Gordon Dahlquist contest winner!

The name of our winner has been drawn. Thanks to Bill at Subterranean Press, he will receive copy number 1 of the limited edition of Gordon Dahlquist's The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

Ken Fergason, from Chandler, Arizona, USA (kcf on wotmania.com, malazanempire.com, asoiaf.westeros.org, and many more!)

Thanks to all the participants!:-)

Win a copy of Ian Cameron Esslemont's NIGHT OF KNIVES

Yes, the Malazan bonanza continues!;-)

Don't despair, Erikson's Reaper's Gale (Canada, USA, Europe) will be available in a few more days! As for the interview, I'm expecting Steven's answers any day now.

Thanks to the good folks at Transworld, I have five copies of Ian Cameron Esslemont's Night of Knives for you to win. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The rules are the same as usual. First off, you need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam)gryphonwood.net with the header "NIGHT." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!

Quote of the day

Place had been cleaned out, although there'd been some foodstocks in the cold-rooms. Not a drop of wine or ale, the final proof, as far as she was concerned, that this foreign empire was a mess and useless besides and pretty much worth destroying down to its very last brick.

- SERGEANT HELLIAN (her thoughts on the Empire of Lether), Steven Erikson's Reaper's Gale

Richard Morgan interview

This Q&A is yet another collaboration. My partners in crime for this one were William (www.speculativereviews.blogspot.com), Rob (www.blogorob.blogspot.com) and Adam (www.thewertzone.blogspot.com), each of them a fellow SFF aficionado and reviewer. Between the four of us, methinks we came up with a bunch of interesting questions, and Morgan was very forthcoming with his answers. Which, in the end, is the recipe for a terrific interview!:-)

A Philip K. Dick award-winning author, Richard Morgan's newest, Black Man/Thirteen will soon be released on both sides of the Atlantic. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe. Other than Peter F. Hamilton's upcoming work, Morgan's Black Man/Thirteen might be the only title capable of giving Ian McDonald's Brasyl a run for its money for the title of scifi book of the year. Only time will tell. . .

Though he hasn't been around for a very long time, Richard Morgan already has an impressive backlist:

- Altered Carbon (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Broken Angels (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Woken Furies (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Market Forces (Canada, USA, Europe)

If you haven't had the chance to give Morgan a shot, now would be the perfect opportunity to do so!;-) And for you fans eagerly awaiting his new book, here's something to whet your appetite!


- The advance praise for Black Man/Thirteen has generated quite a buzz among SFF fans. Without giving anything away, what can you tell your readers about this new novel?

Black Man is set in the aftermath of a century of ill-advised and poorly regulated genetic experimentation, where an otherwise fairly successful global (and extra-global) community is struggling to come to terms with the legacy of the human damage done over the previous hundred years. I suppose you could draw a parallel with the way in which we now struggle with the human consequences of previous centuries of colonialism. Carl Marsalis, the black man of the title is one of a series of engineered humans, in his case engineered for combat, who have been modified not so much in any physical aspect as in the way they think and feel. It’s a specialism based on designed aptitude, and the book aims to show, among other things, that the aptitudes required or desired by our society are often very frightening things. In tone, Black Man is quite similar to my Kovacs novels, in that it’s a fairly high velocity crime-and-conspiracy thriller with a noirish lack of obvious good or bad guys – but the book addresses issues that the Kovacs series could only ever really meet obliquely because of the sleeving technology. Simply put, in the Kovacs universe physicality and death are problems that can be sidestepped. In the world of Black Man, as in our own, they aren’t. You have to meet them head on.

- The title change from Black Man to Thirteen for the US market suggests that the USA is still very sensitive to any fiction - even from the SF&F corner of the market - that addresses racial and political issues about the state of the country. How do you feel about the book being changed in this way?

To be honest, I’m not too fussed. Thirteen is a pretty solid thematic summary of the book in its own way, and Black Man wasn’t in any case the original title I had in mind – though I do think it’s very powerful in a way that Thirteen maybe isn’t. In more general terms, I think it’s a shame Del Rey have to worry that the title of a book alone will spark an instant negative response, rather than trust that people will read the book and then judge – but then again, they’re at the sharp end, culturally, and I’m not, so it seems reasonable to be guided by their sense of things. In Europe, the titles of my books are very rarely a direct translation of the original English, and I don’t get upset about that, so it seems a little churlish to start throwing fits about this. The content of Black Man hasn’t changed from one edition to the other, and obviously that’s what really counts.

- I was lucky enough to hear you do a reading from Black Man/Thirteen a couple of summers ago in New York City. Has time blurred my memory, or is the finished product completely different than that previous incarnation? And if so, how did the tale change in the telling?

No, the reading I gave was taken from the chapter introducing us to the character of Sevgi Ertekin, and it’s substantially the same in the finished book as it was then. A bit more stylistically polished, maybe, but otherwise unchanged.

- Black Man/Thirteen has a lot of very powerful things to say about the development of American society over the next century. How did you go about deciding to what extent the USA would 'fall' as it were, and what parts of the country would go in each direction (the South into religious fundamentalism, the North into international cooperation etc)?

Well, I owe the initial inspiration to the “Jesusland” map that appeared on the internet just after the 2004 Presidential elections. That’s when I first started to give the idea any serious thought. But I think it’s become increasingly clear to everyone over the last couple of decades that there are – at least – two very different Americas out there, and in contrast to the European Union, which seems to be subsuming its cultural and political differences in a general (if somewhat smug) general sense of modernity, these different aspects of America don’t seem to be reconciling at all. If anything, they’re more savagely at each other’s throats than ever. So I found myself wondering how it would play out if that savagery was ever genuinely set loose, and what the geo-political consequences would be.

As to the specifics, it wasn’t hard to draw out the current cultural tendencies and extrapolate. The west coast of America is undoubtedly and increasingly becoming attuned to the economic and ethnic rhythms of the Pacific rim. Attitudes to the environment really are diverging as California’s supposedly Republican governor and various politicians in the north eastern states all begin to address the issue of global warming, while the heartland continues to kick against it. Secessionism is alive and well as a political idea across the Deep South. So-called red states receive more in federal aid than they contribute in tax dollars, and still go on cutting their own throats by supporting anti-government politics. New Orleans dies in the mud like any third world disaster area, New York bounces back from 9/11 as a rallying point for the modern western world. And last year I watched a frightening documentary about a college in the US founded by born-again Christians for the expressed purpose of sending young fundamentalist men and women to Washington in a bid to capture the organs of government, and ultimately the Presidency. So while I don’t necessarily believe that America really will split up as envisaged in the book, I think the cultural fault-lines are there for anyone to see.

