Release! And the Blog Tour Begins…


D.A Lascelles:

A special mention to yours truly here…

Originally posted on Alex Campbell:

I have just returned from a fabulous weekend, where at long last, my first novel, Sigil of the Wyrm was officially released!

Myself and fellow Manchester Tea Society Authors, D.A Lascelles, R.A Smith and Ninfa Hayes were at Mancster Con to celebrate, and while it was quite a small turnout, a lot of fun was had. I even got a chance to speak on my very first panel!

L-R Ninfa Hayes, D.A Lascelles, R.A Smith, Yours Truly

I’m still utterly exhausted from the weekend, but while I catch my breath, here are a few links to be getting on with:

Firstly, if you didn’t make it to the con and would like a copy of Sigil of the Wyrm, they are now available on Amazon, right here!

Secondly, the blog tour has begun!

Things have been kicking off with a post on Lurking Musings with D.A Lascelles

Next, I am…

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Alex Campbell interview redux

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In March, we interviewed Alex for Vampire month and she provided the exceptional ‘Vampires of my life’ post. At the time we hinted that that she may be back soon. Now, here she is literally one day after the release of her debut novel (an event I was privileged to be sitting next to her while it happened at the MancsterCon, the sight of her face when she opened the box was classic) telling us all about it.redhair

  1. How did you come up with the concept of your story?

I think all authors have a touch of magpie in them somewhere – I know I do. I see something shiny and I want to steal it and put it in a book. Sigil of the Wyrm is a nest of glittery things I’ve collected – it’s full of real places from the North East where I grew up, and a few real people have cameo parts, or have lent me bits of dialogue and turns of phrase. And the main concept, the Lampton Wyrm itself, is from a local legend and, for me, bedtime story I heard as a kid.

  1. How did you come up with the title?

With great difficulty! And a lot of discussions with my editors. Even then it changed several times in the process. Titles are very polarising for me – either there’s one title that jumps out at me immediately and it’s perfect, or nothing is ever quite right and it takes an awful lot of work to come up with something.

  1. Please provide some insight into or a secret or two about your story.

I’m very wary of spoiler-ing the ending, or of giving away secrets that are going to become plot points in book two, so this is going to be a little cryptic. There’s a very famous essay by Roland Barthes that I read at university when I first conceived of the novel. I took the title a bit too literally, and it inspired something that happens in Chapter 22. With that in mind, you should be able to work out who a certain character is based around.

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  1. 4. What was the most surprising part of writing this book?

The Sneak-Peak Pre-Release we did at London Film and Comic Con in July. I’m a total geek, so being told I was taking my book to Comic Con… I spent several weeks trying not to get my hopes up because there must have been a mistake somewhere, and my publishers couldn’t really have meant Comic Con… Except they did, and it was amazing. All the authors there were really friendly, and I met so many fantastic people, and I actually sold out of the copies I’d brought with me. It was a whole weekend of “I can’t quite believe this!”

  1. What was the hardest part of writing your book, and how did you overcome it?

The denouement. Chapters 20-22 took so long and so many revisions to get right, and I think that was because I was holding on to a plot element that I’d had since the beginning, but which no longer fitted. The novel had grown up and outgrown it, and it took me far too long to realise that. In the end, I just had to tear up those three chapters and re-write them from scratch, taking it in a slightly different direction, adding new scenes and even some new characters. In the end, it turned out to be the best decision I could have made, because it was a big injection of new writing into what had become a somewhat stale ending.

6. So, it’s been 5 months since you were interviewed for Vampire Month on this blog. Have the last few months been busy ones for you?

Very much so. A lot of scrambles to deadlines, plus a bit of publicity work in the run up to the launch, and the Sneak Preview at LFCC in July… and that’s even without factoring in a day-job and a social life!

7. As a newly published author, are there any differences between your expectations and what it is actually like to be published?

Not really. I mean, I haven’t made my millions yet, but then I never really expected I would (just hoped!). On the whole I went into the business with my eyes open, and with a fairly realistic view of what it would be like – both the good sides and the bad.

8. Your novel, Sigil of the Wyrm, has its roots in the Lambton worm legend. What are your earliest memories of that legend?

