dinoriders1

How cool is that image? It’s a bunch of dinosaurs equipped with laser beams and cockpits. Who cares if you have Dimetrodons and Pachycephalosaurus living in tandem? It’s dudes riding dinosaurs with lasers. Dino Riders was my Jesus as a kid. As a dino-obsessed youth, the idea of riding dinosaurs into battle was the thing of legends and far-off planets where anything was possible.

Today, Tor.com revealed not only 2014’s best cover, but also the winner of the 2016 Hugo Award for Best Novel: The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milán. He and I might be a generation apart, but, in our love of dino steeds, Milán and I are clearly cut from the same cloth, and the legacy of Dino Riders is alive and well. Read More »

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Prisoners, Deserters,
and an Age of Heroes

I was a college freshman on 9/11. The events of that Tuesday morning kicked off the 21st century in the United States of America, and changed my life, as it changed the lives of so many young people of my generation in the USA and beyond.

9/11 started the “War on Terror,” two wars in the middle east, poured nitrous oxide into the burning engine of the United States’ national debt, and set the tone for the first decade of the 21st century in the USA, the first decade of my adulthood. I remember telling classmates that we needed to write to our representatives, ask that they not go and start a war over this, that we could do better.

I created an Individualized Major of Creative Mythology, with the aim of studying how myths and legends were structured, how the ur-stories of world cultures were formed.

When I arrived at Indiana University, I declared an East Asian Studies major. I wanted to learn more Japanese, study Japanese history, and go off and work for a video game company, or an anime company, or something involving that skill, and that interest. But after 9/11, I was flailing for meaning, desperate to find some way forward as the world very quickly spiralled away from the future I had expected. As members of my age cohort signed up for the armed services, to be analysts, anything to help, I looked back to Mythology, to hero legends, and in looking back, saw my path forward.

We make meaning out of stories – that’s what humans do. I needed to make meaning out of what was happening in my world, needed to imagine an alternative to the path that history was taking, to dream a brighter future. In spring of 2002, I created an Individualized Major of Creative Mythology, with the aim of studying how myths and legends were structured, how the ur-stories of world cultures were formed, so that I could make 21st century myths and legends to help point the way forward, to see through the cloud of ashes and confusion and anger left by the fall of the towers.

But 9/11 wasn’t the first time the WTC towers had loomed tall in my life, with their presence or their absence. Read More »

follow_our_rules_by_aquasixio-d6ynbbsprotect_me_from_what_i_want_by_aquasixio-d55oynncalypso_by_aquasixio-d62qd70life_is_now_by_aquasixio-d7whbjmPrismatic_by_AquaSixioaccording_to_my_jealousy_by_aquasixio-d5q1cqtswamp_of_soap_by_aquasixio-d5awxiwkatharsis_by_aquasixio-d78h3poBlowing_Bubbles_by_AquaSixiospringtime_in_our_hands_by_aquasixio-d5hrquu

Cyril Rolando, known online as AquaSixio, is a French illustrator who works predominantly with digital mediums, such as Photoshop. “My artistic approach is set between surreal and fantasy style… in one word : Otherworldly,” he says of his art.

“I want to ‘tell a story,’ not just ‘show pixels,'” says Rolando of his digital art. “Tim Burton and Hayao Miyazaki are both the roots of my own world. I like the surrealism movement, especially the work of Boris Vian and his Foam of the Daze (l’écume des jours). I like the absurdity, the creativity and the enchanting universes, where colors bring more emotions than thousand smiles or a million tears.”

Living on an island, I’m drawn to many of the thematic elements that Rolando incorporates into many of his images: waves, underwater, aquatic life, snow, rice beds. Doubly impressive is the way that the running theme of water is utilized without all of the images feeling repetitive or same-y. Rolando fills his images with deep blues, rich purples and reds, and nurses out a lot of evocative emotion through his use of colour.

You can follow Cyril Rolando on Tumblr and DeviantArt. His art is available for purchase through his online store.

the-spiders-war-by-daniel-abraham

I’ve got one response for this:

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(Okay, I actually have more than one response, natch, so bear with me. Orbit Books is one of the few big SFF publishers that understands the value in building a brand for its authors. When they weren’t happy with Brent Weeks’ cover for The Black Prism, they recovered the whole series and created an eye-catching and instantly recognizable series on bookstore shelves. They’ve done so with James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse, and Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch series. The packaging and branding for Daniel Abraham’s The Dagger and the Coin was never their finest work, but it was bold and the emblematic weapon (sword, axe, torch, shield and spear) were consistent and matched scale. Read More »

The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

Publisher: Angry Robot Books - Pages: 544 - Buy: Book/eBook
Cover art for The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

In the world of Kameron Hurley’s The Mirror Empire, where magic users draw their power from one of three heavenly satellites, a dark star is rising, one whose ascendance heralds a time of cataclysmic change and war between realities. For Lilia, who crossed from one world to another in childhood, fleeing the wrath of an alternate, militaristic version of the peaceful Dhai culture she now inhabits, this means discovering her mother’s hidden legacy before it can destroy her. For Akhio, the younger brother and now unexpected heir of Dhai’s deceased leader, Oma’s rise brings politicking and treachery, both from Dhai’s traditional enemies and from within his own state. For Zezili, the half-blood daijian general of matriarchal Dorinah, charged by her alien empress with exterminating the nation’s daijian population, it means an uneasy alliance with women from another world; women whose plans are built on blood and genocide. For Rohinmey, a novice parajista who dreams of adventure, Oma brings the promise of escape – but at a more terrible cost than he could ever have imagined. And for Taigan, a genderfluid assassin and powerful omajista bound in service to the Patron of imperial Saiduan, it means watching cities burn as invading armies walk between worlds with the aim of destroying his. How many realities are there? Who can travel between them? And who will survive Oma’s rise?

The Mirror Empire hooked me in from the very first page.

The Mirror Empire, the first volume of the Worldbreaker Saga, is Hugo Award-winning writer Kameron Hurley’s fourth novel, and from the minute I first saw the blurb, I knew I had to read it. The entire concept – backstabbing politics, polyamorous pacifists, violent matriarchs, sentient plant-monsters, doors between worlds – is basically my personal catnip, and when you throw in my enjoyment of Hurley’s first novel, God’s War, my expectations at the outset were understandably high. Which is ordinarily a risk factor: the more I invest in a story beforehand, the more likely I am to wind up disappointed. But The Mirror Empire, with its sprawling, fascinating mix of original cultures, political wrangling – both within the narrative and as cultural commentary – and vivid, brilliant worldbuilding, hooked me in from the very first page. The only reason it took me so long to read, in fact, was a personal reticence to have the story end: I’ve been drawing it out over weeks and months, prolonging the inevitable.

Read More »