Free Books Galore!

A few weeks back, I posted a list of novels/series which I believe should be more widely read, especially by the new generation of SFF fans. It was my response to all those emails I keep receiving from readers eager to discover new authors. Understandably, some agreed with my selections, while others did not. Some saw fit to add their own selections, and that's as it should be.

The objective behind that list was to give some well-deserved exposure to some works that were no longer talked about as much I would like. And since I haven't received a single email asking my for suggestions since then, I figure the list was comprised of enough series to keep most of you occupied for a little while.

Still, in the back of my mind, I wanted to do something more. So I got on the horn and contacted a few editors to see if they would be interested in giving away these "older" titles. I was pleasantly surprised that most were indeed interested and ran along with the idea!

I've hosted a recent giveaway for Raymond E. Feist's entire Riftwar backlist, and did the same with Guy Gavriel Kay's backlist last year. I've offered R. Scott Bakker's The Prince of Nothing on more than one occasion, and Stephen R. Donaldson's The Gap series was also the prize of a contest not too long ago. I've hosted a giveaway for C. S. Friedman's The Coldfire Trilogy last year as well. Sadly, Katherine Kurtz's Deryni Saga is no longer fully in print, and Margaret Weis' The Star of the Guardians was unavailable.

While I couldn't have the aforementioned series up for grabs, what I do have for you guys to win makes this the biggest giveaway I've ever hosted. Though it's my birthday on Friday, I'm the one handing out presents! Thirty books, to be exact! Who's your daddy now, eh!?!:p
Sorry, but I couldn't waste all the time it would have required me to get you all the amazon links. . .

The first prize pack is a full set of L. E. Modesitt, jr.'s Recluce Saga, courtesy of Tor Books:

- The Magic of Recluce (Canada, USA, Europe)
- The Towers of the Sunset
- The Magic Engineer
- The Order War
- The Death of Chaos
- Fall of Angels
- The Chaos Balance
- The White Order
- Colors of Chaos
- Magi'i of Cyador
- Scion of Cyador
- Wellspring of Chaos
- Ordermaster
- Natural Ordermage

The second prize pack is a full set of Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, courtesy of Daw Books:

- The Dragonbone Chair (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Stone of Farewell
- To Green Angel Tower

The third prize pack is a full set of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's The Deathgate Cycle, courtesy of Bantam Dell:

- Dragonwing (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Elven Star
- Fire Sea
- Serpent Mage
- The Hand of Chaos
- Into the Labyrinth
- The Seventh Gate

The fourth prize pack is a full set of Stephen R. Donaldson's first two Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, courtesy of Del Rey Books:

- Lord Foul's Bane (Canada, USA, Europe)
- The Illearth War
- The Power that Preserves

- The Wounded Land
- The One Tree
- White Gold Wielder

There might be more, but I reckon this is already quite something! I normally encourage everyone to participate, but this time around I would like that only those who have yet to discover these SFF series register for these giveaways. All the books listed here provided me with countless hours of reading pleasure, and I hope you'll enjoy them as much as I did. . .:-)

The rules are the same as usual. First off, for the Recluce contest, you need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "RECLUCE." For the Tad Williams giveaway, the header should be "MEMORY." For the Weis and Hickman contest, the header should be "DEATHGATE." And for the Donaldson giveaway, the header should be "COVENANT." 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 Digital Plague

Having enjoyed Jeff Somers' The Electric Church last summer, I was really curious to see if the author could do it again with the sequel. As was the case with its predecessor, I was immediately sucked into this cyberpunk/noir techno-thriller. And I'm pleased to report that The Digital Plague delivers the goods, and then some!

Let's be honest here: Jeff Somers may never win a Hugo Award. Nevertheless, as long as he cranks up these explosive and entertaining balls to the wall and action-packed near-future thrillers, Somers will continue to rank pretty high on my reading list! Two volumes into the Avery Cates series, and these books are definitely becoming addictive!

Crime has paid off extremely well for the Gunner Avery Cates. Following the events of The Electric Church, he has now become the richest criminal in New York City. However, his fortune and success mean that he has made plenty of enemies. So much so that he can't puzzle out who captured him but couldn't eliminate him before Cates' associates came to his timely rescue. As a matter of course, the notorious Gunner wants revenge for this insult and someone will have to pay. But as he's plotting this violent payback, everyone who has been in contact with him starts to die in a particularly gruesome manner. As a mysterious plague begins to decimate the entire Eastern Seaboard, Cates remains unaffected. Soon, he'll discover that he's the carrier of the virulent virus, and he finds himself in the uncomfortable role of both the executioner and the savior of the entire human race.

The post-apocalyptic worldbuilding doesn't intrude on the tale that is The Digital Plague. Still, Somers' depiction of NYC and Paris gives this novel its unique "flavor."

