Thursday, September 30, 2010

Review! The Walking Dead: Volumes 3 & 4



This is my continuing review of the graphic novels series, The Walking Dead. I've been careful to make these spoiler-free, so don't be worried about scrolling down. Whether you plan on reading the series, or waiting for the premiere of the show on AMC, my posts will remain at arm's length of the meat of the story, so as not to spoil any of the good stuff for you. Was that an undead pun? ...I think I've been spending way too much time thinking about zombies lately.

These two volumes of the series are interesting in that for the most part they take place within a prison – which is of course a place with a fence and locks, and seems like a pretty good hideout if you’re trying to avoid being eaten alive by the gluttonous undead. It also functions very well as a metaphor for the mind, and for the tensions that build when we are forced to deal with what is most terrifying to us – death – on a daily basis.

What I found interesting about Safety Behind Bars, volume 3 in the series, is that the zombies act, for the most part, as background noise. What becomes more terrifying are the living, breathing folks who are trying to survive. The humans have become more dangerous – you can’t predict how each person is going to act and you can’t even tell where the line between sane and insane is anymore. To me, and to the other readers of this volume, the clearer horror is thy neighbor.

This volume is really where we begin to see the point that Kirkman is trying to make. It doesn’t matter who you were before, who you are is wholly unpredictable and in large part dependent on the situation you are in – the pressures and fears bearing their weight on you, the artificial lines you draw between what is right and what is wrong.

The following volume, The Heart's Desire, draws our characters deeper into a confrontation with their actions leading up until this point in their journey. The surviving characters are finally talking, out loud and to each other, about law, order, and morality. All of these things have been brewing on everyone's minds, and a confrontation between Rick and Tyreese, the other strong male in the group, really brings all of these issues to a head.

What we also see in this volume is the impact that relationships are having on the group. People are coming together for all sorts of different reasons - fear, love, desperation, distraction. Kirkman begs the question - what happens when people come to rely on these relationships and then see them shatter, just like the people around them have been?

Everyone has done things since the onset of this apocalypse that they aren't proud of and probably would never have imagined themselves doing before. It's wholly ironic (and brilliant) that they are having this discussion from the inside of a prison - a prison that they have been purging of zombies. Along with this physical purge comes a psychological one. Rick is pushed to the brink when another one of his group is bitten, and the action he takes next is controversial or sadistic - depending on your point of view.

Hanging over all of these events is a discovery about a more sinister aspect of the virus that has the power to change everything and push everyone who is already on the brink a little bit further. I have a feeling that this is going to have a big impact on the rest of the series, and I'm excited to see where Kirkman takes us next...the relative safety of the prison can't last long...

I'll be reviewing the next two volumes in the series the following week - see you then!

Are any of you planning on dressing up as zombies for Halloween? Zombie versions of your favorite scifi/fantasy characters? I was thinking I might go as a zombie Merlotte's waitress - I recently bought the waitress outfit and thought a little blood and gore might spice it up. Hey, I could be Dawn Green or Amy Burley back from the dead.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Interview & Giveaway with Kalayna Price


Kalayna Price is the author of two dark urban fantasy novels in the Haven series - Once Bitten (my review) and Twice Dead and is about to launch Grave Witch, the first book in her new Alex Craft urban fantasy series which releases October 5. The novel is a taut UF thriller with a solidly constructed mystery and  engaging set of characters. It is a departure from the usual kick-ass heroine so prevalent in UF these days and readers of similar suspenseful stories such as Diana Rowland's Demon series will definitely enjoy this.

Kalayna is offering a signed copy of Grave Witch to a commenter and she will be dropping by to respond to reader questions.Check out the Contest Guidelines at the end of the post for full details. You can find out more about Kalayna Price at her website and blog.

Welcome Kalayna!


SFG: Grave Witch, the first book in your Alex Craft series releases next week. What’s the 411 on Alex?

Alex Craft is a private detective and a grave witch—a voice for the dead. She can speak to ghosts and raise “shades” which are a person’s memories given shape and form so that they can be questioned. When she raises shades, her psyche crosses the chasm between the land of the living and the land of the dead. The land of the dead overlays reality perfectly, except that on that plane of existence (where ghosts and spirits dwell) everything is dead or decaying: hues fade, metal rusts, and buildings crumble. Alex sees into this plane, and as a result, using her magic does a number on her eyesight.

Alex is a fun character to write about, and she exists in a world where magic is well acknowledged but not always well accepted. She has magical, physical, political, and emotional hurdles to navigate in the story, and, of course, there’s the ghost silencing killer and a case which might cost her soul.

SFG: Death as a character is rarely used, how did Death make his way into your novel?

With dreamy eyes and a sardonic smile? Okay, no, not exactly what you meant.

Death was a character who showed up very early on in my plotting. With Alex having the ability to talk to ghosts and spirits, it made sense that she could also see the grim reaper. When trying to decide how Alex would have met him, I had this great idea for a scene from her backstory which I eventually distilled down to one sentence and used to open the book: 
“The first time I encountered Death, I hurled my mother’s medical chart at him.”
Their relationship improved after that first, rather unfortunate, meeting, but there is still tension there that creates great chemistry between them on the page. When I first decided to make Death a character, I don’t think I realized how his character would play out, but by the time I started writing the first book, I knew he’d be a major series character.

