Sunday, 24 May 2015

Shout-Out: The Death House by Sarah Pinborough

In the near future, children are tested for the defective gene. Those who possess it are taken from their homes, torn from their families and sent to the Death House.

Standing alone on a remote island, it looks like a 1940s boarding school. But a school prepares children for life, and these children are destined to die. Idling their time away in pointless lessons, supervised by cold matrons, their days have no purpose, because neither do their futures.

When the sickness hits, death comes quickly. Children are taken from their dormitories in the night and never seen again. Forced to confront his own mortality, 16-year-old Toby tries to block out his past, and the terrifying unknown that is his future. Until a van arrives with a group of new kids, and Toby meets 15-year-old Clara.

When they fall in love, Toby and Clara discover that death may be certain, but their fate is in their hands.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Prix Aurora Award Nominees

Congratulations to the 2015 Prix Aurora Award Nominees.  The Aurora is Canada's SF/F award and will be given out at SFContario 6 in November.  I've cut and pasted the information below from their website but added links to the novel titles so you can read the synopses.
Best Novel – English
Echopraxia by Peter Watts, Tor Books
The Future Falls
 by Tanya Huff, DAW Books
My Real Children by Jo Walton, Tor Books
A Play of Shadow by Julie E. Czerneda, DAW Books
The Peripheral by William Gibson, Penguin Books
Best Young Adult Novel – English
Lockstep by Karl Schroeder, Tor Books
Rain by Amanda Sun, Harlequin TEEN
Out of This World by Charles de Lint, Razorbill Canada
The Voices in Between by Charlene Challenger, Tightrope Books
Mabel the Lovelorn Dwarf by Sherry Peters, Dwarvenamazon
Twist of the Blade by Edward Willett, Coteau Books
Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong, Doubleday Canada
 Best Short Fiction – English
Crimson Sky” by Eric Choi, Analog, July/August
Jelly and the D-Machine” by Suzanne ChurchElements: A Collection of Speculative Fiction, EDGE
Mecha-Jesus” by Derwin Mak, Wrestling With Gods: Tesseracts Eighteen, EDGE
No Sweeter Art” by Tony Pi, Beneath Ceaseless Skies #155, September 4, 2014
Soul-Hungry” by Suzanne ChurchElements: A Collection of Speculative Fiction, EDGE
 Best Poem/Song – English
A Hex, With Bees” by Tony Pi, Wrestling With Gods: Tesseracts Eighteen, EDGE
Aversions” by Helen Marshall, Goblin Fruit, October
The Machine” by David Clink, Wrestling With Gods: Tesseracts Eighteen, EDGE
The New Ways” by Amal el-Mohtar, Uncanny Magazine, November
The Perfect Library” by David Clink, If the World were to Stop Spinning (Chapbook)
 Best Graphic Novel – English
Trillium by Jeff Lemire, DC Comics-Vertigo
It Never Rains by Kari Maaren, Webcomic
Cassie & Tonk by Justin Currie and GMB Chomichuk, Chasing Artwork
Treadwell by Dominic Bercier, Mirror Comics
Raygun Gothic Vol. 2 by GMB Chomichuk, Alchemical Press
 Best Related Work – English
Best Artist
James Beveridge, cover for Tantamount and Out DwellerErik Mohr, cover for The Door in the Mountain and ChiZine Publications
Derek Newman-Stille, cover for Elephants and OmnibusesDan O’Driscoll, covers for Bundoran Press and On Specmagazine
Lynne Taylor Fahnestalk Steve Fahnestalk, “Walking on the Moon”, cover for On Spec, No. 95 (Vol. 25 No. 4)
Best Fan Publication
Broken Toys edited by Taral Wayne
Ecdysis edited by Jonathan Crowe
Pubnites & Other Events edited by Yvonne Penney
Space Cadet edited by R. Graeme Cameron
Speculating Canada edited by Derek Newman-Stille
Best Fan Music
Brooke Abbey, Weirdness from 2014, Bandcamp
Debs & Errol (Deborah Linden and Errol Elumir), OVFF Concert (Ohio Valley Filk Fest)
Copy Red Leader, Crossing the Streams CD, The Pond Studio
Kari Maaren, YouTube Channel
Stone Dragons, Dream of Flying CD, Stone Dragon Studios
Best Fan Organizational
Sandra Kasturi, Chair, Chiaroscuro Reading Series: Toronto
Derek Künsken, Farrell McGovern, Caycee Price and Elizabeth Buchan-KimmerlyExecutive, Can*Con 2014, Ottawa
Randy McCharles, Chair, When Words Collide, Calgary
Matt Moore, Marie Bilodeau and Nicole Lavigne, Co-chairs, Chiaroscuro Reading Series: Ottawa
Alana Otis-Wood and Paul Roberts, Co-chairs, Ad Astra
Convention, Toronto
Best Fan Related Work
Steve Fahnestalk, weekly column in Amazing Stories Magazine
Richard Graeme Cameron, weekly column in Amazing Stories Magazine
Kevin B. Madison, Thunder Road Trip
Derek Newman-Stille, Speculating, Canada on Trent Radio 92.7 FM
Lloyd Penney, fan writing for fanzines and e-zines

