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Angry Robot Review: Winter Song by Colin Harvey

I’ve been a SF fan since I can remember; I was amazed by Clarke’s Rama Cycle (read that even before I read his Odyssey novels) in primary school, and was enthralled when I watched Enemy Mine – Clarke’s series’ of novels about the strange object that enters our solar system and the awesome movie in which a human and an alien must try to survive with each other’s help despite the fact that they are at war planted seeds in me that buried themselves deeply – of which I’m very glad. But SF is very difficult to pull off well, whether done in a novel or a movie or a TV series… It’s a genre that can very quickly lose whatever it is trying to convey by putting too much focus on either the SF-ness of the tale, or the human angle of the tale. It is only when that exquisite and delicate dance of balance is achieved that SF will blaze like a gamma burst, and there are so few people who have achieved being able to move themselves -and by extension, us- along the steps in that dance that it explains why SF is, to too many people, still only aliens and spaceships.

What I’m trying to say here is that Colin Harvey knew the steps. He knew how to dance.

Winter Song opens with a bang – Karl Allman is attacked, his Ship is destroyed, and though he manages to escape he finds himself on a planet that not even the extensive records he had at his disposal could tell him much about. From there the tale settles as more is revealed about the world he has reached, the people who live there, their culture and beliefs, until Karl makes a desperate bid for freedom that could result in the biggest, best thing he could have ever done with his life.

In this one novel (Winter Song is a standalone novel) Colin manages to plunge us into not only really interesting SF-worldbuilding (the backdrop of Karl’s world before his Ship is destroyed) but well thought out and plausible culturebuilding; and as the world and the universe blossom around the reader, he brings onto the stage some truly memorable characters, too. There is action in this novel, too, but suitable action, no overwhelming explosions and intricate setpieces that razzle and dazzle. The relationships between the characters, and between the characters and the world they live in, is at once true and wonderful and sad and liberating; there is a sense of going on a journey with the characters, not witnessing the journey. Colin took a major chance bringing the novel to a close as he did, but upon further reflection it is the perfect ending, and ending that emphasises just how damned good this novel is.

If you’re looking for intricately designed alien cultures, vast space battles, black-hole surfing or lasers, you won’t get it in Winter Song – it’s the kind of novel that explores what SF can do and even perhaps what SF means by staying closer to home, even as it takes place on a planet very, very far away, and it’s a novel that deserves to be read and re-read and re-printed for many, many years. It’s a novel that will make you sad that Colin Harvey is no longer with us, but at the same time, it’s a novel that will stamp his name into the Mt Olympus of SF – at least, I hope so. Because it’s a damned good novel that brought back that sense of holy-freaking-hell-this-is-awesome that only incredible SF has managed to make me feel.

Read this!

9 / 10

To order Winter Song, click here for Amazon US, here for Amazon UK, and here if you’re in South Africa (just don’t take the blurb on the site too seriously – sounds like a completely different book!). Don’t forget to head on over to Angry Robot – you can also browse their eBooks store and get yourself not only Winter Song and Damage Time (Colin’s two Angry Robot novels), but plenty more. :-)

Until next time,

BE EPIC!

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2011 in Reviews

 

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Angry Robot News: Jo Anderton Signed for Minimum of Two Novels

Check out the details below – Jo’s ‘Veiled Worlds’ novels sound great and are sure to generate a massive following for her. :-) Angry Robot sure knows how to walk that cutting-edge line as if it was a wide highway. :-)

PRESS RELEASE:

Angry Robot signs debut novelist for a Manga-inspired science fantasy epic

New Australian author Jo Anderton has signed with genre masterminds Angry Robot for at least two novels in her Veiled Worlds series. The worldwide deal, covering physical books and eBooks, was done by agent Anni Haig-Smith and Angry Robot’s publishing director, Marc Gascoigne. Debris will be published in the autumn of 2011, with direct sequel Suited to follow in 2012.

