Archive for the ‘Science Fiction & Fantasy’ Category

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.

TOMORROW AND TOMORROW Moves Towards Screen

Sunday, February 26th, 2017

9780425275412_1459eThe film rights to Tom Sweterlitsch’s debut novel were optioned at nearly the same time the cyberpunk crime novel hit shelves in 2014.

The project just got a big boost with the news that Matt Ross, the director of Captain Fantastic has signed on to direct the adaptation, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow (PRH/Putnam; Penguin Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample) is set in a near future version of Pittsburgh, after a catastrophe reduces it to rubble. A virtual-reality version of the city, called the Archive, allows characters to visit again, including John Blaxton, who lost his wife and unborn child in the disaster. He also investigates cold cases and finds one very much alive within the digital world of the Archive.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow is prescient, it posits a world not so dissimilar from today, a direction we are all clearly headed, where technology has altered the ways in which we interact with each other and the world around us,” Ross said in a statement. “I hope to examine, following the book’s lead, the degree to which our lives are enhanced, and deeply compromised, by the technology that is already an inseparable part of our daily existence.”

The Hollywood Reporter says that Lynette Howell Taylor, who produced Captain Fantastic and is working on a remake of A Star is Born with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, is on board to produce. So is Mark Gordon, one of the figures behind Saving Private Ryan who is currently working on the all-star update of Murder on the Orient Express.

Librarians chatted with the author as part of our Penguin Random House EarlyReads program (read the chat here). It was picked by LJ as a SF/Fantasy Debut of the Month and as one of 2014’s Summer’s Best Debuts.

The Verge reports that this may not be the only novel by Sweterlitsch to head to the movies. Fox bought the rights to The Gone World in 2015 and Neill Blomkamp (District 9) is in talks to direct.

Nebula Nominees

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

The nominees have been announced for one of the most prestigious awards in genre fiction, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s 51st Annual Nebula Awards.

The buzziest of the five nominees for Best Novel are All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (Macmillan/Tor; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample) and The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin (Hachette/Orbit; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample).

9780765379955_d589bAll the Birds in the Sky was selected 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.

It got rave reviews generally as well. 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.”

Anders, until recently, was the founder and co-editor of the science fiction site io9.com. She won the Hugo in 2012 for the novelette Six Months, Three Days.

9780316229265_b53adThe Obelisk Gate is the second novel in the Broken Earth series. We wrote about its reception earlier and Naomi Novik reviewed it for the NYT BR, praising its “intricate and extraordinary world-­building.”

Jemisin won the Hugo for the series launch, The Fifth Season, and she won the Locus award for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. She is a notable voice in the field, sharing her opinions on the genre and writing reviews for the NYT column “Otherwordly.”

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Somewhat more under the radar but still making end of the year best lists is Borderline by Mishell Baker (S&S/Saga; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample), which was an Library Journal top pick for the year. Tor.com said it is “dark and creeping and smart as a whip.

The final nominees are Everfair by Nisi Shawl (Macmillan/Tor; Tantor Audio; OverDrive Sample) and Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (S&S/Solaris; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample).

The website The Verge picked both as among their 2016 recommendations.

The Washington Post says of Everfair, it is “a beautifully written and thrillingly ambitious alternate history … It’s a tribute to Shawl’s powerful writing that her intricate, politically and racially charged imaginary world seems as believable — sometimes more believable — than the one we inhabit.”

In her NYT column, Jemisin says of Ninefox Gambit, “Readers willing to invest in a steep learning curve will be rewarded with a tight-woven, complicated but not convoluted, breathtakingly original space opera. And since this is only the first book of the Machineries of Empire trilogy, it’s the start of what looks to be a wild ride.”

As The Verge notes, the list highlights a welcome diversity, “three of the five nominees for Best Novel are authors of color, and four out of the five are women.

The winners will be announced during the annual Nebula Conference, which runs from May 18th-21st in Pittsburgh. The full list of nominees is online.

More NEVERWHERE

Sunday, February 19th, 2017

9780062371058_4efe1Over twenty years since it first published, Neil Gaiman is writing a sequel to his beloved Neverwhere (HC/William Morrow; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample). It will be titled The Seven Sisters.

Neverwhere takes place in an underground London, a fantastical place with real London landmarks populated by those who have fallen through the cracks.

The Guardian reports that Gaiman was “prompted to write the sequel both by the changes in the world over the past 20 years and his work with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR). Under the latter’s auspices, he has visited refugee camps in the Middle East and spoken to people displaced by the conflict in Syria.”

He told an audience in London recently:

Neverwhere for me was this glorious vehicle where I could talk about huge serious things and have a ridiculous amount of fun on the way. The giant wheel has turned over the last few years and looking around the work I have been doing for UNHCR for refugees … I decided that it actually was time to do something. Now I had things I was angry about. I cared about things I wanted to put in and I’m now a solid three chapters in.”

The Guardian says the title “takes its name from an ancient area of the real north London replete with myths and legends. The name comes from seven elm trees planted in a circle there, with suggestions of pagan places of worship dating back to Roman times.”

No word when the book will be published.

Ursula K. Le Guin
Heads To The Movies

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

planetofexileThe topics Ursula K. LeGuin explores in her novels should make her books attractive to today’s movie and TV producers, but none have made it to the screen since the 2004 mini-series based on Earthsea, most likely because LeGuin was not a fan of the outcome, writing “How the Sci Fi Channel wrecked my books.”

