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Short Fiction Friday: Elephants and Corpses

Elephants and Corpses by Kameron Hurley

The corpse-jumping body mercenary Nev is used to filling other people’s shoes. When his assistant Tera recognizes the most recent waterlogged cadaver they bought off the street, though, he finds that his new body is carrying more trouble than he bargained for.

I have heard a lot of positive news about Kameron Hurley's writing, her Bel Dame series and the last year released The Mirror Empire have gotten rave reviews. A week ago or so this story was posted on and I took to reading it and was hooked. This is a cool story with an awesome concept, it is with such stories that I wish that there were more stories, or that Kameron Hurley writes a full length book with the adventures of Nev and Tera! 

The story picks up with Nev and Tera standing and the cities pier where they are bartering to buy a body. Here you learn that Nev is a body merc and that Tera is his body manager, Nev can use dead bodies to jump into and well, yeah live with them once again. A big "portfolio" of candidates gives him a lot more breathing space. Even with Nev's discontinued membership of the Body Mercenary Guild, he is still able to practice his skills but his business has been far from thriving. While they are preparing the body for preservation (later use) they stumble upon something, they though they bought a male body, but it is actually a female that was dressed as a male, just as Tera makes an even more shocking discovery a group of people makes a unscheduled drop-in and they claim the body that Tera and Nev bought. And they succeed, but at a price for Nev, as he looses something very previous to him. However with the discovery that Tera made and with what Nev lost they are more than determined to get the body back and get revenge no matter the cost. This sets the wheel in motion of a highly eventful encounter in the end, full of action, body switching and a turtle. 

Kameron Hurley shows from the beginning of the story that she knows how to write a solid short story. The story is brimming with details and very cool concepts. Where some authors sacrifice in tomes of book, there aren't any sacrifices when it comes to world building and character exposition in this short story. In the introduction of the story with the mentioning of body mercs my interest was piqued and Kameron Hurley finishes the story in a rapid pacing. I do have to mention that writing about body jumping and such can pose problems i.e. with execution but in the confines of Elephants and Corpses, Kameron Hurley shows that she is on top of these pitfall. 

I sincerely hope that we will see a full length book or even a series of the adventures of Nev and Tera, they deserve it! 

Book Review: Bill, The Galactic Hero

Bill, the Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison, Bill the Galactic Hero #1

Bill was a peaceful farm boy until he was lured by the martial music of a passing recruitment sergeant, drugged, and made to enlist in the Empire Space Corps. His basic training is sheer hell, but somehow he manages to stay alive and achieve the rank of Fusetender 6th Class in the process.

En route to an engagement with the lizard-like Chingers, Bill's spaceship is involved in a supreme contest and by accident Bill is the man who saves the ship and wins the day. A grateful Galaxy awards him its highest accolade, the Purple Dart, to be presented by the Emperor himself on the fabulous aluminium-covered capital planet, Helior. And then his adventures really start to take off in the most bizarre and nastily surprising ways...

Bill, the Galactic Hero popped up in the post rather spontaneously, and say for yourself when you see the cover, don't you want to read it? Pay close attention to the left arm (hint). When I opened the book I saw that the story was first published back in 1965. Wow. This was one of his earlier books and having wanting to read some fast paced Science Fiction I knew this book was rightly suited for the task. Bill, the Galactic Hero is a short read with just about 200 pages but I just found out that this is actually a series!

Bill, the Galactic Hero tells the story of Bill, who has his future turned quite upside down when one day he is transformed from an farm boy into a marine in the Empire Space Corps. Where Bill was first just a big guy minding the farm he is now all of a sudden fighting for a cause and put into a utter alien place for him. His farm training doesn't make him a marine, so he has to undergo a hard training to become a battle hardened 6th class Fusetender whether this is due to Bill's skill or his luck, well that is for you to judge. After the rigorous training Bill is send to fight big lizard-like creatures know as Chingers, nasty creatures! But the spaceship, Christine Keeler, he is traveling with gets caught in treacherous "waters" and in this scene Bill first starts to proof his title as Hero, as he saves the ship, at a cost though. Bill looses his left arm... I said take a look at the arm on the cover (enough said). Due to his heroic performance, Bill is granted a medal, the Purple Dart which will be given to Bill by the none other than the Emperor himself. And thus Bill makes his way to the planet of Helior... where even more surprises await him. The pacing and action up to this point was pretty fact, but Harry Harrison really turns it up a notch when Bill finally lands on Helior. Here he gets put into many tight situations that force him to become many things, quite the opposite of being a hero for the Empire, he becomes AWOL, on which stands the death penalty. Now Bill has to flee from his former drill sergeant to stay alive. In the end Bill still has to face a law suite, luckily he gets appointed a smart laywer, who can help him out... and everything seems to be ok? Or is it? 

