Author Archive

Dec
25

12 Days of Christmas: Recap

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For the last 12 days we’ve brought you 2014’s titles at the knock-down festive promotional price of only £1, or your current equivalent. If you missed any of the daily offers, fear not as the deal is available until 2 January, 2015. Here’s a handy list of all the books we included and also links to the posts; click through for extra treats from some of your favourite authors.

13 December: Andy Remic’s The Iron Wolves

14 December: Justin Gustainis’ Hard Spell, Evil Dark, and Known Devil

15 December: Matthew Hughes’ To Hell and Back omnibus and Joseph D’Lacey’s Black Feathers & The Book of the Crowman

16 December: Anna Kashina’s Blades of the Old Empire and Freya Robertson’s HeartwoodSunstone

17 December: Michael Boatman’s Last God Standing

18 December: Danielle L. Jensen’s Stolen Songbird

19 December: Jay Posey’s Three & Morningside Fall

20 December: Marianne de Pierres’ Peacemaker

21 December: Tim Waggoner’s Night Terrors

22 December: Andy Remic’s The White Towers

23 December: Craig Cormick’s The Shadow Master

24 December: James A. Moore’s Seven ForgesThe Blasted Lands and Anna Kashina’s The Guild of Assassins

25 December: Kameron Hurley’s The Mirror Empire and Rod Duncan’s The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter

Here’s how to take advantage of our £1 seasonal special offer:

1. Visit the Robot Trading Company at www.robottradingcompany.com
2. Add the book(s) you’d like to buy to your shopping basket
3. Add the magic word ‘mincepie’ to the ‘coupon/voucher’ box
4. Click the ‘update basket’ button and the discount will be applied

Wishing all our Robot Army, readers, fans, and friends a wonderful warm and merry Christmas and a happy new year.

C: http://www.thedoorknobsociety.com

C: http://www.thedoorknobsociety.com

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Welcome to the final day of our 12 Days of Christmas, and let this post start with a Merry Christmas from everyone at Angry Robot HQ to you all.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our festive promotion, and picked up some bargains. If you missed any of the posts, click here for links to all the ebooks you can still get at only £1 – or your currency equivalent – until 2 January, 2015. For our final day, we bring you two fantastic titles, Kameron Hurley‘s epic fantasy The Mirror Empire and Rod Duncan‘s steampunk fantasy The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter.

Here’s how to take advantage of our £1 seasonal special offer:

1. Visit the Robot Trading Company at www.robottradingcompany.com
2. Add the book(s) you’d like to buy to your shopping basket
3. Add the magic word ‘mincepie’ to the ‘coupon/voucher’ box
4. Click the ‘update basket’ button and the discount will be applied

For today’s festive bonus, here’s a special memory from Rod:

The Gift of Strangeness

 

December 25th 1991

The tea house was perched on top of a cliff. Sipping oolong from a cup little bigger than a thimble, I looked down to where a river licked the rocks far below. I could just make out turtles swimming in the green water. After two and a half years living in Taiwan, the scene had come to feel ordinary to me.

I can’t say that this was the precise moment when I started to write stories. It was certainly within a week or two either way. As with most turning points, it seemed inconsequential at the time. Not something worth noting in a diary, even if I’d kept one. But years of not writing were about to end. As a dyslexic, I’d done my best to avoid pens and paper. You’d have been more likely to find my efforts in FORTRAN than English prose.

Not that I had anything against stories. There were plenty of them chasing their tails in my head. Some I made up. Others I read in books – chiefly science fiction and fantasy, one of my favourite authors being Mervyn Peake.

Peake was born in Jiangxi province, China, a few hundred miles from Taiwan. That was in 1911, less than a year before the fall of the Qing Dynasty. I’d always assumed that his experience growing up in an exotic and intensely stratified society had given him the inspiration to write his masterpiece, the Gormenghast trilogy. The books describe a society bound within crumbling walls and a labyrinthine code of laws. The Forbidden City in Beijing is an easy comparison.

In a much smaller way, perhaps living on Taiwan and being immersed in an exotic culture had given me the push to start writing. Whatever the reason – I began tapping away on my computer, creating an eco-thriller based on the island, a landscape of vertiginous mountains dripping with tropical forest and gorges carved into white marble.

It was bad writing. With the benefit of 20 years hindsight, I can assure you it was terrible. Thankfully (and unsurprisingly) it didn’t get published. However, I had caught the writing bug. I was still at it when I returned to the UK.

Taiwan might have become normal to me. But I was surprised to discover that the UK, my old home, had become strange. Ordinary things had become extraordinary – the way people walked down the street, the assumptions they made about each other from dress and speech, the thousand inconsequential habits and gestures of everyday life.

It was then I started to think that perhaps Gormenghast owed as much to 20th century England as it did to Qing Dynasty China. How strange London must have seemed to him when he arrived in 1922. Its people bound in a rigid class structure and mysterious codes of social etiquette.

It doesn’t take long before the feeling of comfortable normality returns. But somehow, years after moving to England, Mervyn Peake was able to recreate that sense of strangeness. He lends us his eyes so that we can experience the same sense of bewildered awe as we gaze on Gormenghast.