My Mum singing me this song to get me to go to sleep: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUVWdGwVBw8 It’s a bit incomprehensible if you don’t speak Geordie, I’m afraid, but I can provide a translation if required…

9. Are there any other popular legends you think might be ripe for interpretation into a novel? Do you plan to do one of these in the future?

Lots! I’ve already got several plans for book 2, which is going to draw quite heavily on a few Arthurian Excalibur myths, and also a lesser known story about a character called Tam Lin. That happens to be one of my favourites, because it’s one of the few times the girl gets to save her prince, not the other way round!

10. You are known as a feminist and a geek. What is your reaction to the claims that women cannot be geeks?

Raucous laughter? Beating them around the head with my Masters degree in Science Fiction? Point them at the vast number of women I know who have even better geek credentials than me? A massive wall chart pointing out all the fantastic Speculative fiction written by women, all the way back to the fact that a woman *invented* sci-fi as we know it (Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, 1818)? Depends what kind of a mood I’m in, but I disagree with that sentiment in the strongest terms. Luckily, I’ve almost always found Geekdom to be an open and welcoming subculture, and it saddens me that others of my gender have not always found it to be so.

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Irony in Fantasy #MancsterCon

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So, on the 29th August MancsterCon will be upon us and that will see myself and a few other authors sitting on a panel discussing fantasy. Specifically fantasy tropes and clichés.

Sparkles!

Sparkles!

Now, fantasy is ripe with lots of juicy cliché. In fact, the years PT (Post Tolkien, a dark time which encompasses most of the 70s and 80s) were filled with trilogy after endless trilogy in which elves lived in forests, dwarves lived in mountainous mines and there was a need for a quest to go somewhere dangerous and do something with a rare artefact that would save the world. Even some of the most well respected authors were prone to these tropes. Raymond E Feist’s Magician, for example, is one of my favourite books from my childhood and one I can still stand to read today. It had some very innovative ideas for the time about magic and many other wonderful concepts. However, in my opinion the presence of elves and dwarves in the world building, particularly ones so close to the Tolkien ideas,  was not one of them. It was almost as if they were put in there because the publisher demanded it or because the author did not think a book without elves and dwarves would sell. I feel that a lot of fantasy in the 70s and 80s suffered from this very assumption. You had to have dwarves and elves and wizards to be fantasy. It was only in the mid to late 90s I feel the Tolkien effect began to wear off and popular fantasy veered away from many of the tropes he established.

Elves and Dwarves as portrayed  by Ravenchilde Illustrations

Elves and Dwarves as portrayed by Ravenchilde Illustrations

Partly to blame may be Gary Gygax who used a lot of the Tolkien ideas in D&D and later AD&D and as they turned into major concerns, many other Roleplaying games and Wargames fed from them.  There wasn’t even really much of an attempt to make things hugely different and this I think led to things spiralling to the point where it was expected that RPGs/Wargames had these concepts because they were in novels and novels had them in because they were in RPGs/Wargames and it kept on ad infinitum. When Serious Lemon asked me to write the background for the wargame Realm, I was basically given the brief to maintain the ‘standard races all fantasy fans expect’ but to try to make them different to the usual tropes. Not sure how well I managed that, though I was particularly proud of my fascist (and actually quite evil in an ‘it’s all for the greater good’ way) Roman elves and the ‘British’ Navy Halflings turned pirate following the destruction of their island kingdom by Cthulhu. However, the point is that the ‘received wisdom’ seems to be that the readers/players expect to see the old favourites and you cannot change them too much lest you alienate your target audience. This risk averse attitude, something which Hollywood is also accused of having, might lead to effective sales (sometimes) but also might stifle creativity. I guess finding the balance between those two points may well be a kwy to success – different enough to be seen as original but with enough familiarity to keep your audience in their comfort zone.

Terry Pratchett, of course, thrived on cliché. His Discworld stories are full of tropes and the subversion of those tropes and he managed to walk that creative tightrope very well. One of my favourites is Cohen the Barbarian, the octogenarian Barbarian hero who first appeared in The Light Fantastic, and his infamous Silver Horde, who debuted in Interesting Times. They manage to be both a subversion of a cliché and a cliché in themselves. On the one hand they subvert the Arnold Schwarzenegger school of barbarianism, which creates a wonderful piece of cognitive dissonance as you imagine a wiry old man swinging a sword far too big for him while wearing a loincloth and little else. On the other hand, they are also everything you come to expect from clichéd old men, including complaints about aches and pains and always having peppermints. Not to mention the wheelchair with blades on the wheels. A lot of layers there.

Pratchett’s treatment of elves and dwarves also shows these two approaches. His elves (as seen in Lords and Ladies) are a subversion as they appear on the surface to be typical Shakespearean fey as seen in A Midsummer Night’s Dream because of the effect of their glamour. However, they are actually completely emotionless sociopaths who enjoy tormenting and killing just for the fun of it. On the other hand his dwarves are an exaggeration of all the things you come to expect from them – including (at least in the animated versions) comedy regional accents for all the regions in the UK known for mining (Yorkshire, Wales and the North East). They mine, they talk about mining, they sing about gold (at one point they even sing the Hi Ho song, yes that one…) and they get into fights when drunk*. Oh and they get sensitive about their height. Pratchett’s use of cliché is, I feel, a successful one. He uses the expectations of his audience, lulls them into a false sense of familiarity, then bludgeons them on the back of the neck with the half brick in a sock that is the unexpected subversion of that cliché. This is one way to use cliché and a way I have talked about in the past.

Happily I think we are in a better place creatively than we used to be. It now seems possible to write a whole fantasy trilogy in which there are no pointy eared wood dwelling elves, no bearded mining dwarfs and no long bearded wizards. You can even have a whole long series of books in which the races are based on insects which has to be a step forward. Dwarves in fantasy now have to be the scarred and bitter dispossessed sons of cruel noblemen who have developed a clever wit as a defence against all the taunts they have endured in their life because GRR Martin is now this century’s JRR Tolkien. I am sure we can expect there to be many copies of the concepts in A Song of Ice and Fire in the future. The stagnation that had been in place throughout the PT years is no more, though I suspect we are now entering the PM (post Martin) period… Though personally I would like to see the advent of the PP (Post Pratchett) period.

So, this is written with the intent of starting a debate. I am looking for ideas and concepts to discuss at the panel… If you have a thought on clichés in fantasy, please comment below. Alternatively, please vote on one of the polls I am posting to facebook or contact me in another manner to voice your opinion…

*Well, most of them do… in Wyrd Sisters there is the playwright Hwel, portrayed with a solid West Midland’s accent in the animated version to accentuate the relationship to Shakespeare, who is a non-bearded creative dwarf who has no interest in normal dwarf pursuits.
Some of the images used here were created by Ravenchilde illustrations and Quattrofoto. Please thank them for their efforts by visiting their sites.

D.A Lascelles is the author of Lurking Miscellany, Transitions (Mundania Press) and Gods of the Sea (Pulp Empires). He lives in Manchester UK. You can sometimes see him writing about Zombie porn on https://lurkingmusings.wordpress.com/ but he mostly blogs about books, vampires, science fiction and Terry Pratchett. He is inordinately proud of the fact that one of his Pratchett articles was referenced on the French version of the author’s Wikipedia page.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DaLascelles

Twitter: @areteus

Buy Lurking Miscellany (paperback)

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Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne – 5/5 Stars


Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Journey to the Centre of the Earth is the incredible adventure of young student of mineralogy Axel, being compelled to voyage on a perilous undertaking through an (extinct?) Icelandic volcano. Unable to resist the iron will of Uncle Liedenbrock, Axel believes he faces the prospect of a lunatic crusade.

Professor Otto Liedenbrock: one might say he is the stereotypical mad professor, but in many ways he is one of a kind. To his critical nephew Axel, who suffered his living habits, he is an impatient man, egocentric in his thoughts, and prone to bouts of fury. However, I saw many endearing personality traits in him. An eminent scientific savant certainly, who is eccentric, bold, and has wit. I respected the Professor’s drive to achieve great things, for recognition and personal accomplishment. I also pitied the fact that his insular life and single-minded focus, courage, and determination made him blind to Axel’s feelings. To feel fulfilled in life, intellectual challenges and forcing himself to undergo expeditions of discovery, were aspects not touched upon in the novel, but which made me empathise with him.