Series opener Debris introduces us to Tanyana, leader of a energy-harvesting team. Following an accident, she’s dismayed to be demoted to little more than a garbage collector, but it soon becomes obvious she’s been manipulated into that role by the faceless faction she calls the Puppet Men, to uncover a world-shattering secret.

Angry Robot’s man with the cheque book Marc Gascoigne said, “With the ever-increasing popularity of Japanese and Korean anime, manga and computer games, it’s been surprising that there hasn’t been more SF and fantasy showing its influence. Debris’s mix of SF and fantasy themes, exotic future-medieval settings, Dune-esque warring factions, and a fabulous kick-ass heroine is exactly the sort of on-trend science fiction Angry Robot was set up to publish. We’re damned pleased to have Jo on board.”

Jo added, “I’ve been reading Angry Robot books since their first giant, metallic steps and absolutely loving them. Debris started out as an idea about a magical version of the industrial revolution and a scarred garbage collector who saves the world, but still has to pay her rent. Add a few motley companions, a pinch of probably-misinterpreted quantum physics, and far too much time spent in front of various Final Fantasy video games. I’m thrilled my books have found a home at Angry Robot.”

Sounds damn cool! I’m very interested to see how a manga-inspired story mixes with hard SF, and there’s no doubt that we can expect kickass cover art, too. :-)

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2010 in Angry Robot, Announcements

 

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Angry Robot Review: Kell’s Legend: Book One of The Clockwork Vampire Chronicles by Andy Remic

This has to be one of the funnest and most relentless books I’ve read in a while! :-)

Kell’s Legend follows the story of Kell, a grisly and grisled old warrior who wants nothing more than to forget the old days of blood and death and relax, but is pulled into a massive conflict when forces from the Silva Valley, a place beyond the terrifying Black Pike Mountains, invade.

The characters, action and setting all combine to make this one of those novels you’ll want to talk about with your friends – you’ll probably be saying stuff like, “That dude has the coolest axe I’ve ever read about!” or “The action in this thing is insane!” or even “Wait until you meet the Vachine and their cankers!”

Character-wise, Kell’s Legend is people with many outstanding, larger-than-life characters, the two most interesting (in my opinion) of which were Kell himself and Anukis.

Kell has what seems to be a long, blood-soaked history and Andy hints at just enough to give Kell a real depth and emotional resonance – even though he’s a very sarcastic, grumpy and says-it-like-it-is old guy. His chapters are fun and fast and brutal – there’s always plenty of humor and plenty of blood backed by great pace.

Anukis is also an extremely interesting character – she’s feisty, also stubborn as hell, a relentless and brutal fighter but also sensitive and naive, a blending which endeared me to her right from the beginning.

In the novel you’ll also meet Saark and Nienna, General Graal and the Harvesters and a host of supporting cast;

Saark is hilarious, the epitome of a one-track-mind man who is as dangerous as he is entertaining, and his scenes with Kell are excellent – the dialogue between the two is witty and acerbic and thoroughly entertaining. :-)

Nienna could have used a bit more, as it seemed to me that the only real reason that she was in the tale was to give Kell a concrete reason to keep on fighting but I’m sure that Andy has got plenty in store for her and that she’ll probably end up stealing the spotlight in the next novel – her journey from an exuberant student to a practically world-weary witness of conflict and death was cool to witness, though. :-)

General Graal is one sick puppy but makes an awesome bad guy, and the Harvesters are just plain chilling, while the cankers are an incredibly cool – nah, I think I’ll shut my mouth and not tell you too much about these characters and creatures. :-) I digged them, and they’re definitely some of the more inventive badasses I’ve met in a novel. :-)

Moving on to the worldbuilding, Andy has created a world that, even though it seems to have faint echoes of our own, is interesting and unique, especially the world of the Vachine. Andy’s descriptions are succinct and evocative with just the right amount of imagery, and there was no info-dumping to get bored with.

