Monthly Archives: October 2009

I normally stick to one story for each edition of Free Readin’, but this time I’m feeling generous! Paul Jessup (@pauljessup) and Jay Lake (jay_lake) are two of my favourite folk on Twitter and I wanted to point some of my readers to some of their (great) short fiction.

Ghost Technology From the Sun by Paul Jessup

Master told us that the earth was hollow, and that we lived on the inside of it, clinging to the top of the crust. Below us was another world, a world inside the world, a glowing bright sun of a place. What Master called the summerlands. That is where the dead live, he said. That is how we can talk to them, he said. They send us signals across the air, and the mediums pick them up and drink them in.

And when the words came in, we had to speak them. We cannot deny the dead our voices–the dead would be angry if we did. And nobody wanted the angry dead to fly their zeppelins up from the sun and attack us crust dwellers.

That wouldn’t do anyone any good.

Master knew this because he is an ambassador to the land of the dead. At night he walked through the door of the dead, and it beamed his body down above us, into the summer sun inside of the earth. That is where he talked to them, worked out trade between our two peoples.

The dead have a lot to offer the living.

He came back with schematics.

Ways of building circuit boards.

Ghost technology from the sun.

Ghost Technology From the Sun can be read in full HERE.

People of Leaf and Branch by Jay Lake

Maribel ran along the top boards. The planks went from roof to roof, along the ridges, with a jumping-space to reach the peaks of the round huts. She didn’t have the skill of a danseuse, nor the grace of the best of the girls from the stone city below her, but among the woodkin, she was often accounted the most lithe and best.

The Tower Wander was ahead, with Shrike House clinging to its neck like a collar. The old wall had long since been swallowed by the spread of the stone city, gone from defense to landmark to landform in the space of a few generations. The Duke of Copper Downs had forbidden the woodkin to enter the abandoned towers, but their exteriors had never been under such a rule.

So the seven surviving towers acquired names, and superstructures, and held the long, narrow village that ran from the Broken Gate to the Tower Harbor. The towers were part of the stone city, but the houses were the woodkin’s memory of another time and place.

She slipped through the roof of Shrike House, dropping to the floor in a shower of dust and straw.

There was no one there, of course. Shrike House had been empty since Maribel’s mother’s childhood. Seven towers, seven houses, but in every generation more went down to the stone and found lives among the city. None returned.

You can read People of Leaf and Branch in its entirety HERE.

Jessup and (in particular) Lake (a Multiple Hugo and World Fantasy Award nominee) are both well known for their short fiction, and there’s nowhere better to get introduced to them than through Ghost Technology From the Sun and People of Leaf and Branch.

Torchlight Logo

I’ll keep this short. If you’re anything like me, you probably poured an embarrassing amount of hours into the original Diablo and it’s sequel, Diablo II. You’re probably also waiting impatiently for Diablo III. Well, Torchlight is here to fill that void.

Torchlight Screenshot Torchlight Screenshot Torchlight Screenshot

Word of Ember blazed across the land, and the town of Torchlight flared to life.

Ember is the essence of magic and the keystone of alchemy; it lures the restless with promises of power and riches. Miners burrowed deep beneath the dirt streets of Torchlight, discovering veins of the ore richer than any found in living memory- but they were not the first to covet these mines. The miners broke through into the buried past, a dangerous labyrinth of caverns and ruined civilizations, twisted creatures and the bones of those who came before. Evil bubbles up from the depths and threatens to overrun this town as it has so many others. The heart of a villain has infused the Ember, and his darkness seeps through the veins. To survive, the townspeople must break the cycle of destruction; they need a champion who can destroy the evil at its root. Removing the source of the rot may purify the Ember, but it is a long and perilous journey. The champion must battle through rock and fire, through lost cities and ancient tombs, into the palace of the villain himself.

The adventure is set in the mining settlement of Torchlight, a boomtown founded on the discovery of rich veins of Ember – a rare and mysterious ore with the power to enchant or corrupt all that it contacts. This corruptive power may have dire consequences however, and players set out into the nearby mountains and depths below to discover the full extent of Ember’s influence on the civilizations that have come before.

Made by Runic Games a company formed by many of the people behind the Diablo games, Torchlight hits all the same notes. Loot, baddies, cartoony World of Warcraftish graphics, loot, fantastic music, great locations, loot, and more loot. And, hey, it runs smooth as butter even on my three-year-old Macbook, so it’ll certainly run on nearly anything. The guys over at Giant Bomb have a great video preview.

If that isn’t enought to convince you, the game’s only twenty bucks. Still not convniced? There’s a demo, which allows you to carry over your character when you buy the full game. Seriously, though, I’ve been playing it almost non-stop for the last few days and it’s grabbed with that same addictive embrach that Blizzard’s classic dungeon-crawlers did back in high school. If you like the genre, check it out. It’s awesome. I promise.

Torchlight is available for purchase through its Official Website and through Steam.

After yesterday’s travesty, I thought it was time to redeem the Cover Art section of the website to its former glory. As with most Pyr novels, The Dervish House by Ian McDonald is a marvel to look at.

The Dervish House by Ian Mcdonald

Lou Anders, who wears many hats at Pyr has another hit on his hands. Patrick, over at Stomping the Yeti, sums up my thoughts rather accurately:

This is a great, great cover. Stephan Martiniere is responsible as usual. I can’t count the number of times I see a cover and think to myself, “Wow, I wonder who did that” and then go on to find its a Martiniere. The computer circuitry gives a subtle touch to an image that otherwise appears fairly timeless. I also really dig the text box and the way the horizontal banners and building interplay with the sharp angles of the title and author borders. Sometimes great cover art is ruined by bad font choice or placement. This is not one of those times.

And, hey, the book itself sounds like a winner, also:

In the sleepy Istanbul district of Eskiköy stands the former whirling dervish house of Adem Dede. Over the space of five days of an Istanbul heatwave, six lives weave a story of corporate wheeling and dealing, Islamic mysticism, political and economic intrigue, ancient Ottoman mysteries, a terrifying new terrorist threat, and a nanotechnology with the potential to transform every human on the planet.

McDonald’s books have been on my radar for a while now, but every time I think about buying up, I get a little intimidated. The Turkish setting of this one appeals to me more than India and Brazil, which might just push me over the edge.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent a fair bit of time splooging with unbound excitement for Spellwright, the debut novel from Blake Charlton. The US Version has a great cover, the premise sounds fantastic and an early peak at the novel was promising. I was bloody eager to get my hands on the UK cover for Spellwright. Charlton released it earlier today… and my heart shattered.

Spellwright by Blake Charlton

Well, I guess all good things must come to an end, huh? Clearly inspired (or created by the same designer) as Tchaikovsky’s Shadows of the Apt series, this cover is one of those cases where North America wins the battle of the Cover Art. At least the art intern at Charlton’s UK Publisher is getting to live out his dream of being a model of Wizard’s Robes.