Guest Post & Excerpt: “Making of the Prologue” by David Hair, author of HEARTS OF ICE (Jo Fletcher Books)

HairD-SQ3-HeartsOfIceUKFirst up, I’m a planner: The Sunsurge Quartet is mapped out from start to finish, before I start writing Book One. That includes the Prologues, which I’m using (along with mid-book ‘Interludes’) to introduce the backstory and current status of the villain who’s going to feature most in the next part of the story. They give the reader a chance to see inside the enemy’s heads, and set the agenda for the coming chapters.

In this series, the main villains are part of a cabal trying to tear down human society, and they use theatre masks to disguise their true selves. I was inspired in this by Venetian carnival masques, of which I have a bit of a collection after going mad in a Venice mask shop. I invented my own mask designs and a backstory for them, using the concept of a tradition of morality tales that theatre troupes adlib on stage, every show unique. These can be high art or low farce, always with the same eight characters and central theme – a romance between Ironhelm (the sturdy knight) and Heartface (the innocent maid). Their love is aided or thwarted by the other six characters: the meddling Beak, the prankster Jest, the duplicitous Twoface, the lucky Felix, the nemesis-like Angelstar and the sorrowful Tear. The tale is narrated by a narrator known as the Puppeteer. Continue reading

Upcoming: SMOKE IN THE GLASS by Chris Humphreys (Gollancz)

HumphreysCC-SmokeInTheGlassUKIn a couple of months, Gollancz are due to publish Smoke in the Glass by Chris Humphreys, “a thrilling new dark fantasy series about immortality, war and survival.” It is the first novel in the Immortal’s Blood series, and the most recent fantasy novel from Humphreys, who has also written a number of historical novels as “C.C. Humphreys”. The cover was recently unveiled (it’s quite nice), and I think the book has an intriguing premise:

A world of immortals living among humans. Anyone may be immortal, but there is no way to know until you die. If you are one of the very lucky few, you will live an endless life of pleasure and power, considered to be a god. Only decapitation and the rapid separation of body and head for a few days can kill an immortal.

In the southlands, a common soldier dies and is reborn, and is inducted into the world of the immortals. But the Empire has become decadent, and what he discovers there will shock him.

In the dry lands of the west, one man has set himself up as the sun god. But there is a prophecy that he will be killed by his son – and so all of his male children are killed at birth. Until his most recent wife bears a child who is nether male nor female, and is determined to protect them from sacrifice.

In the cold north, the immortal Luck – clever, tricksy, clubfooted – harbours suspicions that many of the immortals have been killed. When he intervenes in an attack on one of his fellows, he realises something new. Someone is hunting the Gods.

For there is a fourth land. They know of the other three. And they are planning their attack.

Our three heroes – damaged soldier, protective mother, clever cripple – must find a way to unite their different lands, and defend against this new enemy.

I’m looking forward to reading this. Smoke in the Glass is due to be published by Gollancz in the UK, on May 16th, 2019.

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Quick Review: A STUDENT OF HISTORY by Nina Revoyr (Akashic Books)

RevoyrN-AStudentOfHistoryOne person’s introduction to elite strata of Los Angeles society

Rick Nagano is a graduate student in the history department at USC, struggling to make rent on his South Los Angeles apartment near the neighborhood where his family once lived. When he lands a job as a research assistant for the elderly Mrs. W—, the heir to an oil fortune, he sees it at first simply as a source of extra cash. But as he grows closer to the iconoclastic, charming, and feisty Mrs. W—, he gets drawn into a world of privilege and wealth far different from his racially mixed, blue-collar beginnings.

Putting aside his half-finished dissertation, Rick sets up office in Mrs. W—’s grand Bel Air mansion and begins to transcribe her journals — which document an old Los Angeles not described in his history books. He also accompanies Mrs. W— to venues frequented by the descendants of the land and oil barons who built the city. One evening, at an event, he meets Fiona Morgan — the elegant scion of an old steel family — who takes an interest in his studies. Irresistibly drawn to Fiona, he agrees to help her with a project of questionable merit in the hopes he’ll win her favor.

