lunes, 30 de junio de 2014

All Those Vanished Engines, by Paul Park

(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 Spinning in the Boiler House, with sound from by Stephen Vitiello (Youtube).

I remember feeling very intrigued by the cover of All Those Vanished Engines, by Paul Park, when I first saw it a few months ago. Not having read anything by Park before, I made a mental note of giving the book a try. I was not prepared in the least for what was coming.

Saying that All Those Vanished Engines is not an easy read would be a huge understatement. The book consists of three novellas that are somehow related (or not) and each one is considerably more challenging than the previous one. There are stories within stories, subtle clues, unreliable narrators, autobiographical notes, doppelgängers, references to the real projects in the real world, ambiguous facts and, above all, lots of meta-literary elements. For instance, the first novella includes two different stories whose main protagonists are also the narrators of the other story, in the vein of some drawings by the wonderful M.C. Escher. In fact, I would describe All Those Vanished Engines as a kind of Cloud Atlas if it were written by Christopher Priest. But more convoluted.

If that sounds intriguing and original, it certainly is. But it is also extremely complicated to read, follow and understand. And that was my main problem with this book: it was way over my head. I had some trouble with the first story, but I more or less got it (or at least I think I did). Then, the second one was even more complicated and elusive and I found myself lost many times, not knowing what was happening or even when it was happening or who was telling it. By the time I got to the third part of the book, I had neither the energy nor the interested required to keep on reading and I only skimmed it. 

There are nonetheless, many brilliant moments in All Those Vanished Engines. The idea of concurrent narrators in the first novella is just wonderful. And some of the images in the second are evocative and interesting. Take, for instance, this paragraph:
We thought these locations - in fact, in memory, and in the imagined present - might find their representation in the three defunct furnaces, all in a row, and in the three empty cubes of space, each one defined and encased with layers of rusted tubes.      
Or this one:
Third, I thought you could build a story that would function as a machine or else a complex of machines, each one moving separately, yet part of a process that ultimately would produce an emotion or a sequence of emotions. You could swap out parts, replace them if they got too old. And this time you would build in some deliberate redundancy, if only just to handle the stress. One question was: Would the engine still work if you were aware of it, or if you were told how it actually functioned? Maybe this was one of the crucial differences between a story and a machine.
There are many fragments like these ones, and you can hardly get more meta-literary than that. These pieces are a clear commentary on the book itself, but also on the role of literature and art in general, and I really appreciated them, despite not being able to enjoy (or understand) most of this set of linked novellas. 

Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying that All Those Vanished Engines is not a good book. It is certainly ambitious and I'm sure it will be much liked by Paul Park fans (especially since I understand it is related to some of his previous works, such as A Princess of Roumania or Ghosts Doing the Orange Dance, which are even mentioned on several occasions on this novel). But it was, definitely, too much for this limited and humble reader. 

domingo, 29 de junio de 2014

Ganadores de los Premios Locus 2014

Anoche fueron entregados los Premios Locus 2014, cuyos ganadores podéis ver a continuación resaltados en negrita junto con el resto de nominados:

Novela de ciencia ficción
  • MaddAddam, Margaret Atwood (McClelland & Stewart; Bloomsbury; Talese)
  • Abaddon’s Gate, James S.A. Corey (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • The Best of All Possible Worlds, Karen Lord (Del Rey; Jo Fletcher UK)
  • Shaman, Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Neptune’s Brood, Charles Stross (Ace; Orbit UK)

Novela de fantasía
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman (Morrow; Headline Review)
  • NOS4A2, Joe Hill (Morrow; Gollancz as NOS4R2)
  • River of Stars, Guy Gavriel Kay (Roc; Viking Canada; HarperCollins UK)
  • Doctor Sleep, Stephen King (Scribner; Hodder & Stoughton)
  • The Republic of Thieves, Scott Lynch (Del Rey; Gollancz)

Novela juvenil
  • Zombie Baseball Beatdown, Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown)
  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Holly Black (Little, Brown; Indigo)
  • Homeland, Cory Doctorow (Tor Teen; Titan)
  • The Summer Prince, Alaya Dawn Johnson (Levine)
  • The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, Catherynne M. Valente (Feiwel and Friends)

Novela de debut
  • The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic, Emily Croy Barker (Dorman)
  • The Golden City, J. Kathleen Cheney (Roc)
  • Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar (Small Beer)
  • The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Wecker (Harper)

Novela corta
  • Wakulla Springs”, Andy Duncan & Ellen Klages ( 10/2/13)
  • “Black Helicopters”, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Subterranean)
  • “The Princess and the Queen”, George R.R. Martin (Dangerous Women)
  • “Precious Mental”, Robert Reed (Asimov’s 6/13)
  • “Six-Gun Snow White”, Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean)

  • “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling”, Ted Chiang (Subterranean Fall ’13)
  • “The Waiting Stars”, Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky)
  • A Terror”, Jeffrey Ford ( 7/24/13)
  • “The Sleeper and the Spindle”, Neil Gaiman (Rags and Bones)
  • “The Prayer of Ninety Cats”, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Subterranean Spring ’13)

