Archive for Tachyon Publications

Led Astray

Posted in Events, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2015 by jaclemens

imageI was not one of the fans led astray by schedule mix ups on the Salt Lake Comic Con app, but then I couldn’t get it to open a majority of the time. Users overloaded both the app and the website on Friday, so that’s a tech enhancement request for next year’s conventions. As for this year’s RFID wristbands, I made sure I picked mine up and activated it in advance. Upon entering the press entrance Thursday morning, I gave the registration line a sidelong smirk and went straight to the scanning station – which was not yet operational. The volunteers fidgeted with it fruitlessly, and, after waiting an acceptable amount of time, I asked if we could simply use another station to scan our bands. I explained that we were all there for the opening press conference, but this volunteer didn’t know where that was held. I told him it was in the ballroom on the other end of the Salt Palace, where many scanners were set up, and he let us through. When I left later that day, I asked another volunteer if I was supposed to scan out – seemed like a sensible way to keep track of the number of people in the building at any given time – but she didn’t know. When the website was functional, it stated that scanning in and out was necessary.

imageThe press conference was less of a production this year. Gone were the TARDIS entrance, the live painting, and the Make-A-Wish kids. For a convention promoting #EPIC, the press conference really wasn’t. The celebrity guests weren’t prepared to be introduced all at once, and shuffled on stage holding coffee cups and rubbing their eyes in the lights. Except for the exceptional Marina Sirtis, who wandered out onto the stage without a proper introduction. She announced her guest narrating with the Utah Symphony at Abravanel Hall the next two nights (following the Michael Lewis event), and Dan Farr shared an anecdote about Sirtis (a repeat guest) talking up Salt Lake to the manager of Chris Evans and Hayley Atwell, guests who appeared later in the convention. I did not have any questions for the assembled guests, but I did snap a photo of someone in a Carnage suit interviewing Richard Hatch.

imageFriday I started my panel-going with a session on how to get your novel published. The aforementioned Richard Hatch was on the panel, and I jotted down the scant tips he was able to mention before the Winner twins took over. Somehow their story of being dyslexic-but-adorable twelve-year-old twin girls didn’t seem applicable to my publishing pursuits. On my way to the Salt Palace that morning I listened to a Writing Excuses podcast on how to be a good panelist and a great moderator; it’s episode 37 from season 10, and should be mandatory listening for the writing panels. I found myself no closer to getting published, but I was able to find a cosplayer (Bioshock) to pose with this fall’s book from Tachyon Publications: Led Astray, the best of Kelley Armstrong. I also found out that Steve Diamond, who lives in my neighborhood, is also an author! He was promoting his book Residue in the large booth with Kevin J. Anderson.

Animaniacs welcome the press to Salt Lake Comic Con 2015.

Animaniacs welcome the press to Salt Lake Comic Con 2015.

My next panel was exponentially more entertaining, as Maurice LaMarche joined Jess Harnell, Tress MacNeille, and Rob Paulsen from the Animaniacs! LaMarche is the voice talent behind The Brain, Yosemite Sam, Morbo, Kif, and Calculon (Futurama), and the Lexus commercials. Harnell is the voice of Wakko and dozens of video game characters. Paulsen is Yakko and Pinky, as well as Donatello. MacNeille, who is the most versatile according to the others, is the voice of Dot, Hello Nurse, Babs Bunny, Daisy Duck, Agnes Skinner from The Simpsons, Mom from Futurama, and many more. Their panel was opposite Sean Astin (voice of Raphael), making me doubly glad I saw him at Fantasy Con last year. The synergy between the four actors was amazing, as they repeatedly set one another up to shine. I missed nearly all of the best sound bites, but I was overjoyed to get a recording of LaMarche talking about the Pinky and the Brain Christmas Special, which is one of our family’s traditions on Christmas Eve!

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Unearthed

Posted in Fiction, New release with tags , , on September 20, 2013 by jaclemens

She Walks in DarknessTachyon Publications has released the first printing of She Walks in Darkness, a previously unpublished work by Evangeline Walton! I have yet to read her Mabinogion Tetralogy, but this came recommended by Tim Powers and Patricia A. McKillip (two more fine authors who have recently published with Tachyon), so I was thrilled to receive and read it! I didn’t know what to expect from Walton’s writing, but I was anticipating a supernatural story based on those recommendations. Things seems to be heading in that direction as young newlywed Barbara Keyes considers the statue of Mania, the Etruscan goddess of the dead, in the courtyard of the Tuscan villa where she is honeymooning with her archaeologist husband. Barbara happens upon the dead body of the estate’s old caretaker, which then vanishes just as mysteriously as he was killed. Barbara must descend into the dark catacombs beneath the villa, and the story takes as many twists and turns as she does in discovering the truth of the sordid crime!

