Monday, December 6, 2010

PYR celebrates 100th published novel

Pry Books releases it's 100th novel this month with James Enge's The Wolf Age. If you have any interest in weird fiction, sword and sorcery or adventure fiction in general I'd say you really should check out his fiction.
And in this celebration you can for free. The fine people at Pyr is giving away a free short story for your reading pleasure. Go here and get an epub copy of a short Morlock story by James Enge. If it is anything like the story from Swords and Dark Magic it's bound to be a great deal of fun, not just a little creepy and all kinds of weird.
James Enge's fiction has been published in The magazine Black Gate and with The Wolf Age Pyr has published two novels and one collection of his shorter fiction. Why not check it out, it is free and it's in an easily portable ePub format.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

November Silence...

   The month of november was pretty quiet for my review blog and there were two main reasons: 1 getting a job is great but has cut into my reading time and had slowed my progress and 2 attempting to participate in nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). 

     In terms of my recent reemployment I'm working in an artisan bakery mainly doing prep work for the weeks baking and a pretty proud to be involved so may in producing such quality bread, Danish and pastry. 
      Now I have been working on reviews but most of my writing time was eaten up by attempting to write a 50,000 word novel for nanowrimo. This is the third year I attempted it. 
     In 2008 I worked on an alternate history idea that had been knocking around my mind for a while. That year I had a vast amount of time in my split shit job and I filled it with writing. I managed to finish the story in the 30 days and make a couple hundred words over the 50k succeeding in my attempt. In a moment of self hatred and depression I erased it in 2009 an have no backed up version. It was on the whole probably bad on the whole bet there are some scenes and characters that are still alive and vivid in my memory of it.
      2009's attempt was not so close to success in that I dove in with no plan what so ever and did not even get more then a few days worth before walking away from the attempt. It made me sad but I did get my blog up and running so I will count my failure as a win somewhere. Anyway that same year I got the iPod touch that has become one of the ways I have been able to read a number of the books for the blog.
      2010's Nanowrimo attempt I started with a concept for an interesting character concept and placed him in another alternate history setting. My attempt amounted to a Weird Western "rural" Fantasy that involved a town based on Jacksonville Oregon during it's goldrush. I figured I would need to write anytime I had about 20 minutes to a half hour or so free. About that time I discovered that 1 my writing program of choice Scrivner was releasing a new version and that with a combination of an App called plaintext and Dropbox I could write on my iPod on the go. It was easy to transfer it to the laptop and drop it into the editor of scrivener so voilà I could write whenever I got a chance. 
     Plaintext is a great mobile writing platform on the touch as long as you can get used to typing with your thumbs and fingers. I'm sure my speed is nowhere like on a standard real keyboard but I was for the first couple days of writing hitting or coming within a couple hundred words of my goals across the multiple short writing sessions. It was hard having to recall where my train of though had stopped in one session and pickup in another. But I did get through thirteendays before my plans got derailed and I fell more behind then I was. Halfway through I knew I did not have a clear end in sight and my characters began to want to go in directions I fought to hold off since some of them ached to rush headlong into violent or irrevocable action NOW. I got down to the last week knowing I had over 20000 words left to go and characters fighting me for their independence. My goals went from 2600 words a day at the beginning of that week to 3000 a day to near 5000 on the 29th. Now I did not make it but I did get over 40000 words on a novel that is now much more defined in terms of characters plot and setting then it would ever have been without the attempt. I don't like whole side plots and events that occurred and will be trimming those away. Even though on the 28th after writing 5000+ words that day I hated the whole damned thing and was tempted to chuck the whole thing. I look back now knowing I've made it almost another week of still writing when I have time (something I did not do in 2008 ) I feel like a success somehow even though I don't have the badge to post saying I succeeded in nanowrimo 2010.
     Oh and about writing with plaintext on a touch I think it's a pretty workable thing; like having a notepad with me all the time which I used to do only this one is easier to move ideas about. Also just so's you know I'm writing the post from my touch an testing the posterous app to post it to the blog... badge to post saying I succeeded in nanowrimo 2010. Oh and a out writing with plaintext on a touch I think it's a pretty workable thing; like having a notepad with me all the time which I used to do only this one is easier to move ideas about. Also just sos you know I'm writing the post from my touch an testing the posterous app to post it to the blog..

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Yet more Alternate History fun...

Before I get you all my review of The Native Star I have add to the people announcing Catherynne M Valente's 12th century romp about the adventures of Prester John....

Really you should go check out the video that she made introducing readers to the "real" history of the story... its lots of fun and the coming trilogy is something I have been looking forward to since I read about it months ago....

Its available in my preferred  format - brick and mortar-y book in DRM free ebook from webscriptions, from online providers like Amazon for kindle and again a real book,   B&N  and....on Audible

Hell you should check out her web presence anyway here..

She is one hell of a good writer and I think this book will be a great diversion from all the steampunky stuff I've been reading....

You can check out the good things John Scalzi has to say about her too on his great and dangerous The Big Idea column if I had the money I'd have spent a good bit on things he has featured there....

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Alternate History of the World Part 1


     The first altered history that we visit  this month was created by Mark Hodder who maintains the website Balkiana that celebrates the most written about detective in the english language, Sexton Blake.  Mr. Hodder (go and check his website here) is one hell of a good writer;  he a deft hand at creating involving, empathetic characters and settings with palpable atmosphere, bizarre and pulpy though it may be.  The Strange Affair is a great adventure yarn, but it is also a great exploration into convictions and obsessions of people in the time of Empire. 

     Mark dives into Sir Richard Francis Birtons 's story in medias res; we meet him on the night of his schedualed debate with his one time friend now rival explorer John Speke. Burton, already at  the Royal Geographic Society event, gets news of the accidental shooting of Speke and we see the man called Ruffian Dick weep for his one time friend and college. Burton is crushed by the news but soldiers on being at the gathering and does his best to inform his peers of his travels but succumbs none the less to his feelings. The Burton that Hodder shows us is one that feels deeply and acts with passion; he was a man of conviction. He struggles with his decisions and their possible outcomes; makes hard choices and lives with the consequences. 

Of the Burton in the novel a Monty Penniworth, a hansom cabbie Burton employs thinks:

           ...Burton didn't seem to belong to the other half; he was one of a kind. He acted like a gentleman but he'd the face of a brute. he was of the uppercrust but spoke to the cabbie like they were equals. he was famous but had no airs or graces.

