“It is the greatest gift of my people, that we can bring our dreams to life for other eyes. Fantasy is a tool; like any other tool, it may be used poorly or well. At its best, fantasy reveals truths that cannot be shown any other way.”
– Sören Kristiaan Hansen, aka Deliann Mithondionne, the Changeling Prince (BLADE OF TYSHALLE, book two of the Acts of Caine)
A few years before I was born, an American journalist named Edward R. Murrow hosted a program on the CBS Radio Network called This I Believe. Each episode only lasted five minutes, of which three and a half were given over to an essay by a different contributor, each speaking about the specific personal convictions that they felt gave their lives meaning. In the generally terrifying atmosphere of the early Cold War, this program was the closest the 1950s ever got to a viral video. It was the most listened-to English-language program in history at that time, and it spawned books, and records, and other radio programs – some of which continue to this day.
When the good folk at Orbit decided to pick up my Acts of Caine novels, they asked me to contribute a blog-post-slash-promotional-essay or two for their website. I dislike writing about myself in any kind of biographical sense; if I thought that where I was born, my family, education, hobbies and pets and private life generally were any of your business, I’d write memoirs, not heroic fantasy.
I also have very little interest in commenting on my stories. My comments are the stories. Now – despite my dislike – I’ve done both of these things, and reasonably often, because that’s what people keep telling me I have to do to promote my books. The Good Folk, however, gave me license to write whatever I want.
I want to write about what I believe.
Most of what follows will be about story, because I make stories the same way I breathe: even to pause requires an act of will, and if I ever stop, it’s because I’m dead.
So… This I believe:
Not all honest writing is good, but all good writing is honest.
What’s not said is as important as what is. Often more important. Most of the trick to writing is knowing what to leave out.
It’s easier to make people cry if you’ve already made them laugh. And vice versa.
Whatever a story’s other virtues, if it’s not entertaining you, you’re wasting your time. A story is only great if it’s great for you. Personally.
What any work of art means depends on who you are when you look at it. What you get out of a book depends on what you bring to it. A book is only marks on a page (or pixels on a screen). The story is what happens in your imagination as you scan those marks. Books aren’t deep. Some readers are.
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- - May 17th, 2013
As an editor, there’s no better feeling than reading a submission that blinds you with its sheer brilliance. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it’s one of the most exciting things about working in publishing.
Bitter Seeds was one of those submissions. I’d heard some positive murmurings coming out of the US about Ian Tregillis’s debut novel, but began reading the book with no particular expectations – and was left amazed by its vivid prose, bold action sequences and the wonderful depth of its characterisation. Not to mention the underlying plot that regularly crosses into the realms of sheer genius.
Bitter Seeds – and the other two books in the Milkweed Triptych, The Coldest War and Necessary Evil – have something of the chameleon about them, in that their underlying plots are constantly shifting and evolving. Just when you think you might have figured them out, they’ll change direction and completely shatter your expectations (my jaw dropped so many times when reading this trilogy that I attracted more than one strange look from my fellow commuters).
These novels are also chameleonic (totally a word, I looked it up!) in the sense that they weave so many different elements together to form something unique. At heart, the books are adventure stories – Nazi superhumans battling British warlocks – with a dangerously high dosage of action and espionage. Yet these novels are also subtle and extremely intelligent, weaving plots that shock and delight in equal measure, not to mention packing a serious emotional punch when the stakes are at their highest.
There are a host of complex, memorable characters within the pages of these books, such as Raybould Marsh, who must constantly balance his loyalty to his country with his love for his family, and Will Beauclerk, whose powers may end the war but destroy him in the process. Yet most memorable of all is Gretel, a gypsy orphan who wields a manipulative power so great that life itself is just another pawn in her Grand Design – the ultimate outcome of which only she knows.
One thing is for sure: you’ll certainly never see it coming.
Bitter Seeds [UK | ANZ], The Coldest War [UK | ANZ] and Necessary Evil [UK | ANZ] are all available now in paperback and ebook.
Praise for Ian Tregillis and the Milkweed novels:
A confident and thrilling debut” – SFX
“An imaginative tour de force” – KIRKUS
“[An] astonishing, brilliant, pulse-pounding debut trilogy” – CORY DOCTOROW
“Compelling, fascinating and frighteningly convincing” – FANTASY FACTION
“Ian Tregillis is a major new talent . . . I can’t wait to see more” – GEORGE R. R. MARTIN
- - May 2nd, 2013
One of the most highly regarded fantasy series EVER is finally coming to the UK.
Presenting a gritty action fantasy series like no other. Welcome to the world of Caine: Assassin. Hero. Superstar. . .
