jueves, 29 de noviembre de 2012

Interview with Tim Maughan

A few days ago I reviewed Paintwork, an extremely interesting collection of short stories by Tim Maughan. Today, it is a real pleasure for me having the author answering some questions about his work and his view on the current state of science fiction (you can read a translation into Spanish of this interview at the Literatura Fantástica Blog).  

Odo: Recently, your name was mentioned in an article by Jonathan McCalmont as one of the few authors who are writing "relevant" science fiction nowadays. What is your opinion on this? Is science fiction really exhausted?
Tim Maughan: I know Jon very well, and we've discussed this issue at length - which made his inclusion of my work even more flattering. I know including me just because we are friends would be the very last thing he'd do. I think he hits the nail on the head in that article, I can't think of a time when science fiction has been so escapist. I have my own theories as to why this is, largely to do with the shrinking and threatening of the middle classes - which have always beeb SF's core audience. I outlined these in some detail in an article I wrote for Lavie Tidhar's site- but put simply: the western middle classes feel threatened by the swing of economic power to the east, and feel like the future - which they were always told would belong to them - is slipping out of their grasp. They can't get a grip on it, and the fact it might not have much of a role for them means they don't want to. Thus they want SF that is escapism, or even a retreat into the past - that's why I think there's been an upsurge in the popularity of steampunk, fantasy and the paranormal in speculative fiction.

Does this mean SF is exhausted? Perhaps, but I don't think that has to be it's ultimate state. It can revive itself, take a look at what it needs to do, have another go. Or at least I hope it can - it's what I'm aiming for anyway. Plus I don't think it's a black and white situation - the best SF combines both escapism and realism or social commentary. It's about getting the balance right.
Odo: While reading your stories I thought I could detect the influence of cyberpunk authors such as William Gibson and, especially, Bruce Sterling. Am I right? What other authors have influenced your writing?
TM: Spot on about Gibson and Sterling - Gibson in particular had a huge impact on me when I first read his work, and still does. My father is a huge SF fan, so I was surrounded by books growing up and consumed so many of them - but I'd lost some interest by the 80s when I was a teenager; it didn't seem particularly sexy or cool - things teens worry about so much - compared to the music and drugs I was experimenting with at the time. And then I found Gibson and cyberpunk  - and not only did it seem cool, but like the music I was listening to (hip hop and house/techno) it seemed of it's time, dealing with issues that interested me - giving me another way of looking at the emergence of hyper-capitalism alongside computers and the total media saturation that we are so used to know. Plus it was exciting because it was SF that I had discovered, rather than my father. That was important, I think, the suggestion of a generational divide.

Which is why I'm sometimes very conflicted about being labelled as cyberpunk - it's very flattering as it was such an important influence on me, but it was a movement of it's time. I'm trying to do something new, but it comes out as cyberpunk not only because of my influences but also because Gibson etc got so much right about the present. In fact my books don't use a lot of the cyberpunk tropes - there's no AI, no cybernetic implants, no secret technologies etc. The tropes I do use - virtuality, hyper-consumerism, corporate dominance, networked life - they're not science fiction anymore; they're the nature of our existence.

The other big influence on me, and one I'm going back and re-evaluating at the moment - is JG Ballard. Nobody has come close to him in unpicking western society, and the psychology of living in a technology soaked world. He really was the most important writer of the last century, I think.
Odo: The short stories that you have published so far are set in the near future. Are you considering writing some far future SF for a change?

TM: No plans at present - but only because the ideas haven't come to me yet. I'd quite like to write something with spaceships and robots in - I have a lot of nostalgia for the lost, dirty industrial future of movies like Alien, Blade Runner and Outland, but recently I've realised that if science fiction is about the present those films are about the 1980s, as was cyberpunk. They have historical importance for that reason, and I love them dearly, but trying to recreate them now is pointless nostalgia largely. Which could be fun I guess. Contemporary space opera replaces that industrial, corporate world with nanotechnology and post-humanism - which feel like yet more escapist tropes to me. They're magic, wish fulfilment. They might as well be fantasy. 
Odo: Current technologies such as virtual reality, social networks and online games are prominently featured in your stories. How would you say that the use of these technologies is changing our way of thinking, our way of interacting with other people?
TM: That's a good question. That's a big question! I'm not sure we know yet, I think we're still feeling our way. That's why I'm writing about them, I think, to try and understand myself. I think everything is so double edged now - online communities for example, they can be both embracing and alienating, both to degrees we couldn't possibly imagine a couple of decades ago. The same goes for the anonymity and distance that 'net culture grants us - it can be liberating, allowing people to express themselves in ways they would be too scared to in real life - but of course the flip of that is it lets people get away with saying or doing terrible things with no consequence. I was reading a forum recently where someone used a homophobic slur, and when they were confronted about it they said nobody should be offended as it was 'only pixels'. That struck me as simultaneously both horrifying and logical - it's a defence that must make some sense if you've grown up spending a large percentage of your communicating life online. It's the complete stripping of meaning, postmodernism made real, I guess. How do you argue against that? In fact, with meaning gone in that way, how do you argue about anything? 
Odo: Trust (and distrust) is an important theme in your stories, where characters are often deceived by their friends. Do you think that trusting other people is more dangerous today than, say, twenty years ago?

TM: No, I don't think so - the media would love us to all believe that, it feeds on fear, and is constantly looking to spread the illusion of distrust so that consumers turn to it for a kind of fake truth. I hear a lot of media talk here about the 'blitz spirit', about how British society was more unified during the war in the '40s. I largely suspect that's bullshit, and some terrible things happened when the lights were out, there was looting, people cheated on departed lovers and so on. When I'm writing about distrust I'm not saying that it's a new thing, or a futuristic thing - to be honest it's sometimes just a plot device! - but more that it's there, and our media and culture likes to amplify it, to separate and alienate us, to make us better, competing consumers. Consumerism doesn't work well if everyone trusts each other, it only works if we feel the need to compete with our neighbours, friends, even families.
Odo: You have self-published three of your stories in the Paintwork collection. How was this experience for you? How do you think ebooks and self-publishing will transform the publishing industry in the next few years?