This ability, I am convinced, is one of the keys to great writing. It is the facility to be able to look at something we have seen a thousand times and see it as if for the first time. In all the writing I’ve done since, up to and including my most recent novel The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter, that is what I have been trying to capture – the gift of strangeness.

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We have a bumper offering for you today, to celebrate this Christmas Eve:

Not only can you get Anna Kashina‘s Blades of the Old Empire sequel, The Guild of Assassins, but we also have both Seven Forges and The Blasted Lands titles from James A. Moore. If you missed the first title from Anna, Blades of the Old Empire, in the promotion don’t worry as you can still buy this title at the promo price.  To avail of this festive £1 – or currency equivalent – offer, follow these  simple instructions:

1. Visit the Robot Trading Company at www.robottradingcompany.com
2. Add the book(s) you’d like to buy to your shopping basket
3. Add the magic word ‘mincepie’ to the ‘coupon/voucher’ box
4. Click the ‘update basket’ button and the discount will be applied
Take a moment to enjoy this festive Russian piece from Anna:

Christmas celebration in Russia

Traditional holiday celebrations typically stem from folklore and mythology. Perhaps not surprisingly, I believe that my native country, Russia, holds a unique edge in this area. Russia spans the broad geographical and cultural boundary between East and West. While a lot of Russian traditions are European, the territories covered by this country are more than half Asian, and this puts a unique twist on these traditions. Russian folklore blends elements of pagan and Christian into a truly organic form.

On the surface, Russian and Western Christmas differ only by the date: January 7th, instead of December 25, following the Russian Orthodox church calendar. Just like in the West, the Russian celebration involves a feast, presents, and importantly the decorated fir tree (which, during the secular Soviet times, came to be known as the “New Year fir” or “novogodnyaya elka”). But this is pretty much where the main similarities end. Underneath it all are layers of traditions that go all the way back to the good old pagan days, before Russia was baptized, when the Slavic people that inhabited these territories celebrated winter solstice.

The central figure of the Russian Christmas is Old Man Frost, better known as Grandfather Frost. He is an old, powerful man in a rich, ornamental coat, with long white hair and beard, and of course with a sack of presents. Grandfather Frost does bear resemblance to Santa Claus, and he can occasionally be seen riding a sled through the winter forest, but he definitely does not say “ho, ho, ho”, and you would never ever catch him climbing chimneys. His origins, from the old pagan gods of cold and winter, make him seem quite ominous, and in the old pre-Christian days he definitely did not bear too many gifts. He is kind to children, and generally brings them presents, but he commands more reverence and respect, and is surrounded by more mystery, than typical for a festive holiday spirit.

Grandfather Frost usually comes with a companion, his granddaughter, the beautiful Snow Maiden. She dresses in an ornamental blue and white coat, and wears either a fur hat or a traditional Russian head ornament, kokoshnik. Her colors are always blue and white, with silver and crystal decorations. She is much kinder that Grandfather Frost, but also much more elusive. If you misbehave, Grandfather Frost can get angry, but the Snow Maiden will just glide away and you will never see her again.

The night before Christmas spirits and old deities can roam freely in the world, and one can get a lot of favors — or curses — by appealing to them. On this night, young maidens gather for fortune telling. I have been told of at least a dozen different fortune telling methods specific to that day, and I know there is a wealth of others. My favorite is pouring hot wax into water, holding the resulting shape against the candle, and interpreting the shape of its shadow on the wall. Another way was to look between two mirrors in a semi-dark room and try to see all the way into this mirror corridor. You say special spells when you do these things, and sometimes it can become quite frightening.

Another Russian Christmas tradition is kolyadki, when people dress in costumes and knock on doors to ask for food. Think Halloween, but on a grander scale. The costumes are meant to be scary, and I believe the people dress up to represent some evil spirits that need to be appeased on the Christmas eve. In old days such people were invited into houses to share a feast and ward off the evil spirits they represented. Special foods were being made for the purpose, and those dressed up sang special songs when going from house to house.

In old days, many of these traditions coincided with the Winter Solstice. In Russia, and many Western countries, the church went to great lengths to superimpose Christian saints on all these old deities, and to Christianize the entire celebration. It worked better in the West. It did not quite work in Russia.

I have grown up in a large city, where some of these traditions seemed distant or impossible to perform properly. Yet, I always had a chance to go outside to meet Grandfather Frost, and if I was especially lucky, to play with the beautiful Snow Maiden. Living in the west, I miss those traditions, and hope they will stay alive for centuries to come.

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Dec
23

12 Days of Christmas: Craig Cormick

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Craig Cormick‘s The Shadow Master is today’s offering in our 12 Days of Christmas promotion; to avail of this festive £1 – or currency equivalent – offer, follow these  simple instructions:

1. Visit the Robot Trading Company at www.robottradingcompany.com
2. Add the book(s) you’d like to buy to your shopping basket
3. Add the magic word ‘mincepie’ to the ‘coupon/voucher’ box
4. Click the ‘update basket’ button and the discount will be applied

Andy Remic is back for today’s 12 Days of Christmas promo; we started with the first Rage of Kings book, The Iron Wolves, and today we’re offering you the sequel, The White Towers, as well at the same bargain price! To pick up these two titles – or any of our other books in the 12 Days of Christmas promotion so far – follow these simple instructions:

