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Star Wars Imperial Commando: 501st Blurb!

I saw this on theforce.net a few minutes ago and thought I’d post it here – but beware, if you haven’t read Karen Traviss’ Republic Commando series (Hard Contact, Triple Zero, True Colours, Order 66) and don’t want to be spoiled, DON’T READ THIS! πŸ™‚ You have been warned!

This is a blurb for the book from amazon.uk, and remember, it might not be the actual blurb that’ll appear on the book.

*****SPOILER WARNING*****

The Clone Wars are over, but the clone deserters’ personal battle against the Empire has only just begun. With death warrants on their heads, and a hated Imperial garrison on Mandalore, Kal Skirata’s clan of clone veterans, Mando mercenaries, misfit refugees, and a renegade Jedi find all their worst nightmares have followed them home. The search for a cure for the clones’ premature aging grows more desperate, and Etain’s son must be protected at all costs. Darman and Niner are still stranded in the Imperial legion, and fight to survive in a very different army. But as Mandalore prepares to resist Palpatine’s new order, Skirata is forced to give safe haven to those he hates most, and some he thought were dead. Clan Skirata thinks things can’t possibly get any worse – until their ragtag private army faces the reality of fighting the Empire. Their most lethal enemies are now their own brothers.

Sounds great, huh? πŸ™‚

Pre-order the book here!

Be Fantastic!

PS. I’ll post the cover art as soon as it’s available!

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2009 in Announcements

 

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Review: Star Wars Darth Bane: Rule of Two – Drew Karpyshyn

Rule of Two

Star Wars: Darth Bane: Rule of Two

I finished Bane’s second outing yesterday, and it was even more enjoyable than the first! πŸ™‚ Drew Karpyshyn is really coming into his own, and with the third book in the series on the way (the title has been recently released, and it is Dynasty of Evil) we’ve been practically guarunteed that the book will be an excellent climax to Bane’s story! πŸ™‚

This book follows Bane and his new, young apprentice immediatly following the climax of Path of Destruction; they are still on Ruusan, the planet that saw the deaths of thousands on Jedi and Sith when Lord Kaan released the most devastating Force-weapon I’ve ever seen: the thought bomb. In the aftermath of it being released, Bane in the only Sith Lord still alive, but that’s part of the plan – he looked upon the Sith and saw them as weak, and knew that the Order would need to be broken and then recreated into a force (pardon the word) capable of destroying the Jedi and taking over the Galactic Republic. Sound familiar? Yes, Bane was the Sith Lord that began the Rule of Two, and if it wasn’t for him, Palpatine (Darth Sidious) would probably never have existed.

So, Bane has survived but is suffering terrible headaches, and is also seeing visions of two of the Sith Lords he betrayed and murdered – yes, Kaan did release the thought bomb, but Bane was the one who convinced him to do it. Bane has found Zannah, and after a detour back to the caves to see the remnants of the thought bomb (and someone from Zannah’s past), Bane leaves for Dxun, the planet orbiting Onderon where the tomb of the ancient Sith Lord, Freedon Nad, is; he leaves Zannah on Ruusan, without food or shelter, and tells her that her first important test is to travel to Onderon and meet him there – how she does so is up to her.

This sets the stage for the steep learning curve that all Sith before Sidious and up to Bane must have gone through, and throughout the book Drew puts Zannah through hell – but it makes sense, in terms of who the Sith are, what they represent, and what their ultimate goal is.

The book is an easy, enjoyable read – what I mean by this is that there are no passages that slow you down, nothing to get stuck in, and no re-reads of any portion of the text because you didn’t understand what was written. Drew’s style is fluid and engaging, and you’ll find that you’ve finished three or four chapters before you realize the world is out there! πŸ™‚

The action scenes are pure Star Wars – and because of Drew’s time on the Knights of the Old Republic PC game, also something more; when Drew’s character’s fight or duel, it’s never just combatants moving around each other and twilrling blades, and he also writes the scenes in a way that make them seem very possible. πŸ™‚

I did, though, find myself becoming a bit irritated with Zannah – for a Sith, she seems a bit too undecisive, and the choice (and its ramifications) that she makes at the book’s climax somehow didn’t seem strong enough to really sell it to me.