TM: I enjoyed the self publishing thing, it was mainly done as a personal experiment. There's lots of reasons behind it... my music background was one for a start. Music - or the music I enjoy - has flipped values to publishing. Being independent or self controlling is seen as a badge of authenticity, where as with books it's seen as the opposite - being anointed by an agent or publisher is the ultimate goal. I don't think either view are true now, really, but that was in my mind when I did it. It seemed cool, plus I'd made quite a strong name for myself as a non-fiction writer by blogging - just another form of self publishing - that it seemed the logical step for me.

The only other alternative was to submit my short stories to magazines, and I'd tried that with little luck. To be honest I found dealing with SF mags pretty depressing - there's lots of hoops to jump through for little financial rewards - and much more importantly - little exposure. Magazine editors and their readers often feel like sealed communities - if you're not one of the gang nobody cares. I didn't want my stories read just by the readers of a few magazines, or even just traditional SF readers - I was hoping they might have more appeal than that. I'm still not sure if they have to be honest.

I honestly don't know how things will pan out for the industry at a whole, just that it'll be messy and some sacrificial lambs will be slaughtered - and not always for the best reasons. The experiment worked for me - I ended up with a book I could give to people to review, and that's got some great responses and attention. Now things have flipped over and I'm getting commissions from magazines which is exciting. But its still hard to shake off being a self-publisher - many people just sneer at you, which is understandable seeing how much dross is out there. But I do chuckle to myself when I see established publishers and industry people going out of their way to discredit self publishing - if it is so fucking terrible why waste your energy?

Odo: In your stories globalization is unstoppable and corporations are, sometimes, more powerful than governments. Do you think it is only science fiction or it is also a fact in our real world?

TM: I think sadly it is an undeniable fact that corporations are more powerful than governments now. I hate to comment on Spain when you obviously  know far more than me, but the EU crisis has proved one thing - banks have more power than nation states now. Democratically elected governments have to bow down to financial corporations, both in that they have to pay back debts or prop up the corporations when they fail. It's a dire situation for democracy I believe, far worse than the over blown phantom menaces of terrorism or social unrest. Can it be stopped? Maybe, but it's not for the faint hearted - it will require REAL resistance, more so than the cozy middle class rebellion of movements like Occupy. I fear it might be time to start setting fire to stuff.

Odo: What are you working on at the moment? Can you give us a sneak peek of your future projects?

TM: Like I mentioned earlier I've just finished a couple of short stories that will be published in the new year, around spring I think - and I'm currently working on a novel. All of these are both connected to my previous work while also being a departure from them in one important sense... I don't want to say much more than that right now!
Odo: Where can our readers learn more about you and your work?

TM: Over on my website - timmaughanbooks.com and on my twitter feed @timmaughan. Warning: I tweet A LOT!

Odo: Thank you very much for your time and your answers!  

(You can also read this interview in Spanish at the Literatura Fantástica Blog/También puedes leer esta entrevista en español en el Blog de Literatura Fantástica) 

miércoles, 28 de noviembre de 2012

Free Ebook: The Eagle and The Sword by A.A. Attanasio

Update: The Eagle and the Sword is free to download again (February 5, 2013)

The Eagle and the Sword by A.A. Attanasio is currently free to download from Amazon (ES, US). This is the product description:
Attanasio continues The Perilous Order of Camelot, the epic fantasy series begun in The Dragon and the Unicorn, with the story of young Arthor on his journey to Camelot. When Merlin discovers that Arthor's only joy is killing, he vows to turn the youth around with a magical sword.

Merlinus has fostered the future king of Britain with Kyner, a Celtic chieftain, protected by obscurity from the jealous hatred of the sorceress Morgeu. As Arthor grows to manhood, though, he becomes a twisted creature, loving violence and hating himself. What kind of king will he be? A chance journey leading to woodland encounters shapes his character and settles his destiny.

Arthor's story is a single thread in a vast, complex web of gods, demons, angels, a sorceress, a unicorn, a carpenter with a wish, a dragon, Saxons, an impoverished Aquitanian lady with a secret weapon, battle-hardened Celtic chieftains and treacherous Roman nobles, knights, warring religions, and fairies. A. A. Attanasio's metaphysics, marvels, and magic will keep your interest and suspense high.

Últimos días para subscribirse a Terra Nova

Mariano Villarreal, editor junto con Luis Pestarini, de Terra Nova ha anunciado el final del plazo para poder subscribirse al primer número de esta antología:
Si quieres apoyar la creación y consolidación de un proyecto profesional de antologías periódicas de ciencia ficción internacional, suscríbete por solo 15€ y recibe cómodamente el libro en tu casa (opción restringida a España):


Sumamos ya casi un centenar suscriptores, la tercera parte de apoyo.

El libro se pondrá igualmente a la venta en la web editorial (Sportula) y librerías especializadas a partir del 3 de diciembre.

