Cibola Burn by James S.A. Corey

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In a recent blog post, Daniel Abraham pulled back the curtain on several of his projects, including news about his fan favourite series, The Dagger and the Coin and The Expanse.

Abraham discussed the upcoming additions to The Expanse series, which he writes alongside Ty Franck under the name James S.A. Corey, beginning with some hints of what readers can expect from the fourth volume in the series, Cibola Burn. “There are some things about [Cibola Burn] that made me *very* *nervous*,” he said. “But all our beta readers said we got away with it.”

The next Expanse novella, which “used to be called ‘Beloved of Broken Things’, will be released as ‘The Churn’” sometime before the release of Cibola Burn.

Abraham expressed excitement for the announced television adaptation of The Expanse, calling the first script “effing AWSOME.” He admits, however, that Hollywood is a fickle beast and that there is not much tangible value to be taken from a first script and some concept art (besides the goosebump factor, of course.) The show is still a long way from appearing on television screens.

The fifth volume, tentatively titled Nemesis Games, “is well under way,” confirmed Abraham.

He also had news for fans of his fantasy series, The Dagger and the Coin. Page proofs of The Widow’s House, a final stage of the editing process, have been submitted to his publisher, Orbit Books, and he’s currently working on the final volume, currently titled The Spider’s War. “I’m already feeling a little wispy about ending my time with these characters,” Abraham said of the series finale. “I shall be bloody bold and resolute. And there are some scenes coming up soon that I’ve been waiting five or six years to write.”

Busy guy, that Daniel Abraham.

Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee

Publisher: Prime Books - Pages: 288 - Buy: Book/eBook
Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee

Up until recently, short stories, as a medium, were largely off my radar. Though I read them avidly and voraciously as a child, at some point during my mid to late teens, I just sort of… stopped. It wasn’t so much a conscious decision as a consequence of the fact that, for whatever reason – their length, presumably – short stories are frequently marketed to kids, but less so to teenagers (or at least, that used to be the case), and once they were no longer being thrust upon me, I didn’t seek them out. I kept writing them, of course, but not very well or often, because it’s extremely hard to develop any proficiency at an art form you aren’t actively exposed to. But ever since I bought a subscription to Clarkesworld for my Kindle and remembered, somewhat belatedly, how amazing good short stories are, I’ve been ravenous for them.

Conservation of Shadows is, to put it bluntly, breathtaking.

Enter Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee – a collection I heard about via Aliette de Bodard, who wrote the introduction – which has well and truly reminded me that, if you’re not reading short stories, you’re missing out on something vital. With settings that range from the fantastic to the science fictional – and including plenty which blur the lines between them – Conservation of Shadows is, to put it bluntly, breathtaking. Lee writes with extraordinary power and beauty: her worldbuilding, which frequently draws its influences from Korean culture and history, is compulsively original and detailed, but without being overwhelming (except on the level of sheer professional envy). Thematically, her stories deal with empire, colonialism, warfare and its aftermath, and the many ways in which all these elements impact on people, history, language and culture. Read More »

Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie

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To say that Ann Leckie’s debut novel, Ancillary Justice (REVIEW), was last year’s most surprising critical darling wouldn’t be far from the truth, but anyone with knowledge of Leckie’s previous short fiction should not have been shocked to see the bold space opera make so many waves. Ancillary Justice recently won the Kitschies’ Golden Tentacle, and found nominations for the 2013 Philip K. Dick Award, the 2013 Nebula Award and the 2013 BSFA Award for Best Novel. It is expected by many (myself included) to make the Hugo list for Best Novel when nominations are tallied next month.

Ancillary Sword does not have the luxury of obscurity, as Leckie was quick to point out when I reached out to her to discuss the sequel. “I wrote Ancillary Justice in a sort of isolation — only my friends knew I was working on it,” she said. “Some of them had opinions on the work, but mostly it was just me, writing and thinking about it. Ancillary Sword, though — now Ancillary Justice is out, I’ve been seeing reactions to it, and speculations about Ancillary Sword, and it’s kind of odd, to see people tweet about where they hope or assume the book or its characters might go.”

Fans have a lot to look forward to, and the back cover blurb for Ancillary Sword gives a good idea of what they’re in for.

The Lord of the Radch has given Breq command of the ship Mercy of Kalr and sent her to the only place she would have agreed to go — to Athoek Station, where Lieutenant Awn’s sister works in Horticulture.

Athoek was annexed some six hundred years ago, and by now everyone is fully civilized — or should be. But everything is not as tranquil as it appears. Old divisions are still troublesome, Athoek Station’s AI is unhappy with the situation, and it looks like the alien Presger might have taken an interest in what’s going on. With no guarantees that interest is benevolent.

“When I wrote Ancillary Justice,” Leckie explained, “I knew that the story wanted to be a trilogy — it’s funny, isn’t it, how you just think of things in familiar forms, as though there’s some universal reason a story should be a hundred thousand words long, or else three chunks of a hundred thousand each, and not some other length or structure. It just goes to show how strong some expectations are.

