Archive for the ‘Science Fiction & Fantasy’ Category

Brain Exercise from the D.O.D.O.

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland (HarperCollins/Morrow; HaperAudio; OverDrive Sample) debuts on the NYT Hardcover Fiction list this week at #11. It is the lead feature in the paper’s “Inside the List” column, which calls it “a fat marshmallow of a fantasy novel.”

The book, “about a time-traveling intelligence officer and a Harvard linguist who discover that magic was once commonplace” is a collaboration between the noted SF writer and the historical novelist, furthering the trend of genre blending. The NYT asks “If you co-write a book about magic, is that crowd-sorcery?”

Defending the book’s length, 768 pages, Stephenson says “The practice of sustained attention is something that’s happening less and less, especially in our leisure time, so a long narrative, and one that’s this intricate, which requires that you’re always plugged in, because there are various things going on at once — I think that that’s a great exercise. I would assign this book as a brain exercise, as well as a jolly good read.”

It also debuts the USA Today list at #29 and is the #1 Indie Next pick for July. Entertainment Weekly names it one of their “20 Must-Read Books” of the summer. Booklist and Kirkus star, with the latter calling it “Immense and immensely entertaining.” The Guardian reviews it, writing that it is “big, roomy and enjoyable … The characters are lively, the plot moves along and the whole thing possesses heart and charm.” The Washington Post calls it “ambitious” and says “There’s a lot going on here — stylistic flourishes, comedic pratfalls, romance and science — but it’s handled deftly.”

Feminist Sci Fi Wins Baileys Prize

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

Called an “amazing dystopian novel, a brilliant meditation on ‘What if women had all the power?’,” British author Naomi Alderman’s fourth novel The Power has won the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. It will be published in the US in October by Hachette/Little, Brown.

The power of the book’s title is literal. Teen aged girls are given the ability to electrify, shock and even kill, making men terrified of them. In her acceptance speech, Alderman celebrated another sort of power, “the support … of other women [which] has meant more than electricity to me.”

The cover features a blurb from Margaret Atwood, “Electrifying! Shocking! Will knock your socks off! Then you’ll think twice, about everything.” The two authors are mutual admirers. As part of mentoring program set up by Rolex, the pair co-authored a zombie novel on Wattpad titled The Happy Zombie Sunrise Home.

On the eve of the launch of the TV adaptation of Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Alderman explored the history of feminist science fiction for the Guardian, dating the first example to Margaret Cavendish’s 1666 book The Blazing World.

Alderman, who was  has written online games for Penguin, the BBC and others told the Evening Standard that she would love to turn The Power into an online game.  She is already working on an adaptation of the book for television.

An adaptation of the author’s first book Disobedience, a best seller in the UK, is currently in post-production starring Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams and Alessandro Nivola.

The Dark Tower Teasers, Video Cliff Notes

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Three new teasers for The Dark Tower have been released, sending the first book in the series, The Gunslinger, rising on Amazon.

The A.V. Club. reports that each teaser helps orient viewers to the complicated world of the novels and the film.

The first, titled “Earth,” provides story background on how Roland Deschain, a knight, played by Idris Elba, is charged with defending the two universes of the movie (ours and his) that are threatened by the Man In Black,played by Matthew McConaughey.

In the second, titled “Knight,” Roland demonstrates his skills with a gun, illustrating why he is also called the “gunslinger.”

The third, titled “Man in Black,” shows that figure holding forth about his power and his certainty that he will win.

The movie premieres on August 4.

New mass market paperback editions of the first four books in series were published in 2016, when the movie had an earlier release date. New tie-ins have been announced for The Gunslinger in several formats:

The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger
Stephen King, S&S
Trade Paperback , June 13, 2017
Mass Market, June 27, 2017
Hardcover, July 11, 2017

GoT7, First Full Trailer

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Minutes after it was released yesterday the first full trailer for Game of Thrones became the #1 trending video on YouTube, where it remains today.

