Interview with CHRIS HUMPHREYS

HumphreysC-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Chris Humphreys?

Gosh, start with an easy one! I was hoping you could tell me!

Chris is an actor and author who was born with a sword in his hand — which must have made it painful for dear old ma. He became an actor so he could leap around with bladed weaponry — and largely succeeded. (I was even Graham Ashe the Immortal in Highlander, though I was dead after ten minutes which seems a swizz!). He became a writer with much the same ambitions, though he also became interested in myth and magic and playing Hamlet at a formative age shook things up philosophy-wise. (Who also dies from a sword cut, of course!) His body is Canadian, his mind is English, and his heart is Norwegian. He has a familiar called Dickon who claims to be a cat, and he writes in a cedar octagon in a forest on an island in the Salish Sea.

Your new novel, Smoke in the Glass, was published this week by Gollancz. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

Glad you think so. Yes, it is Book One of the Immortals’ Blood Trilogy. The story began for me, in that cedar octagon, with a question: If you had the choice, would you want to live forever? Continue reading

Upcoming: THE DEEP by Rivers Solomon (Saga Press)

SolomonR-DeepUSI’ve seen the cover for Rivers Solomon‘s The Deep around the internet a few times over the past couple of weeks. Inspired by a song by Clipping for an episode of This American Life, “We Are In The Future,” the premise really caught my attention:

The water-breathing descendants of African slave women tossed overboard have built their own underwater society — and must reclaim the memories of their past to shape their future…

Yetu holds the memories for her people — water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners — who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save one — the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu.

Yetu remembers for everyone, and the memories, painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so, she flees to the surface, escaping the memories, the expectations, and the responsibilities — and discovers a world her people left behind long ago.

Yetu will learn more than she ever expected to about her own past — and about the future of her people. If they are all to survive, they’ll need to reclaim the memories, reclaim their identity — and own who they really are.

Clipping is comprised of Daveed Diggs (most recently mega-famous for being in Hamilton), William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes.

The Deep is due to be published by Saga Press in November 2019. Looking forward to reading it. Rivers Solomon is also the author of the acclaimed An Unkindness of Ghosts, published by Akashic Books in North America and in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: BLOOD OF AN EXILE by Brian Naslund (Tor)

NaslundB-DoT1-BloodOfAnExile

Blood of an Exile by Brian Naslund is one of the debut fantasy novels I’ve been most looking forward to. The first in the Dragons of Terra series, it has been described as “a fast-paced adventure perfect for comic readers and fans of heroic fantasy”. The novel is due to be published in August by Tor Books in North America (6th) and in the UK (8th).

Bershad was supposed to die…

When he was caught trying to assassinate a fellow noble, Flawless Bershad was given a death sentence. Fight monsters so that he would die serving the kingdom. But Bershad can’t die.

He’s never lost a fight, the most successful dragon slayer in history but marked as a doomed man, Bershad stands apart from the world. But that is about to change.

The man who sentenced Bershad to his fate has just given him an out. Kill a king and walk free forever. But Bershad could care less about the fates of kings and kingdoms, until, that is, he discovers he is the only person able to save an innocent child and, possibly, the life of every creature in Terra.

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Upcoming: MADE THINGS by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tor.com)

Tchaikovsky-MadeThingsI will share information about each and every new Adrian Tchaikovsky book for as long as Civilian Reader continues. A fantastic author, with a prodigious imagination and a work/writing ethic (combined with ever-greater quality) that we can only aspire to emulating. Made Things is his next novella, due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on November 5th. The cover and synopsis were recently unveiled on Barnes & Noble’s Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog. Here’s what it’s about:

She was good at making friends.

Coppelia is a street thief, a trickster, a low-level con artist. But she has something other thieves don’t… tiny puppet-like friends: some made of wood, some of metal. They don’t entirely trust her, and she doesn’t entirely understand them, but their partnership mostly works.

After a surprising discovery shakes their world to the core, Coppelia and her friends must reexamine everything they thought they knew about their world, while attempting to save their city from a seemingly impossible new threat.

Also on CR: Interview with Adrian Tchaikovsky (2012); Guest Posts on “Nine Books, Six Years, One Stenwold Maker”, “The Art of Gunsmithing: Writing Guns of the Dawn, “Looking for God in Melnibone Places: Fantasy and Religion”, and “Eye of the Spider”; Excerpt from Guns of the Dawn; Reviews of Empire of Black and GoldGuns of the Dawn, Spiderlight, Ironclads, Walking to Aldebaran

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: MY BEAUTIFUL LIFE by K.J. Parker (Subterranean Press)

ParkerKJ-MyBeautifulLifeUSToday, Subterranean Press announced the latest novella by K.J. Parker that they will publish: My Beautiful Life. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed everything Subterranean Press has published of Parker’s, although I have allowed myself to fall behind a bit. (Parker is a prolific writer of novellas and short fiction, and the publisher has released a number of anthologies that are tricky to get ahold of outside of the US, but I’ve been working on collecting them all.) If you are familiar with Parker’s Tor.com novellas — The Devil You Know (one of my favourites) and The Last Witness — then I’m sure you’ll want to pick up this latest books.