Other than that, I’ve got no problems at all with the book; it’s a solid read, an excellent Star Wars novel, and a great way of really understanding the differences between the Sith and the Jedi – put it this way; read Path of Destruction and Rule of Two and you’ll understand Darth Sidious, Darth Maul, Darth Tyranus, Darth Vader, Darth Lumiya and Darth Caedus a bit more. πŸ™‚

Sith are incredibly interesting creatures, and I for one am very glad that Drew Karpyshyn is the one who was chosen to tell their story! πŸ™‚

8/10

Go check out Drew’s site here, visit his blog at the official Star Wars site here,

and

get Path of Destruction here, and Rule of Two here!

Be Fantastic!

 
7 Comments

Posted by on February 14, 2009 in Reviews

 

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Star Wars Deathtroopers Cover Revealed!!

Holy crap! You have to check this out! πŸ™‚

For those who didn’t know, on Halloween of this year the first ever full-on horror novel, set in the Star Wars universe (yep, you heard that right), is being published! πŸ™‚

Now, I am an unrepentant Star Wars nut (approaching 120 paperbacks in my collection, 12 hardcovers, and plenty more), I love the mythology and the characters, and even though the Star Wars saga is venturing into new territory here, I think it’s going to be awesome! πŸ™‚ The cover is so kickass! πŸ™‚

Looking forward to it! πŸ™‚ Somehow, Mr Scheiber, I don’t think you will disappoint. πŸ™‚

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2009 in Announcements

 

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An Interview with Drew Karpyshyn

Drew Karpyshyn

Drew Karpyshyn

I was lucky enough to have been able to get a reply from Drew via his website a few weeks ago, and here is the interview that was born. πŸ™‚
Great guy, and an excellent writer!

Ascension

Mass Effect: Ascension

Welcome to the South African SFF scene, Drew, and thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions! πŸ™‚

No problem – I always like chatting with fans who enjoy my work.

First off, would you please tell us a bit about yourself? What you were
doing before the tales your wrote were published?

I worked a number of jobs before I finally started getting paid for my writing. I was a furniture mover, I drove a truck dropping off newspaper bundles, I worked as a bank teller and loans officer… but none of it was very fulfilling to me. So I went back to school to work on a Masters degree in English. During that time, I signed a contract with Wizards of the Coast to publish my first novel. Shortly after that I was hired by BioWare to work as a writer on their games. Things just sort of took off from there. I never actually did finish my Masters degree. I figured I was getting paid to write, and it just didn’t get any better than that, so I gave up school and I’ve never gone back.

Can you remember the one book you read that created this urge in you to write and share your tales with the world?

As long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I don’t think there was any one book that really flipped a switch; I was writing stories as soon as I was old enough to put pen to paper and scratch out letters.

Your published work includes much more than what you’ve contributed to Star Wars; would you please tell us about everything else you’ve accomplished?

In addition to my two Star Wars novels (Darth Bane: Path of Destruction and Darth Bane: Rule of Two), I’ve also written two fantasy novels for Wizards of the Coast (Temple Hill and Throne of Bhaal), as well as two Mass Effect novels (Mass Effect: Revelation, a prequel to the BioWare video game and Mass Effect: Ascension, a bridge between the first Mass Effect game and the second). I’ve also been a writer on the Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights series of BioWare games, and I was the lead writer on the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect games.

I’m currently working on a third (still untitled) Darth Bane novel, and with BioWare I’m the lead writer on the Mass Effect 2 video game. I’ve also published a number of sci-fi/fantasy short stories, though I haven’t had time to work on any short stories for the past few years – the games and novels (plus golf) eat up most of my time.

You’ve worked in big-name industries, Forgotten Realms, Star Wars, and the gaming industry with BioWare (much of the time); in terms of support with the projects you’ve tackled, which industry rates as the best?

I’ve been lucky, in that I’ve always been able to tell exactly the kind of story I’ve wanted to in all of my work. BioWare is great because they’re one of the few video game companies that focus on story, so writers are full-time employees who start on a project on day one and stay with it to the end. As far as my Star Wars experience, I’ve been fortunate enough to be the only author working in the Old Republic time frame, and the people at Lucas Books and Del Rey have allowed me to write about what I want, how I want.

Your name is part of two of the biggest games in the gaming industry, Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect; what are the things, in your opinion, that yourself and BioWare did right to make these games such a success?

