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A Tale of Two Cons

I was talking with my greengrocer about where I was disappearing off to over the Easter weekend, and he listened to the sort of stuff that goes on, raising a skeptical eyebrow. Then he said: “A few years ago, I would have said you were mad, but I caught myself looking at this advert in my tropical fish magazine for a Fish Fair in Germany and thinking whether I could afford to go.” Neon tetras or science fiction: a gathering of disparate people with a shared but niche interest, meeting together for a short but intense period of time to celebrate everything fishy/skiffy, and then go back home where no one understands you and you indulge in your passion either ignored or mocked.

Okay. Let’s talk about the paradigm-shifting elephant in the room from the outset. The internet. I’m pretty certain it’s been as revolutionary for the tropical fish community as it has been for fandom. I remember the first time as a baby scientist that I emailed someone whose paper I’d been reading, back in the early days of JANET, UNIX line commands and glowing green-screen terminals. I wanted some more technical information – before, it’d have been a letter, a formal barrier to communication, slow and time-consuming – now the answer came flashing back from half a world away. Anyone in my tiny specialisation was no further than a short walk down the corridor to the computer room. I was abruptly, immediately, not alone. Read the rest of this entry »

Trudi Canavan takes London by storm!

The lovely Trudi Canavan arrived in London this week, and her UK tour kicked off yesterday in style with a welcome glass of bubbly at the Little, Brown office, where she was ambushed by a flurry of inhouse fans eager for her to sign their copies of her newly published hardback The Rogue (which she did, very graciously) followed by a jampacked signing at Forbidden Planet in London. Here’s how the evening went in photos:

Pre-mayhem pose in Forbidden Planet, just before we let in the hordes:

 Hope your arm doesn’t fall off, Trudi – the queue doesn’t look like going down any time soon . . .

And here’s your first fan:

We’ve never had a request for an author to sign a Kindle before, but last night not one but two superfans were delighted when Trudi agreed to do just that – in permanent silver marker!

A close-up of the freshly autographed Kindle:

Finally, here’s a posh arty pic of Trudi signing a non-digital book:

All in all it was a great evening – over 200 books signed for the extremely happy fans, Trudi was touched and delighted to see everyone, and it was the best possible start to her first major UK and European tour. Trudi is off to Ireland today for some events in Dublin, then back to England next week where she will be meeting fans at Costa Coffee in The Peacock’s Centre, Woking on Monday 9th May at 7pm – tickets are still available from Waterstone’s Woking.  She will also be on twitter for a Waterstone’s ‘twinterview’ at 4pm on Tuesday 10th May.  Just tweet your questions using #tcav and there are signed copies of The Rogue for the best questions!

For a list of all Trudi’s other UK events, just click here or click the link on the right hand side of this page to find the one nearest you.

Ember and Ash – we’re all fired up!

We are burning to tell you (couldn’t resist…) about the launch of Ember and Ash (ANZ | UK | USA) by Aurealis award-winning author Pamela Freeman. This is now available in Australia and New Zealand as well as in the UK and US – and a free extract is available here. You can also read about Freeman’s own reading preferences in fantasy fiction on the Galaxy Bookshop site. Freeman has been credited with writing high quality fantasy that avoids standard fantasy tropes, majoring on clever plotting and genuinely believable characters. And Ember and Ash itself contains rage, thwarted passions and the shadow of dark gods:

Ember’s marriage was to bind two warring people – until her husband-to-be is murdered by a vengeful elemental god who sees peace as a breach of faith. Set on retribution, she enlists the help of Ash, son of a seer. Together they will pit themselves against elementals of fire and ice in a last attempt to end the conflicts that have scarred their past.

Publishers Weekly has already commented that ‘Freeman’s unique setting and compelling characters make for a highly entertaining tale’, we look forward to more reviews in due course! Here is some previous praise for Freeman’s work and although Ember and Ash is a stand alone fantasy, we’ve recently published a fantastic omnibus of her Castings trilogy (ANZ | UK | USA), set in the same world.

Interview with Paolo Bacigalupi – Part 2

In Part 1 of our interview, Hugo and Nebula award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi discussed the background to his stunning debut novel THE WINDUP GIRL and his concerns for a future where fossil fuels have run dry.

In this second instalment, Paolo talks about the practicalities of writing, why he became an author and what the future may hold in terms of his own work.

Perhaps unusually, you share your workspace with another writer – how do you use each other as sounding boards and for help with all the issues that crop up during the writing of a novel?

