Where the Trains Turn November 19, 2014 Where the Trains Turn Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen His imagination runs wild. The Walk November 12, 2014 The Walk Dennis Etchison Creative differences can be brutal. Where the Lost Things Are November 5, 2014 Where the Lost Things Are Rudy Rucker and Terry Bisson Everything has to wind up somewhere. A Kiss with Teeth October 29, 2014 A Kiss with Teeth Max Gladstone Happy Halloween.
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November 21, 2014
Never Wait for a Sequel Again: 17 Standalone Fantasy Novels
Stubby the Rocket
November 18, 2014
The Hollow Crown: Shakespeare’s Histories in the Age of Netflix
Ada Palmer
November 17, 2014
In Defense of Indiana Jones, Archaeologist
Max Gladstone
November 14, 2014
An Uncut and Non-Remastered List of Star Wars Editions!
Leah Schnelbach
November 13, 2014
Why Do We Reject Love as a Powerful Force in Interstellar?
Natalie Zutter
Showing posts by: Jared Shurin click to see Jared Shurin's profile
Oct 16 2014 8:00am

The Best of the West: Jawin’ with Nunslinger Author Stark Holborn

Nunslinger Stark Holborn

Nunslinger, penned by Stark Holborn, has been the best combination of contemporary and classic publishing: a terrific novel from a major publisher, but published as a series of serialised ebook adventures. Perhaps best of all, Nunslinger is a classic Western—no Weirdest, no Lovecraftian horrors, no post-apocalyptic metaphors—just a nun, some guns, and all the adventure that the 1860s had to offer. On December 5th, a year from our first introduction to Sister Thomas Josephine and her penchant for mayhem, Nunslinger is finally coming out as a single volume.

One of the great mysteries is the identity of Stark Holborn—the garrulous pseudonym selected by Nunslinger’s author. To celebrate the final instalment in this fantastic Western, Holborn agreed to grant an interview.

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Oct 14 2014 11:00am

A Category Unto Himself: The Works of China Miéville

China Mieville

China Miéville’s presence looms over genre fiction. Over the course of a dozen books, Miéville has ranged freely across categories and classifications—epic and urban fantasy, social and hard science fiction, crime, horror and more. And in each case, he addresses, dances with, pokes at and, ultimately, departs from, the traditions and expectations therein. Although many thousands of words have been written trying to put Miéville’s work into neat buckets (“New Weird!” “Fantastika!” “Literary Speculation!” “Hauntological Slipstream!” “Tentacular Metafusion!”), time has proven that a China Miéville book is ultimately, well—Miévillian. The man is a category unto himself.

And what is Miévillian? I’m tempted to use words like “tremendous,” “mind-blowing,” “amazeballs,” and “unmitigated brilliance,” but that doesn’t help especially. As each book is wildly different from its predecessor, the trick is to look at the qualities instead—a Miévillian book is packed with glorious entertainment, epic scale, powerful themes, intellectual depth, creativity of language, subversive approaches and, with a few rare exceptions, monsters.

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Aug 7 2014 8:00am

Second Annual Nine Worlds Convention Feautres Zombies, Cheese, and Saucy Poetry!

Nine Worlds 2014 convention Despite its youth (this is only the second year!), Nine Worlds already has a well-deserved reputation as one of the UK’s best SF/F conventions. This is a testament to con’s commitment to accessibility and inclusivity, multimedia approach and rampant enthusiasm.

All of which is pretty awesome. And most important of all? Nine Worlds is a ridiculous amount of fun. Whatever you’re into—be it reading, writing, gaming, crafting, learning, arguing or eating—Nine Worlds has something for you.

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Jun 5 2014 10:00am

Under the Radar: (Even More) South African Genre Fiction

Jungle Jim

With the release of Sarah Lotz’s The Three, the US, UK, and a few dozen other countries have all been exposed to another—if you’ll excuse the cross-media metaphor—big budget blockbuster from South Africa’s genre scene. I say “another” because the first was Lauren Beukes’ The Shining Girls.

If your response at this point is “What is The Three?” or “What is a shining girl?” feel free to bookmark this post and come back later—those two books might not be “Under the Radar,” but I have no reservation about recommending them with every fiber of my being.

[Unless you hate brilliant contemporary science fictional horror. In which case... I got nothing for you.]