- Black Man/Thirteen can be seen as many things - allegorical in nature, a political statement, or just a rip-roaring adventure. When you set down to write the book, for what were you aiming and did the target change in the writing?

No, it didn’t. I’ve always felt that as a novelist, your primary function is to entertain, and when I sit down to write, what I’m usually aiming to do is tell a compelling story built around emotionally engaging characters and scenes of high drama. That’s what Black Man was, from the very beginning.

That said, I’d find it almost impossible to write any kind of story if it didn’t have some underlying social and political significance to it, because it just wouldn’t feel realistic. We are social creatures, and politics is simply human behaviour writ large, so it will inevitably inform any realistic narrative. And I’ve never felt that because you’re writing a fast-paced sex-and-violence-driven narrative, you can’t have any kind of intelligent reflection in it. I don’t see any reason why you can’t have your cake and eat it here. Who says you can’t have entertainment that is satisfying both viscerally and intellectually? Why, if you’re an intelligent reader or movie goer, should you have to put up with that kind of polarized approach to story-telling? So yeah, Black Man is and always was intended to offer engagement at all those levels, but equally it will always be up to each individual reader to take what they want from it and leave the rest.

- Black Man/Thirteen is relentlessly anti-racism from the jump, but sexual identity and sexual nature are a bit more jaded. Without getting into too much detail on plot and ideas, I can see the argument for Black Man/Thirteen as a misogynist novel. I can see an equal case for it as a staunchly feminist and even misandrist book. Do you foresee controversy with regards to this subject matter? Was that your intent?

I’m not really bothered by controversy one way or the other – as a writer, I don’t think you can afford to be. If you intend to write anything worth reading, you’re bound to upset someone sooner or later. It doesn’t pay to worry about it, you just have to get on and write, as honestly as you can, and let the readers and critics sort it out for themselves. And to be honest, there’s not much in Black Man, thematically speaking, that hasn’t already been touched on in my earlier books, so I don’t see any substantial storms on the horizon.

As far as the race and gender issues in the book are concerned, it’s worth pointing out that all I’ve done here is use the available genetic science; the idea that race offers any kind of marker for innate genetic differential was demolished conclusively back in 1972 by Richard Lewontin, and these days no-one but a bunch of sad-case white supremacists would give it house room; the evidence on the other hand that there are substantial genetic differences between the sexes at a psychological as well as a physical level is massive and continues to grow. Were it not for a willful and rather childish refusal to face these facts in the world of social sciences, there’d be no more dispute about this now than there is about Lewontin’s work on race.

- Whilst reading Black Man/Thirteen I became convinced it was set in the same world as the Kovacs books, and that the remarkable new technology coming from Mars was from the secret discovery of the alien tech from the later books. I was surprised therefore when in another interview you said they weren't in the same timeline. Can we expect to see further development of the Black Man/Thirteen setting in future books?

Yeah, that was a really cool idea about the Marstech – wish I’d thought of it myself at the time! :-)

In fact, in Black Man I made a concerted effort to get away from the Kovacs universe because, as I said earlier, I wanted to deal with issues the technology in those books allows us to sidestep – that’s to say the inevitability of death and the inescapable prison of our own flesh. So the fact we end up with a colony on Mars in this book as well was purely co-incidental – it’s simply that I think a human presence on Mars is absolutely going to happen, and any book set more than a handful of decades ahead of now is going to come off pretty unrealistic if it doesn’t accept that fact in some shape or form. Of course, your Martian colony doesn’t have to actually get a mention, or more than a passing mention maybe, any more than Australia has to get a mention in a contemporary thriller set in the US; but once I had the colony there as a given, there were just so many fascinating factors and issues to explore, that it ended up a big part of the novel after all.

- With Black Man/Thirteen taking place before your Takeshi Kovacs novels, was the idea for the book gestating all along or did Carl Marsalis come to you after Kovacs?

No, it’s all fresh, apart from the name. The first (and now defunct) novel I ever wrote featured a cop called Darius Marsalis – I was listening to a lot of Branford Marsalis at the time, it was a sort of homage – but Dari Marsalis was nothing like the Carl Marsalis in Black Man.

- Do you truly believe the Alpha Male to be extinct?

That’d be nice, wouldn’t it. :-) But no, they’re still with us. Surplus to requirements in western society, I’d say, but it’s taking them – and us – a long time to notice the fact.

In fact, I’m being a little harsh here. One of the points that the book tries to make is that alpha male tendency alone isn’t really the problem, it’s the tendency the rest of us have to do what those fuckers say that really creates the static. Let’s take a for-instance. If the Cheney gang had jumped up and down and demanded a war in Iraq, and the rest of us had just said “Hell, no – that’s a fucking stupid idea”, well, then we wouldn’t have a war in Iraq, would we? But instead, those assholes managed to whip up such a cloud of bullshit pseudo-patriotic fervour that the war became a foregone conclusion, and we all sleep-walked into it. It’s not the demagogue that’s scary in humans, it’s the mob tendency he can always awaken.

- What do you feel is your strength as a writer/storyteller?

Well, that really isn’t for me to say. What I can say is that my work is largely character driven, with a high octane plot necessarily arising from the sort of characters I’m interested in creating, and the scenes I tend to envisage them in. But whether that’s a strength or not is another matter. Depends on what you want to read, I guess.

- Characters often take a life of their own. Which of your characters did you find the most unpredictable to write about?

In Black Man, almost all of them. I don’t think there’s a single major character in the cast who ended up where I’d expected them to. Some of them didn’t even come close. That’s part of the reason the damn’ thing took so long to write.

Elsewhere in my writing, I think Mike Bryant in Market Forces probably provided me with the most surprises of all my major characters so far – and that’s remarkable, because Market Forces was derived from my own original screenplay, and so written along very clearly delineated plot-lines, far more so than any of the Kovacs books. So the thing is, Bryant ended up exactly where he was always going to, but he astounded me with the amount of sympathy he managed to evoke in me along the way.

- Were there any perceived conventions of the science fiction genre which you wanted to twist or break when you set out each novel?

