Monthly Archives: August 2008

The Last Colony by John Scalzi

The Last Colony

AuthorJohn Scalzi

Pages: 336 pages
Publisher: Tor Science Fiction
Release Date: April 17th, 2007
ISBN-10: 076535618X
ISBN-13: 978-0765356185

After being blown away by Old Man’s War, a worthy homage to The Forever War and Starship Troopers, and loving The Ghost Brigades, its psuedo-sequel, I was ready to admit to being a slavering John Scalzi fanboy. The only problem? I’m running out of ways to write reviews of John Scalzi novels.

I’ve run out of superlatives. I’ve run out of ways to convince you to buy the novels. I’m at my wits end to come up with an original way to say, “John Scalzi is just that damn good.”

But, well… he is that damn good.

The Last Colony, the third novel in the loose trilogy, may not be Scalzi’s best novel (that would still be Old Man’s War), but it’s easily his best rounded. From characterization to pacing, from the action scenes and the politics driving the plot, Scalzi’s spot on.
Read More »

Paul Kearney, whose latest novel, The Ten Thousand (REVIEW), was just released worldwide, has released information about his next project. Following the steps of Tobias Buckell (whose penning an upcoming novel based on the popular Halo series of videogames), Kearney will be working on a tie-in novel for the televisions series Primeval.

Stolen from Werthead:


A Brand New Novel Based On The Hit TV Series, Primeval

Continuing the exciting new series of original novels spinning out of the prime time ITV series from Impossible Pictures comes PRIMEVAL: THE LOST ISLAND [Titan Books, 24 October 2008, £6.99].

When strange anomalies in time start to appear, Evolutionary Zoologist Professor Cutter and his team must help track down and capture a multitude of dangerous prehistoric creatures from Earth’s distant past.

Written by Paul Kearney (The Monarchies of God, The Sea Beggars), The Lost Island finds Cutter and his team stranded on a mysterious island amidst the perilous Irish seas, where they must fight to survive as anomalies wink in and out around them, releasing untold dangers into the deadly storm.

A heady mixture of action and adventure, Primeval has captured the imagination of audiences and critics alike. Titan’s first novel, Primeval: Shadow of the Jaguar [£6.99, 9781845766924] was a Bookscan #1 bestseller, while the DVD release of the second series topped TV DVD charts with 35,000 copies sold in its week of release.

As the show continues to be syndicated to networks across the world, these brand new original novels take Professor Cutter and his team to places and situations outside of the show to confront new creatures and face new dangers in the Primeval universe.

With the third series scheduled to air in early 2009, Titan’s thrilling new fiction is the perfect way for fans to keep their appetites whet and immerse themselves in the world of the show.

It’s interesting to see acclaimed writers turning to the world of tie-in novels. Maybe we’ll finally start seeing tie-in novels worth reading? Kearney and Buckell’s names attached to a novel are certainly more than enough to get me interested.

Also, here’s a few more tidbits pulled from comments he made on his own forums:

You folk still waiting to read the darn thing may or may not be interested to know that I’ve been hammering out a new idea for a big fantasy series for Solaris. I don’t really want to revisit the world of Kuf in the near future, and the rights to the Beggars still haven’t reverted, so it’s plough on elsewhere time. I’ve decided to really pull my finger out this time and go a bundle on the fat fantasy ethos, setting the new series in seventeenth century Europe, but an alternate Europe – not like in the Monarchies, but in our own geographical and historical world, though with obvious tweaks and differences – the addition of magic and so on. I’m thinking of basing the main character on Oliver Cromwell, but the series will be about the whole Thirty-years-war era. Still in the preliminary stages, but so far Solaris are very happy with the concept.

I’ve been thinking about my style of writing too. Reading some of the reviews for The Ten thousand, I think perhaps I’ve become a little too lean and mean with my prose, and the focus of the narrative. So I’m thinking of being a little more discursive with the new stuff. I’d be interested in some feedback from you good people out there on that one…
Anyway, as soon as I can let you know more, I will.

This new idea, which in my mind is entitled Fury, is something I’ve been toying with in my head since I finished Ships from the West. I’ve decided to try and write ‘fatter’ as it were, and really pad out the characters, the milieu and all the stuff fat fantasy thrives on. Whether it’ll work out, only time will tell, but one thing’s for sure, if someone tells me one more time my books are too short, I’ll smack them on the nose.

Despite my reservations for The Ten Thousand, I’m still very excited about these rumblings. Can’t wait to see what Kearney and Solaris have up their sleeves.

