Archive for Angry Robot Media
A message comes in from a distant frontier… Robot forces are advancing on all fronts. As of today, the Chinese censors has finished poring through all our files for subversive messages, and we’re very pleased to announce that the Angry Robot list is now available on the Chinese ebook platform Dangdang.
Cue a billion hats thrown into the air as one, as discordant electronic choirs lead the singing of the Angry Robot theme tune, cunningly rearranged for erhu and qinqin. Onwards, onwards!
With the US and ebook release dates for our September titles – The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley and The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter by Rod Duncan – fast approaching, what better time to recap the wonderful and exciting things that are being said about these two fantastic books.
The Mirror Empire‘s release follows hot on the heels of Kameron‘s TWO Hugo awards at LonCon, and is certainly making waves in the fantasy circles. We are very excited for it be unleashed on the general public, and look forward to seeing and hearing reader reactions. For the full list of Kameron’s blog tour, check out her blog post here. For now, here are just some of the rave reviews The Mirror Empire has received, thus far:
STARRED REVIEW: “This is a hugely ambitious work, bloody and violent, with interestingly gender-flipped politics and a host of factions to keep straight, as points of view switch often. Although it is a challenging read, the strong narrative thread in this new series from Hurley (God’s War) pulls readers through the imaginative tangle of multiple worlds and histories colliding.”
– Library Journal
STARRED REVIEW: “Hurley (Rapture) reuses old tropes to excellent effect, interweaving them with original elements to create a world that will fascinate and delight her established fans and appeal to newcomers. Readers will blaze through this opening installment and eagerly await the promised sequel.”
– Publishers Weekly
“Hurley intelligently tackles issues of culture and gender, while also throwing in plenty of bloodthirsty action and well-rounded characters. This is a fresh, exciting fantasy epic that’s looking to the future and asking important questions. 4****/5″
– SFX magazine
“The Mirror Empire is a fresh, vigorous, and gripping entrant into the epic fantasy genre, able to stand toe-to-toe with any of the heavyweight series out there. I cannot recommend this novel highly enough.”
– SF Revu
“The Mirror Empire is epic in every sense of the word. Hurley has built a world – no, worlds – in which cosmology and magic, history and religion, politics and prejudice all play crucial roles. Prepare yourself for sentient plants, rifts in the fabric of reality, and remarkable powers that wax and wane with the stars themselves. Forget all about tentative, conventional fantasy; there’s so much great material in here that Hurley needs more than one universe in order to fit it all in.”
– Brian Staveley, author of The Emperor’s Blades
“Taking epic fantasy down challenging and original paths. Thoughtful and thought-provoking with every twist and turn.”
– Juliet E. McKenna
“For me [The Mirror Empire] did all the things a fantasy should do — holding our own societies up to the light by reflecting off worlds that are very different. Add in a magic system where the users are only powerful some of the time, and semi sentient vegetation that is possibly more of a threat than the magic users, and I happily sank into this book with a satisfied sigh.”
– Francis Knight
– Courtney Schafer, author of The Whitefire Crossing
“The Mirror Empire is the most original fantasy I’ve read in a long time, set in a world full of new ideas, expanding the horizons of the genre. A complex and intricate book full of elegant ideas and finely-drawn characters.”
– Adrian Tchaikovsky, author of The Shadows of the Apt series and finalist for the 2014 Gemmel Legend Award
“There’s a powerful yet elegant brutality in The Mirror Empire that serves notice to traditional epic fantasy: move over, make way, an intoxicating new blend of storytelling has arrived. These are pages that will command your attention.”
– Bradley Beaulieu, author of The Lays of Anuskaya trilogy
“With vividly inventive world building and a fast-paced plot, The Mirror Empire opens a smart, brutal, and ambitious epic fantasy series. Book two is already on my must-read list.”
– Kate Elliott , author of the Spiritwalker Trilogy
“The Mirror Empire takes look at epic fantasy patriarchy & gives it a firm kick in the balls…[it] will be the most important book you read this year.”
