Some things are a long time coming. Â For close to two years I have been talking to my daughter about taking a trip to London, a two or three week long dad and daughter bonding experience before the heavy-lifting years of high school start.
Originally we planned to go to Brighton together for World Fantasy, but it didn’t quite work out. Â There was a school camp to attend, and it looked easier to try for Loncon 3, the 2014 World Science Fiction Convention. Â When a friend’s birthday in Normandy offered the chance to pass through Paris and spend some time in the French countryside too we settled on a plan fairly quickly.
Well, when I say quickly, we took another year nearly planning things and talking about it and not saving, and possibly might not have gone at all except that we had to: this chance might not coming again. Â And so, last Friday dates were settled, overall plans confirmed, and plane tickets were purchased. We’re going! Paris, Normandy and London here we come!
There’s a lot more planning to do, but come August we’re on a plane and it should be fun!
It’s been a while since our two intrepid podcasters journeyed together to the Gershwin Room high above the Coode Street Motel Six to ramble over an early morning cup of coffee and late evening glass of wine, but with little else to discuss that is just what they did.
In a rambling discussing they touched on how science fiction is perceived today, whether the views of an author should impact on how you read their written work, awards (of course), and what they mean by ‘of this parish’.
As always, we hope you enjoy the podcast. Â We’re still setting the schedule for the next few weeks, but expect to hear from Joe Abercrombie, Anne Leckie, Jeff VanderMeer, and others.
I am very excited to announce that I have just delivered Fearsome Magics, the follow up to my 2013 anthology Fearsome Journeys, to my editor Jonathan Oliver at Solaris Books. Â It’s scheduled to be published this October, and I’m very happy with the way the book has turned out.
The final table of contents for the book is:
Introduction, Jonathan Strahan
The Dun Letter, Christopher Rowe
Home is the Haunter (A Sir Hereward and Mr Fitz story), Garth Nix
Grigoriâ€™s Solution, Isobelle Carmody
Dream London Hospital, Tony Ballantyne
Safe House, K J Parker
Hey Presto!, Ellen Klages
The Changeling, James Bradley
Migration, Karin Tidbeck
On Skybolt Mountain, Justina Robson
Where Our Edges Lie, Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Devil’s Bridge, Frances Hardinge
The Nursery Corner, Kaaron Warren
Aberration, Genevieve Valentine
Ice in the Bedroom, Robert Shearman
My thanks to all of the authors, who turned in great stories. Â I can’t wait for the book to come out so I can hear what you all think of it.
For some reason 2014 has been a slow reading year for me. In betweenÂ completing various anthology projects – all now happily delivered – I had only read two novels prior to the Easter weekend: Karl Schroeder’s Lockstep and Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon. Â For someone who routinely used to read four or five novels a week, this is far off the pace, and far from what I’d like to be reading to keep up with the field.
Anyway, during Swancon thisÂ weekend I happened to mention to my friend Stefen, proprietor of Stefen’s BooksÂ here in Perth, that I’d had noÂ luckÂ in trying to get hold of a copy of Joe Abercrombie’s forthcoming YA fantasy novel Half aÂ KingÂ when he reached into his bag and presented me with a copy, saying he’d started to read it but I might like to read it first.
I took the copyÂ home with me on Saturday evening intending to get to it “soon”, but after a long, relaxing family Easter lunch it began to look like exactly the right book to read, and I wasn’t too far wrong.
Joe Abercrombie is bestÂ known for his “grim dark” fantasy novels set in the First Law universe. Â Half aÂ King is a little different. Â Set in a world that feels heavily influenced by Viking sagas and the icy windswept Northern corners of our own world, it’s the story of a young prince born with a deformed hand who is thrown unexpectedly into the kingship when his father and brother are killed in battle.
Without giving away more than you’d find on the dust jacket of the book, our hero Prince Yarvi Â is betrayed, loses his place in his world, falls to the lowest of lows, and must use his wits to try to fulfil the oath he has made to avenge his father and brother.
Although Half aÂ KingÂ lacks some of the darkness and even weirdness of a typical Abercrombie novel, it does have a propulsive plot that drags you forward, a bunch of engaging characters and more than enough twists and turns to make sure you’re constantly engaged. And while it takes a very conventional looking young hero faces adversity to win out in the end kind of story, Abercrombie adds more than enough to it to make keep it interesting.
I admit when I read the back cover of the book and then the opening chapter I wondered if I would find story a bit too generic and predictable, but I fell into the bookÂ very quickly and was still reading atÂ 2am, Â which hasn’t happened in a long time, and the first thing I did when I woke up was to finish it. Â There are twists and turns aplenty and I, for one, can’t wait to read Half aÂ Worldwhen it comes out early next year. I’ve not read enough to know ifÂ Half aÂ KingÂ is a “book of the year” or not, but whether it is or not, it’s definitely a terrific read.
How would I synopsise it? Imagine if Robert E Howard had written David Edding’s The Belgariad, and you might get a hint of it. Fun stuff!
My sincere thanks to StefenÂ for letting me borrow his copy of the book.
Loncon 3, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention, has announced the nominees for theÂ 2014 Hugo and Campbell Awards. As is our practice, this week we have a special episode of the podcast devoted to discussing the awards and all of the wonderful nominees. Â We are very grateful to John De Nardo (of SF Signal) Â and Tansy Rayner Roberts (Galactic Suburbia and Verity) for joining us for what we think is an interesting conversation.
We would also like to thank all of our listeners for nominating Coode Street for our third consecutive Best Fancast Hugo Award. We could not be happier, or more grateful.
As always, we hope you enjoy the podcast and we’ll be back next week with more!