viernes, 30 de enero de 2015

Ganadores del sorteo del tercer aniversario de Sense of Wonder

Realizado el sorteo del tercer aniversario de Sense of Wonder me complace anunciar que los ganadores han sido...

José Cascales

y

Pancromatic

José ha elegido Legión y El alma del emperador, firmado y dedicado por Brandon Sanderson, mientras que a Pancromatic le ha correspondido Hic Sunt Dracones, de Tim Pratt.

Enhorabuena a los ganadores, que pronto recibirán sus premios, y muchas gracias a todos los que habéis participado. 

Dos libros de ensayos sobre cómics gratis en formato digital

En estos momentos se pueden descargar gratuitamente de Amazon España Shot in the Face, editado por Chad Nevett, y The Devil is in the Details, editado por Ryan K. Lindsay, que recogen, respectivamente, ensayos sobre Transmetropolitan y Daredevil.

Estos son libros con sus sinopsis:


Shot in the Face: A Savage Journey to the Heart of Transmetropolitan
Published in 1997-2002, Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson’s Transmetropolitan became famous for its foul-mouthed protagonist, Spider Jerusalem, and his “filthy assistants.” But it’s also a long-form comics masterpiece, a sci-fi comic that succeeded despite the odds, and an examination of journalism and politics — and how they intersect, or fail to do so. This book explores all these topics and more, from multiple points of view. It also includes interviews with both Ellis and Robertson.




The Devil is in the Details: Examining Matt Murdock and Daredevil
For half a century, Daredevil has been an outsider and a paradox, a loner, an down-to-earth super-hero, a blind man with super-powers, and the star of some of Marvel’s most celebrated stories.

The Devil is in the Details examines both Daredevil and his alter ego, Matt Murdock, from a variety of critical perspectives. Whether it’s explorations of Daredevil’s troubled history with love, his relationship to Foggy Nelson or Spider-Man, or new takes on his classic runs, this is one book no Daredevil fan or scholar should be without.

Contenidos de Beta-Life: Short Stories from an A-Life Future

Con un cierto retraso puesto que se publicó a finales de octubre del año pasado, me entero de la existencia de Beta-Life: Short Stories from an A-Life Future, una interesante antología editada por Martyn Amos y Ra Page que combina ensayos con relatos de ciencia ficción sobre vida artificial.

Estos son sus contenidos:

  • Introduction: How the Future Used to Look
  • The Sayer of the Sooth, Martyn Bedford
  • Afterword: No More Secrets, Dr James O'Shea
  • Swarm, Robin Yassin-Kassab
  • Afterword: Rise of the Machines, Lenka Pitonakova
  • Growing Skyscrapers, Adam Marek
  • Afterword: Mighty Oaks from Little Acorns Grow, Prof Susan Stepney
  • The Loki Variations, Andy Hedgecock
  • Afterword: The Moral Onboard Compass, Micah Rosenkind
  • Everyone Says, Stuart Evers
  • Afterword: Everyone Surveys, Prof Christian Jantzen
  • A Swarm of Living Robjects Around Us, Adam Roberts
  • Afterword: Sing me to Sleep, Stephen Dunne
  • Luftpause, Annie Kirby
  • Afterword: A Comma on the Wall, Prof Seth Bullock
  • The Quivering Woods, Margaret Wilkinson
  • Afterword: We Can Redirect it for You Wholesale, Dr James Snowdon
  • Certain Measures, Sean O'Brien
  • Afterword: Bot/Kettle, Prof Martyn Amos
  • Blurred Lines, Julian Gough
  • Afterword: Neuroscience and Beyond, Dr Germán Terrazas
  • The Bactogarden, Sarah Schofield
  • Afterword: Dream Sequence, Prof Martyn Amos
  • Keynote at the European Conference on Artificial Life 2070, Zoe Lambert
  • Afterword: The Unknowable Brain, Dr Andre Philippides
  • The Familiar, Lucy Caldwell
  • Afterword: The Feeling of What it is Like to be a Robot, Prof Alan Winfield
  • Making Sandcastles, Claire Dean
  • Afterword: Make/Shift, Prof Steen Rasmussen
  • The Longhand Option, Dinesh Allirajah
  • Afterword: Boring, Boring Robots..., Prof Francesco Mondada
  • Fully Human, K.J. Orr
  • Afterword: A Branching Future of Synthetic Minds, Prof Thomas S. Ray
  • The War of All Against All, Joanna Quinn
  • Afterword: We've Got Your Numbers, Dr James Dyke
  • Bruno Wins!, Frank Cottrell-Boyce
  • Afterword: The Hope Cycle, Prof Andrew Vardy
  • A Brief History of Transience, Toby Litt
  • Afterword: Where am I?, Prof J. Mark Bishop