Burton both in reality and in this novel was a man of the Empire but having live so little in his "homeland" he is more worldly, speaking twenty some-odd languages and had a personal set or mores sometimes at odds with his fellows.  

     Burton's friend come assistant Algernon Swineburne, poet and libertine, is a man like Burton also driven. He is driven not so much be deep conviction as Burton but by the need for experience having been sheltered from it by his family.  The character says of himself;

          " I'm a poet ! I need danger ! I need go tread the thin line twixt Life and death, else I have no experience worth writing about." and "... The ennui of the pointless existence gnaws at my bones ...  a man can only truly live with death as his  permanent companion"

We see the story in parts from his perspective, he is the more swashbuckling of the pair of protagonists and as many of the action scenes of the story are his as much as Burtons. He accounts himself well having never been a soldier and is the source of many of the novels better quips and quotes as fiery as his bright red mane.

     We get viewpoints by several of the secondary characters in the novel including those of one of the antagonists but to say who feel to much like a spoiler to me to let on.  Mark weaves in character versions of real historical figures as larger then life in the novel as they are large in British and World History.  I found it fun to see what he did with these great figures and he has a very dry humor when it comes to some of them.  He includes lesser known real people like Constable William Trounce, such a cool name and an equally cool character,  who in the real world caught a man who attempted to assassinate Victoria.  Like many fantasy tomes now Mark included an afterward that describes the real world people and figures he uses and alludes to.  

      Mark Hodder's world is one still in  the mid 1800's when the sun did not set on the British Empire, the cities of the isle were smog socked and soot covered.  The coal driven steam technology of the Engineers set make the world dirtier and noisier; the creations of the Eugenicists alter the animals and people in ways we thank god still cant. This Burton's england is one caught up with the drive for progress into the future both scientifically and philosophically.  
     There are well too many things good I can say about this steamopera as Michael Moorcock calls it in his blurb.  Mr. Moorcock a longtime favorite writer of mine says what came to my mine when reading the novel; 

"A great, increasingly complex plot, some fine characters, and invention that never flags."

go here to read the more of his comments and a summary of the book.  The physical book is a beautifully produced artifact of our times and is one of the reasons I hope that real print never goes away. Pyr did a great job on this novel and I for one can not wait to see its followup no matter which characters are in it.

    And the necessary legalese the copy that I read and reviewed was provided by Pry/Prometheus publishing....

    I will leave you with a quote I loved from late in the novel... it is from Richard Burton and says a lot about what he thinks of the concept of "empire" and I hope it is something the real Burton said:

     "it is in the British Empires interest to portray other cultures as barbarous and uncivilised; that way there's less outcry when we conquer them and steal their resources. Lies have to be propagated if we are to retain the high ground. "


Monday, September 20, 2010

Weird Histories.....

Over the last several months I have purchased or received a great number of novels that fall into a particular sweet spot for me.  Most of these would comfortably be called Steampunk which I happen to have liked for quite a while but I guess I really see them as Alternate Historical Fiction.  The First of these that I have read is Mark Hodder's presents Burton and Swineburne in the Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack  published by Pyr and soon to get a full and glowing review from me here. I will say that it is one of the best looking books on the shelves these days and renews my desire to support the continuance or print media.

The next book that I read in this particular area is one that snuck up on me and I am very happy to have noticed at Borderlands in San Francisco in early September. MK Hobson who is one of the editors and narrators at Podcastle is the writer of The Native Star, a weird western novel that I hope will get some notice.  The Weird West to me is a offshoot of the Steampunk movement that gets little attention and needs its due. I have loved the idea of mixing westerns with something a little different since the TV series Wild Wild West, the RPG Deadlands and Joe Landsdale's Jonah Hex.  I plan to get this review up on the heels of Spring Heeled Jack. Hobson has written a great Weird West Romance Adventure here.

     The third is the one I have been looking forward to for months and the one you will be seeing more then one post about; Mary Robinette Kowal's regency era novel Shades of Milk and Honey. The elevator pitch for the novel is ..."its the novel that Jane Austin would have written had magic existed". I think this is one of those novels that has deserved all the good blurbs and reviews that it has gotten. It is well researched and written and I cant wait to get further through it. Mary in addition read the version that is available as an audiobook and did her best to have era correct pronunciation.  Its a great thing to hear an author read their own work.

     I have also just started reading The Cardinal's Blades by Pierre Pevel.  This is a fantasy novel set in 17th century France from a well established award winning French author. I am a few chapters in and can tell I'm on for a good ride here. This novel has the feel of the Dumas Musketeers adventures with added scheming dragons and subtle magic.

     The last of this group is Mike Resnick's The Buntline Special.  Here we return again to the american west in 1881 with a mixture of native magic, weird technology, a great mixture of westen legendary figures some of which appear to be beyond dead. Seems we will be seeing Edison, the Clantons, the Earps, Geronimo  and the "thing" that once was Johnny Ringo. All this in the hands of Mike Resnick can't help but be a great romp. 

I had forgotten how much I enjoy historical fiction. I was a great fan of the Sharpe's novels of Bernard Cornwall, the naval books of CL Forrester and the alterante histories of Harry Turtledove and the "Soldier" books of Gene Wolfe.  There was also a trilogy of books about Josephine Bonaparte written by Sandra Gulland that was an excellent read.  You can look forward to reviews of the novels mentioned above and probably a combined post about the weird west since I have taken a like to that idea again.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Quote of the day....

"Its in the British Empires interest to portray other cultures as barbarous and uncivilized that way there is less of an outcry when we conquer them and steal their resources. Lies have to be propagated if we are to retain the moral high ground" - Sir Richard Francis Burton ....

The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack
Mark Hodder

Thursday, September 2, 2010

If you see Death on the side of the Road....

