realthog: (Default)

As with most authors, I have a system of Google Alerts set up to keep an eye out for reviews of my recent books, of anthologies in which I have a contribution, etc. One of the latter is Dave Hutchinson's (
[info]hutch0's) ambitious anthology Under the Rose, published late last year by the excellent Norilana Books ([info]norilanabooks).

Sometimes the results of the Google Alerts can be . . . unexpected, like this morning's offering:


Google Web Alert for: +hutchinson +"under the rose"

The Bulletin of Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Harris, Marta Hernandez, John Hilinski, Lucille Hill, Dorothy Hutchinson, .... directly under the rose window indicating that it was probably a rather ...


Drawing board. Back. To it.


realthog: (Default)

Vera Nazarian's just-published anthology Sky Whales and Other Wonders, in which I'm lucky enough to have a story, "Breaking Laws", has been glowingly reviewed by Leigh Kimmel at The Billion Light-Year Bookshelf. Obviously I've noticed Kimmel's discussion of the other contributions as nothing more than a sort of gray blur in my peripheral vision, but as far as I can gather it's overall the kind of review that will see Vera ([info]
norilana) printing off a thousand copies to decorate every wall in the house.

To my joy, Kimmel has very perceptively homed in on the fundamental darkness of "Breaking Laws", my humble attempt to open up a new thematic territory for urban fantasy:

John Grant brings us back to Earth, to a very gritty New York City in "Breaking Laws." It's said that this city has a beating heart, but in this story we see that poetic concept actualized in a way so fitting to a city that seems at once larger than life and yet somehow frightening, even corrupt. A fear that leads inexorably to the poignant ending. [. . .] a very dark story [. . .]

Of the anthology as a whole Kimmel concludes:

[. . .] a very impressive collection [. . .] I hate to use the words "hauntingly beautiful," since they've become so wretchedly overused to the point of becoming a cliche, yet in each of [the stories] there's a beauty that will linger with the reader long after the story itself has been finished. Sometimes it's bright and sweet, other times it's dark and poignant, yet in each of them is an acknowledgment of the indomitability of the human spirit, of the power of goodness to overcome evil and light to shine into the darkness. I really hope that Ms. Nazarian will be editing further anthologies in the near future.

realthog: (leavingfortusa)

Well done to Mike Allen ([profile] time_shark) for spotting this -- and a big shout of congratulation to the book's editor, Vera Nazarian ([livejournal.com profile] norilana), for having put the whole project together -- but the forthcoming fantasy anthology Sky Whales and Other Wonders has received, even despite its containing a story by moi, a quite extraordinarily favourable review from Publishers Weekly:

Priced to sell, Norilana founder Nazarian's first anthology presents 11 intriguingly off-kilter fantasy stories where the unexpected doesn't so much jump out in the reader's path as subtly peek around corners. Tanith Lee's “The Sky Won't Listen” weaves a future on another world where the skies are filled with whales, ghosts, and loss. John Grant details an unusual way to kill a city in “Breaking Laws.” JoSelle Vanderhooft's “Death's Appointment Book, or The Dance of Death” is a tongue-in-cheek warning that Death can't be cheated, but doesn't mind if you try. Rhysling winner Sonya Taaffe proves with “Stone Song” that even her prose is poetic. Mike Allen's “She Who Runs” gives flesh to spells moving faster than time. A few ambiguous endings will put off some readers, but they don't diminish the overall high quality of the stories. (Jan.)

realthog: (city in pages)

I've just heard from [livejournal.com profile] hutch0 that three of the stories I published last year have received Hon Menshes in Gardner Dozois's Best New Science Fiction 26. The three are

"Will the Real Veronica LeBarr Please Stand Down?", published in Postscripts #16 ed Peter Crowther and Nick Gevers

"All the Little Gods We Are", published in Clockwork Phoenix, ed Mike Allen ([profile] time_shark)

The City in These Pages, published solo by PS Publishing

Since I think it's the case that I published only four stories last year, I feel I've achieved a fairly high batting average . . . especially since I'd been under the impression that The City in These Pages was published in January '09. (The copyright date reads '08, but I think the book may not have been physically published until '09.)

Also, to my very great delight, Gardner mentions my novel Leaving Fortusa, published by [livejournal.com profile] norilanabooks, in his introductory Summation of the year's sf.

And we have no beer in the house . . .