May 1 2014 9:00am

Under the Radar: Ibn-e-Safi’s The House of Fear

The House of Fear

Unless you can read Urdu, Ibn-e-Safi is probably the best-selling author you’ve never heard of—and certainly one of the most prolific. From 1948 until his death in 1980, Ibn-e-Safi wrote, quite literally, hundreds of books. Two of his series—Colonel Faridi and Ali Imran—had over 100 books each. At times, he wrote up to three or four novels a month, and then there’s still his satires and poetry to consider.

The latter character, Ali Imran, is introduced in The House of Fear. First published in 1955, it has, as of 2010, finally been translated into English. Imran is an absolute hoot—imagine a combination of Danny Kaye and Sherlock Holmes—intelligent, unstoppable and yet, to all outward appearances, an amiable fop.

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Dec 5 2013 11:00am

Under the Radar: Jesse Bullington’s The Folly of the World

The Folly of the World Jesse Bullington

The Under the Radar series is our chance to highlight books that we believe have gone unjustly unnoticed—recent books that, through quirks of time and space, have somehow slipped through the cracks.

Jesse Bullington’s The Folly of the World (2012) is almost wholly indescribably, so, be warned, although I’m approaching this with great enthusiasm, there’s not a lot of detail involved. At the highest, most hand-wavey conceptual level, Folly is about, I suppose, quirks. And also time. And hey, even a bit of space. And it is definitely about slipping through the cracks—physically, in society and in reality itself.

Is that a little too vague? I’ll start over.

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Oct 17 2013 1:00pm

Under the Radar: We See a Different Frontier

We See a Different Frontier

Justin Landon introduced the concept of “Under the Radar” two weeks ago with his inaugural post—the goal is to give a helping hand (or, at least, a waving one) to recent books that, in our personal opinion, deserve more attention than they’re currently getting.

When we started bandying around the idea, I was midway through my first pick—and, to me, there couldn’t be a book that’s a better contender for this category: We See a Different Frontier, edited by Fabio Fernandes and Djibril al-Ayad—one of the best speculative fiction anthologies I’ve read this year.

Sep 6 2013 9:00am

So You Want to Be a Book Collector...

library ...and why wouldn’t you? Book collecting is one of the greatest hobbies there is. It combines beautiful, interesting objects with the excitement of the hunt and, who knows, maybe even the possibility of making some money! Worst case scenario—you wind up with a lot of books. There’s no way to lose.

Still, this is a decision. Collecting isn’t just hoarding—randomly accumulating lots of books is no bad thing, but collecting requires a slightly more strategic approach. You need to figure out what you want, why you want it and, perhaps most importantly, what you’ll do to get it...

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Jul 26 2013 8:00am

The Folding Knife Reread: Conclusion

The Folding Knife KJ Parker

Welcome back to the final entry in our reread of K.J. Parker’s The Folding Knife. I’m going to use this final week to give all the final and definite answers to the book.

Ok, just kidding. But I thought I’d try to end with five extremely big thoughts, wrapping up the themes of the book and my own personal conclusions. Of course, by “wrap up,” I only mean the structured part of the reread. Please continue the discussion in the comments—the fun never needs to end!

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Jul 19 2013 8:00am

The Folding Knife Reread: Chapter Seventeen

The Folding Knife KJ Parker

Well, that was messy, wasn’t it? The last chapter gave us a moment of brilliant hope—Bassano as hero! The Vesani win the war!—then took it all away from us in the final, agonising lines. Bassano’s dead, and three-quarters of the army are gone with him.

What happens next?

Chapter Seventeen is a classic denouement—it isn’t just the final resolution of the plot, it also neatly tidies up all of the character arcs. Well, maybe not too neatly...

Oh, and, hey. Spoilers.

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Jul 12 2013 8:00am

The Folding Knife Reread: Chapter Sixteen

The Folding Knife

Last chapter was all about raising the stakes. Bassano and Aelius are wandering around the woods of Mavortis with the entire Vesani army. If they win, all is well. If they lose, Basso’s a ruined man—emotionally, politically, financially… and the repercussions could bring down the entire Republic.

Chapter Fifteen treated us to an endless procession of Basso’s “band-aids,” as he kept everything together whilst waiting for the news. And the end of the chapter? News!

