You are probably aware that original forms of just about every fairy tale have significantly changed throughout the centuries. Fairy tales have, just like organisms, evolved, branching in many different directions and flavours. The latest additions in this process are three short novels (or should I call them novellas) by Sarah Pinborough, first of which is Poison.
As you can probably guess, Poison is Pinborough's retelling of Snow White but Snow White in question is miles away from sanitized Disney version that we have been served for the last couple of decades. Poison harks back to old days and is filled with violence, sex and a whole plethora of very calculated characters - each with it's own agenda. Sarah has used familiar setting, elements and characters to successfully build a three dimensional living and breathing kingdom which revolves around Queen who is, with each passing day, becoming more angry and ruthless. Even dwarves are brought to life in a completely new way as part of the overarching Dwarf community. I particularly liked the tiny tidbits of background information that story throws our way, like psychotic Aladdin who spends his few days of freedom indulging in torturing and killing innocents. It will be interesting to see whether he plays a significant part in future installments of Pinborough fairy tales. But the biggest surprise came at the very end, when Pinborough all of the sudden pulled something so unpredictable and unexpected that I was simply left stunned. Without further spoilers, I'll just say that I will be eagerly awaiting next two part of the trilogy.
And here lies the biggest surprise of them all - Pinborough has somehow managed to do implausible and make overfamiliar tale fresh and exciting again and if that is not an achievement of a great writer, I don't know what is! Well done!
As this is one of the books that we are really anticipating, we are very happy to reveal cover art and synopsis for the upcoming Chris Wooding book, The Ace of Skulls. The book is scheduled to come out on 19th September, 2013 and the published is Gollancz.
All good things come to an end. And this is it: the last stand of the Ketty Jay and her intrepid crew.
They've been shot down, set up, double-crossed and ripped off. They've stolen priceless treasures, destroyed a ten-thousand-year-old Azryx city and sort-of-accidentally blew up the son of the Archduke. Now they've gone and started a civil war. This time, they're really in trouble. As Vardia descends into chaos, Captain Frey is doing his best to keep his crew out of it. He's got his mind on other things, not least the fate of Trinica Dracken. But wars have a way of dragging people in, and sooner or later they're going to have to pick a side. It's a choice they'll be staking their lives on. Cities fall and daemons rise. Old secrets are uncovered and new threats revealed. When the smoke clears, who will be left standing?
Here’s something you may not know about my newest book, Tarnished: it started as ideas for two books, rather than one. My editor pointed out that I’d plotted a filler book and I needed to skip it to get to the meat of my characters’ experiences, so I figured out what part of that original book wasn't filler and should be saved and dumped the rest. That learning experience stood me in good stead for all my later novel-plotting. Since then, all my single book ideas have worked out as single books.
At the end of my first book, Silver, my two main characters, werewolves Andrew Dare and Silver, realized that the Roanoke pack alpha was dangerously incompetent, and they needed to challenge him. The reason I plotted the next book that turned out to be filler was not because I was afraid of showing that confrontation—I had it all planned out in my head already—but because I've always disliked it in fiction when characters decide they must lead…and they’re instantly perfect at it. Who is ever perfect at anything the first time they do it? And even if they have some natural ability, why would anyone trust them until they've proved themselves? Why would they be confident in themselves, even? If they've never led before, they don’t know if they can do it!
The original outline for the book had Andrew and Silver proving their leadership skills to themselves and others, but the trouble was that then the book ended. What I hadn't realized was that while it was important to show them learning those skills and confidence, they then had to apply those things to the task I set out for them at the end of Book 1. Otherwise my poor readers would have seen the characters getting ready for a battle…that didn't happen until the next book. That’s pretty unsatisfying!
With that realization in mind, when I looked at the original outline once more, I suddenly saw all kinds of slow, flabby sections that I’d put in unconsciously to make up for the fact that my idea was too short for a whole novel. My characters traveled to another city, waited for a while, and then came back after nothing of importance had happened. Mostly, they discussed things, which can seem like something is happening if you’re not careful.
Brief discussions do have a place in your novel, of course! The heroes have to make a plan before they do battle, and they also often have to emotionally process events before they can truly change. What suckered me in this particular case, though, was using discussion to do worldbuildng. Worldbuilding is huge in my series, since part of the way I aim to be different from other werewolf books is using my archaeology background to give my werewolves culture. They’re a separate species, not humans who have been cursed or turned, so they’re born to a whole suite of myths, religious rituals, children’s games, etiquette, and all kinds of things passed down to them by their ancestors.
In the first book, I made a considered decision not to have a human or outsider protagonist, because I wanted readers to find out about the werewolf world from the inside. I should have remembered that for my original outline of Book 2! That outline had—and Tarnished still has—a human point of view character. That meant the werewolves could explain things to her—and in the original outline, explain things they did. Explained, discussed, and basically sat around for pages at a time. Once I started writing Tarnished in its current form, and there were a lot more things happening, I realized that rather than having characters tell each other the details of the world, I could show the details subtly as the action happened. That was something I knew already, but when there’s too much empty space in a novel, the lure of cramming in one more religious myth that has nothing to do with anything is pretty strong! Especially since I've heard from readers that they really enjoyed the worldbuilding in Silver.
