Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Superhero Month: The Art of Hector Barros

I came across this tumblr blog quite by accident and was glad to see some very cool, very interesting superhero amalgams on it.  Hector Barros asks his Facebook followers to come up with interesting pairings of DC and Marvel characters and he creates awesome pics like these:

To check out more of Hector's work or even be one of the lucky ones to get their amalgam idea made into art like this, check out his Facebook page here.

Must See TV: More creepiness from AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM

Ryan Murphy and the creative team behind AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM continue to ramp up the excitement and have released more teaser clips in anticipation of the show's debut October 17.  They keep getting better; I especially like "Bandages" and "Taste" reminds me of the red pill/blue pill choice in Matrix...I wonder if one of the inmates is having trouble deciding what's real and what's not?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Superhero Month: SEVEN WONDERS by Adam Christopher

Adam Christopher exploded onto the scene with his debut novel Empire State, and  he is poised to make even more noise with his sophomore effort, Seven Wonders.  Seven Wonders is a big budget summer blockbuster action packed superhero movie, all of it brilliantly captured in novel form and with enough plot twists, secret identities and double crosses to satisfy even the most jaded of comic book aficionados.

Christopher sets his story in the "Shining City" of San Ventura, home to the last superhero team on earth, the Seven Wonders, who protect San Ventura and its citizens from the machinations of the last supervillian, the mysterious Cowl.  The Cowl is a criminal mastermind, with multiple powers at his disposal, and along with his sidekick Blackbird, he keeps the Seven Wonders on their toes.  We also meet Tony Prosdocimi, an average Joe who wakes up one morning to discover he himself has started to develop super powers. Christopher tells his tale through the POV of all these characters, and it moves the action along at a fast clip while illustrating the growth and changes each character goes through by the story's big climax.

Seven Wonders  greatly benefits from Christopher's knowledge of comic books; each chapter is as colorful and action packed as the panels would be if he were a comic book scribe.  The writing is concise, the pace is furious, and many of the chapters end with cliffhangers, compelling the reader to plow right along, unable to put the book down.  And the scope of the story gets bigger, keeping the reader engaged as the threat to San Ventura escalates to to a world wide call to arms to earth's other heroes, defunct and retired individuals still ready to band together and help the Seven Wonders protect the planet.

Adam Christopher has written a big love letter to the Golden and Silver Ages of comics with Seven Wonders.  His affection for the medium is evident, and he's taken that tried and true template and created something new that celebrates all the classic comic book tropes while also being a new and exciting entrant in the superhero genre.  It is truly just as exciting and daring as the other superhero blockbusters that preceded it this summer; it has the edge of your seat action of The Avengers, plus the chilling mystery of The Dark Knight Rises.

I firmly believe that Christopher has written the standard against which other superhero novels will be held  and is himself now coming into his own super-author powers.  Seven Wonders is a big, colorful joy to read and it shows that it was also a joy to write.  The author's love for the genre is stamped on each page and he has even left room for a sequel (or better yet, sequels!) as any good superhero adventurer should.  YES, believe all the hype, run to your favorite bookstore or click your favorite link and buy this book!  (Better yet, let me help!  BAM!  KA-POW!)  It just may be the most fun you're going to have this summer!

Superhero Month: Interview with ADAM CHRISTOPHER

If you read this blog enough, you will remember that I am a big Adam Christopher "fanboy".  His Twitter feed is both informative and entertaining and the wells of his knowledge of comic books/superheroes run deep.  And on top of all this, he is a brilliant writer!  His steampunk novella The Devil In Chains is a dark, Victorian-esque adventure and his debut novel Empire State was one of my favorite reads of 2011 (read review here).

Now today, he and Angry Robot are unleashing Seven Wonders upon the world, a big budget summer blockbuster movie in book form!  It is an action packed read and to help celebrate its release, Adam has kindly agreed to answer a few questions about the book, share the origin of his love of comics and give us a glimpse of what's in store for him in the future!

#1) Today is the release day of your second novel SEVEN WONDERS, an action packed superhero adventure; congratulations!  Where did your inspiration come from for the book?  How far back does your affection for comics and superheroes go?

Adam Christopher: Seven Wonders came from an idea that I'd been kicking around for ages, ever since I'd really started to get into superhero comics.  This idea forms the central concept of the book-although I can't reveal what it is, as it's a little spoilerific!  That tends to be how I write-I have an idea, maybe just a single concept or sometimes a cool scene, one that bounces around in my head for quite a while before it feels like it's ready to be written.

But certainly Seven Wonders was inspired by my love of superhero comics.  Oddly enough, I never read comics as a kid and only started when I was about 25!  I did have an issue of Batman, an issue of Iron Man, and one of those Marvel character encyclopedia things that my dad bought me from a corner store en route to our regular Christmas vacation, sometime in the mid-1980s, and I remember being more interested in the encyclopedia-which was more text based, with biographies and statistics for all these wonderful and weird characters-than in the comics.

