Year-long (at least) readers to the blog will remember that last year in April I attended my first ever major con, the inaugural Middle East Film and Comic Con. It was a fantastic event, and I’ve been waiting for the second installment ever since. I got the chance this past weekend, and it was absolutely amazing. I am told that where the attendance last year had been upwards of 13,000, this year it was predicted to be in the 23,000-26,000 range. That is unbelievable, an almost 100% increase over and above the first year. I will say that the show absolutely deserves it. The organisers put on a terrific show, and it was certainly a few notches above last year.
Today I hit a huge milestone, mere days after I hit another big one.
On September 3rd, I posted my 100th review to day, the Dark Angels novella Dark Vengeance by C Z Dunn. The novella was written as a tie-in for the release of the 6th Edition ruleset the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop game by Games Workshop, and is based upon one of the scenarios in the mini-rulebook contained within the starter set, and uses pretty much the full model range in it from what I can tell. I had a ton of fun reading the novella and I would definitely recommend it to everybody.
Today, I posted my 100th review of the year, the Young Adult novel Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings, published by Strange Chemistry which is Angry Robot Books’ new YA imprint. Just as with the novella, this was a really, really fun book, a great story that echoes all the popular magic-based TV shows like Charmed, Buffy etc. This is another highly recommended book from me.
On the reading side, this really has been an incredible year so far and the reviewing even more so, barring a few odd blimps here and there. Bring on the end of the year!!
So this past weekend Dubai hosted the first ever Middle East Film and Comic Con, an event the likes of which is usually seen in the States in its various guises as the San Diego Comic Con or Dragon Con or what have you. I found out about the event quite incidentally, at my local gym like two days before the event kicked off. It was like a surprise right out of nowhere, a good one I assure you, and also exciting because if I could make it, then this would be my first major convention ever, Blizzcon 2009, Games Day Los Angeles 2008 and Games Day UK 2011 notwithstanding since they are quite focused.
The biggest Games Workshop event of the year. After the singularly disappointing experience that was Games Day LA 2008, GDUK’11 was a blast.
I did everything I wanted to do. I talked to all my favourite authors who were in attendance. I got all the books I wanted. I met some great fellow Boltholers. I submitted my two short story summaries for the BL pitch board. I went to the BL seminar. So the long and short, here goes.
The evening before, I met with Paul, who I had asked to buy some books for me that I wouldn’t be able to get at GD, and his friend James. We had a quite a bit of fun time in the Premier Inn Restaurant just chilling and talking 40k while watching the sports channel. We were later joined by Bod (the Inquisitor) and much later, Schafer. I was rather eagerly awaiting Schafe since he had my ticket to the event
The evening therefore was rather fun and enjoyable, culminating in some nice pizza and diet coke that I rather enjoyed. My first British pizza, hah!
It was discovered during the course of the evening that the entrance queues for GD were to be rather large so I got up quite early the next day to head over to the LG arena. The light Birmingham drizzle didn’t dampen my spirits and as it turned out, the queues to get in were in fact large. But the staff were processing the folks fairly quickly.
I bumped into Narry while in the unorganized mass of people heading into the arena and quickly divested him of the copy of Space Marine Collector’s Edition I had asked him to buy for me. Take note folks, that package is rather bulky. It just about barely fit in my backpack.
Once inside, we quickly headed over to the BL area, on the far side of the arena, to grab our tickets to the “Writing for BL Seminar” but spent roughly a good 20 minutes going back and forth all over the convention floor trying to find the right place to get said tickets. Which we eventually did after quite a bit of effort.
Then it was time to head over back to the BL area, where I grabbed my two tickets to the Author Cafe sessions and then proceeded straight to see the one person I definitely wanted to meet. Sarah Cawkwell aka Pyro. After a rather warm welcome, she patiently waited while I flipped through my copy of the programme to get it signed by her.
