Wednesday, 10 March 2010

From Your Blogosphere Correspondent (10/03/10)

My my. Up in Skye, there's wasn't hide nor hair of anything so very sci-fi as an internet connection - not even dial-up! - so I'll admit, I did idly entertain a strange fantasy that without me around to surf it, the internet might just pause or stop in my absence. You know... that whole thing: if a tree falls down in an empty forest, does it make a sound?

Well, at last, I can answer that age-old question. Yes, readers, yes it does. Although without someone to hack it down in the first place, I don't know what business a tree has falling down in the forest. But I digress - for the sake of your sanity and mine.

My RSS reader had maxed out a 500 unread items by the time I got back, so forgive me if I've missed a few notable news stories. Excuses excuses, I know. But that's quite enough introductory burbling... there's so much to get caught up on, let's get this show on the road!

First up, well, where to start?

Well, from my perspective, the most exciting news of the week has to be that HBO, that purveyor of high-quality adult drama, have according to The Hollywood Reporter finally given the green light to the highly-anticipated adaptation of George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones, ordering not only the feature-length pilot but nine further (presumably hour-long) episodes. If things go to plan, each season will comprise the narrative of a single book in the esteemed fantasy sequence... which I've never read. Hmm. Perhaps this is the kick up the arse I need to buy the first book and get the hell on with it.

If nothing else, the description of A Game of Thrones as akin to "The Sopranos with swords" succeeds in pitching it squarely in my direction. Enough that I'm psyched enough about the show to overlook - for the moment - the unfortunate involvement of one Sean Bean's... with this scheduled for early 2011, Boardwalk Empire from Martin Scorsese, a new David Milch show in the shape of Luck, Band of Brothers spin-off The Pacific and The Wire creator David Simon's Treme penciled in to air during the coming year, it looks like HBO might finally be getting back into the business of purveying the aforementioned high-quality adult drama it's been so sorely lacking since all its signature shows reached either natural or unnatural conclusions.

I'm still bearing a grudge about Deadwood, though. There's nothing any of us can do about that. Short of FOX's horrendous treatment of Joss Whedon's wonderful and much-loved Firefly, no ill-considered network decision has enraged me more thoroughly.

In book news, Scott Lynch has resurfaced for just long enough to post on his LiveJournal about the reasons behind the repeated delay of The Republic of Thieves, book three of The Gentlemen Bastards. In his own words: "My silence of the past few months has not been by choice. I have been dealing for some time with bouts of depression, which have been bad, and ongoing panic attacks, which have been orders of magnitude worse."

I'll be honest. It's fair to say I haven't been a great defender of Lynch in the past, either here and elsewhere around the blogosphere - he's made comments before that have struck me as singularly ungrateful and often outright repugnant, slating readers for impatience, poor grammar and a whole host of other things besides. That said, I can sympathise with him here. I had a rough patch myself, a few years back, and even now I'm far from free of the memory of that awful period. So sure. I'll be glad to give Lynch another chance. But let's not forget his behaviour in the past; problematic mental health, as awful as it is - and it surely is - does not equal a free pass to publicly behave like an eejit to the very people who've made him such a success. All I can do is reiterate a piece of advice I once recieved from a very wise man and say let's get back to what matters: the books. In that spirit, roll on The Republic of Thieves!

Now, how does a bit of audiovisual infotainment to break up all the heavy text sound?

Here's a brilliant time-lapse video stolen wholesale from the Orbit blog which condenses the time-intensive process of designing a book cover into less than two minutes:

Makes it look easy, doesn't it? Incredible. The kind of insight into the behind the scenes business of publishing that I wish there were more of. You hear that, Orbit? More, please! Pretty please?

But let's get back to it.

The Oscars happened, didn't they? Hmm. The less said about that sorry affair the better. I get that there's been a huge backlash against Avatar - which you can read my review of here - but I think I'm one of the very few people who've actually seen The Hurt Locker, which, in case you didn't already know, bludgeoned James Cameron's latest fantasy epic in every significant category, and I'll be frank with you: it was good. It was great, even. But it wasn't half as memorable as Avatar. I won't go on, but it's just typical of the Academy to give genre cinema the cold shoulder in favour of some highbrow piece of provocative film. Have they forgotten the outcry over their ill-considered treatment of The Lord of the Rings films so soon?

