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Announcing: Crashing Heaven by Al Robertson (Voyager Gollancz Acquisition)

Happy Friday!

Thought I’d kick the weekend off by sharing news of an excellent-sounding acquisition by Voyager Gollancz:

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GOLLANCZ CRASHES HEAVEN WITH SPECTACULAR DEBUT SF NOVEL

Gollancz, an imprint of The Orion Publishing Group, has bought world rights to a remarkable SF debut. Written by an assured new UK author, Crashing Heaven echoes classic SF and brings a cutting edge digital twist.

Simon Spanton, Gollancz Associate Publisher, bought rights for two books from London author Al Robertson in a major pre-empt ahead of an auction, through Sue Armstrong at Conville & Walsh.  The first novel, Crashing Heaven, will be published in June 2015.

Crashing Heaven follows a unique friendship and ultimately asks what it means to be human in our technologically advancing world. Crackling with energy and wit, it will appeal to fans of everything from detective noir to genre classics like Neuromancer.

Gollancz Associate Publisher, Simon Spanton said: “From the very first lines of Crashing Heaven I was caught in the tangles of the amazing relationship between Jack and Hugo Fist. It was clear that Al Robertson was a writer completely in command of his material and totally at home in his chosen genre. To find all this, fully formed, in the work of a debut writer is special indeed. Why was I determined to publish this book? It’s a long time since I’ve read a book that takes the familiar and fashions it into something that feels so fresh. And it will be a long time before I can forget the terrifying manic energy, the barely contained rage, the chilling face of Hugo Fist.”

Sue Armstrong added: “Al Robertson is a master storyteller. Every page of Crashing Heaven sparks with energy and it takes a brilliant craftsman to create and control such an imaginative novel, especially one where the characters are as mesmerising as the ideas. That this is a debut is all the more extraordinary. But extraordinary is what Al Robertson does, I knew that the moment I met Hugo Fist.”

Al Robertson said: “’Gollancz publish the writers who taught me how to write. They use new worlds to dig into this one, which is exactly what I wanted to do with Crashing Heaven. It’s hugely exciting to be joining them, I can’t wait to start working with Simon and his team.’

Al Robertson has already been shortlisted for the BSFA short story award and longlisted for the British Fantasy Award. For more information about Al Robertson you can visit his website or follow him on Twitter: @al­_robertson.

Crashing Heaven * Al Robertson * Gollancz * 9781373203402

Trade paperback £14.99 * eBook £7.99

For further information please contact Publicity: Sophie Calder

Tel: 020 752 4314 /sophie.calder@orionbooks.co.uk

***

Sounds good! Looking forward to it when it’s released! 🙂

Have an epic weekend!

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2014 in Announcements

 

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Ecko Burning – Release Day: An Interview with Danie Ware

Hey everyone! Hope you’ve all been epic or good at it! 😉 I’m back today with an interview for you – the first I’ve done in a very long time, and with a writer and storyteller that has been at the forefront of the UK’s SFF industry for many years – Danie Ware. 🙂

Danie

Danie day-jobs at Forbidden Planet and is in charge of the awesome retailer’s social media presence, organizing events such as book launches and author signings, and is also in charge of FP’s marketing strategy. But this might be news to you, because Danie is also the author of Ecko Rising and Ecko Burning, the first two novels in a trilogy that has been gaining rave reviews and generating controversy, too. I read and loved Ecko Rising (you can read my review here), and I’m most certainly looking forward to Ecko Burning. 🙂 As I’m sure many of you are, too!

And if you have no idea who Danie is, and haven’t heard of Ecko, where the hell have you been?! 😉 Seriously, though, here’s some info on the first two books of her trilogy. 🙂

Ecko Rising

In a futuristic London where technological body modification is the norm, Ecko stands alone as a testament to the extreme capabilities of his society. Driven half mad by the systems running his body, Ecko is a criminal for hire. No job is too dangerous or insane.

When a mission goes wrong and Ecko finds himself catapulted across dimensions into a peaceful and unadvanced society living in fear of ‘magic’, he must confront his own percepions of reality and his place within it.

A thrilling debut, Ecko Rising explores the massive range of the sci-fi and fantasy genres, and the possible implications of pitting them against one another. Author Danie Ware creates an immersive and richly imagined world that readers will be eager to explore in the first book in this exciting new trilogy.

Order your copies here from Amazon US, here from Amazon UK, and here if you’re in South Africa.

