Monthly Archives: November 2009

The Hobbit, the animated filmIn a recent interview with German website moviereporter.net, Peter Jackson sheds a bit of light on the production of the movie, which still has not been green-lit by the studio, reports theonering.net, a popular website about all things Tolkien.

The original article is down (along with the entire moviereporter.net, which seems odd), but theonering.net is a reputable website, and has broken legitimate news about the movie before. Still, take the following quote, translated from German, as a rumour, until the interview is back online:

We’re currently working on the second script which we hope to have completed by the end of this year or beginning of next. When the scripts are completed, we can begin with the exact calculation of the necessary budget. We hope to start filming in the middle of next year. However, we’ve received no green light from the studio yet.

This would push the expected beginning of filming from Spring 2010 to Summer 2010. With the mind-boggling success of the original trilogy, its interesting to see The Hobbit is running into so many roadblocks. Still, everything in Hollywood moves at a glacial pace (unless it’s a new Twilight or Saw movie, seemingly), so it’s disheartening, but not exactly surprising. As mentioned by theonering.net, there’s no indication whether this will affect the speculated Winter 2011 and 2012 release dates for the two flims.

Brandon Sanderson, author of The Way of KingsBesides the information I posted a couple of months ago, word on Brandon Sanderson’s upcoming novel, The Way of Kings has been quiet. Not any more. Thanks to the Tor 2010 Summer Catalog, we have a rather detailed (and extremely pompous) synopsis of the first volume in The Stormlight Archive:

The Way of Kings introduces the three protagonists who will be our windows on the strange and wondrous world of Roshar and the drama about to unfold there:

• Dalinar, the assassinated king’s brother and uncle of the new one, is an old soldier who is weary of fighting. He is plagued by dreams of ancient times and legendary wars, visions that may force him into a new role he could never have imagined.

• Merin, a highborn young man who has been brought low, indeed to the most miserable level of military slavery, and like Ben Hur must suffer and struggle to survive and rise again.

• Shallan, a naïve but brave and brilliant young woman who will do anything to save her impoverished noble house from ruin.

These are people we will come to know deeply and take to our hearts. But just as important to The Way of Kings is a fourth key ‘character,’ the unique world of Roshar itself, a richly imagined setting as real as science fiction’s Dune, as unforgettable as epic fantasy’s Middle Earth. Through all the volumes of The Stormlight Archive, Brandon Sanderson will make Roshar a realm we are eager to visit.

Source

Comparing the novel to Dune and The Lord of the Rings is certainly stretching the bounds of believability, despite Sanderson’s abilities. Frankly, it’ll likely take a good 30-50 years to see if The Stormlight Archives can even touch that upper echelon of Speculative Fiction novels, but publishing companies like Tor like to throw around hyperbole’s like they’re going out of style. Still, it sounds interesting, probably moreso on first impression than any of Sanderson’s previously published novels, so I’m certainly excited about it, just not excited enough to scrawl ‘Shallan Lives!’ graffiti all over my school campus.

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Amy Harper Bellafonte is six years old and her mother thinks she’s the most important person in the whole world. She is. Anthony Carter doesn’t think he could ever be in a worse place than Death Row. He’s wrong. FBI agent Brad Wolgast thinks something beyond imagination is coming. It is. THE PASSAGE…

Thanks to Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review for the heads up on the cover!

The Passage first caught my attention when the film rights for a still unfinished manuscript, were purchased by Scott Free Productions (Ridley Scott’s production company) at auction for 1.75 million dollars.

For five days Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers, Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox battled over the film rights to Mr. Ainsley’s novel “The Passage,” the first book of a planned trilogy about vampires born not of bat bites, but of medical experiments gone awry. The winning bid, made last month by Fox 2000 and Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions, was $1.75 million.

The auction is just the latest indicator of the lengths that studios will go to in search of their next franchise, at a time when it seems that all the biggest projects have already been done or spoken for.

“Fantasy has always been popular in Hollywood,” said Elizabeth Gabler, president of Fox 2000 Pictures. “And between the ‘Lord of the Rings’ films and the upcoming end of the Harry Potter series, everybody’s looking for what the next version of those movies will be.”

Source

That’s a lot of cash for an author who almost no one’s heard of, let alone read. Or, for that matter, for an unfinished manuscript (as an aside, I’ve got a few of those sitting around, if any film companies want to purchase the rights, we’ll start the bidding at 500k….) Perhaps even more surprising, though, is the sum paid for the rights to publish the novel: somewhere in the ballpark of $3.75 million dollars.