Hollywood Life breaks down of the key elements and Entertainment Weekly uncovers new revelations. Even a brief animated gif of the leader of the White Walkers gets a thorough analysis.

Season seven begins on July 16 and will consist of seven episodes.

Beginning with the previous season, the TV series has now moved beyond the books. As a result, there is no tie-in.

ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY Wins Nebula

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

io9 co-founder Charlie Jane Anders wins the Nebula award for Best Novel for her genre-stretching book All the Birds in the Sky (Macmillan/Tor; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample).

It received attention in advance of publication in January 2016,  got three prepub stars and was a Feb. Indie Next pick. It went on to being picked as a best book of the year by Amazon, Kirkus, The Washington Post, and Time, where it was #5 on their list of “Top 10 Novels” of 2016. Critics praised the novel’s story, characters, and writing, but were particularly taken with Anders was re-working of the genre. NPR wrote “With All the Birds in the Sky, Anders has given us a fresh set of literary signposts — and a new bundle of emotional metaphors — for the 21st century, replacing the so many of the tired old ones. Oh, and she’s gently overturned genre fiction along the way.”

Seanan McGuire wins Best Novella for Every Heart a Doorway (Macmillan/Tor.com; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample).

The opening of the Wayward Children series was a LibraryReads selection in April 2016 (the second, Down Among The Sticks and Bones, is a LibraryReads pick for this June). In a literary loop, Charlie Jane Anders sets up an excerpt that ran in io9, writing in the headline that it “Is So Mindblowingly Good, It Hurts.” NPR’s reviewer wrote, “Tight and tautly told, Every Heart grabs one of speculative fiction’s most enduring tropes — the portal fantasy, where a person slips from the real world into a magical realm somewhere beyond — and wrings it for all the poignancy, dark humor, and head-spinning twists it can get.”

David D. Levine wins the Andre Norton Award For Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy for Arabella of Mars (Macmillan/Tor.com; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Having won a Hugo for his short stories, this is his debut novel. Locus said “It is a straight-up tale of incredible yet believable adventures fit to have flowed from the quill of Robert Louis Stevenson. It is old-school Planet Stories SF without snark, smarm or apologies. At the same time it is utterly state-of-the-art, 21st-century in its sensibilities and technics. It’s an intriguing counterfactual slightly reminiscent of Novik’s Temeraire series. It’s nuts-and-bolts gadgetry SF that John Campbell would have proudly adopted. It has gravitas and humor, romance and battle, sacrifice and victory in large measures. In short, I can’t see this book—and its intended successors, since it’s labeled Volume 1—as being anything but a huge triumph.” The reviewer was spot on. Book 2, Arabella and the Battle of Venus, comes out July 18th.

Both Anders and McGuire are also finalists for the other two important SF/Fantasy awards still to be given, the Hugo and the Locus. Levine is a finalist for the Locus.

The Locus Awards will be announced the weekend of June 23-25; the Hugo on August 11.

To Screen: THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Well-known for hating screen adaptations of her work, Ursula K. Le Guin just sold the rights to one of her most famous novels, the 1969 Hugo and Nebula award winning The Left Hand of Darkness, an iconic work of feminist science fiction.

The studio Critical Content (responsible for the TV version of Limitless), reports Variety, will create a limited series based on the book with Le Guin serving as a consulting producer.

The novel is part of her Hainish Cycle and explores the ways sex and gender shape a culture. Variety speculates that the audience avidly following Hulu’s adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale will seek out Le Guin’s story as it is another “allegory about sexual politics and power.”

If your collection needs fresh copies, the novel has been republished a number of times, most recently in October 2016 in hardback as part of the Penguin Galaxy series with an introduction by Neil Gaiman: The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin (PRH/Penguin; BBC Audio; OverDrive Sample).

This is the second time this year that Le Guin has agreed to sell the rights to her work. In February she sold the 1966 SF novella Planet Of Exile, also part of the Hainish Cycle.

ARTEMIS Follows THE MARTIAN

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

The announcement of the publication date of the new book by the author of The Martian, Andy Weir, set SF sites ablaze and the book rising on Amazon’s sales rankings.