Harry Harrison has created a highly eventful and very fun book on with the concept of space marines. I cant really compare this book to the currently published book as undoubtedly (this book was published back in 1965) this was the forerunner for many currently published Science Fiction books, but what I can say is that Bill the Galactic Hero still stand tall in 2015. I liked the book and the whole satirical atmosphere that Harry Harrision created in the story with Bill. It is over-the-top and a whole lot of fun to read. If you want to have a quick afternoon read that will definitely make you laugh grab this book. I know you will enjoy it! 


Book Review: Way Down Dark

Way Down Dark by James Smythe, The Australian Trilogy #1

There's one truth on Australia: You fight or you die. Usually both.

Seventeen-year-old Chan's ancestors left a dying Earth hundreds of years ago, in search of a new home. They never found one.

The only life that Chan's ever known is one of violence, of fighting. Of trying to survive.

But there might be a way to escape. In order to find it, Chan must head way down into the darkness - a place of buried secrets, long-forgotten lies, and the abandoned bodies of the dead.

Seventeen-year-old Chan, fiercely independent and self-sufficient, keeps her head down and lives quietly, careful not to draw attention to herself amidst the violence and disorder. Until the day she makes an extraordinary discovery - a way to return the Australia to Earth. But doing so would bring her to the attention of the fanatics and the murderers who control life aboard the ship, putting her and everyone she loves in terrible danger.

And a safe return to Earth is by no means certain.

I have to make a confession, I first thought this book was about the continent of Australia, there I said it. Boy was I wrong. James Smythe is well known for his science fiction book The Explorer and the recent sequel  The Echo. With Way Down Dark, James Smythe ventures into the dangerous territory of Young Adult fiction. For me YA is dangerous, it is a tricky genre to write into perhaps the young folk are even more critical then adults and it definitely takes more than just writing a story with a kid in the lead. James Smythe directly shows with his opening scenes that he knows this, Way Down Dark is a story unlike any others that I have read so far. Yes there are YA book in space, Brenda Cooper's The Creative Fire for example, but they didn't end the was that Way Down Dark did. Actually coming to think of it, Way Down Dark has something of David Ramirez's The Forever Watch in it, pretty amazing. Now lets move on to the story!

The story of Way Down Dark tells the story of the seventeen-year-old girl Chan. She is on board of the Australia, yes not the continent but a space ship that was launched from planet Earth in search for new land to live on. But they haven't found a new planet to colonize yet. (remember this bit). Chan has never known about about Earth she was born aboard the Australian. Over the course of her life and that of her mother life on the environment has changed, a lot. In the beginning of the story you are directly confronted with a very bleak and grim view, which is further build by the fact what happens to Chan's mother. Leaving Chan alone with her mother's friend Agatha. There are only a few places on the Australian that are safe to live on, the biggest area's are claimed by gangs. Dangerous gangs that have mostly reverted back to sort of animalistic behavior, this gang is better know as the Low's, but beside them there are more gangs, not as violent the Lows but they do have their own rules and regulations. Now that Chan is on her own feet, she tries to pick up her way of living once again, working in the arboretum for a little bit of food and barter material. Because with money you wont get anywhere any longer. As I already mentioned society as we know it is no longer existent on the Australia, and you have to trade stuff to get stuff. There is one vivid scene in the beginning of the book where Chan is confronted by this harsh reality. After this there are more events that more and more event that Chan faces that put her in a position in where she realizes this cannot continue any longer and it is time to fight back. This is an important point in the story as now James Smythe starts to slowely reveal what actually has been going on (points that I will for obvious reasons won't tell). Definitely stuff that WILL blow you away guaranteed. If you have read the book already or are busy with the early stages of the book, the truth that is revealed is much more brutal than what you had dared to have guessed. The ending of the book is just as amazing and something that I have been looking with these book, a very nice cliffhanger and you should read this book only for the last chapter. You will be sending a complaint to Chapter 5 for putting you in a position where you just crave the sequel... Yes it really is that good a cliffhanger. 

