I’m over on Reddit today, inviting people to Ask Me Anything. So if you’re a Reddit user, please swing by and drop off a question for me to answer later on. You can even watch me answering stuff live there from about 6pm CST.
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So there’s a just a possibility a few folks in the US will have other things on their mind tomorrow, but nevertheless I’m doing an Ask Me Anything over on Reddit on 4th November.
I confess I don’t know it well, but there’s a thriving community of fantasy fans on Reddit and they have their very own home at the Reddit fantasy board. Starting from around midday US (central) time, so early evening UK time, there’ll be a post up there inviting anyone who’s around to fire me some questions – literally about anything, though I guess the assumption is they’ll mostly be writing-related. I’ll swing by that evening (again, US central time) and start answering any and all questions that have been submitted.
I’ll probably put another post here tomorrow linking to the specific question thread, but consider this an initial heads-up: Please do drop by reddit.com/r/fantasy – any time tomorrow – to ask me anything, and if you’re around there in the evening, you’ll even get to see me answering them live … which could get messy, since it’ll be the middle of the night my time.
I’ve brought the curtain down on my Words & Pictures column over at SF Signal, where I’ve been talking about comics I like – on a slightly irregular schedule – for close to two years now. (Two years! That thing they say about time flying isn’t just a thing they say).
So anyway, that particular adventure is done for now. Might resurrect it one day, but for now it’s in semi-permanent retirement. The full collection of my comics-related ramblings over those two years is right here, including a final column on the subject of Conan. And if anyone isn’t already keeping track of the whole SF Signal site, I’d highly recommend doing so. Not just because they were kind enough to give me a platform, but because there’s something there for pretty much anyone who likes sf, fantasy, horror.
And as that comics-related thing draws to a close, I’m gearing up for the next: writing a Rogue Trooper comic for IDW. The series launches early next year, but there’s already a lengthy and detailed interview with me up at the excellent Forbidden Planet International blog. Go there if you’re curious about what I’m doing, how and why. It may not have all the answers, but it’s got quite a few (plus some truly gorgeous covers by some very fine artists, which are going to be adorning my first issue).
I did an interview/conversation thing, for SF Signal, with one of the UK’s most multi-talented writers of speculative fiction: Paul Cornell, who has at various times turned his hand to TV, novel and comic-writing with highly successful results. He’s probably best-known for his involvement with the world of Dr Who, but he has a great many other strings to his bow, and it’s those other strings that the conversation’s about. Head on over there to witness the discussion.
Tags: Paul Cornell
Now online, in its entirety and entirely free, is my short story Beyond the Reach of His Gods. You can inject the whole thing into your brain, via your eyes, by heading on over to Lightspeed Magazine. It’s an adventure story of the heroic fantasy sort, in which exiled warriors take their longship up a jungle river, and discover that there’s a whole lot more trouble awaiting them than they expected.
Also over there, you can read a bit of an interview with me, in the form of an Author Spotlight.
Because you can never have too many links, right? And they don’t even all have to be about me … though some of them are, of course.
Let’s flag a couple of reviews of The Edinburgh Dead, first.
Neth Space likes it ( ‘a very good historical gothic mystery horror urban supernatural thriller’ !)
So does Civilian Reader ( ‘a superb, slow-burning horror suspense. Very highly recommended.’ !)
Come to that, so do the folks at RT Book reviews, who’ve got it listed as a nominee in the Fantasy category for their annual awards. That’s nice, don’t you think?
And here’s something that tickles me. As regular visitors here may have noticed, I’m a big, big podcast fan, so it’s particularly nice to be able to report my own podcast debut. It has to be said, life is full of small lessons in humility, and one of them for me is hearing my own voice as others do: never fails to chip away at my self-image. I did have a bit of a head cold at the time of recording (fully congealed sinuses, if you must know), but sadly I have a feeling I always sound much like this. Ho hum.
Anyway, of all the places I thought I might end up talking about one of my books, the venue for my first podcast appearance wasn’t one of them, but it was a jolly pleasant experience: the National Review’s Between the Covers podcast. You do, of course, come away from a quick, unedited interview like that with your brain buzzing with all the things you should have said and didn’t, but I don’t think I said anything that invites legal action or anything, so that counts as some sort of success in my book.
I’m also interviewed, in the more traditional text form, over at the aforementioned Civilian Reader.
Now, on to some less self-serving content netted out of the great ocean that is the internet.
First, two podcasts of possible interest to those, like me, with a near-limitless appetite for learning more about history:
The Seige of Tenochtitlan got talked about on BBC radio’s In Our Time programme recently – available on BBC iplayer here, or you can probably find a downloadable version in this list. Difficult to think of a more extreme example of clashing cultures in all of human history, really …
And Max Hastings talks at some length about the Second World War on the BBC History magazine podcast – direct link to audio here, or find it in the list here (it’s the 21st October edition). I found it interesting mostly because he concentrates on some of the details that often get overlooked or ignored in discussions about the war (like how many Chinese soldiers and civilians were killed … i.e. a very, very large number).
