Wednesday, 2 January 2013

YOU ARE THE HERO Guest Blog Post: Author Jonathan Green


Today I'm very happy to turn the blog over to prolific author Jonathan Green. I've long been a fan of Jonathan's writing and was excited to discover that he was embarking on a project centred on the Fighting Fantasy phenomenon. I loved the the Fighting Fantasy books and have written about them before here. Can I encourage you to support Jonathan in this fantastic endeavour. I'll hand over to Jonathan.

"Everyone remembers their first.

Mine was The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. It was 1982 and I was ten years old at the time. Here was a book in which I – the reader – was the hero. I got to choose the course of the adventure, deciding which paths to take, which traps to risk, and which monsters to fight. I had never seen or read anything like it before – and so began a life-long love affair with Fighting Fantasy gamebooks.

The Warlock of Firetop Mountain inspired me like no other book ever has. It’s why I’m doing what I doing now, and I know others have also been inspired to follow a career in genre writing because of Fighting Fantasy gamebooks.

Earlier this year I wrote a piece about the history of Fighting Fantasy for SFX magazine. But the more I researched the story behind the creation of the world’s premier gamebook series, the more story I realised there was still to tell. To do the subject justice I needed to write a book –and so the idea that was to become YOU ARE THE HERO was born.

YOU ARE THE HERO will tell the story of Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, from the early days of Games Workshop right up to the present day and beyond. I have already interviewed the creators of the Fighting Fantasy series – Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone – who are both keen to have their story told. In fact, Steve Jackson once said to me, "You are the perfect person to write this book."#

Not only will YOU ARE THE HERO tell the amazing story of how Fighting Fantasy gamebooks changed the world, it will also cover everything from spin-off novels and puzzle books, to foreign editions, board games and video games. It will even delve into such areas as the gamebooks that never were, the myths and legends surrounding the series, and how Ian Livingstone’s newest gamebook – Blood of the Zombies – almost never happened.

But I can’t do this without your support. Check out the YOU ARE THE HERO Kickstarter page today and the unique rewards available to those people who back the project and pledge your support today.

Thank you.

You can find the YOU ARE THE HERO Kickstarter page here:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1412864360/you-are-the-hero


You will find the YOU ARE THE HERO Facebook page here:

http://www.facebook.com/ComicHeroes#!/pages/You-Are-The-Hero-A-History-of-Fighting-Fantasy-Gamebooks/449514028443744?fref=ts

Alternatively, visit www.JonathanGreenAuthor.com."

Thanks, Jonathan. Don't forget that Jonathan's brilliant Pax Britannia

series is available here.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Czevak to the Dark Tower Came


Released today is my contribution to the Black Library Advent. It is an Inquisitor Czevak short story called Czevak to the Dark Tower Came. I say a short but as usual, I've blasted beyond my word limit. Beyond his adventures in the novel Atlas Infernal, Czevak's conflict with Ahriman of the Thousand Sons and his exotic galaxy-hopping exploits have recently continued in short story form. Lately we've had the short story Necessary Evil presented in Hammer and Bolter, Shadow Play in the Black Library Weekender Anthology - Volume 2 and now Czevak to the Dark Tower Came. Here's the blurb from the Black Library website.

Like all the Advent stories, Czevak to the Dark Tower Came can be digitally downloaded for the very reasonable price of 79p. Just click the link below:

Czevak to the Dark Tower Came

If you're in the mood for more dark adventures with Bronislaw Czevak, then click the link below for Necessary Evil.

Necessary Evil

If you have yet to get in on the action, there is no better place to begin than with Inquisitor Bronislaw Czevak and Ahriman of the Thousand Sons going head to head in the novel Atlas Infernal. Click below:

Atlas Infernal


Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Mayan Faux-Apocalypse!

If you wish to stay up to date with the latest releases and assorted blog goodness then you can do so in several ways. You are cordially invited to join me on Facebook here and/or Twitter here and/or the blog itself down on the side bar. You would be most welcome!

