Interview with GAVIN G. SMITH

SmithGG-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Gavin Smith?

Just some guy. (He’s a science fiction and fantasy writer with a track record for action oriented stories.)

Your third Bastard Legion novel, War Criminals, is due to be published in July. How would you introduce the series to a potential reader? And what can fans of the series expect from this instalment?

So the high concept pitch for Bastard Legion is the Dirty Dozen/Suicide Squad (depending on your age) meets Aliens. It’s about a mercenary penal legion recruited from the 6,000-strong convict population the Hangman’s Daughter (an interstellar prison barge). They are led by the cheerful, if possibly psychopathic, ex-black ops soldier Miska Corbin and the VR ghost of her dead dad.

War Criminals will see the Legion engaged in a full scale war for the first time! (Previously it’s been smaller-scale black ops.) Continue reading

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Interview with CHRISTOPHER RUOCCHIO

RuocchioC-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Christopher Ruocchio?

I am the author of Empire of Silence, a new space opera/epic fantasy out in July. I am also the Assistant Editor for Baen Books, where I have edited the military SF anthology Star Destroyers and the upcoming Space Pioneers. I sold my first novel — this novel — at age 22. I graduated from North Carolina State University, where I studied English Rhetoric and Classics. I am a boxer, and former fencer, and the owner of half a suit of replica first century Roman armor. I worked as a waiter for seven years, during which time I wrote and paid my way through college at the expense of any sort of social life. I remain an enthusiastic student, and am blessed with what I consider the world’s greatest family, a lovely girlfriend, and better friends than one of my stormy disposition perhaps deserves. Continue reading

Guest Post: An Annotated Chapter of RAVENCRY by Ed McDonald (Gollancz/Ace)

McDonaldE-AuthorPicWhen I was asked to provide a first chapter critique of my own book, I thought that this was an excellent way to explain the way that my own writing craft works, and to point out the level of complexity that comes into play through many rounds of editing.

I think that I have to stress that the first chapter did not look like this at the end of the first draft. So many of the details, the events, even the character of Levan Ost, all changed multiple times during the editing process. These were the details and events that remained when the dust settled.

Throughout this text I’ve interrupted the narrative to point out why I made particular decisions. Everything in this chapter is a conscious choice, and hopefully I’ve been able to explain why I made some of them. Writing is a deeply personal and individual craft and no two people’s are the same. These were the right choices for me.

It should be noted that although there are no direct spoilers in my commentary, if you’ve not read RAVENCRY yet, then I will be pointing out particular details that are specifically of interest later in the book.

Continue reading

Upcoming: COLD IRON by Miles Cameron (Gollancz)

CameronM-M&M1-ColdIronUKIn August, Gollancz are due to publish Cold Iron. The first novel in Miles Cameron‘s new Masters & Mages fantasy series, it looks really interesting:

Aranthur is a student. He showed a little magical talent, is studying at the local academy, and is nothing particularly special. Others are smarter. Others are more talented. Others are quicker to pick up techniques. But none of them are with him when he breaks his journey home for the holidays in an inn. None of them step in to help when a young woman is thrown off a passing stage coach into the deep snow at the side of the road. And none of them are drawn into a fight to protect her.

One of the others might have realised she was manipulating him all along…

A powerful story about beginnings, coming of age, and the way choosing to take one step towards violence can lead to a slippery and dangerous slope, this is an accomplished fantasy series driven by strong characters and fast-paced action.

Cold Iron is due to be published in the UK by Gollancz, and in North America by Orbit, in October 2018.

Also on CR: Guest Post on “How I Do Research”

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: BY THE PRICKING OF HER THUMB by Adam Roberts (Gollancz)

RobertsA-ByThePrickingOfHerThumbUKLater this year, Adam Roberts is returning to the setting of his recent novel The Real-Town Murders! I must admit that it was the cover that first caught my eye, but the synopsis certainly did a lot to increase my interest in the novel. By the Pricking of Her Thumb is due to be published by Gollancz on August 23rd, 2018. Here’s what it’s about:

One of the four richest people in the world may be dead. But which one? A Kubrickian thriller from one of the world’s leading authors of SF.

Private Investigator Alma is caught up in another impossible murder. One of the world’s four richest people may be dead — but nobody is sure which one. Hired to discover the truth behind the increasingly bizarre behaviour of the ultra-rich, Alma must juggle treating her terminally ill lover with a case which may not have a victim.

