Err… winter isn’t coming? At least for another year. That’s the appropriate joke, right?
It’s been reported by Elio Garcia, co-author of the book, that The World of Ice and Fire, a companion book/encyclopedia about George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, slated for a Fall 2013 release, has been delayed by a year. Garcia says,
Yes, [The World of Ice and Fire] won’t be out this year… but that’s because it’s becoming rather cooler. More pages, more new history and details, more art. Like the story of the fall of the Tarbecks and the Reynes, the surprising person from whom the Lannisters are descended, more history of the Vale and the arrival of the Andals, and a good deal more. We’re working quick as we can, but there’s also more art to commission and that means it’d be safest to aim for next year.
In the past, these volumes, related to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time and Terry Brooks’Shannara series, have been released to some criticism, much directed toward the poor art included inside. In addition, these books were published midway through the series and feature large gaps and lack coverage of the later volumes, which is a shame. This will, of course, be the same here for A Song of Ice and Fire, but an additional year will at least give contributors some extra room to wriggle and, hopefully, allow the book to age a little better than its predecessors.
Adam Whitehead of the Wertzone suggests that the twelve month delay, rather than a shorter delay simply to complete the extra content, is to ensure that the book remains in its pre-Christmas publication slot, when coffee table-style books have the best chance of selling copies. With Game of Thrones continuing to break records for HBO, one can’t see the popularity of Martin’s work waning anytime soon, so, hopefully, this delay is for the best for everyone involved. Except those salivating fans who have to wait another year to get the book in their hands.
Each story in The Lowest Heaven is themed around a body in the Solar System, from the Sun to Halley’s Comet. Contributors include Alastair Reynolds, Kaaron Warren, S.L. Grey, Lavie Tidhar, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Sophia McDougall, Maria Dahvana Headley, Adam Roberts, E.J. Swift, Kameron Hurley and Doctor Who’s Matt Jones.
The stories are illustrated with photographs and artwork selected from our world-class collection, while the book’s cover and overall design are the work of award-winning South African illustrator Joey Hi-Fi. Joey has provided us with an exclusive Q&A about how he created the design for the cover artwork.
In collaboration with Royal Museums Greenwich, Jurassic London is publishing this anthology on June 13th, 2013 to celebrate the mysteries of our solar system. I’m a great fan of what Perry and Shurin are doing at Jurassic London, and this appears to be one of their most accomplished publications yet. In discussion with the, artist Joey Hi-Fi, explains where the idea for map-styled art originated,
With The Lowest Heaven being an anthology, the brief was to create a piece of artwork that would tie all the stories together. Since the book features stories based on various celestial bodies in our Solar System – creating a bespoke solar system map seemed like an interesting way to do that.
Plus, having a fascination with all things cosmic (bordering on Kosmikophilia), I couldn’t resist. I used to draw maps of alien solar systems as a kid – peppered with space battles of course. So this is a childhood dream come true.
I was inspired by the wall hangings in the National Maritime Museum collection. These were produced by the Working Men’s Educational Union in the 1850s and based on astronomical themes. The hangings were printed lithographically on cotton, which gives them an interesting appearance. I liked their simple, yet striking design. One in particular (see jpeg) formed the basis of my design.
I just took a more modern approach – if you can call it that. My map has more of a 1950s aesthetic as opposed to one reminiscent of the 1850s.
It’s… gorgeous. Ethereal, mysterious, adventurous and worthy of hanging on a wall. Now, the big question is, can The Lowest Heaven, published by Jurassic London, which is co-founded by Jared Shurin and Anne Perry, the same duo behind the Kitschies, win an Inky Tentacle at the Kitschies for ‘Best Cover Art’? ‘Cause, well, there’s a damn good chance that it’ll deserve it. I’ve said it before recently, and I’ll say it again, I’d be hard-pressed to find a current cover artist who’s doing better, more consistent, and astonishing work than Joey Hi-Fi. Everything the guy touches is golden.
Towers of Midnight
Release Date: 20101102
Publisher: Tor Books
The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legends fade to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.
This quote, which opens the main sequence of every single The Wheel of Time book, can, with some alterations be applied to reading, memory, and the impressions formed (and altered) from the commingling of the above. I am not by nature someone who trusts wholeheartedly my first impressions; too often they change with time and further reflection. I have found this to be the case with this now-thirteen-volume epic fantasy series. When I reviewed the twelfth volume (and the first where Brandon Sanderson wrote most of the material in place of the deceased Robert Jordan), The Gathering Storm, I perhaps was a bit too forgiving of that book’s shortcomings because I reviewed the book after not having read most of the other volumes since 2000. Certainly my memory did not jibe too well with my experiences re-reading the first eleven volumes this past spring and writing commentaries on my impressions. In short, it was a slog re-reading this series. Not merely because of the myriad subplots nor because there were repetitive and yet shallow social commentaries, but also due to the creaky, non-graceful prose and uneven characterizations that often left me feeling cold. Despite the change in authors and the plot developments that one might expect in the penultimate volume of such a ponderous multi-volume series, Towers of Midnight, after some reflection, is a flawed volume in a very flawed series. Continue reading
The Tainted City/Chimera
Release Date: 20120301
Publisher: Night Shade Books/Orbit Books
When I began writing reviews, I wasn’t sure if anyone would read me, or if I’d ever get review copies. I did, eventually. These two books, reviewed here together, are sequels to the first review copies I ever received: The The Tainted City by Courtney Schafer, sequel to The Whitefire Crossing, and Chimera by T.C. McCarthy, sequel to Germline and Exogene. I write about them together not because of their coincidental significance in helping to establish me as a critic, but because of the vastly different styles between the two and the fact they ultimately succeed for the same reason.
The Whitefire Crossing, Schafer’s debut novel, is an adventure novel about smuggler Dev, his human cargo Kiran, and a blood mage looking to escape his powerful mentor. A mountain climber herself, Schafer spends most of the novel in the Whitefire Mountains, her characters crossing the natural barrier between two nations with very different ideas about the proper use of magic. There’s a joy to the writing that comes from Schafer’s own love of the outdoors, but more than that there’s a general sense of wonder and excitement to the entire project. The Whitefire Crossing ends on an intriguing note, with Dev and Kiran now in the urban jungle fighting a political enemy somewhat divorced from their previous conflict. Continue reading
Rinse and Repeat?
The idea behind my recent series, the Aetherial Tales, is simple: I wanted to write my own version of the “other-race living among us” trope, but in my own individual way. Although each novel can be read as a stand-alone, the most recent volume, Grail of the Summer Stars, completes a bigger story arc that was simmering in the background of Elfland and Midsummer Night. And that set me thinking about the themes – conscious or otherwise – that keep cropping up in an author’s work.
For years I had this idea in my head that every new book I wrote had to be completely different from the last, different from anything else that’s ever been written! Sigh. It took a while, but eventually I accepted that this is impossible. Well – at least incredibly rare and not always desirable. (Readers often want “more of the same”, and why not?) Virtually everything that can be written about already has been, and will be again, over and over. And that’s fine: many themes are universal because we can all relate to them. Love, birth, death, survival, finding the place we truly belong, war, crime and justice, the hero’s journey, and so on, are timeless and resonant. They don’t have to become clichés, as long as the author can bring an individual voice, pull something fresh from a well of compassion, wit or wisdom that engages the reader. Continue reading