And now one of the most remarakble demonstrations of fan dedication and craftsmanship I’ve ever encountered. The ultimate Star Wars documentary, in that you get to watch the film while simultaneously getting deluged with background information, annotations, creator interviews etc. etc. Very, very clever and entertaining, and all the more remarkable because the same fan has done the same thing for Empire Strikes Back and Jedi. Here, for your viewing pleasure, then, is Star Wars – all of it! – as you’ve never seen or heard it before.
I mean, seriously: that almost justifies the entire existence of the internet by itself, doesn’t it?
But let’s end on a less cheery note and dip our toes into the muddy waters of the impending bookpocalypse. It’s mesmerizing, watching the turmoil into which the whole publishing industry is descending bit by bit. Here’s two markers along the way to wherever it is we’re heading that caught my notice recently:
Ewan Morrison asking Are books dead, and can authors survive? The answer to the first bit of that is clearly Not Yet. Print books are clearly going to fade into a niche, but e-books aren’t going to be dying any time soon. The answer to the second bit, I’m not so sure about. The folks who sell really, really big numbers of their books are going to be just fine, of course. The rest of us? Actually: maybe not.
The picture Morrison paints is the worst case scenario, and I can’t really buy into it unreservedly, but … but … there are more than enough folk out there around the internet hailing the digital revolution as the best thing since sliced bread, and I increasingly find myself inclining towards a much darker prognosis, not only for publishers (turmoil hardly covers what they’re looking at) and writers (I strongly suspect if – like me – you’re not a bestseller, things are about to get uncomfortable, to say the least) but also for readers (be careful what you wish for … low prices and an explosion in self-publishing don’t come without consequences).
And Amazon continues to hammer away at the chances of anyone but them making money out of the book business. Including authors, which is the bit that bugs me, obviously. A lending programme for e-books might sound like a nifty idea to owners of Kindles, but it sounds like the tolling of a funereal bell to me.
The weird thing is, there’s so much going on that looks at best inadvisable and at worst potentially disastrous if, like me, you value the work of writers and the survival of a diverse and high quality output of books, and yet … I can’t think of a single thing anyone involved could do, or is likely to, that would change the outcome. Pretty much everyone is coming at this from the point of view of their own individual best interest (personal or corporate), and that’s entirely reasonable and justifiable when looked at at the level of each specific decision, but the overall effect, seen in big picture terms, is … well, alarming just about covers it, I guess.
The Edinburgh Dead is reviewed at Dark Wolf’s Fantasy Reviews (‘Ruckley steps on a different path with “The Edinburgh Dead”, but he does it with remarkable and magnetic style and before it I’ll take my hat off and bow’ !)
And I am interviewed over at My Bookish Ways, though it’s not quite your average author interview: not particularly the place to go if you want to learn more about The Edinburgh Dead, but certainly informative should you be curious about what’s my favourite line from a book, or what’s my favourite part of the world that I’ve visited.
The Edinburgh Dead gets reviewed at:
RT Book Reviews (4.5 stars! Top Pick!)
My Bookish Ways (“The author is a master at creating dread,and manages to ratchet up the tension with a sure hand” !)
Falacta Times (“will grip the reader in its vice like hands as much from the first page as its last” !)
And I, its author, get interviewed at:
And, in a development entirely unrelated in any way whatsoever to The Edinburgh Dead, but included here because it’s Friday, and every so often we must have Moving Pictures on a Friday: the late, lugubrious Carl Sagan comes over all eloquent and wise, on the subject of The Earth Seen From Space.
Welcome to 2011, everybody. Let’s hope it brings us all at least some of what we want and hope for.
I make an appearance in the French blogosphere this week, with something called a Chinese Portrait over at the Eclipse blog. They’re publishing the French edition of Winterbirth, and the Chinese Portrait thing is not something I’d come across before but it’s a fun little exercise in coy authorial self-definition. For those not fluent in the French language, I thought I’d put the English version up here, so that others can see what I think of myself. So here we go:
If you were a quality, what would you be?
If you were a flaw?
If you were a work of art?
A painting by Monet – probably one of the haystacks
If you were a sound?
Running water – a small stream, not some great raging torrent
If you were a song/music?
Hello Darkness My Old Friend, by Simon and Garfunkel
If you were a word?
If you were a book?
War and Peace
If you were a motto/a quotation?
If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, you have seriously underestimated the gravity of the situation
If you were a movie?
If you were a time period?
Late 19th century: Victorian Britain
If you were a personage of fiction?
If you were an animal?
If you were a mythological being or supernatural creature?
A Hobbit – one of the hobbits who stays at home in the Shire, rather than going off on adventures
So there you are. My Chinese Portrait. Revealing or not; you decide.
Eight of them, in fact. All of which I answer over at sff news.