Relato corto
  • “Some Desperado”, Joe Abercrombie (Dangerous Women)
  • “The Science of Herself”, Karen Joy Fowler (The Science of Herself)
  • “The Road of Needles”, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales)
  • “A Brief History of the Trans-Pacific Tunnel”, Ken Liu (F&SF 1-2/13)
  • “The Dead Sea-Bottom Scrolls”, Howard Waldrop (Old Mars)

  • Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells, Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling, eds. (Tor)
  • The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirtieth Annual Collection, Gardner Dozois, ed. (St. Martin’s Griffin; Robinson as The Mammoth Book of Best New SF 26)
  • Unnatural Creatures, Neil Gaiman & Maria Dahvana Headley, eds. (Harper; Bloomsbury)
  • Old Mars, George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, eds. (Bantam)
  • The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Seven, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Night Shade)

Colección de relatos
  • The Best of Joe Haldeman, Joe Haldeman (Subterranean)
  • The Ape’s Wife and Other Stories, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Subterranean)
  • Kabu Kabu, Nnedi Okorafor (Prime)
  • The Bread We Eat in Dreams, Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean)
  • The Best of Connie Willis, Connie Willis (Del Rey)

  • Asimov’s
  • Clarkesworld
  • F&SF
  • Subterranean

  • Angry Robot
  • Orbit
  • Small Beer
  • Subterranean
  • Tor Books

  • John Joseph Adams
  • Ellen Datlow
  • Gardner Dozois
  • Jonathan Strahan
  • Ann & Jeff VanderMeer

  • Bob Eggleton
  • John Picacio
  • Shaun Tan
  • Charles Vess
  • Michael Whelan

No ficción
  • Here Be Dragons: Exploring Fantasy Maps and Settings, Stefan Ekman (Wesleyan)
  • Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler, Rebecca J. Holden & Nisi Shawl, eds. (Aqueduct)
  • The Man From Mars: Ray Palmer’s Amazing Pulp Journey, Fred Nadis (Tarcher)
  • Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction, Jeff VanderMeer (Abrams Image)
  • Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture, Ytasha L. Womack (Lawrence Hill)

Libro de ilustraciones
  • Hannes Bok, Hannes Bok: A Life in Illustration, Joseph Wrzos, ed. (Centipede)
  • Margaret Brundage, The Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage, Stephen D. Korshak & J. David Spurlock, eds. (Vanguard)
  • Spectrum 20: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, Cathy Fenner & Arnie Fenner, eds. (Underwood)
  • Maurice Sendak, Maurice Sendak: A Celebration of the Artist and His Work, Justin G. Schiller, Dennis M.V. David & Leonard S. Marcus, eds. (Abrams)
  • Shaun Tan, Rules of Summer (Hachette Australia; Hodder Children’s; Levine ’14)

Novedad en Nova: La Tierra en llamas, de Orson Scott Card y Aaron Johnston

Ya está a la venta en la colección Nova la segunda entrega de La Primera Guerra FórmicaLa Tierra en llamas, de Orson Scott Card y Aaron Johnston. El libro tiene 496 páginas y cuesta 20€ en edición en papel y 9,99€ en formato electrónico. 

Ésta es su sinopsis:
Cien años antes de que Ender naciera, una raza extraterrestre llegó a la Tierra armada con fuego y muerte.

Después del ataque que sufre la nave minera Cavadora , Victor Delgado escapa y se une al Oficial del Estado Imala para alertar a los científicos de la Tierra de la peligrosidad de los hostiles insectos llamados fórmicos. Mientras los diplomáticos buscan una solución pacífica, Lem Jukes, hijo del magnate Ukko Jukes, planea un ataque que supone un desafío en toda regla a su padre.

Con este telón de fondo, y una horda invasora planeando a través de la llanura china, sobre campos devastados, será el sublime y heroico Mazer Rackham, un oficial de operaciones maorí, quien luche para convertir a su tropa en una fuerza capaz de preservar la Tierra en la que será su primera guerra interestelar.

Llega el segundo volumen de la trilogía de la Primera Guerra Fórmica, monumental precuela de El juego de Ender –que lleva vendidos más de 70.000 ejemplares solo en España- y cuya publicación Ediciones B comenzó en 2013 con La tierra desprevenida.

Orson Scott Card, autor de referencia de la ciencia ficción, ha visto ampliado su target gracias al éxito de la adaptación cinematográfica de El juego de Ender (2013), con Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley y Asa Butterfield como protagonistas.

Una guerra galáctica narrada de manera magistral, una creación detallada y artesanal, un desarrollo casi cinematográfico. Una novela que revela los mecanismos de la agitación social así como los entresijos de la ineptitud política. Un elenco de personajes, rica y enérgicamente perfilados, que exponen los conflictos de conciencia del ser humano en el espacio.

sábado, 28 de junio de 2014

Novedad: The Long Mars, de Stephen Baxter y Terry Pratchett

Tras The Long Earth y The Long War llega The Long Mars, de nuevo con Stephen Baxter y Terry Pratchett trabajando en colaboración. Ésta es la sinopsis del libro:

2040-2045: In the years after the cataclysmic Yellowstone eruption there is massive economic dislocation as populations flee Datum Earth to myriad Long Earth worlds. Sally, Joshua, and Lobsang are all involved in this perilous rescue work when, out of the blue, Sally is contacted by her long-vanished father and inventor of the original Stepper device, Willis Linsay. He tells her he is planning a fantastic voyage across the Long Mars and wants her to accompany him. But Sally soon learns that Willis has an ulterior motive for his request. . . . 
Meanwhile U. S. Navy Commander Maggie Kauffman has embarked on an incredible journey of her own, leading an expedition to the outer limits of the far Long Earth. 
For Joshua, the crisis he faces is much closer to home. He becomes embroiled in the plight of the Next: the super-bright post-humans who are beginning to emerge from their “long childhood” in the community called Happy Landings, located deep in the Long Earth. Ignorance and fear have caused “normal” human society to turn against the Next. A dramatic showdown seems inevitable. . . .

viernes, 27 de junio de 2014

Contenidos de The Apex Book of World SF 3, de Lavie Tidahr

Lavie Tidhar ha anunciado los que serán los contenidos de su antología The Apex Book of World SF Volume 3. El libro, que saldrá a la venta el próximo día 8 de Julio, se encuentra actualmente en oferta y, por ejemplo, puede adquirirse por 4,99$ en ebook o en un pack con los dos primeros volúmenes de la serie (también en digital) por 10$. 

Los relatos incluidos son:

  • Courtship in the Country of Machine-Gods, Benjanun Sriduangkaew (Tailandia)
  • A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight, Xia Jia (China)
  • Act of Faith, Fadzlishah Johanabas (Malasia)
  • The Foreigner, Uko Bendi Udo (Nigeria)
  • The City of Silence, Ma Boyong (China)
  • Planetfall, Athena Andreadis (Grecia)
  • Jungle Fever, Zulaikha Nurain Mudzar (Malasia)
  • To Follow the Waves, Amal El-Mohtar (Líbano/Canadá)
  • Ahuizotl, Nelly Geraldine Garcia-Rosas (México)
  • The Rare Earth, Biram Mboob (Gambia)
  • Spider’s Nest, Myra Çakan (Alemania)
  • Waiting with Mortals, Crystal Koo (Filipinas)
  • Three Little Children, Ange (Francia)
  • Brita’s Holiday Village, Karin Tidbeck (Suecia)
  • Regressions, Swapna Kishore (India)
  • Dancing on the Red Planet, Berit Ellingsen (Corea del Sur/Noruega)

jueves, 26 de junio de 2014

Ebook en oferta: Sensation, de Nick Mamatas

La oferta de esta semana en Weightless Books es Sensation, de Nick Mamatas, que puede ser adquirida durante el día de por 1,99$ en formato electrónico sin DRM. 

Ésta es la sinopsis de la novela:
Love, Politics, Parasitic Manipulation. An underworld of radical political gestures and Internet organizing looking to overthrow a a ruling class it knows nothing about. 
Julia Hernandez left her husband, shot a real-estate developer out to gentrify Brooklyn, and then vanished without a trace. Well, perhaps one or two traces were left… With different personal and consumption habits, Julia has slipped out of the world she knew and into the Simulacrum—a place between the cracks of our existence from which human history is both guided and thwarted by the conflict between a species of anarchist wasp and a collective of hyperintelligent spider. When Julia’s ex-husband Raymond spots her in a grocery store he doesn’t usually patronize, he’s drawn into an underworld of radical political gestures and Internet organizing looking to overthrow a world it knows nothing about—and Julia is the new media sensation of both this world and the Simulacrum. 
Told ultimately from the collective point of view of another species, Sensation plays with the elements of the Simulacrum we all already live in: media reports, business-speak, blog entries, text messages, psychological evaluation forms and the always fraught and deceitful lies lovers tell one another.

Ebook gratuito: Burn Baby Burn, de James Maxey

En estos momentos se puede descargar gratuitamente de Smashwords el ebook Burn Baby Burn: A Supervillain Novel, de James Maxey. 

Ésta es su sinopsis:
Pit Geek and Sundancer are supervillains in an age when superheroes have been outlawed. After years in hiding, the two team up for a series of spectacular bank robberies that threatens to disrupt the world economy. When a new government sanctioned team of heroes known as the Covenant appears to halt their crime wave, Sundancer and Pit Geek are forced to take desperate measures to retain their freedom. When they finally run out of places to hide, can the world survive when Sundancer unleashes the full force of her solar powers?

Burn Baby Burn follows the events of Nobody Gets the Girl. The novel stands alone if you haven’t read Nobody, but does contain spoilers as the characters discuss changes in the world following the events of the earlier novel.

Vossoff and Nimmitz: Just a Couple of Idiots Reupholstering Space and Time, de Adam-Troy Castro

Banda sonora de la reseña: Sugiero leer esta reseña escuchando Vote Beeblebrox, de la banda sonora original de la película The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Spotify, Youtube).

Adam-Troy Castro no es sólo uno de los escritores de relatos cortos más interesantes de la actualidad, sino que, además, posee una versalitidad realmente asombrosa. Se desenvuelve con igual soltura en la ciencia ficción pura y en el terror clásico, y en cualquier combinación intermedia que a uno se le pueda ocurrir. Pero una de las constantes que se pueden encontrar en casi todas sus obras es el humor. Absurdo a veces, muy negro en otras, pero siempre fresco e inteligente. Buena muestra de ello son, por ejemplo, la divertidísima"My Wife Hates Time Travel" o la ácida "The Totals", y, cómo no, la colección de relatos que hoy nos ocupa: Vossoff and Nimmitz, Just a Couple of Idiots Reupholstering Space and Time.