Several huge names in the fantasy world have been shouting from the rooftops about the sheer brilliance of this series by New York Times bestselling author Matthew Stover. Par exemple:
SCOTT LYNCH says:
‘Oh, you fortunate people. HEROES DIE and BLADE OF TYSHALLE directly informed the writing of THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA . . . I’d dare say they were what taught me how to craft a novel. Matt is criminally underrated, and these books are bog standard for him, which is to say ‘brilliant.’ They’re bold, startling, multi-layered, humane, and laugh-out-loud wonderful at frequent intervals . . .
. . . A gritty, bloody, deeply touching work of genius’
JOHN SCALZI says:
‘A heaping plate of kickass kickassery with a side of kickass sauce . . .
If you are a fan of the meaty, bloody but smart fantasy of which authors like Joe Abercrombie and Richard K. Morgan currently traffic, you really do owe it to yourself to check out the whole Caine series . . . I doubt very seriously you will be disappointed, and if you are, well, I don’t know what to do with you, except maybe wonder if your brain chemistry is off in some unique and disturbing way. But I’m willing to bet your brain is fine and you’re going to eat this stuff up.
So: fans of fantasy, this is my recommendation. Get this one. Get them all’
FELICIA DAY says:
‘Talk about a dark anti-hero. Talk about a cool alt-SF/Fantasy world. Talk about some violent assholes who populate BOTH universes. I mean Hari is one of the biggest badasses I’ve read in a LONG time. Seriously flawed, very nihilistic world/WORLDS really he’s involved in. And yet, his journey is so full of emotion, you root for him every step of the way. This is an Alpha male you can get behind. Damn. Hot damn.
Don’t read if you don’t like profanity, unlikeable characters and awesome fight scenes. :D
THIS WAS FANTASTIC! . . . If you like really really gritty, dark fantasy like George RR Martin, Richard Morgan (Takashi Kovaks books) or ESPECIALLY Joe Abercrombie, you should get this book’
Not convinced yet? What’s wrong with you?!
All four books in the Acts of Caine series – HEROES DIE, BLADE OF TYSHALLE, CAINE BLACK KNIFE and CAINE’S LAW – will be released digitally in the UK & ANZ on 27th May 2013.
Pre-order now for a special introductory price on book one, HEROES DIE.
- - April 30th, 2013
Today week we’re releasing NECESSARY EVIL (UK | ANZ) by Ian Tregillis, the conclusion to the spectacular Milkweed Triptych. The series began with BITTER SEEDS (UK | ANZ) and THE COLDEST WAR (UK | ANZ).
It’s hard to express just how much we are all head-over-heels in love with this series. This time, it’s not just me, Ian’s editor, who’s wanting to tell you how great the books are. The whole Orbit team has been clamouring to tell everyone just how much these books will blow your mind:
James Long, Orbit Editorial Assistant
“The Milkweed Triptych is simply one of the best trilogies I’ve ever read. These books are beautifully written, meticulously plotted and tell an incredible story built around a host of wonderfully-drawn characters. At heart these books tell an exciting adventure story about British warlocks fighting a secret war against Nazi supersoldiers, and are appropriately packed with explosive action sequences. Yet they’re also deeply moving, intelligent novels that will repeatedly shatter your expectations and make you ponder all sorts of questions about the power of love and the nature of evil. Quite simply, they’re brilliant and utterly unmissable.”
Felice Howden, Little, Brown Marketing
“I was initially enamoured by this series from the description: X-Men meets Inglorious Basterds. When I opened the first page to a Nietzsche quote and a scene where one child cunningly engineers the death of another, I knew it was something special. Then I discovered one of the main characters was a prescient German girl; a puppeteer manipulating the others on her choice of path through wars, births, deaths, friendships and hatred; making moves calculated years in advance with unimaginable consequences; throwing stones that rippled through the lives of everyone around her. And I was in love.”
Anne Clarke, Orbit Editorial Director
“I love the way the plot threads around and twists back on itself, just when you think you’ve got it all worked out, both within the books and between them. Every new page gives you another thread to pull. The writing itself is phenomenal, but it’s the characters and the plot – my god, the plot! – that have got me so hooked. I can’t wait to read Necessary Evil and find out how Ian manages to resolve such a tangled web. Ian’s poor protagonists dance like puppets for the unbearably sinister Gretel, but there must be a master plan behind it all. I can’t believe she doesn’t have one – though I do hope poor Raybould foils it and that he finds the redemption he so desperately wants. He deserves a break after all he’s been through!”