As far as the construction of the story itself goes, James Smythe has cleverly excuted the build up of the storyline itself. The story is sort of divided into two storylines, one that follows the adventures of Chan aboard the Australian and the other that focuses and a personal narration of the best friend of Chan´s mother, Agathe, with this backstory you learn a lot about what has been going on in the earlier years and how Chan came to be Chan. Plus it reveals the fact that the truth always surfaces... 

Now what often happens when you have a provocative story is that the characterization suffers underneath it... Luckily for us, James Smythe doesn't let that happen at all, the main protagonist of the story, Chan is kick-ass. She is a young girl and grown up with a lot of problems but has never, how dire the situation might be, let that get the better of her. She always does her best working and tries to look for the better aspects in persons, even though when they are bad, but she does have her limits though. Even though her mother said to be selfish and look out for herself, she would travel to hell and back to rescue an innocent being from the Low's. She is determined and very crafty with a blade. You can definitely feel that Chan has been forced to grow into the girl that she is, because she doesn't know better, but underneath the hardened outer layer she has a certain young-girl innocence, that comes to show in the ending but isn't appreciated... 

Concerning the world building, James Smythe did a very good job in showing just how limited the space is on the Australian, yes it is a massive ship but the population is big and there are a lot of hostilities going on with warring gangs and such, so living is tight. The descriptions of the living area´s, the ways of going from different levels really inspire a claustrophobic feeling to the story, added to this comes of course that fact that the spaceship itself floats somewhere in out space and there is no way of the thing...There are no escape pod aboard to escape, you just have to learn to deal with it... if you well.. tough luck. 

All of the singular pieces, storyline, characters, world building are top material but they work even better when you take it on the whole, then you see a true amplification of each factor that take the story to a new place. James Smythe convinced me just a few paragraphs in that Way Down Dark was a solid book but proved it double even so with the ending that he wrote, that piece is just top material and for a twist that I haven´t yet encountered. He has already created a terrific storyline for the continuation of the series that will proof to be highly eventful. In the end of the book I was literally shouting and cheering on Chan to succeed, she is a great character who you will adore and who you want to see succeed in her plans.  And remember... The truth will always surface.

Book Review: The Affinities

The Affinities by Robert Charles Wilson

In our rapidly changing world of social media, everyday people are more and more able to sort themselves into social groups based on finer and finer criteria. In the near future of Robert Charles Wilson's The Affinities, this process is supercharged by new analytic technologies: genetic, brain-mapping, behavioral. To join one of the twenty-two Affinities is to change one's life. It's like family, and more than family. Your fellow members aren't just like you, and they aren't just people who are likely to like you. They're also the people with whom you can best cooperate in all areas of life, creative, interpersonal, even financial.

At loose ends both professional and personal, young Adam Fisk takes the suite of tests to see whether he qualifies for any of the Affinities and finds that he's a match for one of the largest, the one called Tau. It's utopian--at first. His problems resolve themselves as he becomes part of a global network of people dedicated to helping one another, to helping him, but as the differing Affinities put their new powers to the test, they begin to rapidly chip away at the power of governments, of global corporations, and of all the institutions of the old world; then, with dreadful inevitability, the different Affinities begin to go to war with one another.

Last year I read some really provocative Science Fiction books, genre bending and breaking ones. When I was presented with the synopsis of The Affinities it was one of those books that really gives a promise of something more, something unseen heretofore. Robert Charles Wilson as written numerous other books, one of which, Spin was nominated for a Hugo award back in 2006, and which won it for the Best Book. So with such a background in the back of my mind, and with the interesting promise of the synopsis I knew this book was for me. I have to say that I was expecting something differently with the story, but the story that Robert Charles Wilson delivered was nonetheless very interesting.

