The Violent Century
Release Date: 20131024
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Lavie Tidhar’s The Violent Century has done for World War II what The Watchmen did for the Cold War (and should have done for the Vietnam War). I make that comparison not because both feature humans with superpowers, but because they offer an opportunity to look at real events through a hyperbolic layer. Tidhar, like Alan Moore, is interrogating real events with the speculative fiction toolkit, looking not at how it happened historically, but at what about the human condition allowed it. The result, in Violent Century’s case isn’t just a great piece of superhero fiction, but a beautiful novel of cultural and literary merit.
[The Violent Century] is the kind of stilted romance built on repressed feelings and unspoken connections.
The jacket copy of the novel reads, “Fogg and Oblivion must face up a past of terrible war and unacknowledged heroism to answer one last, impossible question: what makes a hero” I’m loathe to sum it up so simply. While there are some notions of heroism throughout the novel, the quote describes what a fan reckons a superhero novel ought to be without a sense of the novel’s real themes. In the end, The Violent Century is a love story. Not a tale of heroism or social commentary, although it is those things too, Tidhar’s novel is the kind of stilted romance built on repressed feelings and unspoken connections.
For seventy years Oblivion and Fogg have guarded the British Empire with their abilities as arms of the opaque Retirement Bureau. Divided by a secret from decades past the pair is called back to answer for their actions. Fogg is a child of neglect, exploited for his ability, and asked to do things he finds incongruent with his morality. Oblivion, meanwhile, is more of a cipher, a mystery to solve. There’s also a woman named Klara who sits at the root of the conflict between the novel’s main characters and at the root of how Tidhar’s world is changed from our own. Continue reading
Via Entertainment Weekly, George Lucas has confirmed that Star Wars: Episode VII will be released to theatres on December 18th, 2015. EW reports:
Lucasfilm has announced the new date for the debut of the next Star Wars trilogy, and despite some script rewriting that is currently underway, the movie will not be pushed to later in 2016.
Fans can expect to revisit the galaxy far, far away on Dec. 18, 2015.
Also interesting to note is the recent change in the primary writers for the scrip. Replacing Michael Arndt, best known for his work on Little Miss Sunshine (which is a hilarious thought, given the quirky nature and humour of that film) are J.J. Abrams, director of the film, and Lawrence Kasdan, co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back (the best of the trilogy), Return of the Jedi and Raiders of the Lost Ark—that’s certainly a resume that Star Wars fans can be excited about. Entertainment Weekly says that this, “development [is] clearly not an ideal one, and it triggered questions about whether the story would be ready in time.” This 2015 release date ensures that the production will be given the necessary time it needs to be polished to the high level (*cough cough*) that Star Wars fans expect (though, perhaps, are not always used to receiving).
Pre-production for the film is already underway, with shooting scheduled to being in Spring 2014.
So, how many days to go? *Counts his fingers until he runs out.*
Say one thing for John Scalzi, he gets some damn fine covers from his publisher. Scalzi describes the book as ‘a near-future thriller involving a disease that causes people to be “locked in” inside their own bodies,’ and indicates that he feels the cover captures this essence. Irene Gallo, Art Director at Tor Books, describes the creation of the cover, ‘You can often describe an art director’s job as being a match-maker for author and designer and the John/Peter pairing has been a good for us. [...] Peter [Lutjen] created a cover that expressed both their isolation and connectivity by painting tiny train model people.’
Tor.com has the first official synopsis of the novel:
Fifteen years from now, a new virus sweeps the globe. 95% of those afflicted experience nothing worse than fever and headaches. Four per cent suffer acute meningitis, creating the largest medical crisis in history. And one percent find themselves “locked in”—fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to Stimulus.
One per cent doesn’t seem like a lot. But in the United States, that’s 1.7 million people “locked in” …including the President’s wife and daughter. Spurred by grief and the sheer magnitude of the suffering, America undertakes a massive scientific initiative. Nothing can restore to the “locked in” the ability to control their own bodies. But two new technologies emerge. One is a virtual reality environment, “The Agora,” in which the locked-in can interact with other humans, both locked-in and not. The other is the discovery that a few rare individuals have brains that are receptive to being controlled by others, meaning that from time to time, those who are locked in can “ride” these people and use their bodies as if they were their own.
This skill is quickly regulated, licensed, bonded, and controlled. Nothing can go wrong. Certainly nobody would be tempted to misuse it, for murder, for political power, or worse…
Lock In, which Scalzi is in the processing of completing at the time this cover was revealed, is due for publication on August 26th, 2014.
Today, Tor.com announced Some of the Best From Tor.com, 2013 Edition, a collection of fiction published on Tor.com over the past year. In a statement about the release, Tor.com said:
We are thrilled to announce the 2013 edition of Some of the Best from Tor.com, an anthology of twenty-one of our favorite stories, selected from the sixty-plus stories we published this year. This anthology is available world-wide through all major ebook retailers.
These stories were acquired and edited for Tor.com by Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Ellen Datlow, Ann VanderMeer, Liz Gorinsky, George R. R. Martin, Noa Wheeler, Melissa Frain, and Claire Eddy. Each story is accompanied by an original illustration.
This is the second volume in Tor.com’s anthology series, the first of which covers the entirety of the site’s first five years. It’s one of the most impressive short fiction collections available.
The table of contents, all of which are available to read for free on Tor.com:
Table of Contents
It’s my opinion that Tor.com is one of the finest publishers of genre short fiction, in print or electronically, and a curated collection of some of their best stories is sure to be full of quality. Get Some of the Best From Tor.com, 2013 Edition: eBook
Despite all my reservations about the first volume of the ‘trilogy’ of films (which, compared to the rest of the Internet, are fairly mild and positive), I can’t help but feel giddy when I watch this trailer. Yeah, it looks nothing like the book, but all hope for a faithful, irreverent adaptation were lost once Jackson announced that he was splitting the films into three parts anyway. It looks beautiful, and fun and I can’t help but become lost in Jackson’s version of Middle Earth.
The most disheartening thing is that, by all indications, the final film is going to comprise solely of the Battle of the Five Armies. Three hours of goblins, dwarves and, elves duking it out in CGI glory. I mean, that’s totally what I want from The Hobbit…