As was the case with The Electric Church, the characterization is the facet which truly propels this story forward. Once again, the first person narrative filled with witty and dark humor is a joy to follow. Avery Cates might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, and he is a dirty and disreputable scoundrel -- and a killer. And yet, for all his faults and shortcomings, it's well nigh impossible not to root for him. These books wouldn't be nearly as good if told in the third person narrative. Dealing solely with Cates' POV certainly keeps things fun and interesting. Quotes such as this one will keep you smirking and reading on:

I was half blind, covered in my own blood and puke, pumping out death from my
pores, and things were starting to look up.
The Digital Plague is a veritable page-turner. If you're looking for a high-octane, kick-ass science fiction novel with a high body count, look no further. This book is for you! Indeed, The Digital Plague packs a powerful punch, with a few low blows thrown in just for good measure.

The final verdict: 7.75/10

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

Jim Butcher contest winners!

Thanks to the generosity of the folks at Orbit, our two winners will get their hands on the popular Small Favour by Jim Butcher (Canada, USA, Europe).

The winners are:

- Dave Graham, from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom

- Michael Woods, from Kensington, West Australia, Australia (dreamscape on and

Thanks to all the participants!;-)

SpectraPulse contest winner!

Our winner will get his hands on the limited edition issue of SpectraPulse which contains a never-before-seen chapter from George R. R. Martin's A Dance with Dragons (Canada, USA, Europe), courtesy of the folks at Bantam Dell.

The winner is:

- John Billburg, from Berkeley, California, USA (Bronn Stone on

Thanks to all the participants!

Win a copy of Jacqueline Carey's KUSHIEL'S MERCY and a full set of her last trilogy!

I have two copies of Jacqueline Carey's newest, Kushiel's Mercy, for you guys to win, compliments of the kind folks at Warner Books. At least one of them will be autographed by the author. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

In addition, if you have yet to read this latest Kushiel trilogy, I also have a full set up for grabs! Which means that the winner will receive paperback editions of Kushiel's Scion and Kushiel's Justice, as well as a hardcover version of Kushiel's Mercy.

The rules are the same as usual. First off, if you are gunning for a copy of Kushiel's Mercy, you need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "MERCY." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy. However, if you are hoping to get your hands on the whole trilogy, the header must be "KUSHIEL." You CANNOT send entries for both giveaways.

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!

Free Download of Star Wars book from Del Rey

Just received this press release from Del Rey Books:

«As a special gift to STAR WARS fans, Del Rey will be offering Book One in the series, STAR WARS: LEGACY OF THE FORCE: BETRAYAL, as a free downloadable PDF, audio book, and eBook. This promotional offer will run for two weeks, from 9:00 a.m. Tuesday, April 29, until midnight on Tuesday, May 13. The free download, which can be shared, e-mailed or printed, will be available on

A New York Times bestselling series, LEGACY OF THE FORCE introduces readers to a new era in the STAR WARS universe and features the beloved characters from the original trilogy, answering the questions of what happened to Han, Luke and Leia after the conclusion of STAR WARS: Episode VI Return of the Jedi.

Book Nine, the final book in the series, STAR WARS: LEGACY OF THE FORCE: INVINCIBLE, will go on sale as a Del Rey hardcover on May 13. Book Eight, REVELATION, reached the #1 spot on The New York Times paperback bestseller list.

Del Rey has partnered with booksellers to provide the free download.,,,,,, the eBook Store from Sony,, and are making the file available to their customers.

“This giveaway is a great way to introduce the legions of Star Wars fans to our books,” commented Christine Cabello, Deputy Director of Marketing at the Random House Publishing Group, who oversaw the execution of this initiative. “We also expect that it will build awareness and excitement for the on-sale date of the final book in the series, INVINCIBLE.”

Del Rey will be supporting the free download with a major online marketing campaign including an announcement in the STAR WARS e-newsletter, promotion on, and banner advertising.»

Nice way to promote the entire series and the upcoming release of Star Wars: Legacy of the Force: Invincible (Canada, USA, Europe).

Additional NEUROPATH goodies!

Thanks to Simon Spanton and the folks at Orion, I have three finished copies of Scott Bakker's Neuropath up for grabs. For more info about this title: Canada, Europe.

Anyone who has registered for the Neuropath's ARC giveaway is automatically entered into this contest. The Advance Reading Copies will be the grand prizes, and the finished copies will be the runner-up prizes. Which means that six lucky winners will get their hands on this terrific psychological thriller!;-)

How good is that!?!

Ian Cameron Esslemont contest winner!

Well, Malazan fans have been waiting for this announcement for a long, long time. And thanks to Pete and the rest of the PS Publishing crew, our winner will get his hands on Advance Reading Copies of the two-volume limited edition of Ian Cameron Esslemont's Return of the Crimson Guard. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe, or PS Publishing.

The winner is:

- Scott Williams, from Bath, England (Dancer on

Thanks to all the participants!:-)

Things that make you go "hmmm..."

As a member of the Amazon Associates program in Canada, the USA, and the UK, I receive at least 3 or 4 email alerts every week informing me of special offers, yada yada yada. These so-called email alerts are supposed to be "in sync" with the blog's content, which means that they should have something to do with the SFF genres. That's not always the case, but when something looks like it could be of interest to many of you I usually let you all know.