Fecha de edición: diciembre 2012
PVP: 16€ (15€ venta anticipada antes del 1 de diciembre)
Páginas: 350
Formato: 15,5x22cm en rústica con solapas
ISBN: 978-84-940646-2-3
Ebook en español: 2,99€
Ebook in inglés: próximamente
Editor: Sportula
Blog: http://novaficcion.wordpress.com
Contacto: novaficcion@gmail.com

martes, 27 de noviembre de 2012

Contents of The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volumen Seven edited by Jonathan Strahan (with links to free stories)

As the end of the year approaches we begin to see the traditional "best of..." lists. One of the first ones to be announced has been the table of contents of The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, the seventh volumen of the anthology yearly edited by Jonathan Strahan and published by Night Shade Books. The stories included (in alphabetical order, since the order in the book is still undecided) are the following (with links to free online versions of the stories when available):
  1. “The Woman Who Fooled Death Five Times”, Eleanor Arnason
  2. “Great Grandmother in the Cellar”, Peter S. Beagle
  3. “Immersion”, Aliette de Bodard
  4. “Troll Blood”, Peter Dickinson
  5. “Close Encounters”, Andy Duncan
  6. “Blood Drive”, Jeffrey Ford
  7. “Adventure Story”, Neil Gaiman
  8. “The Grinnell Method”, Molly Gloss
  9. “Beautiful Boys”, Theodora Goss
  10. “The Easthound”, Nalo Hopkinson
  11. “Mantis Wives”, Kij Johnson
  12. “Bricks, Sticks, Straw”, Gwyneth Jones
  13. “Goggles c 1910”, Caitlin R. Kiernan
  14. “The Education of a Witch”, Ellen Klages
  15. “The Color Least Used by Nature”, Ted Kosmatka
  16. “Significant Dust”, Margo Lanagan
  17. “Two Houses”, Kelly Link
  18. “Mono No Aware”, Ken Liu
  19. “Macy Minnot’s Last Christmas on Dione, Ring Racing, Fiddler’s Green, the Potter’s Garden”, Paul McAuley
  20. “Swift, Brutal Retaliation”, Megan McCarron
  21. “About Fairies”, Pat Murphy
  22. “Nahiku West”, Linda Nagata
  23. “Let Maps to Others”, K.J. Parker
  24. “Jack Shade in the Forest of Souls”, Rachel Pollack
  25. “Katabasis”, Robert Reed
  26. “What Did Tessimond Tell You?”, Adam Roberts
  27. “The Contrary Gardener”, Christopher Rowe
  28. “Joke in Four Panels”, Robert Shearman
  29. “Domestic Magic”, Steve Rasnic Tem & Melanie Tem
  30. “Reindeer Mountain”, Karin Tidbeck
  31. “Fade to White”, Catherynne M. Valente
  32. “A Bead of Jasper, Four Small Stones”, Genevieve Valentine
I must confess that this year I'm way behind with my short story reading and I haven't read any of these ones yet (something I hope will change soon). However, I'm very glad to see some favorites of this blog such as Aliette de Bodard or Ken Liu and I'm also happy that a story by Karin Tidbeck was included, since my friend Pedro Román wrote a wonderful review (in Spanish) of Jagannath and even interviewed the author (in Spanish) (you can read the English version of the interview on this blog, courtesy of Pedro).

(You can also read this article in Spanish/También puedes leer este artículo en español

Contenidos de The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volumen Seven editado por Jonathan Strahan (con enlaces a las historias gratuitas)

Llega el fin de año y empiezan a aparecer las tradicionales listas de "lo mejor de...". Una de las primeras en anunciarse ha sido la de los contenidos de The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year una antología editada desde hace siete años por Jonathan Strahan y publicada por Night Shade Books. Los relatos seleccionados (en orden alfabético por autores, porque aún no se ha decidido el orden que ocuparán en el libro) son los siguientes (con enlaces a versiones online gratuitas de las historias cuando existen):
  1. “The Woman Who Fooled Death Five Times”, Eleanor Arnason
  2. “Great Grandmother in the Cellar”, Peter S. Beagle
  3. “Immersion”, Aliette de Bodard
  4. “Troll Blood”, Peter Dickinson
  5. “Close Encounters”, Andy Duncan
  6. “Blood Drive”, Jeffrey Ford
  7. “Adventure Story”, Neil Gaiman
  8. “The Grinnell Method”, Molly Gloss
  9. “Beautiful Boys”, Theodora Goss
  10. “The Easthound”, Nalo Hopkinson
  11. “Mantis Wives”, Kij Johnson
  12. “Bricks, Sticks, Straw”, Gwyneth Jones
  13. “Goggles c 1910”, Caitlin R. Kiernan
  14. “The Education of a Witch”, Ellen Klages
  15. “The Color Least Used by Nature”, Ted Kosmatka
  16. “Significant Dust”, Margo Lanagan
  17. “Two Houses”, Kelly Link
  18. “Mono No Aware”, Ken Liu
  19. “Macy Minnot’s Last Christmas on Dione, Ring Racing, Fiddler’s Green, the Potter’s Garden”, Paul McAuley
  20. “Swift, Brutal Retaliation”, Megan McCarron
  21. “About Fairies”, Pat Murphy
  22. “Nahiku West”, Linda Nagata
  23. “Let Maps to Others”, K.J. Parker
  24. “Jack Shade in the Forest of Souls”, Rachel Pollack
  25. “Katabasis”, Robert Reed
  26. “What Did Tessimond Tell You?”, Adam Roberts
  27. “The Contrary Gardener”, Christopher Rowe
  28. “Joke in Four Panels”, Robert Shearman
  29. “Domestic Magic”, Steve Rasnic Tem & Melanie Tem
  30. “Reindeer Mountain”, Karin Tidbeck
  31. “Fade to White”, Catherynne M. Valente
  32. “A Bead of Jasper, Four Small Stones”, Genevieve Valentine
Tengo que confesar que este año voy tremendamente retrasado en lo que a lectura de relatos se refiere y no he leído ninguno de ellos (algo a lo que espero poner remedio lo antes posible). Sin embargo, me alegra ver nombre de algunos autores favoritos de este blog como Aliette de Bodard o Ken Liu y también el que se haya incluido un relato de Karin Tidbeck de la que Pedro Román habla maravillas y a la que él mismo entrevistó (y nos cedió amablemente la publicación en versión original de la entrevista).  

(You can also read this article in English/También puedes leer este artículo en español)

lunes, 26 de noviembre de 2012

Paintwork y "Limited Edition" de Tim Maughan

Banda sonora de la reseña: Sugiero leer esta reseña escuchando Technologic de Daft Punk (Youtube, Spotify).