Geek Week

Posted in Events, Fiction, New release, Recommendations with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2013 by jaclemens

It’s been a week since I went to Salt Lake Comic Con, but Friday the 13th seemed like the right time to post about it! This was the first comic con for Salt Lake and the first I’ve attended. I was only able to attend one day of the three, but Friday was a great day to be there! The top item on my agenda was an unofficial sneak peek at The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Immediately after I registered I got in line to wait for it. After some initial confusion about which line to stand in, I found the correct one and settled in for some people watching. This meant missing out on panels on Firefly (a show I have recently come to appreciate), Marvel vs. DC, and a Q&A with Q (John de Lancie’s character from Star Trek: the Next Generation), but I waited patiently – only to have the door closed in my face. I was seriously the next person in line when the room was declared full.

First lesson of first comic con: don’t expect to stick to your outlined schedule. Upon being denied entry to my top choice, I found a suitable alternative in Peter Lyon, the master swordmaker for Weta Workshop. That was fascinating, and would come back into play later in the day. I had intended to go to a discussion of the changing publishing world next, but wound up in the ballroom for Ray Park’s spotlight session.

DSC00619Park, aka Darth Maul, Snake Eyes, and Toad, was truly entertaining! He talked about emulating Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, and Charlie Chaplin, and he has the personality to go with the physical tools. He also has a Scottish accent, which explains why he didn’t supply the voice for Darth Maul. Park was only 21 when he was cast to play the villain (he always wanted to be a hero), and wasn’t sure he could pull off the integral intimidation until he saw the crew’s reaction to the first fight scene he filmed. He lobbied unsuccessfully for a different death in Phantom Menace (decapitation), but would relish the chance to reprise the role. Rather than the mech legs Darth Maul’s been grafted onto in the comics and cartoons, Park joked that he should have a hover board and use his double-bladed lightsaber like a kayak paddle! After taking questions and adulations from the audience, Park wrapped up the session by bringing young kids in costume up on the stage and teaching them some martial arts poses. He was terrific!

I made my first foray into the vendor floor next. Lesson two: be prepared to spend plenty of time and money shopping the vendor floor. I didn’t make any purchases on my first pass. I wanted a look at everything that was available before I made my selection. I didn’t pay to have my picture taken with any of the celebrities, but I did take photos of a few from a distance. I managed to get pictures of David Prowse (Darth Vader) and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca). I didn’t see Shatner or Stan Lee in person, but I did see William Kirchner (Bifur) and Manu Bennett (Azog) from the Hobbit films!

White OrcI took more photos of the life-sized Azog statue on display at the Weta booth than anything else at the con. The whole booth was spectacular. I particularly enjoyed seeing Peter Lyon take the sword Orcrist from a display case and show it to a few lucky fans. That was a serendipitous con moment! I was sorely tempted to get a treasure at the Weta booth, but the answer to the question “What have I got in my pocket?” was not enough for even the smallest knife.

There were some desirable items in my price range, but I decided to give it more thought during the next panel. Unfortunately I showed up too late, and both of the writing panels were already full. So I got in line with friends for the next popular panel on my list, Avengers vs. X-Men. That panel proved too popular for the likes of those of us waiting in the general line, so I went to listen to Brandon Mull and Chad Morris talk about comedy in writing. They were in a comedy group in college, and performed some funny sketches and songs.

They both signed books at a booth following the panel, so I went back to the vendor floor and waited in a line that already wrapped around the booth. Lesson three: be ready to wait in line. I read my advance reader copy of She Walks in Darkness while people paraded by in costumes. The book I asked Mull to sign was also an advance reader copy – Spirit Animals: Wild Born came out this week. It’s a series with an online game component in the same vein as 39 Clues; Mull laid out the full series and wrote the first book (of seven). Getting the book signed took most of the hour set aside for a second pass of the vendor booths, so I stepped out for one more panel.

An Examination of the Hero’s Journey was the only panel on my original schedule that I was able to attend. I was familiar with one of the authors on the panel, having once sat next to him at a signing – that was Dave Farland. The other members were Rhiannon Paille, Brad R. Torgersen, and Bryan Young. Robison Wells did not appear as scheduled, but having heard him discuss his social anxiety on the Writing Excuses podcast, that was understandable. I asked the panel how they address the matter of romantic interest in their writing, given that the examples being cited – Greek myth, Arthurian legend, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars – present only two options for the hero: love ’em and leave ’em or monasticism. The responses from Farland and Paille were noteworthy.

By that time I had come to the conclusion to make a worthy purchase from Artist’s Alley. Lesson four: support the artists who come to the con. I wanted something unique, something I may not be able to buy at a local store or order online. When I returned to the vendor floor the closing announcements started and the lights dimmed. I hurried back to a booth that arrested me on my first pass, hoping the artist and a particular print would still be there. They were, so I bought an X-Men/Star Trek (NeX-Gen) mash up picture from Stewart Craig. Later I located his blog and was stoked to read that it was one of three images he created specifically for Salt Lake Comic Con. It made an ideal souvenir!