Trent Jamieson’s first novel Death Most Definite came out last month from Orbit Books US/UK;. In a summer of many Urban Fantasy releases and doorstop sized fantasy volumes this unassuming book with the man in the suit and tie on the cover may have escaped your notice. Trent’s name may too not drwan you; he is not well known outside his native Australia where he is an award winning short fiction writer and editor in SF/fantasy and horror genres. I knew about his work from listening to his short stories read on Psuedopod over the last couple of years and when I saw he had his first novel coming out I was overjoyed. 
Death Most Definite brings the personification of Death into the modern corporate world. Trent has been inspired from stories that gave death a face and voice like Piers Anthony’s classic On A Pale Horse, Terry Pratchet’s Diskworld novels,  Fritz Leiber’s Sword and Sorcery novels and Neil Gaimen’s Sandman series along with multiple mythological and a movie interpretations to come up with his own twisted setting. Spirits of the dead need a person a Psychopomp or pomp for short to be their gateway to the land of the dead. Mortmax is a conpany who’s real purpose is to employ people to be one part gateway to the otherside one part councilor of the confused departed and one part exorcist. The company tends to be nepotistic insular hiring from the families that already know the score. L  
The story starts with an assassination attempt on Steven de Selby’s life in a food court in broad daylight; he is warned by the spirit of a very pretty dead woman who was not scheduled to be there and who also thwarts his attempts to “pomp” her into the afterworld after his escape. Once the second attenpt on him happens its is a cat and mouse game, a noirish Jason Bourne suspense thriller running from Brisbane to the country and back.  Steven tells the tale, first person and has a tendency towards interior monologue much like the original cut of Blade Runner; sometimes it brakes the flow of the story but the information was necessary to understand the setting. Steven has no flashy fancy magical powers at his command other then those of his trade and they take blood and occasional preparation. He was not the only one on the hit list of these assassins, the ghost who saved him was another Mortmax pomp as are lots of people that die in the course of the novel. Steven has to go on the run from his safe if morbid and lonely life  never really sure who he can trust.
He thinks he can trust the spirit of Lissa  the girl who saved him. He turns also the his “black sheep”cousin Tim, who turned his back on the “family” profession, and gets help from another black sheep Alex (a really handy friend to have in the police force). He has to hide out with other Psychopomps also on the run and pray he can trust them and the contacts he has with the remains of the company.  Someone wants to replace Mr D, the local regional manager, and gain all the powers that come with the job; and they were willing to kill a whole lot of coworkers and friends to do it too. 
I found it really easy to like  and identify with Steven. He is a self confessed genre geek going as far to name is dog…. Oh but that would be telling. He is an outcast among his peers even in the company. He is really just coasting in life and no that is not what I liked about him but it made him easier to be place myself in his shoes. He goes through a lot in this novel that sets up Trents series; hell he even take a trip or two to the spiritworld and wait till you get a load of that.
The urban fantasy elements of this book are pretty subtle and the Stirrers (recall the exorcist comment) and their nature create an even more paranoia inducing setting. They can inhabit the bodies of the recently departed and could be anyone. I suspect . Trent is doing something different here and morbid the setting may be he had a good deal of humor in this story, oh and there is some romance too along with all the running suspicion and Death.  He’s an entertaining writer and has a great grasp of the things that are existentially frightening and that is one of the things that I liked about his short fiction. Death Most Definite is not the big summer blockbuster event its kind of a sleeper with  something a little different, darkly humorous with heart. I hope it catches on; I want to see the characters he hinted at in the climax of the story and there is a much larger darkness on the horizon.
I received my copy from Orbit Books for review. 
Find Trent Here
Look for Orbit Publishing here
And Trents two Pseudopod stories here and here
The Novel is available in paperback  and on iBooks, Kindle, Nook 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Angry Robot ....

Beginning in September the first company to send me ARC/review copies, Angry Robot, will begin publishing for the US and Canadian speculative fiction readers.... I thought because of this I would post links to the earlier reviews in the blog for people who might have missed them or might want to check back now that the books will be more affordable in North America...

In September among the half dozen books I have read and written about three of them. Sixty-One Nails by Mike Shevdon is a particularly good urban fantasy that renewed my interest in that genre. The other fantasy book, Kell’s Legend by Andy Remic, is a great fun sword and sorcery buddy novel that has all the vampires that Sixty one Nails lacks along with some very twisted takes on the vampire. The last, Winter Song by Colin Harvey, was hard science fiction survival story that has particularly good characterization and social themes; my favorite of these three.

In October The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar comes out. It is a great weird addition to the Steampunk genre.

The full list follows and here is a link to Angry Robot Books.....

Kell’s Legend by Andy Remic
Moxyland by Lauren Beukes
Sixty-One Nails by Mike Shevdon
Slights by Kaaron Warren
Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero by Dan Abnett
Winter Song by Colin Harvey

Angel of Death by J Robert King
The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar
The Crown of the Blood by Gav Thorpe
Edge by Thomas Blackthorne (John Meaney)
King Maker by Maurice Broaddus
Nekropolis by Tim Waggoner

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Do you have an e-reader.....?

Tobias Buckell is one of those writers that is able to write in multiple genres. His collection Tides from the New Worlds contains 19 stories that span the spectrum of speculative fiction; science fiction, magical realism, alternate history and a strait up fantasy/sword and sorcery tale. I love it when I get a chance to re-encounter a author that I already like and am follow by getting my hands on a collection like this of short stories that had passed my by. In addition to the stories Tobias has added an intro to each, I like getting that kind of personal chit chat from an author (this probably comes from listening to podcasts); it creates a more intimate reading experience for me.
How did I get my copy - Graciously suppled by Tobias Buckell prior to ibooks version release some weeks ago.

I find it hard to choose a story that I would say is my favorite. I could say that its the first story The Fish Merchant since it guests his reoccurring rastafarian merc Pepper and shows how the everyman is largely unaffected by big events in the face of everyday concerns and worries, sadly he gets caught up in Peppers life. If I said that I would be overlooking the emotionally packed story All Her Children Fought in which a child soldier gets a parent for a short time to have important formative human contact. I could go on and on and have in other drafts of this review trying to find a way to describe the quality of Tobias’ stories without giving anything away.

It is not that he is an author that relies on a twist endings or shocks to get the reader, many of the stories I can see where the plot was going and it was the empathy I felt for the characters that made want to take the journey with them. His viewpoint characters are not paragons or great heroes of their time they are the regular people; they have problems, desires, goals and feelings even when they are robots, aliens or dwarves; I felt for them and despite the things I may not have liked about them; I wanted them to succeed. Though all the stories have a definite conclusion to the crisis that they pose Tobias left me thinking about what comes next and wanting a little more time with someone in that setting. Maybe this is why when I hear that there is a new Pepper story out there I’m so happy; he is a friend that I don’t always trust but its a happy surprise to find this friend in a story even if he is not the white hat wearing hero.