At 20 per cent through the novel, Axel’s desperate attempts to thwart his Uncle’s surging enthusiasm and ambition, as well as his critical view of him, made for hilarious reading. I could just visualise the Professor racing like a bull down staircases and through doors, on to tackle the next challenge. In many passages, it highlighted how imperfect the Professor was, because he forgot things like what he has cooking. And though the Professor spent hours studying a Runic manuscript, Axel discovered the secret quite by accident. Sometimes I felt Axel was too critical, when he has to point out his Uncle’s flaws and imperfections to us so that we may see the Professor as human or acceptable. I’m not sure whether to blame the author for this.

From 20 to 45 per cent much description does burden the reader’s enjoyment. I urge the reader to persist, for after 45 per cent, the adventure really gets going, and the description puts the environment into perspective with a knowledgeable and scientific setting. Sometimes the science was a bit too much for the unacquainted reader, perhaps also because many of the terms would be academic to a Victorian scientist, but the dictionary helped with the basics. On a more accurate scale I would have rated this novel 9/10.

The personalities were powerfully constructed, and I felt I got to know them almost instinctively, even if they both did manage to surprise me numerous times during the course of the novel. Mostly, this was an effortless and rewarding read, filled with humour, colour, imagination, and wonder! The discoveries were stimulating, and reached beyond the scientific to deliver a panoramic timeless experience.

Reviewed by Alex James

http://www.alexjameseditor.co.uk

http://www.alexjamesnovels.com

Want a Badge? Here is how…

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So, a few days ago I received a delivery of badges. I have 50 of them, 10 of each of 5 designs. They look awesome (even if I do say so myself) and they will be making their debut at the MancsterCon on the 29th August. You can see the designs for them here…lurkerbadge

You can purchase a badge for a not unreasonable price if you come to visit the stall. Through a simple transaction you can walk away with what I am sure will be this year’s ultimate fashion statement. However, there is another more fun way to acquire one…

Contact me in advance of an event you know I am going to be at and tell me what you can do to earn one of these very covetable badges.

Contact details are all over this blog (see right at the bottom of this post) so you should find it easy to find me…

Some examples are:

gods of the deep3– You can take a selection of leaflets and other swag from Tea Society members and promise to deliver them to a place where they may get picked up by interested people. This can include a local library, a book or comic shop, another form of shop (I recently dropped some in a local organic grocers) or even a bar or nightclub. You do have to know for certain that this place will totally be cool with this. I don’t want to get blamed for your littering. I’d also like to see a photo of the leaflets in place, not because I don’t trust you to do the job but because it is nice to be able to post a photo of our leaflets on Social Media.

– You can do a blog post or a review about one of us or one of our books or give one (or more) of us blog space to post a guest blog. Honest reviews, please, I do not want to be accused of buying good reviews. And of course we’d like to see the links for these posts so we can share them too.elementbadge2

– You can offer some other promotional opportunity… Impress me with your ideas.

I’m also going to offer a free badge with every purchase of a copy of one of our books. Mostly this covers books bought at events but I guess if you can show up with evidence of ebook purchase (or even go online on your smartphone and buy one there and then) I’ll pass one over to you too. Obviously this applies to all my books. As to which other authors it applies to… well I am going to be evil there and not tell you (but you can flip back to the previous post to find out or come to an event and ask).

If you contact me with a promotional idea you can also feel free to request which badge design you want. However, this is first come, first served. Bear in mind there are only ten of each design so stock is very limited (for now…).

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D.A Lascelles is the author of Lurking Miscellany, Transitions (Mundania Press) and Gods of the Sea (Pulp Empires). He lives in Manchester UK. You can sometimes see him writing about Zombie porn on https://lurkingmusings.wordpress.com/ but he mostly blogs about books, vampires, science fiction and Terry Pratchett. He is inordinately proud of the fact that one of his Pratchett articles was referenced on the French version of the author’s Wikipedia page.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DaLascelles

Twitter: @areteus

Buy Lurking Miscellany (paperback)

Buy Lurking Miscellany (Kindle)

tea society badge2 gods of the deep2

Not so secret society

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I guess over the last few months an insidious and influential group has slowly been showing its hand. You may not have been aware of them, at first. They are an organisation who were cloaked in shadow. However, you may have met some of them, maybe at an author event, maybe passed them in the street. They have guided civilisation from the earliest days, raised kings and toppled princes, manipulated the stock market and contributed to the success of numerous creative artists. They have agents everywhere. Well, mainly in the UK. Actually, mainly in Manchester really with a couple elsewhere. To be honest, not all that many even in Manchester… but, so great are these agents they don’t need many to fulfil their schemes.tea society badge2

The name of this epic organisation? Why, it is none other than the Tea Society.

And if you are at this point thinking ‘Who?’ then that is testament to our ability to so totally blend into the background.

The origins of the Tea Society go back a number of years when a handful of writers who lived in Manchester started having sort of not very regular meetings to talk about writing. The name was a joke that rose out of the fact that we could not think of a name and all we seemed to do at the meetings was drink tea and in the end it sort of stuck.

Later, after some discussions around a shared trade table at a steampunk market, we came to the conclusion that it was really difficult sharing a table as we tended to do and maintaining a solid identity for customers to recognise. So, Elizabeth Morgan arranged for there to be a banner and Rachel Bostwick (Queen of trailers and other graphic design goodness) was hired to give us some brand identity with our official logo.

The banner debuted at the Yorkshire Cosplay con earlier this year and was also seen briefly at the World Book Night event at the Fab Café. It will next emerge this weekend at the Literally Literary event at Leeds Central Library and then at the MancsterCon in Salford on August 29th.

stallSo, now that we are out in the open, you may be able to guess some of our members… they include R.A Smith, Ninfa Hayes, Miriam Khan and of course myself. But there are others such as Pat Keheller, Erica Hayes and Alex Campbell (whose book is out soon, you should totally check it out).

If you see any of us at an event, especially if we have the banner up, feel free to come over and have a chat about books in general or our books in particular (and maybe even buy some). I am also currently pondering a special deal where if you promise to do some publicity – take some leaflets to be delivered to local businesses, tweet or share on Facebook, or otherwise spread the word – you may qualify for a special limited edition Tea Society badge. I’ll get out more details of this once I work them out properly.

Hope to see you all at an event soon!

Updates and news

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It has been a while since I did a post on here that was not a review, something which I intend to rectify over the next few months as a number of ideas for posts have been bubbling up in my brain and just need to be committed to blog. Well, some of them need to be committed full stop, possibly with the full strait jacket and padded walls treatment, but I am sure I can keep them all under control.wpid-imag1791.jpg

For now, you will have to satisfy yourself with this digest of random snippets.

First, Vampire month has proven to be a very popular feature on this blog. It makes for a very busy March for me but that effort is well worth it especially when one of your contributors gets their post referenced in an article as happened to Jonathon Ferguson. Of course this is an article from quite a while ago (late last year in October 2013) but it seems to have emerged out of the social network woodwork like some termite to go viral again. Rumour has it the article that LM is referenced in was posted on the Facebook page of the Ravenmaster of the Tower of London but I have looked and cannot find it there (but then I did not look that hard… if anyone spots it let me know :) ). The upshot is that Vampire month is totally now and thing and I am aiming for international acclaim as soon as possible so please help to make this happen.

You can do this by sharing posts, spreading the word and commenting on the blog posts or Facebook posts I make on the subject. You can also help by volunteering to contribute to Vampire month next March… contact me to discuss how you can do this.

Secondly, we are coming up to a Month of conferences.

First off we have the Literally Literary Steampunks at Leeds Central Library event on the 1st August. Here Leeds will play host to a number of authors including LSM regulars such as Craig Hallam, JP Bernett and Alex James. There promise to be readings and other events and the chance to talk to authors and, of course, buy their books. See the Facebook page linked above or the webpage on the flyer for details.

Then, we have the Mancster Con which is set to kick off on the 29th August 2015 at the University of Salford Media City campus. This conference seeks to celebrate Sequential Art in the North West, by which we mean graphic novels and comics. There is a small, elite team of non comic writers, several of whom you may be familiar with from this blog, who intend to infiltrate this event ninja style and who are setting up on a panel entitled ‘Irony in Fantasy’. In this we intend to talk about common tropes in fantasy novels and I for one will be asking everyone for their opinion on this issue in a later blog and through my Facebook page so I have some ammunition to use. What tropes do you think are common? Why are they common?

This week (until Sunday) both the US and UK Amazon versions of Lurking Miscellany are on special offer. Go to the relevant site to see what bargains you can gain…

Finally, I have been making progress on a number of projects but nothing significant is ready for release yet. Gods of the Deep is getting there slowly, Mercury Snowstorm is gaining new stories to add to it and I’ve been pondering ideas for an upcoming anthology collaboration with R.A Smith, Ninfa Hayes and a few others. Hoping to have something ready to launch before Mancster con…

If you want to contribute to this blog, either with reviews or articles, feel free to contact me. Plenty of space for any blogger who wants a guest spot. I am currently pondering a more regular review section and would like some more people who might want to contribute to this… If interested contact me.

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D.A Lascelles is the author of Lurking Miscellany, Transitions (Mundania Press) and Gods of the Sea (Pulp Empires). He lives in Manchester UK. You can sometimes see him writing about Zombie porn on https://lurkingmusings.wordpress.com/ but he mostly blogs about books, vampires, science fiction and Terry Pratchett. He is inordinately proud of the fact that one of his Pratchett articles was referenced on the French version of the author’s Wikipedia page.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DaLascelles

Twitter: @areteus

Buy Lurking Miscellany (paperback)

Buy Lurking Miscellany (Kindle)

 

[Review] Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

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Children of Time

Written by Adrian Tchaicovsky

Published by: PanMacMillan

Children of Time opens with a rather neat concept. An obsessive scientist, Dr Avrana Kern, an excellent characterisation of the very definition of hubris, is seen at the culmination of her life’s work – about to release a colony of apes and a gene modifying nanovirus onto a terraformed planet. Her goal is to create a species of sentient ape and to collect data on their evolution and cultural development from a satellite in orbit. Clearly this is a universe in which ‘Planet of the Apes’ was never created otherwise she may have thought twice… However, a terrorist group who are opposed to such experimentation* target the experiment leading to the apes being destroyed, the nanovirus infecting a colony of insects and our arrogant professor trapped in the monitoring satellite slipping in and out of suspension as the centuries pass.

What follows are two separate stories. In one we see the development of the insect cultures created by the virus, in particular the species of spider who form the dominant lifeform on the planet. They go from primitive creatures not too different from our own earthly spiders to establishing a complicated society with religion, social issues and technology. Each iteration of this story sees a new leap in evolution as the spiders learn new tricks, helped by the virus, and make attempts to commune with their ‘god’, the AI in the satellite which is set to find evidence of sentience.

The other thread follows the last remnants of the human race, asleep in a generation ship called the Gilgamesh, travelling through the centuries in search of a new home. Here we have our hero, Holsten Mason, a mild mannered classicist – an academic who studies the ancients. Just as a modern day classicist would study the culture of the Romans or the ancient Greeks, Mason is an expert on the languages and cultures of the long dead culture who were capable of terraforming planets.

The story set in the Gilgamesh is fairly standard SF fare. Generation ships, light years of travel, changes in the crew each time the PoV character comes out of suspension. There is very little here that has not been seen before, though I am enamoured of the concept of the equivalent of a modern day Latin master – an expert in the culture and language of a civilisation millennia old – being used to translate documents and transmissions that could be vital for humanity’s survival. Mason is an entertaining and sympathetic ‘everyman’ who interacts well with the other characters on the ship, being the unwitting participant in the mutinies and insane plans that happen around him as the others vie for power when all he really wants to do is carry out his studies and conduct his somewhat understated and pathos filled affair with the ship’s chief engineer.

Where this book really shines, however, is in the wonderful treatment of the spider culture.

Tchaikovsky clearly has a thing for insects, in particular spiders. You can tell that simply by reading the fantasy series, Shadows of the Apt, for which he is more well known. All of that Arachnophilia also comes out in this. Indeed, I did harbour suspicions that Children of Time could very well end up as a prequel to that series. When reading Shadows of the Apt I did sometimes wonder how a planet could be populated by races descended from insects and here is a plausible explanation. In the end, however, this seems to not be the case but you do have to wonder if the author was riffing off his previous ideas and trying to justify them in some way? Certain plot events make this idea less likely but it was still an entertaining thought for a while. Whether linked to the Apt books or not, the spider culture in this novel is fascinatingly established with a clear line of development from primitive savages to a modern culture that explores some modern societal issues in an interesting way. For example, gender equality is given a lot of time, which is understandable in a species where the females traditionally eat the males after mating, and there are debates about religion and the ethics of survival. These sections of the story have an unusual feel to them, being written from the PoV of characters who do not communicate via speech but rather via vibrations on webs and a complicated body language involving multiple limbs. This means little or no dialogue in the traditional sense and this adds a little edge of ‘uncanny valley’ to the feel of these parts of the story.