I continued to walk the vendor floor, now emptier and darker, and took more photos of the booths I hadn’t seen on the first pass. I wasn’t coming back on Saturday (when the crowd ran between 70,000 – 80,000 con-goers), so I had to make the most of my opportunity that night. I found the Lego booth, one I would not have wanted to miss, among others. I returned home a reaffirmed geek, with photos of acceptable role playing role models for my kids and this great shot of a weeping angel posing with my copy of She Walks in Darkness!Friday the 13th

Drawn In

Posted in Fiction, New release, Reading List, Recommendations with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2012 by jaclemens

I was drawn to Epic: Legends of Fantasy by two names: Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss. I confess I was slightly disappointed to find that the selections from those two personal favorites were excerpts from novels I had already read, but their inclusion served its purpose well. I wasn’t familiar with the other works in the anthology, so this proved to be a great introduction. I wouldn’t have looked into Aliette de Bodard or Paolo Bacigalupi otherwise, and their stories stood out from this top notch collection. I really enjoyed the lead story by Robin Hobb, and it was good to read a story by Mary Robinette Kowal, one of the Writing Excuses podcasters. I also liked Melanie Rawn’s “Mother of All Russiya” and Kate Elliott’s “Riding the Shore of the River of Death.” I was drawn in by familiar authors, but what I’m taking away is that there plenty more fantasy writers, female fantasy writers in particular, with whom I ought to be more familiar.  As the editor John Joseph Adams states in the preface, “Epic fantasy has become the literature of more.” After reading this anthology I have to agree!

Stamp of Approval

Posted in Events, Fiction, New release with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2012 by jaclemens

I got to the polls right when they opened on Election Day so I could spend the evening at a Brandon Sanderson reading and signing. The event was held at Weller Book Works, and it was my first visit to the new Trolley Square location. I got there early so I could browse and get a feel for the new layout. I’m glad I did, as it is a great set up and because Sanderson volunteered to field some questions before the event officially began.

The appearance was to promote his latest release, The Emperor’s Soul, but he took questions on all of his books. He declined to answer some questions about the Wheel of Time finale, and one woman asked a question on grooming habits that he honestly couldn’t answer. Aside from that he was affable and generous with his time, taking more questions after the reading and soliciting questions from fans as he signed all of the many books put before him (I had him sign my hardcover copy of The Alloy of Law, as it has been awhile since I’ve been able to attend one of his signings). Sanderson is not only a popular author, he’s also a personable author.

Completing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series has been a tremendous opportunity for him, but doing so has taken a great deal of his writing time. He was concerned that 2012 would mark the first time he wouldn’t have an original work released since 2005, so he conceived The Emperor’s Soul on a trip back from appearing in Taiwan. He worked on it in the interim while A Memory of Light was in the final stages of editing, and it was released this month in a trade paperback from Tachyon Publications. When I learned of the book’s impending release I contacted Charlene Brusso at Tachyon to request an advance copy, which she sent along with Epic: Legends of Fantasy, an anthology that includes an excerpt from The Way of Kings, and Wonders of the Invisible World by Patricia A. McKillip. I got it signed by the author, and he numbered it #45.

Although he was promoting The Emperor’s Soul, he did not read from it. Instead he read from the first draft of the second book in The Stormlight Archive! Now that AMOL is finished he has resumed work on his own mega-series, and we got to hear a section with a new viewpoint character! That was an exciting extra feature for attending the event; Sanderson really goes out of his way to support the brick-and-mortar stores in return for promoting his work. Customers who bought print copies of the book were invited to e-mail proof to Sanderson’s website to receive a free copy of the e-book; he isn’t shying away from digital editions, but he sees the two forms as complementary.

Leading up to the event I listened to the audiobook version of Legion, a novella Sanderson published with Subterranean Press in August. Because audible.com is a sponsor of the Writing Excuses podcasts that Sanderson produces with three other writers, the site is currently offering free downloads of Legion. I took advantage of the offer, and I enjoyed Oliver Wyman’s narration of the story. Legion is about a character with multiple personalities with whom he interacts, and Wyman performs all the voices distinctly without it being obtrusive. The story itself is brief, which is uncommon for Sanderson’s writing. He explained that he originally pitched the idea to Dan Wells, another member of the Writing Excuses team, before deciding to write it himself. It’s written as a pitch for a tv series, so it should be read not as a finished tale, but as a pilot episode. In that vein it succeeds, and I look forward to the series being created.

