Tag Archives: Titan Books

Blog Tour: The Plague Stones by James Brogden – Excerpt (Titan Books)

Hey everyone, I hope you’re all well and having a great week so far. 🙂

Today I’m participating in a multi-blog tour to promote a new Horror novel published by Titan Books, and I’ve got an excerpt for you!

Fleeing from a traumatic break-in, Londoners Paul and Tricia Feenan sell up to escape to the isolated Holiwell village where Tricia has inherited a property. Scattered throughout the settlement are centuries-old stones used during the Great Plague as boundary markers. No plague-sufferer was permitted to pass them and enter the village. The plague diminished, and the village survived unscathed, but since then each year the village trustees have insisted on an ancient ceremony to renew the village boundaries, until a misguided act by the Feenans’ son then reminds the village that there is a reason traditions have been rigidly stuck to, and that all acts of betrayal, even those committed centuries ago, have consequences…

I’ve got this coming up soon to read and review, and I’m really looking forward to it! But without further ado, here’s that excerpt:

Toby jerked awake with a cry. For a moment he couldn’t remember where he was. There was no familiar street light here or sound of traffic on the busy road outside. It was altogether too dark, too quiet. His phone had just fallen to the floor, uplighting the room and pulling the shadows high towards the odd-angled ceiling in skewed perspectives. He checked the time: 1:43.

Stone Cottage. New home. Not the flat.

Obviously there was nobody sitting at his bureau. Just another intruder nightmare brought about by staying up too late on his phone. Nothing to see here, folks, move along. All the same, he got up and went to the window just to be sure, listening to the strange new creaks of the floor under his feet, wondering how long before they became familiar, before this place would feel like home. This place is safe. It’s protected, they’d said, but they’d lied.

Because there was someone in the back garden.

Toby’s breath stopped.

A girl, he was fairly certain of that, from the slightness of her figure, the shift-type dress that she wore, and her long hair. Beyond that he couldn’t tell much because of the darkness that left her face in shadow, but her pale arms looked somehow blotchy. She was standing in the middle of the lawn, right by the parish stone.

She wasn’t doing anything, just standing there. It occurred to him that she might be a junkie, either looking for something to steal or simply too high to notice where she was, although he couldn’t imagine how she’d got in because the back gate was firmly locked; she’d have had to climb the fence and she didn’t look strong enough for that. In fact, given that it was still only April and had been raining all day, he wouldn’t have been surprised to find that she’d caught her death of cold. She didn’t look dangerous. For a moment he wondered whether he should get his parents to call an ambulance or something – maybe that shift thing was a hospital gown. Maybe he should let her in for some warmth and shelter.

‘Some have entertained angels without knowing it,’ he murmured.

The girl’s head snapped up, staring straight at his window. Her face was still in shadow but now there was the glitter of eyes deep in sunken sockets.

Staring straight at him.

He yelped and fell back. It was impossible that she could have seen him – almost as impossible as her being there in the first place.

Warily, he approached the window again, expecting to find the garden empty.

She was still there, still staring. However, the ground around her was busy now with small, dark shapes, tumbling about her bare feet as if playing. Rats. The sound of their chittering reached him clearly.

She raised her arm, and beckoned to him.

Come down.

There we go, a nice little surge of gooseflesh for you! 😉

You can order your copies of The Plague Stones at the following links: Amazon UK and Amazon US, You can also head over to James’ blog for more info on him and his work, and below are all the blogs / sites that have already participated in the tour and the stops coming up. 🙂

That’s it for now – see you back here soon for a new review. 🙂 Until then,


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Posted by on May 23, 2019 in Blog Tour, Excerpt


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Review: Captain Marvel – Liberation Run by Tess Sharpe (Titan Books)

Hey everyone, I’m back with a review of one of Titan’s Marvel Universe novels, focusing on Captain Marvel herself. 🙂

I’ve been a comic fan since grade school, and although my first love has always been DC comics, I’m a Marvel fan, too (shocker – it’s possible and okay to be a fan of both!). My first ‘meeting’ with Carol was in the pages of Civil War 2, in which she led the side opposing Tony Stark’s stance on a provocative and dangerous Inhuman threat. So, I haven’t followed her career from the beginning, though I do like her current uniform and hairstyle more than her previous looks. Carol struck me as a strong, determined, self-confident person, willing to stand by her convictions and to fight for what she perceives as ‘right’. In fact, in Civil War 2, she surpassed Steve Rogers, in my opinion. But I didn’t know or understand Carol and her motivations, even though I could see the value in them.