jueves, 29 de enero de 2015

Dark Intelligence, de Neal Asher


Nota: Reseña simultánea con el blog Dreams of Elvex.

Banda sonora de la reseña: Sugiero leer esta reseña escuchando Dark Intelligence de Rozen (Spotify, YouTube).

Gridlinked es la única novela de Neal Asher que ha sido traducida al español hasta el momento. Fue publicada por La Factoría de Ideas con el título de Desconexión hace más de diez años y recuerdo haberla sacado de la biblioteca de mi ciudad y haberla leído al poco tiempo de aquello. Me gustó, pero no entusiasmó y supongo que por eso me olvidé un poco del autor. Ahora que he leído Dark Intelligence me he dado cuenta de que fue un gran error por mi parte. 

Mientas leía Dark Intelligence tuve sensaciones similares a las de mis primeros encuentros con la obra de Peter F. Hamilton y Alastair Reynolds. La novela es estupenda y Asher tiene un verdadero talento para el world-building, para los personajes más grandes que la vida, para tejer tramas subyugantes y para imaginar alienígenas exóticos y tecnologías maravillosas. ¡Naves grandes! ¡Armas enormes! ¡Batallas en el espacio! ¡Batallas en los planetas! ¡Traiciones! ¡Venganza! Esto es Nueva Space Opera a su máximo nivel.

Dark Intelligence es la primera entrega de una serie que ha sido muy adecuadamente titulada Transformation. En el corazón de las historias de muchos de los personajes del libro hay drásticas y profundas transformaciones. Algunas sorprendentes, otras horripilantes. Algunas buscadas, otras no deseadas. Y detrás de todas esas transformaciones encontramos a Penny Royal, la poderosa IA renegada. Al enfrentarte a este misterioso ser realmente debes tener cuidado con lo que deseas. Porque lo puede hacer realidad... y algo más.

Penny Royal, como el Alcaudón en Hyperion, es la presencia que permea toda la novela, pero que sólo llegamos a percibir por su influencia en el resto de personajes. Las similitudes con el libro de Dan Simmons van incluso más allá, porque Asher consigue crear una perfecta mezcla de ciencia ficción y terror y una intrigante trama de múltiples capas que gira alrededor de las insondables motivaciones de Penny Royal. Hasta el avatar preferido por la IA, el gigante erizo de mar negro hecho de cuchillas, su fría crueldad y sus poderes cuasidivinos me recordaron, del mejor modo posible, al Señor del Dolor.

Dark Intelligence es un libro intenso que no da tregua al lector. Hay multitud de puntos de vistas diferentes que se alternan, flashbacks, tramas y subtramas, giros inesperados y sorpresas. Aparecen personajes nuevos incluso cuando ya estamos bien entrados en el libro y algunos que parecían secundarios regresan, cuando menos se les espera, para convertirse en protagonistas. La acción no se detiene nunca y las escenas de batalla son vívidas, excitantes y están perfectamente medidas en el tiempo, proporcionando resolución satisfactoria a la compleja de traiciones, persecuciones y planes dentro de planes.

Pero posiblemente lo que más me ha gustado de Dark Intelligence es su world-building. Neal Asher ha publicado ya más de una docena de libros situados en The Polity y eso se nota. El universo es extremadamente rico, con muchos matices, multitud de razas y facciones y una historia completamente desarrollada. También hay una pléyade de tecnologías diferentes, de lo cuántico a lo biológico, que interaccionan de múltiples manera, algo que me recordó a las historias de la serie Boojum de Elizabeth Bear y Sarah Monette y, por supuesto, al universo de Espacio revelación de Alastair Reynolds.