Anna Gregson, Orbit Commissioning Editor
“After having devoured the entire Milkweed Triptych at the speed of light, I can only conclude is that Ian Tregillis is an absolute genius. The Milkweed books are simply one of the cleverest, most engrossing series I’ve ever read. I often found myself chuckling out loud in public places at the pure brilliance of the plotting, the devious intellect of the protagonists, and the masterful skill of the author’s turn of phrase… Ian Tregillis takes an idea which is already hugely exciting in a very superhero-comic kind of way (mad warlocks fighting scientifically-enhanced Nazi übermensch), but then delivers the concept with such intelligence, such emotional power and such literary flair that you cannot help but fall head-over-heels for him as a writer.”
If you haven’t started this series yet and want to find out just why we’re going so crazy about it, you can get a taster with a free extract of BITTER SEEDS here.
- - April 26th, 2013
Poster for The Wolverine 3d film – coming in July 2013
I was interested (and I’ll admit it – a little excited) to read this recent article, stating that advances in gene technology could lead to a race of genetically superior human beings by the year 2045. These were apparently the findings of a Ministry of Defence think tank during a two-day summit last summer.
Alright – so sources such as The Sun and The Daily Mail might have sensationalised the think tank’s statements a touch by claiming that in a few years time, people will have Wolverine-style adamantium claws busting out all over the shop, and will be spontaneously whipping up tornadoes left, right and centre à la Storm.
But although a real-life X-men army might not exactly be right round the corner – the underlying gist of the claim could be entirely reasonable: that we’ll likely soon be using genetic technology to enhance the strength of the human body, to eliminate imperfections and to increase stamina.
But as time goes on, who knows what the limitations will be? Who knows if by genetically developing certain parts of the brain, we’ll discover unknown abilities – telekinesis, psychic powers, control over natural elements? One needs to have an open mind, and it might not happen in 30 years time – but it’s not entirely beyond belief.
Neither are the apparent risks and dangers that certain individuals developing those powers would present.
The MoD think tank also claimed that “it is possible that advances in biology, unequally shared across society, could generate genetic inequality”.
But it might not just be within one particular society that inequality is a risk. What happens, in fact, if one nation develops superhumans before another? Will it lead to an “arms race” of human augmentation, the winner of which will become the next superpower?
This is the terrifying and thrilling concept behind the Milkweed trilogy by Ian Tregillis. It starts with BITTER SEEDS (UK | ANZ) and THE COLDEST WAR (UK | ANZ), and concludes with NECESSARY EVIL (UK | ANZ – releasing this coming Tuesday). Read the rest of this entry »
- - April 24th, 2013
One of the coolest things in Orson Scott Card’s novel ENDER’S GAME – and likely one of the most difficult things to film – are the combat scenes that take place in the zero gravity battle room. So just how did they go about filming them for the Ender’s Game movie?
There’s a great exclusive interview here on i09 from Asa Butterfield (star of Hugo and The Boy In the Striped Pajamas), who plays Ender Wiggin himself.
It’s a very cool insight into the challenges of filming a scifi movie, e.g.:
“When you’re in the harnesses to stop yourself from falling at the waist, which is where they’re connected, you have to be tensed up. So keeping actions smooth whilst having your whole body completely tensed is surprisingly difficult. Meanwhile you’re saying your lines . . .”
You don’t get those issues filming a rom-com!
If you’re based in the UK and want to keep up with all the Ender’s Game film news, there is now both an Ender’s Game UK Facebook page and Ender’s Game UK Twitter account (@EndersGameFilm) that you can follow, along with the Ender’s Game Official Tumblr.
And if you’re keen to find out more back story to ENDER’S GAME, and the conflict that spawned the battle school, we’ll soon be publishing two explosive Orson Scott Card books telling of mankind’s first contact with the alien race – EARTH UNAWARE (UK | ANZ) and EARTH AFIRE (UK | ANZ), books 1 and 2 in The First Formic Wars.
- - April 11th, 2013
In anticipation of the upcoming film based on the classic science fiction novel ENDER’S GAME (UK | ANZ), we’re extremely excited to announce the UK acquisition of a brand new series set in the same world. See the covers released here for the first time . . .
The First Formic Wars series begins with EARTH UNAWARE and continues with EARTH AFIRE. It’s set 100 years before the events of ENDER’S GAME.
Before Ender Wiggin is born, before the battle school has been built, mankind is about to have its first encounter with an alien race. The Formics are coming to Earth, and things are not about to go well . . .
Not only does this series give some fantastic back story to the tale of ENDER’S GAME and what happened in the first conflict with the Formics, this also happens to be an exceptionally good, space-battle-filled adventure all of its own. The series has had some great reviews in already:
‘A standout tale of sf adventure that gives Ender series fans fascinating backstory to the classic Ender’s Game’ LIBRARY JOURNAL
‘The story progresses nimbly, with plenty of tension and excitement and Card’s usual well-developed characters’ KIRKUS REVIEWS
‘Literate prose and superlative characterisation . . . excellent’ BOOKLIST
Both of these books are out very soon at the start of June – so not long to wait. They’re a perfect way to fill the time before the film is released in October. . . (Hurry up already movie!)