The other aspect of his writing that I like is the slight feeling of the alien that invades his stories. Tobias grew up in Grenada, the British and American Virgin Islands in circumstances that differ from most anglo american and british backgrounds I read. I can not say quantifiably what that really brings to his fiction but he does not read like any other white writer I have read and I appreciate that difference of vision. He may have grown up reading the same science fiction and fantasy that I did but he has come out producing something that has a unique slant that appeals to me.

This collection is a relatively inexpensive way to check out his vision if you have not read his fiction before; its 2.99 on both Kindle and iBooks and any one of the stories are worth that at least. Looking at it this way the 40.00 dollar pricetag on the limited edition hardcover is not a high price - I just wish I had the cash to spare at this time.

Thanks to Tobias for the copy - I really did love reading these and will read them again.

Check out his website here
You can sample a some of his work for free in various formats
go to Clarkesword Magazine here and here , and an interview here
and as of this writing at lightspeed magazine issue 2 has a new Pepper Tale here

Here is a list of the titles Tales includes in case tou have read Tobias before:
(Science Fiction) The Fish Merchant, In the Heart of Kalikuata, Io, Robot, Anakoinosis,Aerophilia,The Shackles of Freedom, Her, The Duel, Necahual, Toy Planes, All Her Children Fought

(Magical Reality)Four Eyes, Spurn Babylon, Trinket, Death's Dreadlock, Smooth Talking

(Alternate History)In Orbit Medieval

(Fantasy)Something in the Rock

Tides as touted above is now in e format from iBooks and Kindle for the meager sum of 2.99
Tides from the New Worlds is also available in print form from Clarkesworld’s through Wyrm publishing and runs 40USD.

Tobias Buckell is the author of four novels to date including Crystal Rain, Raggamuffin, Sly Mongoose, a Halo novel and many short stories. He is a writer that has written a wide range of genres and is still young yet... I for one can't wait to see where his career goes.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Locus 2009 awards


Earlier today the Locus awards were posted... I read the list
at the TOR website.... and if you do not want to follow the link here is the list from the site:

The 2010 Locus awards, voted on by the readers of Locus, the magazine of the professional science fiction and fantasy field, were announced today in Seattle, Washington. Congratulations to the winners!

Winner: Boneshaker, Cherie Priest (Tor)
Also nominated:
The Empress of Mars, Kage Baker (Subterranean; Tor)
Steal Across the Sky, Nancy Kress (Tor)
Galileo’s Dream, Kim Stanley Robinson (HarperVoyager; Ballantine Spectra)
Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America, Robert Charles Wilson (Tor)

Winner: The City & The City, China Miéville (Del Rey; Macmillan UK)
Also nominated:
Unseen Academicals, Terry Pratchett (Harper; Doubleday UK)
Drood, Dan Simmons (Little, Brown)
Palimpsest, Catherynne M. Valente (Bantam Spectra)
Finch, Jeff VanderMeer (Underland)

Winner: The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade)
Also nominated:
The Manual of Detection, Jedediah Berry (Penguin)
Soulless, Gail Carriger (Orbit US)
Lamentation, Ken Scholes (Tor)
Norse Code, Greg van Eekhout (Ballantine Spectra)

Winner: Leviathan, Scott Westerfeld (Simon Pulse; Simon & Schuster UK)
Also nominated:
The Hotel Under the Sand, Kage Baker (Tachyon)
Going Bovine, Libba Bray (Delacorte)
Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins (Scholastic; Scholastic UK)
Liar, Justine Larbalestier (Bloomsbury; Allen & Unwin Australia)

Winner: The Women of Nell Gwynne’s, Kage Baker (Subterranean)
Also nominated:
“Act One,” Nancy Kress (Asimov’s)
“Vishnu at the Cat Circus,” Ian McDonald (Cyberabad Days)
Shambling Towards Hiroshima, James Morrow (Tachyon)
“Palimpsest,” Charles Stross (Wireless)

Winner: “By Moonlight,” Peter S. Beagle (We Never Talk About My Brother)
Also nominated:
“It Takes Two,” Nicola Griffith (Eclipse Three)
First Flight,” Mary Robinette Kowal (
“Eros, Philia, Agape,” Rachel Swirsky (
“The Island,” Peter Watts (The New Space Opera 2)

Winner: “An Invocation of Incuriosity,” Neil Gaiman (Songs of the Dying Earth)
Also nominated:
“The Pelican Bar,” Karen Joy Fowler (Eclipse Three)
“Spar,” Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld)
“Going Deep,” James Patrick Kelly (Asimov’s)
“Useless Things,” Maureen F. McHugh (Eclipse Three)

Winner: F&SF
Also nominated:

Winner: Tor
Also nominated:
Night Shade

Winner: The New Space Opera 2, Gardner Dozois & Jonathan Strahan, eds. (Eos; HarperCollins Australia)
Also nominated:
Lovecraft Unbound, Ellen Datlow, ed. (Dark Horse)
The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection, Gardner Dozois, ed. (St. Martin’s)
Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance, George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, eds. (Subterranean)
Eclipse Three, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Night Shade)

Winner: The Best of Gene Wolfe, Gene Wolfe (Tor; as The Very Best of Gene Wolfe, PS)
Also nominated:
We Never Talk About My Brother, Peter S. Beagle (Tachyon)
Cyberabad Days, Ian McDonald (Pyr)
Wireless, Charles Stross (Ace, Orbit UK)
The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny: Volumes 1-6, Roger Zelazny (NESFA)

Winner: Ellen Datlow
Also nominated:
Gardner Dozois
David G. Hartwell
Jonathan Strahan
Gordon Van Gelder

Winner: Michael Whelan
Also nominated:
Stephan Martinière
John Picacio
Shaun Tan
Charles Vess

Winner: Cheek by Jowl, Ursula K. Le Guin (Aqueduct)
Also nominated:
Powers: Secret Histories, John Berlyne (PS)
Spectrum 16: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, Cathy & Arnie Fenner, eds. (Underwood)
This is Me, Jack Vance! (Or, More Properly, This is “I”), Jack Vance (Subterranean)
Drawing Down the Moon: The Art of Charles Vess, Charles Vess (Dark Horse)

Congratulations: Ms. Priest, Mr Miéville, Mr. Bacigalupi, Mr. Westerfeld, et al...

Boneshaker is one of the novels that I got when it came out and hope to get signed sometime... and sadly I have not yet read my copy too Finch, Windup Girl, Lamentation, Soulless (got the last too signed and the authors are very cool) , Leviathan, and NorseCode. The Cuty and the City I look forward to reading and owning....