So after the experience of creating the original outline and then tossing much of it out and writing Tarnished instead, I’m much more careful about several things when plotting novels. I make sure that if my characters learn something throughout the course of the book, they put it to use accomplishing something important at the end; and I make sure that I slip in worldbuilding in the course of the action, instead of having the characters sit and talk and talk.
Here's latest edition of new science fiction and fantasy releases, this time covering period from 20.5.2013 until 26.5.2013 (fourth week of May/2013). As always, our list also includes reprints published this week. We are especially happy to see The Fall of Arthur by JRR Tolkien and kindle re-releases of Ray Bradbury collections. Enjoy!
The Fall of Arthur, the only venture by J.R.R. Tolkien into the legends of Arthur, king of Britain, may well be regarded as his finest and most skillful achievement in the use of Old English alliterative meter, in which he brought to his transforming perceptions of the old narratives a pervasive sense of the grave and fateful nature of all that is told: of Arthur’s expedition overseas into distant heathen lands, of Guinevere’s flight from Camelot, of the great sea battle on Arthur’s return to Britain, in the portrait of the traitor Mordred, in the tormented doubts of Lancelot in his French castle.
You might as well ask why I fell in love with my wife of forty-one years as why I came to write the stories of Love Among the Particles. Not only is the instigation for both imaginative feats (and leaps of faith) hidden in an increasingly remote past of my lengthening personal history, but the causes of an impulse as complex as love or art must be elusive, subtle, and altered in time by self-examination, the catechism we give ourselves when we hope to sound the unfathomable. But to have something to answer the question concerning the spur to the writing of these sixteen tales, let’s say (acknowledging that my response may be correct only insofar as I believe it to be) that I wanted to write at length, in reaction to the brief texts of Grim Tales and Pieces for Small Orchestra & Other Fictions, which I was writing at the same time as the new book of stories – together with the novel Shadowplay, the stage play The Book of Stains, and a number of radio dramas. (A ten-year period of uncertainty and growing anxiety.) I am often a self-referential writer, whose work not only regards my present state of awareness and literary practice (as well as those of my exemplars), but questions my motives for writing.
I can say with a high degree of probability that I write to escape. I believe this is true of every writer and artist, regardless of his or her pretension to realism and truth. I pretend to neither – or, let’s say, to be saying something, that my literary fictions are real and faithful to the truth of the world to the extent that I myself am in the world and the products of my mind, therefore, cannot help partaking of its reality, as well as its deceptions. Fantasy, like fables, reflects the world, even if the reflection is distorted. (And I do consider myself a literary fantasist and fabulist.) Doubtless, many will find this attitude toward art unsettling and even shameful. I sympathize with them, finding myself often in the unsettling position of feeling ashamed of myself. I am the product of a liberal, working-class family that taught its sons compassion for the least among us, including animals, and the writers that drew me in the 1960s were more likely to be Steinbeck and Dos Passos than Gertrude Stein and Guy Davenport. (The latter term in the realism-fantasy opposition have naturally replaced the former and have been joined in time by Barth, Barthelme, Calvino, Kafka, Hildesheimer, Bioy Casares, Borges, Mrozek, Vian, Auster, Lish, and the like.) This disquiet and this conflict are apparent in nearly all the stories in Love Among the Particles and also in Shadowplay, Pieces for Small Orchestra, Land of the Snow Men, Joseph Cornell’s Operas, and A History of the Imagination and in my plays The House of Correction, Mounting Panic, and The Book of Stains. The texts are acts of escape, often taking, as their theme and content, the very notion of escape from the hostile reality of an unlovely present, which troubles the conscience of the narrator, who is many times myself. (In the stories, you can find my name among the dramatis personae.)
Such an evasion must look like misanthropy, and I fear that – together with anxiety and anger produced by the mistreatment of people, animals, and the environment – a paradoxical mistrust of humans in general increases in me. (Perhaps there is nothing paradoxical about it, as it is always humankind that abuses members of its own and other species.) And with estrangement comes, inevitably, that other pervasive theme of my fiction, drama, and poetry: loneliness, the fate and punishment of so many of the characters in Love Among the Particles.
Let me end by saying that I wanted, at one time during the production of the stories that came to be included in Love Among the Particles, to write what I thought of as literary paraphrases. You can see the wish expressed in “The Monster in Winter,” “The Mummy’s Bitter and Melancholy Exile,” “Ravished by Death,” and “To Each According to His Sentence,” each tale referring to – and working against – a recognizable story. Previously, I seemed to rely a good deal on motifs and plots conceived by past writers or filmmakers. In the end, however, the postmodern strategy of borrowing and adapting the work of past masters was overwhelmed by my own anarchic impulse and need to make my own highly figured and personal worlds.
Although I promised already to put an end to this confession (for so it seems to me), I ought to mention that my serious themes and formalist concerns – narrative structures and strategies, modulations in tone and an obsessive precision of language – are, many times, undermined by comedy. If I have succeeded in producing a work attractive to readers, the reason may lie there.