I think we alternately inspire each other, and get on each other’s nerves, but one of the benefits of having another writer around is that when you get stymied, you can go out for a walk together, and talk over the book, and sometimes that process of talking out loud gets you through the confusion.  I was just recently down in Mexico with another group of writers on a sort of writer’s retreat, and it was quite inspiring. Just being surrounded by a bunch of other people who are cranking out their books and who aggressively focused on building something out of nothing is hugely inspiring. Over two weeks I wrote an astounding number of words, and part of it at least had to do with being around so many other people who were working on books, and for whom there was no question that they were going to make up a story, and that their stories would be read, and that they weren’t crazy to be doing it.  It’s hard for me to have faith in my stories as I work on them. Hard to believe they should be written. Hard to believe that they’re worthwhile. Hard to believe that they aren’t stupid.  Being surrounded by other writers ameliorates that, for me, at least.

Read the rest of this entry »

STORM FRONT by Jim Butcher: a Dresden Files reread

Mark Yon has been a reviewer and web administrator at SFFWorld, one of the world’s biggest genre forum sites, for nearly ten years. He has also been on the David Gemmell Awards organisation committee for the last two years. In this series of rereads, Mark will guide us below through the whole of Jim Butcher’s fabulous Dresden Files series as we count down to the new hardback at the end of July.

And here’s where we commence the series.

Storm Front starts in typical film noir mode. With the sentence ‘I heard the mailman approach my office door, half an hour earlier than usual’, we are introduced to Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. And he’s the only person in Chicago’s director enquiries listed under ‘Wizard’.

However, this Harry is not the ‘Potter’ type. As we see from his advertisement, his stock in trade is: ‘Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Reasonable rates. No love potions, endless purses or other entertainment’. Harry is more of your paranormal dealing, insoluble crime-solving type of guy, and the only wizard used as a consultant by the Chicago Police Special Investigations Department. They need him when dealing with the demons and ghouls that live in the strange other-world of the Nevernever.

Harry is in his typically seedy office when a phone call from Chicago’s SI chief, Lieutenant Karrin Murphy, involves him in a double murder investigation. The male victim is a bodyguard for the local mobster, Johnny Marcone. The other victim is Jennifer Stanton, an escort from the Velvet Room, a gentleman’s club run by one of Chicago’s vampire families.

Things get really interesting when Harry discovers that the murders involve black magic, and a black mage is behind them. And more worryingly, though Harry doesn’t know who it is, the black mage knows him. And is out to get him.

Read the rest of this entry »

Like the Dragon’s Path? Good, because there’s more…

We are very pleased to announce that we have acquired two more books from Daniel Abraham– the as yet untitled books four and five of The Dagger and the Coin. Orbit will be publishing the entire series over the coming years and we are committed to supporting and building on the great success that Daniel has already achieved with the launch of The Dragon’s Path.

Daniel Abraham’s The Dragon’s Path is out in stores now and the rave reviews keep coming in…

“Daniel Abraham’s new novel cements his status as the literary successor to George R. R. Martin.” — Grasping for the Wind

“Comforting yet complex, The Dragon’s Path is a textbook example of how to do meat-and-potatoes fantasy right.”– The A.V. Club

“A pleasure for Abraham’s legion of fans.”— Kirkus

“Prepare to be shocked, startled, and entertained.”— Locus

“With a deft and light hand, Abraham questions and explores the fantasy world assumptions most authors take for granted, telling an enjoyable and genuinely innovative adventure story along the way.”— Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

The Dragon’s Path is a tremendous novel”– A Dribble of Ink

The Dragon’s Path is without a doubt one of the most anticipated fantasy books of the year… Abraham’s latest featured in the ‘Most Anticipated’ lists right up there with the new Abercrombie or Rothfuss.”–LEC Book Reviews

“Daniel Abraham has been a kind of King-in-Waiting in the fantasy genre for the past few years… Now he’s back with an epic new fantasy series, Dagger and Coin, that might indeed put him on the throne.”– Jeff Vandermeer

(A++) A  first superb installment in a series that has established itself already in my top level of current ongoing fantasy series and moreover one I easily see becoming one of my top-top if the promise implied here continues to be fulfilled.”–Fantasy Book Critic

“Even in a year stuffed fat with triple A releases (Abercrombie, Rothfuss, GRRM, et al) The Dragon’s Path is sure to appear on many people’s “Best-Of” lists for 2011. I know it will appearing on mine.”–Literary Musings

“This is a fantastic start to a new series, and I loved it!”–Reading Fairy Tales

Interview with Paolo Bacigalupi – Part 1

Paolo Bacigalupi is an author that needs no introduction: his debut novel THE WINDUP GIRL won a host of awards, including a Hugo and a Nebula. His second book – a young adult novel called SHIP BREAKER – will be published in paperback in July by Orbit’s sister imprint, Atom.

