Ugly Reality

Yeah, so this weekend my next book, Ugly, is coming out. It’s a superhero novel, which is an odd topic for a fantasy blog, but then I guess superheroes are as much fantasy and sci-fi. Anyway, more details coming soon.

In other news, I wrapped the main text on Vengeance and set it aside for a bit to breathe. Last night I started my first read-through; in this case because I new there were tweaks I wanted to make before giving it a proper break prior to the first main edit. It’s still on track for August, I’ve even got a slot booked with Kate for proofreading.

Meanwhile I needed a little break so I put down a marker for the next Thaumatology book (yes, the next one’s in the works already, though it’ll be several months before it sees print), and then I had an idea smack me between the eyes… and Reality Hack was born. I’m going to have some trouble classifying this one: it’s urban fantasy, horror, sci-fi, and the erotic element is a bit more explicit. I think it might make it out into the light of day though. So far the characters are working for me and that’s always a good sign.

Preview Review: The Revelation

First off, a word on what I’m writing this new “feature” for. One of the best (and worst) features of many eBook retailers is the ability to download a preview version of a book. Typically this is the first 10-20% of the work. You can download that for free, see if you like the style, see if the story grabs you. Great for readers (bookshops often frown upon you reading their books without paying), terrible for authors who have to be sure to sell that book in the first chapter or two (but then, we’re supposed to sell it in the first couple ofpages).So, I download a fair few previews, I purchase fewer books. I don’t feel it’s fair to do a review of a book based on the preview I’ve read; I know I wouldn’t like that for one of my books. However, I figured it was fair to do a sort of review, where I give reasons for either going ahead and buying the book, or my reasons for rejecting it. So here’s the first of the Preview Reviews…

Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds

I won’t be reading the rest of this one. I was looking for some sci-fi to read andRevelation Spaceand its sequels came up on several lists of good modern space opera. I’m sure it probably is, but it’s not making my reading list. And it’s a shame, because he’s a Welsh lad and I like supporting the home team.

So, why? I think the first strike against Revelation Space is the first character we meet, Dan Sylveste. I took an immediate dislike to this guy and he basically blew the book’s chances on page two. I could see the hook I was supposed to bite on; Sylveste is an archaeologist digging up evidence that an alien race may have done something spectacular and killed themselves in the process. As someone who loves science, science-fiction, and archaeology, I should be chewing on that hook like a Great White, but I’m not because Sylveste is a dick. He may be a great character, but by the end of the first chapter I’m hoping he’ll die in the space age sandstorm which is threatening his dig.

We meet a few other characters (none of them particularly likeable) and get the impression that there is a vast universe out there with weird stuff in it… just about. Despite comparisons to Iain M. Banks and William Gibson, Revelation Space comes across as inaccessible. Reynolds likes to throw out words and phrases which obviously mean something, but he isn’t going to explain so those enigmatic future-speak terms are just verbal hieroglyphics. They don’t give a “sense of wonder,” just a feeling that the author likes to think he’s smarter than the reader. The other thing that gives that impression is Reynolds’ tendency to drop complicated words for simple things into the text. In the first few pages I had to use my Kindle’s dictionary three times just to be sure of what he was saying, and my vocabulary isn’t that small.

So, sorry Mr Reynolds, I won’t be reading your books. If I want to read stuff like this, I’ll read Banks. The Scottish writer beats the Welsh one on this occasion.

The Perils of Imagination

I’m having trouble with my writing. What kind of trouble? Imagination. It’s terrible. Ideas are a terrible thing when you have work to do. So, I thought you might like to meet the girl who’s been stopping me writing about Ceri and Lily.

This is Alexis (the one on the left) and the hulking brute behind her as a villain. The render was done so I could get the scale right. I’ve been hitting a bit of a slow patch writing book 8 and Alexis is giving me a rest.

Some of the people who know me might think she looks familiar. Alexis is an incarnation of a City of Heroes MMO character I used to play a lot. She’s a cyborg with odd eyes. She is a little different from that old character, but she does have a talent for electronics and a big gun. If I can get her story right, it might make it into print, though it’s a lot different from the Thaumatology books. Don’t worry, Ceri and Lily will be back on my word processor soon enough.