There are two Kage Baker stories names here. Sadly I have to admit having only read two short tales by Ms. Baker. I want to read her novels and am sorry to have heard about her struggle with and death by cancer. She is one among teh many I thought of when I lit a candle at Notre Dame under the statue of Joan of Arc.

Mary Robinette Kowal whom I am glad to have had a chance to meet this year at Borderlands and Peter Watts who was sadly treated so badly by US boarder guards both got nominated in then novelette category along with Rachel Swirsky who I have enjoyed on Podcastle over its several year life.

Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow was such a fun read for me. I loved all the japanese giant monster novies of my yourth on late night TV and this was a novel written seemingly for the child in me. Thanks James. Again I have to thank Borderlands for the signed copy.

I could go on and on and on but I'll but it short and congradulate everyone and say I can not wait for next years awards since this has been such a good year so far. I got a chance to meet and speak withPaolo Bacigalupi, Ellen Datlow, Ken Scholes and Jeff VanderMeer in addition to the others mentioned above and all of them were so cool and gracious after meeting so many other fans... I have to thank you all for your work and being great people in person...

Take care
Read something on this list - its a worthy one...

I included links to the ones that I knew of that you an look at for free... well stories and some great sites....


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

another fine e-format reprint

Though I have my attachment to old dead tree products I have to say that getting my hands on reprints of books from 15 or 25 years ago in electronic format to re-read is pretty great. Rudy Rucker has allowed another of his creations out for free here; this time it is is fine four volume masterpiece comprising Software, Wetware, Freeware, and Realware. Up till now to re-read these fine novels I would be scavenging in used book shops for ages to re-acquire them... they are now mine and can be yours for the small fee of free. Now I am all for authors getting full payment for their work but I will happily download these and buy their next new volume when it comes out.

Prime Books has made a print version of the novels available and in celebration of this they are allowing a free e version to be distributed. This has been touted by several of the blogs that I follow today but I thought I would pass it along to anyone interested.

So anyone who missed these slim novels an age ago go download these and see one of the classics of the genre. Then go and pickup a copy of Postsingular and its sequel. Rudy Rucker has given his dues and is worth your money; but get this for free is you don't have access to them in another way.


Prime books if also the publisher for Nick Mamatas of Move Underground and You Might Sleep, Ekaterina Sedia who wrote Alchemy of Stone and Secret History of Moscow along with editing some fince collection and John Langan of Mister Gaunt and other uneasy Encounters. They also printed Seeds of Change edited by John Joseph Adams which was one of my favorite collections of 2009.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

...In medias res...

Would I advise jumping into the Chronicles of the Raven series with Noonshade, the second book, well yes and no. Though I will say that it is a cracking good book in its own rite and could be read on its own but I think that some of the emotional impact of some of the events would be stronger if you start with Dawnthief. I would say, though, if you are a fan of old school sword and sorcery stories or the “new” grim and gritty fantasy you will probable enjoy reading James Barclay’s work.

The series was originally published at about the same time as a favorite of mine, Seven Erikson’s Malazan Tales of the Fallen. Both have more adult cast of characters then other fantasy novels of the late 90’s and like the Black Company books have a more military fiction feel to them and may appeal to more “adult” readers. Where Eriksons books are more unique in their style of fantasy and possibly harder to just jump right into (it took me two stabs at starting the series before I got stuck in to be honest) Noonshade is a more recognizable setting and easier to jump into. The world of Balaia is one populated by the usual suspects; elves, humans, schools of magic, “barbarian” hordes at the gates, the “civilized” cities in peril. Barclay’s magic is very visual, cinematic and easy to get a feel for and his combat is well written and likewise cinematic in delivery.

The main story follows The Raven, a well established mercenary force with a decade of experience, who saved the world from the threat of the Wytch Lords in the previous book and now have to deal with the fallout of their solution to the crisis. The spell they used opened a growing breach to a dimension inhabited by warring dragons. One dragon brood is protecting Balaia but the growing hole will become indefensible and the Raven being the culprits now must find or build a spell to close the breach between the worlds lest everyone die by dragonfire. But wait that is not all the barbarians tribes are still a potent threat and one of the magic colleges in protecting itself from destruction may be making things worse.The novel also tells the stories of the defending armies of Balaia and that of the invading generals and their forces.

James Barclay’s is a show rather then tell writer; his characters are built up through what they say and do so it takes a while to get a real grasp on them. His players have foibles no matter how competent they seem and only once did I feel that someone acted in a “typecast” way but people do act out of selfish self-interest even if its not the smart thing to do. The members of the Raven go through a whole lot in the course of the story and are changed by the events and some of them move on from the life they have been living in the end. The story has a real conclusion to the crisis introduced in it but there are still more tales to be told in this world - four more to date.

For the adventure alone it would be worth a read but the characters do stick with you after you finish. Noonshade deserves its place on the shelf of epic fantasy and sword and sorcery readers. James' website can be found here and you can click through here to PYR books website to read a bit of the first book Dawnthief... maybe I should have dome that before diving into Noonshade but c'est la vie...

Here is the cover copy for the first book Dawnthief:

The Raven: six men and an elf, sword for hire in the wars that have torn apart Balaia 

For years their loyalty has been only to themselves and their code. 

But, that time is over. The Wytch Lords have escaped and The Raven find themselves fighting for the Dark College of magic, searching for the location of Dawnthief. It is a spell created to end the world, and it must be cast if any of them are to survive.

And here is the description of Noonshade
Now the land of Balaia, still riven by war, must live with the consequences. The Dawnthief spell—designed to destroy the world, but cast to save it—has torn a hole in the sky, a pathway into the dragon dimension, and, through it, unfriendly eyes are turning to Balaia. 

With war already sweeping the land, there are no armies to send against the dragons. All that stands between Balaia and complete dominion by these tyrannous beasts is a tiny, but legendary band of mercenaries: The Raven. And if they fail, Balaia will fall beneath the wings of countless dragons...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

you and the singularity...

Though its not in a paper/bound format the online magazine Clarkesworld publishes some fantastic speculative fiction all free of charge (and like public radio if you read you should donate to their future existance by becoming a citizen - check the website) along with interviews and fact articles.

This months offerings include a great short story by Brenda Cooper who wrote Reading the Wind, Bright of the Sky and has written a novella and novel with Larry Niven which I forget the title of.

