Category Archives: Books

Fantasy Fiction Feast

What, me – indulge in basic photo editing to preserve some semblance of anonymity? The very idea!

The Central Library in Sheffield held an afternoon event this weekend celebrating fantasy fiction in all its diversity by hosting writers and publishing folk from Angry Robot books and I went along to indulge in all the nerdy goodness on offer.

The writers who spoke and read were Mike Shevdon, Anne Lyle, David Tallerman and Gav Thorpe, who the “Warhammer 40K” devotees amongst you will know for his work in that uber-dark sci-fi universe.   Each writer gave a brief introduction to themselves and their work and would probably have swelled my reading list ten-fold had I not exercised unusual restraint in my book purchases on the day.

Restraint? Me? With books? Surely some terrible mistake has occurred…

Behold – The book that I paid hard-earned cashews for…

As pictured above, I went away with a copy of David Tallerman’s “Giant Thief”, as I had previously raced through the first fifty pages of the novel on a library loan and put it aside in order to pick up a signed copy at the Fantasy Readers day.  It’s definitely worth a look if you like the flawed rogues and anti-heroes that Joss Whedon is so good at creating – Tallerman’s protagonist, Easie Damasco is an unshaven, fairly unscrupulous ne’er-do-well trapped in the middle of a land war and trying not to be a hero.  Angry Robot’s own jacket copy suggests that if you enjoyed Scott Lynch‘s genius “The Lies of Locke Lamora” you might well dig this fantastical adventure, and that’s fairly on the money -though there’s infinitely less swearing in “Giant Thief” from what I recall of my brief time with Mr Tallerman’s novel.

‘Tis a righteously enjoyable romp and I look forward to devouring it in short order as I attempt to race through more fantasy fiction before some small-time Peter Jackson film opens in the middle of December.  I’ve heard it’s going to be quite the thing…

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A Plucky Dwarf writes…

I’m The Tallest Dwarf In Middle Earth!

In a stunning development matched nowhere else in recorded history, Warner Brothers have really begun to push the Gollum piloted boat out for their December Tolkien release, “The Hobbit“.

Hence the screen grab above – a neat little game which allows you to blatantly rig answers and cheat your way to your favourite Middle Earth character answer fun quiz questions and arrive at a nifty downloadable/Tweetable/BookFace-type digital thing to share with your fellow nerds.

You can book your tickets for Peter Jackson’s latest slice of Hobbit based awesome now, which is nice.  And if you’re sufficiently tech-obsessed and live near a big IMAX screen, you can check out whether they’ll be showing “The Hobbitin super-48FPS-3D-space-vision.

Oh yes, waiting until December 14th is going to be so easy…

 

 

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“World War Z” trailer – Zombies on Speed!

“Is that a lethal horde of newly risen, 100 metre sprinting brain munchers or just really pissed-off fans of the book?”

You’ve heard the rumours about an out-of-control production, on-set spats between star/producer Brad Pitt and director Marc Forster and disgruntled observations about how the synopsis bears no resemblance to Max Brooks‘ excellent novel – now witness the skin-crawling horror of “World War Z” for yourself with the new trailer!

And yes, it doesn’t really remind me too much of the Brooks book – I’m not seeing any epic ‘Battle of Yonkers‘ footage in that trailer – but it does look like it has the making of a splendidly action-packed horror blockbuster on a scale that we don’t see too often.  I guess $180 million buys a lot of urban destruction, free-running zombie hordes and military hardware, if not quite the confidence that “Quantum of Solace” director Forster has learned how to direct action (Does anybody else wish that Hollywood would take a leaf out of Hong Kong cinema‘s fine play-book and start having separate action/drama directors on a film?  Jean-Pierre Auteur gets to direct his challenging meditation on the illusion of contemporary monogamy and Michael Bay tag-teams in to blow shizz up and have Marion Cotillard run amok with an M16 – everybody wins!).

“You’re gonna’ need a bigger boat…”

Ahem.

“World War Z” opens in June 2013 and that high-pitched noise you can hear on the internet is a million Brooks fan boys crying out in revulsion at the prospect of the slow, relentless, all too numerous brain-chowing shambling undead of the novel being given a  cinematic make-over into speedy, mob-handed loons whose pace is so quick that even Usain Bolt would have his hands full trying to outpace them.

It could be..quite good?  