SFG: Is there a planned over-reaching story arc and number of books planned for the series and do you know how it will end?

“Yes” to the former and “not so much” to the latter question. There are several underlining plot threads that will play out over the series, and I know where the story is headed, but I don’t have a set in stone “this is how the series will end” plan for the books.

SFG: It must have been exciting when you signed with Ace/Roc. Can you describe the moment when you first learned of the deal?

Actually, that ‘moment’ was stretched over several days, which was both agonizing and thrilling. What happened was this: About a week after my agent sent Grave Witch out to editors, I received a call letting me know an offer had been made. I was ecstatic, but that isn’t the end of the story because the book then went to auction. The days while I was waiting for the end of the auction are a blur. I remember pacing a lot, and I was pretty useless at work. News would come in a flurry and then there would be more waiting. I remember reading an update from my agent in an email and then the phone ringing. I told her I’d just read her email and her response was “Well, I have more news.” By the time the auction ended I was emotionally exhausted. Happy. Thrilled. Maybe even scared. But more than anything, excited.

SFG: What is it that most appeals to you about writing fantasy/urban fantasy?

The versatility of the genre. The authors writing Urban Fantasy tend to take the best parts of other genres and mix them together so you have these thrilling stories with magic and murder, horror, love, tragedy, mystery—you name it, and it has probably been incorporated into an urban fantasy book. I love the genre, and I hope my books will provide others with the same kind of entertainment I’ve found in other great writers in this genre.

SFG: You also have another successful dark urban fantasy series on the go. Tell us more about the novels of Haven.

The novels of Haven follow Kita Nekai, a shapeshifter on the run from her clan and responsibilities who is turned into a vampire and sucked into the supernatural underbelly of a city called Haven. Kita’s world is a closed one—meaning as a whole society doesn’t know supernaturals exist—while Alex’s world is open and everyone knows the monsters under the bed really are real. It’s a lot of fun to be writing two series that have worldbuilding on opposite sides of the spectrum. At first I was a little worried about writing two series in the same genre at the same time, but Alex and Kita are very different, as are their worlds, which shapes how their stories are told, so I haven’t had any trouble keeping them distinct.

SFG: When did you first “discover” urban fantasy as a reader? Do have favourite writers/series?

Kalayna with Laurell K. Hamilton
I discovered urban fantasy long before the subgenre had a proper title. My first introduction to the genre was an Omnibus edition of the first three Anita Blake books by Laurell K Hamilton. I was fourteen at the time and had never read anything like it. I fell in love and wanted more of this gritty but humorous contemporary fantasy mixed with mystery, romance, and horror. Of course, there wasn’t much more out there in the nineties. As the genre began to explode in the early/mid part of the last decade, I was thrilled.

I have a lot of favourite authors, and it’s hard to pick just a couple, but I’d say some of the best authors I’ve read recently include: Karen Chance, Kim Harrison, Chloe Neill, Patricia Briggs, and Ilona Andrews.

SFG: You have a number of other passions besides writing including your art and fire hoop dancing. How and why did you become a fire hoop dancer?

Well, I didn’t jump straight to fire. In fact, two years ago, I couldn’t even keep a hoop up around my waist. My brother was actually the one who got me into hooping. He saw someone doing it at Dragon*con 2008, got a little obsessed, and coerced family and friends into trying. I must be the slowest, most uncoordinated person in the world because it took me almost a week to reliably keep the hoop at my waist, but it was great exercise and I was in excellent company, so I kept working at it. Within a couple weeks I was learning tricks and having a lot of fun on top of the workout and the chance to hang out with friends—talk about a no lose situation!

I’d been hooping a little over six months the first time I hooped with fire. I think it’s probably something you’re either going to love or hate. For me, the roar of the fire all around me is a major adrenaline rush. I love it!




SFG: What other projects to you have coming up and can you tell me something about them without having to kill me afterwards?

Currently I’m focusing on the two series I’m contracted to write. The next book in the Haven series, Third Blood, will be out in a few months, and the second Alex Craft novel will be released next summer. Other than that, I can’t give out any definite news, but there have been rumours about a sky pirate anthology . . .

SFG: You’ve appeared at a number of conventions. Tell us the craziest thing that has happened to you at a con?

I wish I could say I had a really crazy con story, but nothing is popping to mind. Of course, my threshold for crazy might be different as I started attending cons in college when ten of us would pile into one room and would survive the con by eating Ramen cooked in a coffee pot because we couldn’t afford to go any other way. Those were crazy times.
Kalayna and friends with members of the Clockwork Dolls at Steampunk Worlds Fair 2010

Thanks so much for having me here today, Doug!


You are most welcome Kalayna, and you have an open invitation to guest anytime.

ABOUT KALAYNA PRICE
Kalayna Price is the author of the Alex Craft Novels, a new dark urban fantasy series from Roc, and the author of the Novels of Haven from Bell Bridge Books. She draws her ideas from the world around her, her studies into ancient mythologies, and her obsession with classic folklore. Her stories contain not only the mystical elements of fantasy, but also a dash of romance, a bit of gritty horror, some humor, and a large serving of mystery. She is a member of SFWA and RWA, and an avid hula-hoop dancer who has been known light her hoop on fire.

