Brian Ruckley's News & Views

Friday, November 28, 2008

Fall of Thanes, and other matters

For those who have not seen it yet, here is the cover for Fall of Thanes, in all its beardy and mail-clad glory:

Nice, no? And to answer the single commonest question I get asked these days: the planned publication date for Fall of Thanes is May 2009. It may vary slightly depending on exactly which bit of the planet you call home, but as things currently stand we seem to be on schedule, so it should be in that ballpark for everyone.

And while we're on the subject of books, the hardback of Bloodheir more or less sold out in the UK in a gratifyingly short period (for which many thanks to all those who bought a copy!). That's good, obviously, but it has meant that for a while now the book's not been universally available in these here parts, and those who didn't snap up the hardback early on might have been feeling a bit left out. Change is afoot, however, as trade paperbacks have now been released in the UK, so Bloodheir is once more available from Amazon UK, and should filter into bookshops nicely in time for Chrsitmas. Should you happen to know anyone who's been hankering after a copy, do let them know - the mass market paperback's still 4 or 5 months away, after all.

There has been some minor tweaking and polishing of the website, these last few days - so minor, in the main, that no one but me and the webguy is ever likely to notice the differences. One thing I'd quite like people to notice, though, is the addition of a couple of new links on the relevant page. I've mentioned both the websites concerned in this blog before, but will take any opportunity to try and drive a few more eyes their way, so:

Strange Maps is a long-running demonstration of the wisdom of picking a single, original theme for a blog and sticking with it. You never know quite what's going to show up, but it'll often be surprising, interesting and/or pretty to look at it. Especially if you like maps, naturally.

The Abominable Charles Christopher is by some distance my favourite webcomic at the moment - has been for a long time, in fact. Not surely precisely why, but I think it's some combination of: beautifully precise and expressive art, joke strips that I find gently amusing, an over-arching story arc that's dark and mysterious (possibly a bit too mysterious to be honest, since I'm not sure anyone's really figured out exactly what's going on), and Karl Kerschl's obvious affection for the characters he's created.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Ospreys: Life and Death Online

A minor technological wonder. The RSPB, Britain's biggest nature conservation charity, put satellite tracking tags on a couple of Osprey chicks at their nest in northern Scotland this summer. Ever since then, everyone and anyone has been able to follow their movements on a website. Now the longer I've been watching this, the more fascinated I've become. It's not just that I love ospreys (who, other than jealous fishermen, could not think they're kind of cool?). It's also amazement at what the technology makes possible, and how two wild birds can be 'brought to life' for thousands of observers by giving them names, putting a tag on them, and mapping their heroic migration on Google Earth.

One of the chicks set off on a doomed, misguided solo flight into the mid-Atlantic. He flew non-stop for days and for hundreds upon hundreds of miles, lost. Hundreds of blog-readers were watching his daily progress, willing him to turn around and head for land. It didn't work, unfortunately: the exact spot he ran out of energy and fell into the wilderness of the ocean is marked on the map.

His sister has done better, crossing Europe, the Mediterranean and the Sahara to find winter quarters close to a town called Louga in Senegal, West Africa. You have to zoom in on the map and switch to the satellite view to get the best out of it, but if you do so you can more or less see the individual trees in which she is roosting, by the banks of that African river. You can imagine her, drifting over that arid landscape, in clear blue skies, diving down onto fish entirely unlike those she was fed on in her nest in the Scottish Highlands.

Sometimes, technology can be fodder for our imaginations and for our sense of wonder. This is one of those occasions, for me at least.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Just to Note a Nice Review

Easing my way back into the blogging rhythm here, with a bit of a warm-up post just to note a nice review of Bloodheir over at a fine Romanian sf/f blog: Dark Wolf's Fantasy Reviews.

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