Monthly Archives: November 2010

BLACK HALO by Sam Sykes

Oh, barf.

Now, Sam’s a good friend of this blog (seriously, he’s behind one of my favourite interviews I’ve conducted), but I can’t give him (or, more accurately, his publisher, Gollancz) a free pass here. Seriously, this cover hits on every metric for what’s wrong with Fantasy art today. Overly aggressive and poorly representative of the Fantasy genre? Check. Bland typography? Check. Uncanny valley? Check. Flaming water (wait, what?)? Check. Insane, weird pull-quote that tells you absolutely nothing about the book? Check. Poorly photoshopped H&M model with basic glow filter attached? CHECK CHECK CHECK!

I appreciate the continuity with the series’ previous cover art, but here’s hoping Lou Anders will have the sense to put a better cover on the Pyr Books edition when it’s released in North America.

Geek's Guide to the Galaxy Banner

Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy is hosted by io9, and this episode features an interview with Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe.

Episode #24 — Charles Yu

How To Live Safely In a Science Fiction Universe by Charles Yu

Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, joins us this week on io9’s Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast to discuss time travel and parallel universes. Plus, what’s the best time travel story ever?

Some of my favourite snippets from the show notes:

3:25 What books inspired Yu to become a writer? They include Asimov’s Foundation series and Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality

8:48 The rules of time travel in How to Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe

10:35 The setting in How to Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe

28:20 What makes a time travel story believable?

36:25 Dave explains how to meet a time traveler!

43:43 Have you ever run into a time traveler? Is so, email us at

49:34 Flux Capacitors! Find out if Dave was able to convince his dad to build one.

58:15 John doesn’t think they don’t use cassette tapes in the future

So head on over and listen to Episode #24 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy.

The Tor Books cover:

Stonewielder by Ian Cameron Esslemont

And the small run PS Publishing cover:

Stonewielder by Ian Cameron Esslemont

Greymane believed he’d outrun his past. He now ran a school for swordsmanship in Falar and was looking forward to becoming fat and lazy. With him was Kyle, though the plains youth was not quite so contented with civilian life outside the mercenary company the Crimson Guard. Yet it is not so easy to disappear when you are an ex-Fist of the Malazan Empire, especially one denounced and under a death-sentence from that very Empire.

For there is a new Emperor on the throne of Malaz, and his thoughts turn to the lingering drain of blood and treasure that is the failed invasion of the Korel subcontinent. In the record vaults beneath Unta, the Imperial capital, lie the answers to that disaster. And out of this buried history surfaces the name Stonewielder.

In Korel, Lord Protector Hiam, commander of the Stormguard, faces the potential annihilation of all that he loves as with the blood of his few remaining men and a crumbling stone wall that has seen better days, he labours to stave off the sea-borne Stormriders who would destroy his lands.

Meanwhile, religious war has broken out all across these lands as the local cult of the Blessed Lady, who has stood firm for millennia against the assaults of the Stormriders, seeks to stamp out all rivals; a champion refuses to stand against the alien ‘Riders’ and takes up arms in rebellion; and a local magistrate innocently pursuing the mystery of a series of murders is brought to the very heart of a far larger and far more terrifying ancient crime that has stained the entire subcontinent.

It’s interesting to see how they parallel each other in subject, but are utterly different in tone. The PS Publishing cover has better art, but it looks like a Patrick O’Brian, rather than a novel heavily entrenched in the farthest reaches of Epic Fantasy. Alternatively, the Tor Books edition suits the tone of the series, but I’m not a huge fan of the CG-heavy artstyle – though, of course, it fits in well with the rest of the Malazan novels.

Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

The Internet’s abuzz with the release of Towers of Midnight, the penultimate volume in Robert Jordan’s (and Brandon Sanderson’s, to be fair) Wheel of Time series. I don’t have a review myself (but I *do* have an interview with Sanderson), so I thought it might be worthwhile to round up a few of the early reviews, almost all of which are positive.

I haven’t read any of them myself (besides the quotes I’ve pulled), so beware of spoilers!

  • Neth Space

    I really enjoyed Towers of Midnight as I imagine most fans will. A lot happens, many theories die an agonizing death and many play out pretty well as anticipated. What may be a bit more unexpected are the new things we see – the end is nigh, but there is a lot left to happen. Some characters people want to see aren’t to be found, some resolutions we are begging for still remain, but this is a book of action. There are issues, and it certainly isn’t the thematically coherent volume that The Gathering Storm was. However, it is a book to bring laughter and tears to legions of fans. The biggest tears of all because of the ending – no, not that, but because this book basically ends grasping to the edge of a cliff. The resolutions we get are great, but I can’t help but beg to know what’s going to happen next – bring on A Memory of Light.