BOOK DESCRIPTION
Grave witch Alex Craft can speak to the dead, but that doesn’t mean she likes what they have to say . . .
As a private investigator and consultant for the police, Alex Craft has seen a lot of dark magic. But even though she’s on good terms with Death himself—who happens to look fantastic in a pair of jeans—nothing has prepared her for her latest case. Alex is investigating a high profile murder when she’s attacked by the ‘shade’ she’s raising, which should be impossible. To top off her day, someone makes a serious attempt on her life, but Death saves her. Guess he likes having her around . . .

To solve this case Alex will have to team up with tough homicide detective Falin Andrews. Falin seems to be hiding something—though it’s certainly not his dislike of Alex—but Alex knows she needs his help to navigate the tangled webs of mortal and paranormal politics, and to track down a killer wielding a magic so malevolent, it may cost Alex her life . . . and her soul.

Click Here to read the first chapter.

GIVEAWAY GUIDELINES:
  1. Leave a comment, or question about the book, the series, writing or urban fantasy in general, to be entered into the draw to win a signed copy of GRAVE WITCH.
  2. One name will be drawn at random. Open internationally.
  3. Giveaway runs until Midnight, Saturday October 9.  
  4. Leave a way for me to contact you.
  5. Links to this post on your favourite social media sites, blogs, etc., would be appreciated.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Marta Acosta Appearance Delayed Until Friday

Marta was scheduled to visit today as part of her Haunted Honeymoon blog tour, but I realized I had to organize my sock drawer and Marta wanted to wash her hair so we agreed to meet Friday instead. Today is the official launch day of the fourth Casa Dracula book and it is terrific. Rush out and get your copy now!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Guest Author - Cinda Williams Chima

My guest today is fantasy author Cinda Williams Chima. Cinda's newest book in her YA series releases tomorrow and she has written a terrific post for aspiring YA writers on world-building. Cinda is the author of the Heir series (The Warrior Heir, The Wizard Heir and The Dragon Heir) and the first book in her Seven Realms series, The Demon King is out in paperback.

Please join me in welcoming Cinda Williams Chima.


Fear of Fantasy

Those of us who write YA fantasy often feel like we’re straddling two worlds—that of mainstream teen lit, and that of fantasy fiction. Similarly, authors of paranormal romance walk the borderline between two audiences—fantasy and romance fans. We want to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. But it takes a little planning to make fantasy accessible to mainstream readers. Here are some strategies that have worked for me:
  1. It’s not all about the magic. All of the usual elements of fiction have to be there—character, setting, and conflict. Mainstream readers are not going to be so smitten by your fabulous magical system that they overlook those things.

  2. Character is especially important. If your characters are engaging, readers will follow them into any fantasy world you can conjure. But give the reader time to bond with your characters before you overwhelm them with fantasy fireworks.

  3. Root your fantasy world in the real world. This is easier to do with contemporary or urban fantasy. My Heir Chronicles series (The Warrior Heir, The Wizard Heir, The Dragon Heir) is contemporary fantasy set in the magical world of Ohio. Ohio is accessible and familiar to most people, except for those who live in New York and LA. So there’s less explaining to do.

    Your story doesn’t have to take place in Ohio, however. My new high fantasy series is set in the Seven Realms, a quasi-medieval collection of warring states. Still, real-world sensory detail seduces readers and makes them believers. Since the Fells is a mountainous queendom, I draw heavily on my memories of recent visits to the Canadian Rockies, Yellowstone National Park, and New Zealand in creating my fantasy landscape. Remember: all fantasy worlds are built from elements of the familiar, put together in a different way.

  4. Measure out your magical elements. Don’t overload your readers with unfamiliar creatures, events, and terminology, especially at first. It’s bewildering and intimidating—kind of like being the only Baptist at Latin Mass.

    One way to meter out fantasy elements is to have the reader discover them along with the viewpoint character. Stephenie Meyer used that strategy in Twilight. As the book opens, the only clue that something magical is going on is on the bookjacket.


    In my debut fantasy novel, The Warrior Heir, Jack Swift is a high school student and soccer player whose girlfriend just broke up with him. One day he forgets to take his “heart medicine,” and magical sparks begin to fly. By the time Jack and the reader discover the magical infrastructure underlying his small-town life, the reader has been sucked in (hopefully.)

    In many contemporary fantasies, the fantasy elements are subtle, adding just a hint of extra interest. Think of one of those hand-colored black and white photographs from the last century.

  5. Magical systems and settings should be delivered on a need-to-know basis. Is it absolutely necessary that the reader know all of the names in a dynasty of wizards? I thought not.


    There’s a lot going on in the Seven Realms series—it’s a twisted labyrinth of politics, history, love triangles, secrets and betrayals. Readers don’t need an unnecessarily complex magical system overlaying all that. I’ve lived in that world for a long time, and I know a lot about it. Readers don’t need to know everything that I know.

  6. One key to efficient world-building is to allow your reader to participate. Writers and readers are partners in story, so give your readers room to operate. Writers contribute the architecture—the frame it hangs on. Readers do the detail work—they color in the lines.

    In other words, be selective in your description. The world and characters the reader creates will be slightly different from your own, incorporating their own individual experiences and images. And that’s okay. The bottom line: trust your reader.

