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A Touch of Evil

I love evil;  I embrace evil. And, on a daily basis, I earn a living out of evil.

However I am not, despite what you might suppose from the sinister photograph at the top of this blog, an evil man. 

If you asked those who know me, they would tend to describe me quite otherwise.  ‘Cuddly’ might be a word you’d hear.  ‘Half-soaked’ is an adjective that is frequently associated with me. And ‘absent-minded’ is a term my wife will often use, in conjunction with other less polite phrases, at around the date of our anniversary, whenever the hell that might be. 

And yet, in my professional life, I am both a student and  a master of evil. I write about murder and horror and genocide and atrocities so terrible that I  feel ashamed of my own dabbling in horror. And I’ve been doing this for many years. so my excursion into evil has become, amongst other things, a habit. Read the rest of this entry »

The Week That Was, As it Was

Red Claw author Philip Palmer has gotten this week off to a rousing start with his exploration of evil (and why evil is very, very good — sometimes); but before Monday turns into Tuesday, let’s look back at what happened here last week.

Robert Jackson Bennett, author of next month’s hotly awaited debut Mr. Shivers, wrote a story about how to write a story, and Jaye Wells, author of Red Headed Stepchild, discussed those who have trouble with tribbles, Google, and vaginae dentata.

Nicole Peeler’s character Jane True thought it a good idea to get some pointers on being an urban fantasy heroine from Gail Carriger’s character Alexia Tarabotti.

And Philip Palmer, before he moved on to the subject of evil, talked about space travel made easy.

We noted that Jesse Bullington, author of The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart, began guest blogging at Omnivoracious.com.

Orbit editor Devi Pillai was pleased to announce that Lilith Saintcrow (author of the just-released Flesh Circus) hit the New York Times Children’s Paperback bestseller list at #5 with her YA novel Betrayals.

The Orbit UK team gave a great rundown of a great year; Darren Nash took note of Orbit UK’s 40th anniversary edition of Ursula LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness; and Bella Pagan observed that the Guardian was pleased to include from Orbit UK two books, Mike Cobley’s Seeds of Earth as well as Phil Palmer’s Red Claw among the must-have items on this years’ Gadget Fiends bookshelf.

Palmer and Cobley are the latest thing …

We were delighted to see not just one, but two fabulous Orbit books in the Guardian’s stylish Saturday supplement. The Gadgets Fiends piece presented us with a photograph of the bookshelf of the future, dripping with must-have gadgets, alcohol extraction devices (ahem, fancy bottleopeners) and e-items of various sorts. And although the futuristic bookshelf was rather short on books, we spotted Mike Cobley’s trailblazing Seeds of Earth at no.5 on the legend and Philip Palmer’s explosive Red Claw (UK | US) was a shelf or so below at position 8. Please see the image below for what our future holds …

… after a selected couple of quotes for those books:

For Seeds of Earth:

‘Proper galaxy-spanning Space Opera . . . a worthy addition to the genre’ Iain M. Banks

‘A tightly plotted, action packed epic that leaves you wanting more’ SciFi Now

For Red Claw:

Red Claw is that rare treat, an intelligent action adventure replete with intellectual rigour, human insight and superb storytelling’ – Guardian

‘Philip Palmer has crafted a novel that is brimming with promise… a refreshing and alternative read’ – SciFi Now

Click on the image for a larger and slightly more readable version:

The Guardian Lifestyle, November 28, 2009

The Stories of Now, and Then

Jesse Bullington, author of  The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart begins guestblogging at Omnivoracious.com today, and opens with an appreciation of and elaboration upon an extremely thought-provoking article by fellow Orbit author Kim Stanley Robinson in New Scientist, “Science Fiction: the Stories of Now” — proposing, among much else, that a story of the past can be a story of now, as well.

Author post

The Trouble with Tribbles

Last year, I wrote a short story wherein I made a slightly inappropriate reference to a tribble*.

After I turned in said story, I received an email from someone who had the power to kill the story. She said she wasn’t sure anyone would get the tribble joke.

Now, here’s what went through my head in order of appearance:

1) Who doesn’t know what a tribble is?
2) OMG I hope she doesn’t make me take out that joke. It’s one of the funniest lines in the story.
3) Wait. Seriously? Who’s never heard of a tribble?