Paolo kindly took some time out from his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his writing.

In this first part, Paolo discusses the inspiration behind THE WINDUP GIRL and the concern he feels about a possible future where fossil fuels have run out.

What was the original inspiration for THE WINDUP GIRL? What was the spark that made you think I have to tell this story?

Honestly, it wasn’t just one thing. I originally wrote a short story that was set in Bangkok but it was so hairy and convoluted that it didn’t work.  A friend of mine commented that if felt so packed with ideas that is was a bit of a dwarf star, and she suggested that I was actually working on a novel. At the time, I was horrified, because I’d had four novels rejected previously, and was pretty determined to only write short stories, ever after.  So I took the most interesting aspect of the world and wrote a different story (one that really was a short story) called “The Calorie Man.” That story utilized some of the ideas about peak oil and agribusiness and GMOs that I was interested in, and that was that. Later, I was looking to write another story, and I’d always found the character of Tan Hock Seng interesting from that original short story, and so I went and wrote  a piece of his back story, and that became “Yellow Card Man.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Feminine Fantasy

Anyone who’s ever read my books will discover, perhaps to their surprise, that I tend not to write heroines.  And sure, this is a habit I’m currently in the process of breaking, but as it’s been such a long-running thing, I figured I’d take this time to talk about why.

Women and fantasy have always had a curious and complicated relationship.  On the one hand, we’re a very large part of the reader’s market, but on the other hand, we tend not to embrace the geekiness in a particularly overt way.  Certain aspects of the genre – zombies and spaceships, mainly – are still considered largely a male-dominated preserve, while others – women having unwise relationships with vampires, for example – rake in the female readers like hungry pigeons to breadcrumbs in the park.  That said, at those few science fiction and fantasy events I’ve been to where writers are invited to mingle en mass, I’m regularly reminded of just how few female writers there are in this genre – or at least, how few turn up for the free crisps and bits of cheese on a stick.  As a girl discovering her innate geek, I did indeed endure those painful teenage years where the idea that I might like science fiction and fantasy books somehow made me outside the accepted norm of youthful female behaviour.  The cliché of the female fantasy fan is hardly a glorious one, often implying pale skin, bad hair, a dress sense worthy of a mortician and quite possibly a thing for Star Trek, only two of which I actually had – the dodgy complexion and bad hair – and that through too much time spent on the London underground and not enough sun.  Even now, when I announce that I am an avid fantasy reader, I often find myself on the receiving end of comments from my non-genre counterparts along the lines of, ‘oh, like elves and stuff?’ and the explanation of why this is a ridiculous way of understanding the genre usually takes more time than we have.  To go that one step further and declare that I’m not just a reader, but I write this stuff, for actual cash as well as glee, tends to produce an expression that I can only really summarise as ‘does not compute’ and usually a hasty retreat from further conversation on the subject.
Read the rest of this entry »

Orbit Podcast Episode 3, with Daniel Abraham

This week Jack Womack chats with Daniel Abraham, author of THE DRAGON’S PATH, which is out now. Subjects covered include economics and fantasy,  warcraft and tradecraft, sympathetic villains, and a writing trick Daniel learned from video-games.

You can listen to the full episode below, or subscribe on itunes or the RSS feed.

How-To Video: Equations of Life Poster

So I have written before about how I love the Simon Morden trilogy that has started hitting shelves. Samuil Petrovitch is my favorite kind of snarling sarcastic anti-hero, and a genius rocket scientist to boot. My kind of guy. And I especially love Orbit for letting me be a bit daring with the cover design and rock these really graphic optical illusion covers.

So what you don’t know is that the initial design was even crazier. I wanted to hide the cover text IN the optical illusions. Slight legibility problem, I admit, for a teeny book cover…but FABULOUS for a poster. And since I know you guys love these how-to videos, I screen-captured my process so you too can make your own Editable-Text Optical Illusion Poster…and melt the retinas of all your friends. After the jump you can even download the Illustrator file I used, and add your own text. Read the rest of this entry »

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