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James Kochalka's "The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza"


I have never heard my daughter laugh as loud or as long as she did when I read her James Kochalka new kids' graphic novel, The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza. My six year old literally howled with laughter as I read this to her at bedtime, and kicked her legs in the air, and thumped the pillow -- tears of laughter rolled down her cheeks. After reading this to her twice at bedtime, I had to declare a moratorium on further bedtime reads because it wound her up too much to sleep.

I loved it too. The Glorkian Warrior is a dopey, destiny-seeking superhero who finds himself on a quest when he intercepts a wrong-number pizza-order and decides to deliver the leftover pizza in his fridge. His straight-man is his wisecracking, laser-zapping sentient backpack, which helps him fight off a giant mecha-suited doofus named Gonk, a mysterious pizza-snatching saucer-craft, and a magic robot in an impenetrable fortress.

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Talking YA, dystopia and science fiction with William Campbell Powell

William Campbell Powell is a new young adult author whose debut novel, Expiration Day due out on April 1. Powell's book was bought out of the "slush pile" -- the pile of unsolicited manuscripts that arrive at publishers by the truckload - at Tor Books and I read it a year ago to give it a jacket quote, and really enjoyed it.

Powell came by my office a couple weeks ago to talk about the book, and we had a great chat that's been mixed down to a smart seven minutes. I hope you enjoy this -- and look for my review of Expiration Day on April 1. Here's a bit of it:

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Kickstarting Dream Life, a solo comic from Salgood Sam of "Sea of Red" and "Therefore Repent!"

Salgood Sam -- who worked on great projects like Sea of Red and Therefore, Repent! sez, "In the last leg of a successful Kickstarter to print my next graphic novel, I've set up some unlockable interactive stretch goal rewards you might want to check out to help me make it to the west coast and print more books! If you can manage to time your pledges to hit the mark that puts my Kickstarter over one of three stretch goals, I'll draw your deepest darkest dreams for you. Or alternately bright and silly ones are an option."

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Diction-fairy

Behold! The Diction-fairy! From This City's Lungs/Kelsey Parks.

"Diction-fairy" (via Seanan McGuire)

Bad arguments, great illustrations


Hugh sends us An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments: "This book is aimed at newcomers to the field of logical reasoning, particularly those who, to borrow a phrase from Pascal, are so made that they understand best through visuals. I have selected a small set of common errors in reasoning and visualized them using memorable illustrations that are supplemented with lots of examples. The hope is that the reader will learn from these pages some of the most common pitfalls in arguments and be able to identify and avoid them in practice."

The ebook is gorgeous, and it's available on a name-your-price basis in Spanish and English. There are also print editions in several languages.

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Wink's remarkable book picks of the week

Wink is a new website that reviews one remarkable paper book every weekday. My wife, Carla Sinclair, is the editor. We take photos of the covers and the interior pages of the books to show you why we love them. This week we reviewed books about Chip Kidd’s ingenious book covers, Jill Greenberg's delightful photo portraits of primates, Jimmy Nelson's stunning high-fashion portraits of tribal people in their most distinguished, authentic costumes, Annie Leibovitz's stories behind her best photographs, the world of Game of Thrones in the form of a large pop-up, fold-out map, and Thomas C. Card's photos of exuberantly colorful Japanese street fashion tribes.

Take a look at these books and many others at Wink.

Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast 136: Hannibal

Boars, Gore, and Swords is hosted by stand-up comedians Ivan Hernandez and Red Scott. In each episode they break down HBO's Game of Thrones and George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. They also talk about movies, TV, science fiction, fantasy, and lots of other things. NSFW.

Ivan and Red begin the episode by discussing a recent behind-the-scenes Game of Thrones mini-doc from HBO and the questions it raises, before moving on to how to approach an introvert, Kristian Nairn, Detective Sheldon Cooper, Dead Like Me, Mikkelsen’s physicality, and cork boards with yarn.