After promising that I was going to purchase a copy of The Gildar Rift soon-ish I quickly got Gav Thorpe and James Swallow to sign the programme as well, as well as having them sign my copies of Age of Darkness and in Jim’s case, Black Tide. Funny thing, I turned out to be a minor celebrity since they both knew who I was when I introduced myself as Shadowhawk. (more on this later). Well I had already talked to Jim off-forum through his site to get some advice so that wasn’t as much of a surprise but hey, he still knew who I was
Then me and Narry got into the queue for the sales area but that was going nowhere so we just headed off to attend the seminar, which was being hosted (chaired?) by Christian Dunn, John French, Jonathan Green and Sarah. Much hilarity ensued during this seminar, which turned out to be partly a new release info seminar since some of the people really seemed to have not understood the title of the seminar. Ah well. I got my question answered so I am rather hopeful about one of my short stories that I sent off during the submissions window in the summer.
With the seminar done, it was a mad dash back to the BL area, on the diagonally opposite side of the convention center to see the state of the sales queue. It was now a rather daunting affair, with at least 200 people in the line. Feeling slightly disappointed, I went off to my first Cafe session.
And it rocked.
The first thing Sarah said when she saw me was “Didn’t I just leave you at the seminar?”. *Evil grin.*
Well she talked animatedly about TGR and her other upcoming projects, one of which is the audio drama called Indomitable featuring Marneus Calgar and Chaplain Cassius. As well as some other stuff, which included HANSUM SPESS MAHRINEZ. Women.
The time was cut short though when a BL staffer told us that the authors would have to be rotated around, and my group found ourselves hosting Nick Kyme next. Let me tell you, as much as Graham and Dan might be popular among the fans, Nick is one of the coolest people I have ever met. Long talks were had about Vulkan’s fate, the nature of his lost relics, what happened to Ferrus Manus after Istvaan V, Nick’s next in-work project which is a Ferrus Manus novella for the HH and the Salamanders in 40k. Me and Schafe asked a fair bit of questions and Nick was happy to answer our insane ramblings.
High point of talking to Nick was when he approached me later and told me that I had asked some great questions. Oh my!
The third author of the 11.30 cafe session was Chris Wraight, the man who gave us the masterpiece that is The Battle for the Fang. And he is a great person to talk to as well. His thoughts on the nature of the Space Wolves as they are at the end of the Horus Heresy, how the chapter is going to change over the years et all were interesting. So were his thoughts on the Iron Hands when I asked him about his next project, Wrath of Iron, an Iron Hands Space Marine Battles novel. Talking with him has convinced me that the novel will be another great piece of work that, in the same vein as Fang, delves into the intricacies of the Iron Hands’ nature and their relations with the citizenry of the Imperium and the Adeptus Mechanicus. And Iron Fathers. Expect this one to be a bestseller.
Well, now I finally had some damn time to go off and do whatever I wanted. So the time from 12.30 till 2.30 was spent trying to get into the sales queue and pick up the novels I wanted, and then get them signed by all the authors. Oh and the GD anthology as well.
So the haul was rather good. And I got them all signed! Wheeee!
Battle of the Fang by Chris Wraight
The Gildar Rift by Sarah Cawkwell
Nocturne by Nick Kyme
Hammer & Anvil by James Swallow
The Outcast Dead by Graham McNeill
Shadow King and Caledor by Gav Thorpe
Soul Hunter and Blood Reaver by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
The GD 2011 Anthology
I should probably say at this point that I bumped into Nick at least three times because I kept forgetting that I had stuff to get signed by him and he just looked at me like I was a dork But hey, this was still a feat because at times his queue was almost as big as the ones for Dan Abnett and Graham McNeill! Someone was popular.
Speaking of popular, I would be fairly in correct in saying that Sarah was needlessly worried about how her queues were going to be near non-existent. Glad to say that her queue was rather long at times, especially when it took me about 20mins of waiting to get my copy of TGR signed. Cheers for her success. I have started reading the novel and am quite a bit along and definitely liking what I read. A review will definitely be up soon.
I should also mention that I got 20 seconds of a great time with William King as well, getting him to sign my 8 year old copy of Grey Hunter, my first ever 40k novel. That man looks all excited and pumped up to be back on the BL scene. Best wishes to him!
In all this madness till now, I was lucky enough to grab a small bite of lunch, much to my relief.
After that, it was back to the next author cafe session, this time with Jim and Aaron. Sandy Mitchell was there as well but I have no interest in the CC novels so I skipped his talk.