The most interesting aspect for me of Kell’s Legend was the style that the tale was told in – at first I was a bit put off and had to grow used to the drama and sometimes-outlandish manner that the characters spoke and though with, but I came to realize that it was, in fact, perfect; after all, we’re reading Kell’s Legend, and the story is told much the same a story would be told while sitting around a campfire with all the drama and over-the-top-ness that makes telling such stories fun and hearing them told even better. :-)

All in all, Kell’s Legend was awesome – a fun, hectically fast-paced and brutally action-packed novel with plenty of awesome characters and inventive worldbuilding. If you’re a fan of colourful characters, plenty of blood and gore, and an interesting and memorable take on a phenomenon that you may have had your fill of already (cryptic, I know, but I don’t want to spoil it), then this book is definitely for you and is guaranteed to keep you up late, flinching, cheering and fevered. :-) I’m definitely looking forward to being ‘bliksemed’ by Soul Stealers!

9 / 10

My review of the second Clockwork Vampire Chronicles novel, Soul Stealers, will be up closer to the September release date. :-) Head on over to Andy’s official web-home here, check out his Angry Robot page here, and order your copies of Kell’s Legend here (Amazon UK) and here (for SA readers).

And here’s the cover for Book Two, Soul Stealers:

If you haven’t yet read Andy’s work (Kell’s Legend was my first), then here are the Exclusive Books links you’ll need to order his backlist (for SA readers):

Warhead, Quake, Hardcore, War Machine, Biohell.

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2010 in Angry Robot, Reviews

 

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The Podcast, The Sloth and Jedi Dood

Hey guys, got some videos and news for you today. :-)

First off, you’ve probably heard the announcement about the impending Angry Robot podcast! If you haven’t, here’s the low-down:

“Beginning in July 2010, Angry Robot will be broadcasting a new podcast series. Broadcast monthly, the 30-minute podcast will take the form of a joint interview with two Angry Robot authors or staff, along with genre and publishing news and a monthly competition to win Angry Robot titles.

The host and interviewer is Mur Lafferty. Mur is one of the world’s best-known and best-loved podcasters, and the co-author of the book Tricks of the Podcasting Masters. As well as hosting her own immensely popular podcast for wannabe writers I Should Be Writing, she was also recently announced as the new editor of Escape Pod – the world’s most popular short fiction podcast.

Mur commented: “One of the things I love most about podcasting is the chance to talk to so many talented authors. I’m thrilled to get the chance to chat with Angry Robot authors; it’s an honor to be producing a show for one of the newest and most exciting SF publishers around.”

The podcasts will be broadcast from the Angry Robot website, and will be downloadable as a subscription through iTunes. The first podcast interview will feature Angry Robot Publishing Director Marc Gascoigne and Editor Lee Harris, talking about the history of the imprint, the move to new partners Osprey, and the future. August’s guests are Angry Robot authors Lauren Beukes and Kaaron Warren – and you can believe that’s going to be an interview worth tuning in for!”

Awesome news indeed! I’m a huge fan of podcasts – my top casters are the guys who do the Dragon Page podacst, the guys behind the Smallville podcast, Starkville’s House of El, the group behind the Wheel of Time podcast, The Fourth Age, and the writing-podcast run by Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler and Dan Wells, Writing Excuses. I’ll have to get my act in gear and start listening to to Mur’s podcast, too! :-)
Can’t wait for the first one!

Next up, here’s the pretty damn cool Book Trailer for Lauren Beukes‘ still-awesome-read-another-fifteen-pages-half-an-hour-ago Zoo City:

And finally, here’s a video that Blake Charlton brought to my attention – being a Star Wars fan, I absolutely loved this! :-) So much, in fact, that Blake needs a new title. I thought long and hard about this, and decided that there’s only one name that really has a ring to it;

Blake Charlton, you will henceforth be known as…

Darth Numinous!

Hehehehe!

Be EPIC!

 
 

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Zoo City by Lauren Beukes – SA Cover Glory!

It’s official!

