Reviews

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I’ve got a post up at SF Signal, about the experience of switching (temporarily! – I do still have a new novel coming out this October, after all!) from prose to comics writing: What Happens When A Novelist Tries To Write A Comic?. Do go check it out if you’re interested.

Enough about what I think about things, though. It occurred to me I’ve got a chance here to do something I’ve not done in a looong time, so for nostalgic reasons as much as anything, here comes … A Review Round-Up!

What some folks have made of Rogue Trooper #1:

‘Rogue Trooper is off to a killer start and I can’t wait for more.’ IGN

‘This comic nails the atmosphere of the world and the voice of the title character.’ Adventures in Poor Taste

‘Checks all the first issue boxes while still giving you a great story.’ Comic Book Therapy

‘We have a winner here.’ Comic Bastards

‘This is an impressive opening issue for the series.’ Unleash the Fanboy

‘Well worth adding to your pull list. Final score: 8 out of 10.’ Rhymes With Geek

‘A great piece of apocalyptic pulp.’ Flickering Myth

All of which is very nice. If you haven’t already, there’s still time to pick up the first issue at your local comic shop ( if you have one), or at comixology if you don’t (where I’ve just noticed, in the course of finding that link, that it appears to be piling up 5 star reviews, which is also very nice).

Thanks to anyone and everyone who’s said nice things about this first issue, wherever they’ve said them.

Now I must go and do some preparation for my first trip to a convention in a while: Me and the Rogue Trooper artist, Alberto Ponticelli, will be at Newcastle Film and Comic Con tomorrow, Saturday 8th March, where I believe we may both be doing such things as signing stuff and talking about stuff. If by any chance you’re there, do say hello. Neither me nor Alberto will bite. Probably.

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Whilst idly checking The Edinburgh Deads sales rank on a certain well-known online retailer’s website the other day (I don’t do it very often, honestly), I noticed an addition to the review snippets. Specifically, this:

‘A deeply pleasurable read with writing as elegant as the splendid Edinburgh architecture that forms the backdrop to Quire’s grim discoveries'(THE SUN )

Which is very nice, of course, but no amount of googling could unearth the actual review from which it’s extracted. I was curious, since if it’s the UK newspaper The Sun, I wasn’t even aware they reviewed books, let alone the sort I write.

But that futile googling adventure did accidentally unearth various other folks talking about The Edinburgh Dead, and a little light went on in my head. I suddenly remembered that I used to share that sort of stuff on my website. I used to make some sort of effort to persuade people that my books are worth reading. I’m supposed, perhaps, to pay attention to this sort of stuff. Bad me. I am a bad author-blogger.

So, having not done it for a veeeery long time, I’m going to indulge in a just a little self-congratulatory review linking. Avert your eyes if you can’t bear to watch.

This all adds up to make The Edinburgh Dead a really strong, powerful read, and a great novelsaid Libris Leonis.

Urban fantasy meets historical accuracy in this engaging and riveting novel of early 19th century Edinburghsaid Mallory Heart Reviews.

All in all this was a great mystery with a touch of supernatural. Exciting and full of action this book is very well written.’ said Amberkatze.

‘The Edinburgh Dead, by Brian Ruckley, is an extremely creepy, extremely gritty booksaid Reading Reality.

and

A deeply pleasurable read with writing as elegant as the splendid Edinburgh architecture that forms the backdrop to Quire’s grim discoveries‘ as you already know, said someone at something called The Sun. Allegedly, because I can’t find them saying it.

All of which surely suggests The Edinburgh Dead might just be that perfect last minute Xmas present you’ve been looking for, doesn’t it? Or at the very least a sensible way to dispose of any and all book tokens you might acquire once the gift-giving kicks in.

Commercial interlude over.  Normal, random and waffling service will be resumed shortly.

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There’s a very upbeat review of The Edinburgh Dead over on The Bookshelf Chronicles.  ( ‘2011 is drawing to a close and I think I just found my favourite read of the year’ !)

Nice little exchange with the author of that same to review in the comments here, in which it turns out we both very much like one specific line in The Edinburgh Dead.  And that line is … wait for it … wait for it …:

‘I’m not wanting any butter.’

Does that strike you as … I don’t know … a bit anti-climactic?  It points up one thing that I’m sure isn’t particular to me.  Lots of writers must have the same thing.  That thing is that the pleasure of writing, the satisfaction that the finished text can give you as its creator, is sometimes as much about the small things – the small victories – as it is the big picture stuff.  That tiny little line of dialogue gave me pleasure when I wrote it – you’ll just have to take make my word for the fact that it’s just the right length, tone and rhythm for its context – and it’s nice that someone else liked it.

(And in case that sounds too self-congratulatory, I’ll just note in passing that the small defeats can be just as frustrating as the small victories are satisfying.  Witness: I can’t spell the word ‘rhythm’.  Never have been able to, probably never will.  Every single time I write the cursed word – including in the last sentence of the previous paragraph – I have to check its spelling.  Pathetic.  I’m already starting to fret it still doesn’t look right … maybe I should just have a quick double-check …)

Over at the Writers Read blog, I’ve got a guest post reporting on what I was reading in November.  It includes Fascist dictators, etchings and horses.

And a very nice giveaway is open for the holidays – for those of you living in the UK and the US, at least.  Over at the Orbit blog you can enter a draw to win one of five sets of five jolly good books.  Including The Edinburgh Dead.  There’s two or three there I’d really like to read myself, but somehow I doubt I’m eligible …

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.