1. Visit the Robot Trading Company at www.robottradingcompany.com
2. Add the book(s) you’d like to buy to your shopping basket
3. Add the magic word ‘mincepie’ to the ‘coupon/voucher’ box
4. Click the ‘update basket’ button and the discount will be applied
If you missed Andy’s guest post earlier in the promo, click this link to read
“30 Years – As Author and Spectrum Addict!”
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Dec
21

12 Days of Christmas: Tim Waggoner

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We hope you’ve been enjoying our 12 Days of Christmas, and all the bargains So far, our 12 Days of Christmas ebook promo has gifted you bargain copies of books from Andy RemicJustin GustainisJoseph D’Lacey and Matthew HughesFreya Robertson and Anna KashinaMichael BoatmanDanielle L. JensenJay Posey, and Marianne de Pierres. You can still get these titles at the bargain price by following the instructions below.

Today is the turn of Tim Waggoner and the first book in his Shadow Watch series, Night Terrors.

Here’s how to take advantage of our £1 seasonal special offer:

1. Visit the Robot Trading Company at www.robottradingcompany.com
2. Add the book(s) you’d like to buy to your shopping basket
3. Add the magic word ‘mincepie’ to the ‘coupon/voucher’ box
4. Click the ‘update basket’ button and the discount will be applied
Festive bonus from Tim Waggoner:

The Lie of “Santa Claus”

Santa Claus, Father Christmas, St. Nicholas, Kris Kringle, Père Noël – whatever you call him, you must understand one very important thing: he’s not who you think he is. He’s not what you think he is. He’s not the jolly benefactor of humankind, a symbol of joy, love, and light, harbinger of a season of peace and goodwill. Oh, no. He’s something else altogether

I can’t tell you who created the lie of “Santa Claus” and why. Maybe people, deep down, sense the reality, and they invented the story of the philanthropic present-giver in order to hide the truth from themselves. Or maybe “Santa” has agents all around the world, human traitors who for whatever reasons help to spread the lie. They stand on street corners dressed as him, ringing bells, collecting for charity, wishing all who pass a Merry Christmas. They pose for pictures with small children, ask if they’ve been a good boy or girl that year, have them speak of what they’d like Santa to bring them, then give them candy canes and send them on their way.

So loving, so giving, so kind . . .

All lies.

Here is the truth.

He dwells far from the haunts of humankind, in the frozen climes of the North, where ceaseless winds howl and perpetual ice storms can strip flesh from bone within moments. He travels by night – only night – moving through darkness with ease, as if born of it, ever silent, always unseen. He needs no sleigh and no reindeer to pull it. He has other ways of getting where he wants to go. Secret ways. Hidden paths. Dark roads.

Why Christmas Eve? It’s the one night of the year when parents’ guards are down. Holiday stress leads to holiday weariness, along with a few drinks to take the edge off. Mother and Father may not get much sleep that night, but they are bone-tired, and the sleep they do get is deep. They won’t hear him when he enters their house and makes his way upstairs. They never do.

He doesn’t visit every house on Earth in a single night. How could he? He manages a few hundred at most, but even that is miraculous when you think about it. He has twenty-four hours (remember, we’re talking about the entire planet here), and in that time he is able to traverse the globe, make his stops, and return to his ice-blasted domain before a single ray of light can touch him.

How does he choose which houses to visit? This is unclear. Perhaps he operates on some atavistic instinct which even he doesn’t understand. Or perhaps he carefully selects his destinations for the night. Children do write to him, you know. And perhaps those missives somehow find their way to his hands – hands which, despite all the illustrations depicting them as perfectly ordinary-looking, aren’t altogether human – and he reads them. And he chooses.

However he selects the children, he enters their homes without touching doors or windows or, despite the stories, a single chimney. Once inside, he moves past the tree, not pausing to admire how precisely the ornaments are placed, how lovingly the garlands are draped on its branches, how cheerily the lights twinkle. He doesn’t stop at the tree because there are already presents arranged beneath it, wrapped in colorful paper and tired with ribbons and adorned with bows. Mother and Father put those presents there, and they always have. In all his long years – even back in the days before the coming of the Christ child, when he had another name and a far different appearance – he has never left a single present at any home he’s visited. He comes not to give, but to take.

Sometimes children leave a snack for him, most often cookies and milk. He thinks of it as an offering, and while he appreciates the gesture, small as it is, he passes it by. He’s hungry, of course. He’s been hungry since humanity’s fur-covered forbears first descended from the trees. But he has a very specialized diet, and cookies and milk – while he could ingest them if he wished – simply do not satisfy.

He carries a sack – the stories are correct in this detail – and it’s full to bursting. Despite its size, it doesn’t weigh him down, and he moves quick and graceful as a cat as he makes his way to the children’s rooms. He’s not interested in adults. Never has been. To him, they’re nothing more than breeders, useful only because they create what he desires, what he loves, what he needs.