Ecko Burning

 

***BEWARE OF SPOILERS WHEN READING THIS BLURB***

Ruthless and ambitious, Lord Phylos has control of Fhaveon city, and is using her forces to bring the grasslands under his command. His last opponent is an elderly scribe who’s lost his best friend and wants only to do the right thing. Seeking weapons, Ecko and his companions follow a trail of myth and rumour to a ruined city where both nightmare and shocking truth lie in wait.

The book is available right now, so order your copies from Amazon UK here; it will be released in the US on June 3rd 2014 (pre-order here), and if you’re in SA, you could order your copies from Exclusive Books and start reading in a week or three. 🙂

Right, let’s get to that interview, shall we?

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1) Would you please tell us a bit about yourself? Everyone in the UK SFF industry (and probably a good number in the US industry, too), know you through your day-job at Forbidden Planet – tell us a bit about the Danie Ware that most people don’t know. 🙂 )

I’m a forty-something single Mum, with a nine-year-old son of whom I’m very proud – and he’s been very patient with my writing, bless him! Other points of note: at thirteen, I went to an all-boys’ boarding school, then went on to read old school English Lit at Uni – lots of Milton and Chaucer. After that, I ran around on battlefields and hit people with swords for a decade or so. I moved to London in 2000 and I don’t really swear that much!

2) Were you always a storyteller at heart, or was it a need that gradually grew? Can you remember the first story you wrote? Tell us about it. 🙂

I’d’ve been about ten or eleven, I guess. It was a horse story (was learning to ride at the time, and ‘going through the phase’). I called it The Fire Saddle, wrote it all out by hand, PAGES of it, with maps and illustrations and cover art and you-name-it. It was absolutely honking terrible.

But, I’ve always been a storyteller, I think it’s a cathartic necessity. In the running-round-with-swords days, we all told our stories together, shared our worlds and realities and creativity – and a lot of Ecko is owed to those times.

3) In your opinion, do good writers make good storytellers? Or vice versa?

There are many different breeds of writer. A good copywriter is a different beast to a good novelist or a good journalist – though there’s no rule to say that a writer can’t be good at more than one discipline.

Good storytelling is about passion – about having an emotional involvement. The writer in you brings structure and narrative arc and all of that sensible stuff – but to be a storyteller, it has to come from your heart as well as your head.

4) Ecko is your unique creation – why him? What is it about him that made you want to write his story?

Though he originally had a different name, Ecko sprang into being, fully formed, one night when I was watching ‘Repossessed’. There’s a sequence where Linda Blair comes up off the bed, her face contorting, and snarls, ‘What crawled up your ass and died?’ and the entire concept, character and attitude, came from that moment.

He’s compelling because he’s not a character that reacts in half-measures. I never know what he’s going to be do next, and that makes him interesting. In times of frustration and anger, he’s been a deeply satisfying character to write. At other times, mustering his attitude has been quite hard.

Either way, his sarcastic sense of humour gave me slightly sardonic tone of voice that I needed to write about the fantasy world.

5) Ecko’s world and the world that he later finds himself in both have, for want of a better word, echoes of our own, yet are different and memorable – can you tell us a bit about how these worlds came to be? Did you create them and then fit the characters to them, or did the characters necessitate the creation of these worlds?

In our storytelling youth, our worlds and characters were created by osmosis – by a gang of us, sharing our visions and insights and foolishness. Pushing boundaries was what we did – we took the basics and played with them, we trashed and re-invented them. They grew organically and over time.

When I started writing again, I had to apply the editorial red pen – to make them work with the story. The addition of Pilgrim and Doctor Grey to the future London, for example, or the choice to base the fantasy culture on the cycling trade of a specific material – these things were new, and necessary.

The main characters, including Ecko himself, underwent the same editing process. Though there’s one, completely new, major character in Ecko Burning!

6) Many writers / storytellers are asked about the themes present in their novels – did you focus on themes in Ecko Rising? Did they grow organically or consciously?

The film ‘Run, Lola, Run’ shows how a tiny decision can change a whole pattern of unfolding events – a good visualisation for the ‘fractal reality’ theme. On one level, everything Ecko does is reflected throughout the pattern, and hence clearly visible – he can’t get away with anything. On another level, it brings with it the question of his freedom – is everything he does a part of the pattern and pre-ordained? Or is he free to move as he chooses and therefore change the pattern around him?