Two little things to draw your attention to, if I may be so bold:

A new(ish) review of The Edinburgh Dead for your reading pleasure at The Bookbag (“As good as I found Ruckley’s fantasy writings, his crime writing is even better. A master of all trades indeed.” !)

Secondly, Speculative Horizons, the cool anthology edited by Pat St-Denis to which I contributed a fantastical story of Stone Age shamanism, has sold very respectably, and stocks are now running low.  To celebrate (and publicize, of course!), Pat’s running a giveaway where you can snag a free copy of this worthy book.

And if you don’t win, or can’t wait, you can pop over to the Subterranean Press website to order a copy, or get it from your preferred internet bookseller (e.g.), and enjoy the creative output from me, Tobias Buckell, Hal Duncan, L E Modesitt and C S Friedman.  It’s a fundraiser for cancer research as well as an enjoyable little story collection, so all in a good cause!

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Okay, we’ll get to the fun stuff in a minute, but first let’s tidy away a little bit of linkage:

I write about When Genres Collide over at the Orbit blog.  Marvel at my delusional hubris as I demonstrate conclusively that crime and horror fiction are exactly the same!  (Incidentally, should anyone feel tempted to comment on my half-assed theories, I’d appreciate it if you did so over there rather than here …)

The Edinburgh Dead is reviewed at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist (“not a dull moment … should satisfy even jaded genre readers”!)

And also at the Wall Street Journal (“compelling mix of horror and sci-fi”!)

I write about the Dark Side of Edinburgh’s history over at the SFX Magazine blog.

And – now the fun bit – alert readers of that last article might notice that there’s a link at the end leading to …

The crazy cool grand EDINBURGH DEAD COMPETITION!

Yes, you, dear reader, have the chance to win a stay in an Edinburgh hotel, along with a creepy tour of the city’s secret history (and a copy of The Edinburgh Dead, too, but that’s kind of secondary in this case, I have to admit).  This is pretty much the jolliest wheeze my esteemed publishers have yet come up with for promoting one of my books, and I think it’s kind of neat.  Go and enter, why don’t you? Closing date is 15th September 2011.

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:

The Qwillery

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.

Pale Blue Dot – Animation from Ehdubya on Vimeo.

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Wobbly’s being polite, in fact. Had several days of unintended isolation from the Web, and despite having apparently fixed the problem through tediously extended fiddling about with settings, cables etc., still have no clue what the cause was.  So, if you are one of the various people expecting me to send you something via the virtual tubes, apologies for the delay: now that I’m connected again, I’ll get to it as soon as I can.  As far as I can tell, I haven’t actually missed any e-mails or anything, so it’s only a matter of time before yours reaches the top of the To Do pile.

In the meantime, some pointers to The Edinburgh Dead‘s step by step spread around the Web, which evidently continued even while I was twiddling my thumbs over the last few days.

The book’s launch is marked in generous style over at the Orbit Books blog, and you can also read an extract there.

Over at Tynga’s Reviews, you can enjoy the spectacle of me trying to recast the fable of Red Riding Hood with characters from The Edinburgh Dead.  (One of the accompanying photos seems to suggest that Tynga thinks Gerard Butler is the man to play my main character, Adam Quire, in the movie version – which is a clever call, although I’ve tended to visualise Daniel Craig in the role, myself).

And last, but by no means least, there’s a review of The Edinburgh Dead for you to peruse over at the Sci-Fi Bulletin website, which includes the smart (and to my mind, jolly complimentary) suggestion that parts of it read like John Buchan writing from a story idea by Sam Raimi.  I didn’t know it at the time, but in hindsight, that’s kind of exactly what I was trying for when I was writing certain sections … ah, the wisdom of reviewers!

Last weekend provided a nice few days around these parts.  Small pleasures.  Which I will now, of course, insist upon sharing …

An Unexpected Visitor

Putting out food for the little birds in the garden means occasionally being graced by the presence of a bigger bird, come to eat the little ones.  Poor chap missed out this time, but was kind enough to hang around for quite a while – no doubt bemoaning his misfortune – and pose for pictures.

Beach and Barbecue Weather

It was hot, hot, hot at the weekend.  In the photo above we see the unbounded enthusiasm of the Scots for a nice beach in good weather.  If you can see past the seething hordes of beach-goers, you might just be able to make out a lovely view.  Actually it did get more populated later, but it was nice not to have to share it with many folk for a while.  Did have a barbecue, later, but you’ll just have to take my word for that, since I’ve no photographic evidence.

An Expected, but Very Welcome, Delivery

A box of author’s copies of The Edinburgh Dead.  It’ll be in bookstores in just a few weeks now.  Others can make their own minds up about the contents, but looks-wise, I’m a big fan of this.  It’s a sleek and good-looking beast, very nicely put together by the Orbit team.

On the subject of others making up their own minds about the contents, some kind words have been said about the book recently.  They’ve been said in paper-and-ink form rather than on online, so sadly I can’t link to them directly and you’ll just have to believe me when I say that they were along these lines:

Publishers Weekly said: “Ruckley ventures successfully into the gothic with this horrific thriller … atmospheric descriptions help sustain the menacing mood.”

RT Magazine said, amongst other nice things: “this frightening tale of taking scientific enlightenment much too far is enhanced by strong, sharp prose and a lively pace, making it difficult to stop turning the pages.”

Jolly good.  Always a relief when you hear that someone out there in the big wide world likes your book …

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