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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. πŸ™‚

Until next time,

BE EPIC!

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2011 in Reviews

 

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Angry Robot and Robert VS Redick at Forbidden Planet!

Hey guys and girls of the UK, some great news for you that you’ve no-doubt already heard. πŸ™‚ But you know me, spread the news far and wide I say!

The official UK launch of Angry Robot, the awesome new SF, F and WTF? imprint that’s been steadily building a robot army and bringing us some wonderful new fiction to get lost in, will be on my birthday – the 10th of October! πŸ™‚ So, while I’m here in South Africa wishing I was at the launch to meet the authors and the people behind Angry Robot, many of you will be enjoying great company and even better books at Forbidden Planet! πŸ™‚ I would say I’m jealous, but hey, you wouldn’t really care, right? πŸ˜‰

And just because I’m not going to be there doesn’t mean I shouldn’t spread the word – after all, the more people read the awesome books that Angry Robot is bringing us, the faster they’ll take over the world!! Mwahahahahaha -ha -huhg -urgh! *clears his throat*

Check out the info below!

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Invite everyone you think will enjoy the company of great authors (Dan Abnett, Andy Remic and Colin Harvey) to celebrate the UK launch of Angry Robot! The more the merrier! πŸ™‚

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And there’s more!

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The excellent Robert VS Redick, author of The Red Wolf Conspiracy and The Rats and the Ruling Sea, as well as friend of the ward-master, Peter V Brett, will be at Forbidden Planet too – and here’s the cherry on the icing for sure: Want to get your hands on The Rats and the Ruling Sea before the official publishing date? Well then you better be at Forbidden Planet on the 16th of October!

The event will begin at 6 and go on through to 7 (that’s the evening, yes folks, not even I would wake up that early in the freezing UK!), but you better get there early to avoid having to fight your way through other rabid fans. πŸ™‚ Don’t want to wait until the 29th of October to get your copy of the second book in The Chathrand Voyage (that is the new official publishing date)? Then make a point of getting to Forbidden Planet on the 16th of October! πŸ™‚

Also, if you just can’t make it to the signing (I’ve got an excuse, I’m on a different continent), you can still order your copies of The Rats and the Ruling Sea and should get them well before the 29th. πŸ™‚

And finally, here’s a little something that I saw that’s truly wrong – if you’re on Facebook, a fan of Robert and his work, then join the fan-page! πŸ™‚

Rats and the Ruling Sea TPBR PFP CS3.indd

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2009 in Angry Robot, Announcements

 

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Angry Robot News!

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This news from Lee Harris @ Angry Robot Books!

Hey guys and girls, the great folks over at Angry Robot have chosen their first-ever winner of the Website of the Month! πŸ™‚ And the winner is…. (drumroll…)

SF Signal! πŸ™‚ Congrats to the excellent people over at SFSignal – I couldn’t agree more that they definitely run a tight ship there, keeping us up to date with everything to do with SFF! πŸ™‚ Congratulations, SFSignal πŸ™‚

What have they won? Well, keep an eye on their site for the next two or so weeks – hopefully they’ll post the good news there, too, and fill us in on the prizes! πŸ™‚

Once again, congrats! πŸ™‚

Also, Angry Robot has signed a new author! πŸ™‚

We’re over the moon to welcome British science fiction writer COLIN HARVEY to our happy but metallic band. The Bristol-based author has signed up with us for two novels, the first of which – WINTER SONG – will be appearing as soon as October this year, with the second to follow in May 2010.

Colin has for some years been an active contributor British small presses and blogs, and he is a regular reviewer for Strange Horizons, but these novels will mark his debut with a major publisher. His writing manages to combine solid action with a deeper, more reflective style that, when combined, delivers fabulous modern science fiction. The deal was done with his US-based agent, Jenny Rappaport, with the invaluable assistance of the Two Johns at Zeno Literary Agency in London.

Book one, WINTER SONG, sees bio-engineered starship pilot Karl Allman crashing his craft onto a snowy planet inhabited by Viking-like tribes, the remnants of earlier colonisation efforts. As the natives help him find a way back to the stars, he comes to realise that they are far from primitive. That will be followed by DAMAGE TIME, a near-future thriller from a world where America is on its last legs (topical, us?) and being parcelled off between the Chinese and the Muslims. A policeman who specialises in reading the last memories of murder victims comes under suspicion himself…

Colin blogs at Suite 101 and can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

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As always, check out Angry Robot at this link – there’s plenty more news there! πŸ™‚

Be Fantastic!

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2009 in Angry Robot

 

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