The story picks up with the focus on Adam Fisk who is about to do a test that will change his life forever. He is about to take a test, at the cost of his own money, that will reveal if he is fit to become be placed in one of the Affinities. Affinities are groups of special people. Now you might ask what is so special about these groups? People that are in an Affinity are able to commune with each other on different levels than speak. There are in total twenty-two different Affinity groups and you can best view them as something in the lines of a strong communal group, somewhat like your college fraternity and very close family. Anyway after the test, Adam is placed into one of the biggest Affinity groups, the Tau's. Adam really has to adjust to what is takes to be a Tau, but he soon sees that there are a lot of advantages. After this introduction and the inauguration of Adam into the Tau Affinity the story skips a few years, and within these few years a lot of things have changed. A war in on the horizon, and not the war you might be expecting between non-Affinity members and Affinity members but inbetween different Affinities. Another big Affinity and rival of the Tau Affinity, the Hets, is waging war and trying to get rid of the other Affinities. And when the stakes are high, the war ain't pretty... Adam is right in the middle of it all, and finds himself under a lot of pressure. As, perhaps might have been expected, the ending was heart ripping to be honest. HOwever just one minor remark, unfortunately we only see the fight and struggles between the Het and the Tau, the other twenty Affinities aren't discussed, this did narrow the promise of the story a bit, perhaps we will see a sequel in which more is explained.

If you look the characters of The Affinities, the focus is really for the most part on Adam Fisk and in how a unhappy situation he is in the beginning of the book and how he transitions from a lonely person to a person who feels whole again, though the focus on this transition is only in the early pages of the book, it was for me a very nice development to see. Robert Charles Wilson captures a truly human emotion with it. As for the other characters, there are plenty of minor ones that you follow from both the Tau Affinity and the other Affinities and even a view here and there from the original founders of the Affinities. If I look at the overall of the character, they did feel a bit to have fallen in the background of the story, with so many things working in the story itself, the focus even when Adam felt as if it wasn't fully in sync with each other. I don't want to call the characters bland, but for me with a little dot on the i I think they could have been much stronger throughout the story. 

As I mentioned above I am always on the look out for the Science Fiction stories that bend and break the genre and I do have to admit that the themes that Robert Charles Wilson tackles in the Affinities are very, very cool. We are currently experiencing a technology exponential face, more and more technological advances are becoming available take virtual reality and google glass these could be the entry into many other possibilities. Now the idea behind the Affinities is something natural and technological advancement but with a few thoughts outside the box... who knows. It is for me a very interesting idea to think about in more depth. 

The lay out of the story itself is nicely done, Robert Charles Wilson really knows how to ramp up tension and build the story. From the inauguration of Adam down to the final war between the Het and Tau. The story escalates in a controlled way, the writing style is clear and to the point which allows the reader to easily settle within the story. With the escalation comes a gentle build up the pacing and even though you might not know it the pages will be reading away much easier. 

In the end, The Affinities is a book that will give you a different view on social behaviour, the big idea that Robert Charles Wilson introduces with the different Affinity groups is really interesting and is implemented solidly in the story (despite the fact only the Tau and the Het Affinities are shown). Robert Charles Wilson brings together different elements like: science and human social behaviour and a lot of emotions. Like I said the ending of the book was for me really powerful. What happened to Adam, wow, you know it might have been something that I could have expected, it produced that choke in the back of my throat... Gripping. If you are looking for a cool Science Fiction book, The Affinities, should be on your list. 

Media Alert: Gollancz Festival is back!

Media Alert: Gollancz Festival is back!

Gollancz, the science-fiction and fantasy imprint of the Orion Publishing Group, is delighted to announce a global strategy for The Gollancz Festival 2015 working in conjunction with Waterstones and Future PLC, the publisher of SFX and Total Film magazines and the website GamesRadar+.
The Gollancz Festival 2014 was the first of its kind – an integrated multi-platform, digital and physical one-day book event featuring live participation from almost 50 writers. Even bigger and better, the Gollancz Festival 2015 will showcase more than 70 brilliant authors across 48 hours of action-packed book shop events and creative digital programming.
The Gollancz Festival 2015 will take place over Friday 16 October and Saturday 17 October. Due to popular demand, festival events will be held at Waterstones Manchester Deansgate, from 6 – 9pm on Friday 16 October, and at Waterstones Piccadilly, from 2 – 5pm on Saturday 17 October. Each store will host two strands of unique back-to-back author events followed by an author signing event featuring all participating authors.
The Gollancz Festival 2015 will also enlarge its reach, with online events scheduled across all 48 hours of the festival to make it truly worldwide – specifically working with Hachette Australia and New Zealand to connect with SF&F readers in Australasia. Entertaining, interactive content will be shared on established as well as developing platforms, allowing readers to interact with #GollanczFest on the platform of their choice.