I was hoping that Liberation Run would also serve as an introduction to the character for readers who weren’t familiar with her (like me), and in that, Liberation Run disappointed me. Carol is the carol I met in Civil War -as strong, determined and principled as I expected- but this book was written for readers who have a long-standing reader-character relationship with Carol. There are mentions here and there of how she received her powers and events that moulded her motivations, but readers (such as me) who are meeting Carol for the first time might feel (as I do) that they have read an entire novel starring her without having been able to get to know her. In terms of giving Carol / Captain Marvel a well-rounded introduction to new readers / prospective fans, the novel disappoints.

And unfortunately, it also disappoints in terms of setting. 😦

There is a definite difference in the aspects of storytelling which are obvious and important when comparing comics to novels, which is as it should be. If i think back to John Byrne’s depictions of Krypton, I remember how different and exciting the landscape and architecture was, how Byrne showed us that we were on Krypton – on a different planet. But where the majority of Liberation Run takes place (a different planet, among an alien species) has human-centric buildings and landscapes, English is spoken by everyone, the clothing styles are human (evening dresses, for example), the alien species looks relatively human (yes, there is an expected anthropomorphism in comics, but you can tell just by looking at him that Thanos isn’t a human being, for example), and the technology, when compared to what would conceivably exist on Earth at the same time, is the same (except for a cool spaceship). What we have is an alien species living on a different planet being and acting and looking like humans with human technology – which begs the question: why did the majority of the novel take place on a different planet?

Now, another thing which gets to me a bit is when characters with superpowers show inconsistent power-levels – such as in the CW shows, Supergirl and The Flash. Sometimes Supergirl can pick up something massive and other times she struggles with something vastly smaller; sometimes The Flash reaches a location in split-seconds and sometimes it takes 5 or more seconds, when there’s no apparent reason -such as increased distance / fatigue- for such inconsistencies. And there was one glaring inconsistency in Liberation Run, with something Carol did early in the book and then seemingly couldn’t do later on – catching a spaceship, and then having no choice but to let the spaceship crash. I might be nitpicking, but inconsistencies are glaring – if Captain America can’t take a punch from an average Skrull but can stand against a punch from Thanos, there’s a problem.

My review is not all doom and gloom, though. 🙂

The Inhuman character who shares the spotlight with Carol, Rhi, is a good example of how to handle character growth and to keep a character’s arc interesting and engaging. The other Inhumans we meet manage to populate the narrative memorably and don’t just function as mouths for extra dialogue and padding. The plot, while a bit held back by the unfortunate setting, was fast-paced there were cool set-piece battles, with well-handled tension.

So, as an introduction for those who don’t know Carol Danvers’ backstory, and for those seeking a fleshed-out, well thought-out setting, the novel unfortunately falls short. But looked at as a quick, fun romp for a group of superheroes as they go about righting a terrible wrong, ‘Liberation Run‘ does its job well. 🙂

I’ll have to give it a 6/10.

You can order your copies from Amazon here, and check out the rest of Titan’s Marvel Universe novels here. Tess Sharpe has written much more than ‘Liberation Run’ so do visit her website to see the rest of her work. The next Marvel novel from Titan I’ll be reading and reviewing is Thanos: Death Sentence by Stuart Moore.

Until next time,


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Posted by on April 12, 2019 in Reviews


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Review: Clade by James Bradley (Titan Books)

Hey everyone, hope you’re all well. 🙂 I’m back with a review of a very special book, which I hope will make you curious enough to get a copy and read for yourself.

