Upcoming: MAKE ME A CITY by Jonathan Carr (Henry Holt)

CarrJ-MakeMeACityUSChicago is one of my favourite American cities. I was there earlier this month (damn, it was hot), and when I spotted Jonathan Carr‘s Make Me A City on Edelweiss, I put it on my wishlist. A debut novel that “embroiders fact with fiction to tell the story of Chicago’s 19th century”, I think it looks really interesting:

The tale begins with a game of chess — and on the outcome of that game hinges the destiny of a great city. From appalling injustice springs forth the story of Chicago, and the men and women whose resilience, avarice, and altruism combine to generate a moment of unprecedented civic energy.

A variety of irresistible voices deliver the many strands of this novel: those of Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable, the long-unheralded founder of Chicago; John Stephen Wright, bombastic speculator and booster; and Antje Van Voorhis, the first woman to report for the Chicago Tribune. The stories of loggers, miners, engineers, and educators teem around them and each claim the narrative in turns, sharing their grief as well as their delight.

As the characters, and their ancestors, meet and part, as their possessions pass from hand to hand, the reader realizes that Jonathan Carr commands a grand picture, one that encompasses the heartaches of everyday lives as well as the overarching ideals of what a city and a society can and should be. Make Me a City introduces us to a novelist whose talent and ambition are already fully formed.

Make Me a City is due to be published by Henry Holt, on March 19th, 2019 (it will be available in the UK, too).

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

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Interview with MELISSA F. OLSON

OlsonMF-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Melissa F. Olson?

Oh, boy, I suddenly feel like I’m in Defending Your Life! I’m going to resist the temptation to write in third person, and just say that I’m a writer, a mother, and a bewildered chinchilla owner. By that, I mean that my chinchilla bewilders me, not that the chinchilla himself is in a constant state of bewilderment.

Your new novella, Nightshades (which I enjoyed very much), will be published by Tor.com this month. How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

I hope there will be more Nightshades! One reviewer recently described it as “Criminal Minds with vampires,” and although I’ve never seen Criminal Minds, that does kind of feel right. The book is about the moments right after vampires – or shades, as they’re called in this world – are discovered to be real. The focus is on the government agents who have to deal with all shade-related crime. Continue reading

Quick Review: NIGHTSHADE by Melissa F. Olson (Tor.com)

OlsonMF-NightshadesThe beginning of an intriguing new urban fantasy series…?

Alex McKenna is the new Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago office of the Bureau of Paranormal Investigations — the division tasked with investigating crimes involving shades.

Or vampires, as they’re more widely known.

Children have been going missing, and agents are routinely being slaughtered. It’s up to McKenna, and some unlikely allies, to get to the bottom of the problem, and find the kids before it’s too late.

This is another interesting novella from Tor.com. Olson takes an interesting, newish look at vampire mythology and places them into the global spotlight. I enjoyed this quite a bit.

Vampires have only recently been revealed to a still-skeptical world, and the FBI is trying to get a handle on what they mean for law enforcement, and what they should do about them — they are, after all, far more powerful and dangerous than any other criminal the Feebies are used to tackling. The characters are well-drawn, for the most part, echoing classic types found in urban fantasy and crime/mystery thrillers. There were a few moments of info-dumping or “Now, pay attention, this is important Exposition”, and one instance of slightly-cheesy action-movie partner-bro telegraphing, but generally speaking this is a well-written, tightly told story.

Nightshades offers a good, fast-paced, sometimes creepy (the chase in the field at night!) introduction to this reality, with plenty of potential for expansion. (Something I’d be all for — I finished this definitely thinking, “More, please.”) Certainly recommended for anyone looking for a cool new urban fantasy/mystery.

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Nightshades is due to be published by Tor.com on July 19th, 2016.

The Importance of a Super-Hero Diaspora…

That’s a rather grand title. Rather than some deep analysis of why super-heroes should be based and from all over the world, this was just inspired by the fact that a). three super-heroes (at least) have re-located, and b). New York and Gotham have become ridiculously over-populated by super-heroes in Marvel’s and DC’s lines.