About ten years later, a friend of mine in high school was a big fan of 2000AD, and he used to read them at the back of the class, under his desk.  I remember enjoying the issues he loaned me at lunchtimes, but then time passed and I guess our interests moved on.  Around 2003 I was in a bookstore and saw the latest issue of 2000AD, and on a whim decided to pick it up.  It was every bit as good as I remembered, so I quickly subscribed.  After reading it for about a year, I ventured into my local bookstore, spurred on by the memories of those Batman and Iron Man comics I used to have, and grabbed a few random issues across both the Marvel and DC universes.  And I was hooked-even more so than with 2000AD, there was something about superheroes that really attracted me, like someone flicking a switch in my head.  And I've been reading ever since-probably more DC than Marvel, but superhero comics in general are my favorite form of literature.

#2) For me, both SEVEN WONDERS and EMPIRE STATE are very visual books; they're written in such a way that I couldn't help but picture all the action happening right in front of me, on my mind's IMAX screen!  Do you storyboard or sketch out scenes or characters as you're writing?

AC: Only in my head-I'm somewhere between a full outliner and a "pantster", working to a skeleton that is more like a list of events and scenes that need to happen from beginning to end.  I find that my characters tend to take on a life of their own (when things are going well anyway!) and do unexpected things, so trying to stick to a rigid outline doesn't work for me.  Likewise I don't spend too much time constructing character backstories or biographies, unless it is relevant to the story.

However, now that I think about it, I tend to visualise things with a comic book sort of structure in my head.  When I was writing, I tested some early chapters with an SF writers' group in Manchester, and I was surprised (pleasantly so!) when a couple of them said that the book felt like a graphic novel in prose form, saying that it was very easy to visualise the action, like reading a comic.  So it seemed that I was doing something right, even if it wasn't intentional-I was just trying to write the book as I saw it unfold in my mind!

The visual aspect of the story is even more important for something like Seven Wonders, because it's a superhero story (much more so than Empire State), and superheroes began in comics and are hugely successful as Hollywood blockbusters-both visual forms of storytelling.  Translating that aspect into successful prose is vital.

#3) Back in 2010 for, you wrote an article called "Superhero Fiction: The Next Big Thing?" that suggested signs were pointing to superhero fiction making a resurgence.  It's almost two years later; where do you think the genre is now?

AC: I think superhero fiction, like most trends, comes and goes, but at the moment I think we're entering a new resurgence of the genre.  There have been a stack of recent books-novels like Prepare To Die! by Paul Tobin and Turbulence by Samit Basu-so Seven Wonders has come along at a good time.  I hope there will be more, too because superheroes are really more popular than ever, thanks mostly to Hollywood.

#4)  For all the other Adam Christopher fanboys out there: what's next for you?  I'm personally very excited about HANG WIRE, which is set in my dream hometown of San Francisco and of course, the sequel to EMPIRE STATE, THE AGE ATOMIC...what else is coming down the pipeline?

AC: I'm almost done with the first draft of The Age Atomic, which is a lot of fun and has also turned into something of a monster-150,000 words and still going!  But that'll come down in the rewrite, I'm sure.  That's out in May 2013 and then Hang Wire is out a year later.  I'm looking forward to Hang Wire, which for once doesn't have any superheroes in it, being more of an urban fantasy with ancient gods and hidden powers (and sentient circuses) although it's a long way off!

Also in 2014, my first novel from Tor is coming out.  It's a dark space opera called Shadow's Call, and is set on a distant space station, bathed in toxic radiation from a nearby star, where a washed up Fleet commander must battle a sentient mechanical spider race and its sinister allies with the help of a long-dead Cosmonaut and a sexy but troubled asteroid miner.  I have my agent to thank for the blurb-I'm tempted to ask Tor if they'll make a "sexy but troubled" line of t-shirts as promotional merchandise!  Shadow's Call is a little different-it's more obviously science fiction, although it still has a lot of weirdness in it.  It's basically a ghost story set in space, set on a haunted space station-MR James writes 2001: A Space Oddyssey, maybe!

I've got a couple of other things in the pipeline, including my first foray into another medium.  But you'll have to wait until later in the year before I'm allowed to talk about that!

And finally, #5) Who are your dream director/dream stars of the SEVEN WONDERS blockbuster movie?!  :)

AC: Actually, Seven Wonders would be really interesting as a big budget superhero movie, because I can't think of many that are not based on existing superhero properties from Marvel or DC!  For director, I think that Joss Whedon has shown with The Avengers that he can handle an ensemble superteam with flair-that film is what I hope Seven Wonders is as well, in novel form.

Casting is tricky, as there are a lot of characters.  When I write, I tend to cast actors in the parts, so I can't help but see them as the characters now-Detective Sam Millar is Emily Rose, Joe Milano a cross between Idris Alba and Jon Huertas.  Tony has to be Milo Ventimiglia and maybe Liv Tyler as Jeannie.