Despite years (nah, decades) of data and conversations regarding climate change (and just so you know, I’m firmly in the ‘the climate is affected by what Man does’ camp), it’s a subject which remains important and is still being widely discussed. One day no-one will talk about the Kardashians anymore, but we’ll still be talking about climate change, and we (or our descendants) will be living through it. That’s basically the focus of this book – climate change and its effects over the course of many years.

But this isn’t an overtly SF look at climate change, and as such, is a standout book among Titan Books’ catalogue of novels.

Clade uses a single family and their close friends and acquaintances as the character focus for a novel which explores how climate change could possibly begin affecting society and then, eventually, changing the planet. It’s a deeply personal novel, in that it delves beautifully into the personalities driving the strange narrative – these are characters which -although mostly met and explored in what I would call snapshots (in that Clade doesn’t feature a ‘main’ character, but rather many connected characters and narratives)- live and breathe and emotionally react during their lives and the events affecting them. They are obstinate and caring and passive and volatile and hurt and amazed, and much, much more. When I think about Clade, the only novel which is even slightly similar (regarding the mechanics of how James does what he does) is Max Brooks’ ‘World War Z’, because that novel was also myriad snapshots of characters as they related what they had lived through while also showing the reader how the world had changed. It’s a bold way to tell a story, even as the overall tale consists of many smaller tales which connect, but James did a wonderful job of it all. Not one character feels useless or extraneous, and each character not only explores the continuing effects of climate change but also reveals more about the central family and everyone connected to that family. So, you as the reader will be following a family through decades of climate change effects on the planet while also exploring issues such a autism and refugees, to name but a couple.

The novel flows steadily and beautifully and is filled with beautiful, concise passages which are deeply affecting and, as such, cross that very personal barrier directly into the reader – well, it’s how I was affected, in any case. This isn’t a race-against-time story, and yet the narrative is pervaded with a sense of time running out – but not in the way the reader would expect. Instead, because the focus is on a connected familial cast, the changes wrought by climate change force these characters to find ways and means to live with the new world, instead of fighting against it. So, please don’t expect a science-heavy SF thriller.

I am deeply impressed by this book, and by James’ willingness to focus on people rather than the crisis – it made the novel beautiful and sad and exhilarating to read and when I eventually set it down, I knew I had found a writer who sees deeply into what it means (and how much it hurts) to be human while also being able to explore important scientific questions. I absolutely hate the term ‘literary’, but Clade is beautifully literary and accessible without coming across as pompous or highbrow. A really damned good book, and massive thanks to Paul Gill for making a copy available to me to read. Beautifully done, James – much respect to you.

10 / 10

For a bit more info about the book, check it out on Titan’s website, and add it to your Goodreads shelves.

Until next time,



Posted by on February 23, 2018 in Reviews


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Review: The Rage Wars – Book One: Predator – Incursion by Tim Lebbon

Predator Incursion

Hey everyone, Dave here. 🙂

I had high expectations for this after reading Tim’s excellent Star Wars novel, and Tim managed to knock even my expectations aside.

The characters in this are superbly written and fleshed out, with their own believable motivations – quite a feat, considering that Incursion is also a fast-paced novel which expands along two different timelines, includes a lot of cool, new information on the Colonial Marines, the Predators and other groups, and has plenty of awesome action.

One of my favourite characters -introduced in the very beginning of the novel- has an interesting, important and ever-building arc which ties her to basically all of the novel’s events, while the other characters unravel the mystery of the novel’s premise is different, attention-holding ways. Most never meet but all have an important part to play.

The Predators were awesome handled – they remain the powerful, incredibly dangerous and mysterious race we have come to like and yet Tim also deepens their mystery while adding more layers to their society. Tim really should be the go-to guy if Titan wants a Predators-only novel.

The action was frenetic and brutal, as we’ve come to expect from anything involving the Xenomorphs and the Predators, and the plot is really damned good – Fox should have waited for this novel to arrive; I’m pretty sure they would have been orders of magnitude more successful with this trilogy.

There’s even a link to one of the Predator movies which deepens the immersion into this universe.

