In 2019, I will be launching a new military science fiction series!
Behold the e-book cover for I, Synthorg, the first instalment in the Synthorg marines series!
Genres: military science fiction, galactic empire, space opera, cyberpunk
After two years of absence, I am back! And I’ve got great news for all my fans who love space SF. I’m launching a new book series!
Here’s the cover for the first book set in this fictional universe: Vega Blues, to be released on September 28, 2018.
Planet: Vega Tres. Population: 13 billion. Governments: None.
Detective Roy Deneb is a troubled soul. Loner, cynic, adrenaline junkie, and he’s damn good at his job. His specialty—undead cyborgs.
Zombies, wraiths, vampires—the colonists of Vega Tres gave old names to radically new and deadly types of beings. But in the urban jungle of Twilight City, Roy is the apex predator.
When a mysterious woman offers him an apparently simple job, he’s far from imagining that his life is about to change forever. He will have to assemble a team of outlaws to take on the greatest challenge of his life: defeat the CEO of an all-powerful corporation.
On the dangerous, lawless world that is Vega Tres, Roy discovers that there is more to life than mere survival—and that there’s a cause worth fighting for.
I’m so excited to share the new book cover for my novella Mirror Souls, A Prelude! I hope you like it as much as I do!
Star Wars is the most profitable franchise in history. It’s no surprise that the new movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens smashed box office records. As millions of fans of the original trilogy, I watched this new instalment of the Star Wars series not without emotion, to say the least. Overall I must admit my impressions are mixed.
Don’t get me wrong, The Force Awakens has many qualities: an excellent cast, stunning special effects, and a brilliant soundtrack by John Williams. Yes, the same John Williams who composed the soundtracks for the original Star Wars trilogy. The Force Awakens could have been an excellent movie. It just needed a decent scenario, and, importantly, a director willing to take risks. Of course that didn’t happen—too much money at stake. No magic for Christmas—Santa doesn’t exist. Nevertheless, let’s stay positive and start with the pros.
An excellent cast overall, the old generation of Star Wars actors passing the torch to the new one. Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, and Mark Hamill are all there, although the latter makes only a brief appearance. They are joined by young and talented actors, Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), and others.
Rey and Kylo Ren are probably the most interesting characters. Rey is a young woman who barely manages to survive on an arid world, yet dreams of becoming a pilot. What can I say, I have a weak spot for this kind of characters, idealistic, tough and vulnerable at the same time. A Luke Skywalker 2.0—a difficult legacy to live up to.
Kylo Ren was a pleasant surprise. At the beginning I feared he would be just another archetypical villain, but his personality appeared to be more complex. Diagnosis—he has a strong, destructive inferiority complex. He venerates his grandfather Darth Vader, but he just doesn’t have what it takes to match the accomplishments of his idol. What Kylo Ren lacks in power and skill he tries to make up for in determination and sheer ferocity. It doesn’t always work, which makes him unpredictable and prone to fits of rage. Good—tortured souls make the best villains.
Now the cons. Plot holes ruined the movie for me (read this: 40 Unforgivable Plot Holes in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’). The plot is hardly credible and not always consistent with the Star Wars universe. For example, in the original Star Wars trilogy, Luke was trained by two Jedi masters, Obi-Wan and Yoda. In The Force Awakens, however, both Rey and Finn are able to use a lightsaber very effectively in a combat situation with no training once or ever.
Spontaneous Jedification: an unexplainable phenomenon where Force-sensitive individuals become Jedi with no training.
The plot is riddled with Deus ex machina, unlikely but convenient coincidences. For example the way the Falcon Millenium is introduced into the story is rather sloppy. Overall The Force Awakens suffers from the typical Hollywoodian sensationalism that damaged so many promising movies. It’s all about marketing, my friends. It’s all about making money.
Another major problem—the movie is blatantly derivative. It’s not a spoiler to say that the writers copied the story of A New Hope with an almost religious devotion, down to the minute details. The names change, but the situations remain identical. Was it really necessary? Couldn’t we visit a few places from the Star Wars Expanded Universe, for example?
But what could we expect from J.J. Abrams, the film director who have ruined the Star Trek franchise by reinventing the characters from the original series? Tasha Robinson writes in her article in The Verge:
in spite of the new faces, The Force Awakens worships at the feet of the original Star Wars trilogy on a beat-for-beat, moment-for-moment, even prop-for-prop basis. Much like Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek, Force Awakens is a stealth remake, with a certain amount of narrative squirming done to make it into a sequel.