Old Man's War by John ScalziIn a particularily candid move, John Scalzi, the author of Old Man’s War (REVIEW), The Ghost Brigades (REVIEW) and The Last Colony, pulled back the curtain a bit and is giving fans a look at some of the things that just weren’t good enough to make it into The Last Colony.

From the Subterranean Press web site:

This particular excised chapter comes from an iteration of The Last Colony that I didn’t write (or more accurately, didn’t complete): the second iteration, in which I had planned to write the books in alternating chapters of first person and third person, the first person chapters featuring John Perry, the hero of Old Man’s War, and the third person chapter featuring other characters, particularly General Tarsem Gau, the leader of the Conclave. Eventually, I abandoned the idea for two reasons: it rapidly became clear it would be a structural nightmare, and also because if I wrote it this way, the book would end up in the 180,000 word range — i.e., I’d have written enough for two books, and would only be paid for one. Bad writer, no cookie.

And as it turns out, I mined it again for part of Zoe’s Tale. You’ll have to wait to see which part and how, but the fact that I could (and did) goes to show that nothing has to be wasted. This excised chapter itself will never see the light of day as part of a larger story, but little bits and pieces can be moved around and used and recycled. Waste not, want not.

The lesson here for writing is that even your “failures” — the stuff that doesn’t work for your book, for whatever reason — can still have value to you as you’re wrestling with your work. This is one reason way, whenever I chop out a significant chunk of text from a book I’m writing, I don’t simply delete it: I cut it and paste it into an “excisions” document that I keep handy. That way I can go back to that material for reference, or to drop a line or an idea into the final version, perhaps in a completely different context, but where it will do some real good. This is what I do, and it’s worked for me so far.

The whole article can be found HERE.

Having just finished The Last Colony, it’s certainly interesting to get a peek at some of the process that goes into writing, and editing it. Look for a review of The Last Colony soon.

Over at Grasping for the Wind, John rounded up some bloggers (myself included) and posed them a question:

In recent years, there has a been a rise in interest in the urban fantasy genre, even prompting some publishers to republish older urban fantasy works, such as Pyr’s recent publication of Stalking the Unicorn by Mike Resnick. What is your explanation for the recent rise in the popularity of this subgenre?

Secondly, since the rise and fall in popularity of fantasy and SF subgenres tends to be cyclical, what subgenre of fantasy do you predict will see an upsurge in its popularity once urban fantasy is on the wane?

I felt it would be prudent to post my reply, along with further expanding on the thoughts with regards to some of the reactions, particularily Larry’s.
Read More »

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was starting to feel a little oversaturated with Fantasy. As someone who runs a blog centred around the genre, and also an aspiring writer working in the genre, this could be a rather distressful type of comment. One of my readers, Sean, thought so, too:

“Burnt out on fantasy…..uh oh….aren’t you halfway through writing your own fantasy book?”

I responded:

That’s a good question, a very good question. I suppose I should have qualified that statement by saying that I’m feeling burnt out on ‘Epic’ or ‘Secondary-world’ fantasy, rather than the genre as a whole. What I’m really craving and enjoying at the moment seem to be novels with a more modern spin to them and, most importantly, a modern cadence and flow to the dialogue.

Science Fiction (especially set in the near future, like Spin by Robert Charles Wilson, which I’m reading now) and Urban Fantasy (I’m itching to read some more Gaiman at the moment) are some of the obvious sub-genres of speculative fiction that fill this itch.

How is it impacting Through Bended Grass? Well, not really, as far as I can tell. It’s set in a contemporary setting, as you know and that allows me to play around with a modern language (it also helps that it’s written in first person) and Rowan views the Fey world through the eyes of someone everyone of our generation can relate to. I think, in many ways, writing Through Bended Grass is responsible for how my tastes are shifting at the moment, rather than the other way around.

And then James at The Accidental Bard picked up on the idea:

Aidan Moher recently commented that he was getting a bit “over-saturated” on fantasy, a feeling I can definitely understand. Even putting aside personal fatigue, the genre as a whole is in transition right now. Publishing houses are emphasizing urban fantasy to the extent that epic and high fantasy have been sidelined and newly classified as “traditional” and “old-fashioned.” Authors producing epic fantasy of the type that dominated the marketplace even a few years ago are scrambling just to get published in the current climate.

I thought this would be an interesting subject to turn back to and might help me better understand why I’ve been turning away from the typical Epic/Secondary World Fantasy for the last several weeks. Read More »