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!

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ED5 – Weapons Free – 30 Days Away!

It’s true! No, really! Weapons Free, the fifth installment of The Empire Dance, a serialised, trope-waving, planet-busting, space opera that began waaaaay back in 2010, is finally in the gates! It’s gnawing at the metal, flanks heaving, eyes on the prize….

…and can be all yours for just 99p, come January 6th 2018! Preorder now!

The lines of power must be redrawn – they cannot remain as they are.

The carefully plotted steps of the Irian Disciples have led to this – a crushing attack on First Fleet’s operational home, Belsea. But with Drift Ghost returned to the fold, High Admiral Bessemer isn’t ready to surrender. On Capitol meanwhile, and deep in the nether dimensions of K-space, Chris Taylor and Mark Ibsen make startling revelations of their own – discoveries that place them even deeper in peril. Something must give, something must change.

It’s time to start fighting back.

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Weapons Free!

I often get asked when the next installment of The Empire Dance will come out. (When I say often, I mean at least two people have expressed interest in it. That’s good enough for me.) More on that to come, but it did make me wonder if I ought to give the first four volumes of the series a bit of a clean-up – Echoes of War first came out in 2010, and I’ve learned a fair bit since then. Plus, the cover art was  rather… yeah. Not good.

So I’ve disabled all the old paperback versions, and decided to retire the series from Smashwords – no offence to Mark Coker, but I don’t think anybody goes to Smashwords for decent genre fiction these days. I certainly can’t remember the last time I bought anything from there.

Volume by volume, I’ve worked my way through the series and quietly reissued them through the Kindle Unlimited programme (much as I may dislike Amazon’s chokehold on digital fiction). Echoes of War was the first to benefit, of course, with a couple of additional scenes and a bit of tightening up, as well as some funky new cover art. I’ve taken the opportunity to tweak the hyperlinks inside too, because by ‘eck it needed it. All of the first four titles – Echoes, Midwinter Fury, The Kiiren Boy, and The Packard Defence – are out with spiffing new artwork, and if you’re not a big fan of the Unlimited package then you can still grab them all for less than the price of two cups of coffee. Good value, what?

You want to see those covers? Eh? Go on then….

You can find out more about each book by using this site’s menu – see the Empire Dance there? Go on…. dare ya.

Book review – The Sub-Genres of British Fantasy Literature

The Sub-Genres of British Fantasy Literature by A.J. DaltonAdam (AJ) Dalton’s slender exegesis is part of his PhD work, serving to help position his own fiction at the forefront of the subgenre of metaphysical fantasy that he coined back in 2008. That subgenre, Dalton claims, is a darker evolution and extension of traditional epic fantasy, reflecting the cynicism and anxieties of the modern world yet still maintaining many of the traditional tropes and never turning as nihilistic as Grimdark. While the heroes and Chosen Ones of metaphysical fantasy may go on quests to save the world, and to discover themselves, they may break both in the process. Unlike traditional epic fantasies, there may not be happy endings, but unlike Grimdark, there is always hope.

The evidence Dalton gathers to support this argument relies on examination of his own books (notably Necromancer’s Gambit and Empire of the Saviours) and contrasts against other leading fantasy literature, as well as the social and historical context of previous subgenres of fantasy. I can’t help feeling that a greater examination of the development and differences between metaphysical fantasy and Grimdark might have been beneficial, given Grimdark’s continued dominance in the field – though as it stands I firmly support Dalton’s assertion that metaphysical fantasy ploughs a more hopeful and optimistic field, since despite the bleakness of the times we still need heroes, even if they are broken ones.

I’m also slightly surprised that Dalton doesn’t focus more on the work of Michael Moorcock, whose conflicted Eternal Champion surely has to be the Golden Age progenitor of metaphysical fantasy, but that is probably an argument for somebody far more scholarly than myself. In effect Dalton has laid the groundwork for a robust discussion of the history and context of British fantasy literature, that I can happily recommend both to fans of the fantastic and to folk who have less familiarity with the genre.

Luna Press Publishing, 2017. ISBN: 9781911143161
Buy it here.