Este libro recopila las ocho historias que Castro ha escrito protagonizadas por Vossoff and Nimmitz, un par de personajes que vienen a ser los Laurel y Hardy del espacio. Vossoff, en concreto, sería El Gordo: siempre ideando planes supuestamente brillantes que no logran más que meter a ambos en un lío tras otro, mientras que El Flaco (es decir, Nimmitz), pese a su escasa inteligencia, ve venir el desastre a las primeras de cambio.

Al menos ése es el esquema que siguen las tres o cuatro primeras historias. A partir de ahí, Castro (con muy buen tino), decide introducir nuevos personajes y cambiar un poco el estilo de historia, algo que se agradece y aporta frescura. Son estas historias centrales del volumen las que mejores chistes y juegos de palabras tienen, además de contar con personajes mejor definidos y tramas más interesantes.

El libro, como es de esperar, está repleto de sentido del humor y de situaciones absurdas. Aunque la ambientación es de ciencia ficción, las distintas tecnologías con las que se encuentran los protagonistas (y sobre las que giran la mayor parte de las tramas) son totalmente disparatadas, muy al estilo de lo que uno se puede encontrar en las obras de Robert Sheckley (autor en el que Castro reconoce haberse inspirado) o Douglas Adams.

El tono, por tanto, es ligero e intrascendente, muy adecuado para pasar un rato divertido, pero puede resultar un poco cansino si se leen varios de los relatos seguidos, por lo que recomiendo intercalarlo con otras lecturas diferentes. Además, como uno se puede imaginar, las historias dependen casi exclusivamente de las ocurrencias y la chispa del autor, por lo que unas funcionan bastante mejor que otras y el resultado global acaba siendo algo irregular.

No quiero acabar la reseña sin señalar un problema que he encontrado en la edición en ebook de la editorial Jabberwocky que yo he leído: está repleta de erratas. Palabras repetidas; comas donde deberían ser puntos y puntos donde deberían ser comas; problemas de maquetación; errores tipográficos... Sinceramente, da la impresión de que no ha tenido ningún tipo de proceso de revisión ni de corrección. Un desastre imperdonable, máxime cuando el libro no es especialmente barato.

En definitiva, y a pesar de esos problemas metaliterarios, un libro entretenido y divertido, con momentos realmente graciosos. Lo recomiendo especialmente a seguidores de autores como Sheckley y Adams o a todo a aquel que busque unos cuantos relatos con los que pasar un buen rato sin más pretensiones.

Nota: Esta reseña forma parte del Especial Humor organizado por El Fantascopio y Cuentos para Algernon.          

miércoles, 25 de junio de 2014

El regreso del hijo pródigo: Diez libros para reengancharse al género fantástico

Banda sonora del artículo: Sugiero leer este artículo escuchando The Rising de Bruce Springsteen (Spotify, Youtube).

Esta mañana mi amigo Cloud XXI me hacía una petición en un comentario de una entrada del blog. Lleva un tiempo desenganchado de la lectura y quiere algunas recomendaciones de los mejores libros de los últimos tres o cuatro años. Tras cavilar un poco y decidir qué libros podrían gustarle a Cloud, he pensado que la lista podría ser de utilidad para otra gente, así que me he decidido a dedicarle una entrada.

Como todas las listas, es totalmente personal y arbitraria, y si la hiciera mañana quizá no sería la misma. Además, he intentado ajustarla a los gustos de Cloud XXI y eso la hace ligeramente distinta a como sería si la pensara para un público más general (por ejemplo, he excluido The Hydrogen Sonata, de Iain M. Banks, porque me consta que es un libro que Cloud ya conoce sobradamente). 

En cualquier caso, y dejando ya los preámbulos, los diez libros que he seleccionado, por orden alfabético según autor, son los siguientes:

Dark Eden, Chris Beckett

Un libro que maneja de maravilla el lenguaje y que, además, es una muestra excepcional de ciencia ficción sociológica. Muy recomendado. Mi reseña completa aquí.

The Shining GirlsLauren Beukes

Perfecta muestra de novela policiaca y viajes en el tiempo, con un tratamiento magnífico de los personajes secundarios. Hablé largo y tendido sobre este libro con mi amigo Miquel Codony en esta entrada.

Heap House, Edward Carey

Un libro juvenil pero que puede y debe ser disfrutado también por los adultos. Imaginativo, lírico, surrealista... dentro de poco sale la segunda parte y estoy deseando leerla. Más motivos por los que recomiendo este libro en mi reseña.

La canción secreta del mundo, de José Antonio Cotrina

De nuevo un libro juvenil, pero que rompe con muchos de los tópicos del género. Soy fan declarado de Cotrina y ésta me parece una de sus mejores obras. La reseñé detalladamente cuando se publicó y también hablé sobre ella con el propio autor en esta entrevista.  

