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12 Days of Best SFF Characters of 2013: Day #2

For this new seasonal list of the best SFF characters I’ve read this year, my second pick is the Princess Atiana Radieva Vostroma from Bradley P. Beaulieu’s Lays of Anuskaya trilogy, of which I’ve read the first two books so far, The Winds of Khalakovo (review) and The Straits of Galahesh (review). These books are fantasy novels through and through, with a really great Russian twist to them, as you can no doubt tell from the character’s name.

Hit the break to see why I picked this character.

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Most Anticipated Books of 2014

For two years now, my goal has been to read as many different kinds of novels as I can. I’ve tried out several different genres/subgenres that I normally would not, and the experience has helped me in becoming a better reader and a reviewer. Being a prolific reader and reviewer is all about diversity, in all its different forms. And that’s what I’ve come to value most.

Still, its not that easy, dealing with the diversity, or just the sheer volume of all the reading. When I put together the 2013 list of my most anticipated books (link), I intended to read all of them. But sadly that never happened and somewhere along the way I just lost track. The 2013 list had 51 books on it. The 2014 list has 41 books on it. A much more manageable number I dare say.

We’ll see how the year pans out and whether or not I will indeed be able to get through all them. I remain hopeful as ever. And there will be some more lists going up in the next couple weeks, so stay tuned for those.

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12 Days of Best Covers of 2013: Day #8

The eighth book cover that I pick for the “12 Days of Best Covers of 2013″ list is Halo lead concept artist Sparth’s gorgeous illustration for Michael Martinez’s debut novel The Daedalus Incident, released this year by the Night Shade imprint of Skyhorse Publishing. The Daedalus Incident is a story that meshes in solar system space opera with alchemical fantasy and creates a really fun and unique setting all of its own. It also so happens that one of the protagonists is an Indian woman by the name of Shaila Jain and that she is a written as a strong character completely independent of any romance subplots. What more can you ask for?

The eighth comic cover that I pick is from Jeff Lemire’s first issue of Trillium, a series that he both draws and writes. I held a rather passing interest in the title until I picked up this issue and after reading it I was a total fan. It is weird SF pulp adventure space opera (basically a really fun mish-mash of SF subgenres) and I love the series. Jeff Lemire has done some really great things in this series and while I haven’t read the latest issue as yet, like many of the series I’ve featured on this list, Trillium is one of my most highly anticipated monthly comics.

Without further ado, hit the break to see both the covers in all their glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.

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Advent Review #18: The Straits of Galahesh by Bradley P. Beaulieu (Book Review)

Bradley’s Lays of Anuskaya series was on my radar this year thanks to all my Night Shade Books reading last year and it ended up going on my “25 Series To Read In 2013” challenge. When I read the first book earlier this year in February, I was quite struck with the scope of the world-building and with the characters. Not to mention the fact that I loved the (inspired-by) Russian setting, despite sometimes getting lost with the names and the familiar names. The Winds of Khalakovo is definitely one of my favourite books of the year and Bradley one of my favourite authors.

The second novel, set some time after the events of the first novel, goes further with the world-building and deals in concepts and cultures and locales that we did not see in the first book. That gets some automatic points from me, for sure, because I love that aspect in a second or third novel. Fleshing out the setting created and introduced in the first book is one of the most important things in a sequel that I look for, and Straits of Galahesh is enjoyable for that fact. But, some of the characterisation and the pacing did suffer this time around, so it wasn’t as smooth sailing as the first book.

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The Cover Art Mega-Post Part 3

So this is the third such post I have done for the blog. I took a 2-month break in between posts so that I could have some more material to showcase here, and it certainly has helped. There were a lot more books I wanted to cover, but I chose to stick withe magic number 17, the number of books I’ve covered previously.

A lot of the books on this list are next year’s releases, and just as before, they all sound great, even some of the ones that are second or third (or else) in their respective series. I’m not sure if I can put aside the time to catch up to them any time soon but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to get around to some of them at least. We’ll see how that works out.

In the meantime, enjoy all these great covers and these books! Hope you liked the previous posts and that you’ll like this one as well.

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Publishing and Marketing 03: Women in SFF Part 1

One question that is being asked by many in the wake of the recent SFWA controversy, and all the commentary it has spawned in various places about misogyny and sexism within the publishing industry is: “If I want to read more books by female authors, where do I start?”

Often times, I think it is rather disheartening to hear such a question. Women have been writing books for a long, long time. And for people to not even be aware of that, or for that matter, be able to perform a basic google search about who are the big names right now? Doesn’t speak so well for us as a community. Speaking of the industry in the broadest sense, we are all very close-ranked, and to break out of the apparent restrictions is not easy. Sure its “easy” to get published as a woman, but to receive recognition? That’s an uphill battle.