For those who want to experience the festival in real life, tickets for all four festival strands at Waterstones Piccadilly and Waterstones Deansgate will be affordably priced, and include collectible festival exclusives and incredible value for money. The virtual events will be free to join and easily accessible retrospectively at  

The Gollancz Festival 2015 will host some of the biggest names in the genre, showcase the writers to watch in 2015, and introduce remarkable new talent.  Full details of participating authors and programme items at Waterstones Deansgate and Waterstones Piccadilly will be announced when tickets go on sale in August 2015. For advance notification of ticket sales, festival exclusive content and for more information please sign up at: and follow @gollancz #gollanczfest.
Our mission statement is: to allow anyone, from anywhere around the world, to participate in a literary festival packed with their favourite authors.

CEO of Orion Publishing Group, David Young, said:The Gollancz Festival 2014 was described as innovative, accessible, and as a vital element of publishing’s future: bringing authors and readers together in an unforgettable way. We’re thrilled to be broadening both the domestic and international reach of the Gollancz Festival in 2015”

Publishing Director of Gollancz, Gillian Redfearn, said: For a second year, we’re incredibly proud to be able to offer SF&F readers the opportunity to experience a genre-fiction convention for free (or for a small fraction of the usual cost). This is for every SF&F reader, everywhere.”

Managing Director of Hachette Australia, Justin Ractliffe, said: “We’re delighted to be participating in The Gollancz Festival this year. Australia and New Zealand have very passionate genre fiction communities and joining forces with Gollancz means that we can make it a truly global event.”

SF Buyer at Waterstones, Kate McHale, said: “We are thrilled to be working with Gollancz again this year. Last year’s festival was a huge success, bringing authors and readers together in an innovative way, and helping to make the enjoyment of events more accessible than ever before.” 

SFX Editor Richard Edwards said:"Since SFX launched 20 years ago, we've enjoyed a wonderful relationship with Gollancz and its authors. SF&F novels continue to be an essential part of the magazine's DNA, so we're delighted to be associated with this exciting event."

About The Gollancz Festival 2014
Shortlisted for the Publishers Publicity Circle Annual Awards, highly commended by Books Marketing Society, and the winner of The Hachette UK Marketing and Publicity Campaign of the Year 2014 Award, the Gollancz Festival was the UK’s first ever integrated virtual and traditional literary festival.

Featuring live author participation from almost 50 authors from around the world, The Gollancz Festival 2014 ran from 9am – 9pm on the 13th August 2014. 50 authors from 3 continents took part in 16 interactive author events on 7 different social media platforms, culminating in an author event at Waterstones Piccadilly where 23 writers (and one live band) participated in an event and signing from 6 – 9pm.
Amongst other brilliant results, #GollanczFest reached nearly 9 million timelines on Twitter. The events have been watched nearly 18,000 times on You Tube. The two rooms of festival programming at Waterstones Piccadilly sold out within 3 weeks.

About Gollancz
Gollancz is the oldest specialist SF & Fantasy publisher in the UK. Founded in 1927 and with a continuous SF publishing programme dating back to 1961, the imprint of the Orion Publishing Group is home to a galaxy of award-winning and bestselling authors. Through our long-running SF and Fantasy Masterworks programme, and major digital initiative the SF Gateway, Gollancz have one of the largest ranges of SF and Fantasy of any publisher in the world.

Book Review: Unseemly Science

Unseemly Science by Rod Duncan, The Fall of the Gas-lit Empire #2

In the divided land of England, Elizabeth Barnabus has been living a double life - as both herself and as her brother, the private detective. Witnessing the hanging of Alice Carter, the false duchess, Elizabeth resolves to throw the Bullet Catcher’s Handbook into the fire, and forget her past. If only it were that easy!

There is a new charitable organisation in town, run by some highly respectable women. But something doesn’t feel right to Elizabeth. Perhaps it is time for her fictional brother to come out of retirement for one last case…? Her unstoppable curiosity leads her to a dark world of body-snatching, unseemly experimentation, politics and scandal. Never was it harder for a woman in a man’s world…

Last year saw Rod Duncan's first fantasy novel, The Bullet-Catchers Daughter, after having written four hard crime novels. This was one of my favourite book of 2014 in the Steampunk category. The Bullet-Catchers Daughter for me was a perfect mixture of the normal and the arcane. The whole setting and ambiance that Rod Duncan had created with Elizabeth Barnabus was just a pleasure to read. In this second book that stakes are once again placed pretty high on Elizabeth, as if her adventures in the first book weren't enough!

