Chopper on Tour, 2019 Edition

[AKA: I’m Still Alive!]

This year has just flown by, hasn’t it? Almost like it knows it needs to bugger off with the bad news and right-wing tosspots it brought in. Bad enough we’ve had to flea-bomb the whole house this week, without 2018 dragging more shit in through the back door. Yeah, go on, fuck off, and take the gammon, book pirates,  and Brexidiots with you.

But, anyway. Just because this year has been infested with sociopolitical lice, it doesn’t mean I’ve not been busy. Like the fabled metaphor of the serene duck, there’s a boatload of paddling under the water.

Work continues on both ED6 and the new Age of Talons/The Golden Rule trilogy (I can’t make my mind up on the series title, but I’m leaning more to TGR at the moment). ED6 is heading slowly towards completion, while the first draft of the second part of the trilogy has reached chapter six and is settling down nicely. And yes, that does mean that the first book is complete and undergoing some scrutiny…

Meanwhile, I’m also working, as co-editor alongside Pete Sutton, on one of a series of anthologies for Grimbold Books. Forgotten Sidekicks will focus on the heroes that never were, the folks left in the shadows, the Fatty Bolgers of fantasy, and wouldn’t you know it – submissions are open to all right now!

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And in my spare time – don’t laugh, there is such a thing, or so I’m told – I’ve been part of a jury for the British Fantasy Awards, the winners of which will be announced at Fantasycon in Chester at the end of this month. And that brings us nicely to the Chopper on Tour element of this post:

This year Fantasycon and Bristolcon take place on consecutive weekends. Somewhat rashly, I have booked to attend both. This means you will be able to find me at the following panels and events –

Fantasycon

  • Saturday 20th October, 10am: Reading, alongside Shona Kinsella & Ben P Holden
  • Saturday 20th October, 11.30am: Organising Events and Awards panel, with Leila Abu el Hawa, Jan Edwards, Peter Sutton. I’m moderating this panel!
  • Sunday 21st October, 9.30am: Starting Out Writing Genre Fiction panel, with Rachel McLean, G. V. Anderson, Peter Haynes, Tasha Suri. Wait, I’m moderating this one too!

Bristolcon

  • Saturday 27th October, 1pm: It Were All Fields Round Here panel, with Dave Hutchinson, Jessica Rydill, GR Matthews, Anna Smith Spark. Guess what? I’m the moderator!
  • Saturday 27th October, 6pm: Desert Island Fantasy panel, with John Allen, Anna Smith Spark, Terry Jackman, Steven Poore, Jasper Fforde (M). I am not the moderator!

For the full program schedules for both events, see their respective sites:
Bristolcon: https://www.bristolcon.org/
Fantasycon: https://www.hwsevents.co.uk/activities-an-overview

See you there!

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Promise of a Battered Moon – the Jack Teng Interview!

Jack Teng? Who he?

Long story short, he’s the author of a new and rather spiffy SF novel from Grimbold Books. You can find him on the twitters at @MyBossIsADroid, and over here at his own site, or on the wild streets of Vancouver chasing down replicants and answering only to the name K. Possibly.

Test 6That book, of course, is this one: The Promise of a Battered Moon. It’s out now at all sorts of Amazons.

A planet-killer asteroid is hurtling to Earth and everyone is freaking out. But not Manon Fontaine. She knows what the asteroid really is and it’s hers. Once she controls it, she’ll revive the world’s post-war economy and also her mother’s mining company. But first, she needs to navigate family betrayals and kidnapping attempts before she can finally determine her own fate.

Meanwhile, Ann Wilson, an augmented Union super-soldier, has been having problems (beyond the mental strains of indiscriminate killing): her last targets were blown up with fractional deuterium devices, and made things very messy. Ann hates messes. What she hates more is a commanding officer who jerks her around and then sends her, of all places, to Luna City. Little does she know she’s conducting illegal missions to gain control of the asteroid.

In the middle of it all, is Eric Lin, a Union-born-Chinese thruster mechanic. Because of the war with the PPA, he’s been ostracized and forced off-planet to Luna City and the orbital colonies. All he wants is to be accepted and left in peace. This apparently is too much to ask, as both the Union and the PPA send soldiers to drag him away for the-hell-knows what. The reason is in fact that he holds the key to controlling the asteroid.

Amidst traitorous double-agents and assassinations, Manon, Ann and Eric’s paths collide, leaving a wake of destroyed orbital stations and rampaging mobs, ultimately leading them into a confrontation on the moon.

If that doesn’t sound like Gareth L Powell-sized fun, then you plainly need to read it again. Or, go forth and hear from the man himself, below!

So, this story you’ve written. What’s it about? Why should I interrupt my nap-time to read it?

It’s about my horrible ex-partner and a huge asteroid coming to destroy the planet!

Actually, both are true, but the book is about three characters related to an asteroid that suddenly appeared and is threatening to destroy the planet. One of them is a super-assassin named Ann, who’s slowly going insane. The other is Manon, a French-Canadian trying to rebuild her family’s business. And the last is Eric, who doesn’t understand why two superpowers are trying to kill him and are willing to kill his friends and destroy his former satellite home to do it. Their fates are intertwined as they all are brought against their wills to the Luna City. (Also, Eric’s ex-girlfriend may or may not have been inspired by my ex! Ah, the sweetness of spite!)

Where do you get inspiration? Where did the ideas for your latest novel come from?

Good question! My inspiration often comes from a mix of the news and my life. For example, I grew up in Quebec and many of my friends are French-Canadian, so I thought it would be fun to weave them in. I already mentioned my ex-partner though.

The biggest inspiration comes from my addiction to reading the news every day. It’s a very small spoiler to say this, but one of the key reasons why the asteroid is of interest to people in the book is because it contains a large hoard of rare earths. In the book, the planet’s rare earth supply has been almost depleted, which has caused the world economy to tank. So whoever manages to control the asteroid and the rare earths it contains will be able to restart the economy and be very very rich. In our times, we’re starting to see some battles over certain minerals like cobalt and lithium, which are essential for batteries. I just took that idea and put it in an asteroid!

Jack TengWhat are your plans to conquer the world?

I will make fill the world with delicious ferments! Mooohahahahaha! Seriously though, my partner and I really enjoy making fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kvass, bread, natto, miso… hell, you name it we probably fermented it. One day everyone will love deliciousness of the partially rotten food!

What research rabbit-holes have you been down while writing? What was the most interesting, or the most tedious?

One of the more complicated topics I was looking into was how to terraform the moon. I was very saddened when I learned that the moon’s gravity just couldn’t support an atmosphere. But then I thought about whether it could be an atmosphere with different gases, and then… I had to abandon the project because it was getting ridiculous.

How often do you provide a cat sleeping spot- I mean, write? Do you have a comfy chair and a routine, or do you freelance cat-nap style?

I’m usually pretty regimented when I write. I often try to squeeze in 500 words in the morning and then 500 words in the evening. This way I can target about 7-8000 words a week.

When you’re not writing, what do you spend your time doing? Besides looking at cat pictures on the internet, obviously.

Usually cooking and experimenting with food! For my birthday this year, I’m most excited about what I’ll be cooking up. It’s an interesting, roundish body part and there are two of them, but they’re not eyeballs or kidneys. Can you guess what it is? I’ll be cooking it in pork lard flavoured with sumac, and I’ll be eating them with smashed potatoes cooked with hops-butter! YES!

Is there anything you’ve read/seen recently that would be worthy of my attention?

I really enjoyed Maggie Shen King’s An Excess Male. Brilliant!

Because my bosses Grim and Bold brought me this interview – along with half a vole and what I sincerely hope is only a hairball – they’ve got a few questions of their own…

Cats. Fabulous, or completely fabulous?

Utterly fabulous!

What’s your second-favourite food? Because obviously you are a human of taste and discretion, and therefore your favourite is tuna.

Tomato sauce

Bold’s bow tie: excellently stylish, or rather dashing?

Dashing!

14212167_10154346725991826_5900355182089162614_nOn a scale of ‘excellent’ to ‘needs more practise’, how good are you at giving ear scratches?

Peerless

 

Art of War Anthology: Out Now!

It’s here! Booknest.eu’s supermassive anthology of war-themed fantasy fiction short stories, produced to benefit Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) is OUT NOW as an ebook and a paperback.

What do you get? Stories from Ed Greenwood, Anna Smith-Spark, Anna Stephens, Dyrk Ashton, Laura M Hughes, some bloke called Steven Poore, I have literally no idea what he’s doing in there, Brian Staveley, Ed Greenwood, John Gywnne, Nicholas Eames, RJ Barker, Stan Nicholls, Mark Lawrence, and at least twenty-five more, plus a great fuzzy feeling for having put a bit of money towards a great cause.

Oh, and if you’ve bought the paperback – go you! – each of the 40 stories has a brilliant illustration by Jason Deem specifically for that tale.

Today – 13th February, Pancake Day – you’ll be able to catch some of the contributing authors, as well as project editor Petros Triantafyllou, doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything) over on reddit’s r/Fantasy board. I’ll be popping in & out as time allows (between pancakes, basically, and with Golden Syrup since you ask).

My story in the book, Asalantir Forever, has been getting some good advance notices over on Goodreads – here’s a selection…

So far it’s the first story that displays trenches, an image I have in my head when thinking about wars (due to the childhood nights spent in front of the TV). I liked the language. It offers some strong imagery and nice sentences like this one:
Spill offers a flaccid skin. The Pride takes a mouthful each. The last of the water. It tastes of dirt and death, just as the air does.

More Please! Award: Asalantir Forever by Steven Poore. It’s a really exciting high fantasy story with magic involved in the warfare beyond just as artillery fire.