Raising Stony Mayhall, Daryl Gregory

Si sólo pudiera recomendar un libro del último lustro, muy posiblemente sería Raising Stony Mayhall. Una novela prácticamente perfecta de principio a fin que demuestra que en el subgénero zombie se pueden hacer muchas cosas interesantes si uno se atreve a romper moldes. Hablé extensamente sobre ella hace un par de años y hasta entrevisté a Daryl Gregory.

Wolfhound Century, Peter Higgins

Otra novela sumamente original y que mezcla elementos de muchísimos géneros consiguiendo una obra de marcada personalidad propia. Más en mi reseña y en la entrevista con su autor

Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie

La novela que más he dudado si incluir o no, porque hay bastante gente que opina que no es para tanto. A mí, sin embargo, me ha encantado y creo que merece la pena leerla al menos para saber por qué se ha montado tanto revuelo a su alrededor. También hice reseña en su día.

The Wandering Earth: Classic Science Fiction Collection, Liu Cixin

Confieso que estoy totalmente entregado a Liu Cixin. Para mí, ha sido el gran descubrimiento de los últimos años y esta colección, que incluye todos sus relatos traducidos por el momento al inglés, me parece totalmente imprescindible (y esperad a que se publiquen las novelas de la trilogía The Three Body Problem: absolutamente increíbles). No tengo reseña completa del libro, pero si de algunos de los relatos como The Wandering Earth, Mountain o Taking Care of God.

Embassytown, China Miéville

Mi novela favorita de China Miéville y una estupenda especulación sobre el lenguaje y el colonialismo. Imprescindible. Le dediqué una reseña hace algún tiempo. 

Iris, Edmundo Paz Soldán

En mi opinión, una de las cinco mejores novelas de ciencia ficción que se han escrito en castellano. Perfecta en estilo, estructura, desarrollo de los personajes, manejo del lenguaje... Una auténtica joya, como argumenté en mi reseña.

Nota: Aunque creo son todos los que están, es evidente que hay ausencias en la lista. Por ejemplo, creo que, aunque tienen algo más de los tres o cuatro años que mencionaba Cloud, se hace necesario que lea, si no lo ha hecho aún, obras como La voz de las espadas, de Joe Abercrombie o Mistborn de Brandon Sanderson. En cualquier caso, creo que estos son diez buenos libros para ir reenganchándose y a partir de ahí espero que hablemos largo y tendido de otras posibilidades.

Ebook en oferta: Strange Bodies, de Marcel Theroux

Gracias a un aviso del maestro de ceremonias del estupendo blog Dreams of Elvex me entero de que Strange Bodies, la novela de Marcel Theroux que recientemente ha recibido el Premio John W. Campbell Memorial, se encuentra en oferta en formato electrónico en Amazon España a 1,89€. 

Ésta es la sinopsis del libro:
Nicholas Slopen has been dead for months. So when a man claiming to be Nicholas turns up to visit an old girlfriend, deception seems the only possible motive.

Yet nothing can make him change his story.

From the secure unit of a notorious psychiatric hospital, he begins to tell his tale: an account of attempted forgery that draws the reader towards an extraordinary truth - a metaphysical conspiracy that lies on the other side of madness and death.

Strange Bodies takes the reader on a dizzying speculative journey that poses questions about identity, authenticity, and what it means to be truly human.

martes, 24 de junio de 2014

Ebook en oferta: Paciente cero, de Jonathan Maberry

El Kindle Flash del día de hoy en Amazon España es Paciente cero, de Jonathan Maberry, que se puede adquirir en formato digital por 1,42€. Ésta es su sinopsis:
Lunes, 13.00 horas. Joe Ledger mata al terrorista Javad Mustapha, alias el Paciente Cero, con dos tiros de su Glock 45. Miércoles, 08.00 horas: el Paciente Cero regresa de entre los muertos. Cuando tienes que matar al mismo terrorista dos veces la misma semana, o bien falla algo en tus aptitudes o el mundo se ha vuelto loco… y las aptitudes de Joe Ledger están perfectamente. Ledger es reclutado por el Gobierno para dirigir un nuevo grupo de respuesta rápida ultrasecreto llamado Departamento de Ciencia Militar (dcm) para ayudarlos a evitar que un grupo de terroristas active una terri-ble arma biológica que tiene la capacidad de convertir a la gente normal en zombis.

Ebooks de Tor en oferta

La editorial Tor ha puesto en promoción varios de sus títulos que se pueden adquirir en formato electrónico a precio rebajado hasta el próximo día 27. La oferta está disponible en varias plataformas de venta, incluyendo Amazon España y Kobo (que tiene precios algo más altos, pero donde se pueden aplicar cupones de descuento para reducirlos aún más). 

Los títulos en oferta son los siguientes (ojo, porque algunos de los libros tienen varias ediciones a distintos precios):

Entre los títulos en oferta también se encuentra Ventus, de Karl Schroeder, pero se trata de una novela que se puede descargar gratuitamente puesto que fue liberada hace unos años bajo licencia Creative Commons.

Installing Linux on a Dead Badger (and other Oddities), de Lucy Snyder

Banda sonora de la reseña: Sugiero leer esta reseña escuchando Dead Badger, de Ryan McGillicuddy (Spotify).