In its simplest form, this concept was built-in, right from the very beginning.

As the story unfolded, though, it came to encompass the pattern of the fantasy world itself – its Elemental and seasonal development, how the grass lives and dies, and the cycling patterns of the terhnwood trade.

I wish I was a mathematician, because I love fractals and I’d like to be able to draw it!

7) What can we look forward to in Ecko Burning? Have you upped the odds or gone for a ‘breath before the storm’?

Now that would be telling! I’ll say that you’ll find out more about the world and it’s culture and politics, how it works and how it can be taken apart. You’ll find out more about where centaurs other mythical beasties and come from – and what their agenda might be. You’ll see more of Ecko’s London. And you’ll hopefully meet a few surprises!

8) What is it about genre fiction that you hate, and what do you love?

I love how much freedom genre fiction has to express and explore – I love its scope and escapism, and the worlds to which it came take us. I get quite grumpy when those worlds all look the same, and all adhere to certain core concepts.

This is a bit of a hot potato at the moment – but I’m kind of pleased that Ecko’s been as controversial at it has. If it pleased everybody, I wouldn’t have written it right!

9) If a movie-trilogy was made of your trilogy, which director do you think would have the best chance of ‘getting’ Ecko?

Oooo that’s a hard one. I see Ecko as manga/animation – London done like Akira and the Varchinde like Ghibli’s Earthsea. I wouldn’t like to peg a Director to it, but I love the idea of the colours and the brightness and the contrast of one world to the other – or the filming sequences seen through Ecko’s oculars, complete with UV, IR targeting, or watching it move differently if his adrenal boosting kicked.

It would really underline the differences between the character and the world – and would look awesome!

10) If you had to pick one thing that you like most about your job at Forbidden Planet, what would it be, and why?

That’s an easy one – it’s being able to be a part of the SF/F community and to bring something to it that’s both meaningful and useful. It’s being able to host and attend events and to be involved in everything to such an intense degree. The presence of my son means that I don’t get to as many events as I’d like – so I’m waiting for him to be old enough to take with me!

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Danie2 2 (1)

Remember, Ecko Burning was released today and should be hitting UK-bookshelves even as you read this, so get out there and get your copies! 🙂

I’d like to thank Danie for taking the time to answer these questions, and I’d also like to thank Sophie Calder at Titan Books who arranged this interview for me. 🙂 You both rock, thank you! 🙂 For more info on Danie and her fiction, check out her official website.

Until next time,

Be EPIC!

P.S. I’ll be getting stuck into Ecko Burning as soon as I receive my copy, so expect a review soon. 🙂

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2013 in Interviews

 

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Review: The Aylesford Skull by James P. Blaylock (Titan Books)

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This article was posted as part of the Aylesford Skull Swashbuckling Blog Tour celebrating the release of James P. Blaylock’s first full-length steampunk novel in twenty years [The Aylesford Skull, Titan Books, £7.99]. For the opportunity to win a limited edition of The Aylesford Skull in a jacketed, signed hardcover with a unique jacket design, just tweet “I would like a limited edition of the Aylesford Skull @TitanBooks #Blaylock”.

Details about The Limited Edition (available Feb 2013)

750 signed and numbered editions:

Jacketed, cloth-bound hardcover with ribbon

Signed by James P. Blaylock

Exclusive foreword by K.W. Jeter and introduction by Tim Powers

26 signed and lettered editions:

As above encased in a custom-made traycase.

***

Let’s get this out of the way first – I’ve never read any of James’ work, so I’ve never read a Langdon St. Ives story, and believe me when I say that you don’t have to have read anything by James prior to reading this book; in fact, you don’t even need an introduction to St Ives! This was very important for me, because I didn’t want to to feel as if I had missed great and important events while reading ‘The Aylesford Skull’, which I did, in essence, but it didn’t FEEL that way. 🙂

So, let’s get to the style of this novel, which is the first thing that grabbed me. All of the fiction I’ve read, speculative or otherwise, that’s been set a century or two in the past, has often struggled with how people spoke in those times – I mean, since we’re not able to time-travel there’s just no way that we could get it perfectly right anyway, is there? There’s no way for me to know, for a fact, if how the characters converse -what words they use, how they structure sentences, what level of grammar they have learned- is accurate or not. All we have to go on is books, right? Study the way that writers such as Arthur Conan Doyle wrote and you could perhaps mimic that style of dialogue and description, right? Well, to me nothing in this novel, from the descriptions to the dialogue, felt mimicked, or copied. My reading experience of this novel was, to put it lightly, sublime – sentences, paragraphs and pages flowed past with practically no resistance, even though there’s plenty of words in this novel that we don’t hear much, if at all, today. Reading from day to day wasn’t jarring in the least – I never once felt as if I had to mentally prepare myself for a day’s reading.