The fourth story, by the way, was "Always More than You Know", published by Des Lewis in his anthology Cone Zero. I'm not sure whether or not Gardner would have seen this book, which could easily -- coming from an exceptionally small UK outlet (it's just taken me several minutes to track down an appropriate URL for the link) -- have flown below his radar. A pity if so, because it's an excellent antho . . . yes, even despite my presence.



realthog: (city in pages)

And, no, I'm not talking about a [livejournal.com profile] lotusvine-like adventure under the ceiling-rose, but about the new anthology edited by Dave Hutchinson ([livejournal.com profile] hutch0) that Norilana Books ([livejournal.com profile] norilanabooks) will be publishing in October. After many an entreaty and oft, the doughty editor has supplied me with a copy of the ToC:

Plant Hunter – Pauline E. Dungate
Office Job – Tim Lieder
Five Hundred Vinnies – William John Watkins
Perambulations – Mel Sterling
Chain Letter, Inc. – Jean Graham
Side Effects – Ken Rand
Dragon Bait – Teri Smith
Indian Summer – Liza Granville
Galactic Exchange – Ralan Conley
Mrs Donovan – Stuart Jaffe
The Man Who Pulled Shiny Things out of the Air – C.L. Russo
Mother Russia’s Egg – James Targett
Miss – Ren Holton
Fool’s Gold – Donna Scott
A Distant Scent of Rain – Justin Stanchfield
Sojourner – Lou Anders and Chris Roberson
The Outsider – Ian Whates
Eaten Cold – Gaie Sebold
California Fairy Story – Jean Tschohl Quinn
The Day New York Reached Heaven – Angel Arango
The Tale of a More Ancient, Ancient Mariner – Liza Granville.
Sagekites’ Land – E Sedia
When Whales Cry – Edwina Harvey
Tricky Penny Pound – Sarah Totton
Mary Nackley – William R. Eakin
Yeast Virus – Uncle River
The Beach Of The Drowned – John Grant


realthog: (Default)

A couple of bits of Anthologies News have come in from two different sources over the past few days -- I stress the "two different sources" aspect because the news items share much in common.

First off, Vera Nazarian's ([livejournal.com profile] norilana's) much heralded anthology Sky Whales and Other Wonders now has a firm publication date of December 2009. Among the authors in the line-up are Tanith Lee, Anna Tambour, Erzebet YellowBoy, Linda J. Dunn, Sonya Taaffe, Mary A. Turzillo, Mike Allen ([profile] time_shark) and, er, me. The story in question of mine is "Breaking Laws", an attempt to deconstruct -- as it were -- urban fantasy. I love this story to pieces, and very luckily Vera likes it too!

Vera passed along a preliminary cover visual for Sky Whales and Other Wonders. Done by Ahyicodae, this apparently still lacks a decorative cartographical border. It looks pretty stunning nonetheless, in my opinion:


Photobucket


A couple of days later I heard from Dave Hutchinson ([livejournal.com profile] hutch0) about a quite different anthology in which I have a story, the story being my short novella "The Beach of the Drowned" (another personal favourite) and the anthology being what was once called New Writings in the Fantastic #2 but had to be retitled when Pendragon Press, publisher of New Writings in the Fantastic (which I edited), declared an indefinite moratorium on new releases in response to the economic climate. Now called Under the Rose, the book is -- like Sky Whales and Other Wonders -- to be released by Norilana Books ([livejournal.com profile] norilanabooks); it's scheduled for October. I'm not sure who the other authors are in the ToC; as soon as I find out I'll add the info.

Meanwhile, I have to prepare myself to have my carotid arteries ultrasounded this morning -- their annual checkup. This is by no means as much fun as it might seem, since it involves someone sticking a blunt object very, very firmly into sensitive bits of my neck for protracted periods. Still, it's definitely better than my ultrasounding experience last fall, when one of the stenting wounds was causing problems and consequently what was being ultrasounded was my groin. It makes me limp just to think about it . . .


egotwo

Feb. 19th, 2009 08:30 am
realthog: (city in pages)

Over the past few weeks Rich Horton ([livejournal.com profile] ecbatan) has been publishing on his The Elephant Forgets LJ blog his annual roundup reviews of short fiction. A couple of my own offerings have recently come under his eyeglass.

Of my Ed McBain-homage novella The City in These Pages (PS Publishing) he said:

John Grant's "The City in These Pages" is a sort of McBain style police procedural, with some fascinating main characters, that I thought got a bit out of hand with its philosophical conclusion, but that was fun to read on the way.