– Alex Ristea, Ristea’s Reads
“In the two worlds of The Mirror Empire, we get Deadly Plants, Blood Magic, and yes, Brutal Women. The Mirror Empire is both a chance for fantasy fans to get to know Hurley’s writing, and for previous fans of her work to see what she can do in a new vein. And for readers new to her work, this is in many ways the best place to start. 4.5****/5.”
– Paul Weimer, SF Signal
“One of the most stunning epic fantasies I’ve read this year. The setting is unique and plays a major role in the story. A spectacular novel.”
– Books Without Any Pictures
“I can’t even tell you how much I liked this book. It was long, yes, but I didn’t mind it because there was just so much awesome happening. I classify it as a fantasy, but it could also be considered science fiction, what with the parallel universes and binary star system and all.”
– In Case of Survival
“At its best this novel is as good as anything I have read this year. Expect to hear ‘ambitious’ a lot; I couldn’t imagine the mental and physical mapping it would take to hold all these pieces together but hold together they do. The world is alive, the world is unique, and the world is actually built rather than borrowed.”
– Fantasy Review Barn
Not content with releasing The Mirror Empire in September, we also have the award-winning author Rod Duncan with The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter, a riotous novel of alternate history, set in a divided England. The cover is the first thing to catch everyone’s attention, and rightly so. This beautiful creation is by the fantastically talented Will Staehle, and visit Tor.com for Will’s exclusive post on his design process. The first book in the Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire has certainly struck a cord with readers, and here’s some of the reasons why reviewers are loving Elizabeth Barnabus and her story:
“Steeped in illusion and grounded in an alternative history of the Luddite Rebellion, Duncan’s strong supernatural mystery serves ably as both a standalone adventure and the start to a series…Strategically placed steampunk tropes inform but do not overwhelm Elizabeth’s headlong quest to find a missing aristocrat sought by the Patent Office, which is fixated on both achieving perfection and eliminating “unseemly science.” A hazardous border crossing into the permissively corrupt Kingdom of England and Southern Wales provides ample excitement, and a glossary at the novel’s conclusion hints enticingly at a much more involved story to come.”
– Publishers Weekly
A “detective story with a difference…Chapters begin with quotes from the legendary Bullet-Catcher’s Handbook, phrases that introduce not only the idea of illusion that pervades the novel, but also the author’s sly humour. [Duncan’s misdirection is] subtly and well done, all the way through the book, right to a neat little twist at the end, a play on the title that had me nodding in approval. Each [character] is vividly portrayed, lively enough to feel like the heroes of their own stories, all with distinctive voices; it’s always a good sign when you find yourself reading dialogue out loud, rolling your lips and tongue around the words.
Rod Duncan’s talent has combined inventive plot and characterisation to create a smart, amusing and fascinating tale that had me reading long into the night.”
– Fantasy Faction
“It’s all steampunk and circus wonder as we follow the adventures of Elizabeth Barnabas.The double crosses along the way keep the plot tight and fun, and the conclusion sets us up nicely for book two.”
– The Washington Post, Best New Science Fiction and Steampunk
“If I had a bowler hat, I’d take it off to the author of this beautifully crafted steampunk novel.”
– Chris D’Lacey, author of The Last Dragon Chronicles
“Rod Duncan’s The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter is a magic box pulsating with energy. Compulsive reading from the get-go, the blend of steampunk alternate history wrapped in the enigma of a chase makes for first-rate entertainment in this finely crafted novel.”
– Graham Joyce, author of Year of the Ladybird
“The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter is off to a solid start. Rod Duncan has created a wonderful setting in The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter taking in account the big as well as the small things that are needed to make a world go round. He has struck a perfect balance between both highlighting the characters, from our main protagonist Elizabeth Barnabus down to the secondary characters, and the world itself, using bits and pieces of exisiting history spinning it in his own way by adding enough fantasy influences to make it one-of-a-kind. It is with these kind of books that make sure the fantasy genre is kept fresh. If you are looking for something new and refreshing make sure you read The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter, it’s is everything you want and much more!”
– The Book Plank
“Looking for a good book? Mystery, duplicity, secret societies, alchemy, romance, action … The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter by Rod Duncan has it all and promises to be the talked-about/must-read book for sci-fi/fantasy enthusiasts this year!”