He enters the child’s room. The door is never locked. What child would lock his or her door on Christmas Eve? Once inside, he glides across the floor to stand at the bedside. He gazes down at the child, sometimes for a few moments, sometimes longer. And then he sets his pack on the floor, loosens the drawstrings, and reaches one of his not-quite-human hands inside. He withdraws a globular mass that fits easily in the palm of his hand, and he pulls back the child’s covers and places the viscous thing on the sheet next to the sleeping boy or girl. The instant he pulls his hand away, the mass begins to change. By morning it will have reshaped itself until it resembles the child in every detail. It will look, walk, talk, and behave like the child in all particulars, fooling everyone. And it will continue to do so until the day – perhaps not so very far in the future – when its true nature will assert itself and then it will do something terrible, something unimaginable.

Santa always smiles with the larger of his two mouths when he thinks of this.

He then lifts the sleeping child from the bed and pulls him or her close to his chest and holds them tight. So very, very tight. It doesn’t take long. And when they are gone, with no sign left to indicate they ever existed at all, he bends down, pulls the drawstrings on his pack closed, lifts it onto his shoulder once more – his burden slightly lighter now – and he departs, making his way out of the house the same way he entered.

And when the night is over at last and most of the world’s children – but not all – have been spared, he will return to his home of wind and ice, and he will sleep, full, but not sated. And the days and nights will pass as he slumbers, his appetite building for next year. And he will dream of all the children who now dwell within him, and he will hear their voices calling his name. Santa, please! Let us out!

And he shall sleep well.

Tim and his sister Lisa in 1968

Tim and his sister Lisa in 1968

Categories : Angry Robot
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We hope you’ve been enjoying our 12 Days of Christmas, and all the bargains So far, our 12 Days of Christmas ebook promo has gifted you bargain copies of books from Andy RemicJustin GustainisJoseph D’Lacey and Matthew Hughes, Freya Robertson and Anna Kashina, Michael BoatmanDanielle L. Jensen, and Jay Posey. You can still get these titles at the bargain price by following the instructions below.

Today, we are celebrating Marianne de Pierres and the first title in her Peacemaker series, Peacemaker.

Here’s how to take advantage of our £1 seasonal special offer:

1. Visit the Robot Trading Company at www.robottradingcompany.com
2. Add the book(s) you’d like to buy to your shopping basket
3. Add the magic word ‘mincepie’ to the ‘coupon/voucher’ box
4. Click the ‘update basket’ button and the discount will be applied

For today’s festive bonus, here’s a special memory from Marianne:

Christmas in the Australian Wheatbelt circa 1970’s

My mother loved to dance. Any opportunity, but particularly on holidays. Two weeks before Christmas she’d begin laying out wrapping paper and gifts and sticky tape and tinsel on the large bed in the spare room (my brother’s old room). It was the coolest room in the house, painted soft green, and with the benefit of high ceilings because summer was a blistering, unforgiving time in our part of the world.

Rose would click on the fan, crank up the record player (Bing or Dean and, occasionally, Frank), and dance around that room while playing the delicate game of fit the present to the person.

My contribution was to lie in the centre of the huge old King-sized bed, gifts scattered around me, and daydream. I still remember the flowery scent of Avon soaps, perfumes, and bubble baths – for indeed Avon did come to call in our little country town; the ribbon-festooned bottles of wine and odd naughty Irish liqueur; the mouth-watering biscuits in silvery pressed-tin boxes, the soft chiffon fripperies, satin pillowcases, and packets of salty celebration mixed nuts: pretzels and smoked almonds. Nothing expensive but each item as luxurious and exotic to me as Christmas itself. Each one of them, a mysterious tale.

She would sing, too, while she worked, in a deep, rich voice that never changed octave but brimmed full of life and fun. I’d turn my face into the pillows as her singing trailed off and she began to talk about the people she was giving presents to–recounting their lives and losses in short bursts of gratefulness and love.

Then dad would arrive and stamp dust off his boots outside the window, calling her to have a cup of tea. Hearing his voice, her face would light and I would feel…perfect.

Mum and Dad at Derdebin

Mum and Dad at Derdebin

Dec
19

12 Days of Christmas: Jay Posey

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We hope you’ve been enjoying our 12 Days of Christmas, and all the bargains So far, our 12 Days of Christmas ebook promo has gifted you bargain copies of books from Andy RemicJustin GustainisJoseph D’Lacey and Matthew Hughes, Freya Robertson and Anna Kashina, Michael Boatman, and Danielle L. Jensen. You can still get these titles at the bargain price by following the instructions below.

Today, we have the first two titles of Jay Posey‘s Legends of the Duskwalker series, Three and Morningside Fall. Been meaning to read these books or have the first, and want the second? Wait no longer!

Here’s how to take advantage of our £1 seasonal special offer:

1. Visit the Robot Trading Company at www.robottradingcompany.com
2. Add the book(s) you’d like to buy to your shopping basket
3. Add the magic word ‘mincepie’ to the ‘coupon/voucher’ box
4. Click the ‘update basket’ button and the discount will be applied
Festive bonus:

What Christmas Means to Jay Posey

 

When the Robot Overlords “requested” I write a little piece to go along with their fabulous 12 Days of Christmas sales special, I couldn’t resist the opportunity. (I mean that literally; there was no way to resist, since they sent a Directive directly to my implanted brainchip.)

