Giveaway: Dragons (26/4/2015)

Posted in Uncategorized

Less than two weeks now before I have to tick a box choosing to which one of the various people whose views entirely fail to represent my own I shall nevertheless assign the futile weight of my support. Futile as in the incumbent Tory had a majority larger than the total number of votes for his closest rivel.

So here today are the official policies of the five main national parties in the event of a zombie apocalypse:

The Conservative Party has no official policy, but pretty much plans to carry on as normal, as it already operates on the underlying principle that anyone on benefits is already one of the shambling walking dead. Zombies will be required to prove their undead status in order to claim any state support and to enrol on state-controlled “emplyment” schemes such as workfare.

The Labour Party refused to comment, leaving individual spokesmen to hint at a policy that would be the same as the Conservatives while vehemently demanding that it was entirely different.

The Liberal Democrats stated policy of inclusion and acceptance will be extended to include the undead, according them basic inhuman rights according to European law. However, leaked policy documents have subsequently indicated a plan to incite the zombie apocalypse shortly before the election on the grounds that it can’t possibly be as bad as the pasting they’re going to take otherwise.

UKIP “Bloody Zombies, Coming here from the Afterlife, Taking our Jobs and Eating Our Brains” stated an emphatic policy of rapid deployment of the army and the formation of armed citizen militias to quell the zombie apocalypse while quelling was still possible, mobilisation of the entire medical research establishment to explain how zombification is linked to homosexulaity, and the drawing up of a short-list of various “Johnny Foreigners” to smacked about. Phrases like “spirit of the Blitz” and frequent mentions of Chruchill accompanied the newly-formed UKIP Zombie Apocalypse Policy (ZAP) Team as they disappeared in to the pub.

The Green Party take the view that a zombie apolcalypse causing the extinction of the human race is part of the natural order of things and probably no bad thing, and state that it would be “irresponsible” to try and do anything about it, although if such a thing WAS to happen it would certainly come about because of Climate Change and GM crops, and prevention is better than cure, right, soyou’d vote green if you had any sense but you won’t because in the end it’s just about what’s best for YOU, right. Followed by some sulking.

No, I still don’t have the first fucking clue who to vote for either, nor is there much point in this constituency. But I do have some books to give away, and this week it’s a bit of an Election Special, since in part it’s a story of a bunch of over-privileged knob-heads too busy stabbing each other in the back to notice the incoming catastrophe that’s about to burn every last one of them [1]

adpalaceCover first draftORDER OF THE SCALES draft cover

This is a rare collector’s special giveaway, in that all three books will be signed and lined first edition hardbacks. That makes it a bit unique and special and also worth something for once, because this time there’s a catch: I want you to vote. All you have to do to enter yourself into the draw is leave a comment here, and the giveaway will run until the end of Saturday 9th, and if you’re from outside the UK then that’s it, that’s all…  But if you’re IN the UK and eligible to vote then I require you to use that right on the 7th in order to win my prize. No vote, no win books. If you don’t want to vote then I respect your right to make that choice, and you can respect mine not to give you free stuff.

Usual deal otherwise – comment on this post before 10th May and I’ll randomly select a lucky victim for a free copy.

No one has complained (so far) about how long it takes me to get to the post office and post things, but it can take a while and if you live abroad then it can take even longer. Sorry about that, but they do get there eventually. Well, so far. Am currently not up to date with posting things (sorry previous Gallow winner – I will do it this week).

[1] Not everyone burns

Hugos, Puppies and Terrorists (20/4/2015)

Posted in Critical Failures | Temp

This is supposed to be a post about the Hugo slate, but I’m going to digress for a while first.

I grew up in England in the seventies and eighties. My memories of that time are of (among other things) a background noise of Irish terrorism. I lived in a conservative part of the country, both upper and lower case, and “terrorism” was universally how it was presented. A lot of people where I lived commuted into London to work. Occasionally a bomb went off. They hit train stations for a while, now and then, which is why there haven’t been any litter bins in London stations for a very long time. We didn’t talk about it much. It was a bad thing that was going on in the background. Occasionally my dad would be late home when he was working in London because of a bomb threat, but not all that often. Even when he worked in Northern Ireland for a few years, it was still background noise. It was only decades later that I put the pieces together. My dad was a chemist. His area of particular expertise was explosives (we still have some German chemistry textbooks from his days in university straight after the second world war, because back then Germany was the cutting edge when it came to blowing things up). He worked for the Ministry of Defence, for a while he worked in Northern Ireland. I’ll never know for sure because he’s gone now and so I can’t ask him, but for a while, somewhere in a lab using science, I think he hunted bomb-makers.