– Looking For A Good Read
“Really, a fine and well crafted novel. As per the glossary, Elizabeth plays a key role in the fall of the Gas-lit empire. Cheers to that as she is a captivating character. Angry Robot has picked a winner.”
– Koeur’s Book Reviews
“Steampunk at its best. Engaging characters, spectacular settings and snappy dialogue.”
– Cayocosta72 Book Reviews
“I was immediately hooked by the world Duncan created. What would the world look like if the Industrial Revolution had been halted, even reverse? What really made this book for me was Elizabeth Barnabas. Her unusual upbringing in a traveling circus and her five years of forced independence have made her clever and strong. She’s a wonderful character and it was a treat to watch her work through the challenges the cropped up as she find out why everyone wants to get their hands on the Duchess’s missing brother.
“The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter is the opening book in a series and I will be eagerly waiting for the next installment of Elizabeth’s adventures.”
– Summer Reading Project
“The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter is an entertaining book that has some genuine, original touches combined with a clever story and even cleverer characters.”
– SF Book Reviews
“Rod Duncan has successfully written an absorbing tale from the perspective of a woman in the early nineteenth century. This is science-fiction with the sub genre of Steampunk, so technology is unorthodox and fascinating. A cracking read.”
– Fancy Pans Cafe
“Duncan has crafted a credible and intriguing world where the twists of a society founded on very different ideals are perhaps even more important than the technology. That makes this novel, while solidly a steampunk offering, feel very fresh and engaging. The backdrop of the circus and the surprising way Elizabeth manages to make a living give the whole story real depth. This is the first in a planned series of novels entitled The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire: I’m certainly looking forward to the next installments. Fabulous.”
– Geek in Sydney
Have you pre-ordered your copy yet? Both books are released in the US and on ebook next Tuesday, 26 August with UK and ROW releasing Thursday, 4 September. Happy reading!
Hey, it’s Leah here, Angry Robot’s new intern. Today’s Robot Round-Up is a celebration of October’s upcoming titles, and we have some brilliant ones to show you. First of all, keep your eyes peeled for our Special Edition post coming soon on Ramez Naam’s amazing second novel, Crux. Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother and Pirate Cinema has described Crux as “A blisteringly paced technothriller that dives deeper and even better into the chunky questions raised by Nexus. This is a fabulous book, and it ends in a way that promises at least one more. Count me in.” If this has whet your appetite, both books are out in shops now!
The first of the October titles is All is Fair by Emma Newman. The third in Emma’s successful The Split Worlds series. With many followers, readers are eagerly anticipating Emma’s next instalment. Here’s a sneak peak at some of the reviews:
• ‘Newman’s complex magical world is as inventive as it is charming, and this latest “Split Worlds” story contains deceit, deception and intrigue in all the right places.’ Kirkus Reviews
- • ‘The series is Changeling the Lost meets Downton Abbey as feuding families tied to mad Fae patrons scheme in the world between ours and Faerie, and in those as well.’ Three Things to Read, Watch and Use
• ‘I love the plot of this series, as there are so many interlacing stories going on that you feel like a part of something much bigger… one of my favourite reads of the year.’ Book Chick City
• ‘There’s lots of action in this one, but there’s still all of the court intrigue and wonderful characterization that I’ve come to expect from the series… the ending leaves plenty of hints of things to come, and I can’t wait.’ My Bookish Ways
• ‘This is a fun book, adding more characters and different perspectives on the Nether and the Split Worlds, plenty of humour and excitement… I want to know more about the world Emma Newman has created, and I’m not ready to say goodbye to these characters yet!’ Vicky Thinks
•’I do love the unique world Emma has created in this series, where two cultures collide, and there’s some great bits of humour.’ Curiosity Killed the Bookworm
This title is released on the 3rd of October (UK) and the 23rd of September (US/CAN)
• ‘With action, humour, adventures, and giants, The Tales of Easie Damasco is an enjoyable series which fans of fantasy and heist stories are sure to enjoy.’ The Arched Doorway