The best piece of info I managed to get from Jim about his upcoming projects was a Space Marine Battles novel concerning the Blood Angels. Mighty exciting topic I’d say and one that is long overdue. The conversation with him also included tidbits about the Garro audio novels, in conjunction with some of the things mentioned by Christian during the seminar earlier, and I am rather interested to see how Garro, Varren, Rubio and Loken’s arc progresses next.
Aaron is, well, Aaron. We got some tidbits about his thoughts regarding gene-seed capabilities, his as-yet nebulous thoughts about the future of the Night Lords novels, why he chose a Fenrisian woman to be the Inquisitor character in his upcoming Grey Knights novel The Emperor’s Gift and some other stuff.
It bears saying at this point that I had run into him just before the Cafe session and gotten him to sign my newly-purchased copies of Soul Hunter and Blood Reaver. When he asked what my name was for the sig message, and I told him my forum name, he said “you are that guy”. Always nice to be known so
Well after all this excitement, there wasn’t much to do. I had already submitted my two short story summaries to Laurie Goulding, who was covering the Pitch board. And I had already had a helping of the H&B First Anniversary cake, courtesy of Christian, but I went back for a second helping. It was a damn good cake.
Spent the remainder of the time just chilling around, talking with some of the other Boltholers, chatting with Laurie regarding the Spring Submissions and the pitch board, chatting some more with Sarah and that’s about that.
Oh and I did manage to somehow squeeze in some precious seconds with Dan Abnett when he was finally leaving, getting him to sign my programme and my copy of Age of Darkness. Also went over to see Graham and do the same signing gig. Big shout-out to him because the staff had already closed his queue but he took the extra time to sign stuff for me and a couple other stragglers with me.
All in all, a very, very fun day. I would love to come back next year and have even more of a blast. Perhaps I’ll even have had something published by then
For some more details regarding exciting information courtesy of the authors and the editors, check out this link.
So. Two days to go. Games Day United Kingdom 2011.
It is going to rock!
And what’s more, I am going! Hell yeah I am! I have my plane tickets, I have my hotel reservation, I have some local currency. A shopping list of books I wanna get.
And I am definitely prepared to have a ton of fun with all of the Boltholers who are going to be showing up for the event. Although, it appears so far that I am the only one coming from out of country.
The twin Black Library seminars, a “Writing For” and “Art of”, are going to be so much fun, I have no idea how to tell you all about it.
I have still not heard back regarding any of the 5 short stories I submitted during the Spring Submissions Window, and to be honest, I am resigned to the fact that I probably will not. It’s just been too long. There is less than a week left for their 8-week notification time too.
Hence, I am excited that BL is going to be having an area set aside at Games Day where we can submit some new short story ideas. For more information, just check out their latest blog post, which you can find here.
I already have two nice ideas regarding the Invictors and a Blood Angels successor chapter. The Invictors have already seen some time in the limelight as I submitted a short story about them for the submissions window. The Blood Angels idea is totally rocking, if I do say so myself. I feel it really captures the “grimdark” nature of Warhammer 40,000. Victory is not always the victory you hope for and all that jazz as they say.
In other news, Ch10 of Sons of Corax just got posted to the Bolthole. So definitely check that out. The last two chapters (which includes this one) have been mammoth additions to this ongoing project, and I have really had a blast writing the action scenes in there. I am told by reliable sources that the beginning and end of Ch9 is particularly awesome.
I am hoping to do some kind of a breakdown of Sons of Corax soon enough on the blog. Mostly I shall be talking about how the idea came about and how I’ve managed to write so much in such a short time! I am loving this project.
Sadly, my Star Wars/40k crossover fanfic is still in its development stage. Haven’t had much time to work on it, given some real life commitments and working on Sons of Corax.
Not to mention the awesomeness that is Space Marine. I have only played the demo so far and I am really liking the combat mechanics and the gameplay in general. I shall have the full game soon enough. Expect a review on that soon-ish.
Talking of reviews, I posted two movie reviews on 24FPS this past week. The first one is Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, which is my third review in the DC Animated Universe Film Reviews Spotlight. The second one is Captain America: The First Avenger (3D). Do check them out!
Given my novel-related haul at Games Day, I shall have a fair bit of pre-release novels in my hands pretty soon. And I have decided that I am going to review them as and when I finish them. Time to branch out the blog to more than just rambling about 40k and writing
So yeah, that’s all that. I fly off to London in roughly 24 hours from now.