Unsurprisingly, given the success of the adaptation of the author’s previous book, film rights have been acquired by the same team that produced that blockbuster adaptation.

Described as a “crime novel set on the moon,” the book is listed on wholesaler catalogs.

9780553448122_dacc7Artemis: A Novel
Andy Weir
PRH/Crown, November 14, 2017
Hardcover, 384 pages
$27.00 USD, $36.00 CAD
ISBN 9780553448122, 0553448129

GOT Spinoffs?

Monday, May 8th, 2017

UPDATE: In a blog post, Martin corrects several details in these stories.

HBO is searching for a way to keep viewers tuned in and paying subscription fees once Game of Thrones, their landmark and most popular show, ends sometime next year.

Entertainment Weekly reports that the network has “taken the highly unusual step of developing four different ideas from different writers …  a potentially massive expansion of the popular fantasy universe.”

George R.R. Martin is involved with two of the four projects, teaming up with Jane Goldman (Kingsman: The Secret Service, X-Men: First Class) on one and with Carly Wray (Mad Men) on the other. The other two are being worked on by Max Borenstein (Kong: Skull Island, Fox’s Minority Report) and Brian Helgeland (A Knight’s Tale, L.A. Confidential).

None of the projects are finalized or greenlit yet and HBO will only say that the potential follow-ups will “explore different time periods of George R. R. Martin’s vast and rich universe.” The NYT warns “The earliest a new season of ‘Thrones’ could come would likely be 2019.”

In March, Mashable reported that showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have no plans to write any of the follow-ups but will serve as executive producers on any further GOT project. Martin will serve as EP as well.

That role, as well as his active involvement writing and developing two of the potential projects, raises the question of when Martin’s print series will be completed. He has previously admitted that other duties and events take time away from novel writing. After failing to meet several deadlines, he finally told his fans “it will be done when it’s done.” Vanity Fair goes so far as to say “even if he has, as some suspect, turned in his manuscript for The Winds of Winter, the final book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series—A Dream of Springmay be deferred indefinitely.”

Meanwhile, Game of Thrones returns on July 16 for its seventh season.

To Screen: THE BLACK COMPANY

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

9780765324016A ground-breaking fantasy series begun in 1984 has taken the first steps in the journey to the small screen.

Eliza Dushku, who starred as Faith on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, has optioned the rights to Glen Cook’s action-based epic, The Black Company series, reports Deadline Hollywood. She will star “in the pivotal role of the dark sorceress, The Lady.”

The series consists for four opening novels followed by various collections, the most recent of which is The Many Deaths of the Black Company (Macmillan/Tor/Forge; 2010; OverDrive Sample). Deadline writes that Tor will publish a new volume in 2018, Port of Shadows.

In 2005, Jeff VanderMeer interviewed Cook for The SF Site, writing Cook has “carved out a place for himself among the preeminent fantasy writers of the last twenty-five years with classics such as the Dread Empire trilogy and The Black Company novels. His work is unrelentingly real, complex, and honest. The sense of place that permeates his narrative and his characters gives his ‘fantasies’ more gravitas and grit than most novels that feature contemporary settings.” He goes on to quote Steven Erickson, “The thing about Glen Cook is that he single-handedly changed the field of fantasy — something a lot of people didn’t notice and maybe still don’t. He brought the story down to a human level, dispensing with the clichés and archetypes of princes, kings, and evil sorcerers.”

Deadline summarizes of the novels:

“[They follow] the exploits of the Black Company, an elite mercenary unit that carries out the often nefarious deeds of the highest bidder across a Tolkeinesque landscape. When these hard-bitten men discover the prophecy that the embodiment of good has been reborn, they must re-examine their loyalties. The Lady (Dushku), who rules over the Northern Empire, uses the Black Company to further her domination of a power structure rife with usurpers.”

THE HANDMAID’S TALE: Critic’s Rave

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

9780525435006_a03ffHulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (Houghton Mifflin, 1986; tie-in ed., PRH/Anchor, 2017; OverDrive Sample) premiered Wednesday, to glowing reviews.