• ‘This series is solid adventure fantasy, but with a twist. The stock thief in Tallerman’s hands is more than just a generic character. He’s unique, a fresh and original creation with enough familiarity to him that readers won’t be put off.’ Adventures Fantastic
Praise for Giant Thief
• ‘Damasco resembles a landlocked version of Jack Sparrow … The atypical backdrop, self-aware style and downplaying of magics bring to mind the contemporary fantasies of Scott Lynch and Joe Abercrombie.’ SFX Magazine
• ‘If you’re up for a fun, fast-paced adventure featuring rogues, giants and lots of fighting, you won’t want to miss it!’ A Fantastical Librarian
Praise for Crown Thief
• ‘It’s a fun romp in a dark fantasy world and when you add to this great prose, top notch prose and combat to keep you glued, all in all this is a great second book for the reader to enjoy.’ Falcata Times
• ‘If you haven’t met Easie Damasco, you should. You’ll be glad you did.’ Adventures Fantastic
This title is released on the 3rd of October (UK) and the 24th of September (US/CAN)
• ‘Unexpected plot twists, shocking revelations, total chaos. Everything I thought I was signing on for when I picked up this book, I got.’ The Bibliosanctum
• ‘This is fantasy on the scale of Terry Brooks or Brandon Sanderson… If you’re a fan of fantasy, you’ll definitely want to check out SEVEN FORGES. It is a solid, well-written addition to the genre, and I’m looking forward to see what Moore does next.’ Shattered Ravings
• ‘I finished Seven Forges in four nights, staying up later than I should to do so. It’s not often I’ll stop and reread a scene, but I did more than once. I’m looking forward to see where Moore takes the story next.’ Adventures Fantastic
• “An excellent, enjoyable, and thoroughly entertaining fantasy debut into a new world of swords and sorcery, complete with romance, intrigue, and danger.” Attack of the Books
• I thought this was really intriguing, it’s a fast paced story and fairly short for a novel of this type of scope… I will definitely pick up the next novel to see what happens in this world. Lynn’s Book Blog
• ‘Wow, that twist. In some ways I think I should have seen it coming, and I kind of did, but Seven Forges just lulled me into security and BAM! Craziness!… I applaud a book that is willing to go as crazy realistic as Seven Forges did with that plot twist. I would very much like to read another story in the Seven Forges world.’ On Starships and Dragon Wings
This title is released on the 4th of October (UK) and 24th of September (US/CAN).
Enjoy these, folks!
Gather round drones, and check out what has been amazing couple of weeks for all things robotic and brilliant…actually makes us a little bit less angry, but don’t worry as it won’t last. Prepare yourselves…it’s a long ‘un.
I think it’s only right that we start off with the great news from the US, that Angry Robot has been shortlisted at the Locus Awards for Best Publisher. Not only that but Madeline Ashby‘s vN has been shortlisted in the Best First Fiction category, and fellow Angry Robot author Aliette de Bodard is up for Best Novella and Best Short Story! Couldn’t be better timing with Book Two in the Machine Dynasty, iD, coming very shortly! Check out Lee’s post on this good news.
Wesley Chu continues to take the world by storm with Tao & Roen in The Lives of Tao with reviews, interviews, and blog posts popping up left, right, and centre.
• Normal in London loved the book: “There are comic moments, there are tender moments and there are moments where I wondered what I would do if I had an alien inside me, and moments where I wished I did as it might push me into doing stuff! The climax was especially strong, and somewhat unexpected. And it has left me wanting more Roen & Tao.” There’s definitely a business opportunity for Wes if he can provide aliens for all the reviewers looking for their own Tao!
• Dangerous Dan awards Tao “four easy stars” believing the “ending[…]was perfect for the story and left it open-ended enough for future adventures of Roen and Tao.”
• Always Unmended don’t just focus on the fact that “Chu’s writing is strong, and his ability to write tragic, heart-rending scenes into such a fun, easy story is proof that he’s found his calling as a writer” but also believe we can all learn something from Roen: [the book] “contains inspirational advice that is bound to make readers reflect on their own lives. There is much about being the person you want to be and not making excuses to let yourself fail. Much as the practice of Tao is The Way of life, the character of Tao shows Roen the way to live fully. And isn’t that something we could all use a little help with?” Now. Go out there and live your live…after the pizza dinner, it is Friday evening after all.
• For a review with a spin, check out Richard’s rhyming review; I can’t even pull a line from it, it needs to be read in whole…what are you waiting for? Shooo!
• Feathers & Tea get their review off to a great start, calling Chu’s debut “another triumph from the Angry Robot publishing stable”, why thank you! It continues thusly: “Chu’s writing is sparingly skillful [and the] key premise is novel and handled deftly, the transition of Roen from bumbler to Commander is a joy to read, and the book is as laced with humour and flashes of poignancy as it is with action scenes”
• The Lives of Tao has even managed to impress the self-proclaimed cross-genre wary 42 Webs! “The Lives of Tao is one of those good books that pulls off the mash-up perfectly. We get the full sci-fi feeling combined with the spy genre without either side getting diluted or ignored. We get the full effect and in turn get a character we care about. Roen becomes the mix between James Bond and Ezio Auditore da Firenze (Assassin Creed 2, Brotherhood, Revelations).”
• “The most fun I’ve had all year” Staffer’s Book Review
• Mike over on Stuff and/or Junk calls Roen & Tao “a sci-fi action Odd Couple” – I think the most apt description I’ve heard yet!
• Wes & the Prophus’ global domination continues with i109 proclaiming The Lives of Tao one of the Astounding Summer Reads!
• The Lives of Tao is “top notch entertainment” and “the perfect summer read” The Eloquent Page
• The wonderful 52 Book Reviews allow no excuses for anyone not reading Chu’s amazing debut: “Chu’s cunning and hilarious mash-up of comedy, coming of age drama, espionage thriller, and science fiction has something for everyone.”
• Matthew Scott Baker is very excited about Tao! It’s “very clever with fun/deadly characters and a high-paced plot. Be ready to drop your social life for a few days, though…you will definitely want to use your free time finishing this one up!”
•Bandelier Girl Reads Everything is short and sweet with Tao: “A nice mash-up of genres that moves the reader thru the story with humor and interesting characters. Recommend.”
• Wes has been interviewed on many a website, and get yourself over to Toonari Post, Sci-Fi Fan Letter, and Bastard Books…for a mammoth, brilliant, read which also includes a giveaway!
• Check out Stellar Four for Roen’s drink of choice, and Wes talks about Aliens on Dribble of Ink.
• Wes had a guest post with Mary Robinette Kowal which you can catch here
• Wes has also been busy with some fun & games and with the coolest cake ever, launched The Lives of Tao in Chicago. Take a look at the photos on Wes’ Facebook page
• If you’re in Chicago – or will be – on May 19, you can catch Wes on a panel at Open Books: 213 W. Institute Place Chicago, IL 60610 (1 block north of Chicago & Franklin el stop.) See the Open Books Website for further details.
• If you can’t make Chicago, Wes will be at WisCon May 24-27, on 4 panels no less, and for more info: check it out here
• And if Tao & Roen hadn’t provided Wes with enough to celebrate, didn’t he only go and win the April Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars over at The Qwillery! Thanks again to Argh! Oxford for the great cover! Here’s an interview The Qwillery also did with him.
• Adam Christopher‘s The Age Atomic has a very cool video review over on I’m Ellie Ann
• Paper Mages is putting future reading trust in the hands of Adam, a very wise move, whilst also praising Christopher’s dynamic characters!
• Listen in to Adam’s radio i/v on City FM 89 here
• And, it might be belated posting on my behalf, but check out the Bane of Kings review over on The Founding Fields: “A wonderful novel, The Age Atomic proves that Adam Christopher can write sequels just as well as anyone. The most fun read of 2013 so far, and one of the best.”
The wonderful Emma Newman has had the internet all a flutter between reviews for Between Two Thorns, advance talk on Any Other Name, the wonderful Three Wishes, and also her new podcast, Tea & Jeopardy!
