruhuken is not uninhabited. Jack is not alone. Something walks there in the dark.

A terrifying 1930s ghost story set in the haunting wilderness of the far north.”

Now watch the video trailer.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

He is Legend

Published in 2009 but just arrived on my "to be read" bedside heap is He is Legend, edited by Christopher Conlon, an anthology celebrating Richard Matheson (Tor $25.99). This book collects 15 original stories inspired by Matheson. Contributors include Stephen King, Joe Hill, F Paul Wilson, Ed Gorman, Joe R Lansdale and Richard Christian Matheson -- and others. The book won the Bram Stoker Award, so it promises to be a very tasty read.

Hellblazer: India by Peter Milligan

Hellblazer: India by Peter Milligan and others. Vertigo $14.99
Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

"Why does the newborn baby cry?" asks the priest of his flock. "It cries because it has been separated from God," he continues. Then John Constantine enters the room and the priest? He says "Oh fuck, no!" And that is why I so like the Hellblazer comics/graphic novels. Peter Milligan’s writing creates a sense of verisimilitude, of the sleazy magical world in which Constantine lives. The subtle artwork by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Stefano Landini only helps to further effect that sense of unease.

Constantine is in India, looking for purity -- he is trying to bring back to life his dead lover. He hopes Charles -- the aforementioned priest -- will help. However, Charles is imbued in something dark and evil: a demon stalks the streets of Mumbai preying on beautiful young women. But did Constantine travel to India voluntarily or was he summoned to destroy that demon? Tied in with this arc there are several strands that deal with love, lost and forfeited, and with duty and responsibility.

The second story in the book is "No Future", which links Constantine with his punk days, when he fronted the band Mucous Membrane. Here, a bunch of dead Conservatives/demons are making plans to usurp the British Government. Naturally, Constantine becomes embroiled in the sorry events, dealing with punks and thugs with his usual armory: sarcasm and sleight of hand. This story was also written by Milligan and embellished with Simon Bisley's dark images.

As ever, Hellblazer is an excellent graphic novel that's aimed for readers who want complex illustrated stories of black magic and cynicism. Recommended.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Paul Finch: new blog

That fine writer Paul Finch has started a new blog. It's called "Walking in the Dark" and you can catch it here.

The Double-Edged Sword by Sarah Silverwood

The Double-Edged Sword: The Nowhere Chronicles, Book One, by Sarah Silverwood. Gollancz 2010. £9.99
Reviewed by Jan Edwards

Finmere Tingewick Smith’s sixteenth birthday, and his odd world is just about to get a lot odder. Abandoned as a baby with nothing but an old woollen blanket and a man’s ring to identify him, he was raised by the venerable Judge Brown and the old men of Orrery House. Strange enough one might think; but he in fact spent alternate years at separate schools – meaning that he has two very different best friends. Then the Judge is murdered and Fin is plunged into a dual world: the London that he recognises in what is called the Somewhere, and an alternate London that exists in the realm of Nowhere. It’s the Knights of Nowhere with their double-edged swords, and the missing woman known as the Storyholder, who are tearing his previously comfortable world apart.

This is a fun book full of swashbuckling sword play, with secret doorways into hidden realms, and old men who are not at all what they seem. It cracks on at a breakneck pace, never dwelling on any one section for long so that the attention does not have the time to wander. Yet even at full-tilt The Double-Edged Sword remains a fully fleshed world inhabited by three-dimensional characters.

The ending is, of course, of the cliff hanger variety in true Saturday Cinema tradition. It just begs the reader to hang on for the next thrilling instalment, and I am certain most readers will be queuing avidly for future episodes in the life of Finmere Tingewick Smith. (As an aside, the acknowledgement page owns up to a number of borrowed names – and for those in the know it can be fun spotting them.)

The main protagonist is sixteen but does feel somewhat younger at times. This, I suspect, is because the book is aimed at a target audience of nine-plus – readers invariably prefer to read ‘up’. That said, this book is not confined to that demographic: it is eminently readable by just about anyone, male or female. Search no longer for that elusive Christmas stocking treat for the young fantasy reader in your family: this is it. Excellent storytelling; recommended.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tales of Dark Fantasy 2

Subterranean Press news: All of the stories for Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy 2, edited by William Schafer, are in hand, and the book has been designed and undergone its first round of proofing. The cover illustration is by Dave McKean. The anthology includes the Joe Hill's "Wolverton Station", Kelley Armstrong's "Chivalrous", David Prill's "A Pulp Called Joe", "Smelling Darkness", a new Black Company novelette by Glen Cook, and "A Room with a View", by K. J. Parker. Dark Fantasy 2 is 20,000 words longer than the first volume in the series, Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy.

If you order the limited edition you'll also receive a copy of The Cases of Dana Roberts, a chapbook by Joe R Lansdale. Ordering information is available on Sub Press's website.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Renegade Writers' Group

The people behind Piper have set up a new writers' group, Renegade Writers. It's located in the Hartshill area of Stoke-on-Trent, but it welcomes people from as far as they wish to travel. The group meets every Wednesday at 7.30pm in the Jolly Potters pub. It's a friendly group, so come along and help members improve their writing -- and have a drink or two. For more information visit the Renegade Writers' blog.

Jan Edwards: new blog

Jan has created a new blog which lists all her publications todate -- plus forthcoming titles. To visit her blog click here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Major US rights deal for Rod Rees

Emma Thawley, Rights Director at Quercus, has sold US rights in two novels by UK novelist Rod Rees, The Demi-Monde: Winter and The Demi-Monde: Spring, to Gabe Robinson of HarperCollins, in a significant deal. The books will be published in hardback on the Morrow imprint. World rights in Rod’s series, The Demi-Monde, were acquired pre-emptively by Quercus (who publish the first volume in January 2011) from agent John Jarrold for a major advance in 2009.