Unseemly Science picks up almost directly after the events of The Bullet-Catchers Daughter, Elizabeth had found a new life in the Republic, after having fled the Kingdom. There she lives on her boat close with her friend Julia Swain. One day when Elizabeth is out and about she witnesses the hanging of the duchess Alice Carter, which quite frankly shocks her core. After this her friend Julia informs her that she wants to sign up to work for a new charitable organization run by Mrs. Raike. For this new job Julia has to travel north to the ice-farmers and missing ice. However Elizabeth had to stay "home" and we see occasional letter correspondence between Julia and Elizabeth. During Julia's stay in the north Elizabeth encounter a lot of problems on her own. She, as an Kingdom immigrant, has to report every other week at the office. Now with a lot more rules coming to pass, living circumstances aren't that great, with this comes the fact that the person she relied the most on, Julia is now far away. Torn with many things, Elizabeth decides that it might be better to go up north as well and she from the start isn't quite taken by the charm that Mrs. Raike has. Now from this part the story really starts, as Elizabeth uncovers a whole can of "unseemly science" and truths that many people would have prefered not to have been made to see the daylight. We all know that Elizabeth is not all that she seems to, doubling as her brother Edwin Barnabus, other character aren't also all that they seem to say they are... Elizabeth is once again head over heels in an adventure... an adventure that requires all her skills and knowledge gained from The Bullet-Catchers Handbook, but will it be enough?

Rod Duncan has a really good way of writing, it will get your attention from the start and places you directly in the story. Unseemly Science does have a much darker storyline than what was shown in The Bullet-Catchers Daughter, but looking at Rod Duncan's background it might have been expected, and just a note, it is note for the worse at all, the divided England that he is showing isn't a pretty place to live so why cover it with roses and make it shine when it really is a bad place to be in, well when you are in the position of Elizabeth that is. Overall the story picks up with a much easier pacing that the first and it takes a while for the actual investigation to start but in the early stages of the book there was for me a really nice exposition found in how Rod Duncan went about and described the current setting and something that were related to the world. 

As for the characters, I am really impressed with Elizabeth, she is precisely the feisty girl that I got to meet in the first book, of course the things she has been planning and the situation that she has been through have definitely shaped her personality. This transition is clearly noticable and continues all throughout this book as well. She is placed into more than once precarious and highly dangerous situation, the one in which she was captured still sticks with me, Rod Duncan described this is such a grim way, but Elizabeth kept to her cheery and spirited self. With Elizabeth there comes a second character, that of her brother, Edwin, who she also plays. I liked how Elizabeth navigated the streets with this 'alter-ego' it gives a glimpse of how women are looked down and frowned upon. Elizabeth is a wonderful character, full of wit, a lot of fun to read about. Next to Elizabeth, her friend Julia also gets more time to her development and Rod Duncan develops her into a worthy and in the short and long run as an important character. Though the seperation of Julia and Elizabeth wasn't that nice, the early letter communication showed that both parties admitted that they didn't act in the right way. This must be true friendship.

Every element in Unseemly Science make this book a terrific addition to The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire series. With Unseemly Science Rod Duncan ventures into a new direction when it comes to the setting of the book, it is darker it is grimmer and I think that with the third book it might become even more so, as the world that Elizabeth lives in, is on the brink of a change, of a revolution. The world that Rod Duncan showed in the first book is is greatly build upon and explored further. Just as with the world, Rod Duncan neatly keeps on developing his characters to the fullest and makes them even more lovable. Rod Duncan is definitely on the right track with this series. I am eager to find out what the third book, The Custodian of Marvel will have in store for Elizabeth as well as for me. 

Short Fiction Friday: The Myth of Rain

The Myth of Rain by Seanan McGuire

[no synopsis availabe]

Seanan McGuire is better know to my under her pseudonym Mira Grant, with which she wrote some very creepy horror books. A while ago I read a short story in the Dead Man's Hand anthology about wasps which was part of her InCryptid stories. It was different that what I read in the Mira Grant books, in a very good way. Now when I came across The Myth of Rain I readily jumped the occasion to read it and once again I am amazed. 