No, I don’t often think like that. I don’t believe there’s any special merit in breaking a convention per se – you only break it, if it gets in the way of what you want to do; if it doesn’t, you might just as well make use of it.

- Both SF and Fantasy have seen recent injections of elements of noir or thrillers into them. Yourself and Alastair Reynolds have done this for SF, and we've seen Scott Lynch do the same for Fantasy. What do you think draws genre writers to this, and to what extent can we expect these elements to dominate in your forthcoming fantasy work?

An acquaintance of mine, Ali Karim at Shots magazine, once suggested to me that “noir” was, quite simply, the antithesis of “Disney”, and for me that definition has stuck. Disney tells you entertainingly colourful lies about the way the world is – work hard, stay honest, follow your dream, and everything will work out in the end. Its proper audience is small children. Noir speaks to the adult in us and it offers no such shiny assurances. Noir paints the world very much the way it is – life is hard, humans are a dodgy lot, justice is scarce and very costly to manufacture, in the end we’re all gonna die. For any writer who’s interested in writing even faintly realistic fiction, how can all that not appeal?

And yeah, there’ll be a lot of that cropping up in the fantasy novels when they come out. That’s a promise.

- Both British print and screen SF seem to be undergoing very healthy periods at the moment, with many British SF authors in prominence in the genre and movies like Sunshine and TV series like Doctor Who in ascendence. Why do you think this is?

My guess is that it’s because we live increasingly in a world that will only stand interpretation via an SF sensibility. Technology is dragging is into the future at an unrelenting rate. The world our children now take for granted would have been considered pure science fiction even twenty years ago. What previously seemed outlandish and geeky to a mainstream audience is now all too plausible as fiction, and in all probability just around the corner in fact. There’s a generally high level of openness to speculation now, and that can’t fail to feed the genre.

- Several of your books have also been optioned for adaption, but have you considered ever writing a script directly for television or film?

No – I don’t have the temperament for it. To write for TV or movies, you have to be eminently pragmatic, collaborative, and open to compromise. I score pretty low on all of those.

- In other interviews you've remarked on the differences between US/UK publishing and the writers. Are there marked differences from the readers/fans from the US/UK?

Not that I’ve noticed, no. *pause for thought* I suppose you might make a case for there being less genre snobbery in the US, more of a willingness to consider a book on its merits simply as a piece of entertainment, rather than worrying about which genre pigeonhole it occupies first. But even that’s a highly subjective impression, and could easily be disputed on a case by case basis – for instance, the New York Times review of Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake apparently savaged the book for being science fiction (something Atwood herself strenuously denied) before even attempting to actually examine it critically; meanwhile I’ve had a number of very favorable reviews out of the British broadsheets. Make something of that if you can.

To be honest, I think, as with the much-vexed question about US vs UK writers, this is really a case of Martian Canals – a very human desire to see and make patterns, where in fact there is only random detail. For instance, it’s often said that the American SF readership tends towards the right wing, whereas in the UK it tends to be broadly left/liberal. But then the vast majority of the fans I’ve met in the US so far seem to fit pretty cleanly into the left/liberal category. (Seems unlikely they’d enjoy my work otherwise, right?). So maybe it’s just that the conservative element is more vociferous in the US, and that in fact there are any number of Tory-voting SF readers back in Britain, quietly buying and enjoying writers like Peter F. Hamilton and Neil Asher, and simply not bothering to get agitated about leftist scum like me. Could that be right? Anybody’s guess, really.

- If you were going to introduce a reader to your work, which would you offer first? Altered Carbon? Market Forces? Black Widow?

That would depend a lot on the profile of the reader we’re talking about – for someone who’s “not really into science fiction” (read: “hates the stuff with a passion”), Market Forces would be the obvious choice, because it’s the easiest for a non-genre reader to get their head around. There aren’t any major technological paradigm shifts to assimilate, and the characters are dealing, albeit in an extreme fashion, with a set of circumstances most of us in modern western society understand only too well. On the other hand, if this putative reader were a big crime fiction fan, I’d be tempted to suggest Altered Carbon, simply because so much of that book is built on a clearly recognizable noir framework, and I think most crime fans would plug into that framework fairly comfortably, regardless of the futuristic element. And if this reader were a straightforward devotee of SF, then obviously Altered Carbon would also be the best choice.

Black Widow, I think I’d really reserve for those who are specifically comic fans, because we are talking a whole other medium here. It’s true the Widow stuff does carry a number of the same thematic obsessions and stylistic dynamics as my other work, but it is still first and foremost a pretty solid example of the comic-book mainstream, and that’s something many prose readers simply don’t have any interest in at all.

- Honestly, do you believe that the speculative fiction genre will ever come to be recognized as veritable literature? Truth be told, in my opinion there has never been this many good books/series as we have right now, and yet there is still very little respect (not to say none) associated with the genre.

Honestly, I think speculative fiction has already smashed its way pretty conclusively out of that particular ghetto. Look – Cormac McCarthy published his first speculative fiction novel, The Road, last year, and it just made Oprah! I mean, how much more integration into the mainstream do you want? On this side of the Atlantic, Philip Pullman and Susannah Clark have both been taken to the bosom of the literary establishment, and in the US William Gibson is considered a literary Grand Old Man these days. And on the other side of the coin, we have Haruki Murakami and Thomas Pynchon, who both rank comfortably among the world’s most highly regarded living literary practitioners, and who both write what can only be described as speculative fiction. What’s more, Pynchon is very clearly a fan of, and wry borrower from, some very pulpy SF indeed, and Murakami’s last novel, Kafka on the Shore, included scenarios that wouldn’t have looked amiss in The Thing, The X-Files and The Chronicles of Narnia. So as far as the Great Escape of Speculative Fiction is concerned, we’re already over the wall and running.

That said, you can’t expect this to spill over into a general surge in the number of reviews for standard SF or fantasy in the mainstream press, because that just ain’t gonna happen. Critics are human beings, just like everybody else, and that means they have unreasonable prejudices just like everybody else. The response of the New York Times critic to Oryx and Crake that I mentioned earlier proves the point. The knee-jerk reaction of most of the literary establishment where SF is concerned is to couple it instantly with people dressed up as Klingons or Warrior Princesses. It’s unjust, of course, a massive generalization, and a lot of more serious writers in the genre suffer as a result. But we should perhaps bear in mind that there is some solid truth at the heart of this misconception – Star Trek and Star Wars are both massively popular in the science fiction community, and so are any number of other trashy TV shows, movies and book series containing similar elements. There’s nothing actually wrong with any of it, it’s all perfectly acceptable entertainment, and anyway heavy-duty literature is not to everybody’s taste. But are we in the SF community really expecting genre pulp of this sort to be given anything like the same critical weight as the latest novel by Philip Roth or Arundhati Roy? For me at least, that’s just not a reasonable stance.

