Sunday, 26 April 2015

Shout-Out: The Edge of the World by Michael Pye

Michael Pye's The Edge of the World is an epic adventure: from the Vikings to the Enlightenment, from barbaric outpost to global centre, it tells the amazing story of northern Europe's transformation by sea.

This is a story of saints and spies, of fishermen and pirates, traders and marauders - and of how their wild and daring journeys across the North Sea built the world we know. When the Roman Empire retreated, northern Europe was a barbarian outpost at the very edge of everything. A thousand years later, it was the heart of global empires and the home of science, art, enlightenment and money. We owe this transformation to the tides and storms of the North Sea. The water was dangerous, but it was far easier than struggling over land; so it was the sea that brought people together. Boats carried food and raw materials, but also new ideas and information. The seafarers raided, ruined and killed, but they also settled and coupled. With them they brought new tastes and technologies - books, clothes, manners, paintings and machines. In this dazzling historical adventure, we return to a time that is largely forgotten and watch as the modern world is born. We see the spread of money and how it paved the way for science. We see how plague terrorised even the rich and transformed daily life for the poor. We watch as the climate changed and coastlines shifted, people adapted and towns flourished. We see the arrival of the first politicians, artists, lawyers: citizens. From Viking raiders to Mongol hordes, Frisian fishermen to Hanseatic hustlers, travelling as far west as America and as far east as Byzantium, we see how the life and traffic of the seas changed everything. 

Drawing on an astonishing breadth of learning and packed with human stories and revelations, this is the epic drama of how we came to be who we are. ''A closely-researched and fascinating characterisation of the richness of life and the underestimated interconnections of the peoples all around the medieval and early modern North Sea. 

Friday, 24 April 2015

Publisher Spotlight: Unsung Stories

Unsung Stories is a newer publisher based in the UK that's looking for "genre fiction that defies categorisation. We want to tell stories that you'll never forget. Start with science fiction, fantasy, horror, speculative, steampunk and everything strange. Blend to a smooth consistency. Season to taste."  

In addition to publishing short fiction, which is free to read on their website or sent straight to your inbox if you sign up for their mailing list, they've also published three novels so far.

Deja Vu by Ian Hocking

In the year 2023 Saskia Brandt, detective with the European FIB, comes back from holiday newly single, tired and full of sadness. Heading straight back to the office she finds no peace, only her receptionist dead and no suspects. Given only 12 hours to clear her name she sets to work on unravelling the mystery, one that proves greater than the sum of its parts.

David Proctor is just an academic eating his breakfast until he gets a phone-call telling him the prototype computer - Ego - he has been loaned is now the only one left. Meanwhile someone has broken into his house, someone who wants him to go back to the lab where his wife died in a bomb attack 20 years before.

As the mysteries and intrigue envelop Saskia and David they are forced to unpick their own pasts. Because in Déjà Vu you find that things aren't as they seem, truth is a matter of perspective and that the past can change just as quickly as the future.

The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley

Somewhere away from the cities and towns, a group of men and boys gather around the fire each night to listen to their stories in the Valley of the Rocks. For when the women are all gone the rest of your life is all there is for everyone. The men are waiting to pass into the night.

The story shall be told to preserve the past. History has gone back to its aural roots and the power of words is strong. Meet Nate, the storyteller, and the new secrets he brings back from the woods. William rules the group with youth and strength, but how long can that last? And what about Uncle Ted, who spends so much time out in the woods?

Hear the tales, watch a myth be formed. For what can man hope to achieve in a world without women? When the past is only grief how long should you hold on to it? What secrets can the forest offer to change it all? 
Discover the Beauty.

Dark Star by Oliver Langmead

The city of Vox survives in darkness, under a sun that burns without light. In Vox’s permanent night, light bulbs are precious, the rich live in radiance and three Hearts beat light into the city. Aquila. Corvus. Cancer.

Hearts that bring power to the light-deprived citizens of the city of Vox whilst ghosts haunt the streets, clawing at headlights. Prometheus, liquid light, is the drug of choice. The body of young Vivian North, her blood shining brightly with unnatural light, has no place on the streets.

When Cancer is stolen, the weaponisation of its raw power threatens to throw Vox into chaos. Vox needs a hero, and it falls to cop Virgil Yorke to investigate.

But Virgil has had a long cycle and he doesn’t feel like a hero. With the ghosts of his last case still haunting his thoughts, he craves justice for the young woman found dead with veins full of glowing. Aided by his partner Dante, Virgil begins to shed light on the dark city’s even darker secrets.

Haunted by the ghosts of his past and chased by his addictions, which will crack first, Virgil or the case?
Their fiction is available in numerous marketplaces and if you're interested in submitting, here are their guidelines for stories and novels.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Shout-Out: The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality by Gahan Hanmer

Here's a novel for everyone who's always wanted to leave the real world behind and live in a pseudo-medieval world.

Welcome to Albert Keane’s beautifully designed medieval kingdom nestled in a completely isolated river valley in the Canadian wilderness. Peaceful, happy, and prosperous, it takes nothing from the modern world, not so much as a single clock.

There is a castle, of course, and a monastery. There is even a pitch dark, rat-infested dungeon – because you simply have to have one if you are trying a rule a feudal kingdom!

Farmers work the land, artisans ply their trades, monks keep school and visit the sick, and nobody (well, almost nobody) misses the modern world at all.

So why has Jack Darcey – actor, wanderer, ex-competitive fencer – been tricked and seduced into paying a visit? And why hasn’t anyone told him that the only way to leave is a perilous trek across hundreds of miles of trackless wilderness without a compass or a map?

