I get to put the monsters centre stage once in a while, give them a good run, even make the heroes.

The characters I liked most in The Empire Strikes Back were the bounty hunters – not Boba Fett, that grandly over-rated amateur jetpack enthusiast, but the other guys: the lizard guy, the insect guy with his insect-headed droid, because if you were an insect guy, you’d do that, wouldn’t you? You wouldn’t want that disconcerting standard model human mask staring at you while you travelled from bounty to bounty.

And there was a lizard guy in Battle Beyond The Stars, too, that bizarre Corman space opera that I still have all the feels for, no matter what. It’s full of weird and memorable characters, but for me it was always Cayman of the Lambda Zone, last of his species, and yet with a good fistful of decent lines and some self-deprecating humour thrown in. And he dies heroically which, along with looking like a bug or a lizard, has always done it for me.

So, “From childhood’s hour I have not been as others were”. Thank you Mr Poe. It’s true though: there never was someone to root for the monsters quicker than me. Now, as a writer, I get to put the monsters centre stage once in a while, give them a good run, even make the heroes. Read More »


Today, I join Justin Landon on the latest episode of Rocket Talk, Tor.com’s official podcast. We talk about a whole bunch of fun things, including:

I had a lot of fun, and it was a good opportunity for the two of us, longtime bloggers both, to get a little Inside Baseball about publishing, blogging, and SFF in general. I can’t wait to hear what you think.

Find out more on Tor.com, or get Rocket Talk on iTunes/RSS.



It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, a landmark epic fantasy trilogy published in the ’90s. So, when Hodder & Stoughton, one of my favourite SF/F imprints, announced they’d be publishing the series in the UK with brand new covers, I was appropriately excited. I’m usually a fan of Hodder & Stoughton’s covers, and Summers’ previous work for Hodder & Stoughton is stylish—particularly his cover for Lavie Tidhar’s A Man Lies Dreaming—but these are a big miss for me.

Even in a vacuum, where the series doesn’t already have some of the most iconic cover art, by one of the field’s legendary artists, these just aren’t right for the series. Memory, Sorrow and Thorn might have inspired George R.R. Martin to write A Song of Ice and Fire, but they’re not edgy or dark. They’re bright, expansive, and full of colour—these covers do little to convey the tone and spirit of Williams’ classic tale.

That all said, I do think the cover for Stone of Farewell is the best of the bunch, and is nice in a gritty, punch-you-in-the-face kind of way. Reminds me a bit of Stina Leicht’s (very good) contemporary Irish fantasy, Of Blood and Honey.

What do you think?


In collaboration with editors John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey, A Dribble of Ink is proud to introduce a series of interviews with the authors of The End Has Come, the final volume in the The Apocalypse Triptych. Following on The End is Nigh, and The End Is Here, The End Has Come contains 23 stories about life after the apocalypse.

Interview with Leife Shallcross about “Wandering Star”

(Interview by Sandra Odell)

In “Wandering Star” you have created a modern day post-apocalyptic tale with absolutely no fantastic elements, and the work is all the more stunning for its apparent normalcy. What inspired this story?

This story sprang from a couple of different places. Not to get too political, but Australia’s record on its treatment of refugees has gone from bad to worse over the last few years, and some of the commentary you hear excusing our current framework comes from a place of woeful ignorance about the adversity these human beings are trying to escape. This story sprang from me trying to understand how profoundly life can change due to events beyond a person’s control (war, famine, climate change, political instability… asteroid impact). My starting point was to question how I would react in such a dire situation. But I was mostly interested in how it would be to live through that unbearable quiet before the storm, when you know change is coming but you’re still essentially living the life you’re going to have to let go of.

Following on from that, often after these kinds of cataclysmic events have passed, there aren’t necessarily formal records of what it was like to live through them, and historians are left with putting together something of a puzzle from everyday items that have been left behind. I drew inspiration for Jessie’s quilt from a nineteenth century quilt in the Australian National Gallery collection called the Rajah Quilt. It was made in 1841 by women convicts being transported from England to Tasmania (which was a hellhole back then.) The quilt was sent back to England after completion, and then vanished for 147 years before it was rediscovered and acquired by the gallery. I love the idea of the stories of all those anonymous women being stitched into that enormous quilt – stories we have an inkling of, but will really only ever be able to guess at. Read More »


Of all the wonderful opportunities that come along with being a parent, introducing your child to your favourite books, movies, comics, and music is one of the greatest. When deciding on how to decorate our nursery, my wife and I quickly settled on a theme inspired by two of Hayao Miyazaki’s wonderful films: My Neighbour Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service. These woodblock-inspired posters from Bill Mudron would fit beautifully in our nursery. The drawn back perspective, with an emphasis on Miyazaki’s wonderful worlds, is a nice contrast to the character-centric imagery that you often see associated with films. You get a strong sense of the characters living in this world, of it continuing on past the rolling credits. Terrific stuff.

Posters of Mudron’s Studio Ghibli woodblock prints are available through his online store.