Hace algunas semanas hubo mucho debate sobre dos artículos, uno de Paul Kincaid, el otro de Johnathan McCalmont. Aunque son lecturas más que interesantes, no puedo estar de acuerdo con sus opiniones sobre el agotamiento de la ciencia ficción. Sí les estoy, sin embargo, tremendamente agradecido porque me ayudaron a descubrir a un excelente escritor de relatos cortos con el que no estaba familiarizado.

En su artículo, McCalmont menciona a dos autores que, en su opinión, son la excepción al lamentable estado de la CF actual. El primero es Adam Roberts (cuyo By Light Alone leí y reseñé hace unos meses). El otro era, lo confieso, desconocido para mí: Tim Maughan, un autor de Bristol.

Como suelo hacer en este tipo de situación, comencé inmediatamente a buscar algunas historias de Maughan para leer y tuve la suerte de encontrar que "Limited Edition" estaba incluida en ARC 1.3, una revista que había descargado unos días antes ya que estaba disponible gratuitamente por un tiempo. Rápidamente leí la historia y me encantó. Es uno de los mejores relatos que he leído este año y creo que es muy probable que reciba unas cuantas nominaciones cuando empiece la temporada de premios.

Tras leer "Limited Edition" tenía ganas de más y me compré Paintwork, una colección de relatos auto-publicada que incluye tres historias que están situadas en el mismo universo que, e incluso comparten algunos personajes con, "Limited Edition". Aunque no me gustaron tanto con la que aparece en ARC 1.3, estas también son muy buenas historias, haciendo que Maughan sea un autor a seguir de cerca en el futuro.

Las cuatro historias se desarrollan en el futuro cercano, en un mundo en el que la globalización va en ascenso y las redes sociales han evolucionado y son ubicuas y centrales para el día a día de las interacciones humanas. Maughan también dibuja un futuro desolador, en el que la actual crisis económica ha pasado factura y los jóvenes han perdido casi toda esperanza. Es fácil ver estas historias como un aviso de lo que puede estar esperándonos en sólo unos años. No es de extrañar, pues, que McCalmont mencionara a Maughan como un autor de ciencia ficción relevante porque realmente lo es. 

Un tema común a todas las historias es de la confianza. En un mundo multi-conectado en el que la mayor parte de las relaciones se realizan a través de las redes sociales, la realidad es virtual y todo el mundo se oculta detrás de un avatar, ¿cómo se puede distinguir entre amigos y enemigos? La respuesta de Maughan parece ser que, simplemente, no se puede: muchos de los personajes son traicionados o ellos mismos traicionan. No es una sorpresa en un mundo en el que la reputación se valora más que la lealtad. 

Debo señalar, sin embargo, que Maughan no está haciendo nada especialmente novedoso. Charles Stross, Cory Doctorow y Neal Stephenson, pro nombrar tres, han estado haciendo algo similar durante ya algunos años. De hecho, los spex (gafas de realidad aumentada) que los personajes de Paintwork usan constantemente parecen un claro homenaje al primer capítulo de Accelerando y al memorable Manfred Macx. Y es imposible leer "Paparazzi" sin acordarse de Reamde de Stephenson y "Anda's Game" de Doctorow.

Pero las ideas no necesitan ser revolucionarias para formar una buena historia y lo que Maughan hace en estos relatos funciona extraordinariamente bien. De hecho, creo que su trabajo puede ser acertadamente descrito como una puesta al día de las obras cyberpunk de Bruce Sterling, con todo lo que eso conlleva. 

En resumen, realmente disfruté leyendo Paintwork y, especialmente, "Limited Edition" y las recomiendo vivamente a cualquier fan de la ciencia ficción. Espero con ganas más historias de Maughan. Y si está reseña ha despertado tu interés (y ciertamente espero que sea así), permanece atento porque pronto tendré una entrevista con el autor.

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

Paintwork and "Limited Edition" by Tim Maughan

(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 Technologic by Daft Punk (Youtube, Spotify).

Several weeks ago there was much debate about two articles, one by Paul Kincaid, the other by Johnathan McCalmont. Though they make quite an interesting read, I don't really agree with their opinions on the exhaustion of science fiction. I am, however, deeply grateful to them for they helped me discover an excellent short-fiction writer whom I was not familiar with.

In his article, McCalmont mentions two authors who, in his opinion, are the exception to the sorry state of current SF. The first one was Adam Roberts (whose By Light Alone I read and reviewed a few months ago). The other one was, I confess, unknown to me: Tim Maughan, an author from Bristol.

As I usually do in this kind of situation, I immediately started looking for some Maughan's stories to read and was lucky enough to find that "Limited Edition" was included in ARC 1.3, a magazine that I had already downloaded a few days previously since it was temporarily free. I quickly read the story and I loved it. It is one of the best short stories I've read this year and I think it very likely that it will get some nominations once the award season begins.

After reading "Limited Edition" I was hungry for more and I bought Paintwork, a self-published collection that includes three stories that are set in the same universe as and even share some characters with "Limited Edition". Though I didn't like them as much as the one included in ARC 1.3, these are also very good short stories, making Maughan an author to watch closely in the next years.

All four stories are set in the near future, in a world where globalization is rampant and social networks have evolved and are ubiquitous and central to day-to-day human interaction. Maughan depicts also a bleak future, in which the economical crisis has taken its toll and youth has lost almost all hope. It is easy to see these stories as a warning of what might be awaiting us in just a few years time. Small wonder that McCalmont mentioned Maughan as an author of relevant science fiction because he truly is.

A theme that is common to all the stories is trust. In an all-connected world in which most relationships are made over the social networks, reality is virtual and everybody hides behind an avatar, how can you tell friends and foes apart? Maughan's answer seems to be that you simply can't: most of the characters in his stories are either deceived or deceivers themselves. This comes as no surprise in world where reputation is more valuable than loyalty.

