Book Editorial, Book Events, Books, Editorials, Events

SDCC14: Some of the world’s biggest fantasy writers talk about putting the Epic in Epic Fantasy

LMZ_8691w header
L to R: Weeks, Wexler, Sykes, Abercrombie, Hobb, Rhodes, Feist, and Rothfuss

Lytherus had the good fortune of attending not one, but two epic fantasy panels at San Diego Comic Con this year. The first (aptly named “Putting the Epic in Epic Fantasy”) had an amazing lineup of authors: Django Wexler (The Shadow Throne), Sam Sykes (The City Stained Red),  Joe Abercrombie (Half a King), Robin Hobb (Fool’s Assassin), Morgan Rhodes (The Fallen Kingdom Series), Rayond E. Feist (Magician’s End), and Patrick Rothfuss (The Slow Regard of Silent Things), with Brent Weeks (The Way of Shadows) as the MC.

Brent kicked it off with a hilarious intro to all of the authors, complete with photo slideshow, which had everyone in stitches in the first few minutes. Once he got into the meat of the panel though, some great questions were asked. First up: Does it make sense to have traditions in fantasy? Pat started everyone off, saying that he doesn’t really know where his position is with this, using Christianity going from one to many types as a parallel example, and saying that we can follow the trends, like from Harry Potter now over to George R.R. Martin. He also said that he’s inspired from stuff he doesn’t like as much as stuff he does. Sam added to this, saying how things we liked as kids we may be ashamed of as adults (he likened Dragon Lance to porn as an example and got a great laugh)

Next Brent moved on to individual questions, starting with asking Django to talk about military fantasy. He said GRRM was a direct inspiration, and liked how he took things back to their roots, referencing the Napoleonic wars, etc. Also, some things were a result of HP, the idea of wondering what it would be like if the mentor was untrustworthy (i.e. a sketchy Dumbledore, which also got some laughs).

LMZ_8692wBrent used this to transition to Robin, asking her how she’d describe her writing and how she thinks she fits into the GRRM era. She said simply that she’s trying to tell a story. She’s not trying to change your mind or inspire you, and there are really no boundaries. No one can tell the same story the same way, and on top of that, all artists are thieves. Ray added to this, saying that you can’t predict success with this. GRRM cheats. He cheats. All writers cheat (the example he uses is a scene in one of George’s books with soldiers that isn’t historically accurate, but works to drive the story forward). Writers cheat so they can focus on what’s most interesting, Ray continued. They hope what they write is interesting to others too.

Morgan was up next, and Brent wanted to know what made her want to write her YA fantasy book, as she’s sometimes seen as the YA GRRM. She’s new to fantasy, having written in the paranormal genre for a while, so she wanted to pull from fantasy she loved, like the movies Willow and Legend, and even Disney princesses. And then she started watching Game of Thrones and was like WTF?! It all went into her melting pot. She’s not trying to write for anyone specific, it’s just the story.

At this point Joe interjected that it’s amazing to him that no one has mentioned Tolkien yet. A few years ago it was Tolkien and only Tolkien. Pat added to this, talking about how things seem to swing in four-year intervals. It was Harry Potter for a while, and then it was the LOTR movies, and now Game of Thrones. He said it’s hard in the moment to say if it’s an overall shifting of genre, or if it’s just this moment in time. Django added that Harry Potter made people see YA and MG in a new way, and the post-HP world is very different.

Sam then wondered why GoT is different, the appeal is different. Usually the good guys win. GoT changed the rules. Everyone was like “You can’t DO that!”, and maybe that’s what makes it appealing. Robin added that it’s great because GoT brings in a new readership who haven’t read anything like it, or their work, before. Pat got a laugh with the reference that people still refer to fantasy as ghetto. First LOTR, then HP, now GoT. At some point you have to stop saying it’s ghetto.

At this point there were some audience questions, most of them directed towards one author or another vs. the whole group. But the energy was jovial and the audience seemed to really enjoy the panel. I also had a great time, and really loved the insight of how the genre is evolving. This panel had some of the great fantasy writers of our time, and it was wonderful to get a peek into their minds and their worlds. I’ll definitely be curious to see what big thing of the genre will be latched onto next, but for now we will have to wait and see!