Last year, she told the site Den of Geek!, “I’ve got very hard-nosed about this. I don’t need the money so I can just say ‘no, you can’t have my book, if you’re going to chop it up and use its name and make it into something or other of yours that has nothing to do with what I wrote’. Enough of that.”

Thus, it’s big news that several well-credentialed producers, have acquired the rights to one of her early works, the 1966 SF novella Planet Of Exile, re-published in the collection Worlds of Exile and Illusion (Macmillan/Orb, 1996; OverDrive Sample). 

It is part of the Hainish universe of titles, which includes two of Le Guin’s most famous novels, The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed. As the site Signature characterizes Planet Of Exile, it “explore themes of power, justice, freedom, and personal responsibility towards society at large. Told from the distant future on an imaginary planet, [it] concern[s] matters of love and survival as familiar to readers today as they were when [it was] first published in the 1960s.”

In a retrospective review, Tor.com writes that it is possible to see Planet Of Exile as one of LeGuin’s “dry runs for The Left Hand of Darkness.” Perhaps this forthcoming adaptation will also be a dry run for more to come.

Handmaid’s Super Bowl Trailer

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

mv5botu3njczmteznv5bml5banbnxkftztgwnjk5mzcwmti-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_If you choose the Puppy Bowl over the Super Bowl this weekend, you will miss an ad for Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale (Houghton Mifflin, 1986). Good news, it has been released on YouTube, so you can have both. [UPDATE: as a result, the book shot to #1 on Amazon’s rankings on Monday].

The Super Bowl clip features more backstory as well as footage of the terror the handmaid’s face.

Two tag lines emerge. Elizabeth Moss, playing the handmaid Offred says: “My name is Offred — and I intend to survive.”

Joseph Fiennes, playing Commander Waterford, officially empowered to imprison and force Offred to bear his child, says: “We only wanted to make the world better, but ‘better’ never means better for everyone.”

Entertainment Weekly reports on the trailer in detail.

The series will premiere on April 26, 2017. A tie-in comes out in late March: The Handmaid’s Tale (Movie Tie-in), (PRH/Anchor, trade pbk; March 28, 2017). The book is rising on best seller lists and some see that as having more to do with protests against the Trump administration than with the upcoming series. The producer and the cast themselves have called the 20-year-old dystopian novel it is based on “prescient.”

GOOD OMENS To Screen

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

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Amazon plans to produce a six-part series based on Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, a fantasy-comedy novel written by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (HarperCollins, 2007; trade pbk.; orig. pub date 1990; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample).

Slate reports BBC Studios will partner with Amazon and that Gaiman has already written all of the episodes. He will also act as showrunner and serve as a co-producer.

Amazon summarizes the series in its press release:

Good Omens takes place in 2018 when the Apocalypse is near and Final Judgment is set to descend upon humanity … So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, and tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except Aziraphale, a somewhat fussy angel, and Crowley, a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming war. And…someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist.”

In the same release, Gaiman says “Almost thirty years ago, Terry Pratchett and I wrote the funniest novel we could about the end of the world … It became many people’s favourite book. Three decades later, it’s going to make it to the screen … I just wish Sir Terry were alive to see it.”

The Guardian points out that it has been adapted before, as an award-winning radio drama on BBC Radio 4 and there were a proposal for a film adaptation, directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Johnny Depp as Crowley and Robin Williams as Aziraphale, that did not move forward.

The series will premiere sometime in 2018. Casting information is not yet available.

Brandon Sanderson To Big Screen, Times Two

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

9780385743563_594189780385743587_33252One of the biggest names in Fantasy is going to the movies.

Brandon Sanderson’s YA series, The Reckoners, has just been bought by 20th Century Fox in what Deadline Hollywood calls “a hotly contested” deal. Both Steelheart and Firefight, the first two books in the series, will be adapted.

Deadline describes the series:

“a burst in the sky gave ordinary people extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics, but with incredible gifts came the desire to rule. In what was once Chicago, an … Epic named Steelheart installed himself as emperor. Nobody fights back but the Reckoners, a shadowy group of ordinary humans who spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.”

9780385743600_ffd5eSteelheart came out in 2013 (PRH/Delacorte Press; RH Audio; Brilliance Audio; OverDrive Sample)

Firefight followed in 2015 (PRH/Delacorte Press; Brilliance Audio; OverDrive Sample)

Calamity, the final book in the trilogy, came out in 2016 (PRH/Delacorte Press; Brilliance Audio; OverDrive Sample). The trade paperback of Calamity hits shelves on 2/28/17 (PRH/Ember).

wp_20150517_109-1Also in the works, from MGM, is Sanderson’s Snapshot, a SF detective thriller novella about a society, says Deadline, that:

“can create a snapshot of a specific day in time. The experiences people have, the paths they follow — all of them are real again for one day in the snapshot. All for the purposes of investigation by the court. The cop uses it as a way to find where a criminal dumped a weapon or what really happened in a domestic dispute. It’s drudgery, until the day the cop investigates the memory of a call that was never logged, and he makes a horrifying discovery.”

According to Sanderson’s website, the print book comes out in February in an expensive leather-bound edition, but also as a simultaneous ebook and, later in 2017, in a regular hardcover edition.

Live Chat
with Elan Mastai, Author of
ALL OUR WRONG TODAYS

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

This chat has now ended. Read the transcript, below.

Join us for the next live chat on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 4 to 5 p.m., ET with Eleanor Wasserberg, to discuss her upcoming book, Foxlowe.

To join the program, sign up here

Live Blog Live Chat with Elan Mastai, ALL OUR WRONG TODAYS