I spent a couple of days trying to think of a particular special Christmas memory or an Amusing Holiday-Themed Anecdote or a Fun Family Tradition to share. There were a number of candidates. The Tetris Christmas, for example, when at least half the family wandered about the house with vacantly-staring, bloodshot eyes, mindlessly humming Russian-inspired tunes. Or the briefly-annual viewing of the entire original Star Wars trilogy, back-to-back-to-back, when at least half the family wandered about the house with vacantly-staring, bloodshot eyes, mindlessly humming yub nub-inspired tunes.

But as I reflected on all the many Christmases I’ve enjoyed, I couldn’t help but notice how very many great memories I had to choose from, which in turn made me recognize what the holiday season has come to mean to me; it’s ultimately a season of gratitude.

For me and my family, the holiday season, and Christmastime especially, has become a time where we get to slow down and shake up our daily routines. And those times of stepping away from The Usual gives us space and perspective on a lot of things we’re often too busy to notice. We of course have our scheduling woes and travel stresses just like any other family, but all things considered, this season is one we look forward to with Great Anticipation.

I don’t take for granted how blessed I am to have warm memories about the holidays, to be able to think fondly of time spent with family and friends, to actually look forward to the holidays instead of dreading them. And at the same time, I notice that for as long as I can remember, since I was just a wee lad dreaming about Big Things, we always took time during the holidays to think back over the year and consider the things we were grateful for.  We had our share of tough years, when money was so tight we didn’t know how we’d have “Christmas” at all, or when we lost loved ones, or had health challenges. But no matter what, we were always able to find something that we were truly, genuinely grateful for.

I’m pretty sure there’s a connection between that intentional practice of thankfulness (even when I didn’t necessarily want to participate!) and the fact that I have Good Feelings about the holidays.

I was recently reading Robinson Crusoe, and came across this line:

“It put me upon reflecting how little repining there would be among mankind at any condition of life if people would rather compare their condition with those that were worse, in order to be thankful, than be always comparing them with those which are better, to assist their murmurings and complainings.”

For a book published almost 300 years ago, that sure did hit home for me. It hit me so hard, in fact, I had to read it a couple of times, and then set the book down and think about it for a bit. Even with my upbringing, I realized how much of my time and energy I’ve wasted looking at this author’s sales, or that person’s reviews, and wishing I Had It Better. I obviously still have a lot to learn about living a life of gratitude, but recognizing that fact has given me a stronger motivation to make sure that this holiday season, I keep my eyes on the many blessings I’ve had in my life.

Being a man of faith, there’s additional significance to Christmas that I know not everyone shares. But if I’m allowed to have a Christmas Wish for all of you readers out there, I wish you time and energy to pause from all the usual holiday craziness, a moment that inspires genuine gratefulness, and a 2015 that brings you the true gift of gratitude.

If nothing else, you sure can get a lot of great books from Angry Robot for cheap, so that’s a pretty great start!

 

 

 

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Dec
18

The Buried Life in Japan

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We are delighted to announce that Carrie Patel‘s sci-fi mystery The Buried Life has been sold to Japanese publisher, Tokyo Sogensha. The Buried Life has been reviewed and featured by many in most-anticipated lists and we are looking forward to its Japanese release in Spring 2016; English-language readers, The Buried Life will be with you in March of next year.

This is our second Japanese deal, after Madeline Ashby’s vN whilst agents have also sold Lavie Tidhar and Lauren Beuekes’ books to Japan. Thanks to our Rights Manager, Alex, at Watkins Media who is off to a great start with this deal with Japanese agent Tuttle Mori. As 2014 ends on a high note for Angry Robot Books with acquisitions, rights sales, and world domination plans afoot, we’re looking forward to a wonderful 2015.

vN Japan

vN

The Bookman

The Bookman

 

Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura

Zoo City-japan

Zoo City

 

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Our 12 Days of Christmas bargains are off to a flying start with books from  Andy RemicJustin GustainisJoseph D’Lacey and Matthew HughesFreya Robertson and Anna Kashina, and Michael Boatman so far reduced. You can still get these titles at the bargain price by following the instructions below.

Today, we have Danielle L. Jensen‘s Stolen Songbird. This wonderful title was recently acquired by Angry Robot and we are very excited to bring this book to a new audience as well as preparing old and new fans for next year’s sequel, Hidden Huntress. Make sure you’re ready for Hidden Huntress‘ release and get your hands on Stolen Songbird now!

Here’s how to take advantage of our seasonal special offer:

1. Visit the Robot Trading Company at www.robottradingcompany.com
2. Add the book(s) you’d like to buy to your shopping basket
3. Add the magic word ‘mincepie’ to the ‘coupon/voucher’ box
4. Click the ‘update basket’ button and the discount will be applied
Festive bonus:

Danielle’s Favourite Christmas Moment

 

I’ve always envied people who seem to have a personal anecdote for every situation; those with memories – happy, sad, or humorous – sitting at the ready to entertain the listener at a moment’s notice. A strange jealousy for someone who makes a living spinning stories hundreds of pages long, but the truth, nonetheless. Sometimes I think it’s because I spend so much of my time thinking up imaginary things that I forget what has happened in my own life, or at the very least, my anecdotes have been squashed into a small corner where they rarely get much conscious thought. So needless to say, being asked to write about a memory (writing- or reading-related, of course) that is tied to a particular holiday is normally something that would have me scrambling.