I'm very pleased with the "got a bit out of hand with its philosophical conclusion" remark because this was the general intention: that the final stages of the piece be (to use the technical term) a bit mind-buggering.

And my story in Mike Allen's ([livejournal.com profile] time_shark) anthology Clockwork Phoenix (Norilana Books), "All the Little Gods We Are", got a nice mention too:

The best stories included Vandana Singh's "Oblivion: A Journey", which uses Indian mythology in service of a Science Fiction story of epic duration, as the protagonist pursues revenge against an AI; John Grant's "All the Little Gods We Are", about a man regretting his lost opportunity to be with the woman he truly loves; Catherynne M. Valente's "The City of Blind Delight", a wildly weird story about a mysterious train traveling to mysterious cities; and Leah Bobet's "Bell, Book, and Candle", about a trio of people summoned over time again and again for dark purposes. Other nice work came from Tanith Lee and Laird Barron.

All in all, then, it's another of those insufferability moments here at Snarl Towers, especially since Horton earlier -- on Christmas Day, no less! -- gave my "Will the Real Veronica LeBarr Please Stand Down?" (in Postscripts, Autumn 2008) a very kind thumbs-up. [livejournal.com profile] pds_lit is doing her best to keep the derisive upchucking relatively quiet.

help Vera

Dec. 5th, 2008 05:04 pm
realthog: (Default)


My publisher Vera Nazarian (her Norilana Books recently published my mosaic novel Leaving Fortusa) is distinguished in many ways. She's one of our premier fantasy authors, and one of the best friends a person could have. She's also one of the hardest working people I know. I couldn't respect her more.

But now, through no fault of her own, she's in deep financial trouble.

[livejournal.com profile] grayrose76 has opened up the new LJ community [livejournal.com profile] helpvera to see if our merry gang can assist Vera in digging herself out of the financial hole she's gotten into: the URL, if the above link doesn't work, is here. You can donate through the site, or you can bid on one (or more!) of the excellent items people have put up for auction, or you can do all of these things and put up something special for auction yourself.

Whatever you choose to do, I'm asking you please to go to [livejournal.com profile] helpvera right now.

realthog: (Default)


You'll doubtless have noticed the avid media buzz surrounding the publication today of the hardback of my mosaic novel Leaving Fortusa (the trade paperback edition follows a couple of weeks behind). This is certainly my most important piece of fiction to date, and perhaps the most important I will ever write.

The publisher, Norilana Books, has posted a page for the book
here; it includes extracts from the couple of advance reviews the novel has received ("An ambitious and daring book" -- Charles Tan, Bibliophile Stalker; "I loved this book. . . . 5/5 stars for sheerly amazing writing, and a big kudos to Norilana Books for publishing it" -- Someone's Read It Already) as well as, of course, the cover image:


 

Photobucket

And links for purchase:

US:

 

Amazon 
Barnes & Noble

Elsewhere:

Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon FR
Amazon DE
Amazon JP

And the blurb:

A dystopian masterpiece by the Hugo, Locus, Chesley, and World Fantasy Award-winning author. . .

A disabled US veteran from Iraq finds in Scotland a bizarrely distorted form of Fairyland and realizes he has lost his own country. A New Yorker learns how to discard the sad times from his life as around him society crumbles. A dream-research laboratory uncovers the true origin of our reality, a secret too dangerous to reveal . . .

The powerhouse dystopian novel by a master of fantastic literature.

Two children are taught to suppress their imagination. Armies travel back in time to conquer the worlds of the past, there to hold gladiatorial circuses. A man suffers the death penalty over and over for everyone else’s murders, so the victims’ families may have “closure” . . .

Ten episodes from a horrifying future, with the Decline and Fall of the American Empire as their backdrop.

Two karmic tempters dance through myriad different universes in search of ways to engineer the downfall of their enemies here. A rusted ferris wheel standing tall above the desert is a locus for barbarous religious executions. An old woman recalls her childhood loss of innocence about the world in which she lives . . .

In the great If This Goes On tradition, an impassioned assault on the seeds of destruction sown within our society. Searing prose conjures a nightmare vision you will never be able to forget.

A loner foraging in the graveyard of our civilization comes across what may be all that's left of human literature . . .

One of the most astonishing novels of the new century’s first decade, Leaving Fortusa is also one of its most urgent.

I've been writing the components of the novel here and there for the past three or four years, concerned about the ever-increasing pace of events. Even so, I couldn't have imagined how directly relevant it would be to real-life circumstances at the moment of publication. I wish it were not so.
 
