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Disney films were a fixture of my childhood (and still a regular occurrence in my adult life), so these Disney portraits by Heather Theurer are a sublime meeting of childhood favourites and a sophisticated art style that ticks all the right boxes. I’m particularly smitten by Lilo and Stitch, and Theurer’s lovely ability to catch the soft light of an early morning.

“Heather’s paintings are the product of decades of observation of people, of environments, of animals and of textiles, as well as the convergence of every scrap of knowledge that came attached to them,” reads Theurer’s official biography on Disney Fine Art. “The wonder and magic of Disney movies, both the imagery and the music, also helped cultivate the ideas that began to take form in painting, and now, boldly recreating Disney characters in a way that brings them into the realism of our world has become an exciting new passion.”

You can find more of Theurer’s art, including some astounding fantasy art, on her official website. Prints of these portraits are available through Disney Fine Art

Thief's Magic by Trudi Canavan

Publisher: Orbit Books - Pages: 560 - Buy: Book/eBook
Thief's Magic by Trudi Canavan

The first book in the Millennium Rule trilogy, Thief’s Magic is set in a different world – or worlds, rather – to Canavan’s previous works, and as such makes a good entry point to her writing for any new readers. In the interests of full disclosure, Trudi is a friend, which means I’m potentially biased; that being said, Thief’s Magic is definitely a book which kept me engrossed on its own merits.

When Leratian history student Tyen Ironsmelter discovers Vella, a sentient, magical book, while on an expedition with the notorious Professor Kilraker, he knows he should turn such a valuable artefact over to the Academy. Instead, rather than see Vella doomed to decades of neglect and obscurity by those who don’t appreciate her – or worse, destroyed – Tyen keeps her for himself. But Vella, as the creation of a legendary magician, knows magical secrets, and when her powers are discovered by Tyen’s masters, their treachery forces him to flee. Meanwhile, Rielle, a dyer’s daughter from the city of Fyre, struggles to conceal her ability to see Stain, the shadowy absence of magic. Men who can see Stain become priests, using their powers to serve the Angels, but for women, such work is forbidden. After being attacked by a tainted, an illegal magic user, Rielle is pushed into the company of Isare, a handsome artist, and exactly the sort of person her family doesn’t want her to marry. But as her connection to Isare grows – and as her ability to see Stain forces her to keep secrets from him – Rielle’s position becomes more and more dangerous. What is the true nature of magic? What does it mean to travel between worlds? And how does it change those who do? Read More »

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Insects are People Too

I get the question “Why insects?” quite a lot. My stock response depends on how flippant I’m feeling at the time, but comes in two flavours. One is all about lofty literary ideals and exploring the human condition via the chitinous mirror that is insects. The other is “I just like insects.” Both are true1.

The lofty literary business is a thing, though. There is a genuine tradition, mostly a Central/Eastern European one, of using insects to examine human nature. Kafka’s Metamorphosis, of course, but also the Insect Play by the brothers Capek, and Viktor Pelevin’s Life of Insects. Even the ant section in T.H. White’s Sword in the Stone is worth a mention2.

These are all great works, but for me – the lover of insects – they share a problem. Their portrayals are all very negative. When Samsa wakes up as a cockroach3, it is both to the revulsion of his family and peers, and to considerable physical difficulty just getting around in a human world4, and the various insects in Pelevin and Capek are shown as human, but the worst of what humanity has to offer – selfish, rigid, murderous, warlike. They are an object lesson in where we’ve gone wrong as a species. Read More »

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Tor.com announced this morning that Lee Harris, Senior Editor at Angry Robot Books, will be joining their new short fiction imprint as Senior Editor. Harris will join Publisher Fritz Foy, Associate Publisher Irene Gallo, and Editorial Assistant Carl Engle-Laird at the imprint. They are still searching for a Publicity Manager, Marketing Manager, and Designer.

“The Tor.com role is full-time,” Harris revealed to me. This means that his time as Senior Editor at Angry Robot Books is coming to an end. This news comes just days after Osprey Media announced the closure of two of Angry Robot Books’ sister imprints: Strange Chemistry and Exhibit A. Harris maintained through his website that the timing is entirely coincidental. “The new role is an amazing opportunity for me, and if it had been advertised six months ago, or six months from now, I would still have applied. In a note to my authors I said that in many ways it’s the role that Angry Robot had been preparing me for over the last five years.”

Harris has been a part of the Angry Robot Books team since its earliest days, and leaving the imprint was not an easy decision for him. “Handing in my notice to Angry Robot was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It was a genuinely emotional meeting – Angry Robot is more than just my job, it’s my baby, and it always will be.”

With Harris moving to Tor.com in August, Angry Robot Books is on the search for a new Senior Editor. “Marc will need to find a replacement for me at Angry Robot. And you know what? Whoever gets that gig is going to have the time of their life.” Do you have what it takes? Read More »

Company Town by Madeline Ashby Madeline-Low-Res-02-e1348636903481

I’m a working futurist, so I’m supposed to know all about it. The problem was, I didn’t really have any answers.

Madeline Ashby’s debut novel, vN, caught a lot a readers by surprise with its sophisticated take on humanity’s convergence with the technology we’ve created. Stefan Raets of Tor.com lauded it for examining “a fairly complex future almost exclusively from the limited perspective of an immature and confused non-human character,” and Cory Doctorow said, “Ashby’s debut is a fantastic adventure story [...] It is often profound, and it is never boring.”

The sequel, iD, established Ashby as one of the genre’s most exciting young writers. Now she’s back with a new novel, a standalone called Company Town.

“After I wrote the most fucked-up book about robot consciousness ever, followed by an even more fucked-up sequel, people started asking me about the Singularity,” Ashby told io9 when they asked about the inception of Company Town. “I’m a working futurist, so I’m supposed to know all about it. The problem was, I didn’t really have any answers. So I decided to write a fucked-up book about it. And sex work. And serial killers.”

Erik Mohr‘s cover design is as gritty and darkly attractive as Ashby’s description of the book. Read More »