Lauren Beukes has let me know that I can go ahead and show you all the incredible cover of the South African edition of Zoo City!

The cover was done by the same awesome guy who did both covers for Moxyland (the Angry Robot cover and the SA cover, both below), and he also did the cover for Lauren’s first book, Maverick, Extraordinary Women from South Africa’s Past ; his name is Dale Halvorsen, AKA Joey Hifi, and you can check out the rest of his work at this website.

Okay, here’s the SA Moxyland cover (published by Jacana and available to order from Exclusive Books):

Here’s the Angry Robot cover for Moxyland, showing the four main characters in all their coolness:


Here’s John Picacio’s Zoo City cover, launched a couple of months ago on this blog:

And finally, here’s the awesome cover that will be gracing the shelves all over South Africa before you can get your jaw back to the proper position! (from May, SA & UK for those who need a date)

Isn’t that awesome!!?? I love the way that it’s totally black and white but vibrant and alive, too; it takes a different tack from the cover that John Picacio did for Lauren, but still manages to give readers a taste of what they can expect from Zoo City. :-) Beautiful stuff! Congrats on Lauren and Jacana for getting such a talented dude to do the cover! :-)

Until tomorrow,

Be EPIC!

P.S. There will be launch events coming up for Zoo City, too; the book will be launched in both Cape Town and Joburg in May, as well as in London on in July – more detailed info will follow. :-) I’ll be there in Joburg! :-)

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2010 in Announcements

 

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Angry Robot: Steampunk to Ally with the Robot Army

Wonderful news from the guys at Angry Robot! Really looking forward to this!

The Father of Steampunk Signs With Angry Robot

KW Jeter coined the term Steampunk, but unbelievably his classic novels Infernal Devices and Morlock Night have been out of print since the early 1980s. Angry Robot are delighted to announce that we are bringing them back to a new generation of readers in paperback, audio
and eBook formats.

Infernal Devices tells the story of George – a Victorian watchmaker who has inherited his father’s shop, though not his talent. A tale of time travel, music and sexual intrigue, Infernal Devices is a true classic.

Morlock Night, meanwhile, is a wild sequel to Wells’ The Time Machine – having acquired a device for themselves, the brutish Morlocks return to invade sleepy old England…

So, don your brass goggles, wind your mechanisms and sit back with a couple of true classics from a steam-driven Angry Robot. Infernal Devices and Morlock Night will be published worldwide by Angry Robot.

UK/Aus: October 2010 (ISBNs: 9780007365753 / 9780007365760)
Infernal Devices / Morlock Night
US/Can: December 2010 (ISBNs: tbc)

:::
More information on Angry Robot can be found at angryrobotbooks.com.
Angry Robot is the new genre imprint from HarperCollins, bringing you the best in new SF,F and WTF?! Our first titles hit the stores in the UK and Australia on 1st July 2009. We debut in the US in May 2010.

Now, other that John Marco’s Starfinder (with its touch of Steampunk), I’ve yet to read a proper Steampunk-novel; I’ve had Stephen Hunt’s work on my TBR-list for a while now but just haven’t had the time to get to the books. So I’m very glad that Angry Robot is not only delving into Steampunk, but bringing back work that was not available; I’ve read some of KW Jeter’s work (only the Star Wars novels), but not enough to have formed a proper opinion. Looking forward to this!

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2010 in Angry Robot, Announcements

 

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Angry Robot Books: When last were you scared?

The awesome SF/F/WTF? publisher, Angry Robot, have signed a new author!

ANGRY ROBOT PUTS THE HORROR BACK INTO HORROR FICTION

Angry Robot, HarperCollins’ imprint focussing on innovative fantasy and science fiction, has turned its attention to reinvigorating horror.

Gary McMahon’s Pretty Little Dead Things and its sequel promise an
astonishing mix of David Peace and modern Japanese horror cinema to
create a truly unique fusion of intense writing and sheer terror.