All in all, highly recommended! You should definitely be reading this if you’re a fan of this universe. Looking forward to the next novel in the trilogy! 9/10

Predator Incursion

Predator – Incursion was published by Titan Books; the second book in the trilogy, Alien – Invasion will be published this year, so keep an eye on Tim’s and Titan’s websites for more information.

To order your copies, click here for Amazon UK, here for Amazon US, and here if you’re in South Africa.

Until next time,


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Posted by on January 11, 2016 in Reviews, Uncategorized


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Review: Lo’Life Book 1 – Romeo Spikes by Joanne Reay (Titan Books)

The Blurb:

”The tragedy of suicide is not death. It is what dies within us whilst we live.”

Working the Homicide squad, Alexis Bianco believes she’s seen every way a life can be taken. Then she meets the mysterious Lola and finds out she’s wrong. More weapon than woman, Lola pursues a predator with a method of murder like no other.

The Tormenta.

If you think you’ve never encountered Tormenta, think again. You’re friends with one. Have worked for one. Maybe even fallen in love with one.

They walk amongst us—looking like us, talking like us. Coercing our subconscious with their actions.

Like the long-legged beauty that seduces the goofy geek only to break his heart, causing him to break his own neck in a noose. Or the rockstar, whose every song celebrates self-harm, inspiring his devoted fans to press knives to their own throats. The pusher who urges the addict toward one more hit, bringing him a high from which he’ll never come down. The tyrannical boss, crushing an assistant’s spirit until a bridge jump brings her low.

We call it a suicide. Tormenta call it a score, their demonic powers allowing them to siphon off the unspent lifespan of those who harm themselves.

To Bianco, being a cop is about right and wrong. Working with Lola is about this world and the next…and maybe the one after that. Because everything is about to change. The coming of a mighty Tormenta is prophesied, a dark messiah known as the Mosca.

To stop him, Bianco and Lola must fight their way through a cryptic web of secret societies and powerful legends to crack an ancient code that holds the only answer to the Mosca’s defeat. If this miscreant rises before they can unmask him, darkness will reign, and mankind will fall in a storm of suicides.

Nobody’s safe. Everyone’s a threat.

I don’t read much in Urban Fantasy, to be honest.

I think it’s because there is such a massive emphasis placed on certain things that always seem prevalent in the genre, which, unfortunately, bring it closer to Paranormal Romance. There are plenty of authors I’ve yet to read, and the ones that I have delved into (Kate Griffin, Seanan McGuire and Chuck Wendig, to name a few) have impressed me.

Urban Fantasy has to, in my opinion, succeed at the following:

1) it must be set, largely, in an urban environment. The genre isn’t Country Fantasy. 2) There must be sufficient secondary world-building to make the reader miss the urban environment, and vice versa. 3) The magic has to be interesting and different – Kate Griffin and Chuck Wendig succeed massively at this. Among, of course the other necessities, such as good character growth, and interesting plot, etc.

When I first set to reading ‘Romeo Spikes’ I struggled to get into the book – not because it was badly written (it isn’t), or because it wasn’t interesting (it is), but because it was different. It’s one of the ways that I know I’ll enjoy a book – the difficulty of the read added to the certainty that I want to read the book.

‘Romeo Spikes’ doesn’t have fairies, or fae. There’s no Celtic-feel to it, and neither does it have a Norse flavour. Joanne manages to create a world that is at once surprising as it is interesting, bringing in a Biblical-mythology layer that makes her world fresh and captivating, which allows the characters to react and change as they should in a world they don’t know much about. The exploration of the world, as a reader, was one of the highlights of the book, for sure.

