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Robin Hobb has unveiled new covers for the Liveship Traders trilogy, with art from French artist Didier Graffet, and they’re mighty fine.

The previous North American covers for the Liveship Traders series were, umm… less than ideal (though perhaps ahead of their time for artist Stephen Youll’s illustration of a strong woman on the cover, without her boobs hanging out), and these are a big improvement. It’s too bad that that beveled text has become part of Hobb’s brand, though.

Graffet’s work might be familiar to Hobb fans for his work on the French graphic novel adaptation of the Farseer trilogy. “I was delighted when I first saw his images of the Farseers on the various covers [Graffet] did for the Soleil graphic novels of The Farseer Trilogy,” said Hobb. “So I am delighted to now have his work on the US paperback covers.”

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Today, Tor.com announced the launch of a new imprint, called, appropriately, The Imprint, dedicated to publishing “novellas, shorter novels, serializations, and any other pieces of fiction that exceed the traditional novelette length (17,499 words).” This is in addition to their award-winning library of short stories, and aims to further identify Tor.com as one of the leading short fiction (and, now, mid-range fiction) venues in SFF publishing. This is exciting and encouraging for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, more short fiction from a pro-paying market. Second, a glimpse at what the future of “traditional” publishing might hold.

Fritz Foy and Irene Gallo, will continue in their positions of Publisher and Associate Publisher of Tor.com, while Carl Engle-Laird is moving into the role of editorial assistant. Tor.com is also in the hunt for a senior editor, publicity manager, marketing manager, and designer. (Worry not, faithful readers! I’m starting my campaign trail right now.)

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The Martian by Andy Weir

Publisher: Crown - Pages: 384 - Buy: Book/eBook
The Martian by Andy Weir

I have a confession to make.

I read Andy Weir’s The Martian because of the cover. It’s shiny and dramatic, features an astronaut, and, well… it’s really shiny.

Earlier this year, I read An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, the autobiography of Chris Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut and former commander of the International Space Station, and Packing for Mars by Mary Roach, a non-fiction examination of what it takes to survive in space. So, after two non-fiction books, The Martian seemed like the perfect cap-off to my mini-tour of our solar system.

The difference between the three books is obvious from the get-go, most notably the backgrounds and first-hand experiences of the three authors. Hadfield’s book draws on his own personal knowledge of being an astronaut, including a harrowing tale of a time when he was literally blinded while doing a spacewalk. Roach’s book is a well-researched examination of the amusing and relatable aspects of human life in space. Weir, on the other hand, is an admitted hobbyist, and his novel combines Roach’s obsessive level of research with the a mile-a-minute plotting of Michael Crichton’s best science thrillers.

“I’m the sort of geek who will stay up all night to watch the news and see a Mars probe land,” Weir told Shawn Speakman, in an interview with Suvudu. “So I started out with a pretty heavy hobbyist knowledge of the material. Then, while writing the book I did tons of research. I wanted the science to be as accurate as I could possibly make it.” Read More »

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Child of Light

Publisher: Ubisoft - Genre: RPG - System: Multi-platform
Buy: PC Download

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tl;dr (spoiler free)

Child of Light, a side-scrolling JPRG developed by Ubisoft, features gorgeous 2D visuals (complete with great use of parallax scrolling of multiple layers), a beautiful and very non-traditional musical score, and fun strategic combat heavily inspired by the Grandia series. I didn’t like the story or the writing, but I enjoyed the game otherwise.

Full Review

Child of Light uses a modified Grandia combat system. For those unfamiliar with the system (and who haven’t played our own Penny Arcade RPGs which use a similar system), the core is that by hitting enemies right before they make their next move, you interrupt them which knocks them back on the time bar, essentially stunning them briefly. Child of Light makes a few changes to the basic Grandia system: your party consists of only two characters at a time (Grandia had a four person party); you can swap characters in and out mid-battle with ease; there is no positioning aspect (in Grandia, allies and enemies moved around the battlefield and different attacks had different ranges and areas of effect); all attacks can interrupt enemies (in Grandia, only specifically marked interrupt abilities did this); and you have a firefly friend, Igniculus, who can slow down enemies. Read More »

Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock
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I’m still all salty from posting that Erikson cover on Monday, so, to make up for it, here’s the gorgeous cover for Gollancz’s Fantasy Masterworks 30th Anniversary edition of Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock.

“I think it treats the book as the modern classic it undoubtedly is, as well as reflecting the earthy vibrancy and primordial energy of the book.” said Darren Nash of Gollancz.

I think [Robert Holdstock] would have loved it.”

Robert Holdstock is considered one of modern fantasy’s most revered writers. He passed away in 2009 at the age of 61.

“The cover design is by Graeme Langhorne, who produced the beautiful series style for the re-launched Fantasy Masterworks, and the amazing artwork is by Grzegorz Domaradzki, who is responsible for many other lovely covers in the series.”

More of Grzegorz Domaradzki’s artwork can be found on his official website.