But not this time.

Caroline sent me an email asking whether I could write a post about a Christmas memory, and I wrote her back immediately saying that I could. Because it just so happens that December 24, 2008 was the day that I confessed.

Those who’ve read the back cover of Stolen Songbird or encountered my bio on the Internet might recall that the first part of my adult life was spent in a career that could not be more different from writing fiction. Business school, then a job in corporate finance where I spent my days in a black suit talking about rating agencies, ratios, and spreads. But during those years, I developed a secret hobby. One that I told no one about.

Writing.

I typed away in my spare hours, closing the screen whenever anyone walked by, content to let them think what they would about my activities as long as they didn’t guess the truth. Until that fateful Christmas Eve, when, made bold by several glasses of wine, it all came out. The exchange went something like this:

Me: *takes big mouthful of wine* “So…I’ve been trying to write a book.”

Mom: *Sets glass down* “Really? What sort of book?”

Me: “A fantasy novel. Umm… Want to read what I have so far?”

Mom: *Contemplates what sort of alien has body-snatched her daughter* “Sure.”

An innocent enough exchange for most people; but for me, the moment I admitted that I’d undertaken a challenge no one thought me capable of completing was the moment I put my pride on the line – pride being the single greatest motivator in my arsenal (followed by obstinacy and a healthy dose of competitiveness). And after that, I was no longer trying to write a book – I would write one. And I did.

So Christmas Eve will always remind me of the day that I confessed, and in doing so, started down an incredible path from which I’ve never looked back.

Merry Christmas!

Danielle

Categories : Angry Robot
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Dec
17

12 Days of Christmas: Michael Boatman

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We hope you’ve been enjoying our 12 Days of Christmas, and all the bargains So far, our 12 Days of Christmas ebook promo has gifted you bargain copies of books from Andy RemicJustin GustainisJoseph D’Lacey and Matthew HughesFreya Robertson and Anna Kashina. You can still get these titles at the bargain price by following the instructions below.

For today’s bargain, step forward Hollywood actor and comedic writer, Michael Boatman with Last God Standing.

Here’s how to take advantage of our £1 seasonal special offer:

1. Visit the Robot Trading Company at www.robottradingcompany.com
2. Add the book(s) you’d like to buy to your shopping basket
3. Add the magic word ‘mincepie’ to the ‘coupon/voucher’ box
4. Click the ‘update basket’ button and the discount will be applied
Categories : Angry Robot
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So far, our 12 Days of Christmas ebook promo has gifted you bargain copies of books from Andy Remic, Justin Gustainis, Joseph D’Lacey and Matthew Hughes. You can still get these titles at the bargain price by following the instructions below.

Today, we have some epic fantasies to offer you: Freya Robertson‘s The Elemental Wars books, Heartwood and Sunstone, as well as book 1 in Anna Kashina‘s The Majat CodeBlades of the Old Empire.

Here’s how to take advantage of our seasonal special offer:

1. Visit the Robot Trading Company at www.robottradingcompany.com
2. Add the book(s) you’d like to buy to your shopping basket
3. Add the magic word ‘mincepie’ to the ‘coupon/voucher’ box
4. Click the ‘update basket’ button and the discount will be applied

And for today’s Christmas bonus, here’s a short story from Freya Robertson:

“BEATRIX!”

The voice bellows in my ear. I jump and turn around to find the source, but realize it’s coming from inside my head.

“No need to yell,” I scold, somewhat grumpily. My stomach is churning, and I still dislike the blurred vision and spinning head that accompanies each time-hop.

“Sorry.” Matt’s voice is apologetic. “I’ve been trying to contact you for a while, but I couldn’t get a connection.”

“Well, I’m here, what do you want?”

“We’ve found the source of the virus,” he explains. “I’m running the clean-up program now, so it shouldn’t be long before we establish the recall link.”

“You mean you can finally get me back?” Relief rushes through me. I’ve been travelling for an eternity, and it’s been ages since I’ve seen my kids. At least, I think it’s been ages. I’ve journeyed across millennia, but I could have been missing mere hours back in my own time.

“That’s the plan. Just a couple more jumps, I think. You should be landing now.”

As if to confirm his words, my vision begins to clear. Yellow lights dance in front of my eyes, and voices rise around me as if someone’s turning up the volume.

“Make it quick,” I say to Matt. Although the thrill of travelling through time hasn’t quite worn off, I’d prefer the adventures to be my decision rather than being forced upon me.

“Over and out.” The shell in my head hisses, crackles, and his voice fades.

I blink, and the view before me sharpens into focus.

I’m standing at the edge of a crowd in a huge stone building. The ceiling is supported by huge pillars carved and painted with vines and leaves. When I look down, my gaze falls on a mosaic floor made from tiny pieces of tile. The picture is mostly hidden beneath people’s feet, but they can’t hide the beauty of the craftsmanship. I’m pretty certain it’s Roman, although these floors have been found in Europe from Cornwall to Germany, so I could be anywhere.

I look around the building, and I’m stunned by the amount of candles I can see. On every statue, every wall, every shelf, there are hundreds of white candles, filling the air with flickering light and a veneer of smoke that drifts slowly to the high ceiling. The candles highlight everyone’s faces, and their eyes shine as they look up to the figure on top of the dais at the front.

