Saturday, October 31, 2009
But what to read? Well, you do a lot worse than the Pax Britannia ghost story Vanishing Point which appears in the back of Leviathan Rising, available now from Abaddon Books.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
It is almost reassuring to read Jonathan Green's Stormslayer and realize that he is still one of the most sadistic gamebook designers in existence.
It goes on... To read more of Mrs Giggles(!) review of Stormslayer yourself, click here - go on, I dare you! Having read more myself I was reminded of this quote by the novelist Kingsley Amis:
If you can't annoy somebody, there's little point in writing.
So there. ;-)
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
The first is the Ealing Arts and Crafts Fair, where I shall be selling (and signing) copies of What is Myrrh Anyway? The fair is being held at St James' Church on Saturday 7 November, and I'll be there between 10.00am and 4.00pm, apparently in a marquee outside - so pray for good weather for me!
And then on Tuesday 10 November I shall be appearing at the Beyond Words Festival, at University College School from 2.30-3.30pm. I shall be talking briefly about the how I came to write What is Myrrh Anyway? and will then be hosting a fun - but challenging - Christmas quiz, as well as signing copies of my books. To reserve your ticket for this event, ring the UCS Box Office on 020 7433 2219.
Maybe I'll see you at one or the other? If you do pop along, say "Hi!" and tell me the blog sent you!
Sunday, October 25, 2009
One of those people was Jervis Johnson, Games Workshop games designing legend. I also got to catch up with the guys from the Black Library, including Nick Kyme, Alex Davis, Graham McNeill and James Swallow. (Apologies to Richard Williams and Gav Thorpe for not managing to chat to them.)
But the real reason I was there was as part of the team from Fighting Fantasy, which included Nick Sidwell from Wizard Books and another legend - Steve Jackson himself! It was great to see all these other luminaries of the business queuing to have their original copies of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain signed by Steve and tell him that that one book was the reason why they are doing what they do today. (And the same goes for me.)
I was also a great pleasure to meet so many fans myself and sign multiple copies of Stormslayer, Bloodbones and Howl of the Werewolf. But the biggest shout has to go out to Jamie Fry of www.fightingfantasycollector.co.uk. He turned up with a bag full of books for me to sign, including an original Puffin edition of Curse of the Mummy, which he tells me now it quite a desirable item these days! The man is a legend himself!
So, all in all, a great day was had by all and all that remains is to thank Nick for inviting me along and the GamesFest organisers for a very well organised con. Here's the GamesFest 5!
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
And even better than that, Steve Jackson himself will be there in the morning to sign books and talk to fans.
To find out more, you can either check out the official Fighting Fantasy website or the dedicated website for GamesFest 4.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
So, with that in mind, this made me smile in a tired, knowing, ironic kind of a way.
Friday, October 16, 2009
First up there's Dan Abnett's tour of the Chaos Wastes (also known as Scotland). Click on the poster below to check details.
And then on Sunday 18 October 2009 at 5.30pm, Steve Jackson will be attending the Cheltenham Literature Festival and offering those Fighting Fantasy fans in attendance a unique opportunity to participate in an exciting audio Fighting Fantasy adventure. To find out more, click here.
Melody Sheep's amazing musical tribute to two great men of modern science, the late Dr Carl Sagan and his cosmologist companion Stephen Hawking. Here they present A Glorious Dawn - Cosmos remixed. Almost all the samples and footage were taken from Carl Sagan's Cosmos and Stephen Hawking's Universe series.
Samuel Johnson (1709-84)
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Admission is free, so if you're in the area, why not pop along and say "Hello"?
I then dug deeper and uncovered a deep and lasting resentment of my work, combined with a bizarre masochistic streak as she(?) had read at least four of my gamebooks.