The NYT calls it “spectacular” and says that the show “argues — with an assist from current events — that progress is neither automatic nor irreversible.”

The Washington Post headlines, “The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t just timely, it’s essential viewing for our fractured culture.”

The Guardian writes “It’s a horror, and it’s a thriller, but it is, at its core, a warning, about how oppression can creep up on you, and what happens when women’s lives are no longer their own.”

NPR says it is “chilling … a horror show unveiled in slow motion … In a country where sexual harassment scandals regularly land on the front page, the patriarchy of The Handmaid’s Tale doesn’t feel so far-fetched, which is the most horrific thing about it.”

Elle magazine takes an interesting approach to the book, asking a range of women authors how it shaped their “ideas of feminism, fairness, and dystopia.”

Louise O’Neill, author of Only Every Yours recalls reading when she was 15 and wondering “How is it possible that this book was written in 1985… and yet so little has changed in the last 15 years.” Reading it again this year, she’s asking the same question.

Sady Doyle, author of Trainwreck says the lessons of the book “set the table for how I would look at gender and power as an adult. I’m more glad than ever for the book as it’s become more necessary.”

HANDMAID Redux?

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

51a50MavWSL._SL300_Excitement is building over a possible sequel to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (Houghton Mifflin, 1986; tie-in ed., PRH/Anchor, 2017; OverDrive Sample).

A sly wink from Atwood as well as some additions she wrote for the newly released audiobook version (Audible only; cover at let) have brought speculation from many quarters, including Entertainment Weekly, Flavorwire, The Guardian, io9, New York magazine, and the Canadian entertainment site The Loop,

The original print book ends with a symposium set after the book’s event, reflecting on the dystopian period that came before. The final line comes from one of the presenters, a professor who asks, “Are there any questions?”

In the new Audible edition, Atwood has provided those questions, via an exchange between conference attendees and the professor.

One of the questions concerns how much more information the professor has. He responds:

“We have indeed made some fresh discoveries but I am not yet at liberty to share them … I hope to be able to present the results of our further Gileadian investigations to you at some future date … Give us a year or two and I hope you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

The Loop asked Atwood if that meant a sequel was in the works and she replied:

“I am in consultation with the Professor, but he is being very cagey about this. He evidently doesn’t want to make any promises before he has finished authenticating his new discoveries.”

So … maybe more will be forthcoming. In the meantime, Atwood has been promoting the audio, saying in a release “I’m delighted to see the novel that I wrote over thirty years ago come alive on new platforms every year. The roots of my original book are in audio — Offred’s story was recorded, not written, and even the ‘Historical Notes’ are a voice — so I was excited to extend the story with additional material meant specifically to be heard. … The Handmaid’s Tale is alive, it seems — and like all living things, it grows and multiplies!

It is set to multiply in yet another format, on April 26 when the TV adaptation begins streaming on Hulu.

IT Gets a Trailer

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

The first trailer has been released for the film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel IT and is already the #1 trending video on YouTube.

Its release is moving two editions of the classic horror novel up Amazon’s sales rankings. The trade paperback moved from #449 to almost within Amazon’s Top Ten (it is #12). The mass market leaped from #7,395 to #225.

The clip is for the first of a two-part movie. As we posted earlier, part one follows a group of kids, members of the Losers’ Club, who live in a small town in Maine and fight against an ancient and shape-shifting evil that stalks the town every 27 years. Part two will follow those terrorized kids, now adults, as they once again stand guard against the recurring evil of It.

Andrés Muschietti (Mama) is directing and Swedish actor Bill Skarsgård plays the evil clown Pennywise. One of the producers is Seth Grahame-Smith, known for launching the mashup craze with his books Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.

itposterUSA Today quotes Muschietti musing on what “IT” means: “Maybe it is real as long as children believe in it. And in a way, Pennywise’s character is motivated by survival. In order to be alive in the imagination of children, he has to keep killing.”