The series is co-written by Orson Scott Card, the author of ENDER’S GAME, and Aaron Johnston – a New York Times bestselling author, Marvel comic writer, and associate producer on the upcoming ENDER’S GAME movie. Look below for the blurb for EARTH UNAWARE and check out both books on 4th June 2013. Read the rest of this entry »
- - March 28th, 2013
Terry Brooks‘s latest epic fantasy book BLOODFIRE QUEST (UK | ANZ) has been released this month. It’s the second book in The Dark Legacy of Shannara series and is delighting fans everywhere:
‘Nearly every page is filled with tension and passionate storytelling . . . Bloodfire Quest is a fine follow-up to Wards of Faerie and continues to prove that The Dark Legacy of Shannara is one of the most exciting and satisfying trilogies that Brooks has written in years’ A DRIBBLE OF INK
‘Shannara fans will delight in Brooks’s twists, sorcerous action, skilled characterizations, and rapid-fire storytelling ‘ PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
‘Shannara continues to deepen, and Brooks continues to color his world with new hues . . . BLOODFIRE QUEST is an epic adventure packed into 350 pages, delivering more of a punch than many trilogies provide in three books’ BOOK REPORTER
Don’t forget that if you live in the UK, there’s just under a week until Terry visits for the first time in over 5 years. There’s a facebook group here for his signing on 3rd April at 6pm at Forbidden Planet London.
And don’t fear if you can’t make it – UK fans still have time to submit questions and will receive an awesome dragon skull badge at the same time…
- - March 26th, 2013
In case you haven’t heard (. . . you’ve probably heard . . . ), there’s a film version of Orson Scott Card’s classic science fiction novel ENDER’S GAME coming out soon. It will be released in the UK on 25th October this year.
Very excitingly, a teaser poster has just been unveiled! It’s been posted on the official Ender’s Game film Tumblr.
Since the book almost always pops up in those “top 10 science fiction books of all time” lists, you can imagine how many people are eager to see how director Gavin Hood will present this tale of one boy and his destiny among the stars . . .
Things are at least looking promising, given that it’s starring the likes of Harrison Ford (STAR WARS, INDIANA JONES), Asa Butterfield (HUGO) and Ben Kingsley (SCHINDLER’S LIST, SHUTTER ISLAND and IRON MAN 3).
You should also check out the very cool battle school logos that got posted on io9 recently.
Anticipation is certainly building! So to celebrate the upcoming film release, we’re releasing new editions of all the books in the Ender Saga.
To the left you can see the new edition of ENDER’S GAME (UK | ANZ) we released recently. And please see the new look below for the exceptional and award-winning follow-ups: SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD (UK | ANZ), XENOCIDE (UK | ANZ) and CHILDREN OF THE MIND (UK | ANZ).
These new-look editions will be released on 2nd May this year. Look below to see them in their full glory!
And if you’re a big Ender fan, don’t forget that there’s also an omnibus edition of the parallel story to Ender’s Game, THE SHADOW SAGA (UK | ANZ) available now. Read the rest of this entry »
- - March 20th, 2013
To celebrate publication of THE CURVE OF THE EARTH ( UK|US|ANZ), Orbit was lucky enough to be treated to a rare interview with one of the post-apocalyptic world’s most brilliant minds: Doctor Samuil Petrovitch.
In part two of this interview, we try to get to the heart of Petrovitch’s relationship with Reconstructionist America, ask him a few more personal questions about the type of music he likes,and find out what projects he’s got on the burner right now.
(NB: the below does contain some foreign swearing, as is typical of Petrovitch’s blend of old-school Russian and English. For translations, please see our Russian swearing glossary. You can also read part one of our interview with Samuil Petrovitch here.)
I want to ask you about your attitude towards Reconstruction.
SP: What did you want to ask that isn’t already a matter of public record?
What is the relationship like between the Freezone and the USA?
SP: Is there one?
I’m asking if there is.
SP: We’re two mutually exclusive ideologies. Reconstruction America is actively seeking to destroy the Freezone, however they can, and I have to assume that at some point it’s going to come down to whether they think they can get away with annihilating us, including Michael. For the Freezone’s part, and I’m not the Freezone’s spokesman on this or anything else, we have absolutely no intention of getting into a shooting match with the Yanks. All our projections show that Reconstruction will collapse within a hundred years, so we’re happy to play the long game. All their base will belong to us. Eventually.
Read the rest of this entry »