Well, from what I've read elsewhere, I would have to say that Mrs Giggles is in a vocal minority - of one! Her(?) criticisms of the book's structure smack of someone who made the wrong choices and went the wrong way and then blamed the book and the author for their own shortcomings. But never mind, there's always the next one - Night of the Necromancer - to get them really wound up all over again!
And remember, just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you!
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
From redesigned practical items to fantastical contraptions, the exhibition, curated by Art Donovan, showcases the work of eighteen Steampunk artists from across the globe. So expect ’steam-powered’ computer mice, clockwork hearts, brass goggles and the latest state-of-the-Steampunk-art eye-pod.
A whole host of special steampunk-themed events have been planned (including one for Christmas) and they start today (and are listed below). And don't forget, to get you in the mood, Abaddon Books currently have five steampunk adventures in the Pax Britannia series already published, with Blood Royal coming soon and more to follow after that in 2010.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009, 07:00 PM
Special Event: Steampunk Curator's Talk
Art Donovan, curator of the current special exhibition gives his insider's view of the Steampunk movement and the story of the exhibition.
Saturday, 17 October 2009, 12:00 PM-04:00 PM
Family-Friendly Drop In: Lightning Strikes!
Lecture: Science and Technology in the History of Fashion
A public lecture by Sue Jenkyn Jones linked to the Steampunk exhibition. Sue Jenkyn Jones is course director for the MA in Digital Fashion Technology at the London College of Fashion. She is a consultant to the fashion industry and author of a number of books on fashion.
Friday, 30 October 2009, 12:00 PM-04:00 PM
Family-Friendly Drop In: Steampunk Big Draw
Saturday, 07 November 2009, 02:00 PM-04:00 PM
Special Event: Steam Silhouettes
Family-Friendly Workshop: Tick-Tock Clockwork
Find out how a mechanical clock works and make a clockwork mechanism. This session is suitable for children aged 9+ and must be booked in advance - either by emailing email@example.com or calling 01865 277280. A voluntary materials donation of £5 is suggested.
Sunday, 15 November 2009, 02:30 PM-03:00 PM
Table Talk: Cheap and Nasty?
Friday, 27 November 2009, 07:00 PM-11:00 PM
Special Event: Gaslight - late night opening
Wednesday, 09 December 2009, 07:00 PM
Special Event: Steampunk Film Evening
Certain films have been inspirational for the Steampunk movement, while in turn it has inspired some contemporary film-making. This film evening shows a programme of cult and new Steampunk films. More details available here shortly.
Saturday, 16 January 2010
Special Event: Makers' Day
Saturday, 30 January 2010, 02:00 PM-05:00 PM
Special Event: Steampunk Live Manikins
Saturday, 06 February 2010, 02:00 PM-04:00 PM
Family-Friendly Drop In: Magical Movies
Saturday, 13 February 2010
Special Event: 10/10 STEAM
Following the example set by such modern classics as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter and Mr Darcy, Vampyre, it re-imagines Dickens' A Christmas Carol as a modern zombie apocalypse blockbuster.
Marley was dead. Again.
The legendary Ebenezeer Scrooge sits in his house counting money. The boards that he has nailed up over the doors and the windows shudder and shake under the blows from the endless zombie hordes that crowd the streets hungering for his flesh and his miserly braaaaiiiiiinns!
Just how did the happiest day of the year slip into a welter of blood, innards and shambling, ravenous undead on the snowy streets of old London town?
Will the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future be able to stop the world from drowning under a top-hatted and crinolined zombie horde?
Was Tiny Tim's illness something infinitely more sinister than mere rickets and consumption?
Can Scrooge be persuaded to go back to his evil ways, travel back to Christmas past and destroy the brain stem of the tiny, irritatingly cheery Patient Zero?
It's the Dickensian Zombie Apocalypse - God Bless us, one and all!
To buy your copy of I Am Scrooge, click here.
