Brian Ruckley's News & Views

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kort & Krachtig!

I happen to know that a handful (albeit the kind of handful that might be contained in a Lilliputian hand) of Dutch folk have been known to pay an occasional visit to this blog. Hello Netherlanders! Because we're all about total service at this establishment, here's something just for you - and, I suppose, for anyone else with truly l33t language skillz - a Q&A (or K&K as it's apparently called over there) I did for a big Dutch book website: Ezzulia.

A whole load of other interesting people have also been interviewed there - at least I know some of them are usually interesting; whether they're interesting or not in this particular case, I can't be sure, since I don't read Dutch. Heck, I can't even be sure I was interesting, but there I am, chatting merrily away in a foreign language.

And in case anyone missed it in the comments on the previous post, first review has showed up for the previously mentioned Rage of the Behemoth anthology, over at the jolly good Grasping for the Wind blog. Modesty prevents me from pointing out which of the stories gets the biggest thumbs up. No, really. It does. Big bully, that modesty stuff.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Short Fiction: My, That's a Big Snake

One of the nicer surprises of last year for me was being asked to write short stories for a couple of anthologies. Makes you feel all kind of warm inside, that does. One of them is all done and dusted. It's called 'Beyond the Reach of His Gods', and will be found in Rage of the Behemoth from a little outfit called Rogue Blades Entertainment, due for publication at the start of June I believe.

No one, famously, gets rich from writing (or publishing, for that matter) short stories these days, so, much as any invitation to write a story is welcome for that aforementioned warm feeling it engenders, you kind of need some other reason to say 'yes'. In this case, I had the time to write something, I had been toying with the idea of trying to write some short stories anyway since I hadn't exercised those creative muscles in a while, and the premise for this anthology - heroic fantasy involving giant monsters - just struck me as a chance to have a bit of uncomplicated fun. Plus as soon as I heard that theme, the basic idea for the story popped into my head more or less fully formed, so it seemed a shame to ignore it.

The story is about ... well, it's pretty much about this:

Seems pretty clear, no? And yes, that's the main reason for this post: to show off the rather fine illustration that Johnney Perkins came up with for my story. Surely nobody could look at that image and not think 'Why, yes. That story's got to be some kind of fun, in a serpent-hero-jungle mash-up kind of way'? Nice work by the artist, and should you so wish you can actually buy the anthology with this image as the cover art from the Rogue Blades website. Whatever your taste in cover art, if doughty heroes and gargantuan monsters sounds like your kind of thing, why not give the book a try?

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Not-Twitter, and Yet More Crushed Penguins

I am not a Twitterer. Not yet, anyway, and probably not soon. Maybe not ever, since I seriously doubt I have the staying power to turn out a regular stream of tweets, or twits, or twitters or whatever they're called. But if I was on Twitter, things I might have Twittered in the last few days:

- Aren't staples brilliant? Man, I wish I'd invented staples. That would have been a life well spent.

- Finished Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft. Is good.

- Seen some old X-Files recently. Also some old Friends. Thought the latter has aged far better than the former. What does this say about me?

- Sunshine! Sunshine! I almost felt warm just now. Every winter, I forget how good that feels.

- How to tell something (i.e. Twitter) is about to head down the far side of the cool parabola: I start thinking 'Hmmm. Maybe I should get me some of that action.'

Me, I have other means than the 140 character outpourings of countless Twitter pros to amuse myself online. Amongst them is googling the phrase 'crushing the frantic penguins'. I've been doing it on and off ever since I first stumbled upon this means of trawling the depths of the internet for oddities last August. Strange behaviour, you say? Well, I'm not going to argue.

Anyway, I thought it was about time I shared my findings. Because I just know the world has been eagerly waiting to hear what new waymarkers have appeared on the virtual trail of once frantic, now flattened penguins since last we checked. And the answer is:

the complete text of the rather good HP Lovercraft story in which the noble phrase first appeared. (Specifically, it turns out, in Chapter 11 of said story).

a Lovecraftian monstrosity made of batteries. Like it.

an entire range of perfumes based on the works of HP Lovercraft. No, really. Call me unimaginative, but wouldn't have occurred to me as an obvious source of perfumey inspiration, but the one relating to crushed penguins - Shoggoth - does actually sound quite nice: peony, lemongrass, coconut, lime etc. If they'd included 'essence of dead flightless birds' as an ingredient, I might have been tempted.

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Monday, April 06, 2009

While we're on the subject of e-books ...

Talking about e-books (I did mention the one dollar Winterbirth e-book, didn't I?), a few other fragments of the discussion about the technology that have come to light recently:

Orbit's own Tim Holman talks at some length about e-books on the Dragon Page podcast. It's well worth a listen. Anyone who doubts that publishers are expending a lot of precious brain time on this whole area will quickly be disabused of such notions. Anyone who thinks publishers actually know what's going to come of all the changes infiltrating the industry will be similarly disabused. But knowing isn't what's important; preparing flexibly and imaginatively for unpredictable change, and being willing to try stuff and see what works, is what's important. I think.

Another publisher - this time a new one, Angry Robot Books - wants to know how much an e-book is worth to you, the reader. It's not a brilliantly designed survey (says he huffily, knowing only just enough about survey design to make him wildly over-confident and huffy), but the basic question is obviously at the heart of where this technology is going. And it's a tough one to find a fair answer too.

Just how tough is evidenced by ... the 9.99 e-book boycott on Amazon. At the time of writing, irritated readers have now tagged over 800 e-books on Amazon.com as being unjustifiably expensive. Not an unreasonable sort of price point for the protestors to settle upon, you might think (and I sort of agree), but check out the commenters on that original GalleyCat post. Not everyone is onboard, and there's no doubt the situation is not as clear-cut as a lot of the protestors probably think.

This one's going to run and run and run. The tough questions certainly aren't going to go away, indeed I suspect they're only going to get tougher as time and technology advance. I have no clue what the publishing industry and the world's reading habits are going to look like twenty years from now. I remain somewhat unconvinced that anybody else does either, and I still think all the amazing opportunities opening up before us are balanced by definite risks in the medium term. Which makes it all jolly interesting, if nothing else.

And mildy related: by coincidence I had two folk e-mail me this week asking, in their different ways, whether an audio version of the Godless World trilogy was available, or ever likely to be. Short answer is that such a thing doesn't exist at the moment, and as far as I know isn't likely. I'm almost certain - I could check my contract to be absolutely sure, of course, but it's filed away, I'm feeling lazy right now and I expect someone will correct me if I'm wrong - that the rights to such a version reside with Orbit, so they are probably the people to ask about it, if there's an army of you out there craving Wintebrirth in your ears.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Bargain of the Month!

For a measly one dollar, those of an e-book inclination can, all through April, get themselves one whole copy of Winterbirth for their e-reading pleasure, as this little site confirms. Available on Kindle, Sony and from booksonboard, whatever that is. One dollar! Nearly two hundred thousand words! That's ... a measly 0.000555 cents per word. And at least some of the words in there are truly great, I can tell you; worth a whole lot more than that.

I'm guessing most people stopping by here already have a paper and ink copy of Winterbirth, but if you've got an e-reader, I guess you might want a digital copy too? More importantly, if you know anyone who's into the whole e-book thing, perhaps now's the moment to point out they've got almost nothing (well, one dollar and a bit of time) to lose by giving Winterbirth a shot. Spread the word! I need to buy food!

EDIT TO ADD: Meant to mention, but failed dismally, that this is a US promotion, so all you non-USA type people can ignore all of the above. Sorry about that.

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