Yes, there undoubtedly is at the heart of the literary establishment an ingrained and unjust (though very human) snobbery, and yes, this snobbery broadly despises genre fiction which it dismisses as pulp. We are talking here, after all, about an establishment which exists to generate interpretative analysis of fiction, and what’s the point of interpretative analysis if the book you’re talking about is too straightforward to need any. But in this, we in the SF community are often our own worst enemies, because we so frequently refuse to acknowledge our passion for pulp for what it is, and to differentiate intelligently between that and the works of genuine literary merit that the genre can also produce – but in percentage sales terms so rarely does. Yes, there is a road out of the SF ghetto, but the question is do we actually want to take it? Do we want to commit to subtly-textured, humanity-based complex speculative fiction, or do we love our pulp addiction too much to give it up? Or maybe, just maybe, we can love both for what they are, and leave it at that.

- Anything you wish to share with your fans?

Uhmm – hope you like Black Man, hope it’s been worth the wait.

Win a copy of J. R. R. Tolkien's THE CHILDREN OF HÙRIN

Hi guys!

Thanks to the generosity of the folks at HarperCollins Canada, I have a copy of Tolkien's The Children of Hùrin up for grabs! With Alan Lee's illustrations, it's a fine book.:-) For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The rules are the same as usual. First off, you need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam)gryphonwood.net with the header "HURIN." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!

Raymond E. Feist contest winners!

Hi guys!

The names of our five winners have been drawn, and for once we have a bunch of Canucks taking the cake!;-) Each will receive a copy of Feist's newest, Into a Dark Realm, compliments of the good folks at HarperCollins.

The winners are:

- Marc Savoie, from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (Blend on malazanempire.com)

- Michele Marques, from Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada

- Rory Kennedy, from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

- Ed Sinkovits, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

- Don D'Souza, from Scarborough, Ontario, Canada

Thanks to all the participants!

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (April 24th)

In hardcover:

Jim Butcher's White Night is down two positions, ending its second week on the bestseller list at number 7. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Kim Harrison's For a Few Demons More is down ten spots, finishing its fourth week on the charts at number 22. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box is down five positions, ending its ninth week on the NYT list at number 26. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Raymond E. Feist's Into a Dark Realm goes down four spots, finishing its third week on the prestigious list at number 28. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Cormac McCarthy's The Road is down one position, ending its third week on the bestseller list at number 2. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five debuts at number 16. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

KUSHIEL'S SCION contest winners!

Thanks to the kind folks at Warner Books, these two lucky ladies will both receive an autographed hardcover copy of Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Scion. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Stay tuned, for I should make the announcement for the Kushiel's Justice giveaway in the near future. I will have five signed copies of that one for you guys to win. For more info about this title: Canada, USA.

The winners are:

- Laurie L. Daugherty, from San Jose, California, USA

- Joy Clendening, from Tacoma, Washington, USA

Thanks to all the participants!;-)

Ian McDonald contest winners!

The names of our three winners have been drawn, and each will now receive a copy of Ian McDonald's Brasyl, compliments of Pyr. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

I'm currently reading Brasyl and it rocks thus far!

The winners are:

- Klynton Jessup, from Cedar City, Utah, USA (Mordred on wotmania.com)

- Ben Beutler, from Arlington, Massachusetts, USA (scribbler on fantasybookspot.com)

- Jason M. Robertson, from Chicago, Illinois, USA

Thanks to all the participants!;-)

100th Review: Breakaway

Holy crap, this is my 100th book review!;-)

Who would have thought that this blog would still exist and be so popular after more than 2 years!?! Not me, that's a given! Somehow, that which was supposed to be a simple experiment that was meant to die a slow death turned out to reach proportions that continue to baffle me. Heck, the blog has passed the 250, 000th page view plateau earlier this week.

So I owe you guys many thanks for keeping things interesting enough for me to stick around!:-) Here's to another 100 SFF/speculative fiction book reviews!

Joel Shepherd's scifi debut, Crossover (Canada, USA, Europe), took me by complete surprise last fall. To say that I wasn't expecting to enjoy the novel to such a degree would be quite an understatement. Crossover ended up in my Top 10 of 2006, so I had high hopes for its sequel, Breakaway.

Realizing that you should never mess with a good thing, Shepherd builds on what he established in his debut. Once again, the story unfolds on the world of Callay, in the futuristic and verdant capital of Tanusha. The conflict between the progressive League and the conservative Federation serves once more as the political backdrop for this novel. Yet the events depicted in Crossover have generated chaos on a frightening scale, and Callay appears to be moving toward a vote that could lead to its breaking away from the Federation. As terrorist groups and religious fundamentalists resort of deadly violence to influence various political factions, confusion reigns supreme.

As was the case with its predecessor, Breakaway is a character-driven book. Not all Tanushans are happy to have Cassandra Kresnov, a highly advanced experimental android, on their side. Our unlikely heroine finds herself thrust into the Tanushan underground when she becomes involved with the enigmatic Ari Ruben. Adding to her worries, a delegation from the League arrives on the planet and Cassandra is concerned about their true motives.

Shepherd deserves kudos for the manner with which he continues to portray her moral awakening. The supporting cast is also a lot stronger in this sequel, promising a lot of things to come in the last volume of the trilogy.

At times a political thriller and at times an action-packed scifi yarn, Breakaway makes for a very satisfying read. My sole complaint would have to do with the relative lack of closure at the end. Okay, so sue me for not wanting to wait to see what happens next!

The Pyr logo continues to be associated with quality reads.

The final verdict: 7.5/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

Interview with Alan Campbell

The folks at www.elbakin.net have just posted a brand new Q&A with Alan Campbell, author of Scar Night. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Check it out here!

New Jacqueline Carey interview

Hi guys!