Thanks to Brett who just emailed me, it has just come to my attention that it's science fiction month on What the fuck!?! Excuse me!?! You're sending me emails letting me know that Grand Theft Auto IV will soon be released when my last gaming console was a Sega Genesis, but somehow you don't see fit to let me know that it's science fiction month on the website??? I mean, what sort of stupid dumbasses run this joint???

Curious by nature, Brett wanted to know why I wasn't spreading the word the way I did with the DVD boxsets a few weeks back. By the way, he says that you can also get great deals on non-SFF shows like The Sopranos, Sex in the City, 24, Six Feet Under, and more.

Understandably, I blew a gasket or two when I read Brett's message. Calming down, I perused to realize that it is indeed science fiction month. They call it Amazon Cosmotopia. They have a 4 for 3 book deal going on, and you can get most scifi movies on DVD at around 40% to 50% off. They have quite a selection, including all the Star Trek titles, Star Wars, The Terminator, Aliens, Cloverfield, Bladerunner, Predator, Hellboy, Independence Day, Transformers, and many, many more.

TV shows, toys, gadgets, etc, are all on sale. I tried to find out if these specials will end on April 30th, but there's no info on that. I guess it has to, what with this being science fiction month and all. . .

I checked and there is no such thing going on on and, though the latter habitually offers better deals to begin with. To peruse their selection: Canada, USA, Europe.

Hmmm, I'll probably take advantage of the strength of the Canadian dollar to buy a few DVDs to add to my collection!;-) But I still can't believe that I never received an email alert pertaining to this. . .:-(

The Edge of Reason

Just in case you're not keeping track, this is the second book George R. R. Martin forced me to read for the Dallas Cowboys' loss to the New York Giants during thee NFL playoffs last January. Although I still resent him bitterly for winning that football wager, I must concede that GRRM selected some fine novels for me to read and review.

My only exposure to Melinda Snodgrass' work was with the latest Wild Cards book, so I had no true expectations going in. Needless to say, The Edge of Reason took me by complete surprise. So much so that it's currently the frontrunner for my 2008 Unexpected Surprise Award. Yes, it's that good!

Since time immemorial, a war has been fought between the Old Ones, the forces of magic and religious fanaticism, and the Lumina, an order dedicated to the liberation of the human spirit supporting the cause of reason, understanding, and technology. Richard Oort, an untried cop in the Albuquerque Police Department, is thrust into that eternal conflict when he rescues a girl from inhuman hunters. To his dismay, he discovers that the mysterious teenager, Rhiana, is a sorceress. In the span of a few hours, his faith in God and everything he believes in will be shaken to the core of their fundations. Recruited by the Lumina, Richard's life will take a turn for the worst when the Old Ones and their mortal pawns attempt to either destroy him or subvert him to their cause.

If you are a jaded reader who has seen it all and can't stand yet another "provocative" thriller putting in question the roots of religion and which explores the existence and influence of secret societies, then The Edge of Reason might just be what the doctor ordered. Sure, there are countless works of fiction dealing with the struggle between science and superstition, understanding vs religion, but Melinda Snodgrass used these old ingredients to create a new recipe. The result is a compelling mix of supernatural thriller and historical fantasy that's fresh, smart, fun, insightful, and entertaining.

Though it's a speculative fiction work, the author paced this one like a thriller. Hence, expect relatively short chapters which will keep you turning those pages, eager to find out what happens next.

In the end, it's the characterization which makes this book so special. À la Robin Hobb and Katherine Kurtz, Melinda Snodgrass possesses a subtle human touch which allows the characters to truly come alive. Richard, at first glance a simple cop with a past he's trying to forget, turns out to be a complex and well-drawn character. The same can be said regarding the supporting cast, though to a different degree depending on how much "air time" each character gets. Cross, the homeless god with multiple personalities, is both the comic relief and insightful fellow.

Unlike many of those thrillers that seem to aim to stir up controversy, it appears that Snodgrass was striving to create a well-balanced ensemble of provocative ideas and concepts, fast-paced prose, and deft characterization. All of which makes The Edge of Reason an intelligent yet accessible read. Frankly, I'm a bit surprised to see it labelled as "fantasy," for it could easily transcend the genre if marketed appropriately.

Though the book is pretty much self-contained, it remains the opening chaper for a vaster tale. Snodgrass leaves the door open for sequels, so let's hope that she writes a bit faster than her good friend GRRM. . .

Even if its primary aim is not to be controversial just for the sake of being controversial, The Edge of Reason is not likely to score very high on that ridiculous Christian Morality Meter found on The Christian Guide to Fantasy. . .

Hopefully this book won't fly too low under the radar, as it's a quality read.

The final verdict: 7.75/10

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

Big video game bonanza on Amazon!

Just received an email alert regarding some Amazon specials for assorted video games and related stuff. Now, my gamer days are behind me and have been for well over a decade. Which means that I can't really say whether or not saving up to 30% on various titles is good or nothing to write home about.