And after finishing the discussion A Storm of Swords and The Princess and The Queen, Ivan and Red bring to your attention the next installment in their “What You Should Be Watching” series. They discuss one of the very few shows on television that can match George R.R. Martin’s disregard for his character’s lives, NBC’s Hannibal. Created by king of cancelled shows Bryan Fuller (of Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies, Wonderfall, and writer on season 1 of Heroes), this show has a quantity of gore that relocates the boundaries of what’s acceptable on network television. The knockout cast includes Lawrence Fishburne, Mads Mikkelsen, and and a very strange turn for Scott Thompson, formerly of Kids in the Hall.

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RIP, Lucius Shepard, gone too soon

Lucius Shepard, one of science fiction's great writers, has died. He was 66 70. I had met Lucius on several occasions and found him to be just as you'd hope from his novels: smart and witty (but lots of writers are smart and witty), and kind, and weird in the most delightful ways. I watched a chess-boxing match with Lucius and I have never seen someone more delighted. Shepard was involved in many good causes, and we had brainstormed many ideas for helping friends of his who were eking out a living in Central America as skin-divers and facing grave physical peril. It had been a few years since I'd seen him in the flesh, and I knew his health was often poor, but this was sudden and terrible news out of the blue.

Tor.com's obit does a good job of getting at the facts of his career:

Shepard began publishing short stories in 1983 and his first novel, Green Eyes, appeared in 1984. In 1985 he won the John Campbell Award for Best New Writer; over the course of his career he won the Nebula for his novella “R&R,” the Hugo for his novella “Barnacle Bill the Spacer,” and the Shirley Jackson Award for his novella “Vacancy” in 2008.

But to stop there is to miss how Shepard's fans and friends reveled in his work -- its originality, its dazzling language, its hardbitten and hard-won verisimilitude. He was a writer who changed the readers who found him, and I miss him already.

Update: A fitting eulogy from Michael Swanwick.

Lucius Shepard, 1947-2014

Exclusive excerpt: chapter 3 of Mur Lafferty's "Ghost Train to New Orleans" [Urban fantasy]


[Ed: Mur Lafferty's 2013 debut novel Shambling Guide to New York City was an outstanding work of urban fantasy and contributed to Mur's winning a much-deserved John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer at the 2013 Hugo Awards. Now, Mur's back with a sequel, Ghost Train to New Orleans, and she and her publishers, Orbit, were kind enough to give us an exclusive excerpt from the novel, along with Mur's introduction, below. -Cory]

Chapter 3 of Ghost Train to New Orleans has our hero, Zoë, and her writers aboard a ghost bullet train to write a travel book for monsters. Zoë and another human have just discovered the train is about to experience an old fashioned train robbery with cowboys and horses and everything. 

I love these cowboys. This is an example of the "iceberg" of fiction - you will see one scene with these cowboys and learn only a little about them. But I had to come up with why these cowboys wore business attire underneath their cowboy clothes, why they are so bad at their jobs, and how they died to become ghosts anyway. Their whole story doesn't appear in the book, but I know these people. I really want to tell their backstory in an upcoming short.

Ghosts are an interesting creature to use in urban fantasy. They always seem to have their own creation myth; if everyone who died turned into a ghost, there would be billions of ghosts wandering around the world, which would make them not so much scary, but an annoyance. If only some people turned into ghosts, who and why? And if vampire and zombie undead existed, why did the person's spirit leave the body instead of turning the proper undead? 

I got my inspiration from Gail Carriger's Soulless, where vampires sometimes fail in their attempts to turn humans. In Gail's world, the human dies. In mine, I decided, if a vampire os zombie fails, a ghost is created instead. Since vampires seem to have more fun than ghosts, and ghosts are failed vampires (or, in some cases, zombies) this makes the ghosts decidedly bitter as a whole. In the world of the Shambling Guides, ghosts are insubstantial all the time, and can do little with the physical world unless they possess a human, which is very difficult to do unless the human is weakened or willing. Ghosts love the ghost train, though, since that's where they can take physical form. The job market for work aboard the ghost train is highly competitive. 

As for New Orleans, I'd wanted to return there since I got my initial inspiration for the book in 2005 when I wrote an RPG supplement for a charity gaming book to benefit the Red Cross after Katrina. In my supplement, a zombie continued her job as a tour guide even after she had died because she loved her home so much. I took my first expansion of this idea to New York, but I'm excited to return this idea to New Orleans and her jazz and parties and beignets. 