Asher también tiene un fetiche en las armas imposiblemente grandes y poderosas, hasta un punto en que roza la autoparodia. Juzgad, si no me creéis, por el siguiente fragmento:
[Isobel] stopped to attach her speech synthesizer and then pulled a hover trunk out of storage and activated it. Into this went explosives ranging from those that could bring down a building, to antipersonnel grenades like the ones Trent had carried. She put in a rocket bundle: six armour-piercing missiles she could fire remotely from the trunk and mentally guide to their targets. Then, just for good measure, she added extra power supplies and reloads for her shoulder-mounted proton cannon and pulse-rifle. Anything else? Yes, there was something else and, just like the proton cannon, she found it still gleaming and unused. The mosquito autogun shrugged out of its packaging once she accessed and instructed it. Then, taking delicate steps, it walked over to the hover trunk and folded itself inside. That would have to do - there was no room for anything more.
Pero lejos de ser un detrimento en el disfrute global de la historia, esto hasta contribuye al sentido de la maravilla, porque es claro que Asher sabe cómo usar sus juguetes:
His particle beam stabbed out slowly through the seawater. It created a growing glassy tube where seawater turned to superheated steam, then ionized hydrogen, oxygen and ozone and smashed other elements to radioactive isotopes. The tube held for a few seconds before turning into a boiling explosion that simply wiped out the view in that direction.  
A lo largo de Dark Intelligence hay muchas referencias a otras novelas de The Polity, pero todo está explicado con claridad y el libro se puede leer y entender sin conocimientos previos del universo (aunque supongo que los lectores con experiencia previa con la obra de Asher le sacarán aún más jugo). En cualquier caso, a mí me ha hecho tener unas ganas tremendas de volver atrás y leer todas esas novelas, porque realmente tienen una pinta estupenda.

Me lo he pasado bomba leyendo esta novela y la recomiendo totalmente, especialmente a los fans de la Space Opera. De hecho, hay una regla sencilla para saber si debes leer Dark Intelligence. Échale un vistazo a la portada (increíble trabajo de Jon Sullivan, por cierto). ¿Te gusta? Entonces te encantará el contenido. En mi caso, desde luego, fue así. Sé que es aún muy temprano en el año y que se esperan lanzamientos muy importantes, pero va a ser difícil desbancar a Dark Intelligence como una de mis lecturas favoritas de 2015. La espera hasta la siguiente entrega de la serie se me va a hacer muy larga.

(You can also read this review in English/También puedes leer esta reseña en inglés)

Dark Intelligence, by Neal Asher

(Disclaimer: English is my second language, so I want to apologize in advance for there may be mistakes in the text below. If you find any, please let me know so that I can correct it. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.)

Review Soundtrack: I suggest reading this review while listening to Dark Intelligence by Rozen (Spotify, YouTube).

Gridlinked is the only novel by Neal Asher that has been translated into Spanish so far. It was published by La Factoría de Ideas as Desconexión more than ten years ago and I remember borrowing it from my local library and reading it soon after that. I liked it, but I did not love it and I guess that made forget somehow about the author. Now that I've come to read Dark Intelligence I realize that it was a huge mistake on my part.

While reading Dark Intelligence I felt something similar to when I first met the work of Peter F. Hamilton and Alastair Reynolds. This is a superb novel and Asher has an amazing talent for world-building, for writing larger-than-life characters, for weaving gripping plots and for imagining exotic alien races and wonderful technologies. Huge ships! Big weapons! Space battles! Ground battles! Treason! Revenge! This is New Space Opera at its best.

Dark Intelligence is the first installment of series that has been aptly named Transformation. At the core of the stories of many of the characters of the book there are deep and drastic transformations. Some astonishing, some terrifying. Some unwanted, some searched for. And behind almost all those transformations we find Penny Royal, the mighty rogue AI. When confronted with this mysterious being you really must be careful what you wish for. Because it can make your dreams come true and then some. 

Penny Royal, as the Shrike in Hyperion, is the presence that permeates all the novel, but that we get to perceive only by its influence on the other characters. The similarities with Dan Simmon's book go even further, for Asher manages to create a perfect blend of science fiction and horror and an intriguing and multilayered plot with revolves around Penny Royal's unfathomable motivations. Even the preferred avatar of the AI, the giant black sea urchin made of blades, its detached cruelty and its godlike powers reminded me, in the best possible way, of The Lord of Pain.       