Character-wise, Joanne does jump around a bit, and most of the time it works – the reader will experience different perspectives (on both sides of the novel’s central conflict), and in particular, Bianco and Lola’s character-arcs are really well-written, engaging and attention-holding, with plenty of little clues along the way that will tug and push the reader along as they wonder just where these two stand. The Tormenta are interesting creations, but that’s all I’ll say – read the book and discover them for yourself. 🙂

One aspect of the novel that tripped me up was the time-change in some of the chapters – there is very little or no warning, and I found myself having to re-read the chapter’s beginning to get my bearings again, because the plot had suddenly jumped into the past. This interrupted the novel’s otherwise great flow. But that’s my only real problem with the book. 🙂

The world-building is great, and I’m sure many other readers will be left thinking about “real” or Historical events and the cool spin Joanne put on them. The characters are all interesting and well-fleshed out, and the book’s climax is a real surprise! And what “magic” there is in the book doesn’t overwhelm or confuse. Joanne’s style has a great flow and her descriptions are crisp, colourful, atmospheric and suitably brutal (at times).

If you’re looking for Urban Fantasy that doesn’t follow the conventional rules of the Genre (which no book should do, but you know what I’m getting at) and also builds an interesting new world, then Romeo Spikes should definitely be added to your shelf. I’m looking forward to the next book! 🙂

8 / 10


To order copies of the book, check out the following links: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Book Depository, Exclusive Books. You can also read an excerpt from the novel here, and for more info on Joanne, check out her page on Simon and Schuster here. Don’t forget to browse Titan’s website – plenty more good reading to be had!

Until tomorrow,


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Posted by on June 18, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Review: Ecko Burning (The Ecko Trilogy Book 2) by Danie Ware

Hey everyone, I’m back with a review of the sequel to ‘Ecko Rising’ – Danie Ware’s debut and the first book in the trilogy. Yep, I’m talking about ‘Ecko Burning‘. 🙂


After reading book 1, Ecko Rising, I knew that an important and inventive new storyteller had hit the vast-and-always-busy Spec-Fic scene – Ecko Rising would put Danie and her creation, Ecko, to the test –

– which both passed without a hint of effort, it seems. 🙂

‘Ecko Burning’ picks up after and slots neatly beside the ending of the first book, and quickly shifts into high gear, sowing plot-seeds that not only expand upon the events of the first book but also serve to add more background and ‘flesh’ to the characters introduced in the first book.

The principle character, Ecko, continues to be the star of the tale, and it is in this book that we get a much deeper sense of the conflicts raging within him as well as his reactions to what is happening around him. Danie makes an interesting and dangerous choice here – to leave Ecko effectively rudderless and confused, reacting to what’s happening around him, not having a clear idea of just what is happening around him. Why is it dangerous? Well, readers of SF and Fantasy will agree that, most times, the main characters have an idea of what’s going on, what their goals are, who it is they’re fighting or struggling against.

Taking a risk like can lead to a mess of a book as the characters struggle to find their place and purpose again, but it’s not what happens in this novel – Danie allows Ecko to explore, to confront, to hate, and more, which allows him to eventually make a choice that comes across as natural and unforced; and the choice leaves Ecko utterly changed, so he grows as a character, too. Ecko’s supporting cast are also put through the wringer, and there’s a great split-focus on them all. so the reader get’s that all-important look at their motivations and fears, even more so than in the first book.

Plot-wise, I was damned impressed – after the conflicts that the cast had to face in Ecko Burning I was really curious as to what would happen, and I’m happy to say that not only did the action and tension escalate, but more was revealed about the world and its cultures, adding yet more layers to the considerable world-building that Danie revealed in Book 1.

I have no-idea where Danie will take the story in the third book, and I’m happy to say that I trust her to do many awesome, memorable things with this tale. In two books Danie has proved herself a writer and storyteller of considerable talent, able to create unique characters that inhabit wonderful world-building, and I’m definitely looking forward to the finale and the surprises that Danie is sure to spring on us. 🙂

9 / 10


To order your copies of ‘Ecko Burning’, click here for Amazon US, here for Amazon UK, and here if you’re in South Africa. And check out Danie’s website here.

Many thanks to Titan Books for supplying me with an ARC – you guys rock!

Until next time,




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Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Reviews


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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 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



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?