As promised, here's the Q&A with Jacqueline. As always, it's a lot of fun and informative!;-) Special thanks to Jake (wotmania.com) for his collaboration on this interview. His review of Kushiel's Justice is on its way. For more info about this title: Canada, USA.

- Without giving anything away, what can you tells your fans about Kushiel's Justice?

It centers around an intense secret love affair between Imriel and his royal cousin Sidonie. Knowing that the realm would be torn apart by the idea of a liaison between the heir to the throne and the son of the greatest traitor in Terre d’Ange’s history, they choose duty over passion, and Imriel weds the Alban princess to whom he’s betrothed. Although Imriel tries to learn to love his new wife, the intensity of his feelings for Sidonie don’t fade; and in Alba, he becomes the target of mysterious forces who seek to use his passion for her to bind him against his will.

In other words, more sex, intrigue, romance and adventure!

- Will you be touring during the course of the spring and summer to promote it? If so, are there any specific dates that have been confirmed as of yet?

I’ll be touring the last two weeks of June. All the confirmed dates are listed on the homepage of my site, www.jacquelinecarey.com, under the Events header on the left side.

- What's the progress report on the third volume? Any tentative title and release date?

It hasn’t been through editing yet, but it’s finished, and my editor and I don’t expect any major revisions. We’re psyched about this one! The working title is Kushiel’s Mercy, and while I don’t have a release date, I imagine it will be summer 2008.

- One of the strengths of your recent novels, and especially in Kushiel’s Justice, is how you’ve developed characters, plot elements, and politics, both personal and national, within the specific legacies of characters and events from your previous Kushiel novels. What has been some of the challenges in developing your stories and characters in this way? What have been some of the benefits?

One of the greatest challenges is that there’s so much backstory, it’s hard to convey it in a way that will bring a new reader up to speed without dragging down the narrative for readers familiar with the original trilogy. By the same token, all that backstory gives me a wealth of existing characters and conflicts on which to draw.

- Have there been any surprises in how these characters, and the story, has developed? Does it (they) have a life of their own, or has the development always followed a very specific plan that you’ve had?

I’m a pretty tight plotter and I keep my characters on a short leash. While they do seem very vibrant and alive to me, I’ve never had a character hijack a story in an unexpected direction. Not to get all omnipotent, but they follow the arc of destiny I’ve ordained for them!

- How does writing Imriel differ from writing Phèdre? Do you ever find yourself viewing events, as you’re developing, through a specifically Phèdre lens?

Imriel has a certain wry self-awareness that’s distinctly his own, and his voice is more simple and direct than Phèdre. Once I’m immersed in a first-person point of view, the lens is pretty well fixed. When I’d check passages from the original trilogy to refresh myself about a particular plot point, it was a little shocking to find myself back in Phèdre’s perspective.

- Everyone is the sum of many experiences and situations, both preceding them and of their own making. It is interesting how you explore this human reality in the character of Imriel. How do his unique situation, station, heritage, and upbringing challenge you as you continue to develop him in your story? How would you like readers to relate to him as a character?

A lot of Imriel’s journey is about overcoming his history. He’s an abuse survivor with a bundle of conflicting desires and impossibly heroic role models; not to mention an infamous mother. While the circumstances are over-the-top – this is epic fantasy, after all – I think a lot of readers can relate to the underlying emotional journey. In many ways, he’s easier to relate to than Phèdre; he’s not a god’s chosen with a great and terrible destiny, he’s just a guy trying to figure out who he is. Although some great and terrible things happen along the way!

- Cover art has become a very hot topic of late. What are your thoughts pertaining to that facet of a novel, and what do you think of the various covers that have graced your books? Do you have a personal favorite?

I guess I’ve been out of the loop; I didn’t know it was a hot topic! By and large, authors don’t have a whole lot of say in cover art, so I don’t spend a great deal of time fretting over it anymore. I’ll help my editor tweak the concept, but ultimately, if everyone at the publisher is happy, I’m good with it. They know what sells better than I do. Did I ever envision Phèdre with bangs? No, but I’ll live. My personal favorite is Kushiel’s Chosen, which I find the most sophisticated of them. Though it could simply be that there are no bangs visible, too.

- Which secondary character do you most enjoy writing about? Which do you find the most challenging?

It varies from book to book, but in Justice, it’s definitely Sidonie. Until now, we’ve never seen anything but her public persona, which is very different from her private one. She has a dry sense of humor I enjoy, and surprisingly few inhibitions. Conversely, the toughest one in this instance is Queen Ysandre. Sidonie’s affair with Imriel ultimately puts her in conflict with her mother. I tried to walk a fine line in conveying Ysandre’s outrage without making her entirely unsympathetic.

- While the fantasy genre is filled with long series, you have always stayed within the boundaries of either a duology or a trilogy. Is there a reason for that? Would you consider writing something longer?

So far, that just seems to be the length of story arc that suits my Muse. I’m certainly open to the possibility of writing a longer series if the inspiration strikes, but I don’t feel the need to do it just for the sake of doing it.

- M. John Harrison recently wrote this post on his blog:

"Every moment of a science fiction story must represent the triumph of writing over worldbuilding.

Worldbuilding is dull. Worldbuilding literalises the urge to invent. Worldbuilding gives an unneccessary permission for acts of writing (indeed, for acts of reading). Worldbuilding numbs the reader’s ability to fulfil their part of the bargain, because it believes that it has to do everything around here if anything is going to get done.

Above all, worldbuilding is not technically neccessary. It is the great clomping foot of nerdism. It is the attempt to exhaustively survey a place that isn’t there. A good writer would never try to do that, even with a place that is there. It isn’t possible, & if it was the results wouldn’t be readable: they would constitute not a book but the biggest library ever built, a hallowed place of dedication & lifelong study. This gives us a clue to the psychological type of the worldbuilder & the worldbuilder’s victim, & makes us very afraid."

Needless to say, a multitude of people disagree with Harrison's postulation. What's your take on Harrison's post and the concept of worldbuilding in general?

I think the point he’s trying to make is buried under hyperbole. Sure, I’ve read books that fit his description, but to dismiss the concept of worldbuilding out of hand is a gross oversimplification. A well-built world that’s alive with just enough detail and provides a backdrop that allows the characters and plot to shine is a joy to visit. And too, there are books in which the worldbuilding is so extraordinary and inventive that the setting almost becomes the protagonist. For me, Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy is a classic example, while a more recent one is China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station.

