The Omnibus Volumes of Andre Norton, Part Two

Monday, September 7th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Wandl the Invader-small I Speak For Earth-small

Time Traders (August 2001, $6.99, 438 pages, Stephen Hickman)

The Time Traders • [Ross Murdock / Time Traders • 1] • (1958) • novel by Andre Norton
221 • Galactic Derelict • [Ross Murdock / Time Traders • 2] • (1959) • novel by Andre Norton

Time Traders II: The Defiant Agents/Key Out of Time (February 2002, $7.99, 414 pages, Stephen Hickman)

The Defiant Agents • [Ross Murdock / Time Traders • 3] • (1962) • novel by Andre Norton
209 • Key Out of Time • [Ross Murdock / Time Traders • 4] • (1963) • novel by Andre Norton


Neil Clarke on The Sad Truth About Short Fiction Reviews

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Clarkesworld 108-smallNeil Clarke, founder and Editor-in-Chief of the award winning Clarkesworld magazine, has some pretty harsh words on the utility of short fiction reviews in our industry.

The sad truth about short fiction reviews is that the overwhelming majority of them have little-to-no impact on readership. After monitoring the incoming traffic for the online version of this magazine for nine years, I can say that the typical review has a statistically insignificant impact on the readership of a story or issue. The only notable exception to this has been reviews on high traffic sites, like io9 or Tor.com, that focus specifically on a single story. As the number of stories in a review increases, there’s a dramatic drop-off in story readership.

“Oh, but that’s not the purpose of a review.” Yes, reviews have many purposes and sometimes their impact on readership can be secondary. For example, a good review in Locus may indicate good chances at being on their recommended reading list. That might have an influence on other award nominations as well. If a story happens to make one of those ballots, it definitely has an impact, but that’s a very small percentage of the stories reviewed in a year.

Shouldn’t reviews of good stories have the effect of encouraging people to read the story?

With all due respect, I think Neil is missing the essential point of short fiction reviews. I bought and published short fiction for over a decade, and one thing I learned was, with a handful of exceptions, nobody writes short fiction for the money. They write to reach an audience, and because they have something to say. Short story writers, in a very real sense, are paid with the acclaim they receive.

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Fantasia Diary 2015, Day 17: Ava’s Possessions, The Golden Cane Warrior, H., and Turbo Kid

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

Ava's PossessionsFriday, July 31, started late for me at Fantasia. My first movie, a horror-comedy called Ava’s Possessions, screened at the Hall Theatre at 5:15. After that I decided to watch the Indonesian wuxia movie The Golden Cane Warrior. Then I’d go across to the De Sève Theatre to catch the surreal science-fictional American-Argentinian movie H. before returning to the Hall for the Friday midnight movie, a Quebec-made tribute to 80s post-apocalypse action movies called Turbo Kid. That would carry me through to something like 2 AM. So if things started late, at least it looked like I had a lot on the agenda.

The festival experience began even before the movies, in a way. One of the interesting things about Fantasia is the way you meet people in line, strike up conversations, and often get to know new acquaintances over the course of the festival. In line for Ava’s Possessions I got to speak to a teenager from France — who turned out to be a director. 16-year-old Nathan Ambrosioni was only 14 years old when he directed his feature debut, Hostile, which was having its international premiere at Fantasia. I made a note of the film, though since I was trying to focus on fantasy and science-fiction I suspected I wouldn’t be able to get around to seeing a thriller; still, it sounded interesting. At which point the theatre opened, and the crowd took its seats to the sounds of Black Sabbath, played by the CJLO DJs.