I like to play games from time to time on the blog. Here is one based upon the short story Czevak to the Dark Tower Came. Below are several Xenos artefacts that have been mislabelled in the Universitae-Imperialis archives on Savignor. They need correctly identifying. Can you identify their name, nature and Xenos origin? Feel free to have a go on Facebook, forums or in the comments section of the blog. Good luck!

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Tuesday, 4 December 2012

La Légion des Damnés


I was never very good at languages at school - well, except English. Thank goodness then for Google Translate. It's a blunt tool and has its limitations but essentially gives you the gist of documents written outside of your mother tongue. It allowed me to check out this review of Legion of the Damned on a French critique site called 'The Reclusiam'. 'The Reclusiam' is run by a great guy called Maestitia. I've added the site to 'The Scene' on the side bar. I provide both the French and English versions of the review for the polyglots out there. Thanks, Maestitia!

"Ce roman est de loin l’un des meilleurs que j’ai lu de la Saga des Space Marine Battle ! Tout d’abord, Zachariah Kersh est un personnage qu’on aime de suite. Il vient juste de perdre son titre de ‘’Champion’’ pour devenir Capitaine. Or un homme de terrain comme Kersh aura toutes les peines du monde pour se mettre à la place d’un leader et réussir à convaincre ses frères de défendre un Monde perdu d’avance.
A côté de cela, on apprendra qu’il est torturé par des rêves étranges suite à une tragédie, mais je n’en dis pas plus. Ses rêves auront une importance non négligeable.
Mais ce que j’ai le plus aimé dans ces rêves (ou plutôt cauchemars), c’est qu’ils sont écris à la première personne du singulier.

Et le ‘’je’’ vous aspire avec une étonnante force dans la peau de Kersh. J’ai vraiment adoré les passages ou Sanders nous offre cette profondeur car ils sont assez récurrents et nous mettent de façon efficace dans la tête de cet Excoriator perturbé.

J’ai aussi aimé l’originalité de l’histoire, car la défense de Certus Minor n’est pas le centre de l’intrigue. La comète Keeler (qui porte un nom qui devrait vous dire quelques chose, sinon je vous renvoie ici bande de renégats) suit un parcours vers Terra elle-même. Et dans le sillon de celle-ci, la flotte des World Eaters. Les champions de Khorne suivent cet astre mystérieux et annihilent toutes les planètes qui se trouvent sur son chemin.

Un autre bon point pour Sanders, est sa vision de l’univers de Warhammer 40 000.
Je crois que c’est le premier roman qui aborde les Space Marines et leurs actions avec un regard beaucoup plus Science-Fiction que Black Librarien si je puis m’exprimer en ces terme. J’ai ressenti le vrai, le sombre, le meurtrier univers de W40k à travers sa plume. Grâce à son approche S-F, Rob fera aussi bien voyager les fans de fluff que les amoureux de fictions. Et ce n’est pas donné à tous les auteurs. Car oui il y a du fluff, mais je vous stop encore une fois : rien à propos de la Légion des Damnés, et c’est tant mieux, car elle garde tout ses mystères, même si nous n’aurions pas dit non à quelques infos. Mais concernant les Excoriators, il y a de quoi se mettre sous la dent, comme j’aime souvent le dire.

Le rythme est totalement maîtrisé en ce qui me concerne et suivre les pérégrinations de Kersh et de son Apothicaire n’a rien de lassant. Les dialogues ne sont jamais inutiles et les descriptions ne comblent aucun vide. Il y a beaucoup de bonnes idées et de terribles scènes que je n’oublierais pas de sitôt car elles ont su s’imprégner d’originalité et de cette noirceur qu’est la guerre au 41ème millénaire.

En fin de compte les Space Marine Damnés sont vite oubliés, effacé par un roman captivant et des personnages bel et bien vivants.

Pour finir, voici les plus et les moins :

Les + :

Une vision Science-Fiction, qui renouvelle un peu le genre et que j’ai adoré.
Un personnage principal étonnant avec des passages à la première personne vraiment agréables. Un très bon rythme, des descriptions et une atmosphère de tensions palpables.
Une Feast of Blade (Fête des Lames) épique.

Les - :

La Black Library joue la carte de la carotte comme dans Prospero Brûle avec ce cover aguicheur et nous spoil cet excellent récit rien qu’à la lecture du titre.