The tale in Clarkesworld is a post singularity story set in her home area near Seattle about a boy growing up in the wake of a singularity event that will change his life but most likely won't help the dad that he loves. Throughout his life his father had told him that he would live in a world made unimaginable by the coming change. It is a good tale about how the singularity may not really change people all that much since people are still motivated by their needs and desires. I would encourage people to check it out if they like the work of Charles Stross.

I enjoy the post human tales since they usually involve lots of wacky imagination and invention... I liked this one because to me it focused on how we will remain human none the less despite the change technology will make in us. Also it touches on the way the event if it happens would really be a generation gap event...

Anyway go check out Clarkesworld and look around there are lots of good writing there...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Review stall


I am working on trimming down the thoughts I have down for the Noonshade review... I think I have said a bit too much at the moment and don't want to give anything away... it is hard since I will be giving away the end of the first novel to begin with...

anyway in on another front Tobias S Buckell's collection of short fiction Tides from the New Worlds available in hardback from Wyrm Publishing (Clarkesworld magazine) is now out in several electronic formats and Tobias sent me a review copy to read on my Itouch.... I know its not deadwood but the man is such a good writer and the hardcover is 40US... and from the little I've read well worth the money... the collection is available for numerous formats and I will have a review up for that on the heels of Noonshade...

Till then take care


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Next up and more...

Hello all
just to let you know the next novel up for review will be James Barclays Noonshade

which should be posted within about a week...
Noonshade is the second in The Chronicles of the Raven sequence and my first exposure to the series and to be honest it took a while to get into the characters but I quite liked it once the setting grew on me.

Following that I will be attacking several collections published by Nightshade Books of the Dread Empire Books by Glen Cook. These I did not know about till the re-issued versions. These were not ARC editions and am glad to have paid for them none the less. Glen Cook I was familiar with having been a reader of his Black Company series in the 90's.

I will start with the collection of short stories Empire Unacquainted with Defeat

to be followed by the collection of novels I am currently reading through A Cruel Wind

Unless I receive ARC's during that time these will be followed by the first in a recent Epic Fantasy series Empire of Black and Gold

After these it is hard to say but I may try to get some short stories or books I read last year and did not review in... I would love to see books like The Steel Remains get the attention they deserve....

Take care


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pulp age hero....

“…I have no name
and I know where to find you”

The above line is the end of the opening line of the Ghosts of Manhattan and sets the tone of the novel quite well invoking the pulp age hero The Shadow. George Mann’s first novel set 25 years later then his Newbury & Hobbes series ventures into pulp age superhero action. Its a combination of genres that for me really checks all the boxes; golden age/ pulp era superhero, police procedural, steampunk with more then a few nods to Lovecraft and finer literature. If F Scott Fitzgerald were to have been a fan of wierd tales this is the world he might have envisioned in an alternate universe version of The Great Gadsby.

Ghosts of Manhattan takes us on a decidedly different spin in the now much in vogue Steampunk Genre. Ghosts is set in the 1920’s removed from the prim and proper Victorian Age of steam and consulting detectives by 25 years and the Atlantic Ocean. The book is steampunk in atmosphere but is something new in substance; maybe pulppunk.
The story is set in the roaring 20’s New York with all the usual trappings; prohibition, mob bosses, tommy gun toting thugs, jazz club speakeasies, torch singers, swank parties, lots of illicit booze and cigarettes; add to these things coal fired steam driven autos, rocket assisted biplanes and the odd steam or tesla gadget and you get the picture. The Ghost, our hero, is the product of the battlefields first world war and his brush with death therein. The opening chapter gives you a taste of his brand of vigilante justice and the tools of his trade; flechette guns, ankle rockets and the requisite goggles.

The Ghosts of Manhattan is a slim book at 240 pages in this day of doorstop volumes being the norm. I read slow so this book took me two days of sporadic reading but I think it could be an afternoon read for some. Given that it is a book I would gladly shell out dosh for and may get a real copy when I get back to the US. Sure its a “superhero” tale, yeah its got lots of cinematic action scenes just you wait for those biplanes to make a showing. The characters may be archetypes on the surface but they have depth; they make decisions based on their own moral codes, choices that make them realer people. Me, I cant wait for the next installment there are not so subtle clues that there is more to come.

Watch out for those gear driven thugs mad from mud and moss and don’t assume all artifacts are without a curse. Its a time of larger then life heroes, mobsters and cops with a little spicing of HPL. Check out George Mann’s website here and get a free taste of the his Newbury & Hobbes series. Oh he is a great editor too - look for the original short fiction collections from Solaris press.
Pyr books has made the first six chapters of Ghosts available to read online here for your reading pleasure...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Next up...

A mix of all the genres I find dear to my heart; Pulp, superhero, steampunk, HP Lovecraft and fine fiction.... what more could I ask other then a cameo by a certain albino swordsman....

no sorry no Elric or Eternal Champion here but the rest yes....

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Treason, action and spies

“…treason begets spies and spies treason…” Will Swyfte The Silver Skull

I’ve been reading good things about Mark Chadbourn’s writing for some time and am glad that Pyr/Prometheus books sent me a copy of the highly entertaining Silver Skull for review. (When the novel comes out in the UK it will be called The Swords Of Albion). The Silver Skull is hard to classify in terms of what kind of novel it is; at times its medival urban fantasy at others military historical fiction. Most often it is a cracking spy yarn set in the era most associated with Shakespeare and the european Renaissance. What I do know is that it would made a great HBO or Showtime series with all the action, drama, sex, and bloody minded death that goes along with great cable TV originals like the Wire, Deadwood and the Tudors.
In The Silver Skull William Swyfte, Britain's greatest spy, fights enemies foreign, more foreign and domestic; he delves into the darker areas of Elizabethan England, ventures onto the lands of Phillip of Spain, and takes to the high seas during the battle of the Spanish Armada. Will publicly plays the part of the flamboyant heroic spy and man of loose morals to the hilt; his fellow spies may follow but don’t necessarily respect him or even trust him. He acts as the figurehead of the defense of Queen and Country and treachery abounds in the course of the novel.
Being the first novel in a series there are some bits of exposition to introduce the players. These vignettes come as bits of memory placed between chapters of action, like fights on the top of a speeding carriage lacking a driver, or intrigue, Will and his companions planning how to escape from a low class thieving mob. These past snippets build and change your opinion of the characters and flesh out the acts that lead up to this point.
The Mark Chadbourn created a vibrant historical setting blending the facts and figures of the day with his great knowledge of english folklore and the farie legends of the land. In found reading The Silver Skull I found myself thinking of historical fiction authors like Bernard Cornwall, C.S. Forester, Patrick O’brian, and Harry Turtledove . Mark’s england is beset by the Catholics of the age and the forces of the “Enemy” - the Unsilee Court - their spare defenses both mystical and martial seem meager and thin at times making for a thrilling suspenseful novel. In creating the setting Mark leaves out nothing in the details; Elizabethan England was a place that was full of unpleasant places, people and odors and though I was thrilled by the setting I would be in no hurry to visit it myself. Travel in the Renaissance took time and though he spends little time describing scenes of endless riding or sailing Mark does a great job building the feel for the setting.