I must say, however, that Maughan is doing nothing especially new here. Charles Stross, Cory Doctorow and Neal Stephenson, to name but three, have been doing something similar for some years now. In fact, the spex (augmented reality glasses) that characters in Paintwork constantly use seem to pay homage to the first chapter of Accelerando and the memorable Manfred Macx. And it is impossible to read "Paparazzi" without remembering Stephenson's Reamde and Doctorow's "Anda's Game".

However, ideas don't need to be revolutionary to make a good story and what Maughan does in these tales works extremely well. In fact, I think his work can be accurately described as an up-to-date version of Bruce Sterling's cyberpunk writing, with all that that entails.

All in all, I really enjoyed reading Paintwork and, especially, "Limited Edition" and I highly recommend them to any science fiction fan. I'm looking forward to more of Maughan's stories. And if this review has piqued your interest (and I certainly hope so), stay tuned for I have an interview with the author coming soon. 

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

domingo, 25 de noviembre de 2012

Cinco ebooks gratuitos de Ficcionbooks

En estos momentos se pueden descargar gratuitamente de Amazon cinco ebooks de Ficcionbooks de forma gratuita. Entre ellos se encuentra El cortafuegos de Luis Ángel Cofiño, una de mis novelas de ciencia ficción españolas preferidas. Los títulos en oferta son los siguientes:

Novela corta Ganadora del Premio Sidewise 2008
Finalista del Premio Hugo 2008

Un niño de ocho años ve desde lo más lejos la pérdida del Apolo 8 y vive sólo para cumplir su sueño de rescatarlo. Cuarenta años después, cuando la cápsula se aproxima por segunda vez a la Tierra en su órbita excéntrica, dispone una nave que la agarra y la introduce en su bodega. Para la sorpresa de todos, incluidos los millones que contenmplan la escena por televisión, en su interior no están los tripulantes. Comienza entonces la tarea de encontrarlos, que es como hallar una aguja en una galaxia de millones de pajares.
Un thriller de terror y suspense

El Segador, un asesino en serie que mutila y quema a sus víctimas antes de matarlas, está sembrando el caos en la ciudad. El inspector Aguirre, descreído y cínico será el encargado de darle captura, inmerso en una red de miedos del pasado entre los que intenta conservar su cordura.

Esta es una de las tramas de “Penitencia”, una novela coral dónde deambulan multitud de personajes e historias que acaban por converger en una telaraña de torturas, canibalismo y muerte, en cuyo centro hay un monstruo agazapado, que ha tejido su trampa con celo y paciencia infinita.

Y la hora donde todos deben cumplir su penitencia se aproxima…
El Cortafuegos fue el suceso clave de la historia reciente y el punto de inflexión que cambió la forma de ver las cosas en política. Pero las circunstancias eran tan complejas que muchos desconocen aún por qué se llegó a esa situación.

La Solución Cero de Naciones Unidas era ya de por sí un concepto demasiado ambicioso que generó un gran malestar entre las naciones, pero fue Reciprocidad lo que provocó los mayores recelos y tensiones, en una escalada diplomática sin precedentes. En este contexto político, era solo cuestión de tiempo que surgiese una rebelión armada, una última guerra por las cenizas de La Tierra. 
El enviado de J.E. Álamo
El Enviado cumplirá con sus cometidos allá donde tenga que acometerlos. El espacio y el tiempo no son barreras, más bien peldaños, en su camino hacia los logros que persigue. En su deambular, las vidas de distintas personas se cruzarán con él. Cada persona da nombre a las nueve misiones que componen este relato de sus hazañas, compuestas por nueve relatos independientes pero estrechamente ligados entre sí.

Desde relatos postapocalípticos hasta alegóricos, pasando por costumbristas. Y en todos ellos flota la presencia del Enviado que da título al libro: una figura nebulosa moviéndose más allá del tiempo y el espacio, en cierto modo simbólica, que permite múltiples interpretaciones, cada una a la medida del lector. Un libro que merece una profunda reflexión después de cerrar la última página.
Jitanjáfora: Desencanto de Sergio Parra
La segunda parte de Jitanjáfora (finalista de los premio Ignotus y los Xatafi-Cyberdark 2007) continúa dinamitando las convenciones del género fantástico.

Es hora de madurar: la magia no existe, y se acabó lo de jugar a hechiceros.

El Mal tampoco existe. Y si existe, es indudablemente menos terrorífico que el Bien. Porque todo es siempre más complicado de lo que parece. Incluso el Bien. Todo está lleno de sombras. Sombras de las que surgen arcángeles redentores, duendes adoradores del arte, brujas ninfómanas y monstruos de pesadilla, como los que habitan en una urbanización norteamericana presuntamente idílica. Y, por supuesto, sombras que esconden lo que ocurre de verdad en un gran supermercado: una batalla épica cuyo desenlace podría cambiar el mundo.

Finalizadas las clases en la Escuela de Magia, Conrado, Figueredo y Umami son enviados a su primera misión de campo al lugar más peligroso de la Tierra: Estados Unidos. Objetivo: investigar un proyecto de control memético que podría volver amable y sonriente a todo el mundo. Sin embargo, las cosas no siempre son lo que parecen, y para salir con vida, Conrado deberá alcanzar una temperación totalmente nueva, quizás esa clase de temperación que se parece sospechosamente a la falta de temperación.

La segunda parte de Jitanjáfora (finalista de los premio Ignotus y los Xatafi-Cyberdark 2007) continúa dinamitando las convenciones del género fantástico, huyendo de la ortodoxia formal, moral y subnormal. Demostrándonos que la magia potagia es sólo un pueril juego de manos. Y que, en definitiva, ésta no es una narración apta para todos los públicos, aunque debería serlo.