Dark Intelligence is an intense book which gives no pause to the reader. There are many different alternating points of view, flashbacks, plots and subplots, unexpected twists and surprises. New characters are introduced even when we are well into the book and some that seemed to be just secondary return, when least expected, to become main protagonists. The action never stops and the battle scenes are vivid, exciting and perfectly timed, providing satisfying resolution to a convoluted series of treason, persecutions and plans within plans.

But possibly the thing that I loved the most about Dark Intelligence was its world-building. Neal Asher has now published over a dozen books set in The Polity and it shows. This is an extremely rich universe with a lot of nuances, a multitude of races and factions and a fully developed history. There is also a panoply of different technologies, from the quantum to the biological, which interact in all sorts of ways, something that reminded me of the Boojum stories by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette and, of course, of the Revelation Space universe by Alastair Reynolds.

Asher also has a clear fetish for impossibly big and powerful weapons, to a point where they verge on self-mockery. Judge, if you don't believe me, by the following fragment:
[Isobel] stopped to attach her speech synthesizer and then pulled a hover trunk out of storage and activated it. Into this went explosives ranging from those that could bring down a building, to antipersonnel grenades like the ones Trent had carried. She put in a rocket bundle: six armour-piercing missiles she could fire remotely from the trunk and mentally guide to their targets. Then, just for good measure, she added extra power supplies and reloads for her shoulder-mounted proton cannon and pulse-rifle. Anything else? Yes, there was something else and, just like the proton cannon, she found it still gleaming and unused. The mosquito autogun shrugged out of its packaging once she accessed and instructed it. Then, taking delicate steps, it walked over to the hover trunk and folded itself inside. That would have to do - there was no room for anything more.
But far from being a detriment from the overall enjoyment of the story, this contributes to the sense of wonder, especially because Asher really knows how to use his toys:
His particle beam stabbed out slowly through the seawater. It created a growing glassy tube where seawater turned to superheated steam, then ionized hydrogen, oxygen and ozone and smashed other elements to radioactive isotopes. The tube held for a few seconds before turning into a boiling explosion that simply wiped out the view in that direction.  
Throughout all Dark Intelligence there are many references to previous novels of The Polity, but everything is clearly explained and the book can be read and understood without previous knowledge of that universe (although I guess that readers previously acquainted with Asher's ouvré will get even more enjoyment from it). In any case, it has made me look forward to going back and reading all those other novels, for they seem really amazing.

The novel, of course, also has some problems. Asher's prose doesn't exactly flow, if you know what I mean. Add a complex structure, with many different things going on at the same time, and the result is a book that is, sometimes, quite demanding to read. Also, none of the characters is really likable or sympathetic and the technology is a bit over-the-top, something that can be annoying to some readers. To me, however, these were very minor issues and easily forgivable given the overall quality of the book.

I really had a blast reading this novel and I cannot recommend it highly enough, especially to Space Opera fans. In fact, there is a simple rule to tell if you should read Dark Intelligence. Take a look at the cover (astonishing work by Jon Sullivan, by the way). Do you like it? Then, you'll love the content. I certainly did. I know that it is very early in the year yet and that we are expecting some major releases, but it will be tough to beat Dark Intelligence as one of my favorite reads of 2015. I can't hardly wait to read the next one in the series.

(You can also read this review in Spanish/También puedes leer esta reseña en español)

miércoles, 28 de enero de 2015

Novedad: The Mime Order, de Samantha Shannon

Ayer se puso a la venta The Mime Order, la continuación de The Bone Season (La era de huesos) deSamantha Shannon. Ésta es su sinopsis:


Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted person in London... 
As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on the dreamwalker, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city's gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take centre stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner. 
Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided.

martes, 27 de enero de 2015

Cinco ebooks gratuitos de ChiZine

En estos momentos y durante las próximas 24 horas se pueden descargar gratuitamente cinco libros en PDF publicados por la editorial ChiZine. Se trata de los siguientes títulos: