Monday, January 24, 2011

In the post bag

Please keep going with the fascinating and often surprising casting suggestions. I just wanted to pop in for a moment and share some correspondence wherein people bring up various interesting points.

First of all, this, which came directly to the site here:

"So after a semester's when-I-could-snatch-the-time grinding through
the Ravenor omnibus, I've finally plowed through the thing. Love it,
course. That's pry a given. Do people bother emailing you to tell you
you suck? But--and forgive me if you hear this one on a weekly basis,
cause I wouldn't be surprised--I was one hundred percent firework
display birthday breakfast in bed gratified at the couple of nods to
non-straight behaviour in the books. I think it amounted to a grand total of two
or three casual mentions across all three novels, depending on how you
interpret some of Thonius' comments, but it's hard to express how much
even that affected me. It takes an awful lot of balls to mention
anything remotely non-straight in the, uh, slightly Asperger's context
of mass market science fiction, specially when it's t'do with male
characters, and even the simple head-nod of having Kys ask if a mark
is hetero and the mention of a pair of young men on a roof together in
Basteen was deeply meaningful for me.

"Warhammer's hardly tryina be gender lit, of course, and I'm real glad
that's the case. It's probably for the best that sex and sexuality are
mostly absent from its storytelling. But it does ache a little
sometimes, being even a sidelines participant in a great creative work
like 40K and feeling unacknowledged to the point of deliberate
alienation. In a conceit that already feels at times laughably
over-the-top and unconcerned with anything remotely relevant to real
human experience, it can be a vague but real detractor from suspension
of disbelief and love of franchise. But even pawing oilily through
Eisenhorn back in high school, I felt like it was the wild variety and
complexity of the Abnettverse that really glowed in a sea of samey
space marines. Without Eisenhorn and Ravenor, 40K would probably
always have stayed an indifferent fantasy universe lurking in the back
of my head. "That one where they made up that cool word for psychics
and wire dead godmen to chairs," probably. It's the reality you've
managed to instill in the components of the setting, the sense of
place and purpose and individuality in the face of the teeming
faceless billions and the ONLY WAR, that have drawn me in and kept me
there. I'm not concerned with complex ideas, social messages,
progress, all that dead air. I just love the knowledge that an author
and a publisher were brave enough to say, "Yeah. This is a world we're
crafting here. And you and yours, well, you're part of it, too."

"So yeah. I felt like some kind of an acknowledgment was in order, on
the slim chance nobody'd ever said it before. Thanks, Mista D. If a
vote's ever called, I'll be sure to put you down as one of the good
guys. "

Over at this link, you can find a review of Prospero Burns that touches on something I take quite a lot of time pondering. When you're working up and developing a strand of 40K culture - such as the pseudo "Viking" lives of the Fenrisians - is there a danger that in making it sound convincing to English-speaking readers (by the use of researched Scandanavian and Icelandic words), you end up with something corny and far too on the nose for readers from those parts of the world? This is a positive and encouraging view of such efforts.

Finally, I'd like to say thanks to everyone who came out to see me at GW Lakeside and GW Bluewater this weekend, and direct you to this opportunity to win a signed copy of Prospero Burns.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Wait! Before I forget...

"For me, ideas have never been the thing that stalls me. I don't mean to sound arrogant about that—I'm not even saying necessarily that these are good ideas. They may be ridiculous and stupid ideas—that's up to the reader. But that's not the axis on which I have difficulty, and I am convinced that the vast majority of us have many many more ideas than we think we do, all the time... Sit down and talk to a 5-year-old for 20 minutes, and you will have a barrage of ideas, just crazy ideas—what happens is that at a later stage, we get trained into filtering out a lot of our own ideas. And I think for some of us the issue is not that we have more ideas than anyone else, it's that either we have less of a filter, or we've learned to ignore our filter, that little voice that says, "Oh, you're being silly." We don't hear it or we don't care about it or whatever."
- China Mieville.

Nik came across that comment from China, and we both remarked upon how much we identified with it. So I thought I'd share it with you here.

Other stuff: I've been really busy this last week or so, with a battery-recharging visit to Black Library towers, from which I returned bursting with more ideas than... Something So Very Full Of Ideas It's Going To Burst. Just for now, I must make time to mention four things:

This Saturday, the 22nd, I will be making two more appearances as part of the "Prospero Burns Tour". You can find me at Games Workshop Thurrock (Lakeside) from 11 until 1, and then at Games Workshop Bluewater from 3 until 5. Be there or... I'll be lonely.

On Saturday the 29th, I'll be popping up at the Kent Adventure Gaming Society's GameCon, details of which you can find here. I'll be there from 12 until 2, waxing lyrical and defacing books.

Then, on Saturday 5th February, I will be at the SFX Weekender, talking, signing, and then attending a screening of Ultramarines with producer Bob Thompson. Details of the Weekender here, but please be aware I am NOT a weekender. I am only going to be there for the Saturday.

Finally, Saturday 12th February, I will be signing the hnaftafls off Prospero Burns at the Games Workshop Oxford Street Plaza store. Details from all good Black Libraries. I believe Graham will be there too, so it will surely suck for him, because I am Russ and he is Magnus, and I will therefore be obliged to poke him in the eye with my cock-spankingly giant axe.

Couple of pleasing reviews came my way, so I'm sharing them below. Here's a nice one from

"In some ways, "Heroes for Hire" seems to be Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning's version of "Marvel Team-Up" where they can throw together any sort of character they want. What's that? Silver Sable and Paladin meet Satana and Ghost Rider? Hey, why not? As long as it works—and trust me, it works.

"Part of Abnett and Lanning's trick in making it work is that the book never feels like it's slowing down, not even for an instant. The pace is steady and quick, and every time you think the book is going to resolve itself, Abnett and Lanning throw in another obstacle that needs to be overcome.

"They're also not afraid to slightly buck reader expectations. Books where the controller is sending out heroes on missions (in this case Misty Knight taking that central role) and one hero needs the cash, well, you can predict some of what's to come. At some point the cash is going to come back up again, but Abnett and Lanning turn it on its head with Silver Sable being told to leave but still get paid and being told not to. It's a good turning point, that moment where you start to realize things are going wrong, and it keeps the interest up.

"Abnett and Lanning are also already starting to explore the overarching plot of Misty Knight and her captor, something which I figured we wouldn't see for a while. It's nice to know there's going to be that common thread knitting the issues together, and it makes me that much more eager to see next month's issue. Never mind the random heroes getting tossed into the mix, I want to know what's going to happen to Misty.

"I'm also pleased to see Abnett and Lanning reunited with Brad Walker and Andrew Hennessy after their time together on "Guardians of the Galaxy." Walker and Hennessy's art looks even better than ever, from the thick locks of hair on Silver Sable, to the rumpled and bunched up clothing we get whenever people are leaping through the air. They get the big moments just right too, from that demonic grin on Silver Sable's face as she starts firing one of the cursed weapons, to the dramatic reveal of Ghost Rider. Ghost Rider's on the cover of the book, but his appearance looks so larger than life and powerful that I ended up being startled in spite of my previous knowledge.

"This is a fun comic that's already picking up steam. When do we get #3? "Heroes for Hire," I'm sold"

And here's one from Ain't It Cool News:

“Y’know, it is a really rare thing for me to “fanboy out” I guess would be the term for getting all wound up about certain characters getting having a huge moment – Spider-Man taking down Morlun, Batman taking down a handful of White Martians with some gas and a match, etc. I would wager it stems back to honestly being more or less jaded at this point; I’ve simply read too many comics and seen most my favorite characters have countless moments. Taking that into consideration, what happens for me anymore these days in my superhero reading is I find myself getting my jollies when I see second or third tier characters getting their time in the spotlight. It’s why I have adored what Abnett & Lanning have been pulling off in the cosmic sector of the Marvel Universe and now that they are working with the Marvel Knights section of it as well, I could not be happier.

"Well, okay, I lied. There are some places I would like this book to go. But for now I am highly entertained. I like the build up that is going on here involving, for those who have not tried this yet, a rotating cast of anyone Misty Knight can call upon for a little butt kicking, which there has been a plethora of. There’s a pretty interesting and disturbing master plot going on to, where Misty has been calling on these heroes while in the thrall of the Puppet Master, a twist that was very unexpected at the end of the first issue but is an intriguing hook. At the least it is a means to a hopeful end, which I will get to now.

"While I do dig on this rotating crew thing for now, especially in the early going, I do hope this turns into something a little more stable. I know it is not right to judge a book on what it might be until it happens, but I think a rotisserie of a couple characters a month will get old fast, given that I felt a little momentum lost already with just one more issue. So I’m hoping this turns into at least a semblance of a team book, like a GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, with several characters you can count on to be mostly there but a nice drop-in/drop-out esthetic with a couple new MK-based faces every so often. But who am I to argue with these two gents given their handling of the Marvel Cosmic material?

"I guess “fun” is an easy word to throw around when it comes to any well produced superhero book, but HFH is excelling at it so far and with some rather dark overtones to boot. Lots of stylish action with a creepy missing persons arc to get things rolling. Digging Brad Walker’s work on this as well, in the wake of his material in the aforementioned cosmic books. It has the hyperkinetic tendencies this book needs and looks fantastic all the while shit is being blow up oh so good (even if Puppet Master looks like a pedophile caught in a wind tunnel). This book has it going on from both ends and is helping me channel that inner fanboy that I usually keep locked away, not unlike Ms. Knight in her current peril…okay, too far. Just buy it already…”

So that was nice. Anyway, like I said I'm very busy and I'm teetering on ideas overload, so I can't stay here gassing. I haven't had time to prepare a full response to the Gaunt casting ideas yet, but I have been enjoying them. Some in a "what the hell..?" kind of way, and others in a "Oooh, never thought of that one..." style (in the latter camp... Radha Mitchell as Criid, James Purefoy as Bask etc). I will make some picks of my own soon (though you won't like them). In the meantime, please feel free to keep coming up with ideas.

If you want a new task to focus on... Eisenhorn. Casting for him, Ravenor and the crew, if you like, but what I'm REALLY interested in is what he sounds like. Who would you pick to give Gregor Eisenhorn a voice?

Can't imagine why I'd be asking that...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's My Trumpet And I'm Going To Blow It

Thanks to everyone who came out to meet me at Nottingham, Sheffield and Leeds last weekend. It was nice chatting to you all. Looking forward to Lakeside and Bluewater a week on saturday, 22nd January.

Some great comic feedback came in while I was away, so I thought I'd link it here:

Let's start with this.

Then this.

Then this.

Then this.

Then this.

Then this.

And finally but not least....this.

Mmmh. Nice warm glow. And at the risk of becoming so fething pleased with myself you all hurl and never talk to me again, may I just thank all the readers out there for making Prospero Burns the number one SF book in the UK and the US this week, and popping it straight in to the New York Times Mass Market Fiction Bestseller's List.

Okay, now I'd like to point you all in the direction of the blog by Viktor and Magnus Nystrom, which you can find here. Just scroll down and enjoy. The guys have been involved in this awesome project for a while now, and the blog recounts the whole history and development of it.

They're coming to an end now. I think they deserve a large number of hearty pats on the back - I've tried to give them a little feedback as they've gone along, but it really is all down to them. here's a little taster image:

I bestow upon them the first Awesome Sauce Award for 2011, and invite you all to go tell them how splendidly they've done.

FINALLY finally, I was thinking that maybe it was time we started doing a little casting. Haven't done that for a while. Let's see how ideas have changed. And we'll begin with Gaunt's Ghosts. If the books became a movie, who would you cast? And it can be a fantasy cast of all time fave actors and actresses, too!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Prospero Burns Signings!

Afternoon. Just doing my civic duty and reminding you of these fast approaching signings.

This Saturday, 8th January, I will be at Games Workshop Nottingham from 10am to noon.

In the afternoon, I will be at Games Workshop Meadowhall (Sheffield) from 2pm until 4pm.

On Sunday, 9th January, I will be at Games Workshop Leeds from 11 am to 1pm.

Check out the Black Library website for further details.

Hope to see you there!

Slightly more advanced warning - on Saturday 22nd of January, I will be at Games Workshop Lakeside, Thurrock, from 11 am to 1pm, and then at Games Workshop Bluewater from 3pm to 5pm.

Fenris hjolda!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Blowing in the wind...

... is NOT where you'll find the answers today. You'll find them lower down in this post.

I trust you all had a splendid Christmas and a dandy New Year, and that Santa brought you everything you'd hoped for. Nice to see you back. It's a brand new year, already up and running, and it's going to be a big one. Any year that starts 1/1/11 has got auspicious written all over it. I'm raring to go. There are some things happening this year (or potentially happening) that I can't wait to get my teeth into and my hands on.

My New Year's Resolution? Well, thanks for asking. It's to write a thousand words every day. EVERY day, for 365 days. No matter what else I do. So days when I'm working it's going to be a thousand words PLUS whatever I'm working on. On days when I'm not working, it's going to be a thousand words anyway. We'll see how that goes. I think it's going to be an interesting experiment for a year.

What are your New Year's resolutions? Any interesting ones? Anyone got any good resolutions you think I should adopt? And did anyone hear or read any truly great cracker jokes over the season?

Odd things happen at this time of year. I suppose it's because the Christmas season is so full of traditions and superstitions. I was reading a book about seasonal traditions and I noticed a piece about Bible dipping, which was to take a copy of the Bible (either just before or just after midnight on the 31st) and literally dip into it. Whatever your right index finger ended up on, that word or passage would tell you something about the future in the year ahead. Apparently, in the 'Olden Days' (not to be confused with the 'Days of Yore', as I understand it), staunch Christians would get around the superstitious, fortune-telling-ish aspects of this practice by reassuring themselves the Bible was A Good Book and therefore could not lie.

So I tried it early on New Year's Day. I got something about "peacefully settling things" which was nice. But I got it from Judges (and my name means "the Lord is Judge"), and the passage was from a long chapter about Gilead.

Go, as they say, figure.

Let's do those answers, shall we?

The Primary Clone's Reasonably Difficult 12 Days of Christmas Quiz

1. The Major who looked after Cadet Gaunt was called Tanhause (First and Only etc)

2. Finnigan Rapunzel Sinister and Ramone Algonquin Winnebago Dexter (his middle names commemorate, respectively, the site of his conception and the place of his birth).

3. The Spheres of Longing. It's Ibram Gaunt's favourite book.

4. Previous Mournival members include: Keyshen, Minos, Berabaddon, Litus, Syrakul, Deradaeddon, Karaddon, Janipur and Hastur Sejanus.

5. Quasar is Wendall Vaughn, Silver Surfer is Norrin Radd, Gladiator is Kallark, Beta Ray Bill is Simon Walters and Ronan the Accuser is... Ronan the Accuser.

6. Feth is from Tanith (Gaunt), funt is from Downlode (Sinister Dexter), sprock is from the future DC Universe (Legion of Superheroes), hjolda is from Fenris (Prospero Burns etc), gak is from Verghast (Gaunt), and flark is from Marvel Cosmic.

7. Hex.

8. Kingdom's hero is Gene the Hackman. He, and all the other aux, were named after 'stars'.

9. [spoiler alert!] Misty Knight... and the Puppet master.

10. Pythol.

11. "Santa baby, put a sabre under the tree..."

12. This year's Ditmar award was won by the wonderful Slights, by Kaaron Warren. I heartily recommend it to everyone.The 2010 Best Novel Hugo was shared between China Mieville's The City & The City and Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl.

There. How did you do?

Some very splendid entries for the Thirteenth Question. Several made me laugh out loud. I think I've picked three winners, and provided you've followed the rules and sent me an email to the site with your name, address and the suggestion you posted (not too late to do that if you've already posted an answer, BTW), then I will be in touch with you very soon to send you something suitably wonderful.

Happy New Year!