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.
I last did something like this in July for the six months from January 1st all the way to June 30th. This list is for July 1st and all the way through to December 30th (the last day doesn’t count!). As I mentioned at the end of that list, this isn’t going to be regurgitation of my “Reading Awards” page, but something more varied. The list takes into account everything I’ve read in the last six months.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
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!!
Twitter has been buzzing lately with “best of the year so far” and “most anticipated lists”. Looks like everybody and their fictional cat is on the bandwagon. So I thought I’d do one too, a “best of the half-year” list that is. I mean why not, I’ve read so much good stuff this year that it all deserves recognition anyway. I already do a top-of-the-month list anyway, as you can see on the Reading Awards page, so this should be good fun either way.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
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.
If you have been following my progress on twitter for the last week or so, you can find me at @abhinavjain87, then you’ll know that work on the novel has been steadily progressing. In fact, it is better than steady because I’ve clocked an average of 2,900+ words over the last four days, which is my strongest performance ever. That average does kind of fall down to a measly 2,200+ however if I take into account the actual six writing days I’ve put in the project because the first two days weren’t really that good.
But, that is not the point of this post. Sure, I want to bask in the pleasure of doing so well on the writing front and share it with the world at large (and end up being accused of word e-peening in the process in which case you all haters can go take a hike) but I want to share just how I managed to do this.
So let’s see what really went down, huh?
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.
Been a while since I last blogged (again) so apologies (again). It’s been quite hectic around here what with real life taking over completely for a while and a trip to India for a festival. That trip incidentally marks a full year where I have attended every single major festival and attended every single major family event after a full TEN years. That’s crazy I tell you.
Anyhow, moving on, let’s catch up with what I’ve been doing since my last post.
Chapter 6 (clicky) of my Warhammer 60,000 piece, Sons of Corax, is now up on the Bolthole, so yay me! Took me only about ages to get it done! Some interesting revelations in it, plus I name-drop an old, old Warhammer 40,000 character that I have actually quite liked reading about recently. With the soup of ideas related to the setting that my mind keeps cooking on an hourly basis, he just might become a major character down the line.
LordLucan continues his epic 60k storyline with some awesome new additions in Age of Dusk. The sheer epicness of these two pieces is beyond words. Mysteries solved, mysteries discovered, great battles, the sheer scope of things!
I am still slowly working my way through Prospero Burns and Fall of Damnos. I just plain don’t have any fascination at all for the way Dan Abnett has portrayed the Space Wolves. Far too sophisticated and ‘mysterious’. Blergh. Can I just get William King to write me some good Space Wolf stuff please, Christian? I can get you some nice cake if you do it! Fall of Damnos seems ok so far, not off-putting it all, just… different from the norm. Big things are yet to happen here.
As of officially this morning, I have finished listening to Garro: Oath of Moment (Horus Heresy) and Fireborn (Warhammer 40,0000: Salamanders) and of the two, I far prefer the former over the latter by a margin the size of the US national debt. Toby Longworth has done the voiceover for both but the ‘quality’ is far greater in GOaM than Fireborn. GOaM has a far better plot, far better believable dialogue, far better sound effects, far better tension, far better everything. Fireborn just falls flat in comparison, which is a shame since I really like Nick Kyme’s Salamander novels. The voices of the five Firedrakes are all just too similar and with the added ‘effects’ of them at times speaking through helmets, sometimes I can barely hear what the heck they are saying. Not to mention the cop-out with no female voice-actors by making the Sororitas featured belonging to an order of mute warrior-maidens, which smacks of Sisters of Silence background.
However, I have the excellent Garro: Legion of One (Horus Heresy) and Raven’s Flight (Horus Heresy) waiting for me. I am really excited about RF since it features my favourite primarch and legion (if that wasn’t really obvious to any of you). I also have Helion Rain (Warhammer 40,000: Raven Guard) waiting, and I am cautiously optimistic about it. We shall see how that one goes. I shall keep you all updated on it.
Did I mention that I am also in the middle of reading A Game of Thrones? I finally was able to pick it up this past weekend when I was coming back from India, got it cheap at the airport. Really excited about this and it has been good so far, nearly as good as the TV show was (yes I know the TV show came second). Its interesting to see the differences between the TV version and the book version of this, and there are quite a few. So far, GRRM has not disappointed.
I mentioned that I play Lord of Ultima a while back, and just to keep my readers who also play that updated, I finally hit King today, and it’s been a rough ride getting here. The main obstacle so far has been getting enough damn gold and I already have two pure gold cities and am raiding almost non-stop with my troops to bring in the dough! I am definitely going to have to make at least one more.
Score: 282,856 Rank: 440 W: 19 Title: King Cities: 45+1
And as regards my work over at 24FPS, the long-promised review for Green Lantern: Emerald Knights is almost done and should be up by tomorrow night at the latest. So keep an eye out for that peeps.
For those are going there this year, I will also be attending Games Day UK 2011 in Birmingham so hope to see lots of people there! It’s gonna be a fun few days meeting a lot of the Bolthole people and others. Not to mention picking up some really juicy BL offerings and hopefully seeing something about FW’s next IA book. I already have a damn long list of books I wanna pick up on the day of and some of those are a real must to get!
It is done. Complete. Poora. Finito.
Project Honour that is. The summary and synopsis are as tight as I can get them and the sample is pretty much done as well. It is slightly heavier on the word count, being a little bit over the 1000-word mark but its not an issue since the sample is fairly well-put together and everything flows from A to B. Lots of critique went on for this one and I am quite pleased with the feedback. Never underestimate the importance of feedback. It makes you think of things you never would otherwise, because they seem so obvious to you that you never bother to explain them. That can happen a LOT.