We rarely talked about it. It never intruded much on our lives. I was aware of it, and later, when I was older, I was aware of the causes and the grievances. My one and only point with all this, really, is that it didn’t change how we lived our lives, what we did, who we talked to, where we went or what we thought. The mantra of the times, whenever it came up in conversation, whether in politics around the dinner table, was that we should carry on as we were, keep on with our lives as though nothing was happening because otherwise the terrorists would win. I don’t know how well we really did that as a society at the time. I didn’t live in Northern Ireland, I’d heard about internment but I didn’t really know what it was; yet it seemed to me at the time, living in my rather narrow bubble as it was, that the philosophy, at least, was right. Looking back now, it seems that civilisation eventually succeeded. The terrorists changed many individual lives. The response of the state changed many lives too, and very little of it for the better, but in the grand scheme of things we didn’t fundamentally change. Thirty years on, people have largely stopped blowing each other up. The landscape is much the same, but for the most part there are words instead of violence.

In a way I have deep anxiety that we are losing this new so-called “war on terror.” This time we are letting it change us. We are letting it make us be afraid, and amid that fear we are shrinking the cage in which we live and giving away little pieces of the freedoms we have allowed ourselves. It’s an old adage in politics: fearful people are easier to control. I hope, thirty years from now, I’ll be able to look back and relax, to see that yes, we wobbled like we did before, but we got over it, and we didn’t let fear win, because fear is what lets monsters grow among us.

So look: the puppies of all various adjectives are not terrorists. They gamed the system, that’s all. And before anyone rushes to change that system, have a good long look around at all the other awards out there. The Hugos aren’t broken and they don’t really need fixing. You don’t like the slate? Go to Worldcon and vote no award. Threats of disrupting the awards for the rest of time are just that, threats. Don’t let fear or anger or outrage change us. It’s sad that people feel they have to be this way, but don’t try to shut them up and don’t try to keep them out, because that’s when some far worse monster slowly grows behind you.

WANTED: Cover Art (14/5/2015)

Posted in Important | News

A few weeks ago a put up a little short story on Amazon, The Sin Eater. This was a pipe-cleaner for some more substantial stories I wanted to publish this way. The next story I want to put up is a Thief-Taker story. I want to publish it in about two months. The text is largely good to go but I have a problem with the cover. Here is an approximation to the cover I want.

TTB cover example

Gollancz have kindly supplied the lettering to match the previous thief-taker books. There’s some more design work to be done and the colours are arbitrary at the moment, but I like the picture and the motif fits the story perfectly (a small band of thief-takers head out into the bay at night to investigate the arrival of a mysterious ship). So I’d like this for the cover, or something in a similar vein.

I found this particular piece here on deviant art. I’ve tried to contact the artist via Deviant Art’s message service, I’ve tried via the artist’s mail address given in his profile and I’ve tried via the contact link on his own web page, asking whether the rights to use the picture as cover art for a story are available for purchase. I’ve had no response. Too busy, not interested I don’t know. So OK, open call for submissions then. I’m looking for some cover art. I’m prepared to pay for it. The example here shows you what pretty well what I’m looking for (although if I’m comissioning from fresh I’d like something in portait format with bland areas of sky and sea for the title and the name, and might switch their positions).

So if anyone knows anyone who might be interested in taking on a commission like this, please let me know. Budget will be limited but I don’t expect artists to work for free. Meanwhile I continue my own searching, and if the original artist of this piece ever happens to get in touch, he’ll have first dibs. Suggestions here or via Twitter or e-mail me.