It was a good choice of intro music. Ava’s Possessions, written and directed by Jordan Galland, is about the aftermath of a demonic possession. It follows a New Yorker named Ava (Louisa Krause), who at the start of the movie wakes up to find out that she’s spent the past month as the host for a demon named Naphula the Annointed. Her friends can’t relate to her experience — “Was it kinda like being pregnant? Having this thing inside you?” — but that’s far from the worst of it. Her goldfish are dead, nobody called the record company where she works to them she was sick, and she’s facing criminal charges for the acts Naphula committed while in her body. She’s legally obliged to join a twelve-step program for people who’ve been possessed, Spirit Possession Anonymous; and part of the homework the program director (Wass Stevens) gives her is to find out what happened when the demon was in control of her, and try to make it up to those she wronged. Except it soon becomes clear something complex and sinister took place during that month, something that left a disturbing amount of blood in her apartment.

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Fantasy Scroll Magazine 8 Now Available

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Fantasy Scroll Magazine Issue 8-smallThe eighth issue of the online-only Fantasy Scroll Magazine, cover dated August 2015, is now available.

There’s lots of news from Fantasy Scroll this month — starting with their big Year One anthology, Dragons, Droids and Doom, which contains every story from their first year, including tales by Ken Liu, Piers Anthony, Rachel Pollack, Hank Quense, William Meikle, Cat Rambo, and Mike Resnick. It is edited by Iulian Ionescu and Frederick Doot, and will be available in trade paperback and digital format in November.

In his editorial, Iulian Ionescu provides his usual sneak peek of the contents of issue #8. Here’s a snippet:

Here we come to the rescue with another packed issue, filled with monsters, aliens, knights, spaceships, and dragons. We start strong with Tony Peak’s “The Light Comes,” a story of struggle in a world where a strange disease takes lives regardless of age. This is Tony’s second appearance in FSM and we’re really glad to see him back.

“Minor Disasters” by Elise R. Hopkins reminds us of the fragile world we live in and how everything can turn to dust in the blink of an eye. Kate O’Connor’s “White Horse” is next, following the life of a soldier and his encounters with a magical white steed.

Next is “ReMemories” by Nancy Waldman, a moving story about a future where humankind can record, store, and manipulate the mind’s memories. Alexander Volkmar’s story, “Gunman on the Wall” reminds us of the constant need to believe that things are better on the other side.

Here’s the complete table of contents.

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Fantasia Diary 2015, Day 16: Synchronicity, The Dark Below, Traders, and Méliès et magie

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

Georges MélièsThursday, July 30, looked like one of the odder days I had lined up at the Fantasia Festival. I’d head down to the De Sève Theatre early on to catch a new American science-fiction film called Synchronicity, then go to the screening room to watch a dialogue-free horror film called The Dark Below. After that, I’d go back to the De Sève to catch the Irish black comedy Traders, and finally wrap up with an event called Méliès et magie, an event presenting some of the classic short films by the first master of fantasy cinema. It looked like a varied day, though in the end it was less so than I’d expected.

Synchronicity is directed by Jacob Gentry, known for his horror film The Signal, from a screenplay by Gentry and Alex Orr. It stars Chad McKnight as Jim Beale, the leader of a small team of physicists about to successfully achieve time travel — and Michael Ironside as a venture capitalist named Klaus Meisner angling to take over their invention, to play, as Meisner says, Edison to their Tesla. Caught in the middle is a mysterious woman named Abby (Brianne Davis) with ties to Meisner. Beale’s drawn to her, but whose side is she on? As the movie goes on, time loops back (or does it?) and events are reinterpreted. But then there’s a final revelation, and all we thought we knew is questioned.

I want to avoid giving away fundamental plot details. But I have to say the final twist of Synchronicity seems to me to be badly misjudged. It means not only that the logic we thought we were following up to that point was not true, but that there is no alternate logic to replace it. We’ve been watching a tissue of coincidences. It deflates the movie for me (and incidentally calls into question the intelligence of otherwise well-characterised scientists).