Reviews for Between Two Thorns & Any Other Name:
• “JK Rowling meets Georgette Heyer ” so say the Guardian along with praising how Emma “renders the Split Worlds with verve and an infectious sense of fun, and presents in Cathy a strong and personable heroine.” Get in, Between Two Thorns!
• “Between Two Thorns is in essence a mystery, with a dash of magic, suspense and intrigue combining with just a touch of romance, polictics and feminism to freshen it up a bit” Boy, do Vinx Books love Between Two Thorns! Vinx also highlights Em’s amazing short stories based in The Split Worlds, and the Three Wishes, thanks Vinx!
• Uncorked Thoughts give Between Two Thorns 4 out of 5 stars, and declare the “story…an Austinesque fantasy, filling every chapter with action. I loved learning about this new world and am looking forward to sinking my teeth into the next book!” You don’t have long to wait, Leah!
• A Writer’s Sidequest is another eagerly anticipating the release of Any Other Name, having fallen in love with Between Two Thorns!
• 5 out of 5 stars. Why, thank you very much Geek Syndicate. “A word of warning, make sure it is somewhere comfortable though as once you start this magical book, you won’t be going anywhere until you finish it. Absolutely brilliant.” Just one of the many excellent proclamations from them, and rightly so!
• Here’s a review for the forthcoming Any Other Name from My Dear Bibliophage who call it “enchanting, shocking, and well-crafted”
• SQ Magazine have a great interview with our Em; find out what she thinks about the challenges facing female speculative fiction writers in today’s publishing world, amongst much more. Emma also has a short-story in SQ, here
• Keep an eye on Emma’s Split World interviews page for all her oot-and-abooot happenings!
• If you haven’t heard about Emma’s fantastic new project Three Wishes, you’re missing out on your chance to have some magical wishes come true! Get involved: make your wish but also try grant somebody else…it’s a magical Pay it Forward, and we like it! Read more here.
• Urban Fantasy Land have definitely got on board with Three Wishes and are urging everyone to be “part of something very exciting, wonderful, and of course, magical!”
Tea & Jeopardy:
The Blue Blazes:
• For something “dark, gritty and fun” Three Crow Press recommend Chuck‘s first Mookie Pearl novel, The Blue Blazes. True that.
• “Wendig has taken the cast of Goodfellas and dragged them, kicking and screaming into a fantasy reality of New York, opened up the playground and let them run loose”, so says Wilder’s Book Review, who continues: “The dialogue is crisp and flows quickly, with a dark humour which Wendig relishes throughout…It’s a style which Wendig is well-known for and as my first Chuck Wendig novel, I found it to be a real breath of fresh air in a subgenre which sometimes feels a little stuffy and manufactured.”
• Odd Engine starts a glowing 4 star review with a shout-out to Joey Hi-Fi for the amazing cover, and continues by praising the “punchy dialog, snappy prose, and a gritty narrative voice”, calling The Blue Blazes “inventive, edgy, and a joy to read”
• Elf Machines from Hyperspace (what a cool name, and you’re welcome for the ARC!) after one book has declared Chuck’s writing “imaginative, funny, profound, tough, and poetic all at once” and they ain’t wrong!
• Blackbirds is “a bit fucking wrong” (a quote courtesy of Miss BookCunt) which for PublishThings sums up the second Miriam Black novel perfectly!
• The Cheape Book links Blackbirds with the perfect director: “This book begs to be done as a movie by Tarantino if he hasn’t already” Are ya listening, Quentin?
Finally, The 52 Review has a great interview with Mr Wendig, and if you’re an aspiring writer you definitely want to check out when he says about finding your own voice
With good timing as A Discourse in Steel‘s publication date (25 June / 4 July) is fast approaching, Geeks versus Nerds are talking all things Paul S. Kemp and The Hammer and the Blade: “This book is wonderful, funny and exciting with a pinch of spine shivering evil added in for flavor.”
The beautiful story that is Cassandra Rose Clarke‘s The Mad Scientist’s Daughter has certainly made an impression on ScienceFiction.com, who call it a “fantastically written science fiction novel about love and society”.