The spider story could have faltered due to lack of characterisation. After all, each time we see them we are progressing several generations in their development. However, the author neatly avoids this by following set lineages of spider as they progress – the representative of each one being called the same name. So the story follows successive Portias, Biancas and the males that serve them which adds a false sense of continuity to the characters. This works well and allows the reader to gain a greater sense of empathy with the characters.

In all there is little not to like about Children of Time. It hits a number of SF concepts that have been revisited before but does so in an entertaining and novel way. Speaking as a biologist, the science aspects of the fiction are well represented and while on the edge of what may be possible, do not feel too far fetched with even the blatant deus ex device of the nanovirus to paper over any cracks in the evolutionary biology being not all that obvious. Definitely recommended.

*Maybe they have seen Planet of the Apes?

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D.A Lascelles is the author of Lurking Miscellany, Transitions (Mundania Press) and Gods of the Sea (Pulp Empires). He lives in Manchester UK. You can sometimes see him writing about Zombie porn on https://lurkingmusings.wordpress.com/ but he mostly blogs about books, vampires, science fiction and Terry Pratchett. He is inordinately proud of the fact that one of his Pratchett articles was referenced on the French version of the author’s Wikipedia page.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DaLascelles

Twitter: @areteus

Buy Lurking Miscellany (paperback)

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[Review] Demon’s Embrace by Scarlett J Rose

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Demon’s Embrace: Book one of the Redemption of the Fallen

By Scarlett J Rose

Published by: Far Horizons Publishing

This book kicks off with a dramatic concept. The end of the world is not just nigh, it has already happened. Armageddon, the battle between Heaven and Hell, has occurred and in the final stages both God and Lucifer vanished leaving their armies trapped on earth and entirely without purpose.

Enter our hero, Evie MacIntyre, whose job it is to find work for the dispossessed and bereft former denizens of the higher (and lower) realms in a world where demons walking the street is a every day occurrence. A series of ugly encounters with Marius, one of her clients, a demon who thinks humans like her are just playthings to be used and abused as he wills, sees Evie saved by Decimus – a demon who has slightly more honourable ideas about what he wants to do with Eve and who becomes our hot love interest.

What follows is a strange mix of erotica and urban fantasy which does not really seem to decide fully on what it wants to be. The development of Evie’s relationship with Decimus is definitely along the lines of an erotica with decidedly BDSM tones. His tastes, while more vanilla than Marius’s fantasies of Evie as a very Gor like slave, still carry the forceful and domineering traits that make such alpha male characters so popular in romance and he is certainly not averse to the use of bondage and blindfolds. Sex scenes are described in exquisite detail with no risk of fading to soft candlelight and there is no doubt that the author intends to arouse the reader with her writing.

However, overlaid on this is a good urban fantasy tale that explores the changes brought to the world by the presence of Angels and Demons. Such things as the existence of an agency that specifically works to integrate demons into human society being a rather neat example. The plot follows Marius’s attempts to claim Lucifer’s throne at the expense of the people of earth and Decimus and Evie’s attempts to stay under the radar as they carry out their love affair but of course ending up dragged straight into things. The supernatural elements are nicely underplayed – neither the demons nor the angels are woefully overpowered – and the changes wrought on earth seem appropriate to the events that have occurred. Overall a decent Urban Fantasy novella.

The main issue comes in the fact that the story seems torn between its two halves. Some UF fans may be put off by too much erotica and erotica fans may be alienated by not quite enough sex. Though, having said that, the style is very similar to other self published UF such as Dianna Hardy’s Witching Pen series (which has the angel as the BDSM dominant rather than a demon) so maybe there is more of an audience out there for this than I think. Still, for my personal preference, I would have liked to have seen more of the world building and plot development showcased and hope that this will be possible in future instalments.

Another, relatively minor issue comes in an aspect of the formatting. There is a tendency for some phrases in the text to be bolded and in a slightly larger font than the rest. I am guessing this is in order to provide emphasis and give tone, especially to dialogue, but in practise I am not sure it works and can in fact be distracting, especially when there are pages that are mostly dialogue. It is also not really necessary as the tone is quite well portrayed by other means. I suspect that this is a case where the writer needs to trust her audience to understand what she is saying.