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Ken Burnside Tells the Hugo Story from the Inside

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 | Posted by Jay Maynard

The Hot Equations by Ken Burnside-smallKen Burnside is a game designer and publisher, best known for Attack Vector: Tactical and Squadron Strike! He contributed an article to Vox Day’s anthology Riding the Red Horse, titled “The Hot Equations,” laying out in understandable terms what the laws of thermodynamics mean in terms of SF in general and space combat in particular. He was nominated for a Hugo for Best Related Work, and… well…

He describes the experience in his own words:

I signed up for the Sad Puppy list because I was told it was about getting representation for conservative and libertarian leaning storytellers in the Hugo nomination process. The request came in when a book I was published in was in its initial 90-day release window, and it counted as promoting the title. More exposure means more sales, and I was (and always am) looking for new readers…

Throughout this, the things that made me a Puppy in the first place was buried in a malodorous pile of feces. They were buried by partisans on both sides, not just the Anti-Puppies. In Kary English’s blog, I paraphrased Anita Sarkeesian: “In the game of Hugo Awards, the Puppy nominees aren’t the opposition. They’re the ball…”

Eventually, tired of being browbeaten and told what an awful human being I was, I just retreated to “Read the works. Vote your conscience. In that order.”

Combined with shunning, my “OK, this is going to be a disaster…” sense was past tingling, into throbbing and really should just be called mordant curiosity. Only after I was seen talking to Tananarive Due did anyone outside the small representation of “Puppies” at the convention consent to talk to me, mostly in the shadows of the reception, where nobody else could see.

It’s a very good description of what it was like to be associated with the Puppies, and in particular how he was treated by anti-Puppy folks at Worldcon. Read the whole thing over at the Mad Genius Club blog.


Future Treasures: The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen by Katherine Howe

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen-smallKatherine Howe’s first novel, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, inspired by her family’s connection to the Salem Witch trials, became a New York Times bestseller. Her first YA novel, the bestselling Conversion, was released last year; she was also the editor of The Penguin Book of Witches.

Her latest YA novel, The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen, is a haunted love story set in present day New York, the tale of a young filmmaker who falls in love with a ghost who’s been searching to discover exactly what happened to her one dark night in 1825…

It’s July in New York City, and aspiring filmmaker Wes Auckerman has just arrived to start his summer term at NYU. While shooting a séance at a psychic’s in the East Village, he meets a mysterious, intoxicatingly beautiful girl named Annie.

As they start spending time together, Wes finds himself falling for her, drawn to her rose-petal lips and her entrancing glow. There’s just something about her that he can’t put his finger on, something faraway and otherworldly that compels him to fall even deeper. Annie’s from the city, and yet she seems just as out of place as Wes feels. Lost in the chaos of the busy city streets, she’s been searching for something — a missing ring. And now Annie is running out of time and needs Wes’s help. As they search together, Annie and Wes uncover secrets lurking around every corner, secrets that will reveal the truth of Annie’s dark past.

The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen will be published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons on September 15, 2015. It is 384 pages, priced at $18.99 in hardcover and $10.99 for the digital version. The cover is by Theresa M. Evangelista.


New Treasures: Angels & Exiles by Yves Meynard

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Angels and Exiles-smallI first met Yves Meynard at the World Fantasy Convention in Montreal in 2001. He was already a rising star, and since then he’s had a stellar career — his novel The Book of Knights was a finalist for the Mythopoeic Award, and when Tor published his fantasy novel Chrysanthe in 2012, Locus called him “[David] Hartwell’s major discovery this year.” This is his first collection.

In these twelve sombre tales, ranging from baroque science fiction to bleak fantasy, Yves Meynard brings to life wonders and horrors. From space travellers who must rid themselves of the sins their souls accumulate in transit, to a young man whose love transcends time; from refugees in a frozen hold at the end of space, to a city drowning under the weight of its architectural prayer; from an alien Jerusalem that has corrupted the Earth, to a land still bleeding from the scars of a supernatural war; here are windows opened onto astonishing vistas, stories written with a scientist’s laser focus alloyed with a poet’s sensibilities.

At Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog, Yves offered this marvelous comment about how own search for wonder in fiction:

The natural world is an endless source of amazement; human culture all across the planet ceaselessly produces works of stunning beauty. You shouldn’t need anything else to satisfy your need for wonderment… And yet it still twitches inside me, that urge for the miraculous. I read stories of the fantastic and write them myself, to assuage it. And I tell myself it’s better to have it only inside of stories. Because if such a miraculous world were real, loaded with revelations and terrible marvels, a world in whose oceans swam hybrids and monsters, a world where everything was charged with transcendent meaning, and all our human conceits were true — that world would devour us.

Angels & Exiles was published by ChiZine Publications on February 26, 2015. It is 291 pages, priced at $16.99 in trade paperback and $7.99 for the digital version. The cover art is by Vince Haig, with a design by Samantha Beiko.


Fantasia Diary 2015, Days 14 and 15: Minuscule, Observance, Boy 7, and Big Match

Monday, August 31st, 2015 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

MinusculeI took a day off from Fantasia on Tuesday, July 28, to run some errands and buy some groceries, then returned on Wednesday to begin a kind of mini-marathon that would carry me through to the end of the festival. I saw four movies Thursday, starting at the De Sève with a wordless 3D animated French film called Minuscule, about a ladybug who falls in with a group of ants who’ve liberated a box of sugar from an abandoned picnic. After that I went to the screening room to see an Australian horror-suspense movie called Observance. Then I went back to the De Sève for the semi-science-fictional German action movie Boy 7. After getting out of that one, I made a snap decision to run across the street to the Hall Theatre to watch the Korean action-comedy Big Match. Which turned out to be one of the better calls I made all festival.

Minuscule: La vallée des fourmis perdues (Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants) is a feature film version of a series of five-minute animated shorts made for French TV; in English, the Minuscule shorts are subtitled The Private Life of Insects. Both TV and film version follow CGI insects with real natural backgrounds. Both (apparently; I haven’t seen the TV show) have a strong Looney Tunes feel.

Co-written and co-directed by Hélène Giraud and Thierry Szabo, Minuscule the movie follows a ladybug separated from his parents. Bullied by some flies, he joins forces with black ants who’ve found an unimaginable treasure: a tin box filled with sugar cubes, left behind by picnickers. The ladybug helps the ants get the sugar back to their queen, threatened not only by obstacles in the landscape but also by vicious red ants. But will the red ants give up the sugar, even if they succeed? In the end, the ladybug must summon his courage and push his limits to save his friends.

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SEPTOBERFRIGHT Prologue…

Monday, August 31st, 2015 | Posted by Nick Ozment

photo-20Up here near Lake Wobegon, the last two weeks of August have felt more like fall than summer. In the past three days I have seen two sure signs of autumn: the first changing leaves and the first Hallowe’en displays.

I snapped the picture at right in Michael’s three days ago. Those skeletons may be a little early to the party, but what the heck: let ‘em in, and let the Macabre Danse Party begin!

Sure, All Hallow’s Eve is still two months off, and talk of trick-or-treating might strike some as being premature as an Edgar-Allan-Poe-imagined burial. I know it drives some folks batty that retailers start hawking holiday products months ahead of the calendar, and it makes them want to howl at the moon when they walk into their favorite box store in August and see Spook Alleys and Creepy Corners and Haunted Aisles already being rolled out. And even before the last cry of “trick or treat!” has echoed down the block, one can bet that the Christmas displays will debut.

(I took a wonderful pic in Shopko last year that was borderline surreal — Christmas angels vying for shelf space with zombies and ghouls, a strange Nightmare-Before-Christmas juxtaposition. It perfectly captured the retailer crossover moment when the last of the fright-night nick-nacks are on clearance and have not yet been cleared out for the glittery gewgaws celebrating peace on Earth and goodwill to mankind.)

If it bothers you, I understand. I sympathize. I do. But I must confess that I have a weakness for all the holiday trappings, even the cheap plastic kinds that move and light up and make sounds for (if you’re lucky) one season and then break. When I spot the first plastic jack-o-lantern on an end-cap display or the first bag of Brach’s Halloween Mellowcremes on the checkout aisle, I do get a bit giddy.

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