Book News, Books, News

New Releases, Week of April 11th, 2011

Here’s a list of all of sci-fi and fantasy coming out this week.

Released Monday, April 11th, 2011

The Company Man, by Robert Jackson Bennett

The year is 1919.

The McNaughton Corporation is the pinnacle of American industry. They built the guns that won the Great War before it even began. They built the airships that tie the world together. And, above all, they built Evesden-a shining metropolis, the best that the world has to offer.

But something is rotten at the heart of the city. Deep underground, a trolley car pulls into a station with eleven dead bodies inside. Four minutes before, the victims were seen boarding at the previous station. Eleven men butchered by hand in the blink of an eye. All are dead. And all are union.

Now, one man, Cyril Hayes, must fix this. There is a dark secret behind the inventions of McNaughton and with a war brewing between the executives and the workers, the truth must be discovered before the whole city burns. Caught between the union and the company, between the police and the victims, Hayes must uncover the mystery before it kills him.

Released Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide, by Stephenie Meyer

This must-have hardcover edition–the only official guide–is the definitive encyclopedic reference to the Twilight Saga and provides readers with everything they need to further explore the unforgettable world Stephenie Meyer created in Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn,and The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. This comprehensive handbook—essential for every Twilight Saga fan—is full-color throughout with nearly 100 gorgeous illustrations and photographs and with exclusive new material, character profiles, genealogical charts, maps, extensive cross-references, and much more.

My Unfair Godmother, by Janette Rallison

Tansy Miller has always felt that her divorced father has never had enough time for her. But mistakenly getting caught on the wrong side of the law wasn’ texactly how she wanted to get his attention. Enter Chrysanthemum “Chrissy” Everstar, Tansy’s fairy in shining, er, high heels. Chrissy is only a fair godmother, of course, so Tansy’s three wishes don’t exactly go according to plan. And if bringing Robin Hood to the twenty-first century isn’t bad enough for Tansy, being transported back to the Middle Ages to deal with Rumpelstiltskin certainly is. She’ll need the help of her blended family, her wits, and especially the cute police chief ‘s son to stop the gold-spinning story from spinning wildly out of control. Janette Rallison pulls out all the stops in this fresh, fun-filled follow-up to the popular My Fair Godmother.

The Gathering (Darkness Rising, Book 1), by Kelley Armstrong

Strange things are happening in Maya’s tiny Vancouver Island town. First, her friend Serena, the captain of the swim team, drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. Then, one year later, mountain lions are spotted rather frequently around Maya’s home—and her reactions to them are somewhat . . . unexpected. Her best friend, Daniel, has also been experiencing unexplainable premonitions about certain people and situations.

It doesn’t help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret, and he’s interested in one special part of Maya’s anatomy—her paw-print birthmark.

A Kingdom Besieged: Book One of the Chaoswar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist

After nearly thirty years and more than two dozen novels, Raymond E. Feist’s Riftwar Cycle has become one of the most iconic, beloved, and enduring sagas in modern fantasy. The Riftwars—including the original Riftwar, the Serpentwar, the Darkwar, and the Demonwar—were epic battles between Good and Evil whose ramifications have echoed through generations. The latest entry in the epic, A Kingdom Besieged, ushers in the most fearsome threat the Kingdom has yet faced—the Chaoswar—a magic apocalypse with cataclysmic results.

A Kingdom Besieged

Years ago, the Empire of Great Kesh failed in its attempt to conquer Krondor after the Serpentwar, thanks to the bravery, cunning, and magic of the sorcerer Pug and the Conclave of Shadows. Since then, peace has benefitted both nations, and the Kingdom has been free from the threat of another Keshian invasion. Yet now, the dark clouds of war gather again. . . .

From the Far Coast in the west to the frontier with the Eastern Kingdoms, rumors, uncertainty, and political instability are rampant. Spies have gone missing—some were murdered while others have turned traitor. Factions are rising, powerful legions from the Keshian Confederacy have been mobilized, and an attack on the kingdoms of the Isles and Roldem is all but certain.

