Quick Chat with JOSEPH HELMREICH

Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Joseph Helmreich?

I’m a New York-based writer and this is my second book and first novel. I also play in a band called Honeybrick and I’m a ventriloquist, though I never mention that last part except at the start of interviews.

Your debut novel, The Return, will be published by this year by St. Martin’s Press. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s a sci-fi thriller about a physicist who gets abducted by an alien ship during a live TV broadcast and then turns up years later and claims it never happened. It wasn’t planned to be part of a series, though I’d certainly be open to doing a sequel. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS by Jason Rekulak (Simon & Schuster/Faber)

An endearing tale of adolescent attraction and distraction

What happens when a fourteen-year old boy pretends to seduce a girl to steal a copy of Playboy but then discovers she is his computer-loving soulmate.

Billy Marvin’s first love was a computer. Then he met Mary Zelinsky.

Do you remember your first love?

The Impossible Fortress begins with a magazine… The year is 1987 and Playboy has just published scandalous photographs of Vanna White, from the popular TV game show Wheel of Fortune. For three teenage boys — Billy, Alf, and Clark — who are desperately uneducated in the ways of women, the magazine is somewhat of a Holy Grail: priceless beyond measure and impossible to attain. So, they hatch a plan to steal it.

The heist will be fraught with peril: a locked building, intrepid police officers, rusty fire escapes, leaps across rooftops, electronic alarm systems, and a hyperactive Shih Tzu named Arnold Schwarzenegger. Failed attempt after failed attempt leads them to a genius master plan — they’ll swipe the security code to Zelinsky’s convenience store by seducing the owner’s daughter, Mary Zelinsky. It becomes Billy’s mission to befriend her and get the information by any means necessary. But Mary isn’t your average teenage girl. She’s a computer loving, expert coder, already strides ahead of Billy in ability, with a wry sense of humor and a hidden, big heart. But what starts as a game to win Mary’s affection leaves Billy with a gut-wrenching choice: deceive the girl who may well be his first love or break a promise to his best friends.

I very much enjoyed this novel. The Impossible Fortress has a little bit of everything: young love, a daring heist, some mystery, and a fair amount of nostalgia. It is also very well written. If you’re looking for an amusing coming-of-age novel, then I’d recommend this. (Especially if you are in your 30s/40s…) Continue reading

Review: RIVER OF TEETH by Sarah Gailey (Tor.com)

gaileys-riverofteethAn classic-style Western. Only, with killer hippos…

In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true.

Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

This was a terrible plan.

Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge.

River of Teeth has a fantastic premise: what if hippos were imported into the United States, to make up for the decline in buffalo stocks? This was a real proposal, way back when, and Gailey has done a great job of imaging an America in which hippos have spread and thrived — some are used as mounts, and there are thousands of deadly “ferals” populating the waterways. Now, throw in a group of mercenaries, drawn together on an operation (not a caper), and you have all the ingredients for a fun, original adventure. Continue reading

Quick Review: GARRO — WEAPON OF FATE by James Swallow (Black Library)

swallowj-hh-garroThe formation of the Knights Errant, and the start of a new religion…?

From out of the shadows of the Silent War, a hero emerges. Clad all in grey, an errant warrior of the Legiones Astartes kneels before the Regent of Terra, and accepts a solemn new duty – Battle-Captain Garro, once commander of the Eisenstein, now Agentia Primus of Malcador the Sigillite. From the desolation of Isstvan to the halls of the Imperial Palace itself, he stands as a paragon of loyalty and protector of the innocent, ever ready to strike back at the traitorous allies of the Warmaster. But Garro is walking a path of his own, one that may lead him to question his own place in the Imperium… and what if he, too, should falter?

This book collects a number of James Swallow’s Nathaniel Garro stories. (Swallow confirms that there will be more, in his Afterword.) Those stories that were originally released as audio dramas are presented in expanded prose versions, with additional scenes and woven into a chronological, continuous narrative. The book ends with the momentous Vow of Faith, originally published as a limited edition novella. For fans of the Horus Heresy series, this is a must read. Continue reading

Interview with NICHOLAS EAMES

eamesn-authorpicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Nicholas Eames?

That’s a question I’ve wrestled with for many years, actually. “The Luckiest Man in the World”… let’s go with that.

Your debut novel, Kings of the Wyld, will be published by Orbit next month. It looks great, and I’m really looking forward to reading it. How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

Kings of the Wyld is a fun, fast-paced fantasy novel that takes place in a setting where mercenary bands have gained the notoriety of rock stars. Between ‘gigs’ that include hunting monsters in the vast forest known as The Heartwyld or fighting them in crowded arenas, they drink to excess, party like madmen (or madwomen), and generally act like hooligans. The story follows a band called Saga, once the most celebrated mercenaries in all the world, who must reunite after decades apart to rescue the daughter of their leader, Gabriel. It’s the first in a series called The Band, but this and each of the following books will essentially stand-alone, since each will feature a different band altogether.

Also, as someone who treasures fantasy novels that appeal to those skeptical of the genre, I’d like to think this one, despite the myriad tropes within, may just be capable of that. Even the music references are subtle enough to be missed altogether. Continue reading

Interview with GWYNETH JONES

jonesg-authorpicLets start with an introduction: Who is Gwyneth Jones?

Of Irish descent, despite the Welsh name, I live in Brighton, on the south coast of England, but I was brought up in Manchester, a city in the north west. I’ve been a storyteller and a writer of stories for as long as I can remember which is now quite a long time. I overcame the fact that I can’t write legibly, or in a straight line, and can’t spell, by being born conveniently close to the development of computers with keyboards (my first was a BBC B). I’ve won a few awards in my time, but I don’t let it get me down. I have one husband, one son and two cats, I love reading, thinking, playing the piano, playing fantasy games; being outdoors, walking in the hills and tending my garden.

Your new novella, Proof of Concept, will be published by Tor.com in April. It looks rather interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s about a huge cavern, called the Giewont Abyss, a drained magma chamber that’s been discovered deep, deep in ancient rocks, in Poland. The Abyss is the ideal venue for a Post Standard Model Physics experiment called “the Needle”, which might remotely have something to do with the feasibility of mass faster than light travel. A team of scientists goes down there, locked in for a year with a team of TV entertainers, from a hugely popular reality show, who are allegedly “training as starship crew”.  With the scientists is a Scav-kid called Kir, (Scav as in scavenger, she’s from a Dead Zone), whose chief claim to fame is that her brain hosts the most advanced quantum computer in the world. The “quaai” is called Altair (quaai = quasi-autonomous artificial intelligence). Things don’t go according to plan. Or maybe they do, it depends on who you think was doing the planning. Continue reading

Interview with SARAH GAILEY

gaileys-authorpicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Sarah Gailey?

Sarah Gailey is a Bay Area native currently living in beautiful Oakland, California. She enjoys painting, baking, vulgar embroidery, and writing stories about murder and monsters. Her fiction been published internationally; her most recent credits include Mothership Zeta, Fireside Fiction, the Colored Lens, and the Speculative Bookshop Anthology. Her nonfiction has been published by Mashable and the Boston Globe, and she is a regular contributor for Tor.com.

Your new novella, River of Teeth, will be published by Tor.com. It looks rather fabulous: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

River of Teeth is the first novella in a duology. If I only had ten seconds to convince someone to read it, I’d say this: Cowboys riding hippos and trying to blow up the Mississippi River. Continue reading