Read this article. Personally I find this review bold and enlightening. Another quote:
Let’s be clear: if anyone made this movie without the Star Wars name, no one would accept it for a moment. It’d be universally derided as the thinnest, most obvious plagiarism. But because it comes with George Lucas’ blessing, and because it’s so obviously made by Star Wars fans expressing their joy at being given the keys to the kingdom, and because it invites viewers to become kids seeing A New Hope for the first time again, the critical community has largely greeted it with a sigh of collective relief and welcome.
I agree, The Force Awakens looks and feels like a clone of A New Hope. A clone genetically engineered to optimize its money-making potential. Unfortunately the writers didn’t even manage to replicate the formula correctly and left out some of the most important aspects of the series. See my comment above re. plot holes and “Spontaneous Jedification.”
What else can I say about this movie? Attempts at humor are more or less successful, depending on whether you like this kind of humor. The best lines of dialogue were copied or adapted from the original trilogy. The philosophical depth of The Empire Strikes Back is absent. Yoda is gone, and wisdom is gone with him.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, George Lucas made three exceptional sci-fi/fantasy movies that captivated the imagination of millions of fans. This is how I want to remember this story. No matter how many millions the new trilogy will gross, no matter how many positive reviews it receives, Yours Truly will remain a rebel loyal to the original trilogy. Because, let’s face it, money has never been a substitute for talent and passion, and will never be.
This Christmas, may the Force be with you, and don’t spend your money on Star Wars tie-ins or merchandise. Buy a good, original book instead.
The MCM London Comic Con that took place on 23-25 October 2015 was a huge success with more than 130,000 people attending. Although the place was overcrowded, I much enjoyed the event. I met interesting people, learned a few things, and cosplay was fabulous!
Steampunk is increasingly popular with cosplayers.
The steampunk tent was strategically located near one of the entrances and drew thousands of visitors.
Fantasy was not forgotten: both the light and the dark sides of fantasy were represented.
Last but not least, Halloween celebrations were in full swing. Fun and spooky!
Whether you enjoy books, comic books, movies or TV series, you can’t escape this—“darkness” is everywhere. “Dark”, “darkness”, the words that evoked fear in our ancestors are used nowadays as marketing tools. But what do we mean by “dark” when referring to a work of fiction?
Historically, it was the 18th-century Gothic novel that transformed negative emotions such as fear or melancholy into a source of pleasure (see the Gothic Novel and The Gothic: 250 Years of Success). However, the success of this initial wave of terrifying stories was short-lived, and in the 1820s this genre gave way to a more sophisticated kind of aesthetics—the Romantic movement was on the rise.
During the 19th and the 20th centuries—roughly until the 1970s—horror fiction was little more than an underground culture, although some horror books and movies managed to achieve long-lasting popularity. For example, classic adaptations of Frankenstein by James Whale and Dracula by Tod Browning were successful in the 1930s and remain influential to the present day.
The situation changed dramatically toward the end of the 1970s, when a tsunami of darkness swept away the naïve enthusiasm of the post-war period. This impressive attack of the “dark side” operated on several fronts. In 1974 appeared the first novel by Stephen King, Carrie, and two years later Anne Rice published the first book of her famous Vampire Chronicles (Interview with the Vampire, 1976). In the 80s and the 90s, Stephen King’s popularity was nothing less than phenomenal, and some other authors writing horror fiction enjoyed considerable success.
Darkness does not necessarily equal horror, however. Science fiction and fantasy also grew darker in the 70s and the 80s. Those ugly and often ridiculous monsters who terrorized beautiful girls on the covers of pulp magazines were history—a new breed of monstrosities was about to transform science fiction. In Alien (1979), Ridley Scott created a shocking, futuristic aesthetic of fear. Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982) blended science fiction with film noir, and challenged our perception of human condition in the process. The Terminator (James Cameron, 1984) and Predator (John McTiernan, 1987) introduced us to new, disturbingly realistic sorts of killing machines.
Fantasy also grew darker during that period. Far from innocent fairytales for kids, fantasy drew inspiration from its roots: myths, medieval ballads, and history itself. And God knows human history is a bloody business. Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné, for example, is not your average sword & sorcery hero. He is a sorcerer and a necromancer capable of both heroism and cruelty. Knights in shining armor are no longer fashionable. Readers crave for a different kind of protagonists: anti-heroes (Stephan R. Donaldson’s Lord Foul’s Bane, 1977), torturers (Gene Wolfe’s The Shadow of the Torturer, 1980), assassins (Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice, 1995), and others.