All I know is that, according to the information I have received, there are sales on a panoply of games for all platforms: Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii, Sony PSP, Nintendo DS, PC and Mac computers, and Xbox 360. Video games such as Grand Theft Auto IV, Age of Conan: Collector's Edition, Assassin's Creed: Director's Cut, Mario Kart Wii, Call of Duty 4, and more.

Check it out on,, and

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (April 22nd)

In hardcover:

Jim Butcher's Small Favor is down three positions, ending its second week on the charts at number 5. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Raymond E. Feist's Wrath of a Mad God is down nine spots, finishing its third week on the NYT list at number 29. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind is up an impressive thirteen positions, ending its second week on the bestseller list at number 11. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Karen Chance's Embrace the Night is down nine spots, finishing its second week on the prestigious list at number 15. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Sherrilyn Kenyon's Devil May Cry debuts at number 18. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box debuts at number 26. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

David Anthony Durham contest winners!

Each of our five lucky winners will get their hands on a copy of David Anthony Durham's Acacia, compliments of Transworld.

The winners are:

- Christophe, from La Ville du Bois, France (FuzzBunneh on

- Andrea Mitchell, from Christchurch, New Zealand

- Anna Charsoula, from Thessaloniki, Greece
- Lucas Burden, from Jong-Ho City, Taiwan

- Gerard Drijfhout, from Ede, The Netherlands

Thanks to all the participants, and stay tuned for a lot more!;-)

Guy Gavriel Kay contest winners!

Thanks to the generosity of Penguin Books, our three winners will get their hands on a signed copy of the trade paperback edition of Guy Gavriel Kay's Beyond this Dark House.

The winners are:

- Ben Kormos, from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

- Michael Scott, from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (A'Karonys on

- Pierre-Yves Asselin, from Thurso, Québec, Canada

Thanks to all the participants!

Win a copy of Melinda Snodgrass' THE EDGE OF REASON

Thanks to the kind folks at Tor Books, I have three copies of Melinda Snodgrass' The Edge of Reason for you guys to win. This is another GRRM-recommended read, and I encourage everyone to give it a shot! I should post my review in the near future. 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) with the header "EDGE." 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

Speak not to me of that upstart. I will bring him to heel soon enough.

- DRACONUS, referring to Anomander Rake, Return of the Crimson Guard.
Just read the excerpt contained in the paperback version of Ian Cameron Esslemont's Night of Knives, and I can't wait!;-)

Must-read article by Richard Morgan

Many thanks to Simon Spanton for providing the link!

Here's a brief excerpt:

I guess in the end what I'm saying is that it's about growing up. Not growing up in the sense of writing or reading "grown up" literature (whatever that actually is), or pretending -- on some Eastercon panel or messageboard somewhere -- to cast off a specious immaturity of prior literary taste in favour of more weighty and worthwhile prose. No, I'm talking about growing up in the sense of seeing both the genre and the wider world in the way they are instead of the way we'd like them to be. I'm talking about making conscious choices in what we write, and then taking responsibility for those choices, instead of railing against some crudely confected other that's spoiling everything for us. This is, above all, about getting a sense of perspective on what we do for a living, about accepting our genre as a whole, the way the crime guys accept theirs; accepting it has facets and seeing them that way, instead of constantly turning them into factions; accepting that just because you don't get off on a particular strain of SF&F, doesn't mean other people don't, can't or shouldn't. This is about accepting, as Iain Banks once said, that when all is said and done, we are all a part of the entertainment industry.

Is that so terrible to admit? It shouldn't be. Entertainment looks set to become the major industry of the twenty first century. It seeps into everything we are and do; it's as powerful a globalizing force as anything else in play right now. Not a bad place to be working, really. All we have to do is keep our perspective; shrug off that pitifully self-important delusion that we're locked in some sort of titanic struggle for the cultural soul of humanity against hostile elites or witless hordes or evil marketing empires. Let's save that kind of hyperbole for (some of) our fiction. Let's get a fucking life, people, let's get over ourselves and start enjoying this ride for its own sake -- rather than constantly glowering around with militant disapproval at our fellow passengers further down the car, all on account of what they're reading.

You know how I feel about all that elitist bullshit, so I found myself agreeing with Morgan on this. Read the entire article here.

Coming attractions

Hey guys!

Here's what I've got cooking up for you for the next couple of weeks. . .

Book Reviews

Well, I'm almost done with Melinda Snodgrass' The Edge of Reason (Canada, USA, Europe), which is very good thus far. This was the second title GRRM "forced" me to read for losing that NFL wager. Yeah, it still hurts deep inside. . .

Following that, I'll most likely be reading Jeff Somers' The Digital Plague (Canada, USA, Europe) and David Louis Edelman's Infoquake (Canada, USA, Europe). And since it got your vote last week, China Miéville's Perdido Street Station (Canada, USA, Europe) should come along in the near future.