Jitanjáfora: desencanto constituye un sarcástico tour de force para volver atrás, un gran viaje des-iniciático. Porque así son todos los grandes viajes: te cambian hasta el punto de que nada cambia. Y entonces llega la hora de colgar la túnica, romper la varita y ver la comedia pasar. Exorcismo completado.  

sábado, 24 de noviembre de 2012

Pedro Román logra el tercer puesto en el VII Certamen Literario 'SER Épicos, historias de elfos y dragones'

Pedro Román no sólo es un blogger extraordinario y un podcaster insuperable, sino que también está empezando a hacer sus pinitos como escritor. Y con bastante éxito, por lo que parece. Ayer se anunciaron los ganadores del VII Certamen Literario 'SER Épicos, historias de elfos y dragones' y Pedro Román obtuvo el tercer puesto con su relato "Antiguas raíces", una historia contada en primera persona por uno de los dragones más famosos de la literatura moderna. El primer puesto fue para Juan Manuel Cuerda y el segundo para Javier Escolar. En esta ocasión, el certamen conmemoraba el 75 aniversario de la edición de El Hobbit de J.R.R. Tolkien.

Desde aquí no podemos menos que felicitar de todo corazón a Pedro y desearle que éste sea sólo el inicio de una brillante carrera como escritor.

viernes, 23 de noviembre de 2012

Ebook en oferta: La mirada de las furias, de Javier Negrete

La mirada de las furias de Javier Negrete (cuya charla junto con Juan Miguel Aguilera en la Hispacon 2012 os recomiendo totalmente) está de oferta en Amazon hasta el domingo al precio de 1,02€. Esta es la descripción del libro:
¿Qué pasa cuando la salvación de toda la humanidad depende de un asesino genético?

Año 2116. La humanidad ha logrado colonizar varios sistemas solares gracias a los Tritones, alienígenas que conocen el secreto para viajar entre las estrellas a más velocidad que la luz y lo usan para ejercer como barqueros de la galaxia. Pero ahora, una nave Tritónide ha aterrizado por accidente en Radamantis, un planeta que los terrestres han convertido en colonia penal. Para proteger su monopolio, los Tritones amenazan con aniquilar todos los mundos humanos si no se les devuelve la nave antes de trece días.

No obstante, los planes de la poderosa megacorporación HONYC son muy distintos. Decididos a apoderarse de la tecnología del viaje interestelar, envían a Radamantis a su mejor agente, al que han tenido congelado 20 años.

Éremos es un asesino diseñado física y mentalmente para llevar a cabo su trabajo sin errores y sin remordimientos. Sin embargo, al llegar al planeta presidio y encontrarse con personajes de su pasado, su fría lógica empieza a tambalearse y aparecen las dudas y las emociones. Para colmo, un extraño vidente drogadicto, su única pista para hallar la nave alienígena, le profetiza que morirá el mismo día en que termina el ultimátum de los Tritones.

A partir de ese momento empieza la carrera contrarreloj de Éremos por descubrir el secreto más codiciado del universo, salvar a la humanidad y cambiar su propio destino.

Free Ebook: The Shadow Eater by A.A. Attanasio

The Shadow Eater by A.A. Attanasio is currently free to download from Amazon (US, ES). This is the product description:
A gnome wanders among strange worlds of immeasurable beauty and terror on a quest for magic to restore the health of a goddess. If he fails, all creation will dissolve. And so he must dare anything to succeed, even trespass a realm of terrible darkness, pain and dread sorcery—Earth.

The Lady of the Garden, one of the godlike Nameless Ones, has used her magic to dream into existence the worlds of the Bright Shore. But now her unborn child lies motionless in her womb. An intruder from the Dark Shore, the malevolent shadow of her dream, threatens the life of her unborn. If she cannot locate and expel this shadow thing, she will waken the child’s stern father, and he will dissolve the dream—and the Bright Shore will vanish. In order to save the Lady of the Garden’s baby, an old gnome travels through the many worlds in search of the creature of darkness whose presence threatens the dream of creation.

jueves, 22 de noviembre de 2012

Literatura Fantástica interviews Jo Walton

Literatura Fantástica is the new imprint of Spanish publisher RBA devoted to fantasy and science fiction. They have recently published Jo Walton's wonderful Among Others (you can read my review in Spanish), translated by Francisco García Lorenzana as Entre extraños (if you read Spanish you may want to download a preview with the first chapter of the book from this page). To celebrate the occasion Miquel Codony interviewed Jo Walton (read it here in Spanish) for Literatura Fantástica and now they have kindly let me publish the original version of the interview (thanks a lot!).   

Literatura Fantástica: First of all, congratulations for that Hugo (and for that Nebula!) won by Among Others, especially in a year like this, with other great nominees. Could you describe your feelings about the success of your novel?

Jo Walton: I'm surprised and delighted. I still don't quite believe it's real, that people could really like my book so much as to honour it in this way.

LF: Among Others is a somewhat atypical fantasy novel. It seems a book with a long madurative process. Could you talk about the origin of the story and what brought you to write it?

JW: I wrote a blog post about the landscape I grew up in and how it isn't what North Americans think of when they think about Wales -- the post industrial landscape of the Welsh mining valleys. Then a lot of people said I should make that into a novel, and I thought of a way of doing that.

LF: How much of Jo Walton is there in Mor?

JW: The books are real. And a lot of the other things -- I made things up and shaped them for fiction, but this really is a mythologisation of part of my own life. But having said that, it's my own life thirty years ago. She's fifteen. I'm forty-seven.

LF: Imagine that Mor would have been a teenager in 2012. Which are the books and authors that she would have told us about in her journal?

JW: Well, one of the huge changes is the way YA literature is big now in the wake of Harry Potter. So she'd have been enthusiastic about The Hunger Games for sure, but probably not Twilight. And there are more female writers, as a more integral part of the genre. She'd love Cherryh and Bujold, definitely. Of this year's Hugo nominees her favourite would be Leviathan Wakes. And there's more fantasy and less SF, so she'd probably be reading more fantasy.