Note :

Rob Sanders nous offre un très bon roman. Un super mélange de personnages charismatiques, de dilemmes, et de sombres réalités. Le fluff est là mais c’est celui des Excoriators que vous y trouverez.

Maestitia"




"This novel is by far one of the best I have read the Saga of the Space Marine Battle!
Firstly, Zachariah Kersh is a character you love away. He just lost his title'' Champion'' to become Captain. However, a field man Kersh will all pains to put himself in the place of a leader and succeed in convincing his brothers to defend a world lost in advance.

Besides this, we learn that he is tormented by strange dreams after a tragedy, but I say no more. His dreams have significant importance.
But what I like most about these dreams (or rather nightmares) is that they are written in the first person singular.

It sucks you in with amazing strength in Kersh. I really loved the passages or Sanders gives us that depth because they are quite recurrent and we are effectively in the head of this Excoriator disturbed.

I also liked the originality of the story, for the defense of Certus Minor is not the center of the plot. Comet Keeler (who has a name that should tell you something, if I refer you band of renegades) follows a path to Terra itself. And in the wake of this, the fleet of World Eaters. Champions of Khorne follow this mysterious planet and annihilate all the planets that lie in its path.

Another good point to Sanders, is his vision of the world of Warhammer 40,000.
I think this is the first novel that addresses the Space Marines and their actions with a much more science fiction than Black Librarien if I can express myself in these terms.

I felt the true, dark, deadly W40k universe through his pen. With its approach SF, Rob will both travel fans that love fluff fiction. And it is not given to all authors. Yes because there is fluff, but I'll stop again, nothing about the Legion of the Damned, and that's good because it keeps all its mysteries, even if we could not say no to some info . But on Excoriators there something to put in their mouths, as I often like to say.

The pace is completely controlled with me and follow the peregrinations of Kersh and his Apothecary is nothing boring. The dialogues are never useless and descriptions do not fill any empty space. There are many good ideas and terrible scenes that I will not forget anytime soon as they were able to soak originality and this darkness is war in the 41st Millennium.

Ultimately the Damned Space Marine are quickly forgotten, erased by a captivating novel and characters alive and well.

Finally, here are the most and least:

The +:

Vision Science Fiction, which renews a bit like that and I loved it.
A main character with amazing passages in the first person really nice.
A very good pace, descriptions and an atmosphere of palpable tension.
A Feast of Blade (Feast of Blades) epic.

The -:

The Black Library plays the card as in Prospero Burns with this enticing cover and risk spoiling this excellent story by just reading the title.

Note:

Rob Sanders gives us a very good novel. A great mix of charismatic characters, dilemmas, and grim realities. The fluff is the only one of Excoriators you'll find.

Maestitia"

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Sketching the Scourge

I may be a man of the word - and of my word - but I also appreciate fine art. You know how much I respect artists I work with like Neil Roberts, Jon Sullivan and Stefan Kopinski. I view their fabulous pieces as invaluable ambassadors for my fiction work and in turn I hope my words do their creations justice. I also like to draw attention to the work of other artists who post their work on the web, for the adoration of others. I'm not ashamed to say that I simultaneously pillage and showcase examples regularly on the blog. Recently, a great artist called Scott Santana asked me if I'd like to see some sketches he had done of Zachariah 'The Scourge' Kersh - the main character of my novel Legion of the Damned . Of course, I said yes. He sent them and I was blown away. I think that he really captures Kersh's grim indomitability. I thought it would be wonderful to share them here. Thanks, Scott!




Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Choppy Waters of Crafting Titles


I came across an unusual review for Legion of the Damned a couple of days ago. It's from a video review site called 'Choppy Reviews' and run by a reader / presenter called Cocolito. A great deal of thought goes into the reviews and even more into the presentation. Cocolito had many nice things to say about Legion of the Damned , which were nice to hear. It would misrepresent his review, however, if I didn't identify a key issue he had with the novel: the four words of the title. Cocolito is not the first to identify this and I've talked about this a few times. Cocolito addresses his issue with great humour and fairness. He deserves a response for that alone, even if I don't agree with him.