The tie-in comes out on July 25, 2017 (S&S/Pocket). There is no cover image yet, but it is likely to be similar to the creepy new film poster at left.

Future Visions

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

9780316262330_fecffCommenting that “All science-fiction novels are about the future and about the present at the same time,” Kim Stanley Robinson discusses his new book  New York 2140 (Hachette/Orbit; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample) in an interview with New York magazine. In it, he envisions a waterlogged city that climate change has turned into the Venice of the U.S.

It is one of a number of novels getting media attention for their prescience about the current political climate,

A surprisingly hopeful version of what lies ahead, Robinson’s books shows survivors coping with the aftermath of  an epic flood that has hit NYC. They move into high rise buildings, get used to tides washing up the streets, and to living with canals rather than roads. Robinson says “at some point, science fiction has to imagine the people who come after, when the situation will be natural, whatever it is.”

In her monthly Sci Fi column in the NYT Book Review, N.K. Jemisin says Robinson “deftly conveys [the transformed city’s] unnerving strangeness … it is refreshing to see a futurism that acknowledges the innate resilience of the city and, by inference, of humanity itself.”

9780765388889_dac23Wired compares it to John Scalzi’s newest, the space opera The Collapsing Empire (Macmillan/Tor; OverDrive Sample), a far less hopeful vision set in AD 3500 when humanity appears doomed. They call it “Star Wars politics in the key of Firefly,” while New York 2014 could be pitched as “Waterworld survivalists battle Wall Street bogeymen.”

9780451493583_f9dc0Daily NYT critic Michiko Kakutani devotes her attention to a novel that, like Robinson’s, imagines the impact of global warming on the U.S., Omar El Akkad’s American War (PRH/Knopf; RH Audio; OverDrive Sample). In this darker version, the U.S., reduced to a much smaller country, is engaged in second Civil War.

Kakutani says “El Akkad has fashioned a surprisingly powerful novel — one that creates as haunting a postapocalyptic universe as Cormac McCarthy did in The Road (2006), and as devastating a look at the fallout that national events have on an American family as Philip Roth did in The Plot Against America (2004).”

Released today, the book is currently at #71 on Amazon’s sales rankings, moving up rapidly from a lowly #29,600.

AMERICAN GODS: New Trailer

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

9780062572233_d8645Starz’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods premieres on Sunday, April 30, 2017. A just-released new trailer is making news, and is now #1 YouTube.

Entertainment Weekly says it is “full of gorgeous fantasy imagery and gothic drama.” The Verge notes it is the “most extensive and violent look yet [and it] gives a better idea of the stakes: the older gods face an existential crisis, and Shadow will help with the fight.” RollingStone gives more specific warnings, “The teaser also showcases some disturbing … visuals: bloody beaches, rain pouring on corpses, eerie caves and a zombie-like woman walking down a picturesque suburban street while clutching her chopped-off arm.”

Tie-ins hit shelves in late March: American Gods, Neil Gaiman (HC/William Morrow; also in mass market;HC Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Ted Chiang Takes Off, Again

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

9781101972120_4afa1The film Arrival was nominated for eight Oscar awards but nabbed just one, for Sound Editing. However, clips from the film, shown during the Academy Awards show, served to prime audiences for the film’s On Demand debut on Saturday.

In turn, the the collection that included the short story it is based on, Stories Of Your Life And Others by Ted Chiang (originally published in 2002 by Macmillan/Tor; re-released by PRH/Vintage in 2016; Tantor Audio; OverDrive Sample) is moving up Amazon’s sales ranking again. Demand is also strong in libraries we checked, with most systems topping 4:1 ratios.

This marks a second wave of interest in the collection, after the film’s release in November, when the paperback appeared on the NYT Best Seller List for several weeks.

The formerly under-the-radar Science Fiction writer has since received a even more attention. Wired picked the collection last month for their book club, saying the lead story is so moving that it made participating staff members cry in public.

The New Yorker featured Chiang in January and Syfy Wire published an interview in the lead up to the Oscars.