LF: About the Among Others author we know that she is a great expert in the fantastic literature scene. Which contemporary authors, works or trends do you regard with greater interest?

JW: I've been blown away by the recent work of Daniel Abraham, Sarah Monette, Robert Charles Wilson, M.J. Locke, Roz Kaveney, Nina Kirikki Hoffman, Geoff Ryman, Ted Chiang, Yves Meynard. As for trends -- I don't like vampires and most of the paranormal genre leaves me cold. I want more science fiction with spaceships and aliens -- I say to my friends, come on, write me more of that!

LF: In your role as columnist, especially at Tor.com, you are one of the most active writers as a pedagogue of science fiction and fantasy. Could you explain to our readers why is it that they should read fantastic literature?

JW: Beyond that it is fun? If the purpose of literature is to illuminate human nature, the purpose of fantastic literature is to do that from a wider perspective. You can say different things about what it means to be human if you can contrast that to what it means to be a robot, or an alien, or an elf.

LF: Sometimes it looks like fantasy and science fiction readers belong to completely different species, but it could be said of Among Others that it argues against this division. Do you think that there is a trend towards compartimentalization in increasingly smaller (and isolated) subgenres -space opera, urban fantasy, new weird, etc.?

JW: I think there are always trends like that but they tend in the longer term to all feed back together, like a river dividing up into delta streams that all flow into the same sea. I think subgenres develop and are excited and exciting and define themselves as different and eventually what's really nifty about them becomes part of the things the fantastic can draw upon. A historical example would be cyberpunk -- nobody is writing cyberpunk now, but the tropes and techniques of cyberpunk are normal things to do within SF.

LF: Recently, at Tor.com, you suggested that in abandoning the idea of space exploration science fiction had lost the future. Don’t you think that there are some other frontiers that only science fiction is apt to explore from a narrative standpoint?

JW: That was a write up of a Readercon panel, and "lost the future" was their term, not mine. My argument was that this is not the future we expected -- no space colonies, but wonderful computers. Evil robots shut down the Hugo broadcast -- this is definitely the future!

On the wider question, yes, I do think there are frontiers only science fiction can explore, because it can ask wider "what if" questions than other kinds of stories.

LF: If science fiction tries to describe the future from the framework of our present, how would you describe the relation between our present and the science fiction being written today?

JW: Constantly changing. I sometimes think the problem is keeping up with the present -- technology moves so fast, if you take two years to write a book your cutting edge thing will be passe when it comes out. I know Charlie Stross has talked about having this problem.

LF: Can you tell us something about you next literary projects?

JW: I'm writing a science fiction novel about a ballet dancer on a generation starship.

I also have a collection of my Tor.com pieces coming out sometime soon, which will be called What Makes This Book So Great.

LF: Thanks a lot for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to say to the future readers of Among Others in Spain?
JW: Because Mori is a voracious reader, people sometimes ask me for a reading list from the book. There are a couple that other people have put together. But I wasn't trying to write about canon forming -- far from it. The point of loving reading is the way we start by reading indiscriminately and only later developing taste. Read a lot of different things! But you already have a head start over most people I know because you're already reading things from more than one culture.

miércoles, 21 de noviembre de 2012

Three Free Ebooks Courtesy of Night Shade Books

To properly celebrate Thanksgiving Day, Night Shade Books is giving away three ebooks: Agatha H and the Airship City by Phil and Kaja Foglio, Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht and The Emperor's Knife by Mazarkis Williams.

If you want to get these free ebooks, just follow these instructions from the Night Shade Books newsletter:
Email happythanksgiving@nightshadebooks.com and you'll  receive an auto response from us with a username, password and link to our download site where you'll be able to download the .epub or .mobi files of some of our most exciting and appropriately scrumptious titles.

Contenidos de Clarkesworld y Lightspeed en Noviembre de 2012

Estos son los contenidos de las revistas Clarkesworld y Lightspeed en sus números correspondientes al mes de Noviembre de 2012. Recordad que está en marcha una campaña para ayudar a Neil Clarke, el editor de Clarkesworld, mediante una subscripción a la revista.

Clarkesworld 74 (Noviembre 2012) 

No ficción:


Lightspeed 30 (Noviembre 2012)

Ciencia ficción:
  • West, Orson Scott Card (contenido esclusivo de la edición en ebook)
  • Searching for Slave Leia, Sandra McDonald
  • Ace 167, Eleanor Arnason
  • A Well-Adjusted Man, Tom Crosshill
  • A Game of Rats and Dragon, Tobias S. Buckell
Nota: Los contenidos de Lightspeed van a apareciendo online de forma gradual a lo largo del mes.

martes, 20 de noviembre de 2012

Osama de Lavie Tidhar será publicada por Literatura Fantástica en marzo de 2013

Osama de Lavie Tidhar, reciente ganadora del World Fantasy Award en la categoría de novela, será publicada en marzo del año que viene en castellano en la colección Literatura Fantástica. Se trata de una inteligente e interesante novela negra con elementos de ucronía y de new weird, situada en un universo alternativo en el que Osama Bin Laden es un personaje de ficción que protaganiza la serie de novelas pulp "Osama, Vigilante" escritas por el autor Mike Longshott.  

El libro ha sido uno de los éxitos de este año entre público y crítica (por ejemplo, Damien G. Walter lo pone por las nubes en este interesantísimo artículo) y, de hecho, ya fue finalista del John W. Campbell Memorial y del BSFA Award. Precisamente con motivo de esa nominación, entrevisté a su autor y charlamos sobre el origen de la historia de Osama y sobre algunas de sus influencias, que incluyen a escritores como Paul Auster y Vázquez Montalbán.