Todos tenemos un pasado oscuro y el mío incluye un periodo bastante prolongado en el que estuve obsesionado con los HOWTOs de Linux. Me pasaba horas buceando por números antiguos de Linux Gazette, entraba a diario a ver los cambios más recientes en The Linux Documentation Project e imprimía y encuadernaba los documentos más interesantes para poder leerlos y releerlos (hablo de una época en la que no existían tablets ni ebooks y los pocos smartphones que había eran carísimos y funcionaban con Symbian).

Aunque esa etapa, como la de aspirante a guitarrista heavy y otras tantas, ha quedado, por suerte o por desgracia, más que superada, al ver Installing Linux on a Dead Badger (and other Oddities), con su portadita con animal a lo O'Reilly y todo, fui incapaz de resistirme. Ése era un libro que tenía que leer sí o sí, aunque fuera por los viejos tiempos.

El caso es que casi me lo podía haber ahorrado. Installing Linux on a Dead Badger parte de una idea original y atractiva (mezclar el estilo de los manuales técnicos de Linux con el humor, la magia negra y los zombies), pero se queda en un chiste para geeks que se agota a las pocas páginas. Aunque el libro es cortito (poco más de cien páginas), enseguida se hace repetitivo y demuestra que el tema no daba para mucho más que el artículo inicial (publicado en Strange Horizonsdel que surgió la idea. 

Después de ese primer relato en forma de HOWTO, el grueso del libro lo constituyen una serie de historias en forma de artículos periodísticos que retoman ligeramente la idea de mezclar elementos clásicos del terror (zombies, vampiros...) con las tecnologías de la información y el humor corporativo a lo Dilbert. La cosa no deja de tener cierta gracia, pero la repetición de la fórmula y del mismo tipo de chiste ("los zombies son trabajadores mucho más eficientes y baratos. Basta con darles un par de cerebros al día y ¡no se organizan en sindicatos, ni nada!") enseguida se vuelve cansina. 

En el tramo final, Installing Linux on a Dead Badger remonta un poco el vuelo, sobre todo porque Snyder renuncia definitivamente al estilo de las primeras historias para ofrecer un puñado de cuentos de formato más tradicional en los que las tecnologías del primero de los relatos (el Vüdü Linux, principalmente) desempeñan un papel fundamental. Un poco en la línea de la serie The Laundry Files de Charles Stross, aunque sin alcanzar sus niveles de calidad.

En resumen, Installing Linux on a Dead Badger es un chiste prolongado que sobre todo hará gracia a los que tienen un tierno corazoncito geek y que es mejor no leer de un tirón para evitar saturarse con la repetición de esquemas y planteamientos. Mi recomendación es que aquel que tenga curiosidad lea el relato que da título a la colección y prescinda del resto. 

Nota: Esta reseña forma parte del Especial Humor organizado por El Fantascopio y Cuentos para Algernon.

lunes, 23 de junio de 2014

Ebook en oferta: Yo, robot, de Isaac Asimov

El Kindle Flash del día de hoy en Amazon España es Yo, robot, de Isaac Asimov, que se puede adquirir en formato digital por 1,70€. Ésta es su sinopsis:
Una investigación llevada a cabo por un periodista acerca de la trayectoria de la robopsicóloga Susan Calvin da pie a los nueve relatos que componen esta novela. Publicada cuando la electrónica digital estaba en su infancia, "Yo, robot" resultó ciertamente visionaria. Aquí formuló Isaac Asimv por primera vez las tres leyes fundamentales de la robótica, que rigen el comportamiento en los diferentes conflictos que se presentan entre humanos y robots, que se convertirían en una de las piedras angulares de la ciencia ficción. La modernidad y éxito de este libro se explica por la audacia en la composición y por la aplastante lógica en sus reflexiones, que se adentran en el campo de la ética y de la psicología. "Yo, robot" es uno de los pocos títulos de ciencia ficción que han superado con amplitud el círculo de lectores especialmente aficionados, entre los que a menudo se considera una obra cumbre. Su influencia y la de las tres leyes de la robótica en ella enunciadas es muy notable y ha servido de inspiración para incontables novelas, cómics y películas.

Cristina Jurado interviews Carlos Sisí and Ittai Manero

Carlos Sisí
As a part of the series of posts that El Fantascopio and Cuentos para Algernon are devoting to humorous SF&F, our beloved Cristina Jurado interviews Carlos Sisí and Ittai Manero, whose humoristic comic-book Midnight will be published in Spain later this year. You can read the interview in the original Spanish at Cristina's blog Más Ficción que Ciencia. I really want to thank Cristina for letting me publish here her translation of her talk with Sisí and Manero. Hope you enjoy it!  

“Midnight” by Sisí & Manero:
A fantasy and humoristic comic for all ages

Internet is an space where reality unfolds, like a brochure spread out, which multiplies events. There, where social media blossom tangling us in a grid of crossed conversations, I found out the upcoming publishing of a fantasy and humoristic comic, aimed to all audiences. It is Midnight, with script by Carlos Sisí and illustrations by Ittai Manero, supported by Planeta de Agostini and arriving to readers next fall. Sisí, the writer from Malaga, is well known thanks to his zombie trilogy The Wanderers (2009), Necrópolis (2010) and Hades Nébula (2011), a psychological horror novel Edén Interrumpido (2012), the thriller La hora del mar (2012) and Panteón, a science fiction novel awarded with Premio Minotauro 2013. Born in Tarragona, Ittai Manero has dedicated his life to drawing, painting portraits and collaborating with fanzines. Now he works at Serie B Studio, where he combines his position as an illustrator with his job as a comic teacher. Next, we offer you an interview with the duo behind Midnight, just a few days after their appearance in the last Salón del Cómic in Barcelona.