Marc Gascoigne, Angry Robot’s publishing director, said: “Horror thrives in movies and graphic novels. Like our other recent discovery, Kaaron
Warren, Gary is at the forefront of a new generation of writers bringing
that energy back to horror fiction.”

McMahon added: “Working with the Angry Robot family, it feels as if I’m
participating in something fresh and vital. Exciting times lie ahead.”
Pretty Little Dead Things will be published in the UK and Australia this
July, and in the US (also by Angry Robot) in winter 2010. Its sequel, Dead Bad Things, follows in the Spring of 2011, with US publication shortly thereafter. All Angry Robot titles are available in paperback, eBook and audio formats.

About Angry Robot:

Angry Robot is the new genre imprint from HarperCollins, bringing you the best in new SF, F and WTF?! Our first titles hit the stores in the UK and Australia on 1st July 2009. We debut in the US in May 2010.

Want some info on what you can look forward to from Gary> Head over to the Pretty Little Dead Things page at Angry Robot, and get yourself introduced to Thomas Usher; I’ve got a feeling we’ll be hearing plenty about him…

Be EPIC!

 
 

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Angry Robot Review: Obsidian and Blood Book 1: Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard

I finished Aliette’s debut (an what a debut it is!) a couple of days ago (as everyone who Follows me on Twitter can attest to), and have finally had some time to post this review – it would have been up yesterday, but problems with the internet on Monday pushed all my posts up by a day. :-) Anyway, into the review:

Servant of the Underworld is a murder mystery, a clashing of wills between mortals and immortals, and an example of world-remembering that astonished me. For a time, I was a willing visitor behind the eyes of a man that lived and breathed in the beauty and danger of Mexica (Aztec) Empire of the 15th century, and what a ride it was!

Servant of the Underworld follows a High Priest, Acatl, and his investigation into the apparent abduction of a priestess; Acatl has been tasked with getting to the truth behind the priestess’ disappearance at an extremely critical time in the Empire – even the myriad gods of the Mexica are taking an interest, and you just know that everything hits the fan when gods take an interest in mortal affairs…

The first thing that struck me about Servant of the Underworld was how utterly smooth it was; the tale flowed on and on without any jarring, which is no mean feat considering how well Aliette managed to keep up the pacing and intrigue, as well as the constant building of the narrative as more and more about Acatl’s world was revealed. It’s really subtle, the way Aliette reels the reader in, revealing the culture and beliefs and way of life of the Aztecs without once making you feel as if you’re reading an essay about them.

Another aspect of the tale that surprised me was how it was layered; I expected the first mystery -that of the priestess that had disappeared- to be the only mystery that would be dealt with and explained, but it was just the first of many mysteries that tie- together before climaxing in a weird, otherworldly confrontation, finally revealing all. I’ll also admit that I tried to figure out who was behind all the mischief -you know, sometimes you get an idea because you try and imagine the person who seems most likely and least likely- but I was dead wrong! :-) I don’t think anyone will make the correct guess! :-)

The magic-system is refreshingly new and thoughtful; Aliette builds the magic that her characters use bit by bit, giving each spell it’s own ritual, words and effects, a job very nicely done since the tale takes place in the past of our own world and not in a different place entirely (ok, sure, artistic license and all that, but Aliette left me believing in the magic, thinking that it may just have been real).

If there’s one problem that I had with the book, it’s that I really struggled to believe Acatl’s gender; for the first 4 or 5 chapters, I believed that Acatl was a woman; I’m not entirely sure why – perhaps because of Jo Graham’s character from Black Ships, Gull – and I was a bit shook up when I realized my error. It didn’t affect the reading of the novel, though; it’s not like I was jolted out of it, it was more like a “Ohhh, okay, now I’m with you, now I understand.” moment. Anyway, I don’t think you’ll see a similar observation in any other review of Servant of the Underworld, so don’t expect this to color the novel in any way. :-)

All in all, Aliette’s Servant of the Underworld is an incredibly strong and promising debut, showing her talents at full effect – she can create amazing, believable worlds; her characters are solid and relatable, and she knows how to do interesting magic, great action and creepiness in spades. :-) I’m definitely looking forward to Aliette’s next two books – now that the main players have been introduced and the scene set, I can’t wait to see what Acatl gets up to next!

