Monday 30 January 2012

“Every Dialogue Scene Is a Duel” – Matthew Hughes, interviewed by Stephen Theaker

Hi Matt, thanks for agreeing to be our first interviewee.

I’m honoured to be here.

I’ve just finished reading the three Henghis Hapthorn novels, one after the other, and it was one of the most sheerly pleasurable reading experiences of my life. I’ve previously read The Damned Busters and Quartet & Triptych. Where would you recommend I head next? And is there one book of yours that you would recommend to first-time readers of your work?

Since you liked Quartet & Triptych, which is about my master thief and art forger, Luff Imbry, I would suggest The Other, from Underland Press in the US. It’s the first Imbry novel. It came out last month and it’s available in Kindle. You might also want to check with Angry Robot’s e-store in a little while. I’m just in the process of sending them the seven or eight Imbry stories that have appeared in various venues over the past few years.

Monday 23 January 2012

Majestrum, by Matthew Hughes – reviewed by Stephen Theaker

This is the first of the Henghis Hapthorn novels. Having just read the second and third in the series I was surprised at how late in the story this one begins: already, Hapthorn is aware of magic, his intuition has developed a distinct personality, and his integrator has been turned into a grinnet. That is because the novel follows on from a series of short stories about the same character (collected in The Gist Hunter and Other Stories, now safely ensconced on my Kindle), but like novels two and three it stands perfectly well alone.

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Crimewave Eleven: Ghosts, reviewed by John Greenwood

According to the publisher's website, Crimewave magazine was established in order to "plug a gap in the UK marketplace by publishing a crime and mystery fiction magazine". That sounds more mercenary than the magazine's creators probably meant it to. The attention to detail in the design and production of the book feels more like a labour of love than a mere marketing opportunity.

Founding editor Mat Coward is quoted: "We don't do cosy, we don't do hardboiled, we don't do noir. What we do is something entirely different to anything you've ever read before." The lovely noirish, hardboiled cover illustration seems to suggest otherwise, but the contents bear out his assertion, partly at any rate. None of the short fiction represented here falls neatly within such sub-genres. Whether it is entirely different to anything I've ever read before is a rather stronger statement.

Monday 16 January 2012

Hespira, by Matthew Hughes – reviewed by Stephen Theaker

Like the previous Hapthorn novel I had read, Hespira declares its intention to be interesting from the very first page, in this case by introducing the concept of retrospectants. Collecting significant items such as buttons and twigs over the course of their lives, devotees of this spiritual path choose a day to die, and gather their friends together in order to “explain the hidden meaning and structure” of their existences, “as revealed by the seemingly random milestones” collected in their soul boxes. After the final revelation “the adherent would then be quickly killed and cremated”, leaving their boxes to become, with the passage of centuries, highly collectible. One could pick almost any page of this book and find an equally interesting idea.

Tuesday 10 January 2012

Reviewing under a pseudonym

Guy Haley, a very experienced genre journalist, has been blogging about the critical response to his novel, Reality 36, a book I liked. There's a lot of good sense in the post, The Agonies of Criticism, plus a tiny bit of moaning about more negative reviews, but what caught my eye was this, with regard to his reviewing for SFX and Deathray:
Sometimes I use a pseudonym Is there something that could possibly be construed as a conflict of interest by picky cyber-trolls? Then I write under a different name. There never is a conflict of interest, by the way, I’m always as subjectively objective as I can possibly be (or do I mean objectively subjective?), sometimes to the point of personal detriment.”

Get our magazine and books in print, a little cheaper than usual

Lulu has a special offer on the go, which'll let you get 25% off the already astoundingly low prices of our publications:

25% off any books
Coupon Code: LULUBOOKUK305
Coupon expires 31 January 2012
£50 Max Savings

You can find nearly all of our books and magazines here:

Monday 9 January 2012

The Spiral Labyrinth, by Matthew Hughes – reviewed by Stephen Theaker

This is the second novel in the Henghis Hapthorn series, but the first I read; the Amazon listings weren’t clear what the order should be, I downloaded the preview of this one to find out, and having read a page I refused to stop until I’d read the whole book. And what a fantastic and intriguing first page it was: by its end it had promised mysteries, thaumaturges, fancy words, an “intuitive inner self” called Osk Rievor, offworld travel, and that magic would “regain its ascendancy over rationalism”. I paid my eight pounds well before finishing the Kindle preview.

Friday 6 January 2012

Ian Churchill’s Marineman, Vol. 1: A Matter of Life and Depth – reviewed by Stephen Theaker

Marine biologist Steve Ocean, known to fans of his TV show Ocean Encounters as Marineman, has a secret life as a water-breathing, super-fast, super-strong Navy operative. He’s a cross between Steve Irwin and James Bond, although if you’re a child he’s more likely to save your mum than dangle you in front of crocodiles, and he has a healthy respect for women rather than treating them as disposable playthings. That’s a major theme here: respect for women, and also for friends, colleagues, sea life and the environment.

Wednesday 4 January 2012

Asking people to vote for you in awards...

Lots of debate among writers today on Twitter regarding literary awards – as usual, one might say. The question is: is it acceptable to ask people to vote for or nominate your work? Adam Roberts described it as a "demeaning and contemptible practice", to which Paul Cornell (one of my favourite writers of Doctor Who novels) replied "demeaning and contemptible my arse". The debate rages on, but that's the gist of it.

Asking people to vote for your work means you think your book would be a worthy winner, and that can look rather big-headed. Or even worse, it suggests you don't care if your book is the best: you want to win anyway. Both of those can rub people up the wrong way.

For example, just before Christmas I saw a guy on Facebook saying that "anyone who hasn't yet read my ---- can assuage their guilt by voting for it in the ---- awards". Now, that is exactly the worst of it: you haven't read my book, but vote for it anyway. Ptui!

Awards are nice, and I'll admit that, now TQF is eligible again for the British Fantasy Awards, I'd be very excited to pick up another nomination, even if I don't think we quite deserve it yet. But they're not worth being silly about. Be cool. Encourage people to engage with the awards process properly, to read as many nominees as they can, not just vote for you because they're your pals.

Monday 2 January 2012

Incredible Change-Bots, by Jeffrey Brown – reviewed by Stephen Theaker

The incredible Change-Bots are divided into two camps: the Awesomebots, led by Big Rig, and the Fantasticons, led by Shootertron. Having devastated their home planet of Electronocybercircuitron, they come to a temporary truce and pile into a spaceship, but fighting breaks out over whether word processors and incredible Change-Bots evolved from a common ancestor and they crash land on Earth. With a handful of unfortunate humans caught in the middle, their never-ending but rarely fatal battle continues to continue.