Monday, December 27, 2010

December 27, 2010 Links and Plugs

Just a shout-out to Wizard Tower Press and their online bookstore.


The Big Bah-Ha by C.S.E. Cooney

Friday, December 24, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

December 22, 2010 Links and Plugs

All I want for Christmas is for people to buy books from Twelfth Planet Press (206 books to go to end the year with a round number!). While you're at it, amazing independent presses you might want to shop at include Papaveria Press, Chizine, Norilana Books, Aqueduct Press, Underland Press, Haikasoru, PS Publishing, Apex, Book View Cafe, and Small Beer Press.


Voices from the Past edited by Scott Harrison and Lee Harris

Friday, December 17, 2010

December 17, 2010 Links and Plugs



Ventriloquism by Catherynne M. Valente

Thursday, December 16, 2010

December 16, 2010 Links and Plugs


Icarus #7

Monday, December 13, 2010

Work Plug: Pulp Magazine's Facebook Fan Page

From the day job, Pulp Magazine Facebook Fan Page (it's a music magazine and events production).

December 13, 2010 Links and Plugs

Darrell Schweitzer interviews Ellen Datlow, albeit behind a pay wall.



From Chomu Press:
Revenants by Daniel Mills

Friday, December 10, 2010

Let's Talk About eBooks Part 1

Haven't done much writing as of late so I'll keep this short and sweet (and will probably be breaking it up into smaller chunks).

Three Presumptions

In any discussion about eBooks, those engaged in the conversation usually have one of these three suppositions:

  1. That the person they're talking to is based in the U.S. (and to a lesser extent, certain parts of Europe). It's actually an entirely different conversation if the person you're talking to resides in, say, the Philippines, Australia, or Singapore. For example, a few months ago, I gave a talk during the second day of the Future of the Book 2010 Conference. One of the questions I asked was how many people in the room owned Kindles--and mind you, this is a room full of readers and those curious about eBooks. The answer? One. Or another valid question is how diverse are the selections at the Australian iBookstore? Or what's the eBook reading market like in Malaysia? Whenever there's a discussion about eBooks, I find their paradigm to be very Anglo-centric.
  2. That we're talking only about one kind of book (or genre). Look, there are several kinds of "books" out there. Fiction books. Text books. Graphic novels. Each one has a different take when you talk about their eBook counterparts. For example, in the tabletop gaming industry, what consumers really need are portable PDF readers because most of their documents include charts, tables, and illustrations that aren't suitable for the EPUB format. If we're talking about genre, I hear that the romance eBook industry is booming. I need to know the context when we're talking about your eBook, as the solution/challenges of one field might not be identical to another.
  3. That there is such a thing as a universal eBook format. Related to my previous point, there is no "standard" eBook format. RTF can be an eBook format. HTML can be an eBook format. Each format has its own advantages and disadvantages, not to mention different support depending on your reading device. Your novel won't look good in TXT format. It might be easier to read in EPUB. It's atrocious in PDF. Again, I need context.

December 10, 2010 Links and Plugs

Shout-out to the latest issue of Ideomancer.



Lightspeed December 2010

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Monday, December 06, 2010

Book Review: Sprawl edited by Alisa Krasnostein

Sprawl is an interesting book to review because it created two distinct impressions on me: upon receiving the book and after reading its contents.

The first should be contextualized: I received from the publisher a box of books containing Bleed (by Peter M. Ball), Glitter Rose (by Marianne de Pierres), and Sprawl. The former two are small and compact books, with Glitter Rose being an impressive hardcover. These aesthetics aren't arbitrary as the text contained within are similarly tight and compressed. Sprawl, while still relatively small--at least compared to US trade paperbacks (much less hardcovers)--is large and bulky compared to its siblings. It's a stark contrast to the previous Twelfth Planet Press books that I've read, but in a good way. It screams that this is an anthology crammed with content and a variety of authors. The table of contents and page count proves that.

The second is more relevant to a holistic review. The thrust of the book is to produce "a suburban anthology of Australian fantasy," as mentioned in the introduction. To be honest, Sprawl felt like reading a volume of Philippine Speculative Fiction in the sense that it showcases local authors (in this case, Australia), each with a unique voice and style. While there is a theme--the suburban part--each story felt unique and different so that I didn't really know what to expect with each story. This isn't a paranormal romance/urban fantasy anthology for example, yet on the other hand, the book isn't simply a set of unthemed stories. There's a lot of diversity here--from alternate history to horror to metaphoric fiction--but at the same time you felt it was rooted in suburban Australia.