“Anyway. I felt from the start that the story wanted to be a trilogy, but I also had no way of knowing if I could even sell one book, let alone three. So I decided to write Ancillary Justice as though there would only be the one book–but I also tried to leave some options open in case I would actually get to continue.”

Breq is facing somewhat different problems, now she’s gotten what there is to get of her revenge and is still alive to face new problems.

The critical success of Ancillary Justice opened many doors for Leckie and her trilogy. Breq’s journey through the the first novel left readers with an empire on the verge of civil war and utter collapse, and Ancillary Sword promises to deliver questions to some of the trilogy’s most pressing questions, though not in exactly the same way that Ancillary Justice first asked them.

“Of necessity, the settings of Ancillary Sword aren’t quite so far-flung as Ancillary Justice,” she explained “[and it] isn’t exactly the same sort of book as Ancillary Justice. Breq is facing somewhat different problems, now she’s gotten what there is to get of her revenge and is still alive to face new problems. Regardless, I do hope that readers enjoy it.”

Crystal Rain by Tobias Buckell

Ragamuffin by Tobias Buckell

Sly Mongoose by Tobias Buckell

Tobias Buckell announced yesterday that Tor Books is planning a full relaunch of his lauded Xenowealth series, beginning with Crystal Rain. This initiative includes a new branding approach for the series, and a major departure from the original adventurous covers.

We wanted to make sure the books say that they are space adventure. Space opera.

And ain’t it just gorgeous?

Buckell commented on the stylistic change for the new covers, which come about at the expense of some wonderful artwork from one of the industry’s leading artists, Todd Lockwood. “The original Todd Lockwood covers for the books are awesome,” he said. “But when we talked about relaunching the series in trade, one of the things I raised was the fact that booksellers had been telling me that Todd, amazing that he is, is usually associated with Fantasy.”

The first volume in the series, Crystal Rain shares a lot of thematic and structural similarities with fantasy adventure, the sequels, Ragamuffin and Sly Mongoose are more firmly planted in recognizable science fiction, something Buckell and Tor recognized was a potential branding issue, despite the Lockwood’s lovely art.

The Apocalypse Ocean by Tobias Buckell

Buy The Apocalypse Ocean by Tobias Buckell

“With this visual rebranding,” Buckell explained, “we wanted to make sure the books say that they are space adventure. Space opera.

“Science fiction.”

I’m an enormous fan of Buckell’s work, and I was always disappointed by Tor’s initial poor handling of a series with, I believed, the potential to appeal to a large audience of science fiction and general fans. With the recent resurgence in science fiction popularity (at least among the most engaged fans), thanks to authors like Ann Leckie and James S.A. Corey, it feels like the time is ripe for Buckell’s series to be reintroduced to a hungry audience.

Buckell also confirmed more news about the Xenowealth series is coming in the pipeline. There are “lots of pieces of the puzzle are coming together,” he said. The new edition of Crystal Rain will in December, 2014, with Ragamuffing and Sly Mongoogse coming shortly afterwards in 2015.

Nintendo Vs. Sega
Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation by Blake J. Harris

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Seth Rogen, best known for those movies you either love or revile (there seems to be no middle ground) and longtime-collaborator, Evan Goldberg, are working on a film about the great Console Wars of the 1990s. Now you might be wracking your brain, trying to place the great Console Wars of the 90s, and how they resulted from the end of the Cold War and the Gulf War… but you’re overthinking it. We’re talking about the rivalry between Nintendo and Sega, two of the great videogame developers and publishers of that decade. Rogen and Goldberg acquired the rights to “Blake Harris’s Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo and the Battle that Defined a Generation, an upcoming behind-the-scenes oral history of the classic gaming industry battle,” explained Kwame Opam of The Verge, based on the original report from The Collider. Rogen and Goldberg provided a foreword for the book.

Hoping to follow in the steps of The Accidental Billionaires, which spawned Aaron Sorkin’s The Social Network, a semi-ficitonal biopics about the creation of Facebook, Harris’s Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo and the Battle that Defined a Generation is “a mesmerizing, behind-the-scenes business thriller that chronicles how Sega, a small, scrappy gaming company led by an unlikely visionary and a team of rebels, took on the juggernaut Nintendo and revolutionized the video game industry.” Scott Rudin, producer of The Social Network will serve as executive producer.

The big question is who Rogen will cast as the legendary, inestimable Hiroshi Yamauchi, the Japanese businessman who, as the third president of Nintendo, turned the company from a small playing card manufacturer in the ’50s into one of Japan’s most successful multi-billion dollar companies, and defining the childhood’s of millions of people worldwide in the process. Any videogame fan above the age of 25 lived through that golden age of the industry and likely knows how fascinating the industry was during the mid-90s, as it continued to recover from the devastating crash in the 70s and began planting the roots of what would eventually become the goliath we know today.

Unfortunately for Rogen, we all have the benefit of hindsight and know that the eventual winner (and objectively more awesome/superior) game console is Nintendo’s SNES. So, uhh… spoilers for the film, I guess?

Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation is available on May 13, 2014. There is no release date for the film.