The frenzy for the “Passage” film rights was unleashed even before the first pitch went out to the studios. Two weeks before the studio deal, Ellen Levine, a literary agent at Trident Media Group, had taken the manuscript to the country’s biggest publishing houses, including Random House and the Penguin Group. Ms. Levine chose to send out the book under the pseudonym Jordan Ainsley because the author, Justin Cronin, winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award for his 2001 short-story collection, “Mary and O’Neil,” was known more for midsize family dramas than for Stephen King-size thrillers.

“We weren’t trying to hide who he was, but I didn’t want him to be typecast as one kind of author, and I thought this had vast commercial potential,” Ms. Levine said.

The story, a futuristic fable about death row inmates transformed into vampires by a government-spawned virus, hit a nerve with publishers. A number tried to block their competitors with pre-emptive offers, some in the millions. The offers were summarily rejected, and the manuscript was put on the block at a “best bids” auction between four houses on July 3.

The winner for the United States rights to the trilogy was Ballantine Books, which New York magazine reported had paid $3.75 million, a figure that Mark Tavani, the book’s editor, said was “not correct, but in the ballpark.”

Source

That’s some serious weight behind the novel. Whether it’s worth that sort of money remains to be seen, but it seems safe to say that we’ll see a humungous push behind the novel when it’s released next year (the article in The New York Times points to a Summer 2009 release, but review copies are only just reaching bloggers hands now. Speak of, I’d love a copy, if anyone’s listening). Who knows, maybe in five years we’ll be as sick of Justin Cronin and The Passage as we are of Stephanie Meyer and Twilight; just remember, there was a time when no one knew her name.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

The Magicians

AuthorLev Grossman

Hardcover
Pages: 416
Publisher: Viking Adult
Release Date: August 11th, 2009
ISBN-10: 0670020559
ISBN-13: 978-0670020553


Much fuss has been made about The Magicians, the first foray into the Fantasy genre by Lev Grossman, uber-geek, author of Codex and Senior Writer for Time magazine. The most ironic of all? The book is not being marketed as a genre novel, but rather being shelved in the Literature section at most bookstores, despite being a Fantasy novel (full of every cliché in the book) through and through.

The thing is, though, The Magicians is a good crossover novel, bridging the gap between Literature-with-a-capital-L and Fantasy, by taking the usual tropes (magic school, dysfunctional band of misfits, wizards, ‘You’re a wizard, Harry’-moments, fireballs, etc…) and throwing in all that stuff the literary folk like (sex, moral ambiguity, cocaine and whiskey, cancerous relationships, etc…). The Magicians is like Harry Potter meets The Graduate, with a little bit of Trainspotting thrown in for good measure.

Of course, general debauchery and acidic characters aren’t a magical fix-all, able to turn any Fantasy novel into a work of literary genius; but Grossman is aware of this and uses these uncomfortable literary devices as an avenue to tell a sometimes funny, sometimes painful story of young people growing up in a world they hardly understand. Like Trainspotting, The Magicians is all about Quentin’s inability to cope with the trials and travails of real life, and his constant search for Fillory, a magical world that Quentin knows will solve all his problems. As most of us know, though, finding that place rarely solves anything, rather it’s often a slippery slope, leading to bigger and more serious problems.
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Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes

Lenk can barely keep control of his mismatched adventurer band at the best of times (Gariath the dragon man sees humans as little more than prey, Kataria the Shict despises most humans, and the humans in the band are little better). When they’re not insulting each other’s religions they’re arguing about pay and conditions.

So when the ship they are travelling on is attacked by pirates things don’t go very well. They go a whole lot worse when an invincible demon joins the fray. The demon steals the Tome of the Undergates – a manuscript that contains all you need to open the undergates. And whichever god you believe in you don’t want the undergates open. On the other side are countless more invincible demons, the manifestation of all the evil of the gods, and they want out.

Full of razor-sharp wit, characters who leap off the page (and into trouble) and plunging the reader into a vivid world of adventure this is a fantasy that kicks off a series that could dominate the second decade of the century.

Those in the know (i.e. his publisher, who wants him to succeed at any cost), claim Sykes, a 25-year-old, is going to be the debut author of 2010. You know, the next Patrick Rothfuss. I’m sure Blake Charlton and Tor Books, with the 2010 release of Spellwright, have something to say about that, along with Penguin Books and Paul Hoffman, who release The Left Hand of God in 2010. Still, if you ask me, you can’t have too many authors vying to debut novel of the year.

What really gets my attention about Tome of the Undergates, beyond the hype, is that Sykes is so young (same age as myself, as a matter of fact), and that’s almost reason enough to give it a go when I get my hands on a copy.

As for the cover, I won’t bellyache. I do like the water, though, and the general tone of the colours. I’m excited to see what Pyr Books, who is publishing the novel in North America, pulls together for their version of the cover.

Sykes himself is an amusing guy, and you can find him on his WEBSITE and on TWITTER.