But now that Pete from PS Publishing has put those Ian Cameron Esslemont's Return of the Crimson Guard ARCS (Canada, USA, Europe, and PS Publishing) in the mail for me, RotCG will trump whatever I'm reading when they show show in my mailbox. The same can be said of Steven Erikson's Toll the Hounds (Canada, USA, Europe) page proofs, as soon as SE's editor sends them my way. I need to get my Malazan fix, sorry guys!:p

Many of you have asked when I would read the eagerly anticipated The Steel Remains (Canada, USA, Europe) by Richard Morgan. As I've told Simon Spanton, I'll wait for the slew of blogger reviews to pass before I tackle this novel. Whether I'll get to read it before I fly away to Eastern Europe, or if it will have to await my return in late July, I have no idea at the moment. . .

With my birthday next week, I'm realizing that there is not that much time left before my trip, so I'm not sure just how many books I'll have the opportunity to read and review before I leave. As to what I'm bringing with me, well I'm looking for "phat" paperbacks or trade paperbacks that will keep me occupied during those unending train/bus/ferry rides. As we speak, the two frontrunners are Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon and Susanna Clarke' Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Worried about dead weight which must be carried around, I will only bring two or three books. . .


I've got interviews with both Terry Brooks and Jack Whyte in the pipeline, but I'm not sure if/when they'll become a reality.

Depending on the Q&As with Brian Ruckley which will creep up, I might also interview the author.

Adam (werthead) and I will also be chatting with Joe Abercrombie soon, so stay tuned for that!

I will certainly try to corner Ian Cameron Esslemont for a Q&A once I'm done with Return of the Crimson Guard.

To promote both the paperback release of Infoquake and the trade paperback release of Multireal (Canada, USA, Europe), provided I enjoy the former enough to warrant an interview, I might try to set up a chat with David Louis Edelman. But if that takes place, it will probably happen upon my return from the Old Countries. . .
Look for an interview with Richard Morgan as we get closer to the official release of his fantasy debut. . .


Though we're not exactly certain when this one will occur, there will be a giveaway for what is shaping up to be a gorgeous Subterranean Press limited edition of Steven Erikson's Gardens of the Moon (Canada, USA, Europe and

Regarding The Malazan Book of the Fallen, there will also be a contest for Erikson's Toll the Hounds. And since the author will be doing a promo tour in the UK, I've been told that the prize copies could well be autographed this time around!;-) Look for a giveaway for the mass market paperback edition of Esslemont's Night of Knives as well.

In collaboration with Solaris, there will be a giveaway for the mass market paperback edition of David Louis Edelman's Infoquake. I have to confirm with Pyr, but I believe that there will also be one for the sequel, Multireal.

Keep an eye out for a special giveaway regarding Richard Morgan's The Steel Remains. This one should please a lot of you. . .;-)

Coming soon will be a contest for Melinda Snodgrass' The Edge of Reason. Look for it in the next couple of days. . . The same thing goes for additional goodies concerning Bakker's Neuropath (Canada, Europe).

To everyone who was excited by the Todd Lockwood giveaway, you'll be thrilled to learn that there will be a similar contest with Michael Komarck! And I'm now discussing the possibility to do the same with Stephan Martiniere. Stay tuned for more on that!:-)

Oh, and I might have a set of page proofs of George R. R. Martin's A Dance with Dragons (Canada, USA, Europe) for you guys to win. NOT!:p You wish, eh!?!

The Big Trip

I know that some of you have been asking for more info about my coming to Europe, and I'll let you know as soon as the itinerary is set in stone. If we have a chance to meet and have a few drinks, so much the better! All I know for sure at the moment is that I'll be leaving Montreal on June 14th. I'm flying to Krakow, Poland, via Munich, Germany. I'll be landing in Krakow on June 15th, and I'm going to spend about 4 days there.

I'll be traveling around for a little over a month, all in all. Right now, I'm trying to fit in a side-trip to London, England, to attend the Steven Erikson book signing on July 5th and go boozing with the BwB. Don't know yet if it will become a reality. It would be nice, especially since I would try to hook up with my contacts at Gollancz, Orbit, Voyager and Transworld.

More on that later. . .

Hockey Riot in Montreal

The Montreal Canadiens' win over the Boston Bruins in the crucial game 7 last night should have been a cause for celebration. And it was -- at the beginning. . .

Then mayhem ensued.:-( Click on the link to read the article and watch the video.

I mean, we had all the reasons in the world to celebrate, what with the way the Habs played to eliminated their archrivals. But this is so stupid. . .

Go Habs Go!

Win a copy of Jeff Somers' THE DIGITAL PLAGUE

I was pleasantly surprised by Jeff Somers' The Electric Church during my trip to NYC and DC last summer, so I'm eager to give the sequel a shot! In an attempt to spread the joy, I have two copies of The Digital Plague up for grabs, compliments of Orbit. 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) with the header "PLAGUE." 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!

Pre-order Steven Erikson's TOLL THE HOUNDS at 40% off!

Toll the Hounds will be Erikson's first veritable hardback release, with the trade paperback edition coming out next fall. Some fans have been grumbling about that, what with the hardcover edition being more expensive.