The Demon King is now available in paperback, and The Exiled Queen will be released September 28. There will be four books in the Seven Realms series, followed by two more Heir books.

Excerpts from each of my books are available on my website, www.cindachima.com. Help for writers can be found under Tips for Writers, including a document called, “Getting Started in Writing for Teens.”

I blog at http://cindachima.blogspot.com/, where you’ll find rants, posts on the craft of writing, and news about me and my books.


Thank you Cinda for spending time with us.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, hunted by the powerful Bayar family, Han Alister makes a devil’s bargain with the clans. If they sponsor his schooling at Mystwerk Academy at Oden’s Ford, he will become their magical sell-sword against the power-hungry Wizard Council.

Han and his clan friend Fire Dancer undertake the dangerous journey south through war-torn Arden. Once in Oden’s Ford, it doesn’t take long for the smoldering feud between Han and Micah Bayar to kindle into flame. After several attempts on his life, Han knows he has to find a way to defend himself.

In the magical dream world of Aediion, Han meets the mysterious Crow, a wizard with a long-standing grudge against the Bayars. Crow offers to tutor Han in wizardry in exchange for his help. Han agrees, once again forced into a bargain he hopes he won’t regret.

Meanwhile, Han’s friends Fire Dancer and Cat Tyburn struggle with their own demons. Dancer is determined to become a clan flashcrafter, despite his charmcaster status. Cat carries a load of guilt, as the only survivor of the slaughter of the gangs in Ragmarket and Southbridge.

Resuming her disguise as gently-born Rebecca Morley, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna travels with her friend Amon Byrne and his triple of cadets to Wien House, the military academy at Oden’s Ford. There she hopes she will find both temporary sanctuary from a forced marriage and the education she needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen.

Much of Raisa’s education takes place outside of the classroom. As she mingles with students of all classes from throughout the Seven Realms, she forges the kind of friendships that don’t happen amid the cut-throat politics of the Gray Wolf Court. She also struggles to deal with her attraction to Amon—an attraction he seems determined to discourage.

When Han Alister asks the girl he knows as Rebecca to tutor him, she agrees. The streetlord turned wizard with the complicated past fascinates her, and he makes it clear the interest is mutual. But Han blames Queen Marianna and the Bayars for the loss of his family. As their relationship deepens, Raisa suspects that if Han knew her true identity, he wouldn’t want anything to do with her.

Book Trailer from The Demon King:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

This Week at SciFiGuy.ca

This week is packed with guests beginning tomorrow with Fantasy author Cinda Williams Chima who is here with a guest post about her Seven Realms YA series. The Exiled Queen is the second novel in the series.
Tuesday, September 28 - Marta Acosta returns for more punishment as we go several rounds discussing Haunted Honeymoon and the Casa Dracula series. Not available on Pay Per View.
On Wednesday Kalayna Price visits to talk about the launch of Grave Witch the first book in her new adult urban fantasy Alex Croft series.

Be sure to drop by for great commentary and the usual giveaways.

Winners Galore!

Just getting caught up on winners from recent contests featured here at SciFiGuy.ca. I'm running a little late from being away all of this week. So with no further ado here are the winners for the following giveaways/contests:

A copy of The Native Star from the M.K. Hobson guest post goes to -
  • Katie Altman who said... My favorite Wild Wild West aspect? The pony express. Because we forget much sweat used to be involved in crossing this ginormous country of ours to deliver the mail.

The Blu-ray DVD of Stardust from our giveaway goes to -
  • Jessica who said... Oh I love Giaman. I've read stardust and seen the movie both awesome. I've read The Graveyard book which I have to say would be my fav and I've also read Anansi Boys. His next book I really want to read is American Gods.

An ARC of When Pleasure Rules by J.K. Beck and a $15 Amazon Gift Card from her guest post goes to-
  • Cait045 who said... I prefer to read the traditional vampire stories of can't go out in sunlight, crosses, and stakes to the heart.
Thanks to everyone that participated!

RIP Jennifer Rardin (1965-2010)

Earlier this week, it was with a deep sense of loss that I learned from Orbit editor Jack Womack that author Jennifer Rardin, one of the luminaries in the urban fantasy community had passed away. She was only 45. My heartfelt sympathies go out to the friends and family of  Jennifer and to her readers and fans.

I had not met Jennifer or interviewed her (although one was planned for the release of Bitten in Two), but through her Jaz Parks novels, her zeal for life, sense of humour and intelligent mind were clearly evident. The Jaz Parks series was one of my must read urban fantasies (see my review of Bitten to Death) and I know many felt likewise. Jennifer had completed the series with Book 8 which will be released next year, leaving behind a complete and wonderfully entertaining legacy. Jennifer you are already missed.

For those wishing to contribute to a memorial, details can be found on the home page of the Jennifer Rardin website. Here are links to some of the other reflections about Jennifer from fellow authors, bloggers and fans.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Review! The Walking Dead: Volume 1 - Days Gone Bye & Volume 2 - Miles Behind Us



Zombies are really getting into the spotlight lately. Tor has been having ‘zombie week’, Night of the Living Trekkies was released, and Robert Kirkman’s graphic novels The Walking Dead have been getting a lot of press, due to the upcoming release of the series airing on AMC this coming October. Zombies are just hot right now.