Due to be published in November 2019, here’s the synopsis for My Beautiful Life:

As the ironic title indicates, Parker’s latest tells the story of an individual life that takes extraordinary turns. As the story begins, the nameless, dying narrator takes us back to his childhood home in a remote corner of the ubiquitous Empire. The second of three sons, he lives there with his mother in a state of unrelieved poverty. Life eventually becomes so dire that the mother — who can only find work as a prostitute — is forced to sell one of her children. The oldest son, Nico, volunteers to be sold in order to protect his family, and that decision sets in motion everything that follows. Nico’s journey takes him, in time, to the heart of the Empire and the very center of power. Over time, he acquires considerable power of his own and uses it to bring his younger brothers into the circle of his influence, changing their lives forever. Under Nico’s guidance, the middle brother — our nameless narrator — achieves a destiny that will alter not only his own life, but the life of the Empire itself. 

Written with wit, economy, and considerable style, My Beautiful Life is at once a profoundly gripping narrative and a rueful meditation on the workings of fate. Equally suitable both for long-time fans and for newcomers to Parker’s fictional universe, it is an essential — and hugely enjoyable — addition to a distinguished body of work.

As I mentioned above, Parker has published a number of titles with Subterranean Press, including: Father of LiesAcademic ExercisesMightier than the Sword, Downfall of the Gods, and Savages.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Devil You KnowThe Last Witness, and Downfall of the Gods

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Upcoming: THE GURKHA AND THE LORD OF TUESDAY by Saad Z. Hossain (Tor.com)

HossainSZ-GurkhaAndTheLordOfTuesdayI haven’t read anything else by Saad Z. Hossain, but his upcoming novella from Tor.com sounds fantastic. Really looking forward to reading it when it comes out in mid-August. Here’s the synopsis for The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday:

When the djinn king Melek Ahmar wakes up after millennia of imprisoned slumber, he finds a world vastly different from what he remembers. Arrogant and bombastic, he comes down the mountain expecting an easy conquest: the wealthy, spectacular city state of Kathmandu, ruled by the all-knowing, all-seeing tyrant AI Karma. To his surprise, he finds that Kathmandu is a cut-price paradise, where citizens want for nothing and even the dregs of society are distinctly unwilling to revolt.

Everyone seems happy, except for the old Gurkha soldier Bhan Gurung. Knife saint, recidivist, and mass murderer, he is an exile from Kathmandu, pursuing a forty-year-old vendetta that leads to the very heart of Karma. Pushed and prodded by Gurung, Melek Ahmer finds himself in ever deeper conflicts, until they finally face off against Karma and her forces. In the upheaval that follows, old crimes will come to light and the city itself will be forced to change.

The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday is due to be published by Tor.com on August 13th, 2019, in North America and in the UK. The author’s latest work includes Escape from Baghdad! and a contribution to The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories.

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Quick Review: MALEDICTIONS (Black Library)

BlackLibrary-MaledictionsThe first Horror collection from Black Library

Horror is no stranger to the dark worlds of Warhammer. Its very fabric is infested with the arcane, the strange and the downright terrifying. From the cold vastness of the 41st Millennium to the creeping evil at large in the Mortal Realms, this anthology of short stories explores the sinister side of Warhammer in a way it never has been before. Psychological torment, visceral horrors, harrowing tales of the supernatural and the nightmares buried within, this collection brings together a grim host of tales to chill the very blood…

CONTENTS
Nepenthe by Cassandra Khaw
The Widow Tide by Richard Strachan
No Good Deed by Graham McNeill
Crimson Snow by Lora Gray
Last of the Blood by C L Werner
Predation of the Eagle by Peter McLean
The Last Ascension of Dominic Seroff by David Annandale
Triggers by Paul Kane
A Darksome Place by Josh Reynolds
The Marauder Lives by J.C. Stearns
The Nothings by Alec Worley

The first collection of horror stories from Black Library’s recently-launched new imprint. It’s a great collection of dark WH40k and Age of Sigmar stories, each of which brings something new and distinct to the settings. While there are some stand-out stories, the collection as a whole is really good. I enjoyed it. Continue reading