As far as the idea that writers with an affinity for worldbuilding are a specific psychological type goes, that’s just silly.

- Anything you wish to share with your fans?

Yes, there will be further books in the Kushiels series! However, I’m currently taking a break from Terre d’Ange and working on a completely different project; so different, I’ll be taking on a new identity for this one and writing under a pseudonym. The book’s working title is Santa Olivia. I’m calling it a post-punk desert bordertown fable, with boxing and cute girls in love.

Like I said... different!

THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA limited edition contest winner!

Well, if there's one HUGE collector's item this spring, it's got to be the limited edition of Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora from Subterranean Press! And thanks to their generosity, I had copy number 1 for you guys to win, signed by Scott himself. For more info about the book: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

- Steve Spaulding, from Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA (RaceBannon42 on asoiaf.westeros.org)

Thanks to all the participants!;-)

Raymond E. Feist news

For those who were wondering what projects Feist would tackle at the conclusion of The Darkwar Saga, here's what the author had to say:

Just to let you know, this morning I agreed in principle to a new contract with HarperCollins (Harper/Voyager in the UK; Avon/Eos in the US) for six more books, plus a special project to be discussed.

This will end the Riftwar Cycle. Two books in the Demonwar Saga and three books in the Chaoswar Saga. The sixth book will most likely be the first in a new series set in an entirely new environment.

The special project will in one fashion or another wrap up the Krondor series, but at this point exactly what will be done and how we're doing it hasn't been decided.

In any event, this means I'm going to be writing a little longer and you're going to have to put up with me for a few more years.

Best, R.E.F.

You can now order Steven Erikson's THE LEES OF LAUGHTER'S END

This third Malazan novella comes in two different versions; signed and unsigned. The Lees of Laughter's End is a limited edition work -- 500 signed hardcovers and 1000 unsigned semi-hardcovers. You can order the novella from www.pspublishing.co.uk.

Here is the synopsis:

In the wake of their blissful sojourn in the city of Lamentable Moll, the intrepid sorcerors Bauchelain and Korbal Broach -- along with their newly hired manservant, Emancipor Reese -- have set out on the wide open seas aboard the sturdy Suncurl.

Alas, there's more baggage in the hold than meets the beady eyes of Suncurl's hapless crew, and once on the cursed sea-lane known as Laughter's End -- the Red Road in which flows the blood of an Elder God -- unseemly terrors are prodded awake, to the understated dismay of all.

It is said that it is not the destination that counts, but the journey itself. Such a noble, worthy sentiment. Aye, it is the journey that counts, especially when what counts is horror, murder, mischance and mayhem. For Bauchelain, Korbal Broach and Emancipor Reese, it is of course just one more night on the high seas, on a journey without end -- and that counts for a lot.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (April 17th)

In hardcover:

Jim Butcher's White Night debuts strongly at number 5. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Kim Harrison's For a Few Demons More is down seven spots, ending its third week on the charts at number 12. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box is down six positions, finishing its eighth week on the NYT list at number 21. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Raymond E. Feist's Into a Dark Realm is down two spots, ending its second week on the prestigious list at number 24. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Cormac McCarthy's The Road reaches the number one spot, up one position from last week. This is only the novel's second week on the bestseller list. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Keri Arthur's Dangerous Games is up two spots, ending its second week on the charts at number 15. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The new Tolkien

I've been receiving lots of messages asking me whether or not I'll be reviewing The Children of Hurin any time soon. Because of prior commitments (McDonald's Brasyl and Lynch's Red Seas Under Red Skies, among others) and because of my looming final Bar exams in a couple of weeks, I won't have the opportunity to read it in the near future. Sorry. . .:-)

As for a possible giveaway, I'm working on it as we speak! Don't know if it will happen, though. We should find out soon enough, one way or the other!

For more info about The Children of Hurin: Canada, USA, Europe.

Win a copy of Raymond E. Feist's INTO A DARK REALM

Hi guys!

I have five copies of the North American hardcover edition of Raymond E. Feist's Into a Dark Realm up for grabs, compliments of HarperCollins. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The rules are the same as usual. First off, you need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam)gryphonwood.net with the header "DARK." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!

The week of Pat!;-)

Well, everything still feels surreal to me. Funny how everything has happened so fast since early January, when I made so little headway for the previous seven years or so.

David Forbes had been telling me to query Matt Bialer for months, repeating that Matt was a fan of the blog and would undoubtedly want to see some sample chapters. Did I listen? Of course not! No, for I wanted to complete my non-fiction manuscript, Time of your Life, just so I could submit material from both manuscripts.

Imagine my surprise when Matt requested the entire manuscript for The Eye of the Serpent, claiming to have loved the sample chapters! Imagine my shock when, a few weeks later, I was notified that he wanted to represent me, making me the newest client at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates, Inc!

I was expecting to work with him to strengthen various parts of the narrative before he felt that the manuscript was ready to be shopped around, a process that would indubitably lasts for weeks/months. Imagine my delight when he revealed that my manuscript didn't need any structural editing, and that he was comfortable submitting it in its current form!

Last week, he emailed me to let me know that this coming week would be "the week of Pat." Which brings us to today, the day when The Eye of the Serpent was officially sent out to publishers!;-) It's unbelievable, I know!

After discussing this on the phone a while back, we knew we wanted to pursue simultaneous book deals in the USA and the UK. We talked about editors and publishers that would be a good fit for me and the manuscript. At 250,000 words, The Eye of the Serpent is a big book, and Matt didn't want to send it to everyone at once. So he opted for a first offensive that includes five American and two British targets.

Yep, the wheels are definitely in motion now, no doubt about it! Much like Scott Lynch and Hal Duncan did prior to being published, I will henceforth use the blog to inform you guys of any progress or lack thereof. I am well aware that this might take months, but it's exciting nonetheless!

Wish me luck!;-)

Are you kidding me???

This is the US cover art for Steven Erikson's The Bonehunters.

Unbelievable. Atrocious.

And I thought the US cover art for Gardens of the Moon was as crappy as it got. . .

All of a sudden, Rothfuss' "gay cover" -- as it is now affectionately known -- for The Name of the Wind doesn't look that bad.

If Tor Books wish to increase Erikson's popularity in the USA, covers like these are making it awfully difficult for potential readers to pick up the novel at a bookstore. I mean, give me a break!:-(

Just scroll down a bit to see Transworld's original UK cover art. Interestingly enough, Transworld decided to change the covers of every Malazan book prior to The Bonehunters' paperback release. . .