A key element to both games is story integration. There are games that have great gameplay mechanics and fantastic visuals, but they might lack story and characters. Other games have brilliant story, but the game itself is subpar. Both Kotor and Mass Effect managed to combine story, graphics and game play in a way that allows the whole to be greater than the mere sum of the parts. It also helps to have incredibly talented people working on the project. Many of the same senior people who worked on Mass Effect also worked on Kotor. We’re lucky enough to have the the right mix of talents and personalities – we compliment each other well.

Your contributions to the Star Wars saga have focused attention on a great character, Darth Bane; can you tell us how it came about that you were chosen, or allowed, to write Path of Destruction?

I’ll be honest – it’s not easy to break into the Star Wars novels. There are so many talented writers looking to work with the world’s most well known and popular franchise. Fortunately, I had an in – my work on Kotor. Once the game was released and became a big success, I approached Lucas Books and Random House/Del Rey with the idea of having a novel set in the Old Republic time period… something none of the novels had explored before. Based on my work in KOTOR and my first two novels with Wizards of the Coast, the powers-that-be decided to give me a chance.

But I didn’t want to focus on the KOTOR characters or time period. I felt
that, between the games and comic series, that story was already being
told. So I focused on another fascinating time period – the moment when
the Old Republic, with thousands of Sith and Jedi, changed forever. The
logical choice was to make a novel focusing on the man responsible for
that change; a novel that explored the Sith and the dark side in a way
that hadn’t really been done before.

The second Bane novel, Rule of Two, hit shelves in paperback on the 28th of October, and you are working on the third untitled novel; how does it feel to know that you’ve made your own much-loved impression on the GFFA?

Obviously it feels great. I love that fans have embraced the Old Republic time period, and whenver I see an action figure or minature from the Bane novels or Kotor I get a giddy little thrill, because I know I’m partly responsible. There’s something cool about knowing you’ve contributed to Star Wars, because it’s become such a fixture in our culture. My characters and stories will live on long after I’m gone… it’s almost like a small piece of immortality.

Working for BioWare must be one of the best jobs in the world; can you take us through a general day?

It’s a great job, but we work hard. As the lead writer, most of my mornings are consumed with meetings. I meet with the artists, the
cinematic designers, the level designers, the audio and voice over people, the other writers… anyone who is contributing to the game. It’s
important that we all stay on the same page, and everyone understands the vision of whatever we happen to be working on. In the afternoon, if I’m lucky, I get a chance to do some actual writing for the game. Unfortunately, this only happens about 2 or 3 days a week – often my writing time has to be put aside for more meetings. Anytime you get 100+ talented, passionate people working on a game, it’s going to be difficult to keep everyone moving in the same direction. So all the leads on the project (Lead Designer, Lead Artist, Lead Animator, the Project Director,etc.) find themselves struggling to balance meetings with actual content creation.

One of my friends told me that he cried like a baby at the climax of the
first Mass Effect game, and that the game in general was brilliant; what were the themes you all wanted to explore with Mass Effect (the game, as well as the two novels you’ve written), and why do you think the game would have such a powerful reaction with players?

Revelation

Mass Effect: Revelation

We had several themes we wanted to explore in Mass Effect, and I think their universal relevance is what made them come across in such a powerful way. Humanity’s struggle to find their place in the greater galactic community reflects the struggle we all go through to find our place in the world. The nature of morality and whether the ends justify the means is another timeless theme explored throughout film and literature. And the potential threat of artificial intelligence or synthetic life is something modern society is already struggling with, so we wanted to reflect that as well.

Finally, we know you cannot yet speak about where you are taking Bane in his third outing, but do you have any other plans, writing-wise, or can you drop hints about any other exciting projects on the way?

I can’t say too much about projects I’m involved with… I don’t want to get fired or sued. I can say that in addition to the third Bane novel I’m also working on the second Mass Effect game, but I can’t comment on any other BioWare (possibly SW related) projects at this time. (I think you all know what I’m talking about…) I am also working on the first book in my own original fantasy setting, and of course I spend a lot of time working on my golf game.

Thanks, Drew, for taking the time to answer these questions, and we wishyou only the best of luck, great success, and many more books! πŸ™‚

Thanks for the opportunity to speak to all your readers. If they want to know more about me or what I’m working on, they can go to my website at http://www.drewkarpyshyn.com – it’s all Drew, all the time!