So yeah, value the feedback you get. Big shout-out to all the people who’ve helped me with this one. The Bolthole rocks!
All that remains is to send off the collective sample/summary/synopsis off to BL, which I will do at the end of the month. Going to work on my other shorts now, which brings me to the following. This now nicely brings my completed submissions to number three. A nice round number, which I like, and coincidentally, is half my lucky number, 6.
Project Long Hunt is proving to be quite an elusive beast. I still can’t get the synopsis nailed down even though I know what I want to write about and what the plot is. Its all clear in my head, yet I can’t get any of it down on the screen. Very, very frustrating. Especially since this is my most unique piece in terms of plot and larger ramifications for the characters involved. But, I still have a whole two more weeks to go so I still have time to get it done.
Work has also begun on Project Oath & Duty which is a somewhat related piece to Project Honour, but not directly. It is somewhat like a short story I read recently but not much. It will be quite a dialogue-heavy final piece though, which is going to be a good enough challenge. I am really growing to love this particular faction.
Further on about submissions, I have now finally decided to stop work on Project Salvation, my Deathwatch novel, for this submissions window. I would like to very much get my game on with my short stories rather than my novel. The submission is nowhere near done, and with my current workload from IRL and other things (read below), I am not so sure I can get it done in time and still have it be of good quality. And like Long Hunt, I still don’t have a proper and clear synopsis down in my head, let alone on paper. So yeah, that’s that.
Which reminds me. NO WAY ONLY FOURTEEN DAYS LEFT! Actually thirteen for me since I am not counting the last day. I will be submitting my shorts before midnight on July 30. Just to be safe.
Sadly, I’ve been procrastinating a fair bit though. And the source of this soul-sucking activity is Lord of Ultima. Click on the link to find out more about it. Essentially this is a free MMO from EA that involves empire-building in the form of cities, armies, trade, and resource management. It is quite an involved game, especially once you get past the rookie stage and into the big leagues. Which is where I am now, or rather, quite a bit past that. For the interested, I play on world 19 (Empire score currently 105k+) mostly with a little tampering on world 29 (Empire score currently 61k+), under the name shadowhawk20. Thanks to Christian Dunn, the friendly neighbourhood BL editor for recommending this game. And curses too, for the distractions 😀
Anyways, moving on.
I have now finished reading Victories of the Space Marines and Legends of the Space Marines. Extremely impressed with the quality of short stories in the former, not so much from the latter.
The entirety of Victories is an absolute gem of awesome ass-kicking, bolter-action, xenos-killing and deeper stuff. If I have to nominate one short from this anthology for some kind of an award, it has to be Ben Counter’s Sacrifice, which features our favourite Grey Knight, Justicar Alaric, and is about the sacrifices the Imperium makes to protect itself. Absolutely amazing, grimdark, 40k short story that is perfect in the setting.
Since I made a point last time to mention how excited I was to read Sarah’s Primary Instinct, got to say that I wasn’t disappointed one bit with it. I knew the larger story of course because of reading spoilers on Warseer, but it was still fun to read. Very enjoyable. Would love to read more from her.
In comparison, Legends mostly fell flat on its face. Only two of the stories can compare to the quality of those found in Victories: The Returned by James Swallow of Blood Angels fame, and At Gaius Point by Aaron Dembski-Bowden of Night Lords fame. Mr Swallows continues the tale of Tarikus from Black Tide, giving his story a proper closure for the moment while the newly married Aaron took something sacred to the Blood Angels and their successors, and gave it a very gripping, tense, and rewarding execution. The Flesh Tearers are quickly rising high on my list of favourite Space Marine chapters.
I firmly give Ben Counter’s Twelve Wolves an honourable mention as well. It is about two Space Wolves fighting off an invasion of their homeworld by renegade Imperial/Ecclesiarchy forces. Absolutely brilliantly done and focusing something that has largely been an obscure part of the chapter’s background. Ben Counter seems to be going from strength to strength recently and I love his work. His Grey Knight novels featuring Justicar Alaric are some of my favourites from BL. You can follow and pester him on twitter @BenCounter.
The Science-Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America did a recent guest post on their site titled: 60 Rules for Short Science-Fiction and Fantasy, which you can find here. There are some interesting points there, and a few I agree with and some I don’t agree with. I’ll let you read them and form your own opinions of them, but just keep in mind that while these may be some good guidelines for writing general SF/F, some of them do not really apply to writing for Warhammer 40,000. I haven’t attempted to write anything for Warhammer Fantasy so I won’t comment on that but I trust it is the same for both settings.
That’s all for now people. Stay tuned.
So, lots of good stuff coming out of cyberspace today. Especially lots of good news from the universe of Warhammer 40,000.
The Black Library today reached 20,000 likes on its Facebook page. As a reward, they have given us something very very exciting to go crazy over! Head over there to check it out. Its an awesome preview of star-author Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s upcoming limited edition novella about Lorgar.
And its April now so don’t forget to pick up your copies of the Fall of Damnos [Ultramarines Second Captain under Sicarius and Tigurius against Necrons], the Victories of the Space Marines anthology, the Garro: Legion of One audio drama [seriously, the audio extract alone is worth every cent], or Knights of Bretonnia. The reviews for the first two books have been great and Nick Kyme is especially being praised for his work with the Necrons, including a refreshing take on how the Lords and their minions interact.
Games Workshop has launched the Grey Knights today! Strike Squads, Interceptor Squads, Purifier Squads, Paladins, Nemesis Dreadknights, Grand Master Draigo all await to begin a holy crusade against the filthy and gibbering Daemons of Chaos.