Giveaway: Cold Redemption/The Last Bastion (13/4/2015)

Posted in Uncategorized

Not much news this week. I’m going to be at Edge-Lit on Saturday 11th July doing a workshop on narrative structure and a panel on something or other that has currently slipped my . . . Ok, the title is “How Much History Does Fantasy Fiction Need,” and I can give you the very short answer if you’re not going which is that fantasy doesn’t strictly need very much at all, but you should still come along anyway because Joanne Harris is going to be on the panel too and she will be much more interesting than I am.

BUY MY BOOKS: Gallow: The Anvil. Gallow: Solace. Why haven’t you got them already? They’re cheap and short!

Ren, I’ve got another Critical Failures post on the way about relationships but it’s turning out to be long and complicated and not as much about fiction as I originally thought, so you’ll have to wait a few weeks. Also Zafir has something more to say about villains yet. In the mean time I’m still in a Gallow frame of mind, so this week I’m giving away more Gallow.

cold redemption cover lo-resCover artwork lo-res

Usual deal – comment on this post in some way before Sunday 19th  April and I’ll randomly select a lucky victim for a free copy. This week I’m looking for video game recommendations, please, since I appear to have quite a bit of time on my hands.

No one has complained (so far) about how long it takes me to get to the post office and post things, but it can take a while and if you live abroad then it can take even longer. Sorry about that, but they do get there eventually. Well, so far. Am currently up to date with posting things (it’s so much easier when I don;t do my own stuff – Gollancz are dead efficient, unlike me).

The Anvil, Solace, Dragon’s Reach

Posted in Short Stories

Three novelettes set in and around the events of Cold Redemption and The Last Bastion

The Anvil: in the aftermath of The Last bastionthe new Marroc king of the Varyxhun valley is looking for someone to help him steal a forge from the Forkbeards before they can mass a new army. With Gallow missing, it falls to Arda.

In Solace, Gallow and the Vathan war-leader Mirraj travel together, each on their own mission. They carry with them the cursed Aulian sword, the Edge of Sorrows, a piece of armour from a demon, and something is following them.

In Dragon’s Reach, Oribas and Achista enter the second of the two old watch-towers overlooking the mouth of the Varyxhun valley. As Witches’ Reach before it, the ruined tower has dark secrets buried under its roots. Unlike Witches’ Reach they are still there.

Gallow shorts covers

Giveaway: The Fateguard Trilogy (5/4/2015)

Posted in Uncategorized

News? I suppose so. The proofs  for The Silver Kings have been marked up and posted back. That really is that then. Job done. Zafir’s last ride. Bellepheros’s last potion. Tuuran’s last swing of the axe. Red Lin Feyn’s last cup of jasmine tea.

Last week I made the mistake of talking about something else before I got on with what really matters here, so look, here’s a link to the self-publishing thing instead of me going on about it some more, and here’s the new article about villains in SFF. There done.

I realise you all have been getting ready for this with little preliminary events like Eastercon and the Hugo nominations, but Nathan Hawke’s novelette Solace comes out as an e-book on the 9th April. In order to get ready for what will doubtless be THE (next) fantasy event of the year (and so soon after the last one too), Nathan is launching a(nother) massive publicity campaign which consists of giving away another signed copy of The Fateguard Trilogy. 940 pages. 330,000 words. Everything Hawke has ever written. A man with an axe on the cover. What more could you want?

You can buy Solace and the first novelette The Anvil from e-book retailers. If you happen to read or th have read The Anvil already then Nathan would like to know what you think, since the current pair of Amazon reviews are worse than useless betwen them.

Usual deal – comment on this post before Sunday April 12th and I’ll randomly select a lucky victim for a free copy. Open worldwide and no one has complained (so far) about how long it takes me to get to the post office and post things, but  it can take a while and if you live abroad then it can take even longer. Sorry about that, but they do get there eventually. Well, so far. Am currently up to date, in that all recent winners have been posted.

Villains (part two) 5/4/2015

Posted in Critical Failures | Temp

About the author: Her Holiness the Dragon Queen Zafir, Speaker of the Nine Realms, has played both pro- and antagonist roles in her career as a fictional character. She is either the aloof fist of authority to be respected and feared, a liberator of the oppressed and enslaved, or a dragon-riding genocidal psychotic tyrant bitch-queen from hell, depending on your point of view.

The Villain with a Thousand Faces (Part Two): The One-Line Backstory

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