I picked this up on a whim. I hadn’t read any of Nina Revoyr’s previous novels, so had no idea what to expect from A Student of History. What I found was a very interesting and engaging novel about the social divisions and dynamics in contemporary Los Angeles. Continue reading

Quick Review: SONS OF THE EMPEROR (Black Library)

Various-HHP-SonsOfTheEmperorAn anthology of short stories about the Primarchs

From their shadowed origins to the desperate battles that ensued when half of them rebelled against their father, the Sons of the Emperor – the vaunted primarchs – were among the greatest of humanity’s champions, warriors without peer and heroes whose deeds became legend.

From the Angel Sanguinius, who took the sole brunt of his Legion’s most brutal acts, to Vulkan, whose humanity made him unique amongst his brothers, and from dour Perturabo, architect, inventor and murderous warlord, to Horus, whose shining light was eclipsed only by the darkness that grew within his soul, this anthology covers eight of the primarchs and their greatest – or darkest – deeds.

Contents:
The Passing of Angels by John French
The Abyssal Edge by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
Mercy of the Dragon by Nick Kyme
Shadow of the Past by Gav Thorpe
The Emperor’s Architect by Guy Haley
Prince of Blood by L J Goulding
The Ancient Awaits by Graham McNeill
Misbegotten by Dan Abnett

This is a great anthology. Originally released as a special for the Black Library Weekender in 2018, it collects eight stories by some of the best authors working on the Horus Heresy series. Each of them offers something new and interesting, alternative and original impressions and glimpses of some of the Primarchs. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: HER SILHOUETTE, DRAWN IN WATER by Vylar Kaftan (Tor.com)

KaftanV-HerSilhouetteDrawnInWaterAn intriguing novella about identity, memory and relationships

All Bee has ever known is darkness.

She doesn’t remember the crime she committed that landed her in the cold, twisting caverns of the prison planet Colel-Cab with only fellow prisoner Chela for company. Chela says that they’re telepaths and mass-murderers; that they belong here, too dangerous to ever be free. Bee has no reason to doubt her — until she hears the voice of another telepath, one who has answers, and can open her eyes to an entirely different truth.

I’ve not read anything else by Kaftan, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water. What I found was a well-written, thoughtful and thought-provoking novella that touches upon a number of interesting and timely issues, hung on a science fictional frame.
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Excerpt: RUIN’S WAKE by Patrick Edwards (Titan)

EdwardsP-RuinsWakeToday, we have an excerpt from Ruin’s Wake by Patrick Edwards. Published tomorrow, it is a science fiction novel set on a world under control of a totalitarian government, here’s the synopsis:

Ruin’s Wake imagines a world ruled by a totalitarian government, where history has been erased and individual identity is replaced by the machinations of the state. As the characters try to save what they hold most dear – in one case a dying son, in the other secret love – their fates converge to a shared destiny.

An old soldier in exile embarks on a desperate journey to find his dying son.

A young woman trapped in an abusive marriage with a government official finds hope in an illicit love.

A female scientist uncovers a mysterious technology that reveals that her world is more fragile than she believed.

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New Books (February-March)

NewBooks-20190310

Featuring: Katherine Addison, Jason Allen, Graham Edwards, David Gordon, Nancy Griffin, Rachel Harrison, Peter Holmes, Cameron Johnston, Richard Kadrey, Vylar Kaftan, David Koepp, Steven Kotler, Melissa Scrivner Love, Kim Masters, Una McCormack, Suyi Davies Okungbowa, Robert Pobi, Taylor Jenkins Reid, David Ricciardi, Nathan Ripley, J. Michael Straczynski, Søren Sveistrup, Adrian Tchaikovsky (x2), Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson, Evan Winter

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