Because a tide of fear and violence is rising from the twisted ambitions of one of King Albert’s nobles, and Albert’s fortune teller believes that Jack could turn the tide – if he lives long enough.

Seamlessly blending medieval and modern elements, The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality serves up a heady brew of action, humor, romance and satire in a kingdom set apart in time and space where reality is the dealer’s choice.

Gahan Hanmer enjoyed a colorful career in the theater as an actor, director, designer and technician. He now lives in the high chaparral desert of California.  He's currently doing a blog tour for The Kingdom of the Edge of Reality.  You can find all the stops on the tour here if you scroll down the page. If you want the chance to win an Amazon giftcard/Paypal cash (for international winners) and a copy of the book, there's a rafflecopter entry form there as well.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Video: The X-Cats

What would you get if you crossed cats with the X-Men?  The X-Cats.  Kaipotainment only has a few of these right now but I'd love to see them make more.  They've got origin videos for Cyclops and Wolverine, as well as regular videos for Wolverine, Professor X and Magneto.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Book Review: Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal

Pros: considerate treatment of several… delicate issues, wonderful depiction of a loving relationship, interesting plot

Cons: last of the series

Vincent receives word of his father’s demise.  His brother, the new Earl of Verbury, has suffered a recent accident and requests that Vincent go to Antigua to deal with affairs on their estate there and look for a possible updated will.  Reluctantly Vincent and Jane take ship, where Jane becomes increasingly ill.  It’s soon apparent that she’s with child.  It’s equally apparent, when they arrive on the island, that affairs on the plantation are not as they expected.

You’ll want to refresh your memory of the events of the previous books, particularly book three, Without a Summer, before reading this one, as Vincent’s family plays an important role and his childhood and other events from his past are revisited.  Similarly, Jane’s problems from the end of book two, Glamour in Glass, are brought up a lot with regards to her pregnancy.

Kowal writes with consideration about the treatment of the slaves on the plantation, showing Vincent and Jane’s ignorance and reaction to what’s going on, from disciplinary measures and substandard housing to the ever present threat of rape from their owners and overseers.  There are a few scenes that are uncomfortable to read in the way that it’s easier to look away than to face the realities of the past, even when delivered through fiction.  This is equally true with regards to some of the difficulties Jane faces with her pregnancy.

It’s such a pleasure seeing a loving marital relationship in a fantasy book depicted with such intimacy (by which I mean openness, not graphic content).  The way they know each others habits and can understand their moods based on small gestures and noises is wonderful to see in print, as is their honest desire to help each other cope with the difficulties they face.

It’s sad to see such a wonderful series end.  I really enjoyed the touch of magic Kowal brought to the Regency period and can’t wait to see what she does next.

Out April 28th.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Cover Reveal: Binary, ®evolution book 2, by Stephanie Saulter

I really enjoyed the first book in Stephanie Saulter's ®evolution series, Gemsigns (click here for my review).  The book focused on the plight of genetically altered humans, and what rights - if any - they deserved now that they were no longer owned by the companies that engineered them.  

I'm pleased to present the US cover of book 2, Binary.  Binary hits stores in North America May 5th and is already out (with a different cover) in the UK and Australia.

Zavcka Klist is no longer the ruthless gemtech enforcer determined to keep the gems enslaved she once was. She’s now all about transparency and sharing the fruits of Bel’Natur’s research to help gems and norms alike.
Or is she?
Neither Aryel Morningstar nor Dr. Eli Walker are convinced by this change, but the gems have problems that only a gemtech can solve. In exchange for their help, digital savant Herran agrees to work on Klist’s latest project: reviving the science that drove mankind to the brink of extinction.
Then confiscated genestock disappears from a secure government facility, and the more Detective Varsi investigates, the closer she comes to the dark heart of Bel'Natur and what Zavcka Klist is really after—not to mention the secrets of Aryel Morningstar's own past.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Shout-Out: Black Dog Summer by Miranda Sherry

In this extraordinary debut novel reminiscent of The Lovely Bones and Little Bee, a mother watches from the afterlife as her teenage daughter recovers amidst the startling dysfunction of her extended family.

A small, bright thread of a story weaves out from the moment of my passing and seems to tether me to this place. Perhaps this is why I have not left yet. Perhaps I have no choice but to follow the story to its end.
Compulsively readable and stylistically stunning, Black Dog Summer begins with a murder, a farmstead massacre, in the South African bush. Thirty-eight-year-old Sally is but one of the victims. Her life brutally cut short, she narrates from her vantage point in the afterlife and watches as her sister, Adele, her brother-in-law and unrequited love Liam, her niece Bryony, and her teenage daughter, Gigi, begin to make sense of the tragedy.

A suspenseful drama focusing on marriage and fidelity, sisterhood, and the fractious bond between mothers and daughters, Black Dog Summer asks: In the wake of tragedy, where does all that dark energy linger? The youngest characters, Bryony and Gigi, cousins who are now brought together after Sally’s murder, are forced into sharing a bedroom. Bryony becomes confused and frightened by the violent energy stirred up and awakened by the massacre, while Gigi is unable to see beyond her deep grief and guilt. But they are not the only ones aware of the lurking darkness. Next door lives Lesedi, a reluctant witchdoctor who hides her mystical connection with the dead behind the façade of their affluent Johannesburg suburb.

As Gigi finally begins to emerge from her grief, the fragile healing process is derailed when she receives some shattering news, and in a mistaken effort to protect her cousin, puts Bryony’s life in imminent danger. Now Sally must find a way to prevent her daughter from making a mistake that could destroy the lives of all who are left behind.