Fantasy grew gritty, brutal, sometimes bleak and pessimistic. No need to insist on the influence of the Game of Thrones (this book had enough publicity already). Let’s mention a few noteworthy authors such as Steven Erikson (Malazan Book of the Fallen), Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn series), Joe Abercrombie (The First Law Trilogy), Patrick Rothfuss (The Kingkiller Chronicle), and Mark Lawrence (The Broken Empire trilogy).
Urban fantasy was not immune to the overwhelming rise of darkness neither. Although the very first urban fantasy stories were relatively light in tone (War for the Oaks by Emma Bull, Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint), horror quickly found its way into this subgenre, starting with Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton, and followed by The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. Those stories are teaming with vampires, ghouls, zombies, necromancers, and the nastiest sorts of black magic.
In your opinion, why are we craving for this sort of terrifying stories? What makes them so appealing to science fiction and fantasy readers?
New York Times Best Seller List
THE WATER KNIFE, by Paolo Bacigalupi (Knopf) (science fiction)
The author of The Windup Girl delivers a near-future thriller that casts new light on how we live today—and what may be in store for us tomorrow. This book made a brief appearance in 15th position on the NYT best seller list.
DEAD ICE, by Laurell K. Hamilton (Berkley) (fantasy)
The vampire hunter Anita Blake helps the F.B.I. investigate zombie porn.
WICKED CHARMS, by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton (Bantam) (fantasy)
Lizzy Tucker and her partner, Diesel, join a hunt for buried treasure.
B&N Bookseller’s Picks for June 2015
The Fold, by Peter Clines (Crown)
A science-fiction thriller about the dangers of teleportation devices.
Briar Queen: A Night and Nothing Novel, by Katherine Harbour (Harper Voyager)
In this installment of The Night and Nothing series, Finn Sullivan discovers that her town, Fair Hollow, borders a dangerous otherworld.
A comment, if I may. I had a bit of fun listing the adjectives and other qualifiers used in the blurb for this book: “dark, moody, mystical, bewitching, intriguing, dangerous, painful, bohemian, terrifying, placid, picture-perfect, eerie, supernatural, wealthy, beautiful, terrifying (again!), striking, mysterious, powerful, brave, malevolent, diabolical, comfortable, magical, shocking, lush, gorgeously written, star-crossed, bestselling.” Whoever wrote this blurb should be nominated for the Purple Prose Award.
Book blurbs are becoming little more than a collection of clichés loaded with empty qualifiers (well, the same can often be said about the books themselves). That makes me sad, unhappy, depressed, downcast, miserable, downhearted, despondent, despairing, disconsolate, dispirited, wretched, broody, glum, gloomy, doleful, dismal, blue, melancholic, low-spirited, woeful, woebegone, forlorn, unsatisfied, and so on.
From a High Tower, by Mercedes Lackey (DAW)
The newest adventure in Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters series, featuring a retelling of Rapunzel’s not-so-happily-ever-after ending.
Nemesis Games, by James S.A. Corey (Orbit)
The fifth novel in James S.A. Corey’s Expanse series—now being produced for television by the SyFy Channel.
Nova, by Margaret Fortune (DAW)
Young adult space opera novel about a genetically engineered human bomb.
The Change: Tales of Downfall and Rebirth, by S.M. Stirling (Roc)
In this anthology, S. M. Stirling invites more than a dozen other writers to join him in expanding his rich Emberverse canvas. The Emberverse is a long-running series of novels set in a post-apocalyptic world where technology failed and magic re-emerged.
The Darkling Child: The Defenders of Shannara, by Terry Brooks (Del Rey)
A stand-alone novel set in the legendary Shannara universe by the NYT bestselling author Terry Brooks.
The Shadow Revolution: Crown & Key, by Clay & Susan Griffith (Del Rey)
A new Victorian-era urban fantasy novel about werewolf hunters.
Trailer Park Fae, by Lilith Saintcrow (Orbit)
Lilith Saintcrow returns to dark urban fantasy with a new series where the faery world inhabits diners, dive bars and trailer parks.
Virtues of War, by Bennett R. Coles (Titan Books)
A military space opera novel praised by Steven Erikson as “top-notch military SF.”
Note: this is a selection, not the complete list.