Inspired by the films of Kubrick, this stand-alone novel returns to the near-future of THE REAL-TOWN MURDERS, and puts Alma on a path to a world she can barely understand. Witty, moving and with a mystery deep at its heart, this novel again shows Adam Roberts’ mastery of the form.

Luckily, I have The Real-Town Murders already, so I should be able to get that read before I get my hands on By the Pricking of Her Thumb. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to reading them both!

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: THIN AIR and THIRTEEN by Richard Morgan (Gollancz/Del Rey)

MorganR-ThinAirUKRichard Morgan’s Altered Carbon was the first ‘proper’ sci-fi novel I read and loved. Its mix of science fiction, action and detective story was perfect for me, and I became a faithful (if uneven) follower of Morgan’s work. I bought and read the second Takeshi Kovacs novel, Broken Angels, as soon as it came out. Morgan’s grimdark fantasy series, A Land Fit for Heroes unfortunately didn’t work for me as well as his sci-fi, and I kind of wandered away from his work for a while. This past year, however, Netflix’s adaptation of Altered Carbon has re-ignited my interest in his work, so I was very happy to learn that Gollancz (UK) and Del Rey (North America) are due to release Thin Air in October. The author’s first sci-fi novel in eight years, here’s the brief synopsis:

An atmospheric tale of corruption and abduction set on Mars.

An ex-corporate enforcer, Hakan Veil, is forced to bodyguard Madison Madekwe, part of a colonial audit team investigating a disappeared lottery winner on Mars. But when Madekwe is abducted, and Hakan nearly killed, the investigation takes him farther and deeper than he had ever expected. And soon Hakan discovers the heavy price he may have to pay to learn the truth.

MorganR-ThirteenUKGollancz is also due to re-release Morgan’s fourth novel, Thirteen, with a new cover and title (it was original called Black Man) in September, in the UK. Here’s the synopsis:

One hundred years from now, and against all the odds, Earth has found a new stability; the political order has reached some sort of balance, and the new colony on Mars is growing. But the fraught years of the 21st century have left an uneasy legacy…

Genetically engineered alpha males, designed to fight the century’s wars have no wars to fight and are surplus to requirements. And a man bred and designed to fight is a dangerous man to have around in peacetime. Many of them have left for Mars but now one has come back and killed everyone else on the shuttle he returned in.

Only one man, a genengineered ex-soldier himself, can hunt him down and so begins a frenetic man-hunt and a battle survival. And a search for the truth about what was really done with the world’s last soldiers.

BLACK MAN is an unstoppable SF thriller but it is also a novel about predjudice, about the ramifications of playing with our genetic blue-print. It is about our capacity for violence but more worrying, our capacity for deceit and corruption.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review: BEST SERVED COLD by Joe Abercrombie (Gollancz/Orbit)

Abercrombie-BestServedColdUKAbercrombie expands the World of the First Law

Springtime in Styria. And that means war. Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.

There have been nineteen years of blood. The ruthless Grand Duke Orso is locked in a vicious struggle with the squabbling League of Eight, and between them they have bled the land white. While armies march, heads roll and cities burn, behind the scenes bankers, priests and older, darker powers play a deadly game to choose who will be king.

War may be hell but for Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso’s employ, it’s a damn good way of making money too. Her victories have made her popular — a shade too popular for her employer’s taste. Betrayed, thrown down a mountain and left for dead, Murcatto’s reward is a broken body and a burning hunger for vengeance. Whatever the cost, seven men must die.

Her allies include Styria’s least reliable drunkard, Styria’s most treacherous poisoner, a mass-murderer obsessed with numbers and a Northman who just wants to do the right thing. Her enemies number the better half of the nation. And that’s all before the most dangerous man in the world is dispatched to hunt her down and finish the job Duke Orso started…

Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.

Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy is one of my favourites: a great story, fantastic characters, superb prose. For some reason, it took me a while to get around to reading Best Served Cold (originally published in 2008). I finally read it after taking a glance at the first pages, and being quickly drawn in by not only the author’s great prose, but also his gift for characterization. Unfortunately, though, I finished the novel with a very different feeling to that I had after finishing Last Argument of KingsContinue reading