I finished listening to Legion while waiting in line to have my books signed, so I switched over to an episode of Writing Excuses. It was slightly surreal to listen to a recording of Sanderson giving advice while waiting in line to speak with him, but I couldn’t get enough! When that was over I began reading The Emperor’s Soul (not much in advance, admittedly). That made it difficult to concentrate on writing while waiting for the train, but, in the spirit of NaNoWriMo, I compensated. I was able to keep my word count creeping up and still find the odd moment to read, somewhat in the manner that the book was written. Inspired by a visit to a national museum in Taiwan, Sanderson created a system of magic that employs stamps that can rewrite the history of an object. What would happen to a person if their history was rewritten? And what if that person was the Emperor? Shai is a Forger facing execution for her crimes, but an assassination attempt on the Emperor grants her a stay of execution for 90 days while she replicates the Emperor’s soul. Sanderson’s magic systems always impress, but this shorter form forced him to leave out some of his own hallmarks, such as a prologue that showed a conversation between Shai and Hoid, an inimitable character who finds his way into most of Sanderson’s novels. He loved the scene, but it did not fit the story so it had to be cut. At the other end the story has no twist ending, which was hard for me to accept. Only when I listened to his explanation on Writing Excuses did I come to terms with the straightforward ending that satisfies the characters’ arcs.

I rounded out my reading of his short fiction with the e-book Firstborn. Originally released as a Kindle edition in 2008, it was later re-released by Tor in a DRM-free format. I purchased it on my nook color and read it on an iPad. I’m not accustomed to reading on digital devices yet, but it was the simplest way of acquiring this particular story. Firstborn is a different venture for Sanderson as well, as it is short form science fiction. It’s a story about a second son who lives in the shadow of his older brother’s burnished star. The firstborn is a military genius with an unblemished record, while the younger brother has nothing but blemishes and blunders on his record. That won’t cut it for the son of a High Duke; greatness is thrust upon him, only to slip out of his hands and shatter on the floor. He tries to live up to the expectations, but he knows his own limitations. Is it possible he might know the limitations of his unbeatable brother, too? This story does have the twist ending I’ve come to expect from Brandon Sanderson, and he never disappoints.

Below the Surface

Posted in Fiction, New release, Reading List, Recommendations with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2012 by jaclemens

I owe Charlene Brusso of Tachyon Publications for bringing Wonders of the Invisible World into my line of sight. I contacted her about getting an advance copy of The Emperor’s Soul, a new book by Brandon Sanderson, which she graciously sent me. Then she asked if I would like advances of two collections: Wonders of the Invisible World and Epic. I answered in the affirmative and she sent them along as well. I’m grateful for her suggestion, as I wouldn’t have picked them up otherwise. This cover art by Thomas Canty doesn’t grab me the same way the captivating cover of The Stress of Her Regard stopped me dead in my catalog-perusing tracks, but it is a lovely fit for these enchanting stories by Patricia A. McKillip. She’s a multiple-award winning author, but I must confess my ignorance of her writing until now. This isn’t the sort of book I would pick up in my own short-sightedness; it’s also the sort of magical realism I truly enjoy.  It’s the magic burbling up from the timeless wells deep under the earth. It’s the magic just below the surface of a painting or a pool. It’s the unseen magic of the ordinary that is more believable than the scientific explanation of a phenomenon. It’s the ancient magic of youth. It’s the magic of creation and curses. It’s the magic just beyond our view, and I’m glad to have caught a glimpse of it.

A Time to Cast Away Stones

Posted in Fiction, New release, Recommendations with tags , , , , on September 7, 2011 by jaclemens

The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers is one of my favorite books, so I was decidedly intrigued when I learned that he had written a postscript novella, A Time to Cast Away Stones. Tachyon Publications has released a new collection of stories by Powers, including the novella, entitled The Bible Repairman and Other Stories. I was tempted to jump straight to the end to read the novella, but I opted to save the best for last. Upon reading I found that the introduction by the author and his comments on each story’s inception may in fact be the best part of this fascinating collection! The stories are wonderful (I particularly enjoyed “A Soul in a Bottle”), but the aspiring author in me was thrilled with the vignettes which accompanied each tale. The notion that a story could originate with the author’s frustration at being born two years after the death of a celebrated poet appealed to the creative-destructive dark vein in me.

Powers found inspiration in the exploits of Edward John Trelawny for A Time to Cast Away Stones. Trelawny was acquainted with Byron and Shelley, and made an appearance in The Stress of Her Regard. He greatly embellished his own role in history, so it is fitting that Powers took one of his truly unusual adventures and incorporated it into the supernatural realm of the nephelim. Just as The Stress of Her Regard prompted me to read the works of Keats, Byron, and Shelley, so A Time to Cast Away Stones has piqued my curiosity in Powers’ as-yet-untitled new novel featuring Trelawny in his later years.