Friday, 22 May 2015

Publisher Spotlight: California Coldblood Books

California Coldblood Books is an imprint of Rare Bird Books and specializes in science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction.  They have three books coming out this year, the first of which is now available.

The Odds by Robert J. Peterson
It’s been centuries since Deadblast deleted most of what we knew. All that’s left are a smattering of subterranean cities run by a ruthless cadre of bookies. We call ‘em the Odds. It’s a rough world. If you’re not freezing your ass off at night, then the sun cooks you during the day. If you’re too slow on the draw, a dreen’ll getcha. What’s a dreen?
You don’t want to know.
Here’s the deal: The man they call the redhead is back in town. He’s returned to the city of Dedrick, deep in debt and deathly ill. Wait, who’s the redhead? Well, lemme tell you—he ain’t too quick on the uptake, but his heart’s big enough to make up for it. Y’see, he’s on the outs from his family, and he’s dead-set on doing right by ‘em before he clocks out. His last hope is to win a deadly battle royale based on the rules of chess. Here's how it works:
Two guys play a game of chess. Every time they capture a piece, two real-life warriors gotta fight to the death. The attacking piece announces their move in advance. The more powerful your piece, the less notice you have to give. The mighty queen, she can strike instantly, with just about any armament imaginable, but a lowly pawn’s got to give 36 hours notice and fight only with melee weapons. The arena is all of Dedrick. Last man standing wins the square.
But what the redhead doesn’t know is someone’s gamed the tournament to pit him against an old friend who’s now a bitter enemy. Now he’s got to make all the right moves to save his family—and beat the Odds.

When the Stars Fade by Adam L. Korenman

In distant future, humanity is recovering from a bloody civil war. Pilots CAMERON DAVIS and GEORGE LOCKLEAR, reservists with Sector Patrol, prepare for a long weekend off. That vacation is permanently cancelled when two alien armadas—the BOXTI and NANGOLANI—arrive near Earth. Though humanity wins the battle, the war quickly turns one-sided. One of Earth’s colonies is rendered uninhabitable. George dies saving his friend, and Cameron is sucked through a wormhole and disappears.
Far away on the moon Kronos, JOSH RANTZ competes in a huge Army competition. Despite most of his unit falling to the enemy, Josh and his squad continue to win larger and larger victories. They are oblivious to the goings on of the universe, isolated on purpose by the war-game’s designer, Doctor MARKOV. When the exercise ends, Josh notices a meteor striking down nearby. He finds an injured Cameron, somehow transported across the stars to the military base. Moments later, the BOXTI arrive and invade. Outnumbered and outgunned, Josh and the soldiers on Kronos rally and push back the BOXTI horde. Summoned by their masters, the BOXTI leave the stunned humans behind.
With painful lessons learned, humanity prepares for the next battle, knowing full well that it may be their last.
Out fall 2015.

The Demon Within by Beth Woodward

Dale Highland is a murderer. But she doesn’t want to be.
For 10 years, she’s been struck by violent blackouts she calls Rages. But this time, she’s killed an innocent man, and the knowledge tears her up inside.
Months later, a run-in with a mysterious, alluring man named John leads Dale to discover that she’s half demon. Dale and John team up to find Dale’s long-missing mother, a legend in the demon world and the only person who might be able to help Dale control her Rages. Their quest throws them into a collision course with the Thrones, a group of angels determined to eradicate demons from Earth. The world of angels and demons is darker, and more dangerous, than Dale understands. In order to get the answers she seeks, Dale will have to risk not only her life…but her soul.
Out winter 2015.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Shout-Out: Depth by Lev A. C. Rosen

In a post-apocalyptic flooded New York City, a private investigator’s routine surveillance case leads to a treasure everyone wants to find—and someone is willing to kill for.
Depth combines hardboiled mystery and dystopian science fiction in a future where the rising ocean levels have left New York twenty-one stories under water and cut off from the rest of the United States. But the city survives, and Simone Pierce is one of its best private investigators. Her latest case, running surveillance on a potentially unfaithful husband, was supposed to be easy. Then her target is murdered, and the search for his killer points Simone towards a secret from the past that can’t possibly be real—but that won’t stop the city’s most powerful men and women from trying to acquire it for themselves, with Simone caught in the middle.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Video: Arnold Schwarzenegger acts out his movies

I love this clip from the Late Late Show with James Corden where he and Arnold Schwarzenegger act out famous clips from Schwarzenegger's films.  He's been in a lot of films, and of the ones they showcase I've only missed 2 (Junior and Jingle All the Way).