Last of the big news for today has to be that Gav from the ubiquitous NextRead has announced he's going to be publishing a magazine called --- well, NextRead Magazine. Still, the gent has established a fine name for himself with his blog; why shouldn't he trade on it? It hasn't all been easy going, though, nor, indeed, would you imagine it would be. The story goes that amongst the conditions for submission Gav had iterated was one that you had to pay for a single-issue subscription in order to be considered.

Larry from the OF Blog of the Fallen was, I think, right to challenge him on that point, and thankfully, Gav has wisely altered his policy in accordance. The zero issue is thus scheduled for the 1st of May, themed around the interplay between science fiction and myth, and for the tiny price of £1.50 per issue, I'd heartily recommend all you UK readers get your orders in now. It's this sort of ballsy venture that lends ever more legitimacy to bloggers everywhere, and we'd do well to support it.

If by some happenstance you come across this, Gav, I know we've had our differences in the past, but all that aside, my congrats, mate; I wish you the very best with the mag.

Now then. If that wasn't enough for you, how about a couple of wee stories to warm your speculative cockles?

Orion Books - they of the Sam Sykes, Peter Straub, Scott Lynch, Patrick Rothfuss and the list goes on - have launched a shiny new website, and my, it is shiny. It even comes complete with a brand spanking new Gollancz blog, which I for one will be adding to my RSS reader just as soon as the feed starts working properly. On your marks, readers. Ready... set... and go!

Thanks to a pointer from fellow bloggery sort Aidan Moher, who I'm sure you all know by now dribbles ink here, there's a glorious hour of free Spellright audio to be listened to here at Vimeo. And here I thought I had my to-be-read stack all sorted out. That sublime bit of fiction has gone and got me rearranging it all over again. Oh, for the love of Blake Charlton!

/Film reports that Ridley Scott's prequel to the Alien franchise is to be shot in 3D. This is news? I think not. It's only a thinly veiled excuse for me to say how dreadfully unnecessary this movie is. I mean, sure, it has Scott at the helm, and by all rights I should reserve judgment this early in the game, but I'm sorry: it just ain't Alien without Ellen Ripley. Is there going to be Ellen Ripley? No? Exactly my point.

New trailers have been released for Iron Man 2 and Tron: Legacy since the last time Your Blogosphere Correspondent stopped by to share some news, but I'm not going to embed those - you can follow the links (here and here respectively) if you'd really like to. What I will embed, just before I call it a day, is this:

Found on Neil Gaiman's lovely blog of stuff, I should say. Wasn't that just wonderful? Reminds me of the incredible Honda ad from a few years back... I don't even mind the song.

On that really rather pleasant note, I think it's just about time to call time on this round-up. Your Blogosphere Correspondent has corresponded enough for one day, I think.

Do keep checking The Speculative Scotsman over the next few days, though. I have some very exciting stuff to share with you. Not least a very fun interview with Sam Sykes, a review of Tome of the Undergates and... the blog's first giveaway! Which may or may not tie in with something I've just mentioned. A book, even. Perhaps even three! And every one for you, dear readers.

I knew that would do it for you.

Stay tuned!


  1. You should put A Song of Ice and Fire pretty high on you TBR pile. There is some sort of conclusion after the first three books, in case you're a bit worried about the unfinished state. The 4th, Feast for Crows will probably form some unity with the highly expected Dance of Dragons. I have read it when it came out, but I usually recommend people to wait for Dance and then read both in one fell swoop. :)

    Good news about Gav's endeavour. I felt a little bad for having been so outspoken on Larry's blog, but to avoid paying money to get published is one of the things aspiring writers learn to look out for, so it rubbed my fur the wrong way.

  2. Dance WITH Dragons.

    Grr, damn typo demon.

  3. I agree with you on The Hurt Locker. I enjoyed it, but I didn't think it was THAT special.

  4. I'm intrigued - what were some of Lynch's comments that offended? I always thought he came across quite well, is all.

  5. Great post, I think we must have a very similar set of RSS feeds coming in ;)

    Really looking forward to The Republic of Thieves, I've missed those bastards.

  6. @Mark - It was some things he wrote on his LJ ages ago, even before the long absence, that rankled me. I'm a bit of a grammar nazi myself, given the chance, but Lynch took things to an insulting extreme, raking some fans who'd wrote in wondering why The Republic of Theives was taking so long over the coals and back again. In public, needless to say.

    I don't doubt said fans could have made their enquiries more eloquently, but he made a public spectacle of them simply as an example to anyone else who might dare to ask what was going off. A warning, basically, to all and sundry: dare question me and I'll humiliate you in front of a captive audience.

    In case anyone's wondering, no, I wasn't one of those fans - I just felt awful for them.