Star Wars Darth Bane Rule of Two

Star Wars Darth Bane Rule of Two

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2008 in Interviews

 

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Review: Star Wars Coruscant Nights 2 Street of Shadows – Michael Reeves

I finished this book about two weeks ago, and I’m only posting the review now because I wanted to finish the other two books I was reading, too, and then do the reviews one after another. The reason for this is simple: I couldn’t put them down! πŸ™‚ Okay, I did put them down, alternating between each book; I read a hundred pages of each book before moving onto the next, so that’s why it took me just more than three weeks to finish three books. πŸ™‚

Okay, time for the review: First off, Street of Shadows didn’t catch my attention the way the first book in the series did. One of the reviewers over at TheForce.Net said that the book was a bit lacking in the ‘noir’ department, but that didn’t matter to me, because I’ve never actually read any ‘noir’ so I have no way of making a judgement because of that. This book seemed to me as if a collective breath had been taken, as if the characters were taking stock of themselves and their situations before the final act.

In this book, Jax Pavan has changed professions: he’s no longer a bounty hunter, but a private eye, and with the help of I-5, Den Dhur, the Jedi Paladin Laranth, and the one-time servant of Darth Vader, they take on the investigation of a famed Camaasi artist, Ves Volette. The first thing I enjoyed was the fact that we get a new (almost current) report of the destruction of Camaas (an event, for those who know their Star Wars, which Timothy Zahn created in his Hand of Thrawn Duology), and we also see Camaas through the memories of Volette, which was cool; it was nice to be able to actually see the planet, and the glimpses we get of daily life there, as well as the landscape, serve to flesh out a location that no-one writing for Star Wars has ever taken us to before.

As a PI, Jax sucks. (Sorry Michael) At first I thought, okay, a Jedi as a PI would be unstoppable; I mean, he has the Force on his side, and with the reflexes and insight the Force allows, he would have been able to close any case very quickly indeed. But he struggles along, and we are taken through leads that seem to be there only for the value of being shown some interesting new sentient species and a pretty cool duel with a Cathar. Those were the highlights connected to Jax, for me. πŸ™‚

But we also have other arcs to follow: the first being Aura Sing, the other being Captain Typho.

Aura was written very well! The last Time I saw her was in one of the Legacy of the Force novels, and I’m glad that such a tight reign was kept on her character. Aura kicks ass and is irredemably evil, and the vocal (and physical) play between herself and Vader is quite entertaining, especially because something happens in this book that took me completely by surprise: I won’t tell you what it is, it’s something Vader does, but I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether you think it fits or makes sense. I enjoyed it. πŸ™‚

Typho, as a character, has always been pretty flat (not even George Lucas could fix that), but Michael Reeves makes him interesting, and when Typho is chatting with an Imperial (you’ll know where as soon as you get to it) the insults traded there are some of the best that have graced the pages of any Star Wars novel. πŸ™‚ Anyway, Typho is looking for PadmΓ¨’s murderer, and he was in love with her, so this is a mission of vengeance for him.

One thing that I was very pleased with is that I-5 and Jax are friends, and Jax’s hang-ups with droids are almost completely gone. Michael also goes deeper into the issue, and so we understand why Jax felt the way he did with droids, which helps us identify even more with Jax and I-5. πŸ™‚ The other characters don’t have much of a role to play (except for the Paladin, Laranth, but that you’ll have to discover for yourself), but we do get two more connections going back to earlier Reeves Star Wars novels, and I have to say, I love the way that Reeves and Perry do this. Okay, every Star Wars novel does this, but these guys play with our expectations: you read something in one novel that, it seems, we won’t ever see again, or that has no further use, but we are proved pleasantly wrong. πŸ™‚

All in all, this was an enjoyable book, not as great as the first book, but a worthy addition. πŸ™‚ There are duels, explosions, the use of the Dark Side, and humor, so any Star Wars fan should enjoy this book. πŸ™‚ If you’re not a Star Wars fan, then don’t even ask me if it would be a good idea to read this book; I’ve been reading Star Wars too long and according to the timeline and events to give you an unbiased opinion, but please, drop me a line if you want to to start reading Star Wars but don’t know where to start. πŸ™‚

7/10

And as always, here’s the link to Michael’s website. πŸ™‚

Star Wars Coruscant Nights 2 Street of Shadows

Star Wars Coruscant Nights 2 Street of Shadows

 
3 Comments

Posted by on November 1, 2008 in Reviews

 

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An Interview with Karen Traviss

Karen Traviss

Karen Traviss

First off, welcome to the South African SFF-reading public, Karen, and thank you for doing this interview! πŸ™‚

Nice to talk to you all in SA!