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Book Review: Footsteps in the Sky by Greg Keyes

Pros: plot centres on native american beliefs, realistic characters, interesting alien life forms, hard SF elements

Cons: 

Descendants of the Hopitu-Shinumu Native Americans colonized Fifth World agreeing to terraform the planet for the Vilmir Foundation - what they call the Reed - in return for ownership of the world when it was fully habitable.  But a rift has formed between those who live on the coast, trading with the Reed for technology and renouncing the backward ways of their forefathers, and those who live on the pueblos, the Traditionalists, keepers of the old ways and old religion.  When three alien spaceships appear in orbit the coastal Tech Society believe this new technology could help them throw off the yoke of the Reed, assuming they can control it.  Meanwhile, a traitor alerts the Reed to the presence of the ships, prompting them to send a group of colonial peacekeepers to secure the ships for themselves - or destroy them should they prove hostile.  

Unknown to the colonist these are the alien ships that performed the original terraforming on the planet that made it possible for humans to eventually inhabit it, but the ships’ very long lives have made their AIs unstable and they’re unsure if allowing the invaders to inhabit this world is something their Makers would have approved.  In an attempt to answer this question, one of the ships creates a clone to meet the inhabitants and see if they deserve life, of if the ships should wipe the planet clean.

The background for the plot is fairly complicated - and takes a few chapters to set up - after which the story itself is quite straightforward.  I loved the world-building.  The author’s father worked on a Navajo reservation when Keyes was young, so he learned a lot of the stories and beliefs that are recounted in this novel.  I found the stories of the Kuchina, the origin of the Hopi and the prophecy that sent their ancestors to this planet in search of a new home really interesting.  I also loved how SandGreyGirl could both question and in some ways blindly believe the teachings of her youth.  The complexity of the emotions examined by her and Tuchvala, concerning beliefs and how the world changes you, were believable.  I also liked how inheritance passed through the female line, and how that changed gender dynamics.  It was interesting to read how SandGreyGirl sometimes took female lovers because it reduced the chance that her partner was after her land and the pressures of marriage that relationships with men brought up. 

I appreciated the variety of characters, some likeable and other less so.  Everyone felt real, with understandable rationalizations for what they were doing, even the various antagonists.  The only hesitation I had here was with how Sand and Tuchvala relate to each other at the end of the book.  I’ll mention more about that in the spoiler section.  

You don’t learn much about the Makers, the ones who built the ships, but what you do learn is quite interesting.

There are hard SF elements, though I don’t know if all the physics were accurate.  I appreciated that space travel took years and that time passed differently for those planet side.

I’d have loved a few historical notes in an afterward explaining what, if any, of the things Keyes attributes to the Hopi people were made up for the book (beyond the prophecy).  

It was an interesting book that brought out some questions about the nature of belief and had a fair bit of action. 




*** SPOILERS***












Ok, I understand that Tuchvala is not in fact Sand’s mother.  But she IS a genetic copy of Sand’s mother, making their relationship incestuous.  Perhaps this is mitigated by the fact that - since they’re both women - they can’t have children together (without outside aid), but I still found the idea of the attraction - from Sand’s point of view at least - really creepy.  You could argue that Tuchvala, not having raised Sand, wouldn’t think of her as a daughter (her dreams notwithstanding), but Sand would still know this is her mother’s clone - making her sexual interest in Tuchvala disturbing to me.  And while the ending is left open, the book hints at the relationship throughout the story enough that it’s hard to read a different outcome from what is stated.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

New SF ebooks from Open Road Media

My 19th Open Road Media will be publishing 27 SF books from several authors.  These are books available in hard copy but available for the first time in ebook format.  I've linked to the Indigo website so you can read what each book is about (I find they're better with plot synopses than Amazon).

By Brian W. Aldiss

Hothouse
An Island Called Moreau
Dracula Unbound
Enemies of the System
Frankenstein Unbound
Report on Probability A
Super-State
The Malacia Tapestry
The Salvia Tree and Other Strange Growths
White Mars Or, the Mind Set Free

By Allen Steele