Well, I've been keeping an eye on all three Amazon sites, and you can now pre-order Toll the Hounds for up to 40% off. That should make it easier on everyone's wallet and bank account! Check it out: Canada, USA, Europe.

As for the mass market release of Ian Cameron Esslemont's Return of the Crimson Guard, so far has the best deal at 37% off. Check it out: Canada, USA, Europe. Pete from PS Publishing should be sending me the ARCs of the special edition in the next couple of days. Can't wait to read both Malazan offerings!;-)

For those who needed confirmation. . .

R. Scott Bakker emailed me to let me know that one of the predictions contained in his psychological thriller Neuropath (Canada, Europe) has just been verified. He realizes that he should be pleased, but he's just freaked out.

Read the article here.

And be sure to read Neuropath!


Brian Ruckley's Winterbirth (Canada, USA, Europe) generated some mixed reactions among SFF readers. It's one of those works which people either love or hate. Lucky for me, Winterbirth ended up being one of my favorite reads of 2006. Which means that I had high hopes for the sequel, Bloodheir.

Ruckley fans will be pleased to learn that the author delivers once again in this second volume of The Godless World trilogy. Hence, if you enjoyed Winterbirth, chances are that you won't be disappointed by Bloodheir. By the same token, if you were put off by the first volume, its successor follows the various storylines with the same style and tone. Thus, it is unlikely that such readers will fancy Ruckley's latest.

I remember first picking up Winterbirth because Brian Ruckley's writing style was being compared to that of George R. R. Martin. Storywise, Ruckley's series has nothing in common with GRRM's ASOIAF. Nevertheless, it appears that both authors share a predilection for dark, gritty and uncompromising fantasy epics. And like Martin, Ruckley is decidedly not averse to killing off major characters.

The Black Road has overrun the north. Emboldened by their crushing victory over the Lannis Blood, they are pushing south in order to destroy the True Bloods and reclaim their rightful place in the world. Gryvan oc Haig, Thane of Thanes, sends his son, the Bloodheir Aewult, at the head of an army to deal with the invaders. Little do they know that the Black Road's forces have been swelled by the largest mobilization of Inkallim troops in memory, and they will stop at nothing to reach the end of their Road.

Amid all that chaos, having survived crucifixion upon the White Owl Kyrinin's Breaking Stone, Aeglyss underwent a transformation. Na'kyrim everywhere can now sense the foul burgeoning of his powers in the Shared, and even the dormant Anain are stirring, roused by the realization of the menace posed by Aeglyss. As war erupts, the na'kyrim falls in the throes of madness, and he uses his powers to twist people and events to serve his own dark desires.

Bloodheir is another fine example of worldbuilding, even though Ruckley continues to tease us with glimpses of the past as the plotlines progress. Although magic plays a somewhat bigger role in this sequel, it remains subdued to some extent. I don't know if Katherine Kurtz's Deryni were an inspiration, but the na'kyrim are similar in a variety of ways.

I found that the characterization was the most improved aspect of Bloodheir. There is definite character growth where Orisian and Anyara are concerned. We learn more about characters such as Rothe, Taim Narran, the Shadowhand, Kanin and Wain of the Horin-Gyre Blood, and more. Aeglyss is a complete basket case, which makes him an unpredictable power player in this tale.

Once more, the presence of the Black Road and their creed in a godless environment adds another dimension to the story. And the Inkallim, those religious fundamentalists with their own agenda in this conflict, remain my favorite facet of this series.

As the middle book in a trilogy, Bloodheir serves to fill the gap between Winterbirth and the final installment. As such, there isn't much in terms of resolution. Nonetheless, the storylines progress nicely, and after a few twist and turns this novel sets the stage for what should be an excellent finale.

Bloodheir is a worthy sequel to Winterbirth and a very good read in its own right. Without the shadow of a doubt, it should be one of the fantasy books to read in 2008.

The final verdict: 8/10

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

Patrick Rothfuss contest winners!

Thanks to the generosity of the folks at Daw Books, our five winners will each get their hands on Patrick Rothfuss fantasy debut and now New York Times Bestseller, The Name of the Wind (Canada, USA, Europe).

The winners are:

- Jeff Avery, from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

- Stavros Nikolousou, from Corinth, Greece

- Bill Brooks, from Detroit, Michigan, USA

- François Marleau, Lyon, France

- William MacRae, from Manchester, England

Thanks to all the participants!;-)

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (April 15th)

In hardcover:

Jim Butcher's Small Favor debuts with a bang at number 2. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Raymond E. Feist's Wrath of a Mad God is down four positions, ending its second week on the charts at number 20. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Kelley Armstrong's Personal Demon is down six spots, finishing its second week at number 24. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Kim Harrison's The Outlaw Demon Wails is down ten positions, ending its sixth week on the NYT list at number 35. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Karen Chance's Embrace the Night debuts at number 6. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind debuts at number 24. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Ilona Andrews' Magic Burns debuts at number 32. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Kay Kenyon interview

After reading Kenyon's Bright of the Sky (Canada, USA, Europe), I knew that an interview was in order. And with A World Too Near (Canada, USA, Europe) hot of the press, the timing was perfect.

