Archive for Robots at large
As most of you know, I don’t come from a scifi or fantasy publishing world; my previous role was in publicity for Irish non-fiction titles as well as crime fiction, and that oft-controversial term, literary fiction. I wasn’t utterly new to the terms SF / F / WTF (maybe I was to WTF!) as through my own personal reading, I’ve read – and loved – Scott Lynch, Philip Pullman, and Eoin Colfer, and had the usual childhood favourites such as Narnia and Harry Potter. I love True Blood, Buffy, and Star Trek, amongst others but can’t quote you lines or tell you what happened in every episode. Ever. I joined the queues to see The Hunger Games, Snow White & the Huntsman, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Spiderman, Stardust, and a host of other movies, but because I really enjoyed them, not because they were genre specific.
But, since joining the Angry Robot team early this year, words like utopian, dystopian, steampunk, epic fantasy, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, xenobiology, are now the norm, and it has been an exciting, occasionally-overwhelming, world to discover. I’ve been flung in all sorts of reading directions, mainly by Strange Chemistry’s reading guru Amanda, and was addicted to George R.R. Martin within about 3 pages; fell in love with John Green’s phenomenal YA story The Fault In Our Stars; am currently reading Kushiel’s Dart, and have read – and had varying reactions to – dozens of our Angry Robot and Strange Chemistry titles. I’ve learned that fantasy is more my own personal thing than scifi, although Wesley Chu‘s The Lives of Tao (Vote for him at Goodreads Choice Awards here!) and Ramez Naam‘s Nexus became some of my all-time favourite books, and that Chuck Wendig‘s books suit my crime-fiction-grotesque-scenes-loving-self.
However, not any of the above made me feel fully qualified to attend last weekend’s World Fantasy Con in Brighton. I admit I had major preconceptions. I have met some terrific people over the course of the last six months, but also have discovered that genre world inhabitants can be, and I hasten to point out can be - not are, protective of their world. Sometimes, rightly so. One of the panels over the weekend discussed the issue of “The Mainstream and Us”, showing that the positioning of “genre fiction” is still an issue. I did fear that conversations would be way over my beginners-level head, and wondered that if many of the attendees knew each other from various cons, how open would they be to a newbie? I should never have worried. It was a great weekend, and I wanted to tell you a little about what it was like for a newbie:
Before heading to Brighton, I had been told that this was a very “bar-friendly” convention. I was unsure as to the actual meaning of this – were people going to be sitting, drinking, at 11am? If so, I should have been into this world a long time ago. She jests. Kinda. But that does actually sum up the convivial nature of this convention: from any time of the day, people would gather in the lobby bars and drink coffee – at least, in the early stages of the day – and meet those faces they knew, but also those they did not. Hats off to the organisers for the “newbie” area of the bar, where those who didn’t know too many could congregate and meet fellow newcomers.
A lot of the talk I heard was about the size of the crowd – approx 1400 attendees – and how this allowed for a more open, warm, atmosphere. When I asked Lee for some reference point on this, he said WorldCon is akin to the London Book Fair; I see now that I had a nice, gentle, first convention experience! The layout of the hotel and the event halls was easy to navigate and all close together. This made for easy access if one was running from one panel to the next, or wanted to get to the dealers’ room to stock up before meeting an author. Any time I wandered from one room to the next, I saw friendly faces, and the “red coats” were ever-present ensuring that people know where they were going and were OK. Huge congratulations to them!
I had a couple of aims for the weekend: to meet our attending authors – and some for the first time!, to meet as many people from my online world as possible, to try and not fangirl if I saw Scott Lynch, to attend panels, and to generally get a better sense of the fantasy world. What I didn’t expect was to have so much fun whilst doing all of it!
Better Than I Ever Thought It Would Be
From the minute I arrived at the Hilton hotel and bumped into Lizzie and Claire from the Big Green Bookshop reading and writing groups, the weekend was one big friendly affair. I met old and new faces, chatted to strangers and made new friends; sat in on interesting panels that were open and encouraging; mingled at the mass signing; enjoyed the parties of Tor and Voyager; had long lunches with our authors – inventing futures for Mike Shevdon’s family members!; was made cry by Mike with a synopsis of the most haunting story he’s writing; laughed with Jonathan L. Howard over a pizza dinner; queued at the wrong hall with Wesley Chu before his own ninja reading; and of course, hung out with my colleagues outside the office.
As for me and conventions? Sign me right up. My advice: leave any preconceptions at the door, and throw yourself into this wonderful – and wacky – world. I’m not sure any other genre of writing could be so open and welcoming. To all the lovely bloggers and online friends that I met: Mieneke, Ellie, Vicky, Charlie Jane, Annalee; to our authors: James, Adam, Kim, Anne, Mike, Jonathan, Laura, Wes, Joseph, Emma, and all those that I didn’t get to meet; to Darren & Jo; to Lizzie & Claire; to the new friends, agents, and readers alike, that I met, thank you all so much for a fantastic first con, and I look forward to seeing you all again!
Now to get myself to the shop and buy up all the books I discovered, or else knew about and am now urged to buy their books because of their brilliant panels: Holly Black, Patrick Rothfuss, Joe Abercrombie, Garth Nix, Tanith Lee, Hal Duncan, Adrian Stone, Tad Williams, and many, many more, await!
PS: I completely fangirled when I met Scott Lynch. Oh well!
PPS: Sorry if there’s anyone I forgot to mention…
Is it the weekend already? Phew! So here’s the plan: tomorrow, bright and early, get yourself to a bookstore. Find that great section at the back or up the right side where those extra-lovely books are… and buy some books. Could be ours, could be other peoples’ – but you know you want them, you know you need them. Make them yours, bring them home, job done.
So anyway, you may just have noticed that the damn righteous Dead Harvest is due out any moment. Meet the man behind it as Angry Robot’s Chuck Wendig talks to Angry Robot’s Chris F Holm at Terribleminds.com (we really do get everywhere). Meanwhile, Chris also talked to Elizabeth A. White about how he found his inspiration for the book’s protagonist in Hell and offered some sage advice for would-be Thriller writers over at the ITW’s The Thrill Begins blog.
On SFFWorld.com, Mark Yon took a good, long look at Dead Harvest and declared it highly recommendable: “In a crowded world of Urban Fantasy, it’s difficult to make an impression amongst the many, many tales out there. However, as far as urban fantasy goes, this is one of the most assured debuts I’ve read since first reading Jim Butcher’s first Dresden.”
Dead Harvest was also reviewed over at sheneverslept.com, where it scored a perfect five out of five tentacles: “Dead Harvest grabbed and held me from beginning to end. Chris F. Holm has crafted a nicely dark urban fantasy with a truly unique protagonist”. Likewise, blogger Elizabeth A. White was suitably impressed, saying: “Holm takes a pinch of fantasy, a little supernatural, a dash of hardboiled crime fiction, and blends them into a pitch-perfect adventure in a way that is nothing short of authorial alchemy.”
Plus, Dead Harvest was profiled by Eric Beetner for CriminalElement.com‘s Fresh Meat files and reviewed by blogger Stephen West. And the frankly rather awesome cover art triumphed in the February Cover Wars over at The Qwillery (and we know that Chris wanted that one, badly).
The very friendly David Tallerman was interviewed by Sci-Fi Fan Letter and also talked to SFSignal.com about the not-so-secret ingredient in Giant Thief. And you can have a go at winning a copy of Giant Thief, courtesy of Fantasy Book Review.
Upcoming Titanic/30 Days of Night mash-up sensation Carpathia by the superb Matt Forbeck was reviewed by lovevampires.com, Starburst magazine and Adventures Fantastic. And just as this round-up was going to press… um, screen, the chaps on Lightsaber Ratting were so taken with it they suggested “there is no way that this book doesn’t become a movie”, and the venerable Starburst said “Fans of Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula will find a lot to love here, as will anyone who prefers their horror with a hint of claustrophobia.”
And even fuuuurther out, Mister Mike Shevdon gave his first interview for a while to SFF World, looking at the Courts of the Feyre series so far and previewing this June’s upcoming Strangeness & Charm – together with a review of book one in the series, Sixty-One Nails.
Gav Thorpe talked to The Shell Case about his work in the Warhammer universe, as well as the forthcoming conclusion to his Crown of the Blood saga: The Crown of the Usurperand his plans for the future. He also did valuable service on his own blog, crunching the numbers on classic fantasy tropes: http://mechanicalhamster.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/elf-preservation-part-one/
And finally, over at fellow imprint Strange Chemistry, chatterbox and editor Amanda Rutter revealed some of the science and much of the art of reading submissions. She also talked all things Strange and Chemical over at the Intergalactic Academy.
So much going on! You might as well give away your TV and your Xbox, you know. Books are the past, the present and definitely the future!
Aaand she made this lovely trailer for this latest Acatl novel too. Studio roll VT:
Aaaaaaaaand she’s running a really cool Aztec-themed competition on her blog. Check it out and win win win, as apparently they say!
Lovely Lauren Beukes, modestly not mentioning much about her massive, massive new book deal (me and her mother, Mrs Harris, are so damn proud), was interviewed by Bruce Sterling. Yes, that Bruce Sterling.
The lovely KW Jeter was Guest of Honor at Steamcon III recently. Check out the pics and a great write up from Steampunk News. We think all our authors should get an official convention photo done with a girl with a boat on her head. No, just because.