I can see this novel appealing to a pretty wide audience; its elements pulling together the pace of thrillers, a realized fantasy setting and great living historical elements, the great cover by Chris McGrath does not hurt either.

While preparing this review to post Pyr previewed the cover for the next book in the series called The Scarecrow Men. The title seems particularly apt thinking back on the early action in The Silver Skull and makes me wonder how much Mark was setting up in the first novel beyond the pulpy things that hit me as foreshadowing on first reading. Can't wait to see what is up Marks and Will's sleeve next time around...

Readers unfamiliar with Mark’s writing should check out his website at and get a taste of the setting of this Elizabethan era spy romp look for the short story ‘Who Slays the Gyant, Wounds the Beast’ which saw print in The Solaris Book of New Fantasy and later in The Years Best Fantasy 8: the story is well worth a tracking down. Will Swyfte, the main character of that tale and the Swords of Albion series, also appears in Chadbourn’s Jack of Ravens that I hope to pick up before leaving the Netherlands this year.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Night Shade Books Launches Literary Imprint Pugilist Press

Night Shade Books Launches Literary Imprint Pugilist Press

Spotted this new tidbit about Nightshade Books spinning off a new imprint. With the wide range of speculative genres that Nightshade publishes its a great addition to their stable to add a "literary" side to their stable...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

More Paris ....

Eiffel Tower seen from Avenue de la Bourdonnais on the night of March 23, 2010... the lighting of the tower seemed to take forever but its was pretty spectacular to be there in the "shadow" of the tower and watch as it was slowly lit up.... you can see the spotlight beam in the picture... though I have seen the tower in films I still was impressed by this man made wonder

This was taken on the afternoon of the 23rd of March and was a close up shot of the works of the lower elevators of the Eiffel Tower ... we were just about under the base of the monument when I took the shot that I croped to get this steampunky image...

This shot too was taken on the afternoon of the 23rd of March... this is the ceiling of Notre-Dame... no flash photos are allowed in the church (though that seemed to stop very few of the tourists we saw... I at least did not use my flash in the church.... it is pretty impressive but as a church I was more impressed by Sacre-Coeur in Montmartre (picts to come...)

Anyhow in the next few days I will be posting my revew for.....

The Silver Skull by Mark Chadourn...

Friday, May 7, 2010

In a time of Myths....

“This is a time of myths. They are woven into the present like silk strands from the past, like a wire mesh from the future… a grand design a repeating motif. Don’t dismiss myth. And never, ever dismiss the Bookman ” Gilgamesh from the Bookman

Lavie Tidhar,a short story writer and confessed book addict blogs at released his first novel, The Bookman, some months back through the fine folks at Angry Robot Books who were kind enough to provide me with a review copy.
It may be the fact that I read it in the same circumstance, being travel, as I did Perdido Street Station but in looking back on the experience of reading The Bookman I feel the books have a great similarity to one another and I would encourage people who like one to read the other. The China Mieville book has been called steampunk in some circles and in sheer density of ideas he has a leg up on Mr. Tidhar but with the amount of creative love that I think went into the Bookman's setting I feel the two novels would do well next to one another on a bookshelf wether they belonged together or not; both are novels that I think I will revisit from time to time.
In The Bookman we get a setting that would be very familiar to readers of steampunk since you do get the ubiquitous airship filled skies, steam powered vehicles but he conveys the feeling that these things have been around a wile somehow in a way that they become just part of the scenery. Part of the scenery too are the presence of armoured police robots, the anthropomorphic Les Lizard rules of Britain, numerous automatons, some of them relegated to carnival like side shows as is the aforementioned chess playing turk, and Tesla powered communications devices not to mention a planned Mars probe shot. In all this strangeness and potential to make the book a show and tell the main character Orphan and his desire to regain his love and fiance, Lucy, really drive the novel.
The way that the story is told, following Orphan on his journey, I found myself not questioning the circumstances of the tale. He is not your standard hero of modern tales, he has no really special power that separates him from the reader on a human level; I never got the feeling that in the same situation I would have been more out of my depth then Orphan was. I felt a real empathy for him when he lost his Lucy and no matter how unlikely him getting her back sounded I wanted to take the journey with him to see if it was possible. I liked the people he met along the way and hope to revisit the world that Mr. Tidhar created again in the future.
The Bookman is a novel that left me feeling that there was a lot going on in the world it was set in. I compared it to the creation of China Mieville and I stand by that in that they are worlds that I can clearly see in my imagination when reading and thinking about them; again maybe its the traveling to europe thing but I'd like to think that it was the love that seemed to have gone into their creation.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

One more pict from Paris before review

This is our current laptop desktop image... It was taken from the pont on Boulevard Henri VI looking towards Notre-Dame from close to Ile-St.-Louis.. one of the first images I took while in Paris...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Hello again...

The image is the grave marker of Oscar Wilde... it was taken after a rainy morning walk in Montmartre and a Metro ride out to Cimetiere Pere Lachaise; the resting place of Jim Morrison, Eugene Delacroix, Sarah Bernhardt, Edith Piaf to name a meager few. Its a great place to visit if you are in Paris and want to see some thing a little outside the center of the city.

Two of the reviews coming up will be Steampunk books; I have been thinking a good deal about the now popular sub-genre. a couple of people I have spoken with think there are too many new entries in this area lately. I will admit in the last few years there do seem to have been quite a few; Bonshaker by Cherie Priest, Soulless by Gail Carriager, The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar, The Affinity Bridge and its sequels by George Mann along with Ghosts of Manhattan, Mainspring and its sequels by Jay Lake to name just the ones that come to mind without much effort. As with any trend its easy to fall into decrying it and missing lots of good fiction.