My partner in crime for this Q&A was, once again, Rob Bedford from It's a sad world we live in when Rob and I don't always see eye to eye where certain books are concerned, but at least we still agree on Kay Kenyon!;-)

Many thanks to the folks at Pyr for helping us put this one together, and thanks to the author for accepting the invitation!

- Without giving anything away, what can you tell potential readers about The Entire and the Rose?

It’s the story of Titus Quinn’s odyssey through a strange alien empire. Titus is in search of his lost wife and daughter, but is soon diverted to the larger conflict between our cosmos (the Rose) and the new one (the Entire.). The Entire is a lost realm, the seat of an ancient civilization. Artificially created, the Entire is a tunnel universe burrowing through the Rose. The milieu has a decided fantasy feel, as does the overarching quest theme. You’ll encounter immense fortresses, floating gas bag creatures used for transport, psi-enabled war mounts, and prophetic, half-mad river pilots. Some of the stranger aspects are the Entire’s spacetime folding river that allows travel to the far reaches of the universe, a sky that is permanently on fire, and storm walls that form the sides of the tunnel and are powered by . . . but you said not to give anything away. If this all sounds epic, I would say, absolutely. But it is also a deeply emotional story. My first hope in writing this series was to portray a charismatic hero, someone believable and flawed, that readers could root for. Someone who wasn’t too hip or cynical to engage with big issues and sacrifice himself if necessary. I enjoy noir cool as much as the next reader, but sometimes these folks are hard to live with through a long novel—not to mention four!

- Bright of the Sky garnered a slew of positive reviews. How has A World Too Near been received thus far?

Well, it’s early yet, but the reception started off with a starred review in Publishers Weekly. Sci Fi Weekly found the characters still “fascinatingly complex,” and said the creation of the Entire “seems inexhaustible.” Rob Bedford of SFFWorld.Com said he was “unable to stop reading.” I’ve taken a few knocks for pacing and withholding some details of the milieu, but I haven’t had a bad review yet.

- The Entire and the Rose seems to be a "breakout" series/storyline for you, despite having received a positive response on your earlier books. What do you think helped to make Bright of the Sky such a success?

Darn, I was hoping you could tell me. I mean, writers usually have at least peripheral vision directed at the marketplace. They might well ask themselves: Why did such-and-such a book tank so badly that I had to go to World Con disguised as a weasel? So, I have no clue why this one is doing so well. Yet, I will answer as though I did: Every reviewer has emphasized the scope and originality of the world building in the milieu of the Entire. To quote one reviewer, the Entire knocked his socks off. What was lucky for me was how the milieu went on to suggest creatures and characters who are memorable, I believe, in their own right.

- What can readers expect from the two forthcoming sequels?

Sydney’s fortunes change drastically, placing her in a new position with mind-bending dilemmas. For those who are avidly following her story, hang on. The Tarig are challenged in a way they could not conceive, causing a massive confrontation that reverses everything. Characters that you were enjoying hating show new sides; some rise from the dead. Su Bei’s scholarly pursuits throw a beloved character into an unguessed-at realm, and the Paion step out of the shadows. Titus Quinn’s heart is compromised, and then put to torture, and then . . . but please buy City Without End, instead. (Feb. 2009)

- What's the progress report pertaining to the third volume, City Without End?

Submitted to Pyr. Publication date for hardcover, February ’09. The artwork is stunning, and Stephan Martiniere recently won the Silver Spectrum Award for it.

- What was the spark that generated the idea which drove you to write The Entire and the Rose in the first place?

I asked myself how I could write an epic sf/f story that would have a very big stage and yet not be inter-galactic, employing the tired mechanisms of FTL travel or quantum teleportation. A parallel universe would be only a partial answer: how do they get around? I thought, then, of a tunnel universe, a geographically contiguous, yet infinite place. This is too bizarre, I thought. It’ll never work. I immediately started writing it.

- What were some of your inspirations for the various creatures, races, customs and cultures, as well as the detailed worldbuilding?

Well, ancient Chinese, obviously, for the ruling bureaucracy. Inspirations for some of the alien species were C. J. Cherryh, Larry Niven, and Vernor Vinge. I came to see how my subconscious did riffs on some cultural aspects of Dune. I absolutely deny that the Gond are related to Jabba the Hutt (but late at night I worry about it.) I think the Entire is unique as a setting, but I was inspired by what the authors could compel us to believe in such books as Ringworld, Riverworld, and Hyperion.
- What do you feel is your strength as a writer/storyteller?

The emotional lives of characters revealed in bizarre landscapes.

- Were there any perceived conventions of the science fiction/fantasy genre which you wanted to twist or break when you set out to write The Entire and the Rose?