Having said that, as per the nature of anthologies, Sprawl is a mixed bag. While all of the stories are, at the very least, competently written, they're not all homeruns. For example, while stories like "One Saturday Night, with Angel" by Peter M. Ball or "Sweep" by Simon Brown are enjoyable, there's nothing striking about them and honestly forgettable. Then there are the pieces which can be contentious: "Parched" by Sean Williams, which you can either interpret as flash fiction in verse or simply poetry, is either a hit-or-miss depending on the reader. Another example is  "Relentless Adaptations" by Tansy Rayner Roberts and you'll either love it or hate it, depending on how you feel about literary mashups.

And then there are stories which are effective and powerful you want to include them in various "best of" anthologies. One such piece is "Her Gallant Needs" by Paul Haines and it impressed me on several levels. On one hand, it's quite disturbing yet goes beyond the simple horror tropes. In terms of writing, the attention to detail is authentic and there's a sense of versimilitude, especially considering that it's told from the point of view of a teenager. One memorable scene for example is how the protagonist, after what is the climax of the story, grabs some Atari games despite the horror he just witnessed. Similarly, there are subtle details that hint that there is something off about the narrative, yet the setting of suburban Australia is used to good effect to explain the narrator's ignorance.

Other impressive stories in the anthology include "No Going Home" by Deborah Biancotti which is atmospheric and presents a different kind of dilemma. "Gnawer of the Moon Seeks Summit of Paradise" by Anna Tambour is one of the longer pieces in the book and often jumps to various tangents but it's a credit to her writing style that one doesn't mind these detours and how she finally makes it all come together in the end.

Sprawl delivers a distinct and varied set of the stories highlighting Australia and its authors.

December 6, 2010 Links and Plugs



2020 Visions edited by Rick Novy

Friday, December 03, 2010

2011 Speculative Fiction Anthologies Database

Hi! I'm looking to crowdsource 2011's speculative fiction anthologies so if you know any anthologies that will be published in 2011, kindly fill up the this form. You can see the results here.

December 3, 2010 Links and Plugs



 Crossed Genres #25

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

December 1, 2010 Links and Plugs



Go pre-order while it's still on sale:
Solitaire by Kelley Eskridge

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Book Review: Bleed by Peter M. Ball

Sequels can be tricky. Bleed's predecessor, Horn, deserves all the praises it received: it's tight, compact, subversive, and invigorates new energy into the urban fantasy genre. The dilemma of Peter M. Ball is how do you follow up on that success.

Now there are several avenues to tackle a sequel, just as readers will have different expectations. Take for example Orson Scott Card's Speaker for the Dead, which has little resemblance to Ender's Game, and could only be called a sequel in the sense that it includes a character or two from the previous book. There is also the case with Jeff VanderMeer and his Ambergris novels, each one distinct from each other, but are nonetheless sequels because of the common setting and fresh, creative energy that drew our attention in the first place. More common are the safe sequels, books that continue the formula and plot that were present in the original, delivering more of the same while progressing the story. Bleed falls under the last one and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Ball, after all, left his protagonist in an interesting place at the end of Horn, and Bleed explores those consequences.

The author maintains the strengths of Horn: Bleed is relatively short, quick to the action, and uses flashbacks to keep readers up to speed on current events. Knowledge of the previous novella is not necessary to appreciate the story and this stands quite well on its own. It also successfully fuses elements of the noir and urban fantasy genre to create its own stylish atmosphere.

Having said that, what originally drew me to Horn was the freshness of it and how everything comes together. Bleed, for the most part, feels a bit derivative, and lacks the edginess of its predecessor. It's still an entertaining read, mind you, but in terms of quality, there is no doubt that I'd recommend new readers to try Horn first rather than Bleed. This is, of course, down to reader expectation, and those looking for their Miriam Aster fix will find that Ball delivers. Personally, I was hoping that Ball would write a sequel that surpassed his previous work, but Bleed isn't that kind of novella.

On its own merits, Bleed for the most part is an entertaining urban fantasy that's tight and doesn't waste the reader's time with unnecessarily details or action. Ball gives readers a complex protagonist that is both pulpish and modern, and definitely one of the more memorable characters in fiction.

November 29, 2010 Links and Plugs



eBook fan? Go buy these books:
Sourdough & Other Stories by Angela Slatter
Black-Winged Angels by Angela Slatter

Friday, November 26, 2010

November 26, 2010 Links and Plugs


Yarn by Jon Armstrong

Friday, November 19, 2010

November 19, 2010 Links and Plugs



Fresh from the mail:
The Barsoom Project by Larry Niven & Steven Barnes