"The Demi-Monde is set in a wonderfully imagined virtual world – the Demi-Monde of the title. Originally conceived by the US military as a training ground for their troops in the twenty-first century facing street fighting and enemies who use guerrilla tactics, rather than modern technology-based armies, the Demi-Monde was created by the world’s first quantum computer. Young singer Ella Thomas is sent there to rescue a VIP (she ticks all the boxes to blend into the world, which has a late-Victorian technology base) and discovers the world and its thirty million inhabitants, or ‘avatars’, are all too real. Especially those who run the world’s city-states, based on famous human monsters such as Reinhard Heydrich, Shaka Zulu, Empress Wu, Godfrey de Bouillon, Selim the Grim and Lavrentii Beria, with whom the world was seeded to make it more of a test…and that is only the beginning."

There is already a fascinating website -- pop over there now.

Zombie Apocalypse edited by Stephen Jones

News from Constable & Robinson: Zombie Apocalypse is a 'mosaic novel' set in the near-future, when a desperate and ever-more controlling UK government decides to restore a sense of national pride with a New Festival of Britain. However, controversial plans to build on the site of an old church in South London releases a centuries-old plague that turns its victims into flesh-hungry ghouls whose bite or scratch passes the contagion on to others. Even worse, the virus may also have a supernatural origin with the power to revive the dead.

Despite the attempts of the police, the military and those in power to understand and contain the infection commonly referred to as “The Death”, it soon sweeps across London, transforming everyone who comes into contact with it. With the city – and the country – falling into chaos, even a drastic attempt at a “Final Solution” to eradicate the outbreak at its source fails to prevent it from spreading to Europe and then quickly throughout the rest of the world.

Soon there is no more news coming out of Britain . . . and it is up to those survivors in other countries to confront the flesh-eating invaders within their midst. Will humanity triumph over a world-wide zombie plague, or will the walking dead ultimately inherit the Earth?

Told through various disparate and overlapping eye-witness accounts, through texts, e-mails, blogs, letters, diaries, transcripts, official reports and other forms of communication, a picture builds up of a world plunged into chaos – where the dead attack the living, and only one of them can be the ultimate victor.

Written by some of the biggest and best-known names in horror and science fiction, these interconnected narratives create a unique vision of the End of the World brought about by a plague that may have its origins in both science and the occult.

Zombie Apocalypse is created by Stephen Jones and includes contributions by Michael Marshall Smith, Christopher Fowler, Sarah Pinborough, Jo Fletcher, Kim Newman, Paul McAuley, Tim Lebbon, Peter Crowther, Pat Cadigan, Peter Atkins, Mandy Slater and many, many others. Published by Robinson this month at just £7.99.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Adam Roberts guests at the BSFG

Just received from the Birmingham Science Fiction Group. Their guest speaker for the Friday 8 October meeting is Adam Roberts: "Roberts holds a degree in English and Classics from the University of Aberdeen, and a PhD at Cambridge. Currently he works as a senior reader at Royal Holloway, University of London, teaching English Lit and Creative Writing.

He has published twelve SF/fantasy novels since 2000: two of them, Salt (2001) and Gradisil (2007) were nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award; and the latter was also nominated for the Phillip K. Dick Award. Robert’s forthcoming book, Beggar’s Banquet, is to be published in May 2011.

Adam Roberts will give the Birmingham Science Fiction Group a talk about his works on Friday 8 October, 2010, at 8pm (entry from 7.30pm). Venue: The Briar Rose on Bennett’s Hill in Birmingham. Price: £3.00 BSFG members, £4.00 non-members. Please email for more details."

If you live anywhere in or around the West Midlands, the BSFG is for you. For further information, and a copy of the monthly newsletter, please visit their website.

The Innsmouth Free Press

The fifth issue of the Innsmouth Free Press has just been launched. Here, you can find: "eight tales of horror and the bizarre, a number of them connected by the thread of dark gods. Sword-and-sorcery meets horror in 'The Song of Tussagaroth', while a deity of the forest haunts a widowed man in “The Green World” and a terrible plague must be contained in 'The Night We Burned Our Hearts Out'. A goddess of the Egyptian variety might be the cause of a strange infestation in 'Nibbling'. A shape-shifting creature seems to haunt modern city streets in 'The Changeling'. Strange aquatic creatures prey on unwary fishermen in 'Beneath the Cold Black Sea' and 'Borgan’s Deli' is open for business but not in a prime location."

Full details can be found on the press's website.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Celebrity by Christopher Fowler

Tickets for Christopher Fowler's play Celebrity, starring Victoria Jeffrey, Neil Burgess, Mark Martin and Lucy Clements are now on sale at just £10.00. To book telephone 020 7836 1077 or email: (plus 50p for credit card bookings). Tickets are limited so book early.

The play is set to run from 23 November to 4 December 2010 (nightly 7:30pm; matinees Sat 4:00pm; No performances on Sunday and Monday) at The Phoenix Artist Club,1 Phoenix Street, London, WC2H 0DT. (Off Charing Cross Road next to the Phoenix Theatre).

Celebrity is part of the London Fringe Festival.

Synopsis: Once there were stars. Now everyone wants to be a celebrity -- how did we get from Cary Grant to Jedward? It’s 1968. Helena runs Albion PR in London’s Wardour Street, looking after ‘difficult’ stars. She hires 19 year-old Billy to teach him the secrets of the business. Saving the reputations of her clients involves an outrageous amount of lying and cheating, but neither Helena nor Billy realize this innocent era is about to come crashing to an end…

Celebrity is based on the life of a real London PR agent. Only the names of scandal-struck celebrities will be changed to protect us from libel!

Now Visit Christopher Fowler's website.