Would you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Not much to tell, really. I’ve been writing fiction for a living since 2004. Before that, I was a journalist, and I worked in PR, but as that was political PR, you can probably count that as fiction too. I sometimes wonder if my characterisation skills actually developed as a result of having to make politicians look like reasonable, honest human beings. A few of them really taxed my creativity on that front….

You’ve completed your Wess’har War series (among many other projects): will you please give us an intro to the series?

It’s about what happens when humans blunder into a rumbling on-off war between aliens a long way from Earth. Not only do we find we’re not the top of the food chain, we also find that our morality is not the morality of the militarily dominant species, and that they find us pretty disgusting. Inevitably, we screw up badly, and they decide we’re a threat that has to be dealt with. There are no heroes or villains in the series, just different perspectives, the very tight third person point of view of each character, so it’s not a series for readers who like nice clear-cut good and evil. Nor are there any answers in it, because I don’t have any. It’s all questions. The characters that most readers regard as the heroes of the series are a disgraced cop, a war criminal, an alien warlord, and a combat-stressed veteran commando. That tells you a lot.

What were the themes that you wanted to explore with the Wess’har War series?

All my novels, tie-in or creator-owned, are about the politics of identity. I didn’t have a label for it until a reader who’s an academic pointed that out to me. They’re all about how we identify ourselves and the line between “us” and “them”, the “them” being anything we can treat badly or exploit. It’s all about otherness. You’ll see exactly the same questions explored in my Star Wars or Gears of War books, or anything else I write – it’s something that works in tandem with my tight-third-person POV style. You’re in each character’s head as the books progress, and you only see the world as each sees it, no authorial intrusion, so it’s up to you as the reader to decide who you believe. I create characters (and develop the ones I inherit) using a twin technique that’s a mix of biology and psychological profiling – I ask myself what kind of person would find themselves in certain niches – who would want to take a one-way trip to an alien world? – then work out the psych profile, and let them loose to interact with one another. It’s much more like computer modelling or games than conventional novel techniques, and the characters really do drive the plot to places I not only don’t recognise but also to places where I wouldn’t want to go personally. I don’t bolt a plot of my choice into the characters. That makes for a very different kind of book.

I’m an ethicist, a critic tells me, which means I explore all my stories in terms of ethics. I still think like a journalist, of course, so if anyone tells me “These are the good guys,” my instant reaction is, “Yeah? Says who? Why?” I don’t take anyone’s word for anything, and I don’t take well to unchallenged assumptions. For example, Star Wars – the vast majority of Star Wars fiction is centred on Jedi, so we just get the Jedi PR view, and nobody sees themselves as bad – not even serial killers. We all think we’re right, and we all think we’re good people. But if you look at yourself, or the Jedi, through someone else’s eyes – someone who hasn’t fared well at your hands, or theirs – then you’ll get a very different picture. So I introduced the idea to SW that the Jedi might not have been the heroes they thought they were. As a journalist, looking at them cold (I knew nothing about SW before I started the books, and I’m not a fan) the Jedi struck me as exactly the kind of cult I’d want to investigate and whose funding and resources would be of great interest, if you get my drift.

What have you found to be the best way of relaxing during or between projects? Have you ever wanted to just pull your hair out and demand more hours in the day from the universe? πŸ™‚

When I find a “between projects” moment, I’ll let you know. I haven’t had a break since October 2004. I have to have one soon, or I’ll drop. I’ll probably do something like take up gliding or some other thing I’ve never thought about before, just to see what happens.

Looking back on your career, is there anything you would have done differently or changed, if you could?

Well, there are only four years to look back on, but if you go by the number of books I’ve written in that time, yes, I suppose that’s a lifetime’s writing for most people, so, okay, career. There have been a few books I’ve absolutely loathed writing for various reasons, and at a basic human level I wish I’d never signed on the dotted line. Readers won’t even be able to guess which ones they are, because it never shows in the books; every book is written to utmost of my ability. It’s not actually the books per se that are negative experiences, but the accompanying factors that are actually a bigger part of writing a novel than the writing itself.

At a professional level, though, I know that the bad things in life teach you a lot more than the good ones, so they’re necessary. I now understand exactly what I dislike and should avoid doing, so I make better choices about what I do in the future. The negative experiences have also been useful for testing my own judgment – there was one case where my inner voice said, “You know this is going to be a serious pain in the backside, don’t you?”, but I did it anyway, and it was, so I learned to trust my instincts better.