It all comes down to respect. And when it comes to respect within the publishing industry (or even just in general in daily life), never ever use the word “political correctness”. That’s a dirty word to use, and it betrays a lack of ability to engage, and wilful dismissal of a very serious and ongoing issue that affects us all. Just look at the entire entertainment industry as a whole, whether its novels or comics or movies or even news.

In such a state, it is absolutely essential that we willingly look to broaden our horizons. We should take chances and read outside of our comfort zones, because otherwise we don’t challenge ourselves and we just propagate the “like begets like” scenario and we cannot grow as an individual.

Which is what this editorial, the third in my Publishing and Marketing series, is about: stepping out of your comfort zone. If you’ve never read a book by a female author before, then my suggestions herein are an excellent place to start.

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NANP: Names In Context

Another’s week here on Names: A New Perspective, and today’s guest is E. J. Swift, author of the post-apocalyptic Osiris, released by Night Shade Books last year. Osiris was quite a fun novel (my review), notable for the fact that it was set in a world where extreme climate changes have forced the survivors to all live in one crowded city and one of the protagonists is Indian, among other things. Any book that goes for ethnic diversity in its characters should always be applauded I feel, especially when it doesn’t come across as contrived. While you rush off to your favourite bookseller to buy a copy of the book, here’s what E. J. has to say on the topic of names.

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NANP: Just Another Name

Today’s guest on Names: A New Perspective is Gini Koch, author of Alexander Outland: Space Pirate and the Alien series among others. I’ve had a copy of the former for almost a year now, which I’ve been meaning to read all this time but which keeps slipping through the net. The cover reminds me of a good old space opera romp, which is why I got it in the first place. Something to be corrected for the future. Her Alien series is also something I’ve been looking at for a while now and the recent release of a new installment has convinced me to get the first two novels. Have to say, I love the covers! They have a really strong No One Lives Forever vibe to them and since I loved that video game… yeah. In the meantime, while I go around trying to fit in Gini’s books on my reading list, here’s what she has to say on the topic of names.

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Publishing and Marketing 02: Night Shade Books

About a month ago, I posted my first Publishing & Marketing column on the blog, titled “Publisher Communication“. In it, I talked at length about the marketing approaches of various SFF publishers in the English-speaking markets. The post got a fair amount of attention in social media and over email, and I’m really pleased with how things turned out.

I initially intended for the second installment of this semi-regular column to get into more of the above topic, but then I decided against it, since something else happened around roughly the same time. It was announced in various places that Night Shade Books was a hair’s breadth away from declaring Chapter 7 bankruptcy and that they were considering an asset (author contacts to be specific) sell-off to meet their debts and make sure that their authors, editors, cover artists, etc all got paid their respective dues. This is where Skyhorse Publishing and Start Publishing were stepping in as the potential buyers. But, things weren’t as promising as they seemed at first. The terms being offered by Skyhorse/Start meant that while everybody would be paid, they would not be paid anywhere near the full amount, especially not the authors.

Smarter and more publishing-savvy people than me have already talked at length about the details, so I’m not going to touch on any of that. There was even enough backlash from a LOT of people involved, the fan community and the SFF community that is, that Skyhorse/Start eventually were willing to offer better terms, although there were still some big concerns. Just do a google search and you’ll get a plethora of links and discussions about it.

The purpose of this column is to talk about my experiences with Night Shade’s publications, and why I think its rather tragic that they are going under and what it means for the SFF community as a whole.

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NANP: Names and Naming

Joining me today on Names: A New Perspective is Martha Wells, author of several SFF novels and also a number of tie-in fiction novels, with more on the horizon. I’m particularly excited about her upcoming Princess Leia, which should be really good fun. I’ve just recently finished reading her upcoming YA novel for Strange Chemistry, Emilie and the Hollow World, and it was a damn fine read. In short, Martha is currently a favourite author and one of my next reads will be her Death of the Necromancer, which went out of print a while back and which she has recently self-published. Definitely check out her books! This is what Martha had to say on the subject of names and their importance.

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2-year Anniversary Special – NANP: Names Through Culture

In a great confluence of the skeins of fate, I welcome Betsy Dornbusch to Names: A New Perspective on the 2-year anniversary of the blog. Betsy’s latest novel is Exile, the first book of the Seven Eyes series. I haven’t had a chance to read the book yet, but having heard some initial praise for it in a few places, I’m looking forward to it. Here’s what Betsy has to say on the topic of names, with some great quotes!

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NANP: The Deeper Truth

Today’s guest on Names: A New Perspective is Zachary Jernigan, the debut author of No Return, being published by Night Shade Books, a publisher who put out some really off-field, strange, and, generally, different stuff. Most of which I’ve liked since I began reading their books last year. Zachary’s debut is just another on that list, and something that I’m really looking forward to, in fact, it is my next read! Zachary has become a great friend and I have high hopes for his book. I’ve got my fingers crossed, and all the early feedback I’ve seen has me jumping up and down with excitement. Anyway, here’s Zachary’s post on the topic.

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