Brian Ruckley's News & Views

Monday, March 31, 2008

Breaking the Review Ice

The Book Swede seems to have broken the review ice for Bloodheir. Fortunately, he's broken it with a largely positive axe, or whatever you break ice with. If you see what I mean. A friendly ice pick? Oh, never mind.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Fiction Special: Free Books and Other Things

For anyone in the Edinburgh area next week: a great big free book swap on Tuesday 1st April (I know the date's suggestive, but this really is real.)

For everyone else: download a free Jeff VanderMeer novella.

As I might have mentioned here before, I have an intermittent love affair with podcasts - intermittent only because I just don't have enough time to listen to as many of them as I'd like. Until I discovered the blessed technology of the podcast, I never really gave much thought to audio fiction. Now, I find myself making time to squeeze in an audio short story now and again. Forget all that music stuff: this is what mp3 players were made for. So I thought I'd just offer a round of applause for one or two of my favourites:

In The Late December by Greg Eekhout, on Escape Pod. A Christmas story with a difference: Santa Claus at the end of the Universe, in apocalyptic conflict with entropy. Seriously. Loved it.

Impossible Dreams by Tim Pratt, also on Escape Pod. A beautifully balanced and paced story, I thought, blending romance, parallel worlds and movies. If you're a film buff, it's made for you.

Shark God vs Octopus God by Jeff VanderMeer, on StarShipSofa. A fairly simple but perfectly-formed little number riffing on what sounds like Polynesian mythology.

And finally, The Onion is funny: Novelists Strike Fails to Affect Nation Whatsoever. (via UK SF Book News).

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Friday, March 21, 2008

The Tomb of Beledon

It's a bit disconcerting when forgotten relics of your distant past unexpectedly resurface from the bottom of dusty drawers - stuff you'd forgotten, which abruptly reconnects you with the child you once were.

In this case, I got my hands on some stories I wrote in my pre-teen years. Clearly, I was doomed to plough the fantasy furrow from an early age, since I evidently had a thing about maps of imaginary places even then:


This is from The Tomb of Beledon (a title which I think only really works if you imagine it being spoken by James Earl Jones). The plot concerns a chap called Michael who survives a plane crash only to find himself on a strange island full of tunnels and villages, hostile and out of place wildlife, malign and possibly supernatural forces ... yes, if only I'd had some contacts in the TV industry at the age of 12 or 13 or however old I was, Lost could've been on your TV screens a whole lot sooner.

I wonder what the me of all those years ago would think if I could reach back and say 'Keep at it, kid. All this scribbling will pay off one day. Maybe hold off on the exclamation marks a bit, though.' (The thing's got a rash of exclamations all through it, like some unfortunate skin condition. Even some of the chapter titles are exclamation marked.)

The thing is, I suspect mini-me would not be particularly surprised to hear he was going to get stuff published one day. At that tender age we - those of us lucky enough to have safe and stable and comfortable upbringings, anyway - tend to live in worlds of possibilities and imagination; the barriers and the obstacles and limitations and difficulties, not just in writing but life as a whole, tend only to become apparent as we climb the ladder of years. Still, it'd be nice to whisper a few words of encouragement in the junior me's ear. It's all you can say, really, to any aspiring writer, whatever their age: Keep at it. Get better. Try. And go easy on the exclamation marks.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

An April Day in Derby

The programme for Alt.Fiction, the one day sf/f/h extravaganza in Derby in April has been published. It amounts to a seriously packed day of genre goodies, with so many authors crammed into a few hours and a few rooms that it makes you wonder how they find the space for anybody else. If you like your fiction speculative, it's definitely the place to be on April 26th.

Me, I'll be talking worldbuilding in the afternoon, and then I'm apparently launching a book. That'll be Bloodheir, then. Means a little reading and signing, I guess, so hopefully the printing presses are gearing up even now. What it also means is that if you're at Alt.Fiction, you might get the chance to acquire a copy of Bloodheir a whole six weeks before it turns up in the shops. Bargain. UPDATE: No, Bloodheir won't be available on the day. Too soon. Oh well.

Anyone else who wants one can also have a signed copy of Bloodheir, mind you. Transreal Fiction will take orders for signed (and optionally dated, dedicated, inscribed, whatever) hardbacks and post them off to you as soon as it's published. As far as I know, the cost is just cover price plus whatever packing and postage costs are to your part of the world.

On a wholly unrelated subject, if you've got a couple of minutes to spare, turn your sound on and go try this awareness test. It's not easy ...

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Spring Clean for a Website

Is Spring Clean one word, two words, or hyphenated? Unsure, and can't be bothered to check, so apologies to any grammar/spelling police if I'm doing it all wrong.

Anyway, however the phrase (word?) is properly formulated, the website's had a bit of a one. Most of the changes are so minor as to be of no interest to any but the most dedicated of website-watchers, but I'll point to one or two that might be of interest:

Bloodheir now has its own page in the Books section, so publication must be drawing near. Well, three months isn't exactly near, but neither is it far. As can be seen there (and all around the site, including in the banner up at the top), the final cover image has been settled upon, and I'm pleased with it. I think it's the best variant of the (extremely good) illustration that's previously been on show here and elsewhere, and complements Winterbirth's cover beautifully.

For Winterbirth cover completists, incidentally - and I know I'm probably the only one on the entire planet who actually falls into that category (but I'm allowed, right?) - the latest version of the cover for the US mass market paperback, due out in a couple of months, can be seen here, in the right side bar. Big black band. Striking, no?

And there's a new map in the Gazetteer. Specifically, the one that will be appearing in Bloodheir. (And yes, anyone who's been prowling the Winterbirth page on Facebook will already have seen it, so you don't need to go look again. Unless you want to, in which case feel free.)

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