Una gran noticia, pues, el hecho de que los lectores en castellano puedan disfrutar pronto de esta obra. Y no os perdáis el resto de títulos que RBA ha preparado para el primer trimestre de 2013, porque también son extremadamente interesantes.

Programación de la colección Literatura Fantástica para el primer trimestre de 2013

RBA acaba de anunciar las obras que acompañarán a Osama de Lavie Tidhar en la colección Literatura Fantástica durante el primer trimestre de 2013. Entre muchos títulos interesantes, me parece especialmente destacable el hecho de que El mejor de los mundos posibles de Karen Lord será publicado casi simultáneamente en español y en inglés, ya que la fecha anunciada para ambas ediciones es Febrero de 2013.

La programación completa es la siguiente:


El mundo de cristal de J.G. Ballard

El médico británico Edward Sanders se desplaza a una remota región de África para ayudar contra una variante de la lepra. Durante el viaje a través de la selva descubre que se está produciendo un fenómeno extraño e inexplicable: el bosque ha empezado a cristalizarse, junto con todo lo que contiene: plantas, animales y personas. Los personajes tienen que enfrentarse a la amenaza de la cristalización que a la vez atrae y repele, porque mata al eliminar toda la vida de la selva, pero también preserva al detener el tiempo.
Esta novela forma parte de la serie de libros que Ballard dedicó a la destrucción de la civilización por distintos medios, junto con El mundo sumergido y La sequía. Una lectura fascinante y cautivadora que sitúa al lector frente a la fascinación y el terror ante el fin del mundo.


El mejor de los mundos posibles de Karen Lord

La humanidad se ha extendido por el universo, creando sociedades y culturas que colaboran y recelan entre ellas. Un ataque por sorpresa destruye el planeta de una sociedad orgullosa y reservada, cuyos supervivientes no tienen más remedio que entrar en contacto con la cultura del mundo que los ha acogido y con la que están lejanamente emparentados. Su deseo más profundo es preservar su forma de vida pero descubrirán que para conservar su cultura es posible que la tengan que cambiar para siempre. Un hombre y una mujer, procedentes de estas dos sociedades, deben colaborar para superar sus recelos y salvar esta raza en vías de desaparición, mientras descubren misterios del pasado con grandes implicaciones para el futuro. Este equipo sorprendente formado por un hombre frío y cerebral, y una mujer apasionada e impulsiva, tendrán que encontrar su destino confiando en el otro y en una fuerza que los transciende a todos.

La máquina espacial de Christopher Priest

Edward Turnbull es un representante de comercio sin suerte que un día conoce por casualidad a Amelia Fitzgibbon, pariente de un conocido inventor. De visita en su casa, Amelia le enseña el último invento de sir William: la máquina espacial, y le sugiere que la tomen prestada para un viaje corto. Esta imprudencia desencadena toda una serie de acontecimientos nefastos que los lleva a un futuro cercano y a un rincón de la campiña, que creen que es la Tierra del futuro, pero que en realidad es el planeta Marte, que está a punto de lanzar un ataque contra la Tierra.
Combinando con maestría La máquina del tiempo y La guerra de los mundos de H.G. Wells, Christopher Priest trama una historia original que presenta otro punto de vista de ambas novelas y llena los huecos que Wells dejó inexplicados sin salirse de los límites de la ciencia victoriana de finales del siglo XIX.


Las doce moradas del viento de Ursula K. Le Guin

Este libro reúne en orden cronológico los mejores relatos de una de las figuras más destacadas de la literatura fantástica contemporánea. Una voz femenina única que en esta antología esboza buena parte de los mundos imaginarios que posteriormente desarrollará en las novelas que se incluyen en el ciclo del Ekumen. Cada uno de los cuentos es una pequeña obra maestra que explora los temas que preocupan a la autora y constituyen un estudio lúcido de los problemas que aquejan a nuestra sociedad y a las relaciones entre los sexos y entre jóvenes y mayores. Unas narraciones fascinantes y emocionantes que sumergen al lector en mundos lejanos y, a la vez, cercanos.
Cada relato está precedido por una pequeña introducción de la autora que explica sus fuentes de inspiración y las circunstancias que llevaron a la redacción del texto, además de situar cada uno de ellos dentro del marco general de su obra.

Mongoliad, Libro uno de Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear y otros autores

Europa en 1241 se encuentra al borde del desastre. Las hordas mongolas han surgido de lo más profundo de las estepas de Asia central y amenazan con aplastar todos los reinos e imperios que encuentran a su paso. Los reinos cristianos han ido de derrota en derrota y parece que el fin del mundo se aproxima con cada avance de los mongoles, pero un pequeño grupo de guerreros y místicos, pertenecientes a una orden militar están convencidos que es posible detener a los invasores, aunque quizás el arma que deban utilizar no es el filo de la espada sino el poder del conocimiento.
Convencidos de la justicia de su causa, se lanzarán a una misión suicida que intentarán salvar al mundo de la aniquilación y los pondrá en contacto con sociedades secretas y misterios inmemoriales, que harán que su aventura se extienda más allá del tiempo.

Osama de Lavie Tidhar

Joe, detective privado, recibe el encargo de encontrar a Mike Longshott, autor de unas novelas pulp muy populares, protagonizadas por un personaje de ficción llamado Osama bin Laden. La tarea parece fácil, pero se va complicando a medida que se acumulan los misterios: nadie parece conocer al autor, la editorial de las novelas no es más que un apartado de correos y los interrogatorios le llevan a poner en duda que Longshott sea una persona real porque algunos hablan de fantasmas o refugiados de otra realidad paralela. Al mismo tiempo, Joe empieza a leer las novelas protagonizadas por Osama, que están repletas de actos de violencia, que se parecen sospechosamente a atentados reales de nuestro mundo. Sorprendido y confuso seguirá su investigación hasta descubrir el misterio del autor desaparecido y de los refugiados.