Cristina Jurado: I would like to start asking each of you to introduce the other.

Ittai Manero: Here we have the Knight Don Sisí, who believed in me when nobody knew me. I talked to him about Magic Knight, its title then, which at the time I thought had a great potential. He is a fantastic writer and a better friend. He knows how to listen and tells you what you need at the right time, so you can get the best out of yourself. I just remembered, we got in contact in August of 2012.

Ittai Manero
Carlos Sisí: This hard working guy's name is Ittai Manero. The truth is that Midnight would have never seen to light without him… He came with few illustrations of Knight and we talked about the possibility of developing the comic. There was no contract, no guarantee, but he never doubted in investing a lot of talent, time and effort to go for something we both believed in.  And it became true. The process was wonderful and fun: now we are very good friends. There is a moral in the story, even though I only can think about spicy sardines, I don't know why.

CJ: Carlos Sisí, what brings to Midnight Ittai Manero's style of illustrating? Ittai Manero, what did you see in Magic Knight that move you to draw it?

Manero: It was probably the fact that I'd read a few comic strips that Carlos had in is Facebook wall, as well as four or five pages of Magic Knight. The title was “Dan's strip” and I thought they were very clever. I also believed Carlos' illustrations had a lot of potential and I still feel that he could have achieved something very good by himself. I really wanted to be part of it and wanted to collaborate with him. Then, there was Knight. I started with for sketches and he loved them immediately.

Sisí: Ittai has given Midnight a cozy style, with enough level of details and, at the same time, very simple visually. And the use of color is glorious. Knight is very cool; it gets in your eyes, as people have said in Salón del Cómic and in Facebook. Nobody has read anything yet, nobody knows exactly what is it but there is already fan art, people ask about T-shirts and little rag dolls and there is a professional sculptor working on a doll. All that, without Ittai's illustrations, would not have happened.

CJ: What is Midnight for you Carlos Sisí? And for you Ittai Manero?

Manero: To me Midnight is like a son. And, if it wasn't, it looks very much like one because it was very hard to “give birth” to it. I'm lucky because Carlos' scripts are very fun to illustrate and he also gives me enough room to work in every page. In a more serious note, the most difficult was working on the project while I was doing nine hours shifts in a hotel in London. I imagine that, if I was in a Caribbean beach instead, it probably would have taken me less time and I wouldn't have felt so overwhelmed. In situations like this, after working so hard, you value the most all the good things that happened to you. I can say I cannot be happier because our “baby” is going to be published by Planeta de Agostini in Spain.

Sisí: Midnight is a "labour of love". The main character, Knight, was born during my adolescence. I used to draw him in the chalkboards of the school and in all my textbooks. I did many comic strips and illustration of all shapes and sizes. It was a symbol, more or less unconscious; it was an “I” locked in an armor, somebody with a very rich inside world, dormant magic, an explorer of a changing world. I surrounded him with all the things I liked: a tower in the middle of a lake in a forest where is always night, tea parties, and a very special friend called Alicia. To see him now in a book, professionally designed and with this wonderful appearance, is a great sensation that reveals: “If you work hard in following your dream, you can achieve it”.

CJ: What is Midnight's audience? What do you want to achieve with this comic?

Sisí: As I said before, Midnight is a “labour of love”. We could have done something more commercially viable: I have the universe of The Wanderers, or stories like Panteón that could be translated into a comic, but Midnight is something we already had and wanted to pursuit. It's a very exciting project. To be able to show Knight's world to anybody who wants to know it is very motivational. This comic is born from an essential need, basic and pure, to create something beautiful and cozy. We were very careful to develop it so it was suitable for children, but also fun for adults. We really have fun writing and illustrating it, and want to keep on doing it. And we have hidden a lot of allusions and geek references in its pages!

Manero: I believe Midnight is an ode to adventures. It wants to make adult readers smile while learning about the many and friendly characters who live in its pages: Knight; his cat Agatón; Dwain, the warrior; Banshee, the ghost… What we really want is to make the younger readers follow the adventures of our “blue chickpea” and his friends, making them feel like they are part of a journey full of quests. As Carlos said, we made sure people of all ages could have fun with it, at different levels… And the geeks can find many allusions to the fandom world.

CJ: Ittai already talked a bit about the characters. Could you introduce us to them?

Sisí: With time, I really became fond of Banshee. He's a tormented spirit, a ghost who committed terrible things during his life and now is trying to purge his sins helping Knight solve the problems that arise in the first book. I like his expression, always stern and reflexive, and his capacity to face difficulties by phasing, going through walls and throwing ectoplasms. That tires him a lot, so he has to rest from time to time. I think that, from all the characters close to Knight, he is the wisest one.

Manero: We have Knight, guardian of the King and protector of the Kingdom, as a connecting threat of the story through which we learn about the other characters. One of the first ones to appear is Banshee, but there is also Dwain, a Tesobithean warrior who will help Knight and company in more than one occasion. With Banshee and the “blue chickpea”, they are the central group of main characters in Midnight, as well as many other secondary characters.