I turn to look at him, and flinch as I see him holding up blood-covered hands. Something gross hangs from them—innards of some description—and my stomach clenches.

Next to me, a person sniggers. “You have turned whiter than milk. You have such a weak stomach!”

“It is the smell,” the person whose head I’m inside says in a deep, male voice. I have to agree—I’ve never liked the odour of fresh blood.

The man on the dais—a priest, I’m gathering, judging by the way he’s just sacrificed the lamb lying dead at his feet—declares the entrails to be clean and clear of decay, and the crowd cheers.

The sacrifice and the lettering carved around the building confirm to me my first thought—I’m in Rome. I’m standing in a temple, and I look around for signs of who it’s dedicated to. My gaze falls on the large statue next to the dais. The man looks a little like Father Christmas, with a thick curly beard, and he carries a scythe. Saturn, then—and this must be the festival of Saturnalia—the equivalent of our Christmas.

Normally, everyone would be wearing togas, but today these have been exchanged for colourful clothes, and everyone wears conical felt hats called pilleus. The priest’s head, however, is uncovered, and as I watch, he and a couple of others remove some wool bindings from the feet of the statue of Saturn. This, I know, symbolises liberation. Following this, the men lift the statue and lay it on an elaborate couch, as if Saturn himself is about to take part in the festivities.

“Come on,” the voice beside me mutters. “Before we get crushed in the crowd.”

I turn and follow the man through the throng of people. The front portico of the temple consists of eight enormous columns, and as we walk through them, I found myself in a huge open square—the Forum Magnum, and I know I am truly in Rome.

I glance up over my shoulder, and my gaze falls on the pediment above the pillars. It bears the inscription Senatus Populusque Romanus incendio consumptum restituit. I struggle briefly with the Latin—it means “The Senate and People of Rome have restored what fire consumed”. It confirms to me that it is at least the late third century, as this is the third temple to stand here, rebuilt after a fire destroyed the previous one in 283AD.

The Forum is packed with rows of wooden tables heaped with plates of food, and the atmosphere is carnival-like. There are people singing and playing instruments, groups of others gambling with dice and knucklebones, and everyone is eating. At first glance, it looks as if everyone is dressed the same, but when I peer more closely, I see that those serving the food are wearing elaborate jewellery and their clothes are of a far finer material. Saturnalia was a festival of role-reversal, and the masters are serving the slaves, although I am certain the slaves would have prepared the food themselves.

“You want something to eat?” The man I inhabit seems oddly out of place here. He fidgets at the edge of the festivities, his hands behind his back, either nervous or uncomfortable, I’m not sure which.

“In a moment.” My friend also hangs back. I glance across at him. His gaze is distant, looking out to the hills. “Do you think they will come?”

I shrug. “Nothing is certain.” I hesitate. “But the priest predicts good news, so we should not worry.” I am conscious of trying to reassure my friend. I wonder to whom he is referring. Who is coming? And why are they not welcome?

“I miss my wife,” my friend says glumly. “She will have roasted a whole pig, and my son will have organised a play. Did I tell you he writes?”

“You did. I hear he is much to be admired.”

“He has talent, that is true. I am proud of him, although sometimes I wish he had a little skill with a sword. If the tribes do cross the Rhine, they will head for Gaul, and it would be good to know he was able to defend his mother.”

“They will have to get through us first, Gaius,” I say, somewhat fiercely. We are soldiers then, awaiting the hordes of barbarians who nibble at the edges of the Empire, trying to find a weakness.

Gaius nods. “They might not come.”

“No. They might not.”

Our silence suggests neither of us believes that.

Common thought is that the Vandals, Alans and Suebo tribes crossed the Rhine in 406, possibly on the thirty-first of December. If that is the case and it is indeed that year, then the soldiers are right and we are standing on the brink of an invasion, observing the Empire as it teeters around us, about to crash around our ears.

“I will be a grandfather soon,” I say. “I am expecting word any day now.”

“We grow old, my friend,” he says with a smile. “We have seen good times, have we not?”

“We have.”

We lapse into wistfulness, watching those around us celebrating, but the shadow of invasion hangs over our heads too heavily for us to join in. I muse that it has always been the same at this time of year. Everyone wants to be with their families, to watch their children and grandchildren grow up, and to be at peace.

“Come on,” my friend says eventually. “We grow morbid. Let us play at dice, and you can lose all your coins to me, and that will make me cheerful again.”

Laughing, we descend the steps, and lose ourselves in wine and dice in an attempt to forget the doom that hovers over us.

*

The Temporal Chronicles are a series of free short stories about Beatrix Viator – a time-traveller currently lost in time. Follow her adventures through history over at http://www.withrifleandpack.com/temporal-chronicles—short-stories

 

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So far, our 12 Days of Christmas ebook promo has gifted you bargain copies of books from Andy Remic, Justin Gustainis and Adam Christopher, and today we have the mighty combo of Joseph D’Lacey and Matthew Hughes. Mighty indeed as on offer is Matthew’s To Hell and Back omnibus ebook as well as Joseph’s Black Dawn duology, Black Feathers and The Book of the Crowman.