And if that wasn't enough for you, Alan Goldsher's Paul is Undead: The British Zombie Invasion has been snapped by US publisher Pocket Books for publication in June next year, re-imagining Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison as zombies and Ringo Starr as a ninja in the latest addition to the publishing's hottest, and oddest, new craze: the monster mash-up.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
If you're yet to discover the delights of the Decide Your Destiny gamebooks or my tie-in title The Horror of Howling Hill, why not pick one up here?
It's another artist's interpretation of the Juggernaut from Stormslayer and you can see the influence of the movie Transformers in this version (which also inspired elements of the gamebook, as it happens).
And here's artist Stephen Player's original illustration from the book.
To comment on TheFoundingFields version at deviantART, click here.
To read the article - and its accompanying review of Stormslayer - click here.
I was so pleased, in fact, that I took a photograph.
If you've yet to discover the delights of Stormslayer, you can buy it here. And if you need any persuading, here's what other people are saying about it...
'I was pretty much blown away. Stormslayer snatches many of the rich ingredients from the original Fighting Fantasy titles, but bravely pushes the classic series into the next generation... 9/10' - Sci-Fi-Online.com
'Stormslayer is... another triumph of storytelling and design.' - Amazon.co.uk
'In the first of the new titles, Stormslayer, the hero... needs to harness the four Elements before going on a terrifying adventure into the kingdom of Femphrey... The first decision is made on page one... From then on in, it is your story. Mine featured Earth demons, skeletons, impenetrable landscapes and firewyrms. I battled enemies and thought hard about where I should go next. It was fun. The instructions in the book/game are easy to follow and there is something special about guiding the story yourself. Was I successful in my task? That would be telling – and, of course, your story will be completely different.' - BirminghamPost.net
It all seemed to go very well and I even bagged myself a Triumff poster.
Friday, October 9, 2009
WARNING! After reading her post you may wonder why anyone would ever willingly choose to be a freelance writer.
But after the day my wife had at work today - she's a primary school teacher, by the way - it still seems like the better option to me.
So, if you're in the Big Smoke this weekend, why not pop along to the FP Megastore between 12.30pm and 2.00pm get your own copies of Triumff, signed by Dan 'The Man' Abnett himself, along with Winter Song by Colin Harvey and Kell's Legend by Andy Remic?
And I'll be there, lurking in the background, trying to nab my own free poster. ;-)
PAX BRITANNIA: EVOLUTION EXPECTS
By Jonathan Green
Published by Abaddon Books, £6.99
Reviewed by Paul W. Smith
The latest in the alternative Earth Pax Britannia series, Evolution Expects takes us into a London where the population is under threat of a startling metamorphosis, a giant robot and masked vigilante, giving Jonathan Green further opportunity to expand on the futuristic vision of Britain the series has built up to date. We’re entering a world where the British Empire is still going strong with Queen Victoria on the throne for 150 years, retaining the rusting remnants of the industrial age alongside technical advancements. This is an Empire that’s increasingly stagnating and Londinium Maximum remains under an almost permanent toxic smog. Heroes and villains lurk amongst its vermin-infested streets.
Evolution Expects reintroduces Ulysses Quicksilver the dandified detective who’s is learning to cope with his newly transplanted ape’s arm, and Thomas Sanctuary, who’s now taken on the role of a masked jet-propelled vigilante dubbed Spring-Heel Jack. Their paths cross as they investigate the mysterious sighting of the Golem from Jewish myth and the shocking transformations that have befallen inmates in the Bedlam asylum, ordinary people that are now more insect than human. However, it becomes a race against time to solve the mystery before Prime Minister Devlin Valentine launches the Jupiter Station as an attempt to increase his popularity by cleaning up the city’s atmosphere. But already they have their hands full with gang warfare in the East End, and the alleged sighting of an old enemy, masterminding his latest scheme for domination.