Sisí: We have an internal joke. Ittai prefers Dwain and I, Banshee; I always threaten him to make Dwain disappear in a future book if he does not attend to my crazy requests.

Manero: Knight has a cat called Agatón, who is much more than what it seems. There are ghosts, ghouls… There are also some other characters we cannot reveal because then the story wouldn't be funny.

CJ: Writing novels or short stories is very different from developing a script for a comic, where the story is never totally resolved (I'm talking about the adventures of the main character continuing ad infinitum) even though each chapter is self-closing (each adventure starts and ends). What are the decisions involved in writing a comic that are not present in a novel?

Sisí: It might surprise some people but, to me, one thing is not so different from the other. Novels are a way to tell stories as much as a comic is. In terms of the story, composition and execution, etc., they aren't antagonistic worlds. I visualize things and describe them with words in both cases. Ittai only interprets them and gives them life though his pencils, the same a reader does in his mind while reading a novel! It's similar to taking a picture of a toy… I tell stories playing with composition and light. If I had other ways in my hand, I would also use them: a technical and artistic team to develop movies or videogames, for example. Inventing and transmitting is what we do. Midnight is very different from other things I've done but is sweet and fun: the images, the colors, etc., help a lot in this case.

CJ: It is clear to me that you had a blast working on this project, hadn't you?

Sisí: It's super exciting, Cristina. I can't explain it with words, and I suppose to earn my living using words! The day I will see it in my shelf… Not so long ago, an author told me: “Man, it's a very bad time for comics in Spain. If you had written it about something different, it would sell a lot better…” But it's not for this comic to work at that level. It is not about the sales, it's about putting it out there, to make the appropriate people came in contact with it, so they can have it in their homes and take a look at it from time to time. That is a lot. It's everything.

Manero: I had the time of my life. It's true the graphic part is a lot of work, very hard at times. But, looking back, I enjoyed a lot.

CJ: Can you describe the working process between both of you?

Manero: For personal reasons, this has been a project we've developed in our spare time. The working process was different than what it supposes to be. Normally Carlos writes a script in a page. Then I do some sketches that I send them to him, and we go through them together. If we agree, I apply the ink (in the traditional way) and the color (digitally). In some occasions, after applying the ink, the vignette looked better and we've had to repeat it, but the truth is that we get along very well and this has almost never happened. Then Carlos writes the next page and we continue. Sometimes, he saw how busy I was and then took advantage of the situation to write two or more pages. We try to have fun as much as possible during the process, so that's why we say Midnight is a "labour of love".

Sisí: To sum up, ninety percent of the time, I look over Ittai's shoulder to see how he works. Writing scripts is great, I love it.

CJ: Who are your narrative and visual referents?

Manero: Some referents are Adventure Time, the first comic strips of Super López by Jan, and I would add The Smurfs by Peyo and Atlas & Axis by Pau. And many, many more.

Sisí: Let's see: Adventure Time, Terry Pratchett, classic tales like Alicia in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz or The Neverending Story, the first comic strips of Super López by Jan, Dungeons & Dragons, many old videogames and some of the modern ones like The Hall of Things, the adventures in the caves in The Hobbit, Colossal Cave. It's a mix of all that and more.

CJ: Carlos, can you tell me something about Ittai Manero than nobody knows? Ittai, can you do the same about Carlos Sisí?

Sisí: Ittai is a hard working guy. And deep down, he is incredible. Midnight would have never came to life without his passionate dedication, illustrating at night, after his job, tireless. He doesn't mind to rework on something to enhance it. If he saw something susceptible of being improved, he reworked it and then I used to tell him: “If you change that, you'll have to change the prior thirty pages” and he replied “So what?” Many would have cracked or have chosen more immediate projects. I believe in bizarre synchronisms that push life forward. Ittai came to my life at the right moment. I'm so happy about it…

Manero: Oh, well, this is not easy. Carlos is the warmest guy. This is something the people who follow him in social media know, because he is a very friendly, open and honest person. It's easy to get close to him, something very unusual in the literary world, and I will always thank him for it. He didn't hesitate to share his time with me when we didn't know each other and didn't realize we will collaborate in Midnight. We used to talk about the potential of the characters, which he loved (anybody could tell). It seems to me he was thankful I noticed the project. I'm not sure we've created something good, but I had the constant feeling of working on a very exciting project. I sincerely wish, when it gets to people's hands (adults and children) they will enjoy it as much as we did developing it. That would be priceless. Nothing could have been achieved without Carlos humble and approachable attitude, that August of 2012, when I wrote to him a private message telling something like: “Hey, the pages of your Magic Knight are really cool. I see great potential here!”

About Cristina Jurado: Cristina Jurado Marcos writes the sci-fi blog Más ficción que ciencia. Having a degree in Advertising and Public Relations by Universidad de Seville and a Masters in Rhetoric by Northwestern University (USA), she currently studies Philosophy for fun. She considers herself a globetrotter after living in Edinburgh, Chicago, Paris or Dubai. Her short stories have appeared in several sci-fi online magazines and anthologies. Her first novel From Orange to Blue was published in 2012. Some of her short stories are forthcoming in a number of anthologies to be published later this year.