Well, first off, I wanted to celebrate some of the traditions, and make the story an unabashed fantasy quest. Insofar as the story has science fiction underpinnings, I did twist the usual space opera protagonist, making Titus Quinn deeply divided in his loyalties. Through the eyes of his daughter, Sydney, we get an unsparing view of Titus. Her deeply ambivalent feelings for Titus highlight his dilemmas and explore the question of how it’s possible to do good when all actions will create suffering. I wanted to turn a Flash Gordon concept into the thinking reader’s adventure novel. It’s been done in our field, but only by writers I’m not brazen enough to compare myself to. As the story proceeded, I wanted to create fault lines in the reader’s assumptions about the Tarig overlords, who by tradition we want to despise. A pervasive goal was to give each character their value as a sentient being. This emphasis on character is also, in my view, a departure from the classic adventure tale.
- When the idea for the series/story first came to you, was it your intention to sort of marry the sensibilities of fantasy with hard science fiction concepts? A Planetary Romance for the 21st Century?

Yes. I wanted a fantasy feel with an understructure of presumed science as in, say, Riverworld and Dune. The first two books in The Entire and The Rose, especially, are classic quest tales embedded in science so advanced that we give up asking about it. I do play with the science underpinnings, but in the end, the experience of reading this story is surely fantasy, at least for the episodes in the Entire (the majority.)

- We as readers are two books into the series and you must be on about the third book in a writing sense. How well do you feel you know the characters? Do you think Titus will continue to surprise you as he's surprised readers?

Titus is the one that I know the best and the least. He suffers from a clash of duty and intensely personal choices. The dilemmas drive his reactions. As the dilemmas keep building, I’m not always sure what he’ll do, except that he’ll try to do the right thing. Some readers have questioned whether he does always choose the best thing. To which I’ve been responding, “Well, what would you have done?” Dilemmas, see?

- Given the choice, would you take a New York Times bestseller, or a Hugo Award? Why, exactly?

Well, how many weeks on the NY Times bestseller list? Guess I can be bought, but how lovely to appeal to a broad spectrum of readers. That’s what every writer hopes for: to tell a story that many people find memorable. What would feel cheap to me is if the sf/f community found my NY Times bestseller derivative and bland. I’d so much rather bring good sf/f to a wider audience than to abandon the sense of wonder and originality that our community values. See, my heart is good! So come on, guys, I can’t have a Hugo, then?

- The fact that there is a website dedicated to your work is an indication that interaction with your readers is important to you as an author. How special is it to have the chance to interact directly with your fans?

It’s great fun to hear people’s reaction to this story. They’ve shared this imaginary world, and believed in fictional characters. When you think about it, this is a pretty strange mental and cultural phenomenon. It’s all made up, and yet we’re discussing it as though it’s real. There is an odd meta-pleasure in that, almost as though we’ve collectively pulled one over on reality. I’d like to encourage people to interact with me; I don’t always need praise; challenges and questions have already given me a lot to think about. I’d like to hear reactions from readers at my blog, or through my website,

- 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 magnificent covers that grace your books?

I hope that representational cover artwork is not going to vanish from our field. It’s a sf/f tradition, and one that I particularly love. It’s married to our highly imaginative literature in a way that does not pertain so much to mysteries, for example. Stephan Martiniere’s glorious covers for the first two books have frankly, all by themselves, made my year. The series is so deeply visual. I thought I knew exactly how it looked. Then when I saw his covers, I thought: no, this is it. But you would never take a space opera and give it just a big text treatment—that would be like dancing the tango in sweats. It just doesn’t go. I hope we keep experimenting with cover art but I also hope we don’t start acting ashamed of our genre’s fantastical side.

- More and more, authors/editors/publicists/agents are discovering the potential of all the SFF blogs/websites/message boards on the internet. Do you keep an eye on what's being discussed out there, especially if it concerns you? Or is it too much of a distraction?

This is a constant push-pull. I’m addicted to certain websites and blogs. But when I have looming writing deadlines, I have to go on a web diet, or the writing time seeps away. Alas, I am a slow writer. I deeply envy people who are not. I don’t chase my name on the web; the work is narcissistic enough! I use the internet to get outside of myself.

- How has it been working with PYR, as a relatively new imprint?

I am extremely happy at Pyr. I’ve been involved in production and marketing decisions (cover art, e.g.) and am kept in the loop on issues large and small. I have to say that Pyr seems to offer the best of big press and small press. This is my second experience with an extremely talented editor. Lou Anders at Pyr (and parent company Prometheus Books) has hugely supported this series in traditional paths and in the internet landscape. Personally, I find Lou Anders’ enthusiasm contagious and enormously reassuring. Plus, he answers emails right away.

- 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.

No. People just don’t get it. It’s the height of ignorance and snobbery. We are judged by the worst that we produce, so we have some responsibility, here. But not much. Despite all the dreary and pretentious literary novels out there, we are accused of having warts. Literary snobbishness is despicable one-upmanship that would be laughable if I could laugh about something so dark, evil, and just plain annoying.

- Anything else you wish to share with your fans?

Stop worrying about who I’m going to kill off. Don’t put these suggestions in my mind! I was trying to be nicer in these books.