For the Seven Wonders themselves-tricky!  Henry Czerny as Aurora, Erica Durance as Bluebell, Malcom-Jamal Warner as Linear (aged up!), Brian Blessed as Hephaestus, Christa B. Allen as The Dragon Star, Patricia Velasquez as Sand Cat.  SMART is difficult, seeing as it's a big honking robot...but perhaps Kevin Conroy could do the voice!

The Cowl, oddly enough, I see working well with Nathan Fillion in the role.

Hey, you said I could dream, right? 

Thank you so much, Adam for talking with me and I just know SEVEN WONDERS is going to enjoy great success!


Friday, August 24, 2012


If you are a lover of creepy, well told television or a die hard Ryan Murphy fanboy, then you've been waiting breathlessly for AMERICAN HORROR STORY to come back for it's second season, just like I have!  And from what I've read on the 'net, it's going to be everything the amazing first season was and more!  Uber genius Murphy and the FX network have been releasing promo clips for the upcoming season, titled "Asylum" (due to the season's location and storyline) and they are creepy as Hell!  I am counting the days til the show premieres in October!  Here are the clips, enjoy!

If you follow the show, you know Ryan Murphy likes to plant "Easter eggs" and clues for the fans to pick up on and try to guess what's going to happen next and to whom.  So taking in these clips, it's safe to say that ASYLUM is going to be a really intense storyline.  We know the incomparable Jessica Lange is returning as a nun running the titular asylum and I'm guessing repression, possession and A LOT of sex are going to figure throughout the show.  And what is with these buckets of meat...?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

In My Mailbox

So happy to receive some Angry Robot awesomeness today!

Thanks, Angry Robot!

(makes obeisance to Robot Overlords)


In what seems like the longest wait since the anticipation of Christopher Nolan finishing his Batman trilogy, the new YA imprint from Angry Robot, STRANGE CHEMISTRY, is set to launch on August 23rd!  I know many of you, like me, have been waiting (im)patiently for the first books to come down the pipeline, thus confirming that the Strange Chemistry brand will continue the tradition of genre blurring excellence and originality started with Angry Robot.  

As a member of The Robot Army, it's been exciting to see the blogosphere already abuzz with positive reviews and anticipation of the launch titles and you will of course start seeing reviews here before long.  I've been consciously trying to expand my reading horizons lately and with Angry Robot taking the plunge into YA fiction, I asked myself what better time for me to do the same?!

For now, and to prepare for the upcoming launch, here are the covers for the anticipated first titles coming soon from STRANGE CHEMISTRY; enjoy!

Blackwood by Gwenda Bond (September 2012)

On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 people now, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back.
Miranda, a misfit girl from the island’s most infamous family, and Phillips, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can’t dodge is each other.
Shift by Kim Curran (September 2012)

When your average, 16-year old loser, Scott Tyler, meets the beautiful and mysterious Aubrey Jones, he learns he’s not so average after all. He’s a ‘Shifter’. And that means he has the power to undo any decision he’s ever made. At first, he thinks the power to shift is pretty cool. But as his world quickly starts to unravel around him he realises that each time he uses his power, it has consequences; terrible unforeseen consequences. Shifting is going to get him killed. In a world where everything can change with a thought, Scott has to decide where he stands.

And coming in October 2012:
Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings

15-year-old Julie Richardson is about to learn that being the daughter of a witch isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When she and her best friend, Marcus, witness an elderly lady jettisoned out the front door of her home, it’s pretty obvious to Julie there’s a supernatural connection.
In fact, there’s a whisper of menace behind increasing levels of poltergeist activity all over town. After a large-scale paranormal assault on Julie’s high school, her mother falls victim to the spell Endless Night. Now it’s a race against time to find out who is responsible or Julie won’t just lose her mother’s soul, she’ll lose her mother’s life.
The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan. But that only prompts the scorned clan to send an assassin after her. And when Ananna faces him down one night, armed with magic she doesn’t really know how to use, she accidentally activates a curse binding them together. To break the curse, Ananna and the assassin must complete three impossible tasks—all while grappling with evil wizards, floating islands, haughty manticores, runaway nobility, strange magic, and the growing romantic tension between them.
And for release in November 2012:
Katya's World by Jonathan L Howard

The distant and unloved colony world of Russalka has no land, only the raging sea. No clear skies, only the endless storm clouds. Beneath the waves, the people live in pressurised environments and take what they need from the boundless ocean. It is a hard life, but it is theirs and they fought a war against Earth to protect it. But wars leave wounds that never quite heal, and secrets that never quite lie silent. Katya Kuriakova doesn’t care much about ancient history like that, though. She is making her first submarine voyage as crew; the first nice, simple journey of what she expects to be a nice, simple career. There is nothing nice and simple about the deep black waters of Russalka, however; soon she will encounter pirates and war criminals, see death and tragedy at first hand, and realise that her world’s future lies on the narrowest of knife edges. For in the crushing depths lies a sleeping monster, an abomination of unknown origin, and when it wakes, it will seek out and kill every single person on the planet.