Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

Publisher: Doubleday - Pages: 384 - Buy: Book/eBook
Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

Full of Pratchett’s trademark wit and humor, Raising Steam is a tour de force of comedic fantasy and proves that despite recent health issues and uncertainty about his future as a novelist, Terry Pratchett is still a wordsmith and storyteller at the top of his game.

Steam power has come to Discworld and caught in the middle of it all is the irascible (but oh-so-lovable) Moist von Lipwig, the golden-tongued swindler and conman. As if running the Royal Mint, Royal Bank and Post Office of Ankh-Morpork wasn’t enough, Moist is quickly thrown to the wolves after being named (err… forced) by Lord Venitari to the role of civil representative for the new railway system as it spreads its tendrils through Discworld, maneuvering between mountains of trouble (literal, figurative and, well, always enormous) at every turn.

Moist von Lipwig, who should be recognizable to Discworld fans for his appearance in some of Pratchett’s most loved novels, returns to the Ankh-Morpork’s spotlight after being handed the responsibility of handling the next great invention on Discworld: the steam engine. As expected, hilarity and much fuss ensues, leaving Moist to navigate the politics and fast-moving (no pun intended) world of steam-powered locomotion. Add to this a civil war among the dwarfs, who are none-too-fond of the new-fangled railway, and you’ve got a story that’s chockfull of amusing misadventures, hair raising escapes and, as Pratchett fans will expect, a few genuinely tender and perceptive moments, too. Read More »

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Lightning in a Bottle, an unfilmable story.

Last year, after a decade of speculation, failed starts and mountains of expectation, Peter Jackson released The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first in a trilogy of films adapting J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy novel, The Hobbit, for the big screen. Following in the footsteps of its bigger brother, Jackson’s adaptation of Lord of the Rings, a modern film classic in its own right, The Hobbit was almost destined to disappoint. With his first trilogy, Jackson captured lightning in a bottle. He took the movie industry by storm, and revitalized mainstream excitement for fantasy to a level not seen since the ’80s. He did so, somehow, by executing an enormous passion project that seemed almost impossible under the circumstances: no major stars, a production and special effects company that no one had heard of, a story deemed unfilmable by many fans, and a film industry that had not seen anything of its scale since Lucas’ Star Wars (which, in itself, faced many challenges and doubters before it found success.)

When Jackson first approached New Line Cinema, he pitched them on an adaptation of The Hobbit, with a two-film adaptation of Lord of the Rings to follow. As these things go, film rights to The Hobbit were split between two companies (which would again later impede production of The Hobbit trilogy we know today), while Lord of the Rings was entirely under the umbrella of New Line Cinema’s owner, Saul Zaentz. Jackson, a relative unknown in the world of big budget Hollywood films, was given the reigns to one of the most revered entertainment properties in the world. Read More »

The Crimson Campaign by Brian McClellan

Preorder The Crimson Campaign by Brian McClellan: Book/eBook

Brian McClellan turned a lot of heads earlier this year with the release of Promise of Blood, the first book in The Powder Mage Trilogy, a flintlock fantasy that SciFi Now called, “a historically influenced fantastical romp filled with machismo, intrigue and magic.” Machismo aside, (that’s a virtue in a novel?) McClellan’s debut has been getting a lot of attention during year end discussions about 2013′s most exciting new authors, and anticipation for the second volume in the series, The Crimson Campaign is high. Unfortunately, McClellan has announced that it will not be hitting its previously announced release date. The novel “has been pushed back from February 18th, 2014 to May 6th, 2014; a delay of about two and a half months,” says McClellan.

On his blog, McClellan further explains the delay (which, in a nice twist of fate, is not due to any difficulties in finishing the novel, it’s simple publishing strategy):

[Orbit] has decided that a May release would be so much better in order to put The Crimson Campaign into has many hands as possible. I completely trust their decision in this matter. They’ve done such an awesome job with my books so far, I don’t think they’re going to let me down now. You may be grumbling that it sounds like a marketing decision and wondering why this matters to you. It is, and it does: the better The Crimson Campaign (and subsequent books) does in the bookstores, the better I will do as an author, which will allow me to focus on writing and not, say, go find a full time job doing something else. This means that you’ll continue getting a Powder Mage book every year for the next four years after this one, rather than me having to spread out the release dates because I don’t have as much time to write.

This also effects the release of the Promise of Blood trade paperback. Orbit will push that release back to April 8th in the US. The UK release will stay the same (January 18th).

The delay is unfortunate, but given its prior release date placed it just two weeks before the release of Words of Radiance, the second volume of Brandon Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archives (and likely to big the biggest fantasy release of 2014), and McClellan’s own growing popularity, it’s understandable that Orbit wanted to reposition the release to move it out from under the shadow of a behemoth.

If you have not read The Powder Mage Trilogy, the first volume, Promise of Blood is available for $1.92 on Kindle (in many countries, current to the publication of this post.) The Crimson Campaign is available for preorder: Book/eBook

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Well, boys and girls, mark your calendars. We’ve got a (tentative, vague) date for the next volume of Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastards sequence, The Thorn of Emberlain.

The Thorn of Emberlain “ought to be out in the fall of 2014,” said Lynch in an interview with Fantastical Imaginations. While some guarded skepticism is natural, Adam Whitehead of The Wertzone said, “Scott’s publishers are themselves confident that this date can be met: Scott began work on The Thorn of Emberlain some time before the final edits on Republic [of Thieves] were done, and the novel is already in an advanced stage of writing.”

Lynch also revealed some early details about what fans can expect of Locke and Jean’s misadventures in Emberlain:

The Thorn of Emberlain, the fourth book in the Gentleman Bastard sequence, picks up about half a year after The Republic of Thieves and finds Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen trying to get back on their feet with a major con. They’re trying to sell the services of a non-existent mercenary company to the besieged city-state of Emberlain, hoping to escape with the hiring fees before the chaos of the Vadran civil war overruns Emberlain. Naturally, things don’t go according to plan…

Given my love for Lynch’s most recent novel, The Republic of Thieves (REVIEW), The Thorn of Emberlain has immediately vaulted to the top of my most anticipated novels for 2014.

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Note: This article was originally published as part of Smugglivus, a year-end celebration of all things books over at The Book Smugglers. Check out the rest of the fun!

To begin the year, I set myself a challenge: read a perfect split balance of male:female authors in 2013. It was a personal challenge, and I asked no one else to follow along with me. This challenge had two purposes. The first was to provide more exposure for female fantasy and science fiction writers. The second was to expand my own tastes, to discover new authors. As 2013 winds down, I consider this challenge a success, but it wasn’t without some controversy.

In particular, the comments thread generated some salty discussion about my challenge and the idea of ‘quotas’ playing against the natural interests of a reader/critic. I read a lot of the same arguments, mostly about being ‘genderblind’, that I had once made. These arguments are so easy to fall back on, a safety net to avoid falling into blame. At first, I was quick to respond the same way, “I just read what I want to read, and ignore the gender of the author completely.” Well and true, maybe, but I started to recognize that, despite these excuses, there was a large bias (about one to three, female to male) in my reading habits. I began to ask myself why. I still don’t have an answer, but I did recognize that a conscious course correction was something I could be proactive about without needing an answer right away. Read More »