SpeculativeFiction


Knife of Dreams contest...

Tor Books is running a contest as a publicity stunt for the October 11th release of Knife of Dreams, the next Wheel of Time novel.  The idea is that you answer a trivia question about the series and get a chance to win a weekly prize.  They're having some technical difficulties with the server, so this is a good time to catch up on the past weeks' questions.

I just hope that the book they release is worth the publicity machine they're putting behind it.

Sat Aug 27 15:55:20 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments

By The Sword

By The Sword, sometimes called Kerowyn's Tale, is the first of what I call the Heraldic Biographies -- by which I mean stand-alone novels describing an individual Herald's life from the moment of being Chosen to the completion of their life's main adventure. Kerowyn's story substantially predates the rest, and ends up being vital to later events.

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Tue Aug 23 00:08:38 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments

Oathbreakers

Having made their reputation as independent mercenaries, Tarma and Kethry set out to advance their careers by joining an established mercenary company. Their hope is simple enough: work hard, rise up through the ranks, and eventually, attract the attention of a noble with land to grant and some need that only Tarma and Kethry can soothe. For values of soothing that involve swords and sorcery, of course.

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Mon Aug 22 23:52:30 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments

The Oathbound

The story of Tarma and Kathry, shin'a'in swordsworn and white-winds mage, begins as a short story published in a collection. After two or three stories, the characters made it into a full-fledged novel set slightly before the events in the Arrows of the Queen trilogy. Although this book successfully stands alone, readers will want to read the sequel Oathbreakers, and may also be interested in Oathblood (which collects the short stories concerning the two main characters into a single volume).

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Mon Aug 22 23:40:55 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments

Sundiver

Across known space, Humanity is a rare example of a species that achieved sentience and a starfaring civilization without the evident help of a Patron race. In the eyes of some aliens, this makes them unique; in others, it makes them outcasts. Humans have earned themselves a tenuous status in Galactic society, however, as they had already Uplifted two other races - chimpanzees and dolphins - by the time of First Contact.

With the gift of alien technology, Humans are exploring the environs of Sol itself. Drawn into the Sundiver project by an alien friend, the scientist Jacob Demwa soon finds that the sun may harbor the secret behind Humanity's apparent lack of Patronage. But strange behavior from everyone involved - Earth natives and aliens both - puts the entire project at risk, and Jacob has the opportunity to sort things out - if he can get his own fractured mind to cooperate with him.

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Sat Aug 20 02:08:06 CDT 2005 by tsarren@infodancer.org. Comments

Startide Rising

Startide Rising picks up about 200 years after Sundiver left off. The first mostly-dolphin starship crew is assembled and sent on a survey mission. Upon finding a huge derelict fleet of unknown origin and sending a message home about it, several hostile races hound the small survey craft until she crashes in the ocean of a metal-rich waterworld.

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Sat Aug 20 02:04:08 CDT 2005 by tsarren@infodancer.org. Comments

Magic's Price

Vanyel Ashkevron, Herald-Mage of Valdemar, is no longer young, and no longer on the front lines. His tremendous talents of mind and magic -- along with an impressive reputation -- are employed within the walls of Haven, running the kingdom of Valdemar according to the wishes of King Randale. But Randale's health is failing fast, and there are other problems lurking just out of sight. The "ordinary" Heralds, without Vanyel's mage-talents, feel themselves worthless in comparison... and the feeling is returned by the people of Valdemar, who would rather deal with a problem themselves then call for help and
receive just an ordinary Herald.

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Mon Aug 15 22:20:29 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments

Magic's Promise

Vanyel Ashkevron, Herald-Mage of Valdemar, has faced the worst that the world can throw at him. Karsite demons, enemy mages, creatures from the Pelagirs; he has faced and defeated them all. The bards he once aspired to join now sing songs of his exploits to a rapt nation. Young women worship his image while fearing to approach a legend. Even his teacher, Savil, acknowledges that Vanyel's talents have exceeded her own in many areas. There is only one threat that Vanyel has yet to face: his family.

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Sat Aug 13 20:55:36 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments

Magic's Pawn

Magic's Pawn, the first book in Mercedes Lackey's The Last Herald-Mage trilogy, is a superb coming-of-age adventure. The trilogy itself is without a doubt the best thing Lackey has ever written, and represents required reading for fantasy fans even if the rest of Lackey's work holds no appeal. The story begins approximately two centuries prior to the events of Arrows of the Queen, at time when mages were still well-known within Valdemar...