In the 80's I got onto the cyberpunk wagon and on the whole read a good portion of the flood of books that came out. I seem to be doing the same with following the new wavefronts - Urban Fantasy (of which I have read novels I felt ranged from good to bad to ugly), the gritty fantasy thing (thankfully no one has really named this trend), and the new wave of Steampunk offerings. In terms of overall enjoyment and quality I find that the crop of Steampunk authors write highly readable, varied and enjoyable fare. I would attribute this to the range of other sub-genres that creep into the mix that they are influenced by. There are those that stick to the victorian era with the empires of the time affected by the introduction of to us strange and unreal technology (just look at the book Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld); there are authors that diverge from earth entirely and throw the mems at a fantasy world (I think Tim Akers does this in Heart of Veridon) and some of the upcoming covers (check recent posts on Mad Hatters Bookshelf) show a western influenced one (any one recall Deadlands from the 90's).

With all the attention the Steampunk genre is getting I can see why people my be shunning it as just the "next big thing" that will fade but they may also miss out on something really good....

tomorrow a review of The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar

Friday, April 30, 2010

I know I have not posted in a while and some people may be wondering what I have been up to. I have recently read and plan to review Lavie Tidhar's The Bookman, Mark Chadbourn's The Silver Skull and george Mann's Ghosts of Manhattan. I have also been house sitting for a friend in Holland and had the chance to go to Paris for a couple of days. In lieu of the reviews that will be posting shortly I will be posting shots from the Paris Trip. Above is an image of the statue of Joan of Arc from Notre Dame... and I have to say that I really did love getting a chance to see Paris and will be going back some time in the near future...

as for the upcoming reviews here are the related covers...

you can expect the Ghost of Manhattan review first once I have sent a copy to the publisher...

take care
Let me know your out there...

Friday, January 15, 2010

WOW I know that I like the artist John Picacio’s work.... he has done some excellent covers including the cover for Fast Forward 2... this one lives up to his standards... its the kind of cover I would love to see on Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson... if it a book that you have missed check it out then grab something by Angry Robot....
I;m sometimes so easy but I feel I have to get this one on cover alone... read good things about the author ....

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Racing the release of ....

I am currently reading Angry Robots upcoming release of The Bookman From Lavie Tidhar a "steampunk" adventure set in London. I feel privileged to get the chance to read it and to comment on it for people curious about the novel. I'm getting my first real experience of reading a novel on an itouch (should the I there e a capital) with the application Stanza. Pretty odd reading a steampunk novel on a hand held tablet; the formatting is taking a little getting used to (chapter titles chapter quotations and chapter beginnings are not separated by more then a space.)
The Bookman so far has a great amount of atmosphere to it; I am reminded of my imaginings of victorian London from descriptions in history classes of a sooty, dark and crowded city. Lavie Tidhar opens his world to the reader through the eyes of Orphan and you never get the infodump feeling or a feeling like you are lost or confused just intrigued and wanting more. I will leave the review till I finish
here is the cover of the aforementioned victorian novel....

Take care all

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Got some notice...


Its self congratulations but I was happy to see that the Angry Robot noticed my review for Kell's Legend and posted some quotes from it.

In the next month I am trying to write 500 words of fiction a day and will attempt to get a review up for the Bookman novel from Angry Robot in the next two weeks. I am enjoying the Victorian Era of Lavi Tidar and can't wait to get deeper in the novel but the prose of Joe Hill is keeping me in his world of Heart Shaped Box right now....

Take care


Friday, January 1, 2010

A Legend for 2010

Though Andy Remic is the author of six novels, three of them military science fiction - a favorite sub genre of mine; - the first book of his I have read is Kell’s Legend from Angry Robot Books. I got a copy of the novel sent to me for review; the print version has a very entertaining interview with Mr Remic included that I much recommend reading I read it prior to the novel - no spoilers.
Kell’s Legend is an admitted homage to the tradition of David Gemmel’s Druss novels and the Sword and Sorcery stories that proceeded it. Andy treats us to a bit of the modern tendency for multiple narrators ala GRR Martin in his Sond of Ice and Fire .

In an effort to keep some of the plot points a secret I will keep the review to just two of the male protagonists; I will let you meet the nations queen, the clockwork general, a clockwork outcasts and the daughter of a legend in their own voices.

Kell, the man of the legend (there is a poetic epic you get a bit of across the novel), is a retired warrior of many campaigns and skirmishes and know smore then he often lets on. He has raised and lost a family since his bloody war years; only his Granddaughter remains of his blood and he means to have her outlive him. He has another female motivator in his life; she actually means well but she is what you might call a bitch. The other part of this odd couple, Saark, is a self admitted leacher and thief who’s past is something of a surprise as are his fighting skills. He makes a good foil for his older more grizzled buddy. Saark enjoys the better things in life, a thief and is quite fun to read as embarrassing as that is to admit.
The relationship between Kell and Saark the story reminds me of the buddy film from the eighties - mostly of the movie They Live - the buddies in that film get into a throw-down that leaves both of them bloodied and battered - likewise these two.
The Clockwork Vampires (The Army Of Iron) invade of the Nation of Falanor, a martial country of humans to their south. They may not completely outnumber the humans but they more then makeup for that through their use of magic and their Clive Barker worthy allies the Harvesters. When Andy crafted his enemies he did possibly too good a job; between the Harvesters magic and the devious twisted clockwork freaks - the cankers - humanity may just end up as food and grist for the Clockwork Vampire mills.
The action follows the differing narrators as they attempt to escape from the brutality of their foes that range from the mentioned Army of Iron, clockwork vampire assassins, clockwork and flesh chimeras, human monsters (sometimes the worst of all) , and creatures of magic and out of legend. Andy plays free and loose with the readers familiarity with the tropes of the genre to surprising and entertaining effect. Kell’s Legend would make a really good start to a series of fun bloody minded action flicks and... well... it is the beginning of a series of novels so you dont have to put up with shoddy effects or years of wait between parts…. I am chomping at the bit for the second novel since he leaves you with some good cliffhangers and namy lingering questions.
There are hints at a greater history in the course of the novel. Sometimes I felt that Mr Remic was getting ahead of himself. In telling the story his writing is crisp and not over descriptive but at times the ideas seem to come at you fast. As a reader you have to be willing to go along with him - he may make you wonder if you missed something so sometimes you have to be patient... he will explain there is just some violence that needs be dome first.

Angry Robot has hit another genre nail on the head here and they have found something worthy of a read.
Now I’ll have to find his other books….