New YA imprints announced

Busy day today on the announcements front. First, Angry Robot announce a new YA imprint and then, to my lasting delight, Terry Martin, of the House of Murky Depths has also announced that he is venturing into the younger reader's market, starting with a book by the very talented Kim Lakin-Smith called 'Queen Rat'. Keep up with the news on Terry's blog.

I knew I should have spent more time chatting with him at FantasyCon :)

Review: Hard Magic by Larry Correia

I don't often review stuff. If you aren't just a reviewer, its so easy to offend friends and colleagues by giving their books anything but glowing praise. I should know. Even through we all say 'tell me the truth', there is a part of us that still doesn't like to be told our latest baby isn't perfect.

This, though, is an exception. 'Hard Magic' blew me away almost as soon as I started listening to it (I consume a lot of audiobooks). With audiobooks, the narrator is hugely important. Who is reading it and how can make or break the best book in the world. All it needs is a screechy voice, or an irritating odd pronunciation of a word, and the book is lost. You could call it a limitation.

Bronson Pinchot narrates Hard Magic, and he is masterful. He easily passes between an eighty year old man dying of a wasting disease to a teenage Okie and all points in between, making you believe each voice, and is a one man theatrical experience.

Correia is a force to be reckoned with, and can I first point out how deeply annoyed I am at how many really good ideas he has consumed in this book - and I wish I had used them first. The story has 1930's Steampunk, Alternate reality, Urban Fantasy and even elements of science fiction bound together by one of the most original interpretations of magic I've seen for a while, with a kind of Micky Spillane tone over the top of everything.

All right, the overall shape of the story is a fairly well used 'team of slightly under-powered supers taking on the invincible bad guy', but Correia twists it just enough to make it feel almost fresh, and it actually gives the story a somehow comfortable frame to hang in while he does all the other clever bits.

One of two of the characters lack dimension, but they tend to be minor, and the depth of the half-dozen or so prime movers more than makes up for this slight. Shining above them all is Fay (or Faye) who is one of the most masterful pieces of characterisation I have seen in a long time; starting as an almost co-incidental nobody in the first chapter, and ending up as the one person you really care about by the end.

It's not for the younger reader, and there is bad language and violence. But it was simply too good not to say something.


The fine art of...?

I saw an interesting FB post last night. I wont say who by. I don't want to start any conflicts. When I started reading it, I thought it was a really positive and carefully thought out article, pointing out that there is a massive amount of attention being given to these horrible poppy burning extremists - and yet nobody is giving any publicity to the hundreds of Muslims who go out collecting for the British Legion.

It was really disappointing that the post almost instantly degenerated into anti-government and anti-establishment ranting that had nothing to do with the original post.

I can already hear most of you saying 'so what', and yes this sort of thing happens all the time. What disturbed me was the well reasoned argument I typed in - and then deleted! It took me a few minutes to understand why I had done it.

This is the name I publish Young Adult fiction under. My alter-ego publishes other stuff. In either case, it seems my politics and views don't always fly in the same direction as those of my peers, and the people I hope will some day publish me. I'm not used to worrying so much about what other people think of me. I'm certainly not used to worrying about what I say. I have a right to my opinion, and in most cases the right to state it, and in the past I've never been too backward in exercising either.

So am I constraining myself to present a certain image, or am I just growing up a little and learning to keep my mouth shut?

Beats me :)


Of mice and mean... and women and cats

its 0540. I'm sitting down to eat my hoops, the wife has just ascended for morning ablutions. The catflap clatters, and a moment later, my heart sinks as I hear one of the cats growling. Growling is not a good noise.

There's a ginger flash in the corner of my eye, and then he's crouched under the airing horse, growling again, holding a fat mouse between his paws. "Oh, let it be dead," I wish. He moves, it isn't, and we suddenly have a rodent problem.

Now I'm the insect man. Deb deals with mammals, and heaving furniture around trying to trap a well fed and agile mouse under a box is definitely a team sport - except this mouse is Olympic class. Eventually, we give up and allow the cat back in, who eventually deigns to take an interest. Mouse is distracted by two predators at the same time and, after one false start where the cat ends up under the box, said mouse if duly incarcerated, transported, and released back into the wild.

I love my cats, but sometimes.......