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 »

The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley

Publisher: Tor Books - Pages: 480 - Buy: Book/eBook
The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley

As epic fantasies so often do The Emperor’s Blades, a debut novel from Brian Stavely, begins with the death of a ruler, and continues to follow the fall-out as it consumes his realm and children. This pattern should be familiar to readers of everything from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, to David Anthony Durham’s Acacia Trilogy. In this case, Staveley begins with three children — two male heirs, Kaden and Valyn, and a daughter suited to rule in all ways but her gender, Adare. The boys are gone from court, sent away by their father to learn at the feet of other masters, both to groom them for rule and protect them from the court’s conspiracies. Kaden, first in line for the throne, is a monk. Not the sexy D&D-type, with fists of stone, but rather a contemplative ascetic seeking to understand the world from a different perspective. Valyn lives a different life among the Kettral, the Empire’s special forces. Most of the Staveley’s narrative is concerned with the brothers’ conflicts: Kaden to realize a state of mind his father sent him to learn, and Valyn to find acceptance in an elite brotherhood. Of course, the impact of their father’s death resonates throughout their stories, but only in an overarching way. The Emperor’s Blades is very much a coming of age story, and less about the epic struggle for the Unhewn Throne and the fate of the world. Read More »

Kekaki Kotaki Knights

Last year was ink drawings of samurais, and this year it’s knights.

From the moment Seattle-based artist Kekai Kotaki posted the first of his thousand and one knights, I knew it’d become a weekly delight to see his new creations. Last Year, Kotaki did a small set of sketches featuring samurai designs, which featured stylish heavy inks, accented by bold colours, and showcased his ability to apply creative license to an iconic warrior. I loved the project so much, that I reached out to Kotaki to have a chat about his knights.

“I tend to try pick a theme each year and try to run with it as long as possible,” Kotaki explained when I asked him about the project’s origins. “Last year was ink drawings of samurais, and this year it’s knights.”

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I even joke about making a book called The One Thousand and One Knights, but I had to hold off on it, because 1,001 is quite a lot of knights.

Most readers of A Dribble of Ink will know Kotaki for his work as a cover artist (notably, Peter Orullian’s The Unremembered, and The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson). In addition to his work as a cover artist, Kotaki is also known for his work on Guild Wars 2, ArenaNet’s popular MMORPG with some of the most iconic world and character design in the genre. Kotaki’s fans will recognize the abstract, ethereal concept art and landscapes from his time with Guild Wars 2. He does tone and epic encounters better than anyone else in biz, so these character studies — simple armoured knights, direct and full of personality despite their facelessness — are a pleasing diversion for the artist. Read More »

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Images via Sokka’s Cactus Juice

The first two seasons of The Legend of Korra were problematic for a few reasons. Chief among these is its lack of an identity and defined set of goals. Avatar: The Last Airbender established its goal in the first episode: save the world from the machinations of the Fire Nation and its power-hungry leader. The Legend of Korra, on the other hand, can’t decide if it’s a coming-of-age story, an exploration of social and political revolution, a buddy-cop comedy, or an epic fantasy. Instead of dedicating itself to a tight focus, it splits its attention between all of these themes and doesn’t do any of them particularly well. Read More »