28 June 2012

Beyond the Wall edited by James Lowder


Go beyond the Wall and across the narrow sea with this collection about George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, from A Game of Thrones to A Dance with Dragons.

The epic game of thrones chronicled in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series has captured the imaginations of millions of readers. In Beyond the Wall, bestselling authors and acclaimed critics offer up thought-provoking essays and compelling insights:

Daniel Abraham reveals the unique challenges of adapting the original books into graphic novels.
Westeros.org founders Linda Antonsson and Elio M. García, Jr., explore the series’ complex heroes and villains, and their roots in the Romantic movement.
Wild Cards contributor Caroline Spector delves into the books’ controversial depictions of power and gender.

Plus much more, from military science fiction writer Myke Cole on the way Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder shapes many of the leading characters to author and television writer Ned Vizzini on the biases against genre fiction that color critical reactions to the series.

Thanks BenBella Books and Smart Pop Books for providing me a review copy of Beyond the Wall. If you are a fan of A Song of Ice and Fire then you will definitely love the essays in Beyond the Wall. Each essay explores a different facet in A Song of Ice and Fire with contributors ranging from some of the biggest names in modern Fantasy to experts on the series.

My favourite essays were the ones that looked at things in the series that a casual reader would miss. Such as in "An unreliable World", Adam Whitehead talks about how unpredictable seasons affect the ability for people to tell time. Due to this uncertainty, people in Westeros rely on personal anecdotes as a scale on history.

23 June 2012

The Emperor's Gift by Aaron Dembski-Bowden


The Grey Knights are all that stands between mankind and the ravages of Chaos. Since their secretive beginnings during the Horus Heresy, these legendary Space Marine daemon hunters have journeyed into the dark realms of the warp – and beyond – in pursuit of their supernatural enemies. Through an intensive regime of psychic training, new recruits are brought to the clandestine fortress of Titan to join the hallowed and vaunted ranks of the 666th Chapter. More than ever, these legendary battle-brothers must be vigilant and ever ready to defend the Imperium for the forces of Chaos are never truly defeated, and Armageddon beckons...

If you're a fan of the Warhammer 40k universe then you don't need an introduction for this book. Just the phrase "First War for Armageddon" is enough for you to buy this book. However this book is much more than just the war on Armageddon. It's about the events leading to the Grey Knights deployment on the planet and the aftermath between the Inquisition and the Space Wolves.

This story simply put is just epic! Dembski-Bowden is really on top of his game right now. Just when you thought his stories couldn't get any better, he would come up with something like this to surprise you. The description and mannerisms of the Astartes cannot be more apt. Dembski-Bowden has really captured that slightly autistic, can't read human emotion thing that Space Marines do down to a tee.

19 June 2012

Brave New World: Revolution by Matt Forbeck


Ask Not What Your Country Could Do For You. Ask What It Could Do To You.

John Cruise — better known as the superpowered delta Patriot — only wanted to serve his country, which has suffered under martial law since the assassination of the First Lady back in 1963. For years, he did so as a member of Delta Prime, the federal paramilitary organization dedicated to keeping deltas and the rest of the population in line. Then, during the Bicentennial Battle, Chicago disappeared in a blinding flash of light, taking the world’s most powerful deltas with it, along with Patriot’s wife.

Today, in 1999, Patriot leads a group of rebel deltas known as the Defiance, all of whom are on the run from Delta Prime. He hopes to find a way to break scores of their imprisoned friends out of New Alcatraz, the only place on the planet strong enough to hold them all. But then, while rescuing college student Lisa Stanski from a pack of Primers, the unthinkable happens.

Patriot gets caught.

Now it’s up to the rest of the Defiance, including Lisa, to figure out how to break Patriot out of New Alcatraz before his old pal Ragnarok, now the leader of Delta Prime, has him executed without trial, under the direct orders of President John F. Kennedy himself.

Brave New World: Revolution is the first book in the Brave New World Novels and also the first novel released from Matt Forbeck's 12 for '12 Kickstarter project. I didn't know what the books would be like or if superhero stories would be any good in novel format but I supported the project anyway because I believed that Matt knew what he was getting into and he would do a good job of it.

Now having read the first book, I can honestly say that I'm proud to have supported him in this project. BNW: Revolution is just one entertaining and solid superhero story with pretty much everything you would want in the genre. With all the superhero movies coming out in recent years and Avengers breaking box office records worldwide, Forbeck couldn't have picked a better time to turn his superhero RPG into novels.