Minor issues aside, I found this to be an entertaining read with some very interesting ideas which I look forward to seeing developed in future instalments of the series. Recommended if you like your demons kinkily dark and your angels a bit grubby.

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D.A Lascelles is the author of Lurking Miscellany, Transitions (Mundania Press) and Gods of the Sea (Pulp Empires). He lives in Manchester UK. You can sometimes see him writing about Zombie porn on https://lurkingmusings.wordpress.com/ but he mostly blogs about books, vampires, science fiction and Terry Pratchett. He is inordinately proud of the fact that one of his Pratchett articles was referenced on the French version of the author’s Wikipedia page.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DaLascelles

Twitter: @areteus

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On mentors and evil

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On Thursday evening, I got a piece of bad news about an old friend. An old friend who I had never actually met who is now in a critical care ward in Canada, apparently in a bad way. This news came to me from another friend who I have never met. Said friend being a member of an organisation calling themselves the Evil League of Evil Writers who are dedicated to performing evil* for the good of humanity, she posted this blog post:

Evil for Judy

This post says more about Judy Bagshaw than I ever could, about the sort of person she is and why she deserves acclaim. Not surprising as it was written by someone I consider to be a great writer. I urge anyone reading this to go visit the blog linked above, read it and perform at least one of the tasks of ‘evil’ that are requested. When done, leave a comment so Skyla can read out your deed to Judy and let her know that there are people out there doing evil on her behalf.

Why am I involved in this? Well, I owe Judy a hell of a lot. She is the evil person who got me involved in this writing lark. Not only that she was an enabler who kept me writing when I wanted to quit. She is a true mentor, a great cheerleader and an inspiration. Without her Transitions would have never been written because I would not have bothered to try this insane experiment in romance writing. She was also instrumental in getting Transitions published and performed a lot of the really hard work involved in that.

She was one of the insane collaborators from the BBW Romance Writers group on our bizarre collaborative novella, The Curse which you can download for free from her site and has her own collection of romance novels out there for you to buy.  She beta read Transformations (now published in Lurking Miscellany) and finished her critique with a cheery ‘well done’ which remains my most awesome review yet. When Lurking Miscellany was published, she told me that she was not going to buy it from Amazon because she wanted to buy it direct from me at greater postage cost so I could sign it for her. I lied about the postage cost to Canada so she actually ended up paying less. It was the least I could do.

I beta read some of her stuff and had a lively online conversation with her that has lasted almost ten years so far. I really hope that conversation is going to continue. The last we spoke she was talking about getting Shades of Love, the novella anthology we collaborated on that includes Transitions, published as a collected print edition. That needs to happen and if she cannot do it, I intend to.

In her honour, I spoke to some of my students yesterday about reading and writing (among other things, it was a long conversation). That was my act of evil. I intend to do more of that when I get back to work. Please perform your own acts of evil and pass the details. The ELEW can’t do enough evil by itself, it really needs your help…

* I say evil. For the ELEW the term evil has a specific meaning. The following is copied from the above blog post and covers that definition very well..

“Standard Evil Explanations for Newbies:

Wait, what’s this about evil? I’m a member of the Evil League of Evil Writers. Everything we do is evil, including charitable acts.

Aren’t charitable endeavors inherently good? Judy has fostered evilty in many children, including me, who co-founded the ELEW. Also, by supporting this endeavour, that might make people cry happy tears. Making people cry is of course evil. See? It all comes back to evil, folks.

As a friend said, when the universe kicks one of us, we kick back twice as hard.

I’m kicking.” Skyla Dawn Cameron (2015)

D.A Lascelles is the author of Lurking Miscellany, Transitions (Mundania Press) and Gods of the Sea (Pulp Empires). He lives in Manchester UK. You can sometimes see him writing about Zombie porn on https://lurkingmusings.wordpress.com/ but he mostly blogs about books, vampires, science fiction and Terry Pratchett. He is inordinately proud of the fact that one of his Pratchett articles was referenced on the French version of the author’s Wikipedia page.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DaLascelles

Twitter: @areteus

Buy Lurking Miscellany (paperback)

Buy Lurking Miscellany (Kindle)

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