8 / 10

To order your copies of Servant of the Underworld, click here and here for those of you in the UK; as soon as I’ve got an expected SA-release date, I’ll let you all know. :-)

Also, follow this link to Aliette’s official website; not only will you find some free fiction to read, but Aliette also did a 4-part exploration of the Aztecs, giving readers more background to the Empire of that time (the link will take you through to part 1). Serving as another introduction, here’s the book trailer (yes, I stole it from Angry Robot) :-) :

Aliette also has a presence on LiveJournal, and click the links to check out her author-page at Angry Robot, as well as the Servant of the Underworld page, where you can get yourself an extract to read! :-)

Be EPIC!

 
10 Comments

Posted by on January 21, 2010 in Angry Robot, Reviews

 

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Angry Robot: Cover Release – Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

Here it is, the official cover for Lauren‘s next Angry Robot novel, done by the awesome John Picacio!

Gorgeous cover, right? :-) I’ve heard from Lee Harris that Zoo City is even better than Moxyland, so I’m expecting great things from this book – definitely looking forward to it!

Be EPIC!

 
7 Comments

Posted by on January 11, 2010 in Angry Robot, Announcements

 

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Angry Robot Marches on the US & Canada

This news was posted over at Realms & Galaxies: Celebrating SFF on the 9th of November 2009.

This post is all Angry Robot! :-) I’ll be giving you the news (which has already been doing the rounds, and deservedly so) of their immenent invasion of the USA and Canada, and I’ve also got some more free fiction for you in the form of excerpts from Nekropolis from Tim Waggoner! :-)

Get a cup of coffee or juice (or something stronger, you’re welcome to it!), relax, and enjoy what Angry Robot has to offer – they’re not the coolest publisher for nothing, y’know? ;-)

ANGRY ROBOT LAUNCHES IN THE U.S. AND CANADA

Forget Judgement Day – the real robot army is on the rise! In May 2010, Angry Robot – the new SF, F and WTF?! imprint from HarperCollins launches in the US and Canada. After a staggeringly successful summer ’09 launch in the UK and Australia, we’re now ready to announce our 2010 publication schedule for North America.

May

Moxyland by Lauren Beukes

Slights by Kaaron Warren

Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero by Dan Abnett

White Tiger (Dark Heavens #1) by Kylie Chan

Winter Song by Colin Harvey

Kell’s Legend (Clockwork Vampire Chronicles #1) By Andy Remic

June

Amortals by Matt Forbeck

Damage Time by Colin Harvey

Sixty-One Nails by Mike Shevdon

Red Phoenix (Dark Heavens #2) by Kylie Chan

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

Soul Stealers (Clockwork Vampire Chronicles #2) by Andy Remic

July

Blue Dragon (Dark Heavens #3) by Kylie Chan

Nekropolis (Matt Richter #1) by Tim Waggoner

Vegas Knights by Matt Forbeck

The Crown of the Blood by Gav Thorpe

Walking the Tree by Kaaron Warren

August

City of Dreams and Nightmare by Ian Whates

Death’s Disciples by J Robert King

Edge by Thomas Blackthorne

Embedded by Dan Abnett

The Road to Bedlam by Mike Shevdon

September

Dead Streets (Matt Richter #2) by Tim Waggoner

Book of Secrets by Chris Roberson

King Maker (The Knights of Breton Court #1) by Maurice Broaddus

Point by Thomas Blackthorne

Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard

October – December

Coming Soon…

Information about all these titles and authors can be found at www.angryrobotbooks.com.

Dare you deny the might of the Angry Robot Army?

Angry Robot is the new imprint from Harper Collins bringing you the best in new SF, F and WTF?!

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2010 in Angry Robot

 

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