Excited by the trailer for The Walking Dead, I went to my favorite comic book store in the area, Emerald City, and bought the first four (of twelve) graphic novels. I really enjoy graphic novels, but I wouldn’t call myself an expert on the art form. Comics and graphic novels are something I began to get into my senior year of college, thanks to a really one-of-a-kind roommate I had who was very into the genre.

What I like about graphic novels is the way the text and the images come together in my mind while I’m reading, to form a kind of emotional engagement with the story that is very profound. Not to mention the amazing and oftentimes beautiful artwork, or the delicately illustrated action and horror sequences. In The Walking Dead these images are grotesque and haunting, but there are also drawings of the characters that I find strikingly beautiful.
How many hours are in a day when you don’t spend half of them watching television? When was the last time any of us really worked to get something we wanted? How long has it been since any of us really needed something that we wanted?

The world we knew is gone.

The world of commerce and frivolous necessity has been replaced by a world of survival and responsibility. An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe causing the dead to rise and feed on the living. In a matter of months society has crumbled, no government, no grocery stores, no mail delivery, no cable TV.

In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living
.”
This story starts off fast, and doesn’t let up the pace very much during the first two books. The first volume is called Days Gone Bye. Our protagonist, Rick, wakes up in a hospital after being in a coma, and finds the hospital abandoned, and the world around him seeming really creepy and weird and quiet. Of course, this doesn’t last long when he encounters his first dead person, walking around. This first volume races from his realization of the scale of what has happened, to his journey to find his wife and son. There is a lot of action and a few poignant scenes where the typical zombie questions are briefly explored - are these people any more? Do they suffer? Do they think? However, there isn’t much time for anyone to sit down and discuss the possibilities here, or the ramifications of what the truth might be. There is only survival, from one moment to the next, and the desperate attempt to maintain some semblance of normality and society.

This volume sets the groundwork for the rest of the story, introducing some main characters, and setting up the backdrop of a world ravaged by the chaos this phenomenon has caused. Before the volume ends the group is already realizing that this situation, the things that they are going through, has the power to change people. This is a major theme in this story, especially for Rick. Kirkman says in the introduction for Days Gone Bye:
"With The Walking Dead I want to explore how people deal with extreme situations and how those events CHANGE them. I'm in this for the long haul. You guys are going to get to see Rick change and mature to the point that when you look back on this book you won't even recognize him. I hope you guys are looking forward to a sprawling epic, because that's the idea with this one."
This endeavor Kirkman has embarked upon is going to keep going after the typical zombie flick ends, and show us what happens to the people in these stories, the ones who survive, and how they survive.

The second volume is called, Miles Behind Us. The group has been through a lot together, to put all of that gore and horror mildly. Rick has come to be respected and looked up to as the leader, the guy they can trust to get them through this. They decide to move camp, and as they move on we meet some new characters, and encounter entirely new situations – some of which deal exclusively with the politics of other groups of humans in this post-apocalyptic world. This part of the journey begins to show us some of the different ways people are dealing with a world they don’t even recognize, a world where death is right around the corner.

Zombies traditionally represent internal fears that we all harbor - the fear of death, the fear that we are at our very core, violent creatures. They represent mob mentality, and the fear that what makes us individuals is simply an illusion – and if that is so, then who are we? How do we define ourselves? Rick’s journey in this new world prompts us more and more to ask these questions. When the group meets a man who doesn’t see zombies as monsters (I’m for real), Rick can’t understand that, and at the same time that man can’t understand how Rick can shoot a person, or what was once a person, in the head with no thought to the possibility that there might be a cure out there.

This volume delves deeper into the relationships between some of these characters, and it’s interesting, because some of them seem to become deeper and more real as a result of what is happening, while others seem so transparent. When people are afraid of dying alone, they need some kind of comfort, someone to make them believe, even if it’s the smallest shred of belief, that they’re not alone.

I’m very excited to see where volume three and four take these characters. From what I've read so far these are characters I'm getting attatched to, a story that is keeping me on edge and isn't letting me down as far as excitement and depth. I’ll be posting next weekend my reflections on the next two issues. If you missed the trailer, check it out here. I’d like to know, what makes zombies so attractive to you as a reader? If you were in this situation (which is something I think Kirkman wants us to imagine while we are reading his story) do you think you would change as drastically as people in zombie films and books do?

Robert Kirkman - Creator, Writer, Letterer
Tony Moore - Penciler, Inker, Gray Tones
Cliff Rathburn - Additional Gray Tones
Image Comics
ISBN: 978-1-58240-672-5
ISBN: 978-1-58240-775-3

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Winner for Night of the Living Trekkies Contest!





Thank you to all who posted! There were some really creative comments, and some really great detailed scenes and quotes from Star Trek that were turned zombie. I'm glad to see so many other Trek fans here on SciFiGuy.ca. I hope that all of you have watched the Night of the Living Trekkies promo video by now, because it's hilarious, and a really great glimpse of what you'll experience when you read this book.

Jessica is our winner! She will recieve a free copy of the book, and the right to gloat about this for weeks. Qapla' Jessica! To the rest of you, well, sometimes the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many. Live long and prosper, and check out my posts this upcoming weekend, reviewing the first two graphic novels of The Walking Dead.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cover Art - "Hard Bitten" by Chloe Neill

Chloe Neill unveiled the cover for Hard Bitten, the fourth Chicagoland Vampires book. It releases May 2011. Reminds me of Underworld.