The story of The Myth of Rain picked up in a way that it readily piques your interstest. It begins with the story of a female spotted owl and how their cry is different. Now from this first sentence the story could go any which way. A documentary of sort. Like Marie Brennan's A Natural History of Dragons. Soon you are introduced to Julie, who is on the look out of owls, observing them and capturing them. For a reason, because at the end of the capture she mentions that monsters are coming to the woods. Soon after this confrontation there is a nice breakdown of the current setting. Not everything is as pretty as it once was. The world hasn't exactly moved on, but the greenhouse effect has gotten worse and worse and the climates have changed, for the worse. The rich have tried to move to different places but it all boils down to the same thing, when there was the chance to do something about the climate change nothing was down and now it is all to late.... The area in which Julie is acting is the Pacific Northwest, currently the only place on Earth left to live a decent life. Julie and her fellow friends are activist who are trying to preserve the last bit of wild life for Ark's, yes with these Ark's you know it is a serious business...! 

I really liked the depth that Seanan McGuire put into this story. It's not a story solely about climate change, but also about the Julie, she gets quite an indepth background how she grew up and what her reasons are. this gave a nice emotional touch to the story that makes every element of the "post"-apocalyptic world (insofar you can call the here proposed devestating effects of climate change apocalyptic) sound that much stronger. The ending of the story shows that somethings are meant to stay free and the last sentence really caught me once again: "Maybe someday, our children would see owls in the world again.". I think if you would extrapolate it to our current situation, our climate has changed in the last few years hotter summers, harsher winters and more. It does make you wonder... are we going in this direction?

A wonderful story, don't miss it!

You can read it in Lightspeed Magazine following this link



Pan Macmillan is delighted to report the acquisition of a new epic fantasy series by John Gwynne. Senior Commissioning editor Bella Pagan bought World rights from agent John Jarrold, in a six-figure deal.

This new standalone trilogy will be set in the same stirring Celtic-inspired world as John’s first quartet, the Faithful and the Fallen. Here, the Banished Lands now seem at peace. However, guardians appointed to enforce it have their own agenda, and mankind will suffer. One central character, Rae, is part-guardian and part-human. And if she can prevail through conflict, crisis and adventure, she may hold the key to humanity’s ultimate freedom.

John Gwynne’s debut novel, Malice, won the David Gemmell Morningstar Award for Best Fantasy Debut. And on the new deal, Gwynne said: ‘I'm absolutely overjoyed that Pan Macmillan will be publishing a new trilogy set in the Banished Lands. I've loved working with the team and it’s both wonderful and exciting news to hear their enthusiasm about expanding this world. Ideas have been worming their way into my head for quite some time now and my fingertips are itching to get typing on this new series’

Pagan shared her enthusiasm, saying:  ‘I couldn’t be happier about this new deal. John has proved he can write heart-pounding, character-driven adventures of the most immersive form, and his next works will be just as thrilling. Readers everywhere – prepare to be enthralled!’

Bestselling author Conn Iggulden had high praise for Malice: ‘Influenced by Gemmell’s  Rigante’ and George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones – two good strands of DNA. Great characters and plot – it gets faster and more fascinating by the page . . . Hell of a debut.  Highly recommended’

Pan Macmillan will be publishing the new books from Autumn 2017, following John Gwynne’s current series. His next book, Ruin, will be published in July this year. 

Book Review: A Few Words for the Dead

A Few Words for the Dead by Guy Adams, The Clown Service #3

While Section 37 Agent Toby Greene's honeymoon takes an unexpected, and potentially deadly turn, back in London Section Chief August Shining has troubles of his own. Dragged in by his fellow agents from M-16, Shining is forced to relive an old mission from the 80's, and pick up where he left off all those years ago to face an old and deadly foe. As Toby and his new wife Tamar dodge an unstoppable killer across Asia and Europe, August must fight, not just for the future of The Clown Service, but for his very existence. 

I am a big Guy Adams fan. With his The Clown Service series, he has shown a different side of him. Writing a different genre, supernatural thriller, top secret spy stories. Which all kicked of two books ago in The Clown Service, and continuing in The Rain-Soaked Bride. Even with already having delivered two solid book, don't worry as A Few Words for the Dead continues Guy Adams' winning streak, another thoroughly entertaining and creepy story. 