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Wed Aug 10 23:14:50 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments

Take a Thief

Take a Thief is a standalone novel that functions as a biography for Skif, one of the supporting characters in Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series. It's a return to a previous time in the Valdemar universe, filling out events and characters previously only hinted at. Both the characters and the events benefit from a fresh look by a writer whose skill has grown substantially since the Arrows of the Queen trilogy, and fans of the series will enjoy a look at Valdemar's criminal underclass -- something which the majority of Lackey's books mention only in passing.

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Sat Aug 06 23:22:07 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments

Arrow's Fall

Arrow's Fall completes the story of Talia, Queen's Own Herald of Valdemar. Returning from her internship, Talia's friends and allies at Court welcome her back with the news that the Queen is considering a betrothal for Elspeth, heir to the throne, at the insistence of her advisors. The betrothal offer came from Ancar of Hardorn, a neighboring kingdom with a history of friendship, if not outright alliance, but something about the situation doesn't sit right with the Queen -- nor with the Queen's Own.

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Sat Aug 06 23:03:25 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments

Arrow's Flight

Arrow's Flight is the second novel of the Arrows of the Queen trilogy, and the second in Mercedes Lackey's tales of Valdemar. It picks up the story with the completion of Talia's Collegium training, and about to begin her internship with one of the other Heralds. The internship period is the final test before becoming a full-fledged Herald, and it will take Talia out of the capital city of Haven and into the northern border areas of Valdemar. But the real dangers of the journey are not those of bandits, insular village folk, or court intrigue; for Talia's own gift of Empathy is an unusual one, and the other Heralds have little idea how to train her properly in its use and ethics...

Sat Aug 06 22:45:04 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments

Fantastic Four

Not much to say about this one. It was a credible adaptation of the concept, managing to get the characters basically right and include some of the classic comic visuals. Unfortunately it's not really anything to write home about. Good enough, but nothing special, except for the better-than-competent special effects.

Sat Aug 06 22:32:02 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments

New Highlander movie?

Professor Bainbridge reports on rumors of a new (fifth) Highlander movie.  He's skeptical, and I don't blame him.  As the saying goes, "There should have been only one."  Nevertheless I predict I will see it, in the faint hope that they will actually get it right for once.

I do have to take mild issue with Bainbridge's claim that Lambert is a "competent martial arts star"; Lambert's fighting in Highlander is very impressive, considering that he's apparantly so nearsighted as to be nearly blind without his glasses, which of course he's not allowed to wear when pretending to be an immortal.  In actual fact, it comes off well enough to carry the movie for someone who doesn't actually know anything about fighting, but that's about all.  Lambert gets the character perfectly, he's just not really up to the fight scenes.  (Lambert does a much better job in The Hunted, where he isn't asked to play an expert, and the other stars really are expert enough to pass the smell test).

Sat Aug 06 22:28:26 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments

Since I'm doing Brust interviews, here's an old one...

This one's from BookSlut, and it's got some interesting tidbits in it, but nothing of major import.

Sat Aug 06 22:21:26 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments

Triplanetary

The first volume in the Chronicles of the Lensmen, Triplanetary brings a tedious 6-chapter introduction to the universe of the Lensmen before focusing on the intricacies of the story itself... the story of a time before the Lens, and humanity's first successful encounters with the agents of Eddore. There's a lot of science, a lot of heroic secret-agent-scientists, and a lot of interstellar
conflict with impressive technobabble. Clearly, this is where space opera was born.

Categories Space Opera

Sat Aug 06 22:17:20 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments

Arrows of the Queen

Arrows of the Queen is probably Mercedes Lackey's first published work, or close to it, and that shows; although it's well written for a first novel, it has the rough edges of inexperience, and a certain naive simplicity that renders it eminently suitable for children (really, young teenagers) and sometimes less engrossing for adults. All her works tend to have a touch of those qualities, but Arrows of the Queen is an explicitly escapist fantasy: a young girl's dream of magical horses to cure her loneliness and carry her
away from all her troubles. The cliche is so thick that I'm always surprised at how well the actual story is told within that framework.

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Sat Aug 06 22:15:06 CDT 2005 by Matthew. Comments



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