This is a thoughtfully inventive tale where Jonathan Green relishes mixing Victorian Gothic with Sci-Fi adventure. His Londinium is a city which bears some semblance to our own reality but where scientific progress runs parallel with the over-extended trappings of the Victorian age. Giant robots and flying heroes co-exist alongside the opium gangs of Limehouse and the lunatics of Bedlam. There are nods to H.G. Wells and Conan Doyle, as well as to Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Bryan Talbot’s Luther Arkwright. Liberally sprinkled with dramatic set pieces and colourfully eccentric characters, Evolution Expects proves to be an entertaining read, with its own in-built rewards for readers of the whole Pax Britannia series to date, producing what amounts to an ongoing TV series in book form.
This volume also includes the satisfying short novella "Conqueror Worm". Set in 1797, it features the female secret agent, Cassandra Tyrrell, who rescues Sir George Sackville from highwaymen only to become embroiled in his family’s legend of the deadly Lambton Worm.
However, here's a classic example of how not to do it (i.e. by giving away most of the plot so the potential reader doesn't need to read any more), taken from the write-up for George Mann's next steampunk effort The Immortality Engine*.
Newbury has sunk further into his opium addiction, fueled in part by what he sees as Veronica's betrayal and his inability to confront her on the matter of her relationship with the Queen. However, when the body of a well known criminal turns up, Bainbridge and Veronica manage to track Newbury down, lounging in an opium den, and drag him out to help them with the case. Things are not as they at first seem. The body is clearly, irrefutably, that of the man in question, but whilst the body was in the morgue a crime has been committed that bears all the hallmarks of the dead man. The criminal is a compulsive (OCD), and they fear someone is committing copycat crimes. But Newbury is not sure. Somehow, the detail is too perfect for it to be a copycat. But how can a dead man commit a crime? Investigations draw a connection between the dead criminal and The Bastion Society, a group of rich society gentlemen with a shared fascination in the occult. On the surface these men appear to be nothing but amateurs and hoaxers, but it soon becomes clear that there are more sinister machinations at work behind the scenes. They are obsessed with the worship of the dead. And all the while, the dead man continues to commit crimes around the city. Eventually, it all comes back to Dr. Lucius Fabian, personal physician to the Queen and Head of the Grayling Institute, the place where Amelia Hobbes, the clairvoyant sister of Veronica, was installed at the behest of the Queen during the latter chapters of The Osiris Ritual. Newbury and Veronica pay a visit to the Institute, and are appalled to discover what has become of Amelia. She is lashed into a terrible machine which induces seizures, over and over, forcing her to predict the future for the good of the Empire. And more, the Institute contains secrets that could shatter the Empire. But the key to the mystery is here, also. For Fabian has constructed a machine that makes a facsimile of a person, weaving an exact copy of them in a tank. The machine is incomplete, however, and the copy lacks the spark of life. The hearts of these creations are still and dead. The plans for this machine have been stolen, however, and The Bastion Society have funded a machine to be built. The body of the criminal that was found is clearly not the original, who is still at large. But what do The Bastion Society want with these artificial cadavers? And how can Newbury and Veronica help to free Amelia from her terrible fate? And then the even bigger question - can they ever trust each other again? All of this - along with Newbury's opium addiction - will come to a head, and by the end, Newbury & Veronica's relationship will never be the same again.
* You know, the more I read about the books in this series, it's almost just as if somebody got hold of the world bible for Pax Britannia, when Abaddon Books first started accepting submissions for the series, and tried to second guess what I had in mind for that world. There are so many parallels and yet not as fully realised as the plots of the PB series. Coincidence, serendipity, sychronicity, tapping into a common zeitgeist... Who'd've thought it?
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
To find out more, you can either check out the official Fighting Fantasy website or the dedicated website for GamesFest 4.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Now, I am fully aware that this blog post might be a bit of a 'be careful what you wish for moment' but if any of you good folk feel like submitting a couple of lines explaining what you have enjoyed about recent publications of mine then please, go ahead. You never know, I might find some way of thanking you in the future.