As the men of the Western Realm begin to mount a defense, Martin conDoin, the middle son of Lord Henry, Duke of Crydee, finds himself leading the charge against the invaders—like his legendary ancestor, Prince Arutha, who stood firm to the death against the Tsurani invasion. But Arutha had an entire army at his command. Martin has just a ragtag force comprised of a few old men and young boys.

As Kesh’s invading hordes once again descend upon the Kingdom, no one is safe—not experienced masters of intrigue Lord James Dasher Jamison and the beguiling and deadly Lady Franciezka; not the brave warrior Knight-Adamant Sandreena and a new generation of loyal yet untested defenders; not even the great Pug himself, the most powerful magician the world of Midkemia has ever known. A threat far more terrifying has arisen, an evil whose burgeoning power portends Midkemia’s demise. And soon even the Kingdom’s enchanted defender will find himself questioning everything he’s ever held abiding, true, and treasured . . . including the loyalty and desires of his beloved son, Magnus.

The Tomes of the Dead: The Viking Dead, by Toby Venables

976 AD – Northern Europe. BjÓlf and the viking crew of the ship Hrafn flee up an unknown river after a bitter battle, only to find themselves in a bleak land of pestilence. The dead don’t lie down, but become what the villagers call draugr – the undead – returning to feed on the flesh of their kin. Terrible stories are told of a dark castle in a hidden fjord, and of black ships that come raiding with invincible draugr berserkers. And no sooner has BjÓlf resolved to leave, than the black ships appear… Now stranded, his men cursed by the contagion of walking death, BjÓlf has one choice: fight his way through a forest teeming with zombies, invade the castle and find the secret of the horrific condition – or submit to an eternity of shambling, soulless undeath!

Starcraft II: Devil’s Due, by Christie Golden

The year is 2494. Almost five years ago, Jim Raynor and Tychus Findlay were members of the Heaven’s Devils, an elite Confederate marine unit praised for its nerves of steeland combat expertise. After making a stand against their corrupt commanding officer, the two men were forced to go AWOL or risk being unjustly prosecuted and resocialized.

Now, Raynor and Findlay are outlaws hounded by an unyielding interstellar marshal. Life, however, has never beenbetter. Each day is another chance to pilfer more credits from the Confederacy’s deep coffers. Each night holds the promise of spending their hard-earned profits in bars, brothels, and gambling halls. But a man can only run so far before the law—and his past—catch up with him. . . .

Devils’ Due recounts an unforgettable period of Jim Raynor’s life as he descends into the Koprulu sector’s criminal underworld alongside the street-savvy Findlay. Here, far from his humble upbringing on the fringe world of Shiloh, Raynor will face some of the most trying challenges of his life. The decisions he makes will alter his destiny forever and put his father’s oft-spoken wisdom, “A man is what he chooses to be,” to the ultimate test.

Battle in the Dawn: The Complete Hok the Mighty (Planet Stories), by Manly Wade Wellman

In the 1930s, a very unusual tale appeared in the influential Amazing Stories magazine. Unlike the usual yarns of robots and interstellar travel, this “Battle in the Dawn” featured the brutal exploits of Hok, the first hero of humanity, in his struggles against the savage Neanderthals. Written by rising pulpster Manly Wade Wellman (Who Fears the Devil?), who would later achieve fame for his American folktales of Silver John and beat out William Faulkner for a prestigious writing award, the story and its brave hero struck a chord with Amazing’s readers, and several additional adventures followed, taking Hok through the prehistory of mankind to battle unrelenting cavemen, explore the lost city of Atlantis, discover new technology, and chart a new destiny for humanity. Now, for the first time ever, Planet Stories presents a complete authorized collection of all of Wellman’s rare Hok the Mighty tales, packed with unfinished story fragments, all-new illustrations, and a brand-new introduction by Wellman’s longtime friend, fantasy author David Drake.