I’m fairly certain the majority of Orbit’s readers know exactly what I mean when I mention tribbles. Further, I’d expect anyone out there who doesn’t get the reference would Google it. Those of you who don’t understand both tribble and Google, well, welcome to 2009! We’ve been waiting for you.

Now, to my point. When I write, I tend to expect that most of my readers are reasonably intelligent.** So, if we can assume readers are smart, isn’t it also reasonable to assume that if they don’t know a cultural reference they’ll look it up?  Or at worst, ignore it? Read the rest of this entry »

On Winter

Rather unbelievably, it’s the beginning of December, which means winter is here – for those of us in the northern hemisphere, at least.  But regardless of whether it’s currently hot or cold where you live, if you’re a serious reader of science fiction, ‘winter’ should bring to mind the same much-loved book. Winner of the Hugo Award for Best Novel. Winner of the Nebula Award for Best Novel. A classic of modern literature. A book set on the planet Gethen – also known as Winter.

I’m delighted to draw your attention to the stunning 40th Anniversary edition of Ursula K. LeGuin‘s magnificent The Left Hand of Darkness, recently published by Orbit in the UK. Including background notes, map sketches and a new 40th anniversary letter from the author, as well as the related story ‘Coming of Age in Karhide’, this is a beautiful celebration of a wonderful book. Ursula K. LeGuin is a giant of modern literature and a tireless champion of our oft-maligned genre, and The Left Hand of Darkness is considered by many to be her finest work. I highly recommend it.

Nothing makes the chill winds of December seem hospitable like taking a trip to Winter.

The Left Hand of Darkness

2009: A Very Good Year

The first week of December.

The days are getting darker, our in-trays are beginning to empty (we wish), the communal surfaces are beginning to grow fat with baked goods and illicit seasonal beverages . . .

As we hurtle towards the New Year (at FTL travel inducing velocity and with a blood-biscuit level that would make even Alexia Tarabotti proud) the Orbit UK Team has banded together to bring you a retrospective on what made 2009 another great year. The short answer of course is great authors, Global Vision, plenty of awards and um, you.  But humour us, read on below the cut, you’ll like it (or at least learn something) we promise! Read the rest of this entry »

Lili Saintcrow – NYT Bestseller!

Yeah Lili!

lili_stcrow-betrayalsLili hit the New York Times’ Children’s Paperback Bestseller list at #5, kicking ass with her YA novel, Betrayals.  I am very proud to work with her and I’m SUPER  excited for her.  Now I can introduce her to you as NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, Lili Saintcrow!! Yeah!!!Saintcrow_Flesh Circus (MM)

We also have the newest Jill Kismet from Lili out this week – FLESH CIRCUS.  The Cirque de Charnu has arrived – and they’re ready for fresh meat.  Jill Kismet can’t do anything without destroying a fragile truce that has existed between the hellbreed, the hunters, and the Circus.  But when circus performers start dying grotesquely, it’s all Jill can do to keep her head in the game – and out of the lion’s mouth.

Author post

How to Write a Story

Someone asked me today how I write stories, or where I get the ideas for stories. I told them it was quite simple, really, and decided it’d be best if I shared it with you, as well.

The first step is waking up. Your body will take care of this, usually. Sometimes a passing stranger will also help, nudging you with their toe and trying to force you out from underneath the bus bench where you’ve been sleeping. It just depends on the day, really.

Once you are awake, examine the palms of your hands. The tattoos that you have upon them will have changed in the night, as they always do. Don’t worry about the tattoos – they’re very clearly written in Bookman Old Style and are easily readable, and you never feel them changing in the night.

On the left palm will be a time and a date, and upon the right will be an address. I suggest you familiarize yourself with a variety of postal codes so you can identify which state or country the address is in. This will save a lot of time down the road. Read the rest of this entry »

Tart Talk with Alexia and Jane (Vol.1)

Nicole Peeler’s character Jane True thought it might be a good idea to get some pointers on being an urban fantasy heroine from Gail Carriger’s character Alexia Tarabotti.

They met. They talked. See for yourself.

Selkies and the soulless have an awful lot to talk about, don’t you know, so this is but part one — their lively repartee regarding tea, underclothes, those remarks involving “doggies” that tend to leave Alexia baffled etc. will continue, here.

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