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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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,


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)


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


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,


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Posted by on January 28, 2013 in Reviews


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Review – Terminator Salvation Novelization by Alan Dean Foster

Before Sarah Conner’s life was turned upside down by a creature of implacable will and deadly determination, before even the birth of her son and the knowledge that he had to live so that the world could live, a man named Marcus Wright was executed by the State of Texas, and a man named John Conner fought to keep the remnants of humanity alive.

Confusing? 🙂 Don’t’ worry – every time I try and wrap my head around the time-travelling aspects of the Terminator mythos I also start thinking, “What the hell?!”

But that’s only because the story of humanity’s fight against Skynet is so entertaining that I don’t give myself time to think about anything deeper than what I’m watching or reading. 🙂

After reading Alan Dean Foster’s novelization of the soon-to-be-released Terminator Salvation, I find myself becoming a fan, once again, of the Terminators (only because they’re so damn cool, of course), of John Conner, and even of Sarah Conner: I will be watching all the movies again and going through the first two seasons of Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles before buying my tickets to watch Salvation. 🙂

You see, Alan writes damn good books. Whether he’s writing his own novels (and by that I mean non-franchise) or novelizations, Alan knows what makes a good book work, and gives that to us in spades!

Case in point: if the first chapter of the book doesn’t hook you, nothing will. As I said to Alan himself, that first chapter (wherein we meet Marcus) could very well be a story on it’s own – Alan takes us right into Marcus’ head while also giving us a brutal view of what it’s like to sit in a cell and wait to die for the crimes you’ve committed. Another character is also introduced that will make a surprising appearance later, but none of that, don’t want to spoil you! 🙂

One of Alan’s greatest strengths as a storyteller, too, is his ability to make the characters live and breathe in their worlds. Whether that character is a Resistance fighter with the ground troops, a field-doctor battling to save the wounded and dying, a pilot tasked with giving air support to whichever mission needs air support, or kids trying to stay alive in the shattered remnants of cities, Alan brings them all a measure of life and living that helps you sink even deeper into the story.

The action sequences are incredible, too! Even though you’re holding a paperback in your hands, it feels like you’re watching the events unfold on a wide, wide screen with an incredible sound system; sure, Alan probably worked from a script for this novelization, but hell, you try translating the very-cut-down scenes of a screenplay into the action-scenes that populate this novelization! It’s nowhere as easy as it seems – believe me, I’m engaged with a screenplay project myself – but Alan makes it seem effortless! 🙂

Is this a Terminator story? Definitely! (And no, not because it’s titled Terminator Salvation) Alan really sinks us into the world of the Resistance and what they’re fighting to preserve. Not only are the descriptions of Skynet-tech very cool, with plenty of T-600s and H-Ks, but Alan also uses events and what characters say to refer back to the previous movies – the characters that have made the Terminator movies so cool are all there, some in spirit, and Alan has written the book in such a way that you’ll find yourself flashing back to scenes from the previous movies without realizing it, deepening your submersion in the story.

The next thing I s’pose I should tackle is: Why read this book when I can watch the movie? Well, I’m going to be standing in line for my tickets – but only in June! Terminator Salvation only reaches our theatres then- and I’m still going to enjoy the hell out of the movie! You see, I’m pretty sure that’ll I’ll understand the characters better, that their motivations will make more sense, that all the little details we miss when watching a huge action movie like this are missed because Christian Bale or a T-600 are on the screen. You’ll enjoy the movie more because of this book, and then you may just find yourself tracking down other novelizations that Alan has done (and will still do) so that you can read them and then re-watch the movies. 🙂 It’s almost like having special features available to you that open the world of the story even wider! 🙂 So, I’m pretty sure that you’ll love this book, and then enjoy the hell out of the movie, too!

Last words: Marcus Wright is awesome, and John Conner is not going to disappoint!


To check out more of Alan’s work, follow this link to his site, and to order your copy of the book, follow this link. 🙂

And don’t forget, the prequel to the movie is also available and is written by Star Wars EU-Creator (in my opinion) Timothy Zahn! 🙂 Check out Titan Books for more Terminator goodness! 🙂




Posted by on May 20, 2009 in Reviews


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