The Unremembered: Book One of the Vault of Heaven, by Peter Orullian

Summoned from the bucolic Hollows by a wizardly stranger and an elven Far, untested orphans Tahn, Wendra, and Sutter set out on a perilous and mysterious quest, soon grievously menaced by evil minions of a god who seeks world domination. Meanwhile, a capital city braces for invasion. This well-worn epic fantasy formula suffers from an inflated, pretentious creation-myth prologue, unprepared shifts in point of view, and jerkily inserted gobbets of history. Nevertheless, Orullian often achieves convincing poignancy in the relationships he develops among his young protagonists. Young devotees of long, long fantasy journeys and adolescent comings-of-age may enjoy the near-endless succession of deadly adventures in Orullian’s elaborate world, but those yearning for linguistic and philosophical depth will have to look elsewhere.

Shadow Chaser: Book Two of the Chronicles of Siala, by Alexey Pehov

Saddened because they have left one of their number in a grave in the wilderness, Harold and his companions continue their journey to the dreaded underground palace of Hrad Spein. There, knowing that armies of warriors and wizards before them have failed, they must fight legions of untold, mysterious powers before they can complete their quest for the magic horn that will save their beloved land from The Nameless One. But before they can even reach their goal, they must overcome all manner of obstacles, fight many battles…and evade the frightful enemies on their trail.

Shadow Chaser is a novel of intricate plots, surprising twists and finely drawn characters that will not leave you when you put the book down.Shadow Chaser is truly something different in the world of fantasy, something special; it is something truly Russian, a fantasy that is gripping and haunting, fascinating and imaginative.

After the Golden Age, by Carrie Vaughn

Vaughn (Discord’s Apple) delivers a loving homage to classic superheroes, throwing in layers of darkness and realism while avoiding the cynical satire and deconstruction common in contemporary comics. Forensic accountant Celia West is the powerless and estranged daughter of two of Commerce City’s great heroes, Captain Olympus and Spark. When the city prosecutes the evil Destructor for tax evasion, Celia gets pulled in to track down evidence. As a new crime spree creates tension between the city’s heroes and the police force, Celia’s investigation uncovers long-buried secrets about her family and the city. Vaughn throws in elements of romance and humor, but the drama between Celia and her father really drives the story. The story is very accessible to readers who have never picked up a comic book while boasting plenty of clever in-jokes for fans of golden age superheroics.

All the Lives He Led: A Novel, by Frederik Pohl

In a tired, terrorist-plagued 2079 still reeling from the aftereffects of a massive Yellowstone eruption, Brad Sheridan escapes from America’s refugee camps by signing up for an overseas indenture. Chance earns him a spot working in Italy’s lavish commemoration of the 2,000th anniversary of the destruction of Pompeii. Beneath quiescent Vesuvius, tourists enjoy entertainments real and virtual. Ben’s ambition is limited to minor scams and romance, but fate places him near the epicenter of a terrorist plot of unprecedented scale. This seminihilistic novel, reminiscent of Mining the Oort and The Cool War, is not among Pohl’s best only because the Grand Master’s previous novels have set such a high standard, and it stands as a demonstration of his continuing strengths in the eighth decade of his career.

Released Thursday, April 14th, 2011

The White Luck Warrior: The Aspect Emperor, Book 2, by R. Scott Bakker

Widely praised by reviewers and a growing body of fans, R. Scott Bakker has already established his reputation as one of the few unique new talents in the fantasy genre. Now he returns with the long-awaited The White Luck Warrior–the second book in the Aspect-Emperor series.

As Anasûrimbor Kellhus and his Great Ordeal march ever farther into the wastes of the Ancient North, Esmenet finds herself at war with not only the Gods, but her own family as well. Achamian, meanwhile, leads his own ragtag expedition to the legendary ruins of Sauglish, and to a truth he can scarcely survive, let alone comprehend. Into this tumult walks the White-Luck Warrior, assassin and messiah both.

The White Luck Warrior is a story filled with heartstopping action, devious treachery, grand passion, and meticulous detail. It is both a classic quest tale and a high fantasy war story.

Life on Mars: Tales from the New Frontier, by Jonathan Strahan

Mars! The Red Planet! For generations, people have wondered what it would be like to travel to and live there. That curiosity has inspired some of the most durable science fiction, including Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles and the work of Isaac Asimov. Now the award-winning anthologist Jonathan Strahan has brought together thirteen original stories to explore the possibilities. After reading Life on Mars, readers will never look at the fourth planet from the sun the same way again.

List from Borders.com and descriptions/reviews from Amazon.com