Later: Oh, and here's the link to the book's page on my own website: http://johngrantpaulbarnett.com/Fortusa.html



realthog: (leavingfortusa)

Over at Bibliophile Stalker the indefatigable Charles A. Tan has just posted a review of the book that's almost embarrassingly favourable. Here are extracts:

Grant takes a mosaic-novel approach with his latest book, Leaving Fortusa. [. . .] The sequence of the stories significantly affects one's reading of the book as there is a noticeable shift both in chronology and atmosphere. It's certainly possible to read the stories on their own -- and some of them have been published elsewhere -- but they take on that extra layer of depth when taking the new paradigm into consideration. [. . .]

Leaving Fortusa is clearly influenced by modern events and the fiction is politically charged so much so that it's evident where the passion of the author is. Grant has several strong points going for him. The first is that his language is easygoing and casual, making him accessible even as he goes about explaining various sci-fi theories. He also knows when to lighten the mood, sprinkling comedy and satire when necessary. The other strength of Grant is his characterization and Leaving Fortusa is no different from his other short stories or novels. [. . .] The third strength of the book is its flexibility and Grant manages to infuse his stories with elements of fantasy, science fiction, and horror -- whichever is appropriate for the story.

Overall, Leaving Fortusa is an ambitious and daring book. [. . .]

That's two very pleasing reviews in a row. I'm beginning to think the book might be moderately okay -- in parts, at least. Sometimes.
 
realthog: (Default)

. . . and very much in advance it is, bearing in mind the book's not due until October 1. I have nearly two full months in which I can bombard the unwary with repeated quotes from it.

The review is on the site Someone's Read It Already, and concludes with this (slightly trimmed-down, as indicated by ellipses, etc.) paragraph:

. . . I loved this book. There was much to chew on, and some amazing writing. Mr. Grant had a different voice and a different tone in every story, and he caught each of them perfectly. Based on my review of [Cory Doctorow's] Little Brother, one might guess that I’m not a fan of the policies of this current administration. Mr. Grant seems to be a lot more pessimistic than I am, though . . . I do not necessarily agree with all his projections; in some ways, it’s like a horror novel — a delightful thrill down my spine. . . . [A] very thought-provoking and frightening book. I’d definitely recommend it with caveats — it’s not for the faint of heart (or youngsters), what with the amount of violence, gore, sex, and horrible language. 5/5 stars for sheerly amazing writing, and a big kudos to Norilana Books for publishing it.

For the whole piece, go here.

Elsewhere in the review, the writer singles out one of the book's ten episodes for special praise, and remarks curiously upon the fact that it's among those that haven't seen prior publication as a standalone. I had to grin, because I'm very fond of that particular story as well; yet, a year or two ago when I sent it out to a bunch of magazine editors, they all rejected it with cries of singular venom. It may well be that it's one of those things that works best in its proper context, or . . .

 
realthog: (Default)


Later this evening I'm hoping to be able to post the ARC cover for my mosaic novel Leaving Fortusa, which Norilana Books
([livejournal.com profile] norilanabooks ) is to publish October 1.

I've seen the draft, and am already -- so thrilled am I by it -- insufferable. A couple of words have to be changed on the back, and then it'll be ready for view by everybody.

realthog: (real copies!)


clockworkphoenix

The Mike Allen anthology Clockwork Phoenix, containing my story "All the Little Gods We Are", was published yesterday by Norilana Books, and is already bringing in the reviews.

The Fix has
Elizabeth A. Allen (no relation, one assumes!) reviewing the book; as befits The Fix's policy, she reviews the individual stories -- and mostly very favourably -- rather than the anthology as a whole. Her comments on my own contribution start in such fashion that I was bracing myself for a panning, but in fact she seems to like the piece:

In “All the Little Gods We Are” by John Grant, John loves Justine. They feel utterly familiar to each other, as if they are two halves of the same organism. (To Grant’s credit, he describes John and Justine’s intimate fusion with such precision and matter-of-fact familiarity that the concept of soul mates, upon which this story hangs, feels fresh, original, and convincing.) They grew up together, but time parted them in their adulthood…that is, until John, single now, gets a call from himself in a parallel universe in which he has married and had children with his other half. As single John reflects on his past, we learn what happened to separate him from Justine. Like the authors he follows in this anthology, Grant takes an old trope of science fiction and refurbishes it on two levels. The parallel universes work as an SF construct and also as a powerful metaphor for the strength of wishes, denial, and memory. Another sad and satisfying story.