Ghost Train to New Orleans

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Afterlife with Archie: Archie comics go zombie


Afterlife with Archie is exactly what it sounds like: a series of comics in which Archie Andrews, Jughead, and the lovable gang are trapped in a horrific zombie apocalypse. It's more than a gag, too: it's got tight, tense storylines, genuine horror and real pathos. I just read issue four and was surprised by how moving and scary it is, and I also appreciated the EC-style horror mini-story at the end.

The singles are already selling at a frustrating markup on Amazon, so I think you're better off pre-ordering the $13 collection that comes out on May 13.

Arthur C Clarke Award shortlist for best novel of 2013

Last night, I was lucky enough to attend the announcement for The Arthur C Clarke Award shortlist for best novel of 2013. The six books on the list are Nexus by Ramez Naam; God's War by Kameron Hurley; The Machine by James Smythe; Ancillary Justice by Anne Leckie; The Disestablishment of Paradise by Phillip Mann and The Adjacent by Christopher Priest. Of the six, my favorite is Nexus, which I reviewed last year. Congrats to all the nominees! The Clarke winners will be announced on May 1. Cory 3

Exclusive: Chapter 1 of Hugh AD Spencer's "Extreme Dentistry"


I'm extremely pleased to present an exclusive excerpt from Hugh AD Spencer's debut novel Extreme Dentistry. I've known Hugh for more than 20 years now, and he's always been one of the most consistently funny and snappy writers of my acquaintance. Hugh's novel comes from the indie press Brain Lag, and we're grateful to them for permission to publish chapter one, after the jump. Here's a little more about the book:

The solution to your shape-shifting vampire problem is obvious: Dentists with faith. Aurora Award nominated author Hugh A.D. Spencer weaves a bizarre tale of sarcasm, Mormonism, death and oral hygiene that spans from Singapore to Germany to Missouri and Toronto. Extreme Dentistry explores love and loss, terrible bosses, difficulties in getting good babysitters, and those seedy centers of monstrous human and inactivity both human and inhuman -- shopping malls.

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UK Sunday paper won't review books marketed "to exclude either sex"


Writing under the rallying cry "Gender-specific books demean all our children," Katy Guest announces that the Independent on Sunday -- one of the UK's great weekend papers -- will no longer review any books that are marketed to "exclude either sex." It's tied to the Let Toys Be Toys/Let Books Be Books campaign, which petitions companies to stop tying their products to specific gender-identities. Guest characterises the segregation of products by gender as a means of "convincing children that boys and girls can’t play with each other's stuff, is forcing parents to buy twice as much stuff."

I remember being surprised when someone told me that Little Brother was a "boy book." Yes, its protagonist is a boy, but every protagonist has to have some kind of gender identity, and it's a weird world when we're only allowed to read fiction in which the lead character has the same gender identity as us. I once co-wrote a novella whose major characters are galaxy-spanning AI hiveminds -- it would have a rather small audience by that standard.

Good on the Independent on Sunday for this!

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HOMELAND audiobook, read by Wil Wheaton, DRM-free, in the new Humble Bundle!

For the past two months, I've been working on a secret project to produce an independent audiobook adaptation of my bestselling novel Homeland, read by Wil Wheaton, one of my favorite audiobook voice-actors (and a hell of a great guy, besides!). The audiobook is out as of today, and I'm proud to say that for the next two weeks, it is exclusively available through the new Humble Ebook Bundle, which kicks off today, featuring an amazing collection of name-your-price DRM-free ebooks by authors like Holly Black and Scott Westerfeld, as well as Wil Wheaton. As always, there are some surprise bonus titles that will be added in week two, and so long as you pay more than the average at the time of purchase, you'll get these automatically.

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Terry Pratchett's Raising Steam, out in the USA today


Terry Pratchett's Raising Steam, the 40th Discworld novel, comes out in the US today. I reviewed it back in November for the UK release; here's what I had to say then: it's a tremendous synthesis of everything that makes Pratchett one of the world's most delightful writers. It's a curious thing: a fantasy novel about modernity and reactionaries, a synthesis of technological optimism and a curious sort of romantic mysticism.

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