Quick Review: ONE WORD KILL by Mark Lawrence (47 North)

LawrenceM-IT1-OneWordKillThe first in the Impossible Times series

In January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week.

Nick and his Dungeons & Dragons-playing friends are used to living in their imaginations. But when a new girl, Mia, joins the group and reality becomes weirder than the fantasy world they visit in their weekly games, none of them are prepared for what comes next. A strange — yet curiously familiar — man is following Nick, with abilities that just shouldn’t exist. And this man bears a cryptic message: Mia’s in grave danger, though she doesn’t know it yet. She needs Nick’s help — now.

He finds himself in a race against time to unravel an impossible mystery and save the girl. And all that stands in his way is a probably terminal disease, a knife-wielding maniac and the laws of physics.

Challenge accepted.

Mark Lawrence is best known for his three excellent grimdark fantasy series — The Broken Empire, The Red Queen’s War, and Book of the Ancestor. I’ve been a fan of his work since Prince of Thorns, which I was able to get as a review copy. One of the first things that struck me was how good a writer Lawrence is — something that is immediately apparent in everything he writes. In One Word Kill, the author shows that he’s just as adept writing in the real world as he is in his dystopian and fantasy settings. This was a lot of fun. Continue reading

Interview with SUYI DAVIES OKUNGBOWA

OkungbowaSD-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Suyi Davies Okungbowa?

I was born and raised in Benin City, Nigeria to parents in academia, so reading and stories have always been a big part of my life. Benin’s an ancient city, see, dates back to the 11th century, so there isn’t much going on there. I experienced most of the world through books (and cable TV, haha). I had my primary, secondary and tertiary education within the same walls of the University of Benin. Since then, I’ve moved around a bit, working in engineering, professional services, marketing and communications and digital learning. Currently, I’m an MFA candidate in creative writing at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where I also teach writing to freshmen and sophomores.

Your debut novel, David Mogo, Godhunter, is due to be published in July by Abaddon. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

Well, I initially pitched the book to David [Moore] as American Gods-meets-The Dresden Files, set in Lagos. Since then, I’ve heard it called everything from Constantine-meets-Black Panther to a godpocalyptic thriller. To a potential reader, I’d say if you took a demigod’s identity crisis, mixed it with a failing, overcrowded city’s god infestation, and set a wizard’s fire under it, what you get is David Mogo, Godhunter. It features Yoruba orisha mythology, but also draws on myths and legends from other Nigerian ethnicities like the Edo pantheon (where I’m from) as well as the Urhobo and Igbo. Continue reading

Interview with RONAN FROST

SavileS-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Ronan Frost?

Well the official bio would tell you he’s a Brit living overseas, who has worked for the MoD and done some fairly interesting stuff. What it wouldn’t tell you is sure, he did all that, but he’s also a name I made up. It’s not a huge secret, given the decision was made to put my real name on the back cover with the quotes ‘Writing as Steven Savile…’ which kinda gives it away. How Ronan came to be, well, my editor wanted me to write a book like my bestselling novel, Silver, which just so happened to feature one Irish gent, Ronan Frost as one of the lead characters. So when we needed a name for the contract it seemed only right to give my editor what he’d asked for. Ahem.

So, instead we’ll tweak this one and say ‘Who is Steve…’ to give you a fairer idea who is on the other end of this. 49 year old ex-pat, living in the wilds of Sweden surrounded by trees, more trees and err, more trees. I swear there must be a few thousand for each living soul. More than that. I emigrated 22 years ago. I spent the early days over here teaching English and History, but turned full time as a writer back in 2006 when I signed to do a trilogy of fantasy novels for the popular game world Warhammer. I’ve done all sorts of weird and wonderful jobs, including writing the storyline for the massive computer game Battlefield 3, and most recently writing adventures and monster manuals for a couple of popular roleplaying games. Continue reading

Trailer: STUMPTOWN (ABC)

Announced during the TV upfronts last week, ABC’s Stumptown is based on the graphic novels series of the same name. The series stars Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother, Marvel’s cinematic universe). There are a couple of other crime/cop shows that were announced, but this is definitely one of the more interesting, to me. Looking forward to watching it. Here’s the network’s synopsis:

Based on the “Stumptown” graphic novel series, follows Dex Parios (Cobie Smulders) as a strong, assertive, and sharp-witted army veteran with a complicated love life, gambling debt, and a brother to take care of in Portland, Oregon. Her military intelligence skills make her a great P.I., but her unapologetic style puts her in the firing line of hardcore criminals and not quite in alliance with the police. Continue reading

Upcoming: TO BE TAUGHT, IF FORTUNATE by Becky Chambers (Voyager / Hodder)

ChambersB-ToBeTaughtIfFortunate

Above you can see the North American and UK covers for To Be Taught, If Fortunate, the upcoming new novella by Becky Chambers. Chambers is the critically-acclaimed author of the Wayfarer sci-fi series. This novella is a stand-alone, and one that sounds really interesting:

At the turn of the twenty-second century, scientists make a breakthrough in human spaceflight. Through a revolutionary method known as somaforming, astronauts can survive in hostile environments off Earth using synthetic biological supplementations. They can produce antifreeze in subzero temperatures, absorb radiation and convert it for food, and conveniently adjust to the pull of different gravitational forces. With the fragility of the body no longer a limiting factor, human beings are at last able to journey to neighboring exoplanets long known to harbor life.

A team of these explorers, Ariadne O’Neill and her three crewmates, are hard at work in a planetary system fifteen light-years from Sol, on a mission to ecologically survey four habitable worlds. But as Ariadne shifts through both form and time, the culture back on Earth has also been transformed. Faced with the possibility of returning to a planet that has forgotten those who have left, Ariadne begins to chronicle the story of the wonders and dangers of her mission, in the hope that someone back home might still be listening.

To Be Taught, If Fortunate is due to be published in North America by Voyager (September 3rd), and in the UK by Hodder (August 8th). I’m really looking forward to reading this one.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

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

Quick Review: NEON PREY by John Sandford (G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Simon & Schuster)

SandfordJ-NeonPreyUSLucas Davenport’s 29th outing…

Clayton Deese looks like a small-time criminal, muscle for hire when his loan shark boss needs to teach someone a lesson. Now, seven months after a job that went south and landed him in jail, Deese has skipped out on bail, and the U.S. Marshals come looking for him. They don’t much care about a low-level guy–it’s his boss they want–but Deese might be their best chance to bring down the whole operation.

Then, they step onto a dirt trail behind Deese’s rural Louisiana cabin and find a jungle full of graves.

Now Lucas Davenport is on the trail of a serial killer who has been operating for years without notice. His quarry is ruthless, and — as Davenport will come to find — full of surprises…

This is the 29th novel in Sandford’s excellent Lucas Davenport/Prey series. I started reading them, I think, when Certain Prey, was first published in the UK. Since then, I’ve managed to read almost all of them (the first few weren’t available in Britain at the time, but are all getting published this year). With each new novel, I was impressed by Sandford’s ability to keep the series fresh and interesting. Neon Prey is no exception: I really enjoyed this. Continue reading