  • Fantasy Book Critic

    With its emphasis on character development, exciting pace, and large cast of characters, Towers of Midnight is the Wheel of Time book fans have been waiting for since The Shadow Rising. The amount of ground covered in a single novel is staggering, and if Towers of Midnight is any indication as to what awaits us in the forthcoming A Memory of Light, the end, while bittersweet, is sure to be incredible.


    Too many spoilers to pull a quote! Head here if you want to be spoiled or you’ve finished the novel.

  • Grasping for the Wind

    Ultimately, Towers of Midnight is a significant departure from The Gathering Storm in terms of narrative style that moves with more alacrity than its predecessor, yet that has fewer reveals and poignant scenes. It is not going to be considered the best book of the series, but neither is it the worst. At the very least, the reader will feel a real sense of closure to some longstanding elements, with enough left over that A Memory of Light still has lots of material to cover.

  • Fantasy Literature

    Like The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight is a very quick, effortless read, no small achievement for a nearly-900-page book (though it probably would have been better at 700-750). Unlike the prior book though, Towers of Midnight really moves the big story forward and by the end there’s a sense of bated breath as events and characters start to narrow to a point. Those who have stayed fans throughout will, I think, find that Sanderson is doing a credible and respectable job bringing it home. Those who, like myself, have become somewhat ambivalent lately and are reading more to finish and “just find out how it ends” will be happy for how smoothly and speedily Sanderson gets us closer to that point.

  • Ain’t it Cool News

    Towers of Midnight is a sliver of a sliver, a single act in a work that’s almost overwhelming in its scope and complexity. Sanderson doesn’t buckle under the weight, but then again Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight were the easy part. The real test for Sanderon is going to come a year from now when the final volume drops. Then we’ll see a whole different kind of Final Battle, this one in the hearts and minds of fans who have been waiting their whole lives with expectations that no author could possibly live up to. All of the blame will fall to him, not Jordan, if he doesn’t measure up. I’m guessing that for Sanderson, nothing waiting in Shayol Ghul could be as terrifying. Anticipation cuts both ways.

  • The Wertzone

    Many events unfold that people have been expecting for years (and yes, we learn the answer to a long-standing but utterly irrelevant mystery that Wheel of Time fans have furiously debated for over a decade), but Jordan’s plotting skills and Sanderson’s writing means that there are still plenty of big surprises to come, some of them almost strokes of genius in how they were set up beforehand.

    Towers of Midnight (****½) clears the decks of a lot of dead wood and brings us almost to the end. Some minor issues mar what could have been the best book of the series, but there is nevertheless the feeling that we have been set up for a huge finale. Time will tell if Sanderson can deliver on that.

  • The OF Blog

    Doubtless, most fans of the WoT series are just excited to discover that “stuff happens!” It is true that on a plot level, there are several important reveals that either further or conclude several plot threads, some of which had been left hanging since the earliest volumes of this series. For those that treat this series as merely an extended Wikipedia summary, doubtless the developments here (from the starting of major combat operations up north to battles in the world of dreams and one male character growing a pair and admitting his own nature to a long-expected rescue of a character left for dead eight volumes ago) make Towers of Midnight an exciting must-read for them. But for those readers such as myself who wish there would an elegance to the writing or at least a sound structure that limits herky-jerkiness to a minimum, this book perhaps might be one of the most poorly-written volumes in a series that is infamous for its sometimes-execrable prose.

  • Elitist Book Reviews

    In THE TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT, Brandon Sanderson is tasked with cleaning up a huge number of loose ends that should have been taken care of forever ago. His no-nonsense narrative helps overcome this portion of the story that feels like a laundry list. Brandon is working with the deck that was given to him, and he is doing amazing. Are there problems in this novel? Heavens yes. Does it have some awesome stuff? Oh yeah. Battles are great as usual. Rand is amazing. The secondary characters are better than the main characters in many cases. It is a Wheel of Time novel. There is going to be lots of frustrations, and lots of different stuff that will appeal to a variety of fans.

So, then, there you are. Expect more reviews to appear over the next couple of weeks, especially from UK bloggers, most of whom weren’t provided with review copies. If you’ve got a review or know of a review, let me know and I’ll add it to the list!