I run on business plans – this is business, not art – so I’m used to evaluating outcomes and adjusting plans accordingly, and there’s no point writing if you don’t enjoy it. There are much easier ways to earn a living. The more I define what gives me pleasure in my working day, the better the quality of my life. For example, I know now that I really enjoy working with a games team – I’ve had the time of my life working on GEARS OF WAR with Epic. I also know now that I’m not actually an SF writer – I’m a military writer who happened to start with SF, and the military/ political thing is likely to be the constant in my career, not the genre. You only get to know that by trying things and finding out what you don’t like.

You’ve been on many book tours and have had to sign many books: is there any tour that stands out in particular, one that you really enjoyed?

Actually, I’ve only done a few, and only in the USA. I love the actual events – meeting readers, giving talks – but I hate the travel in between. The sooner someone invents a matter transporter, the better. I’m still twitching from the Great Chicago Airport Foul-up of 2007, also known as the Voyage of the Damned. I won’t bore everyone with the logistics disaster story, but we (me and artist Matt Busch) finally got to Indianapolis an hour after the event was due to start, and by that time the airline had lost my luggage – and | was due in Florida the next day. The situation was saved by the magnificent folks of the local 501st Legion garrison, who made sure I was fed, took me shopping for emergency supplies and clothing, and generally looked after me. I have the best fans on the planet – bless them.

Finally, how do you think the science-fiction genre has changed over the decades, and do you think it has changed for better or worse?

I don’t read novels – I don’t read any print fiction other than comics – so I can’t judge by that, or comment on quality, because that’s going to be highly subjective anyway. But I can judge by sales and what I see happening in the SF community. (At least what I see peering through the window, because I’m not part of it, not in the UK or in the US.) I’m disappointed to see what non-media SF has become. It’s dying sales-wise, agents tell me, and I think it’s only got itself to blame; it created its own ghetto and seems to delight in making it hard for casual readers to get in.

You shouldn’t have to have a body of special genre knowledge before you pick up a book in order to get something out of it – that’s like setting an entrance exam. But that barrier seems to be there, and so a lot of SF has lost out to SF/ fantasy tie-ins and other media because it’s failed the general reader in terms of creating immersive stories. It’s the kind of attitude I see aimed at TV series like Battlestar Galactica. “It’s not SF!” the hard-liners shriek. Well, I say it is SF and the kind we should be aiming at if we want more people to get into it, because BSG is accessible to casual viewers as well as self-identifying SF fans. BSG is about people and situations we can relate to, and SF is just a stage setting for those things. And “accessible” is not a dirty word – what kind of genre doesn’t want to appeal to as many people as possible? We’re not running an exclusive country club here. We’re seeking a shared experience. I write for general readers, deliberately so, not only because that’s the only way novels will survive in the market, but because I actually want to reach as many people as I can. Believe me, I’d rather write a million-selling book for a modest advance than accept a million bucks for a book that sold to only a couple of thousand readers.

Books have to be primarily about people – about characters. The time has long gone when you could trot out a story about a gizmo and the idea of the gizmo alone would make readers gasp. We live in a world stuffed with damn gizmos, our pockets and homes are full of them, and we know what they do and that they haven’t always made our lives magically better. But we still have trouble understanding other people. So that’s where the sense of wonder lies, the unknown country to explore.

The worst lie SF ever told itself was that any story where you could take out the science and the story still worked was just “skiffy”, and hence inferior. By all means go on writing “ideas and gizmo” SF, but don’t be surprised if most people don’t buy it. Novels are about the human condition – even if they’re about aliens. Characters – people – are what sell books to most readers..

Thank you, Karen, for giving up some of your time to answer these questions for us, and please keep those incredible novels coming! πŸ™‚

My pleasure!

Gears of War Aspho Fields

Gears of War Aspho Fields

Star Wars Republic Commando Order 66

Star Wars Republic Commando Order 66

Go check out Karen’s website here, where you’ll be able to explore (and purchase!) every book Karen has written. πŸ™‚

Also, here’s a link to her blog post on character creation; Karen spoke about some of the topics she covered in the blog post in the interview, but for all us writers out there, I think it’s great to see another POV, so to say. πŸ™‚

Also, here’s another link to a great blog post, also on her blog. Deep, interesting reading, trust me. πŸ™‚

Once again, thanks to Karen for giving up her time for this interview! πŸ™‚

 
1 Comment

Posted by on October 16, 2008 in Interviews

 

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Two Quick News-worthy Updates

I’ve come across some news I thought you would just have to know about (if you don’t already, that is!), so here we go:

Head on over to Pat’s blog to see the final version of the cover of Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon Limited Edition from Subteranean Press! This is one book I would seriously, seriously LOVE to have, but it’s a bit above my price-range… !sob!