And finally, no skateboarding puppies this week, but instead the lovely Lavie Tidhar gave great podcast for the Skiffy & Fanty Show in this discussion of his new novel Osama. It’s not by us, but it’s bloody great so fair dues and all that.
If you’re going to Conflux, Australia’s premier SF convention, at the end of the month, be sure to join a trio of our best authors for some metallic fun and games. Out in force and pressing the flesh of all you grateful meat-things will be local Robot representatives Jo Anderton, Trent Jamieson and Kaaron Warren, for a full hour of meet & greet & readings plus (we’re told/warned) some appropriately AR-themed refreshments.
Oh, if only we could be there too… (don’t finish that sentence).
Those stand-up gents and dames over at Tor.com are running Noir Week right about now, and we thought we might just muscle in on a piece of their action.
Yes, really. Fly, fly now!
Today’s Advent Calendar treat has not 1, not 3, not 4, but 2 (count ‘em – two!) pieces of flash fiction from one of our merry band of authors.
Un:Bound Video Trailer
Those crazy folk over at Un:Bound (a great genre book blog) have decided to create a video series call Un:Bound Video Editions (UBVE). The first edition goes live sometime tonight, but check out the trailer, below. (And who is that handsome chap in the glasses? No, not him – the other one…)
Awards season is once again upon us – not that it ever really goes away. We’re currently smack-bang in the middle of the nominations round for the Nebulas – the awards voted on by members of the SFWA. For clarity, these are the Angry Robot titles that are currently eligible for consideration:
Moxyland by Lauren Beukes
Sixty-One Nails by Mike Shevdon
The Road to Bedlam by Mike Shevdon
Slights by Kaaron Warren
Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero by Dan Abnett
Winter Song by Colin Harvey
Damage Time by Colin Harvey
Angel of Death by J Robert King
The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar
The Crown of the Blood by Gav Thorpe
Edge by Thomas Blackthorne (John Meaney)
King Maker by Maurice Broaddus
Nekropolis by Tim Waggoner
Book of Secrets by Chris Roberson
City of Dreams and Nightmare by Ian Whates
Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard
Kell’s Legend by Andy Remic
Soul Stealers by Andy Remic
Yesterday was a long day, but thoroughly enjoyable. I travelled from York to London and back (a 450 mile round trip) to meet The Bookman author Lavie Tidhar for lunch, on one of his occasional forays to the UK, followed by an evening spend with Dan Abnett Esquire, his lovely wife Nik, and various member of the British Science Fiction Association. I interviewed Dan for the BSFA, and – as always – he was a fascinating interviewee, talking with great passion for around an hour and a half about his work for various tie-in universes (in comic, novel and screenplay formats) as well as his later work with original fiction. The BSFA always have a raffle at these events, so Dan brought a few of his graphic novels, Angry Robot supplied a few books, and The Black Library generously donated some books and audiobooks, too.
Last night was also the SFX party to celebrate the world’s biggest SF magazine reaching issue 200! That’s quite an achievement! Unfortunately, though I was invited (and accepted the invitation) I got my dates muddled up,and didn’t realise it was on the same night I was interviewing Dan, so I missed the party, though Lavie went in my stead, and thoroughly enjoyed himself, by all accounts. Congratulations to Dave Bradley and his team – and here’s to the next 200!
So, a good time had by all (despite the torrential rain – yeah, thanks, London).
We’ll be podcasting the interview with Dan soon, so keep an eye (and an ear) out for that.
So, just in case you’ve missed them, here’s a list of recent podcasts featuring the Angry Robot crew:
(10) The World of Publishing – featuring Marc Gasgoigne (of Angry Robot), Steve Tribe, Jenni Hill and Jon Weir
(3) Blogging and the Internet – featuring Lee Harris (of Angry Robot), Vincent Holland-Keen and Alasdair Stuart
And fon’t forget – for the Angry Robot monthly podcast:
This week’s feature, by Alasdair Stuart, was originally scheduled for last week, but we had to hold it back because Sonny was Just. So. Angry! Luckily, he’s calmed down a bit, now. And no – the name of the film in which he stars is not the working title for the next Apply gadget, even though Sonny looks like he was designed in those hallowed halls. We think.
Angry Robot of the Week
So let’s talk about the product placement in the room, shall we? Sonny is the central robot in I, Robot, Alex Proyas’ controversial adaptation/hybrid/chimera/Chuck Taylor Converse ad version of some of Isaac Asimov’s stories. It’s a very easy film to rag on for a whole variety of reasons, starting with what a lot of people perceive as a script that doesn’t remotely honour the source material and finishing with Will Smith looking up at a large bank of evil robots and muttering ‘Oh HELL no.’ Read More→
He’s big; he’s angry; he’s also a bad guy, but not necessarily that smart (if you’re the bad guys do you really call yourselves ‘Decepticons’? That’s just asking for trouble!) This week, Alasdair Stuart tells of one of the towering greats.