Book Trailer (and Contest) - Night of the Living Trekkies

Quirk Books just released this book trailer for Night of the Living Trekkies.  Pretty good production values and decent ham acting. Heck if this was a real movie I'd see it! Don't forget to enter the giveaway and read Lisa's review. Contest closes tomorrow night.

Cover Art - "Unseen World" by Sean Cummings

Sean Cummings proudly showed me the new cover to the reissue of his first urban fantasy book Unseen World. The artist Anna Torborg. is the same as did the covers for Shade Fright and Funeral Pallor. The reissue comes out from Snow Books in January. I love the look which to me reflects the 50's drive-in movie monster posters. You can find out more on Sean's website.
Marshall Conrad's superpowers could save the world...if he ever figures out how to use them.

There's talk of a serial killer terrorizing the good people of Greenfield. Finding him should be easy for a guy with superpowers, but it's not that simple: Flying's not all it's cracked up to be, and this particular villain seems immune to Marshall's tricks.

Marshall's only helpers are an overweight shopkeeping witch, an old Siamese cat, and a hard drinking senior citizen who can lift automobiles. A crazy cast of corrupt cops, Ogres and other Netherworld surprises is all par for the course when you have to save a city from a baneful and simmering evil about to be unleashed.

Monday, September 13, 2010

New Urban Fantasy TV - Lost Girl

I caught the first episode of this new 13-part series about the Fae and the two courts, Seelie and Unseelie set in a modern day city. The main character is a succubus with a human sidekick, unaligned with either court. Doesn't look like it has a huge budget, but based on the first episode it has promise. You can catch more about the series at its' website. Any one else catch this? What did you think?
Show Description:
Bo is a succubus. One look, one touch and you’re left breathless, sometimes even lifeless. Laying low and always on the run, Bo is unable to control her urge to feed on the sexual energy of others, leaving a trail of victims in her wake. That is, until the day she comes face to face with the Fae, creatures of legend and folklore living amongst us and intent upon claiming Bo as their own.

The product of a strict upbringing, Bo was raised to believe that sex of any kind was inherently evil. When Bo discovers her mysterious abilities after a traumatizing “first-time”, she leaves home and sets out on her own, ‘feeding’ whenever the urge becomes too overwhelming. After leaving a victim in plain sight, Bo is exposed to the world of the Fae, who take her in and help uncover her true being as a succubus. Forced to choose allegiance, between the Dark or Light clans of Fae, Bo goes rogue, refusing to belong to any world other than human. Adding to her troubles, Bo’s desire to track down her birth mother puts her even more at risk as she searches for her true origin above all else.

Aided by best-friend Kenzi, Bo becomes part vigilante, part mercenary as she takes on a variety of paid jobs, Fae assignments and personal missions. A sticky love triangle involving homicide detective and shape-shifting Fae, Dyson and human doctor Lauren, makes navigating the worlds of Fae and human even trickier.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

True Blood Season Closer Poll

Do you watch True Blood? Did you see the season finale? Take the poll on the sidebar. Will you be watching season 4?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Saturday Book Finds

Saturday book finds on the railing of my deck
While my son was visiting from Florida last month we discovered a very cool clearance bookstore in Fergus Ontario called Cherry Hill Entertainment (Fergus by the way is where Diana Gabladon did a lot of her research for the Outlander series at the Fergus Highland Games). I finally had a chance to drop by and in a quick pass through the store picked up the  books shown above including some terrific urban fantasy, paranormal, YA and fantasy. Total cost lest then 80 bucks. All were brand new in either trade or hardback editions. Score! When I will get around to reading them is another story, but who can turn away from book bargains?

Tell me about the best book score you have made recently?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Movie Review - Resident Evil Afterlife 3D

Resident Evil Afterlife was my first movie to be seen in 3D this year (no I haven't seen Avatar in 3D yet). It adds a little bit of extra spice do an otherwise standard popcorn movie. Some of the 3D scenes were excellent, in particular the landscape scenes and character closeups, the rest were mostly cheesy. Of course this is a zombie movie so a lot can be forgiven. Lots of great visuals. Milla Jovovich continues strongly as Alice although she is not the ingenue she used to be. lots of excuses for blowing and shooting things up.

The audience was a pretty even mix of couples which surprised me, figuring this for more of a guy flick. There was a lot of comments about the on-screen action from the ladies. Plotting wasn't much but the action was fun and the set designs were creative and interesting. Was the 3D worth the extra 3 bucks? Not really. If you've been following the series, this one is a cut above the previous film.

My favourite scene was the battle between the giant and the two women. Well conceived choreography and 3D effects. Resident Evil Afterlife 3D is not a must-see but not a waste either. Enjoy.

Do you have a favourite Milla Jovovich film (mine remains 5th Element)? Let me know in the comments.



Thursday, September 9, 2010

Free Read - Nancy's Theory of Style by Marta Acosta

Nancy's Theory of Style written by Marta Acosta as Grace Coopersmith is a romcom that is a laugh-out-loud romp and highly recommended. And it even includes ninjas ! I read it this past summer while recuperating in the hospital and it was just the right feel good tonic. If you've liked the style and writing in Marta's Casa Dracula books you will definitely enjoy Nancy's Theory of Style.