Next up, St. Ives. Langdon isn’t the hero / protagonist you would expect; he’s not muscled or a genius, and he doesn’t have plenty of ladies fawning and falling all over him. So don’t expect a James Bond- or Indiana Jones-knock-off. He’s capable, sure, and what he does know he knows well, but like the normal man out on the street, he’s the type of guy who wants to live a quiet, relatively uneventful life, pursuing what his interests and making sure that his family is safe and that they have a relatively comfortable life. What sets him apart is his willingness to do everything he can when trouble strikes, as it invariably will and does. Then he becomes single-minded and, as often happens when someone is put in a difficult situation and has to focus intently to not lose their way, he makes mistakes. He’s not the perfect hero, or the perfect man, which leant a certain edge of surprise to this book – sometimes you just *know* what the hero is going to do and how he’s going to do it, but not in this novel. 🙂

Now to the antagonist – Ignacio Narbondo. Definitely one of the most enjoyable villains I’ve read in a long time! The man is highly intelligent, especially with people and how to read and manipulate them. He’s even more single-minded than St. Ives, more methodical and calculating, which is expected of a villain, but he brought a mixture of deviousness, flair, absolute casual brutality, and even humour (black as it was) to the story. I’m pretty sure I’d like him even more if I’d read the previous St Ives adventures. 🙂

The rest of the cast is satisfyingly large but not overwhelmingly so – there’s Alice (St. Ives’ wife), his son, Eddie, the St. Ives’ factotum (manservant) Hasbro, the young Finn Conrad, St. Ives’ long-time friend Tubby, Jack and Arthur Doyle (perked up at that, did you?), Mother Laswell, Bill Kraken, and even George (one of the men working for Narbondo); they each bring a different and believable mix of personalities to the novel, with different levels of education (and so different ways of speaking) and different action-levels (if I can put it that way). 🙂 All of them were highly enjoyable and didn’t seem wasted in any of the chapters they appeared in, nor did their presence overwhelm any of the scenes  🙂

The novel’s plot ticked along like perfectly-tuned clockwork – except when the move towards the climax began, because then it kicked into high speed, so much so that the last hundred-or-so pages raced by. There was a bit of everything in this novel – explosions, hand-to-hand combat, knife fights, gun battles, chases, and tension a-plenty so that even when I knew that the hero, St. Ives, would win through (I mean, he’s the hero, of course he has to, doesn’t he?) there were a whole fistful of chapters in which I thought, “Sir, you are going to die painfully!”. James managed to play with my expectations beautifully, and there wasn’t a single time that I was right in forecasting what was going to happen. 🙂 Oh, and you’ll have to read the novel to get any idea of the supernatural element, because the only thing I’ll say is that it was cool and unique and I really liked how it was done. 🙂

I really and truly enjoyed this novel – not only was it a great break from the Horror, SF and Fantasy I’ve been reading (which includes both novels and comics), but it reminded me once again that I don’t need mind-bending SF concepts, creeping, grisly, shocking or twisted Horror, or even the awesome magic-systems or world-building of Fantasy to really enjoy a novel. ‘The Aylesford Skull’ was incredible old-school fun, a gripping adventure that dealt with subjects such as family, friendship, the dark side of human nature, the lengths we’ll go to protect our own, and the uniqueness of those we see as evil or bad – sometimes someone doesn’t have to be insane to be the bad guy; sometimes curiosity is enough. 🙂

Huge thanks to Sophie Calder for sending me ‘The Aylesford Skull’ – really enjoyed this novel and I’ll definitely get what I can of James Blaylock’s other works – highly recommended! 🙂

9 / 10

AylesfordSkull

To order your copies of this excellent Langdon St. Ives adventure, click here for Amazon US, here for Amazon UK, and here if you’re in South Africa. Check out the novel’s page over at Titan Books, and for more info on the Swashbuckling Blog Tour check out this post on Titan’s blog. Also, check out James P. Blaylock’s website here.

Until next time,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2013 in Reviews

 

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