Madeline Ashby‘s sublime science fiction novel vN is, even as you read this, powering in vast container lorries to every corner of the globe, ready for its publication at the start of August. Madeline herself has been out and about talking about the genesis and writing and themes of her book, so we thought it would also be interesting to catch up with the guy who did that amazing cover, Martin Bland.
We’d seen his work on Gavin Smith’s military SF novels for Gollancz, and marvelled at some stunning darkly futuristic work displayed on his website. He was surely the go-to guy for this job, and that turned out to be exactly the right decision. He kindly clambered up from his underground bunker to answer a few probey-probey questions…
What do you call yourself – graphic artist, illustrator, designer, part-time spacecadet, etc?
Just “Artist”. I have a hard time cornering myself into the usual suspects, and ‘visual storyteller’ doesn’t look great on a business card. Part concept artist, part illustrator, part fine artist; it’s easier to cut out the niches than to try and find one.
How did you get into “all this”?
Natural progression, I was always creative, loved my pencil work when I was younger, fell into the social chasm for ten years, then was offered the chance to find something I loved doing by my wife, worked my way through design, photo manipulation, web design and eventually found my stride in painting. It felt right straight away. Taught myself the basics, and continue to teach myself every day since.
What’s your balance of artwork – covers, graphics, editorial, personal stuff, etc?
I have worked in just about every area at some point, collaborated with some great people in most fields of art, magazine ad campaigns, album design, game concepts, portraiture etc. I do favour cover jobs though, CD and book, as I love to tell a story in a single image rather than a progression or sequence, and like a healthy balance between work and personal (personal turns into work with print sales).
What’s your typical approach to a piece, if you have one? Computer or sketches?
90% of any image I do is mental, I think a lot about how I am going to construct, and often see a completed image in my head long before pen touches surface, then it’s usually digital, blocking in large areas and refining details as I go, using form and values; I don’t tend to start with a sketch (in the traditional sense of the word, line art), a more organic approach works better for me.
Do you typically like a brief stuffed with detail, or the freedom to do whatever you want?
A bit of both really, it’s important to be able to visualise someone else’s idea, so the more information you get, the easier it is to nail it first time, I like a lot of visual stimulus, style guides. Setting the mood is more important than the details of subject matter. A good amount of freedom is always nice to have but I like to get the sketch stage down, and agreed upon, before I get to play around myself. That way, the changes are taken care of before the refining; it streamlines the process, I have enough of a library behind me for the client to know they will be getting my usual standard or better.
And how did you work on vN particularly?
It was a dream brief. I was given choice, style sheets, and a detailed description, and also a lot of freedom and trust in the later stages, Madeline had built a very believable world, rich with detail, so the excerpts I received were easy to absorb, and Marc’s art direction was great. Madeline had written somewhere that when she saw the cover, she saw Amy (the protagonist) – there’s no better feeling than that.
What’s a typical day, if you have one?
I’m a full time Dad, so my typical day is rather boring, full of homework and school runs, I fit my work around my son, and work from home, so it’s definitely not as “rockstar” as I’d like to imagine it is, I also procrastinate far too much… ooh, a biscuit.
Are you much of an SF fan yourself?
I’d like to say no, but all evidence points to yes :-). I like gritty, dark worlds that you can relate to and instantly believe, so I love the Blade Runner, Event Horizon, Dark City side of sci-fi, the Asimov side. I’m not the hugest fan of anything in particular, but I think that in itself adds a more unique twist to my own work in the genre, as I try my best to approach subjects with a fresh perspective – there are a million paths to tread but only one is mine.
What would you kill to illustrate?
My own IP. I have a project that hasn’t been put down to paper properly yet, a novel/screenplay/movie that has garnered interest from a couple of major movie studios, and almost optioned, just on the strength of the few images and brief idea/backstory pitched. I would love to bring it to fruition one day; illustrating/producing a movie based on my own art would pretty much be the pinnacle of my existence, and would make my kid proud.
Anything you really hate/struggle with drawing?