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“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” – new trailer unspools the awesome

I want to go to there…

Happy Wednesday, fellow nerds, geeks and devotees of pop cultural badassery – there’s a new “Hobbit” trailer online.  Fire up the download accelerator of your choice and get stuck in.

“Quick – look enigmatic, the camera’s on…”

I’m not sure that it will quell the grumpy dismissal of hardcore Tolkien scholars, but for those of us who just want to get lost in Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle Earth for a few more hours, this two minutes and 31 second trailer will fill your face with fantasy eye candy quite agreeably.

So, when do I get to on holiday to Rivendell, then?

Action, comedy, spectacle, short people, trolls, orc-type dudes, Andy Serkis‘ famous alter-ego and New Zealand will enthrall your eyes and make you count the days until the middle of December, when this first salvo in the new trilogy opens (and hopefully answers some questions about which sofa they’ve found the rest of the story down the back of…).

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Power Metal Artwork of the Day – Blind Guardian

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And to finish out the week, an arguable classic slice of European Power Metal – with sleeve art almost precision designed to irk the irksome, traumatise tiresome hipsters and cause kvlt elitists to kvetch.

Germany’s Blind Guardian are perhaps best described as occupying a space somewhere between Iron Maiden, Helloween and – I guess – Dream Theater.  We’re talking songs directly inspired by double-bass drums played at a hundred miles an hour, proggy time signatures and lyrics directly referencing fantasy literature, as amply demonstrated by an album which many fans would claim as their favourite – the J.R.R. Tolkien/”Silmarillion“-inspired Nightfall in Middle-Earth.

To the artwork – it’s a painting of Luthien dancing in front of Morgoth, painted by Andreas Marshall.  I confess to having something a blind spot for Tolkien’s novels, something which I propose to address in the near future via the medium of a series on the blog – is it ambitious to read “The Hobbit” and the whole “Lord of the Rings” cycle before part one of Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” opens at the end of the year?  I like to think not, but I’m ever one for taking on challenges which ask more than I can reasonably cope with.  It’s an epic fantasy thing, people – realise…

What the cover doesn’t capture is just how delightfully cheesy the spoken word portions of the album are – for viewers used to the earnest storytelling of the Jackson cinematic trilogy, this album’s (let’s be honest) amateur dramatic performance of the Tolkien material is a splendid thing.

 And it’s a killer record – if you like your heavy metal to be bold, powerful, driving and unabashedly unfashionable, Blind Guardian do this kind of stuff better than anybody else.  If your new D&D campaign needs a stirring musical accompaniment to really get those 20-sided die flying, you need this record on your iPod/stereo pronto…

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“Starship Troopers” reboot loses violence, adds B.S.

Oh, Hollywood – is there no end to your cowardly, money-grubbing idiocy?

“So, we just hug them to death, right?”

Empire magazine‘s new issue has an interview with Toby Jaffe, producer on the new and entirely unwanted reboot of “Starship Troopers“, which ageing geeks will remember as a pretty decent, absurdly gory sci-fi actioner (fans of the original Robert Heinlein novel will probably remember it less fondly, what with director Paul Verhoeven and screenwriter Edward Neumeier reinterpreting the book as a giddy joyride through a fascistic future).  And it doesn’t make for good reading.

If this version of the book does make it before cameras, we can look forward to a less violent (what now?), less satirical, straight-up bug hunt with all hints of complexity safely jettisoned and gee-whiz cgi effects replacing anything potentially disquieting (i.e., less likely to make the box office tills ring).

So, Selena Gomez and Taylor Lautner in a PG-13 shoot-em-up with a song by her boyfriend on the soundtrack and nothing likely to tax the brain of anybody with a driving license, then?  Where do I sign up for that?

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Ray Bradbury – “All My Friends Were On The Shelves Above”

Ray Bradbury – Born August 22, 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois. Died June 5, 2012 in Los Angeles.

Ray Bradbury, fantasy and speculative fiction writer, died yesterday in Los Angeles after a long illness.

Letters of Note today presents a lovely letter from the great man to a library, concerning the inception of  “The Fireman” which eventually became his celebrated novel, Fahrenheit 451(the novel, he argued, which was his only true work of science fiction – he saw himself as a creator of fantasies).

When a writer like Bradbury passes, if you’re anything like me, you suddenly realise that you’ve not read nearly enough of his work.  That’s a sad state of affairs which I mean to address at the library this weekend – I like to think that Bradbury would approve of using this most underrated and glorious of resources to further explore his body of work.

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