Eric Brown is one of our favorite writers so we're very happy to report that cover art and synopsis for his new short story collection entitled "Salvage" has been revealed. The book is scheduled to be published by Infinity Plus in June 2013.
When Salvageman Ed saves Ella Rodriguez from spider-drones on the pleasure planet of Sinclair’s Landfall, he has no idea what he’s letting himself in for. Ella is not at all what she seems, as he’s soon about to find out. What follows, as the spider-drones and the Hayakawa Organisation chase Ed, Ella and engineer Karrie light-years across space, is a fast-paced adventure with Ed learning more about Ella – and about himself – than he ever expected. The Salvageman Ed series of linked stories – four of which appear here for the first time – combine action, humour and pathos, from the master of character-based adventure science fiction.
I’m writing this the Saturday before Mother’s Day. On Tuesday, my novel MENDING THE MOON will be published. There’s a lot I could say and have said about this book, but maybe the foremost thing in my mind right now is that it’s largely about two mothers.
Tor Books came to me four years ago and asked for a mainstream novel. I decided to write about the aftermath of a horrific murder, because what most interests me about such situations isn’t something I see written about a lot. In fiction, murder tends to result either in a revenge plot, a mystery, or a procedural. I wanted to write instead about the psychological process of surviving such an event, about what it does to people’s heads and hearts.
One of the mothers in the book, Melinda Soto, is dead. She’s the murder victim, and large sections of the novel are written from the viewpoints of her adopted son and her closest friends. The other mother, Anna Clark, is grieving her son Percy. He was the murderer, and he killed himself after the crime. Anna doesn’t know why he killed Melinda. No one knows. I don’t know. What’s important in the book is that everyone knows who committed the murder, and the murderer is dead, but neither of those facts brings peace or closure.
Possibly relevant autobiographical notes:
First: When I was a freshman in high school, my geometry teacher was murdered by a student, a disturbed young man she’d tutored assiduously, whose grades had skyrocketed, and of whom she was very proud. He slid into her house through an open window and strangled her while she slept. He said he hadn’t wanted to kill her, because he loved her, but voices were telling him to kill someone, and if it hadn’t been her, it would have been someone in his family. She had two children, and I remember watching their stony, furious faces during the memorial service. Her killer was arrested a year later, convicted of her murder and of killing another woman, and given a mandatory life sentence.
Second: I know someone -- and I have to be very vague here for privacy reasons -- whose son committed a horrific murder. He was arrested right away. We all knew he was guilty. The only question was whether he’d accept a plea bargain of life without parole to avoid the death penalty. After months of telling everyone that he planned to represent himself in court, he took the plea at the last minute, to the immense relief of his mother’s friends. His mother, the one person in the family who maintained contact with him, visited him, and still loved him, had been cut dead by other relatives, shunned for and isolated by her son’s crime. We didn’t want her to have to go through the additional agony of watching the state put him to death.
I suppose these two situations may have become the seeds of MENDING THE MOON: a mother who is murdered, whose survivors must make sense of the world and go on without her, and a mother whose son murders and then dies too, leaving her to grieve both his actions and his death.
The question, in the book, was how to bring these two sides of the story together, and this is where genre comes in at last. I invented a cult comic-book hero called Comrade Cosmos, a nebbishy guy who helps communities reorganize and rebuild after disasters like fires or tornados or floods. His nemesis, the Emperor of Entropy, spreads chaos and wreaks havoc; Cosmos goes in afterwards to help people clean up, and to help them see that everything isn’t hopeless. Not everyone likes him. In particular, there’s a woman named Archipelago Osprey who resents how his actions have complicated her own life, and who embarks with her pet scorpion on a quest to teach him a lesson.
Alternating chapters in the book are about CC. Those chapters were really fun to write, welcome comic relief -- literally -- from the main story, which in certain ways they echo and mirror. But in the main story, Melinda’s son Jeremy and Melinda’s murderer Percy are both CC fans, and after Percy’s death Anna finds herself being drawn into the fandom.
Popular culture and its communities help people make sense of their lives, shaping how they think about the world and drawing them together in difficult times. The stories we love give us a shared narrative, something we have in common even with people we have never met, or might consider enemies.
Too little fiction addresses the real-world psychological aftermaths of murder. But there also isn’t enough fiction that talks about the real-world effects of fandom. I tried to do both of these things in Mending the Moon. I hope it worked.
We are happy to show you cover art and synopsis for the conclusion of King Rolen's Kin series by Rowena Cory Daniells. King Breaker will be published on September 30th, 2013 by Solaris Books.
The conclusion to the hugely popular King Rolen's Kin series! The story of Byron, Fyn and Piro picks up immediately where the cliff-hanging ending of The Usurper let off! When Cobalt stole the Rolencian throne, Byren, Fyn and Piro were lucky to escape with their lives, now they’ve rallied and set out to avenge their parents' murder. Byren is driven to defeat Cobalt and reclaim the crown, but at what cost? Fyn has sworn to serve Byren’s interests but his loyalty is tested when he realises he loves Byren’s betrothed. And Piro never wanted to win a throne, now she holds the fate of a people in her hands.