Win copy number 1 of the limited edition of Gordon Dahlquist's THE GLASS BOOKS OF THE DREAM EATERS

Here is my second giveaway in collaboration with Subterranean Press. The winners of both this one and the Scott Lynch giveaway will be announced at the end of the month.:-)

Once again, thanks to Bill's generosity, here's the prize I have up for grabs: Copy number 1 of Subterranean Press' limited edition of Gordon Dahlquist's The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters (Canada, USA, Europe), plus the rights to purchase the same number for the sequel, provided Subterranean Press do limited editions of the subsequent volume. For more information, check out http://www.subterraneanpress.com/.

The rules are the same as usual. First off, you need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam)gryphonwood.net with the header "GLASS." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!

Carrie Vaughn contest winners!

Thanks to Warner Books, five lucky winners will now get their hands on a Kitty set which includes Kitty and the Midnight Hour, Kitty Goes to Washington and Kitty Takes a Holiday. Carrie Vaughn and her publisher are currently working on a new website, and I'll let you know when it goes live.

The winners are:

- Claire Doyle, from Burnsville, Minnesota, USA

- Rochelle Smith, from New Hope, Minnesota, USA (Rhelle on asoiaf.westeros.org)

- Deborah Jung, from Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

- Eloise Graves, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

- Theresa Lucas, from Roseville, California, USA

Thanks to all the participants!;-)

Malazan contest winners!

Hi there,

The names of our two winners have finally been drawn. These lucky bastards will each get their hands on a complete Malazan paperback set, compliments of Transworld. Hopefully you guys will enjoy the books and then make enough noise so that more and more people will jump on the Steven Erikson bandwagon!;-)

Each set includes:

- Gardens of the Moon (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Deadhouse Gates (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Memories of Ice (Canada, USA, Europe)
- House of Chains (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Midnight Tides (Canada, USA, Europe)
- The Bonehunters (Canada, USA, Europe)

And you might as well pre-order Reaper's Gale, coming out on May 7th in both hardback and trade paperback (Canada, USA, Europe)!:-)

The winners are:

- Jukka Halme, from Helsinki, Finland

- Árpád Szép, from Budapest, Hungary

I'm not certain about this, but Erikson's publicist mentioned that there could be an additional surprise for the two winners. It's all about timing, so I have no idea whether this will happen or not. Suffice to say that your package could include more than those six books. . .

Thanks to all the participants! It's nice to see so much interest in The Malazan Book of the Fallen. Those who didn't win should all click on the links and check out the first two volumes. If they don't suck you into this series, nothing will!;-)

Stay tuned for more!

Quote of the day

Sex without love is a meaningless experience, but as far as meaningless experiences go its pretty damn good!



Since Esslemont's answer to my question concerning the difference between the PS Publishing and the Transworld editions of Night of Knives generated some confusion, here is a little addendum from the author himself:

Dear Pat:

Sorry for any confusion. Almost all the changes have to do with language, really. So, when I said 'another run at the events' I meant this in terms of the writing itself. As to those who have read the original reading this edition -- no, it's certainly not required! -- but I do think that the comparison would be interesting ... . Is it the same experience? Or different?

Yours, Cam.

There you have it!;-)

Interview with Ian Cameron Esslemont

Well, our Malazan bonanza is still going strong!;-)

As we await Steven Erikson's answers to our interview questions, here is an interesting Q&A with the Malazan co-creator, Ian Cameron Esslemont. As most of you know, Transworld will release Night of Knives in a few short weeks. For more info about this title: Europe.

After reading this, I have to admit that I'm really excited about Esslemont's forthcoming Malazan novel, Return of the Crimson Guard! Hopefully I will be granted an early read. . .:-) Not to mention the next one, which will chronicle the Korelri campaign.


- First of all, how exciting is it to realize that NIGHT OF KNIVES is about to be released in hardcover by Transworld? After waiting for so long to see this one get a mass market release, you must be happy that things finally worked out.

It’s just great, is what it is. A long cherished dream come true. Feels unreal. I still sometimes can’t believe it. Maybe I feel this way because right now I’m living in the US and won’t be able to see it on the shelf. If I was in Canada or the UK maybe the whole thing would be playing out differently for me.

- I have to say that NIGHT OF KNIVES sports a pretty nifty cover. I like the fact that they more or less decided to go with the theme that was behind the cover for the PS Publishing edition. Were you consulted at all regarding the cover art?

I love the cover art on both the PS edition and on this Bantam re-issue. I’ve been very lucky so far. I owe a lot to Steve Stone. All the moreso because in fact I had no input whatsoever on the choice (as is pretty typical). I do think though that the original great PS cover went a long way to deciding things.

- Were you asked to make a few adjustments to the narrative, or will this be the exact same version as the one contained within the pages of the PS Publishing edition?

A few changes have been made – but no major plot revisions! So, no, not the same as the PS edition. It’s another run at the events, so to speak. Some may prefer the original vision, some this second re-visioning.

- With both you and Steven releasing a Malazan novel in the span of a few short weeks, are there any plans to do a couple of signings together?

Nothing formalized yet. But should the opportunity arise I’m sure it would happen. In the past whenever we got together things always got out of hand, but we’re older now, more calm; maybe a few books would even get signed.

- Are there any news pertaining to a North American publisher for your Malazan books? Have Tor Books shown any interest to publish your stuff alongside Steven's?

Nothing yet (that I know of). No doubt they’re taking the wait-and-see approach. Think of Steve’s experience – even he had to wait before someone would take on the Malazan material for the US market. Astonishing, now, in hindsight. But there’s so much stuff out there. The fantasy genre is so crowded (which I have to admit is great for all of us, considering the condition of some of the other genres). Nothing’s guaranteed.

- There has been a palpable momentum shift in both THE BONEHUNTERS and REAPER'S GALE. It looks as though the first five volumes were meant to lay the groundwork for the rest of the series, but in the last two we've seen the storylines coming together and we're starting to get an inkling of how many of them are related. Even though you know what will occur, how cool is it to see it all unfolding?