Here’s how to take advantage of our seasonal special offer:

1. Visit the Robot Trading Company at www.robottradingcompany.com
2. Add the book(s) you’d like to buy to your shopping basket
3. Add the magic word ‘mincepie’ to the ‘coupon/voucher’ box
4. Click the ‘update basket’ button and the discount will be applied
Categories : Angry Robot
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Dec
14

12 Days of Christmas: Justin Gustainis

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Our 12 Days of Christmas ebook promotion started yesterday – with deals on Andy Remic‘s books, and for today’s offer we have Justin Gustainis‘ trio of titles, Hard SpellEvil Dark, and Known Devil.

Here’s how to take advantage of our seasonal special offer:

1. Visit the Robot Trading Company at www.robottradingcompany.com
2. Add the book(s) you’d like to buy to your shopping basket
3. Add the magic word ‘mincepie’ to the ‘coupon/voucher’ box
4. Click the ‘update basket’ button and the discount will be applied
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Dec
13

12 Days of Christmas: Andy Remic

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Today we have a cracking start to our 12 Days of Christmas ebook promotion with the first  in  Andy Remic‘s fantastic The Rage of Kings series, The Iron Wolves, on offer. Please check back in as soon there will be more of Andy’s books included in this offer…maybe even the entire Clockwork Vampire Chronicle series!

Here’s how to take advantage of our seasonal special offer:

1. Visit the Robot Trading Company at www.robottradingcompany.com
2. Add the book(s) you’d like to buy to your shopping basket
3. Add the magic word ‘mincepie’ to the ‘coupon/voucher’ box
4. Click the ‘update basket’ button and the discount will be applied

And for a festive bonus, here is a Guest Post from Andy Remic:

30 Years – As Author and Spectrum Addict!

Christmas 1984. Like many other kids, I got a ZX Spectrum 48K, along with the most amazing game ever created – Knight Lore. Forget your COD headshots and your Minecraft blocky blocks – you kids never had it as good as we did, this was the beginning, and the Speccy was an intravenous mainline to expanding imagination. Knight Lore: Not only was this the first 3D isometric game, it fuelled my imagination with its central protagonist – a dude bitten by a werewolf. What a fun game! What a fun Christmas! What a brilliant little computer! For me, writing novels, the ZX Spectrum, and Christmas have always been an intrinsic part of contentment. Aged 13, I soon turned from playing games to converting my little books into adventure games. In my mind, the two mediums meshed; writing stories and writing games were perfectly entwined, and I loved doing both. I wrote my first three novels on a rubber keyed Spectrum, saving every chapter (maximum of 3000 words!) to tape. Ouch. Printing was performed courtesy of a Citizen 9-pin dot matrix. I can still hear the cacophony, a vampire’s claws scratching the inside of a nailed coffin lid!

Fast forward 23 years. Wow! That went quick… In 2007, when my SF novel Biohell was published, I booted up my old Speccy and wrote an accompanying adventure game, surprisingly enough entitled: Biohell – A ZX Spectrum Bio-Adventure. A few Spectrum industry veterans reviewed it (unnecessarily kindly) and I formed a new friend in Joffa – Jonathan Smith, who wrote original Spectrum games like Cobra, Green Beret and Mikie. A true gent, he didn’t horribly massacre my humble rubber-key stabbings (as maybe he should).

Speccy Biohell 2007

As the 30 year anniversary of that little Spectrum computer and that fabulous game and Christmas loomed close, I dug out the machine with the intention of introducing my children to Knight Lore exactly 30 years to the day after I played it. I fancied I would film the footage, and include it in a documentary I’m working on – Memoirs of a Spectrum Addict (http://www.spectrumaddict.co.uk/). It would feel like I’d come full circle in some weird way, and I’d be introducing my kids to a certain part of my mental clockwork; a certain element which made me tick and tock.

Imagine my AMAZEMENT to discover this dude, Luca Bordoni, had only gone and written Mire Mare as a tribute to Ultimate. Mire Mare, for those not in “the know”, was the game cited as a follow-up adventure when an eager munchkin completed Knight Lore. I waited years for Mire Mare – which was never coded.

Now, I downloaded Luca’s game, drooled over the graphic screenshots, was tempted by Mister Beep’s tempting music (I’ve heard his work before, and he’s a Spectrum music maestro!) and my hand hovered trembling over the mouse as this, truly, to a cynical old goat like me, was an awe-inspiring moment…

Speccy Mire Mare

BUT WAIT FOOLISH REMIC! What about loading Mire Mare up on Christmas day 2014 – exactly 30 years after playing the original Knight Lore? Now THAT would be something special. Even better than my impending iPhone 6, Specialized MTB, and well matured single malt whisky!

So that’s what I’m going to do, peeps. My children and I will play Knight Lore – and then Mire Mare. Everything goes in cycles. The snake eats its tail. And hopefully, 30 years from now, my children will share this nostalgic experience with their little ’uns.

Merry Speccy Christmas!

And maybe soon I’ll sort out some bona fide ZX Spectrum versions of my latest Angry Robot dark fantasy novels….. The Iron Wolves and The White Towers. Now there’s an interesting concept……….

Check out www.andyremic.com for more ramblings by the retro-obsessed Angry Robot author.

Speccy AR Books

Categories : Angry Robot
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