The events in A Few Words for the Dead pick up not soon after the events of The Rain-Soaked Bride. Toby Greene who was inaugurated in the first book to Section 37 is currently enjoying a honeymoon with Tamar, however this is far from your standard honeymoon. As the creator of the Rain-Soaked Bride as many more surprises in store. Things are still not fully settled after the events in the second book. After this introduction with Toby and Tamar the focus is shifted this time around more fully on August Shining. August is being called back to explain a mission that took place the 1980's in Germany to his higher-ups, of course all with a reason. The telling of August and this mission splits the story into two timelines, the current (one we see actually only briefly) and the past, where August spends his most time. This mission took place in the 80's in Germany, August was on a mission to capture a deadly opponent. Now that I am typing this short synopsis I only come to realize that it doesn't come close to do justice to the story. It might follow these few big lines, but Guy Adams writes the story with sure deftness, involving a lot of different factors and creating a more than wonderful atmosphere surrounding this story.

Guy Adams has taken the story of The Clown Service to a lot of different venues. Really laying the focus on the current state and making Toby a star of the series. Toby and his fiance Tamar still play an important role but as this time around the focus is more on August Shining and this was for me a big plus was for me a big plus, it added much more diversity to the story and it gave a much better grip on the character of August, we have only seen him as an "completed" character as the focus was on Toby and his inauguration in Section 37. With putting the focus on August, though with a backstory, gave much more personality to him. The other characters like April, Tamar and Toby all take a bit of a step back but still have their influence in the story, through the brief glimpses, Guy Adams does manage to produce a well rounded story. 

One thing that keeps amazing me is the terrific sense that Guy Adams manages to tell in his stories. The Clown Series is a supernatural spy thriller and especially in this volume there is a lot of show and not tell, allowing the reader to connect the dots. The naming of a possible adversary as just "Assassin" and the thing that happens to April in the book, it did make me reread several chapter but it catches you out of the blue and sticks with you for a long long time. It with these elusive mentions and heavy plot twists that makes Guy Adams books so irritable and a whole lot of fun to read.  

A Few Words for the Dead is for me the best Clown Service book to date. The direction that Guy Adams is going with his book is defintely the right one. If you read the first two books in the series you will appreciate what Guy Adams has done in this book, with a the knowledge that I gathered with the first two books it all starts to come together. Well only partly because Guy Adams readily tranforms the promise with the ending of A Few Words for the Dead. It can go any which way from this point on. If you like good characters, a cool setting and some amazing idea's you should read this book. Frankly if you haven't been reading Guy Adams. Shame on you. This is brilliant stuff!

Short Fiction Friday: The Practical Witch’s Guide to Acquiring Real Estate

The Practical Witch’s Guide to Acquiring Real Estate by A.C. Wise, Uncanny Magazine #4

[no synopsis provided]

Most of the short stories that I have been reading so far have all been stories. I know quite cryptic and doesn't make much sense but after reading The Practical Witch's Guide to Acquiring Real Estate you will know what I mean. I have been long looking for reading such a thing, not really a story but a story all the same.

In The Practical Witch's Guide to Acquiring Real Estate you don't follow a protagonist, it is a story about instructions on how to acquire a new place of living. For witches that is. Now you might wonder what is so special about getting a place to live for witches? Well there are some bits you need to take into account. It starts with the most simple option, that of buying a house, but as we all know most witches don't have the live of riches and they have to result to other ways. Like for starters squatting is an option, but this takes time as explained by the examples of the witch Dee St. Pierre, but she also could bake some delicious cakes. If you don't have a lot of patience other options include building your own house, which will of course is one of the best options as you will be able to have the house suit all your needs. Besides building your house to suit your needs you can also  tame it or even breed it yourself but with these latter two options there are a lot of things that could go possible go wrong, with some heavy consequences. The last of these two options is the least recommended of all, breeding or more simply put growing your own house is risky business especially when you take something of your own. Which was the case of the witch Jane Scribe (not her real name, I think I would have want to stay anonymous as well), who grew a house from the tip of her finger, the resulting house brought more with it than expected... In the end choosing which way to get a house as a witch is up to you, are you up to for a challenge? Do you have a lot of patience? Or do you have a big bag of money? There is something for all. 

I really, really liked the story that A.C. Wise wrote in The Practical Witch's Guide to Acquiring Real Estate, it is short but a whole lot of fun to read. It is funny, witty and clever at the same time. I heavily vouch for more Practical Witch Guide stories!

Read the full story here