 I’ve had a weakness for stories that deal with the particular futility of life in the trenches since Blackadder Goes Forth. This one had strong writing and powerful imagery.

Adrian Collins, over at Grimdark Magazine, meanwhile, had this to say:

Jin and her pride join the assault through the bloody trenches to take the walls of Asalantir. A fun read start to finish, and I really enjoyed the idea of trench warfare in a medieval fantasy setting. Plenty to enjoy about this one. 4/5

If I’ve not convinced you yet, go take a good look at that contents page over on Amazon, and do a Good Thing.

Art of War Purchase Link!

Venn and Now

Today’s storm in a teacup in fantasyland was the brief and unlooked-for revival of a Venn diagram, on Twitter. Take a look, and see if you can spot what’s wrong with it.

Now for context, let’s point out that the diagram was originally posted in a blog in August 2015, and the author specifically asked, in the post, for more women authors to be suggested in the comments. Which means that he knew the diagram was badly flawed. But not so flawed that he couldn’t resist resurrecting it now without any corrections, tweeting it without that context. Unsurprisingly, with that context not in view, folks started to get upset, and the author removed the tweet in a huff (well, in a huff with me, at least…).

Now, let’s finish sighing and shaking our heads, and agree that this is a bad diagram. It was bad in 2015, when the author didn’t add the suggested women to it, and it’s still bad now. Pratchett and Erikson are hardly alike, and nor are Bakker and Hobb. And while you could still perhaps argue that GRRM was a central pivot of the fantasy genre in 2015, I think the genre has changed massively since then.

In fact, this is a highly exclusionary diagram. These 25 are on the inside; everybody else is outside. Don’t bother reading outside this diagram, there’s nothing out there. Everything else is irrelevant. Well, that’s pretty bullshit. I like these authors but as Jake said at the end of the Gunslinger, There are other worlds than this.

Here’s the important bit:

Fantasy isn’t a Venn diagram. It’s a landscape. It’s a map. There are hidden treasures. Close your eyes, take a stab, that’s your starting point. Pick a direction, any direction. Go. Stay on the road, go off-road, up into the mountains, down into the grimdark swamps, have a good old ramble. See what’s around the next corner, and the corner after that. Make your own map. By all means ask for advice along the way, ask for directions, but don’t force yourself to travel only in one direction. Don’t go walling yourself in. Don’t get caught in dead ends. Tear down the borders. See that empty space beyond the Venn diagram? It’s all yours.

Empire Dance 5: Weapons Free – Out Now!

Yes, it’s true, at last, the fifth part of The Empire Dance is live! Weapons Free was released digitally this morning – hurrah!

You may be wondering why it has taken so long to get this fifth part onto the shelves. The answer is remarkably simple: there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Since The Packard Defence, I’ve been promoting Malessar’s Curse (Heir to the North and The High King’s Vengeance), getting both those books converted into audio format, writing short stories (one of which, The Witness, is eligible for short story awards this year – just sayin’), writing articles for Fantasy Faction, generally defending small presses and promoting Grimbold Books, and sometimes presenting the SFSF Socials here in Sheffield. Oh, and I have a mundane job, too. Not to mention that I was reluctant to release Weapons Free until I had brushed the rest of the Empire Dance books into more glossy shape.

(New covers – shiny, huh?)

So: happy book birthday, Weapons Free! Whooooop!

The Art of War

Revealed this morning over on Fantasy Book Critic, here’s the rather stunning cover for the charity anthology The Art of War, due on 13th February 2018, raising funds for Medicins Sans Frontieres. There’s 40 stories in this massive, epic project, nearly all of them accompanied by illustrations by Jason Deem. Edited by Tim Marquitz, and conceived by Petros Triantafyllou of Booknest.eu, The Art of War looks to be a veritable who’s who of dynamic modern fantasy and, folks, you should totally get yours reserved.

The Art of War – cover by John Anthony di Giovanni and Shawn King

Amazon US ¦ Amazon UK ¦ Goodreads

Self-interest alert: yes, The Art of War contains something by me – Asalantir Forever! is a nippy little bugger that takes swords & sorcery into the trenches and shows that you can do the same thing over and over again… and the results will never change.

Still here? Don’t forget that Empire Dance 5 – Weapons Free launches in early January! And there’s still time to enter the Twitter-based giveaway compo for e-copies of Malessar’s Curse!

The Season of Giving! [Giveaway Alert!]

Because it’s been a sucky year all around, what with shit demagogues and rubbish policies, I thought I’d try to lighten the load for some of you. Well, three of you, at any rate. Goodreads are being scumbutts with their giveaways, so I figured I could give a few ebooks away instead.

All you have to do is follow me and Grimbold Books on Twitter (@stevenjpoore and @GrimboldBooks) and RT the tweet shown below, and you’re in the draw to win both parts of Malessar’s Curse – that’s Heir to the North and High King’s Vengeance – in either epub or mobi format.

The draw will take place on Christmas Eve, and I’ll be in touch with the lucky winners after that!