Not as far as subject matter goes, I can handle pretty much anything. If I can imagine it, then I can paint it, in my own style. I’ve painted everything from angels, to death metal covers, from an English country garden to a huge Yeti. I have been asked to take on work in other styles, and have struggled with it before, like colouring line art, or very technical perspectives and constraints. (I was once asked to paint, from imagination, a 20mm aperture lens view; couldn’t fathom that one, as I am not a camera.)
For vN you went absolutely bananas building robot fragments in the computer; is this sort of thing conducive to your mental health?
Well, they say the devil is in the details, so I’m probably 80% evil :-). I love getting stuck into it, if I’m honest. The best way to get someone to spend more time looking at an image is to pack it with detail, more to discover, and it gets quite cathartic after a while, you lose yourself, I haven’t noticed any problems yet. *twitch*
Tell us about five (or more) cool things – music, movies, comics, books, toys, whatever…
I do have quite a cool collection of tiny things, as I’m a sucker for detail – like a penny, with a bone-handled knife carved out of the middle and sat perfectly back into its hole, and a 2mm high, full colour printed book. I’ve got a couple of 6mm Bibles too, a bag of 1.5mm glass marbles. I’ve amassed quite a good gathering of very unusual miniatures. I’m also very good at collecting dust, and empty Pepsi bottles.
Which other artists do you rate?
I tend to rate the art, rather than artists, as the best can have an off-day, and the worst can produce a masterpiece. I see hundreds of images each day, and collecting the best of them has turned into a bit of a hobby. I have folders packed with inspiring imagery from every level of artist.
Do you have any other skills? What would you do if you didn’t do this?
I would always have to have a creative outlet of some sort, I do a bit of everything: sculpture, photography, traditional, so I think I would always gravitate towards making things look good. I was a manager/lithographic printer for 10 years too, so at the very worst, I could fall back into that, but it would have to get quite bad, haha.
And what are you working on next (don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone)?
I’ve just acquired a small stock of giclée poster prints so I’m currently approaching galleries and organising shipping and framing options, starting to turn what I do into more of a legitimate business, expanding that side – but also working on more covers, and also trying to pump out a few personal images as I feel like I’ve been neglecting that side of things this year.
Click on any image for a larger version – and see a hell of a lot more great artwork at Martin’s website, spyroteknik.com
We don’t always blow our own trumpet, so having spent a few, slightly tedious hours on a very hot day assembling the latest batch of samplers of some upcoming Angry Robot titles, we thought it worth reminding all you deeply lovely AR readers that we do, as standard, offer a free excerpt from every single one of our books.
There’s a lot of talk about eBook piracy at the moment. And there are all sorts of reasons. Some of them – “I like having stuff for free, so I’m going to take it; I’ll never get caught” – are a little hard to help with, short of some ghastly state surveillance program which nobody much wants. Others, though, we understand and we’re keen to help with if we can.
Ebooks are expensive – well, ours are always priced below their comparative physical fellows. We still have to pay for editing and proofreading, design and all that, but we’ve knocked off the cost of printing for you. (And don’t forget that at the moment, in the UK eBooks are subject to 20% VAT where print books aren’t.)
I can’t get them in my country – actually, you can buy our eBooks, DRM-free, from any country in the world. We also release our editions through all major eBook outlets, in as many countries as we can but notably across North America and Europe, in the same week.
I only wanted to read a sample, see if I liked it enough to buy it… – And here we are. That’s why we’re very happy to sit here on a sweltering day preparing more natty little 50-page selections from our upcoming releases for you.
Below the jump (or further down the screen if you’re not on our homepage at the moment) you’ll find a selection of our recent excerpts, each one inside a cute little app thing. Take them, host them on your own site if you like (it’s very easy, and makes your blog look grrrreat), send them to your mates, share them wherever. Then check out the individual book pages here on the site for samples of our entire range.
And if you like the free samples we give you, you might even want to buy our lovely books, which you can do over at The Robot Trading Company (our very own webstore) or your regular eBook or pBook retailer of choice.
[Image Credit: Rather fabulous pirate kindle blatantly nicked from bookish.livejournal.com – no accreditation given there, so if it’s yours, please let us know and we’ll either add in a credit link or take it down…]