Angry Robot of the Week
Let’s talk about Megatron, the universe’s favorite bucket-headed robo-fascist. I’m in my early 30s, so he, along with the Anthony Ainley master, Darth Vader and the 1980s Tory party are basically the epitome of evil for me. Megatron even wins out over the others, largely because whilst the Master was evil he had an unhealthy love for velour jackets and hating the Tory party was less a conscious decision and more an unofficial tenth GCSE.
My name’s Ben Elton, thank you and goodnight. Just kidding. Or am I?
OR AM I?
Anyway, Megatron will be forever known to me as the Nazi-headed Decepticon leader who transformed into a gun. He was big, he was loud, he killed things and Frank Welker voiced him. He’s a classic, iconic villain, Claudius with a fusion cannon, a transformable Ghengis Khan. He killed Optimus Prime, attempted to enslave Earth, survived death, served a planet-eating transformer and continues to stride across the worlds of Transformers canon with fire in his eyes and a burning need for conquest in his heart, even today.
He’s not this week’s Angry Robot though. Well, not really. Read More→
Well, last week’s season premiere was greeted with many a kind word, which was probably largely due to Bender threatening everyone if they didn’t say nice things about him.
This week, Alasdair Stuart tells us about a very different kind of Angry Robot:
Angry Robot of the Week
Let’s talk about Tommy Westphall. Tommy is a character that, chances are, you won’t be aware of. Tommy is the autistic son of one of the main characters of St Elsewhere. Tommy is an autistic boy who, it’s revealed in the last scene of the last episode, has imagined the entire series. It’s a fantastic, audacious piece of storytelling and whilst it incensed some fans it fascinated others.
Except Tommy wasn’t done. Read More→
It seems crazy that we’ve never run this feature before, so when Alasdair Stuart (Editor of Hub Magazine and host of Pseudopod) suggested he write it for us, there wasn’t even a moment’s hesitation before we said “yes”.
When we sign a new author we send them an author questionnaire so we can get to know them a little bit more, and one of the questions asks for their personal favourite Angry Robot. Futurama‘s Bender is by far the robot most often listed, and so, without further ado, we present:
Peter Venkman, one of the 20th Century’s premier fictional parapsychologists once pointed out that the problem with aliens is that they’re just so inconsistent. Sometimes you get nice ones, like Starman, and sometimes, he points out, they’re just some big lizard. Aliens are different, new, scary and frequently want to eat us, use us as hosts for their larvae, biological Lego for their hives or at the very least convince us that the best possible thing to do is join their army of human clones because there’s no one like us left.
Aliens, let’s face it, suck.
Robots though, robots are at least consistent. Their metal shells speak of constancy, reliability and, often, a telling lack of buoyancy. A robot is our plastic pal who’s fun to be with, our trusty sidekick that we can explain the plot to or, more often, explains the plot to us. Robots are smartphones with vocal chords, iPads with death rays; robots are our friends, right?
Wrong. Read More→
That’s the end of our Twelve Days. The Angry Robot offices are now closed until January 4th 2010, but we will be picking up email, Twitters and Facebook messages pretty much as normal throughout so don’t hold back. Perhaps just don’t expect an instant reply.
While you’re waiting for our Christmas Day Message, or in the long days that will stretch out between now and our return, here are some robot-related links to keep you amused, bemused or downright confused.
Thanks to each and every one of you for your support, help and wild creativity this year. Here’s to a very Robot New Year. Brace yourselves, North America – you’re next.
– Marco & Lee & Chris xxx
• Fabulous handmade retro robots
• Even more cute, with top robot love sequence (courtesy Graham Linehan)
• The Old Robots page (cheers, Lauren)
• Faces in odd places, including an angry robot
• Robot ferrets to find drugs
• That robot Xmas tree dance
• That amazing short in which giant robots attack Montevideo
• Why yes, we’d love one each if you’re feeling flush
• Not us
• And finally, how we actually genuinely totally truthfully came up with the stunning imprint name Angry Robot (not really)
Free as in “gratis”, for nowt, zilch, zero spondooliks. To get to the point, Apex are featuring a bloody fabulous short story by Maurice Broaddus, dashing and debonair author of King Maker, which is just the first of three volumes in his frankly brilliant Knights of Breton Court series. It’s called Pimp My Airship, and if that title alone doesn’t make you reach for a damp cloth, well, we’re going to have to take away your membership and boot you out the door, kid.
Go read it now.