You can read the unedited draft of the book free on Scribd. On the left below is the cover Marta designed and on the right the publisher's. Which do you prefer?


Real style takes risks.

Lively, pretty young socialite Nancy Carrington-Chambers has always believed that an excellent sense of style and strict attention to detail are what it takes to achieve a perfectly chic life. Now, however, her own haute couture marriage is starting to resemble a clearance rack, as husband Todd manifests more and more symptoms of a dread disease—incurable tackiness. Seriously concerned, Nancy flees their vulgar McMansion for an apartment in San Francisco’s posh Pacific Heights. She’s determined to make her event planning company, Froth, a real winner, but her new prize assignment—reinventing the turgid Barbary Coast Historical Museum fundraiser—must be spectacular in every way. Luckily, Nancy now has the perfect assistant. Derek Cathcart is British, impeccably dressed, gorgeous, and clearly gay—so why does Nancy find him so attractive?

Before Nancy can unravel her feelings for Derek, her irresponsible cousin Birdie abandons her four-year-old daughter at Nancy’s and takes off to parts unknown. Nancy, Derek, and little Eugenia make an unlikely “family,” but strangely it all seems incredibly right. Nancy’s parents are pressuring her to return to Todd, however, and she still has to pull off the party of the year. For someone who has always prided herself on knowing exactly where she is going, Nancy is sailing into dangerously uncharted waters.

Irresistibly funny, romantic, and heartwarming, Nancy’s Theory of Style shows that happiness and love—just like fashion—have never been about playing it safe.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Would You Like Stardust in Your Eyes?

The multi-talented Neil Gaiman wrote Stardust in 1998 and it was adapted for the big screen in 2007. I have a copy of the just released Blu-ray edition of Stardust for a commenter to be drawn at random. Just tell me what your favourite Neil Gaiman book is or if you haven't read Neil, what is your favourite fantasy film. Contest is open until September 20 for US residents only.

You can view the movie trailer at The Internet Movie Database  and visit the Official Movie Site which has some tremendous material.  I saw the film when it was first released and found it to be entertaining and fun.


Here is the official press release with additional details.
CLAIRE DANES, MICHELLE PFEIFFER AND ROBERT DE NIRO STAR IN THE ENCHANTING FAIRY TALE FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY

STARDUST

Fantastical Adventure Debuts on Blu-ray September 7, 2010 Featuring Deleted Scenes, a Blooper Reel, Extensive Making Of Featurette, a New Commentary and More...

HOLLYWOOD, CALIF. – Prepare for a magical journey filled with witches, pirates, maidens and true love as STARDUST makes its Blu-ray debut on September 7, 2010 from Paramount Home Entertainment. The epic adventure stars Claire Danes as Yvaine, the embodiment of a fallen star, who is pursued by the youthful and inexperienced Tristan (Charlie Cox) because he believes that retrieving the star will win him the heart of the village beauty (Sienna Miller). But a ruthless witch named Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) has other plans for Yvaine—she intends to eat her heart to gain eternal youth. As Tristan attempts to protect Yvaine, they encounter a number of wildly entertaining characters, including Captain Shakespeare (Robert De Niro), a much-feared seafarer who is partial to performing the can-can. Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman, the rollicking fairy tale is filled with action, humor and stunning visuals and will leave viewers believing in the power of true love.

The STARDUST Blu-ray features “Crossing the Wall: The Making of Stardust”, a new behind-the-scenes documentary that takes viewers on a journey into the supernatural kingdom of Stormhold, deleted scenes, a blooper reel, as well as a new commentary by writer and director Matthew Vaughn and writer Jane Goldman and a new featurette entitled “Nothing is True...”.

STARDUST Blu-ray:
The STARDUST Blu-ray is presented in 1080p high definition with English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, German 5.1 Dolby Digital, Castilian Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Latin American Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital with English, English SDH, French, Danish, German, Castilian Spanish, Latin American Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Portuguese, Finnish and Swedish subtitles. The disc includes the following new bonus features:
  • Commentary by writer and director Matthew Vaughn and writer Jane Goldman
  • Crossing the Wall: The Making of Stardust (HD)
  • The Quest for the Stone…
  • A Portal to Another World…
  • What Do Stars Do?
  • A Quest of Enormous Importance…
  • Have You Seen a Fallen Star?
  • Nothing Is True…
The following previously released bonus features are also included on the disc:
  • • Deleted Scenes
  • • Blooper Reel
  • • Theatrical Trailer (HD)
About Paramount Home Entertainment
Paramount Home Entertainment (PHE) is part of Paramount Pictures Corporation (PPC), a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment. PPC is a unit of Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), a leading content company with prominent and respected film, television and digital entertainment brands. PHE is responsible for the sales, marketing and distribution of home entertainment products on behalf of various parties including: Paramount Pictures, Paramount Vantage, Paramount Classics, Paramount Famous Productions, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, CBS and PBS and for providing home entertainment fulfillment services for DreamWorks Animation Home Entertainment.