And then, for those Star Wars fans out there, some very interesting discussions are going on at theforce.net’s forums, regarding the new Star Wars novel, Millenium Falcon, by James Luceno. The info that is available on this book (so far) is proving to be great and very intruiging! So if you don’t mind spoilers, and you just have to know, check it out!

Be fantastic!

P.S. WordPress now does polls!!! πŸ™‚ Look out for that soon. πŸ™‚

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2008 in Announcements

 

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Review: Star Wars Death Star – Steve Perry & Michael Reaves

Star Wars Death Star

Star Wars Death Star

I finished the book today, sonetime in the afternoon, while I was at work – and believe me, it was torture having to take a break and earn my salary when I had such an excellent book to read! πŸ™‚

Death Star tells the story of that giant battle station, from when it was getting the finishing touches applied to the moment after it became a very pretty light show in Yavin-4’s skies. This story is told from myriad points of view: a smuggler trapped on the prison planet, Despayre (the Death Star was constructed in orbit around this planet), a TIE fighter pilot, a gunner, an architect, a librarian, a doctor, a stormtrooper, a cantina owner and her bouncer, as well as Darth Vader, Admiral Motti, and Grand Moff Tarkin.

What made this book really enjoyable for me was that it reminded me of movies such as Crash – you know, lots of different characters who aren’t linked to each other, but do get linked as the plot unfolds; I’ve never noticed this in Star Wars novels before, so if it’s already been done, don’t shout at me πŸ™‚ but this works well, especially when dealing with such an important construction.

Reading this novel takes you deeper into the event that gave the Rebel Alliance it’s first concrete victory against the Empire; you understand not only the motivations of all the characters, whether good or bad, but you also get a deeper sense of what it actually meant to destroy the Death Star. I’ve never really understood, or really thought about, the fact that Luke Skywalker murdered about a million beings when he fired that proton torpedo down the exhaust port, but now I do; good or bad, they were all on the Death Star when it exploded, and although the battle station, with Tarkin at the helm, would have sowed incredible destruction throughout the galaxy had the station not been destroyed, I couldn’t help thinking that perhaps sabotage wouldn’t have been a bad idea. The writers have done an amazing job in bringing across the different points of view, in helping us to understand the motivations behind their actions, and my two favourite characters are Nova Stihl and Dr ‘Uli’ Divini; they brought a warmth and depth to the book that nicely balanced the evil of Tarkin and Vader.

The cameo’s of other Star Wars characters was also handled well (but read for yourself to find out who), and true to form, Perry and Reaves have once again brought characters along for the ride who made appearances in their other Star Wars novels, which is great!

And trust me, the action really hots up when you get to the part of the book at which Star Wars Episode 4 A New Hope starts; seeing the details of the scenes we know so well (and the extra info that’s been added) really added an extra level of excitement to the book! πŸ™‚

All in all, an excellent read, and one I highly reccomend! πŸ™‚

9/10

Go check out the sites of the author’s at the following links:

Michael Reaves

Steve Perry

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2008 in Reviews

 

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Review: Star Wars Coruscant Nights 1 Jedi Twilight – Michael Reaves

I finished reading Michael Reaves’ (http://www.michaelreaves.com/) latest Star Wars offering yesterday, and I thouroughly enjoyed it! πŸ™‚

For those of you who have readΒ Reaves and Steve Perry’s previous contributions to the Star Wars universe (Star Wars Darth Maul Shadow Hunter, Star Wars Medstar 1 Battle Surgeons, Star Wars Medstar 2 Jedi Healer, Star Wars Death Star), you’ll all know that Michael and Steve have created some very memorable characters that are carried through into the various books, and Coruscant Nights is no exception. But let’s get to the meat of the tale first: Coruscant Nights is, at its heart, the story of a Jedi Knight trying to survive on post-Order 66 Coruscant (now named Imperial Center).

