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March 2010
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Previews: Quirk

Much to everyone's surprise, Quirk hit the big time with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. How are they following that up in 2010?

Android Karenina (Quirk Classics) Android Karenina: The latest episode in Quirk's free-wheeling abuse of classics is based on a Tolstoy book that no one has ever actually completed. I shudder to think of what the Jane Eyre or Tale of Two Cities pitches must've been like if this is the winning title. With a print run of 200,000 copies, Quirk are betting that this is another winner. Out in June.

Night of the Living Trekkies: Co-written by Kevin Anderson and Sam Stall, this comedy/adventure has a lot of Trek-obsessed convention-goers fighting... zombies. Either the ultimate in wishful thinking or the height of sad, this is the "final frontier of zombie science-fiction mash-ups!". Released in September.

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Mieville x The Media

  • Sci Fi London, panellist for "The Faith Wars" and "Coffee With . . ." (2nd May)
  • An Evening with SFX Waterstone's Piccadilly (10th May)
  • Writing on the Wall festival Liverpool (11th May)
  • Forbidden Planet and the Literary & Philosophical Society event with Helen Oyeyemi, Newcastle (12th May)
  • Forbidden Planet London plus bloggers party [Editor's note: ?!] (20th May)
  • Topping & Co, Ely (25th May); Stoke Newington Literary Festival (5th June)
  • Birmingham Book Festival (October)
  • Cheltenham Literary Festival guest director (October)
  • China will also be leading a discussion about krakens in literature on BBC Radio 3.

(All dates from The Bookseller)

Worth noting that all of this would've been put into place before last night's Arthur C Clarke Award win. China Mieville's awesome, but his advance team? Even better. 

Previews: Cinebook

13-jpg Some of the most intriguing genre releases we spotted at the London Book Fair were from Cinebook, who translate European comics for those trapped in English.

As well as bringing more books from long-running series like Blake & Mortimer, Largo Winch and Thorgal, fans have three more titles to lust after:

XIII: A man washes ashore, barely alive. He has forgotten everything, including his name. The only clue is the number XIII tattooed on his shoulder... Originally serialized in 1984, XIII was created by Jean Van Hamme. All 19 books will be published in English for the first time from Cinebook, starting in May 2010, released at the rate of one new volume every two months.

Valerian: A science-fiction epic originally created in 1967. Valerian and Laureline are agents from the future. They travel to 1986 (a weird, Apocalyptic version thereof) to chase down a criminal mastermind. The only comic illustrated by Jean-Claude Mezeries, the famous film set designer (see: "The Fifth Element"). 

Apparently there are a few similarities between Valerian and Star Wars as well. Not that I distrust Lucas (gasp!), but that only makes me more curious to check out this series. Released in English starting in July.

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One to watch (in 2011): Thomas Koloniar's Cannibal Reign. The last five Green Berets take a stand in a grim future where the Sun has burnt out and human kind has begun to savagely feed upon itself. Something cheering for the wishlist...

PK Interview: Alexis Kennedy (Part 2)

Previously, we cornered award-winning games designer Alexis Kennedy and tried to get him to reveal the secrets of the Cantigaster. 

We failed, but did learn what happens when you put on "The King in Yellow" as the class play.


So, when you're not building them - what games do you play? 

Ordinary-jpg What don't I. Sims, real-time or turn-based strategy, FPSs, CRPGs, IF, funky one-clever-idea Flash games. 

I don't really play tabletop RPGs or board games any more, but I suppose I tend to like their lineal descendants. I think a really good CRPG is probably my default comfort zone, but most of them are shockingly ordinary. 

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Alan Moore x Gorillaz x John Dee

From a Damon Albarn interview with Vulture:

Since it takes Jamie four years to do the art, have you started work on your next project yet?

D.A.: I have. I've moved onto another opera. An opera opera this time. 

The one you're writing with Alan Moore — what can you tell us about it? 

D.A.: It's based on the life of John Dee, who was a very influential force in Elizabethan Europe, especially England. He was responsible for creating the concept of the British Empire. So he affects all our lives in one way or another. He was an alchemist … It's about his life.

Do you know what the music will sound like? 

D.A.: No, not really. This will be the first time I've stopped writing for six months; I've just been reading about Hermetic magic and catalysts and philosophy, which is what all of his stuff is based on — Euclid and Pythagoras and all of that stuff. It's a lot. And it's been brilliant. I've got an idea of how it's going to sound.

Top 5 from Chris Claremont: 1) "Dark Phoenix Saga", 2) early Excalibur, 3) "Inferno" (such a guilty pleasure), 4) "God Loves, Man Kills", 5) Sovereign Seven (despite the awful ending). Just missed: "Days of Future Past". Bottom 1: his vile squicking of Exiles.

Underground Reading: Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

Retribution Falls (2009)Retribution Falls (2009) is a cheeky little science-fantasy adventure that earned a nomination for last year's Arthur C. Clarke Award. As shown with Malice, Wooding seems devoted to telling rollicking adventure yarns. Retribution Falls is essentially the same - a wild and wacky children's story with a thin layer of "mature" motivations over the top. 

Darien Frey is the roguish captain of a battered zeppelin. After fighting in a senseless, bloody war, he's taken to life on the fringes of society. Frey keeps a low profile to avoid both the government and bigger criminal fish, making ends meet by running dodgy cargo from one place to another - invariably getting caught up in ambitious schemes.

His crew includes his silent, menacing, right-hand lieutenant that he met during the war, a pilot with a tendency to babble inanely, a posh passenger on the run, a mysterious & silent woman with inhuman powers and a gun-crazy soldier played by Chuck's Adam Baldwin. (One of these is a lie.)

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Previews: Accent, Max Crime, Titan and More

More foxy genre releases from a handful of publishers:

John Carpenter jacket image John Carpenter (Kamera): Colin Odell and Michelle Le Blanc pretend to take Carpenter seriously in this pocket book of film analysis. Released in July. The same publisher is also releasing Asian Horror (June), Neonoir (July) and Blaxploitation (September) in the same series.

Blonde on a Stick (Max Crime): Conrad Williams' PI Joel Sorrell tracks down a serial killer in London. Honestly, I put this on the list because I like the title. Released in July.

The Women's Club (Max Crime): Michael Crawley and Laurie Clayton tell an "everyman" thriller. When Jack Hale takes his daughter out to dinner, they see a murder take place. Everything is this neatly covered up. Is there some sort of crazy conspiracy... run by women? (GOOD LORD, NO!) Released in September.

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PK Interview: Alexis Kennedy (Part 1)

No game has absorbed our lives recently like Echo Bazaar

We encountered Alexis Kennedy, the game's devious mastermind, at the Victoria & Albert. After correctly predicting that Anne was an assassin in a previous life, he allowed us to talk him into an interview.


copyright Failbetter GamesSo, while we've got you cornered - what is the Cantigaster?

A vigorous and unexpected inhabitant. An effective parent to its many children. An indefatigable and inventive visitor. 

Ok, now that we've cleared that up, can you tell us a bit about the origins of Failbetter Games? Was this a lifelong dream or a spur-of-the-moment decision?

I've been a software developer for a godawfully long time, and really I've always wanted to do something like this. Social games and browser games are doing well at the moment, so this was the precise shape it took. 

Basically, I built it in my bedroom. 

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