Yearly Archives: 2011

FUZZY NATION by John ScalziThrough my involvement with Fantasy, Macmillan, the parent company of Tor Books, in part pays for the bread on my table, the beer in my fridge and the heat in my home. As such, consider this following article not a recommendation or formal review, but a collection of my subjective thoughts on the novel.

Stephen Donaldson once said, and I paraphrase, that releasing The Gap Cycle helped him realize that his success wasn’t necessarily built on the backs of Stephen Donaldson fans, but rather he had been lifted to stardom by Thomas Covenant fans. He suppose that a majority of readers grew attached to characters, stories and worlds, rather than to the authors themselves. I thought of this quote several times throughout my time with Fuzzy Nation, the latest novel from super-blogger John Scalzi.

You see, the more I read of his work, the more I realize that while I’m a slavering fanboy for John Perry, the protagonist and narrator of Scalzi’s award-nominated Old Man’s War, I’m only a mild fan of John Scalzi. To then further reduce that distinction, I’m nuts for Old Man’s War, which blew me away and proved itself a worthy 21st-century analogue to Starship Troopers and The Forever War, but, while enjoying each one in turn, have been somewhat let down by each Scalzi novel I’ve read since. So, in reality, I’m not so much a Scalzi, or a even John Perry fan, but a fan of Old Man’s War. And, at this point, I’m almost certain that Scalzi will have trouble ever reaching those heights again.
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I’m willing to bet there are more than a few Zelda fans among my readers. It’s one of Videogames’ most storied franchises and means as much to the childhoods of many as J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit or Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea. Recently, on a forum I frequent, the members there started compiling some of the wonderful art produced for the series, officially or fan-made, and it made me bloody nostalgic.

I’ve gathered together some of my favourite images from that thread, all illustrated by fans of the series:

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA has never looked so good! THE LEGEND OF ZELDA has never looked so good! THE LEGEND OF ZELDA has never looked so good! THE LEGEND OF ZELDA has never looked so good! THE LEGEND OF ZELDA has never looked so good! THE LEGEND OF ZELDA has never looked so good!

And some great thinking-outside-the-box portraits of the ubiquitous hero of the series:

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA has never looked so good! THE LEGEND OF ZELDA has never looked so good! THE LEGEND OF ZELDA has never looked so good!

And, then… there’s this:

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA has never looked so good!

Truly the stuff of nightmares.

Many more images can be found at this link.

'The Unremembered' by Paul Orullian

Rumors have beset the eastlands of Aeshau Vaal. Some people flee toward the cities for refuge. One regent, to answer these unseen threats, is set to recall the Convocation of Seats—something that hasn’t been done for ages. But one man doesn’t believe, and would use the fear of nations to advance the power of his dangerous League of Civility.

For Braethen, an author’s son, it will mean the sudden chance to turn his lifelong desire of entering the Sodality into a reality. But being a Sodalist is not the romantic dream he’s read about in his long years of study. As a sworn protector to the feared Order of Sheason, he must be prepared to give more than his life, and to take up a mythical weapon before his hands are even accustomed to steel.

For Wendra, raped and now heavy with child, it will mean learning the reality of a trade that travels the highways across the nations of man, even a trade in human lives. She’ll take responsibility for a pageant-wagon boy, whose street-theater is considered seditious; and find through protecting him that her ability to make song with her voice carries a great power, but one that may flow darkly.

For Tahn, it will mean finding answers to a lost childhood. Words he feels compelled to speak every time he draws his bow may finally be understood, but the revelation it will bring he may wish to have left unremembered. And though it will also introduce him to a beautiful woman of the legendary Far, the nature of their separate and very different lives will force dreadful choices upon them.

These three, and others, attended by a hard man, an exile, whose sentence is to care for orphans and foundlings in the middle of a wasteland, and by a Sheason whose uncompromising, yet best intentions are destroying his own order, will fight the past even as they face a dark future.

Because the threats are more than rumor . . .

One of the 2011’s more intriguing debut Epic Fantasies is Peter Orullian’s The Unremembered, the first volume in the (potentially very long) The Vault of Heaven series. Tor seems to be positioning it, alongside (or perhaps just below) Brandon Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archives, as one of the big, epics to fill the gap left by Robert Jordan’s soon-to-be-finished Wheel of Time. Will it actually live up to that sort of hype? It’s impossible to say. Publishers like to scream to the heavens about every new Epic Fantasy series and how it’s going to re-invent the genre and make Patrick Rothfuss look like a sales-chump (*cough*Robert Newcomb*cough*), but that’s rarely ever the case.

Still, with a beautiful cover and an reasonably interesting synopsis, The Unremembered is firmly on my radar. To help you decide if it’s worth getting excited about, Orullian’s recently released the prologue of the novel on his website.

In addition to this excerpt, Orullian has also published two short stories on Sacrifice of the First Sheason and The Great Defense of Layosah.

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

Welcome to the future. Humanity has colonized the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond – but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, The Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for – and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to The Scopuli and rebel sympathizer, Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations – and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.

I’m not much of a Science Fiction reader. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, I do, it’s just that, for whatever reason, when it comes time to choose my next novel of the pile, I always gravitate towards Fantasy. Nothing inspires me more, however, when one of my favourite Fantasy authors turns his attentions to rocket ships, outer space and laser guns.

James S.A. Corey is a pseudonym taken by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. It’s no secret that I have an enormous literature- and man-crush on Abraham. Not only that, Leviathan Wakes eschews the ordinary far-future setting and looks to tell a story of spaceships in a time when humanity still has yet to leave our solar system. This (relatively) near-future setting is more than enough to catch my interest and separate Corey’s effort from the rest of the Science Fiction cluttering up my bookshelves.

For a closer taste, you can head over to Abraham’s website and read the prologue from Leviathan Wakes. Then clear some space on your reading list for what’s sure to be one of the year’s more impressive ‘out-of-nowhere’ novels in 2011. Don’t believe me? Just check out The Wertzone’s review and bask in his enthusiasm.