As an endnote, I’m musing as to whether Heir to the North and The High King’s Vengeance would fit into the sub-genre of metaphysical fantasy. Obviously I prefer to describe myself as an Epic Fantasist, but HTTN and HKV certainly fit a few of the definitions of the sub-genre. There is hope, and faith despite all that happens, everything that breaks or is destroyed, and though the end is not happy, it’s definitely not grim. Dalton notes that metaphysical fantasy looks at epic fantasy through a prism of the modern day yet still “tolerates challenge and difference, celebrating subversive humour and the courage to act.”

I prefer that worldview than that of Grimdark, which appears to be the only other available side of the coin as far as fantasy is concerned these days. It’s probably interesting to note too, that I approached Grimbold Books with Heir to the North as a result of finding them recommended on Dalton’s website. There’s a bit of a meta link there, isn’t there?

Let me know: am I metaphysical, or just plain Epic?

Live on the Nerd Book Review!

Happy Monday, folks! If you listen to podcasts – and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t – then you might just be interested in the Nerd Book Review podcast, available on itunes and Podbean, amongst many other platforms. Especially because this week NBR’s host Cameron is talking to an award-nominated Epic Fantasist and SFSF Socialist from Sheffield. You’ll never guess who that is…

Listen, comment, rate, and share!

Fantasycon 2017: Aftermath

Well, that happened!

You may have noticed that I was on the shortlist for Best Fantasy Novel at the BFS Awards this year – I did mention it once or twice. I didn’t win, and nor did Grimbold’s other shortlisted novel, Joanne Hall’s The Summer Goddess, but that wasn’t unexpected. (I did win some stroopwafels, which definitely was unexpected)

Best Fantasy Novel went to Adrian Tchaikovsky, for The Tiger and The Wolf, and I think he rather deserves it too. And I also reckon Jen Williams is more than worth a shout for The Ninth Rain next year. There y’go, you heard it here first.

No automatic alt text available.But while that award didn’t go Grimbold’s way, the award for Best Independent Press did. I’m absolutely over the moon for Sammy, Zoe, Jo, Kate, Joel, and all the other Grimmies who have put in such a massive amount of hard work over the last few years to make Grimbold Books a fantastic, professional, and passionate genre publisher that can stand toe to toe with some of the biggest names in modern fantasy and not look out of place.

And that reminds me…

My sole panel appearance of the weekend was on the subject of small presses, alongside Ian Whates, Francesca Barbini, Donna Scott, David Riley, and Peter Mark May. It was interesting to hear all of the other panelists mentioning the difficulties that small presses face in getting word of mouth and decent publicity for their titles in a marketplace that skews heavily toward the polar opposites of The Big Five and the densely populated white noise of self-published titles. Obviously, I’m a massive advocate of small presses, despite the low regard in which they are held by the vast majority of the self-pubbers. I firmly believe that small presses have a hell of a lot to offer to authors. If you don’t believe me, look at the sheer breadth of subgenres and titles that such presses embrace. Look at the #smallpressbigstories articles up on Fantasy Faction. Look at the academic work that both Luna Press and Fox Spirit have put out. Look at our award nominations. We didn’t get there by accident, y’know.

And yet, outside of conventions, it’s difficult for a small press to get any traction in the genre, flooded as it is with the same old names and their adherents endlessly banging the drum on every forum ever. Blame Amazon, blame Waterstones? Blame small-c conservatism on the readers’ part? If I had any of the answers, you’d be the first to know.

Heaven knows, small presses will never have the same reach and visibility as the Big Five, I’m not asking for that. But guys, you won’t get cooties from reading small press fiction. Live a little.

Chopper on Tour: Fantasycon 2017!

In what is swiftly becoming an annual tradition, or an old charter, or something¹, I’ll be attending Fantasycon 2017 at the end of this month. This year, after the northern wilds of York, Nottingham, and Scarborough, FCon takes place in the rarefied airs of Peterborough, at the Bull Hotel. I don’t have anything new to launch this time around, but I’ll be on a panel discussing small press publishing on Sunday at 10am, and reading – probably from The Witness, but that may change – at 11am alongside Lee Harrison and Ritchie Valentine-Smith.

Oh, and there’s the small matter of an awards ceremony later on Sunday afternoon. 🙂 If that sounds presumptuous, don’t worry – my money’s firmly on one of the other three riders.

I will definitely have copies of HKV and HTTN on hand to sell, should you not have picked them up yet.

See you there!

 

¹Apologies to Robert Rankin