While considering the book very good, he doesn't like that 'Legion of the Damned' occurs on the front cover. To justify the title, he would like even more Legion of the Damned in the book. It's not an unfair expectation. We live in a world where many book publishers and authors expect little of their readers. They give their books Ronseal does-what-it-says-on-the-tin titles because they don't expect their readership's attention span to be able to handle anything else. Meanwhile, authors who respect their readership's intellectual capabilities have been using titles as literary devices in their own right for hundreds of years. How does this work in respect to Legion of the Damned? In two ways.

Firstly, there are many books and series that utilise titles that relate to forces, phenomenons and presences that are always present in the book / series but actually spend little time 'on screen' as point-of-view characters. The best example I can think of is the famous title 'The Lord of the Rings'. The 'Lord' is always present - but not always 'on screen'. The Legion of the Damned work in a similar way. They are present in almost all chapters of the novel (read it carefully) before entering and performing their literary function. I won't give away spoilers here. If you haven't read the book, let me encourage you to do so. Not all titles are Ronseal titles. Legion of the Damned isn't. Are the Legion of the Damned present throughout the book. Yes. Do they act in accordance with the background that everyone knows and loves. Yes. Their function necessitates a group requiring their intervention. This allowed me to bring in the Space Marines Excoriators Chapter. I build them from the foundations up in the novel and many readers have loved that a Space Marine chapter could be presented in depth, at the same time as narrative intrigue and action is maintained.

Secondly, the title is a metaphor. There a several legions presented in the novel that are unequivocally 'damned'. Again, without introducing anything that isn't covered in the blurb, there is the 'Legion of the Damned', the Excoriators - who believe themselves damned and doomed to failure - and the World Eaters: a Chaos Space Marine legion enslaved to the god of bloodshed and hatred. All of these legions are damned. The title could relate to any one of them but in fact relates to all three. Titles are literary devices and a good author will make four words work hard for him. A lazy one will slap a Ronseal title on their book and underestimate their readers. It also does raise the issue of the blurb. It is the blurb's responsibility to accurately convey the content of the novel it is introducing. Check it out: it does.

Anyway, Cocolito put a good deal of effort into his review and I believe that he deserved a response. I encourage you to check out his review here. Beyond his issue with the title, he says many nice and insightful things about the novel. Beyond even that, it is a funny and entertaining review that is well worth watching. I've also put a link to Cocolito's review site - called 'Choppy Reviews' - on the side bar blog roll. He deserves to be part of 'the Scene'.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Black Library Weekender Aftermath

Well, what a fantastic weekend. I can honestly say that I had a brilliant time. A+ for Black Library. The venue was great and the Black Library crew, under the steely-eyed leadership of Captain George Mann, pulled off a peerless event. Thanks to all who worked so hard and those brave souls who attended. It was great seeing you all. I thoroughly enjoyed talking to you, the signings, the impromptu signings, the Question and Answer sessions and the Seminars. It was brilliant to spend time with fans in the evening and to experience / partake in the entertainment. I thought that the Pitch Factor event was a particular success. Kudos to all those with the stones to step up on that stage and pitch to veteran editors Laurie Goulding,Graeme Lyon and my good self. Not easy at all. Congratulations to Alex: she was a worthy winner.

It was also great to spend time with all the Black Library authors and artists. That's a lot of talent in one location. There are too many to namecheck individually, although I'd like to think that I got to catch up and spend some quality time with all of them. Special shout outs do go to Neil Roberts and Jonathan Green, however. Neil and I travelled down together, while at the same time putting the world to rights. He's Black Library's Horus Heresy artist and illustrator: his upcoming graphic novel 'Macragge's Honour' is going to be something special indeed. Check it out here. I spent late Saturday night and the small hours of Sunday morning looking through the bottom of a pint glass at Jonathan Green - a one man ideas-factory. More like one man military-industrial ideas complex. Jonathan - it's always a pleasure. Check out his brilliant Pax Britannia series here.

Mostly, I just want to say thank you to all the people buying and reading my books. That's what it's all about - after all! Can't wait until the next event. In the meantime, it's been straight back to the keyboard and the classroom.