It’s damn cool. I love it. I may be his biggest fan. Sure, I may know the bones but by far the majority of the flesh of what Steve is doing with the Bonehunters, etc, is as new to me as it is to all other readers. In the past I’ve talked about how we sketched out the arc for the Malazan stories but I never wanted to give the impression that I’ve seen what Steve’s doing in all his novels (or he in mine). I’m not sure how to explain it. Perhaps it’s the difference between two people planning out what sort of building could be built in a certain site – how many floors, the different rooms, what facing, etc – then one of the two actually going off and building it! The realized project is of course very different in so many surprising ways ….

- Okay, you thought we'd let you go easy, but enough of that! The question every fan wants me to ask you has to do with how far along are you with RETURN OF THE CRIMSON GUARD? Will you meet your deadline?

Well, you’ll be glad to know that I’ve just handed in the completed run-through to Bantam. What you may not be happy to know is how much I had to leave out to achieve that completed project. It was agonizing, but perhaps all that material might be another novel …. So, it’s in, deadline met. Now we’ll see what the editors at Bantam have to say. Usually these things take a year. So, spring ‘08.

I say it was agonizing but I also enjoyed it immensely. If the readers have half the fun I had with Return it should do well. It’s very different from Knives, much more expansive. In any case, already I’ve exceeded my comfort level for talking about it. Maybe I’m too damned Canadian that way.

- Without giving anything away, what can you tell us of RETURN OF THE CRIMSON GUARD? (Sorry, the good old "read and find out" answer cannot be used! Just give us a little something to whet our appetite!)

The original manuscript for this second novel, like Knives, was actually completed long ago. It spends time with characters such as Greymane, Traveller, Blues, and Skinner – and so I am pleased that many fans of the world have expressed interest in these very characters – ones Steve and I marked out long ago for development.

Briefly, I can say that the mercenary company the Crimson Guard returns to its home and the home of the empire, Quon Tali, where they find the continent torn by a civil war precipitated both by Empress Laseen’s policies and cruel political calculation. They return to fulfill their vow to destroy the empire, but just what that entails becomes one of the complicating issues.

- The fact that Steven has written 7 novels and 3 novellas in the Malazan universe has laid down a lot of groundwork for the saga. Is it harder to write a novel like RETURN ON THE CRIMSON GUARD now, knowing that everything must fit with what has been established by previous Malazan volumes? Or does that existing structure make the process easier?

It makes it all both easier in some regards but harder in others. Basically, he and I both know the major structural turns of any of the novels, but the devil is in the details, as they say. Throwaway lines in any of his or my pieces could derail plans for things further down the way. Such potential will always remain a danger but it should be clear by now that neither of us are the sort to obsess over small continuity issues, we’re interested in the big picture.

- In terms of timeline, will the events chronicled in RETURN OF THE CRIMSON GUARD coincide with the events of MEMORIES OF ICE? Will we see Iron Bars and the other characters introduced in MIDNIGHT TIDES?

- Speaking of characters, will we finally see Prince K'azz D'Avore, Skinner, and others we met in GARDENS OF THE MOON, like Fingers, Cowl and Corporal Blues?

I’ll answer these two questions together. In terms of timeline, RETURN follows BONEHUNTERS relatively closely. Neither Steve nor I are precise in dates and years and such as, thematically, such definitive absolute views of time are actually an artifact of our modern world. Time and dates and such were, and are, interpreted differently in other cultures and in the past. Anyway, so much for that anthropological hobbyhorse. Iron Bars and other characters introduced in earlier works will all be in RETURN – that’s why they were introduced in the first place! Blues and Cowl (and others) were mentioned in GARDENS because Steve and I hoped that, eventually, we would have the opportunity to tell the whole story.

- M. John Harrison recently wrote this post on his blog:

"Every moment of a science fiction story must represent the triumph of writing over worldbuilding.

Worldbuilding is dull. Worldbuilding literalises the urge to invent. Worldbuilding gives an unneccessary permission for acts of writing (indeed, for acts of reading). Worldbuilding numbs the reader’s ability to fulfil their part of the bargain, because it believes that it has to do everything around here if anything is going to get done.

Above all, worldbuilding is not technically neccessary. It is the great clomping foot of nerdism. It is the attempt to exhaustively survey a place that isn’t there. A good writer would never try to do that, even with a place that is there. It isn’t possible, & if it was the results wouldn’t be readable: they would constitute not a book but the biggest library ever built, a hallowed place of dedication & lifelong study. This gives us a clue to the psychological type of the worldbuilder & the worldbuilder’s victim, & makes us very afraid."

Needless to say, a multitude of people disagree with Harrison's postulation. What's your take on Harrison's post and the concept of worldbuilding in general?

Wow, Harrison really gives it to the anvil on that one. My approach would be to define terms here. By “worldbuilding” Harrison seems to mean the lumpish dumping of details in novels, such as when an author spends an entire page listing the agricultural and industrial products of the valley the characters are entering. If this is what he is criticizing (and I think he is) then I am in full agreement.

Character, tension, and intrigue must be foremost to capture the interest of any reader, ie: narrative. The worldbuilding ought to remain in the background. Ideally, the two can be dealt with hand-in-hand and therein lies the art of what good writers do. But then who am I to talk? I’m as guilty as anyone. It’s a bad habit I’m still working on shaking – like a small determined dog that has hold of the cuff of my pants.

For those interested in an example of the impetus of worldbuilding taken to is logical conclusion I refer you to the wonderful parable by Jorge Luis Borges, "Of Exactitude in Science”, in which an empire fixated on exactitude has a gigantic map commissioned whose scale is 1:1.

- We know that the next book in your Malazan sequence will have to do with the Korelri campaign. Greymane, although we've never seen the character yet, has already intrigued a multitude of fans. Are you eager to tackle that next project? Does the book have a tentative working title?

I am very eager. If it proves to be as much fun as RETURN then I’ll certainly get my entertainment dollar out of it. For this one I’m having difficulty in settling on a title. So far I know the world has a style of using “of” or a possessive “’s” in the title and I may be obliged to follow along with that but right now I’m thinking of perhaps STONEWIELDER as a working title – it doesn’t show up on Amazon as a title yet. But it maybe too out of style for the world. I may have to go with a phrase. Anyway, yes, it would deal with the Malazan Korel campaign and, yes, Greymane (who we see in RETURN) will feature prominently.

- Anything else you wish to share with the Malazan fans?

That’s about it except to thank all Malazan fans for their open welcoming reception.

Many thanks to all.

Yours, Ian Cameron Esslemont.