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Jun 28 2013 8:00am

The Folding Knife Reread: Chapter Fifteen

The Folding Knife

Last chapter we saw the first cracks. The conquest of Mavortis started as planned, but then got a little too involved. And expensive. Then things started going wrong. Is Basso’s legendary luck on the turn? With Bassano lost in the woods (both figuratively and literally), this could spell disaster.

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Jun 21 2013 8:00am

The Folding Knife Reread: Chapter Fourteen

The Folding Knife

Last chapter saw the first blood shed of the Vesani invasion of Mavortis. But in Chapter Fourteen, it gets real… the Republic’s army has landed and is getting down to the bloody business of making war. Meanwhile, Basso has a few fights of his own.

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Jun 14 2013 8:00am

The Folding Knife Reread: Chapter Thirteen

KJ Parker The Folding Knife

In the last chapter, we saw the Vesani Republic (soon to be Empire) scaling up for the invasion of Mavortis. Maps, mercenaries and mine ponies, all summoned up by Basso’s grand vision. The only flaw in the great plan? Basso’s own sons.

Nothing a little bribery couldn’t sort out.

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Jun 7 2013 8:00am

The Folding Knife Reread: Chapter Twelve

The Folding Knife

The last chapter had another assassination attempt, but the result wasn’t quite what the killers intended: Basso’s alive, well, and reunited with Bassano. With his dynastic ambitions on track, it’s time for some good ol’ fashioned militarisation!

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May 31 2013 8:00am

The Folding Knife Reread: Chapter Eleven

The Folding Knife

Last chapter was particularly eventful (in the traditionally uneventful way of The Folding Knife). Basso monologued, expounding his grand vision and overarching scheme to Melsuntha and Bassano. The war! The empire! The vast wealth! The Severus dynasty! All, of course, for naught. At the end of the chapter, Lina outfoxed Basso and left him sulking in the dark.

Chapter Eleven spends a lot of time tying up loose ends.

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May 24 2013 8:00am

The Folding Knife Reread: Chapter Ten

The Folding Knife Reread Chapter 10

Well, another long, adventure-packed chapter, but for fear of driving everyone nuts, we’ll try and do it in one go. Now that Aelius is back (with all the Vesani gold in tow), Basso’s got a chance to handle a few domestic problems.

Chapter Ten: A good deal is where both sides make a profit.

The chapter begins with Aelius’ “official” return to the City. Since he’s already had one triumph in the last year, he’s not allowed another. Basso encourages the House to vote Aelius a rather cruel/prestigious honor, The Order of the Headless Spear. It is… demeaning.

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May 17 2013 10:00am

The Folding Knife Reread: Chapter Nine (Part Two)

The Folding Knife Reread Chapter Nine Part Two

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted after last week’s half-chapter. Breaking into the mint, breaking out of the mint, carrying 160,000 kilogrammes of gold back and forth… makes me nostalgic for quieter days of plague and assassination.

This week—and this half-chapter—the Vesani get their revenge. For our intrepid bank robbers have made a terrible mistake. There are only three real blunders, you see. Never get involved involved in a land war in Asia. Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line. And never, ever mess with Basso’s money.

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May 10 2013 10:00am

The Folding Knife Reread: Chapter Nine (Part One)

The Folding Knife Reread Chapter Nine Part One

We’ve had a few quieter chapters—plus a brief intermission for a short story—and a lot of sappy gooey lovey-dovey stuff. But this is fantasy, dammit, enough with the marriage arrangements and give us some swordplay! Heroism! Acts of derring-do!

Chapter Nine: “I did all right.”

On one hand, this is the easiest chapter to summarise:

  1. Thieves steal the Vesani gold
  2. The Vesani get it back

On the other, Chapter Nine is packed with more action and adventure than we’ve had in the previous eight chapters combined. And, arguably, more than we ever see again. So, for just this once (maybe), let’s get all, you know, plotty, and revel in the derring-do.

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May 3 2013 8:00am

The Folding Knife Reread: “One Little Room an Everywhere”

The Folding Knife by KJ Parker Reread One Little Room an Everywhere

Last week, we reached Chapter Eight in The Folding Knife reread and had a chat about Basso’s future plans, marriage and destiny. Chapter Eight felt like a peak—everyone was happy, things were going well—and, (mild spoilers) things start falling apart in Chapter Nine.

To give Basso another seven days of comfort, I thought we’d go off-piste a little bit and discuss one of K.J. Parker’s short stories, “One Little Room an Everywhere.”

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