STARDUST Blu-ray
Street date: September 7, 2010
Pricing: $29.99 U.S.
Runtime: 127 minutes
U.S. Rating: PG-13 for fantasy violence and some risqué humor
Canadian Rating: PG not recommended for young children—violence

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bustlepunk? Guest Post by M.K. Hobson (The Native Star)

The Native Star is M.K. Hobson's debut novel although she has been publishing science fiction and fantasy short stories since the nineties. The Native Star is a historical paranormal adventure set in the 19th century American west for which M.K. Hobson has coined the term "bustlepunk". Here's the synopsis -
The year is 1876. In the small Sierra Nevada settlement of Lost Pine, the town witch, Emily Edwards, is being run out of business by an influx of mail-order patent magics. Attempting to solve her problem with a love spell, Emily only makes things worse. But before she can undo the damage, an enchanted artifact falls into her possession—and suddenly Emily must flee for her life, pursued by evil warlocks who want the object for themselves.

Dreadnought Stanton, a warlock from New York City whose personality is as pompous and abrasive as his name, has been exiled to Lost Pine for mysterious reasons. Now he finds himself involuntarily allied with Emily in a race against time—and across the United States by horse, train, and biomechanical flying machine—in quest of the great Professor Mirabilis, who alone can unlock the secret of the coveted artifact. But along the way, Emily and Stanton will be forced to contend with the most powerful and unpredictable magic of all—the magic of the human heart.
The book was just released last week, and M.K. is here to tell you something of the research undertaken in the writing of The Native Star. A sequel, The Hidden Goddess is due out in May 2011.

I am just about halfway through and thoroughly enjoying this briskly told tale. I'll have my review posted before the end of the week. I have a copy of The Native Star to giveaway to a lucky commenter. To enter just leave a question for the author or tell us about your favourite aspect of the wild wild west. M.K. Hobson will be dropping in to answer your questions. Contest closes September 14th at Midnight. EST.

You can find out more about the author at her website or on her blog. Welcome Mary!


Hi! Who are you and why are you here?

Hi! I'm M.K. Hobson and my debut novel hit bookstore shelves at the beginning of this month. THE NATIVE STAR is a historical fantasy romance set in 1876. It follows the adventures of a timber camp witch from California and a stuck-up warlock from New York as they are pursued across the United States by blood-sorcerors bent on reclaiming a unique magical artifact.

While writing this book, I had to deepen and broaden my understanding of America in the mid-19th century—a historical period that has always intrigued me. For this post I thought I'd share some fascinating factoids I learned while writing THE NATIVE STAR. Even if you're not a self-proclaimed "history nerd" like me, I hope you find them as interesting as I did!

Philadelphia Exposition 1876
The Philadelphia Centennial Exposition was a pretty big deal. How big a deal? Well, it was the first official World's Fair ever held in the United States. Over its six month run, it drew 10 million visitors—nearly twice the number that attended The Great Exhibition in London in 1851—and this was a time when the whole population of the United States was about 50 million! It was an incredibly influential showcase for art and ideas from around the world. Stylistic movements that became prominent over the second half of the century—such as the mania for Japanese style and culture and a flowering of interest in American colonial antiques—can be directly traced to popular exhibits in Philadelphia. (If you'd like to learn more, I wrote a whole article about the Exposition: http://www.demimonde.com/2010/03/29/the-centennial-exposition-of-1876/)

Seance
America, in the 19th century, saw an unrivaled flowering of interest in the occult. Well, OK. Maybe it was rivaled in the seventies when everybody was trying to sharpen razor blades under pyramids. But America in the mid-19th century was a hotbed of occult exploration, specifically spirtualism, in which "mediums" were used to contact the spirits of the dead. Spiritualism reached its peak growth in membership from the 1840s to the 1920s, and by 1897, it was said to have more than eight million followers in the United States and Europe. Even though I propose my own unique strains of magic in THE NATIVE STAR, there were so many schools of thought and unique types of practitioner (Theosophists, Swedenborgians, Mesmerists, Rosicrucians, etc.) that I hardly needed to.

Great Railway Station at Chicago
Transcontinental railroad travel was an incredible adventure. The golden age of railroad travel—with comfortable and luxurious cars and long uninterrupted express routes—did not reach its heyday until the late 1930s. In the 1870s, transcontinental railroad travel took place a cobbled-together transportation network built by a mish-mosh of competing interests. Passengers didn't just get on at one end of the country and ride to the other—they had to navigate their way from line to line, and each line had its quirks. From California, you'd ride the Central Pacific to Utah, at which point the line ended. Then you'd switch to the Union Pacific (which had noticeably older passenger cars) and from there (depending on your destination) ride to another major transportation hub (Chicago, most likely) and switch to yet another line. While some lines featured fancy cars (such as the ornate Silver Palace cars on the Central Pacific, or the Union Pacific's Pullman cars) the accommodations were generally not very luxe. Many of the cars—especially the "emigrant" cars with the cheapest ticket prices—were spartan and uncomfortable, with wooden seats and smelly coal stoves at each end of the car for warmth. There were even separate cars for different kinds of travelers: cars specifically designated for families and ladies traveling alone, so they wouldn't have to be subjected to the rough language and rowdiness of single men.
Central Pacific  Silver Palace Dining Car

BOOK TRAILER FOR THE NATIVE STAR