12 June 2012

Into the Mist: Silver Hand by Steve Finegan


Thirteen-year-old Gabe Wrenn has always taken refuge in his imagination. Refuge from his hovering mom and bullying brother. Refuge from the smirks and stares of his classmates. Refuge from his epilepsy. But now his imagination seems to be running wild. And he can’t stop it. And the only person Gabe can confide in is a girl who thinks his "weird brain" is the key to unlocking the secret of the Brynmor Witch.

Into the Mist: Silver Hand is a brilliant novel that brings back a lot of memories for me. It reminds me of reading fantasy novels when I was young and the excitement and thrills that I get when turning through the pages. The book is basically two stories in one and Finegan does a marvellous job balancing and blending a modern day coming of age story with a traditional fantasy story set to a Celtic background.

The story is about Gabe, a 13 year old boy who is suffering from mild Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. His mother overprotects him because of this and as a result he doesn't get to do things boy of his age do and branded as a freak by some. Despite his condition, one thing that Gabe does well is his drawings of a heroic figure he calls Corvus. This talent is quickly spotted by Ellie, the girl next door at his new home.

7 June 2012

Interview with Anderson O'Donnell


Welcome to the second stop in the Kingdom Blog Tour. I'm delighted to have Anderson O'Donnell here to answer a few questions. Kingdom is the debut novel from O'Donnell, a fantastic dark science fiction thriller telling the story of genetic science going too far. You can read my review of the book here.

Without further ado, here are the questions.

1. I'll start off with something easy first. Can you introduce your debut novel Kingdom to our readers?
Hi Ken. My pleasure. I appreciate your interest in Kingdom, and your kind words about the novel.

A dystopian, biopunk thriller, Kingdom is the first installment of my Tiber City trilogy. Here’s a brief description from the back of the book:

In a secret laboratory hidden under the desert, a covert bioengineering project— codename “Exodus”—has discovered the gene responsible for the human soul.

Somewhere in the neon sprawl outside the nation’s collapsing economic core, a group of renegade monks are on the verge of uncovering a secret that has eluded mankind for centuries.

In a glittering tower high above the urban decay, an ascendant U.S. Senator is found dead—an apparent, yet inexplicable, suicide.

And in the streets below, a young man races through an ultra modern metropolis on the verge of a violent revolution....closing in on the terrible truth behind Exodus— and one man’s dark vision for the future of mankind.

Welcome to Tiber City.

2. The science behind the story is fascinating. Do you have a background in genetics or did you do a lot of research?
Writing Kingdom required a crash course in genetics—well, at least to the extent that an English major can pull off a crash course in genetics. But I didn’t have a choice, as I was in love with the concept behind Kingdom: What if there was a gene for the human soul? And, if such a gene did exist, could it be replicated by bioengineering? So I had to know enough about genetics to allow the reader to remain immersed in the story, and to (hopefully) not make a complete ass of myself.

But, on the first draft of Kingdom, I think I tried to overcompensate for my lack of scientific-background. Consequently, too much of the initial text got dragged down by a highly technical exposition on genes and gene transfer technology. And while I think I managed to get the basic ideas right, it was a boring read. So I tried for a more delicate balance: enough science to allow for the suspension of disbelief, but not so much that the narrative flow would collapse.

Kingdom by Anderson O'Donnell


In a secret laboratory hidden under the desert, a covert bioengineering project—codename “Exodus”—has discovered the gene responsible for the human soul.

Somewhere in the neon sprawl outside the nation’s collapsing economic core, a group of renegade monks are on the verge of uncovering a secret that has eluded mankind for centuries.

In a glittering tower high above the urban decay, an ascendant U.S. Senator is found dead—an apparent, yet inexplicable, suicide.

And in the streets below, a young man races through an ultra modern metropolis on the verge of a violent revolution....closing in on the terrible truth behind Exodus—and one man’s dark vision for the future of mankind.

Welcome to Tiber City.

Kingdom is the debut novel from author Anderson O'Donnell. A fantastic dystopian science fiction thriller with some concepts that reminds me of the film Gattaca as well as the 2012 Arthur C. Clarke shortlisted novel The End Specialist/The Postmortal by Drew Magary.

In Kingdom, Morrison Biotech has spent the last few decades perfecting the recipe to create the ultimate human being, one with the charisma and leadership skills to run a country and yet someone the corporation can control. The one thing they can't decipher is the "Omega gene", a gene that appears to have no functions but when omitted, the subjects all breakdown within a couple of years.

One man seems to know the answers though. Jonathan Campbell, once co-founder and mentor of Morrison, thinks that the "Omega gene" is the key to human soul, the antenna that receives instructions from above. Without it the drones will always remain soulless. Campbell has had enough but Morrison needs him to finish what they started.

Meanwhile a young man is discovering a secret that would rock the foundations of his world...