We follow Jax Pavan, living in the seedier sections of the planet-wide city; he is part of an underground resistance group determined to undermine the Empire any way they can, and arrange for the escape of any surving Jedi. Jax has taken on the role of a bounty hunter, a job that, to say the least, is extremely at odds with his being a Jedi Knight. Jax then finds out from Nick Rostu (a character created by Matt Stover for the Clone Wars novel, Star Wars Shatterpoint) that his old master has been killed, and has asked Jax to complete his mission: find a droid that has some valuable information for the resistance. And so the adventure begins, ushering in more characters that, more often than not, steal Jax’s limelight.

We again meet Den Dhur, the Sullustan reporter from the Medstar Duology, the droid I-5, Kaird, an avian working for Black Sun, Prince Xizor from Shadows of the Empire, and Darth Vader. Den and I-5 have come to Imperial Center looking for Jax, Kaird is trying to get out of Black Sun and return home, Prince Xizor is arranging a devious trap, and Vader is looking for Jax.

All these plot-points converge, and cleverly, as the novel comes to its end, and all the characters are written extremely well and practically jump and dive and dodge off the page – I-5 in particular is one of the most intruiging characters I’ve met in a Star Wars novel, not only for the fact that he may just be the first completely self-aware droid ever. Den Dhur, too, is perfect as the cynical reporter, just trying to get some peace and quiet and forget the events that took place on Drongar (Medstar Duology) and help his droid buddy find Jax. Xizor, too, is the same devious prince from Shadows of the Empire, and a surprise is waiting in this book that practically sets the scene for Shadows. Vader is present, but doesn’t do much, although his role will grow in the following books.

The action scenes are pure Star Wars, thought there are no space battles, and lightsaber duels are surprising to say the least, not only because of who fights them but also what they fight with, and the underbelly of Imperial Center was described well-enough to immerse but not overwhelm.

As I said earlier, those who have followed Reaves and Perry’s Star Wars work will really enjoy this book; a plot-point from Shadow Hunter comes full-circle, old characters are brought along and play important parts, and the humour that Reaves and Perry bring to their work is spot-on and laugh-out-loud funny, but…

Here we come to the two issues I had with the book.

The first? There is no France, or frenchmen, is Star Wars, so the inclusion of a french expression completely threw me out when I read it; it just doesn’t have a place in Star Wars.

And the second: Jax’s unrealistic attitude towards droids, especially I-5. I thought Jedi (even Jedi in hiding) were supposed to have a deep respect for everything, but from the beginning (and this in a galaxy where anything can and does happen) Jax was terribly put out by the idea of droid self-awareness. I mean, we all know C-3PO and R2-D2 – those two have never been anything less that self-aware, it’s something we almost come to expect from droids that take center-stage in Star Wars, so it seemed a bit weird to me.

Other than that, the book flowed along nicely, it was exciting, clever, and the characters were wonderful! Book 2 should be even better, because the main plot will be revealed, but Jedi Twilight was a great start. πŸ™‚

8/10

Star Wars Coruscant Nights Jedi Twilight

Star Wars Coruscant Nights Jedi Twilight

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2008 in Reviews

 

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Some News

I’m a winner again! πŸ™‚ (Pumping my fist in the air, s’cuse me for a bit) πŸ™‚ Paul over at Blood of the Muse, a great SFF (and much more) blog site, btw, let me know today that I’ve won a signed copy of Greg Bear’s Quantico! πŸ™‚ I cannot wait to show that off here, and then show it off to all my sf-reading buddies – people will be contemplating murder, let me tell you. πŸ™‚

They’re having another giveaway, btw: you can win a copy of the new Dune novel, Paul of Dune, and if you’re a blogger and do so promotion for the giveaway on your site, you get two entries, so head here: http://www.bloodofthemuse.com/2008/09/book-giveaway-paul-of-dune-by-brian.htmlΒ and check it out. πŸ™‚

Also, I’ve got yet another Star Wars author coming up for a interview – no, I’m not saying anything about who it is, but when I’ve got the interview done and posted, you all will be the first (well, not the first, the second) to see it. πŸ™‚

And my girlfriend and I will be finishing Smallville Season 6 tonight, so I’ll be posting my review of Seasons 1 through 6 tomorrow (or thereabouts), and it’ll be interesting to see what my thoughts are on Smallville (for me, at least). πŸ™‚

And lastly, I’m half-way with Star Wars Coruscant Nights Jedi Twilight and enjoying it immensely, so I’ll have that review up as soon as I’m done with it. πŸ™‚

Be fantastic!!

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2008 in Announcements

 

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