Marvel&DC-NewYorkGotham

New York City, while I love it, has become rather ridiculous in terms of Marvel’s super-heroes. I remember at least one comic picking up on the fact that you’d have to be a moron to try to be a (super-)villain in the Big Apple, given the sheer saturation-level population of super-powered, tights-wearing do-gooders. There are the ever-expanding Avengers teams and their various off-shoots and allies. Given how often the city is destroyed, one has to wonder why they decided to locate their headquarters right in the middle of America’s most densely-populated metropolis. Thankfully, though, Marvel seems to be doing something to add some variation into the mix. Namely, The Punisher and Daredevil are leaving the city. This last one is particularly noteworthy, given how important Hell’s Kitchen and its surrounding neighbourhoods are to that book’s and hero’s identity – not to mention the rest of the city. As it happens, these have been my two favourite Marvel titles ever since I started reading them (in the same week, as it turned out). Greg Rucka and Mark Waid have done a great job with writing duties, and the artwork for both books has been stunning.

So, here are some details on the moves, both of which are part of the All-New Marvel NOW! Endlessly-Extending Prefixes Strategy…

Punisher-01ATHE PUNISHER: Moving to LA

“Frank Castle’s one-man-war on crime continues… For years, the Punisher has called New York City his home – keeping a watchful eye on the city through the sight of a gun. But when a lead on a major source of drugs, weapons, and more leads Frank out west – he sets his sights on Los Angeles. And the City of Angels isn’t ready for a devil like the Punisher! But not everything is as it appears, and Frank will soon find himself toe-to-toe with a highly trained military strike force known only as the 131! Who are the mysterious 131? And why are they out for the Punisher’s head?”

The new Punisher series was launched in February 2014. Greg Rucka’s relatively short run on the series was absolutely superb (I recently finished it off, thanks to a 99c sale on ComiXology): not only was Rucka’s writing and story gripping and appropriately gritty, but Marco Checcheto’s artwork is stunning. The new series is written by Nathan Edmondson (whose Ultimate Comics: X-Men and The Activity were pretty good). Artwork will be by Mitch Gerads. It’ll be interesting to see how the character adapts to his new environment – although, given that he has travelled abroad before (including in Rucka’s run), it probably won’t be too different. Nevertheless, I really hope Edmondson manages to maintain the quality – it’s a great character, and the extreme shades of grey in which he operates allow for some pretty great/powerful storytelling opportunities.

Punisher-01&02-PalmtreeCovers

Variant Covers for #1 (Larocca) and #2 (Opena)
Palm trees! He still looks miserable, though…

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Daredevil-01ADAREDEVIL: Moving to San Francisco

“Gifted with an imperceptible radar sense, blind lawyer Matt Murdock patrols the streets with a Billy club and a passion for justice. Only this time – it’s a brand new city, with even more dangerous foes. Join Matt Murdock as he journeys from the dark streets of Hell’s Kitchen to the sun-drenched boulevards of San Francisco.”

In March 2014, the Man Without Fear will be relocating to beautiful San Francisco. It’ll be interesting to see how he manages in the new city – his approach to vigilantism has always involved an awful lot of swinging and leaping around New York’s high-rises, so… Yeah. It’ll be interesting to see how his approach changes. (To be fair, I don’t really know much about San Francisco, but I get the impression it’s not too built up…) Mark Waid will continue to handle writing duties, and Chris Samnee will still be producing the artwork. I’m really looking forward tot his re-boot (call it what it is).

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Nightwing-19-Preview2

It’s not just Marvel characters, though. Gotham City is home to the extended Bat-Family and ever-extending Rogues’ Gallery that have plagued the Dark Knight on-and-off for decades. Last year, however, Dick “Nightwing” Grayson departed Gotham City for the Windy City in issue #19. Here are some excerpts from CBR’s interview with writer Kyle Higgins on Grayson’s move…

“I made the decision that if Dick was going to change cities, it needed to be story motivated. It couldn’t just be because of emotional fallout and state of mind… He’s heading to Chicago to find the man that killed his parents. As far as he’s concerned, that’s the only reason he’s going and once that’s over, he’ll be heading back to Gotham City. We’ll have to see how the story plays out, as to whether or not that will happen, but as far as Dick is concerned initially, that’s what he’s headed to Chicago for… Chicago has its own mythology and its own history that we’re tapping into and it’s definitely going to be playing a big part in Dick and Nightwing’s life moving forward.”

I’m quite behind on Nightwing, having not read any issues after the end of “Death of the Family”. I’d like to pick it up again, though, at some point.

Nightwing-20-Interior1

Of course, one thing that still needs to be addressed (and there are some signs that this is happening, for which we can only be happy, and hope for continued progress). Let’s hope we get a little more diverse than just re-locating a Justice League team further north into Canada (which, actually, I do think could be rather cool), and explore countries outside North America and the UK as more than just mission destinations…