I'm a little startled (though I'm certainly not grumbling!) to find that "All the Little Gods We Are" is a parallel-universes story, since that wasn't what I thought it was; I thought it was about "the strength of wishes, denial, and memory" to create realities -- an interpretation with which Nick Gevers seems to agree in his exceptionally glowing (and as always neatly perceptive) review of the anthology in the latest edition of Locus. Here are extracts:

. . . a very strong first volume, Clockwork Phoenix, edited by Mike Allen. Established writers and new names all are in good form here . . .
       "All the Little Gods We Are" by John Grant is a rich meditation on the vagaries of romance. The protagonist met a girl at school he was convinced was his other half; and two possible lives unfold for him, one in which he remains inseparable from this heaven sent partner, the other in which he is single, lonely, unfulfilled. One day he makes a phone call, and lines cross between existences, selves are in impossible communication. This prompts deep reflection, a trawling of memory, an inner dispute over how one's will relates to reality, how we make our fates. [. . .]
       These and other contributions mark Clockwork Phoenix as a series of great promise.

All in all, both Mike Allen and Norilana must be feeling very pleased with themselves, especially since the two pre-publication reviews of the book -- by Charles Tan and by Publishers Weekly -- were likewise extremely positive.


 
realthog: (Default)
 
Mike Allen's ([profile] time_shark) anthology Clockwork Phoenix (published by Norilana Books; [profile] norilanabooks), in which I'm lucky enough to have a story, has been reviewed very favourably indeed in this week's Publishers Weekly (http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6559019.html). The review reads in part:

Author and editor Allen (Mythic) has compiled a neatly packaged set of short stories that flow cleverly and seamlessly from one inspiration to another. . . . In “All the Little Gods We Are,” Hugo winner John Grant takes a mind trip to possible parallel universes. . . . Lush descriptions and exotic imagery startle, engross, chill and electrify the reader, and all 19 stories have a strong and delicious taste of weird.

As Arthur Schopenhauer might have put it: Yahey!

 
realthog: (Default)

Norilana Books has now issued its first Press Release about the acquisition of Leaving Fortusa: http://norilanabooks.livejournal.com/38421.html.

I'm so very fired up about this. My ballbuster agent sent the book out with her (genuine, she told me) comment that she felt this was the novel I'd been put here to write, as it were. I was a bit stunned by the description at first, then realized I agreed with her.

It's also a novel that's going to get a lot of people very angry. No one I personally give too much of a $Zb about, to be honest; but a lot of folk out there. I hate raising hackles, but there are times . . . Sinclair Lewis didn't write It Can't Happen Here because he wanted to offend people but because he was terrified by the anti-human horrors that well intentioned Denial might unwittingly accomplish. That's kind of where I'm coming from, too. We can no longer afford the luxury of good people refusing to face the unpleasant truths in front of them.
 
realthog: (Jim's bear pic)
 
I've just heard this morning that my "mosaic novel" Leaving Fortusa has sold (with the usual caveats about crossing the "t"s and dotting the "i"s in the contract) to Vera Nazarian of Norilana Books (aka [profile] norilanabooks). My notoriously ballbusting agent forwarded along to me the e-mail containing the guts of the offer, in which Vera remarked:

I've just finished reading LEAVING FORTUSA and it proved to be an amazing experience all the way to the end [. . .] Very complex, philosophical, mind-blowing, terrifying, in short, what the best science fiction should be.

The very last sentence was a profound WOW, and I think this is an extremely powerful book that should one day become a dystopian classic (I just hope not a self-fulfilling prophecy!).


Aside from a sneaky thought that this meant I already had my first cover quote sewn up (well, maybe not), it struck me that more publishers should learn to say things like this to the authors/agents of manuscripts they want to acquire. After reading Vera's comments I was prepared to agree to just about anything offered contractually! Fortunately, though . . .

I'll witter more about Leaving Fortusa in due course. At the moment I must finish off my Foreword to the Wimbledon Society Museum's edition of T.G. Jackson's Six Ghost Stories.


realthog: (Jim's bear pic)


Editor Mike Allen ([profile] time_shark) and publisher Vera Nazarian/Norilana Books ([profile] norilanabooks) have already posted the ARC cover for this forthcoming anthology, but it's a pretty splendid piece of a/w so let's see it here as well! 


Photobucket 


Meanwhile, apologies for the lack of much by way of posting on this blog this week: the to-be-read-urgently PDF proofs of my book The Dragons of Manhattan arrived on Sunday night from publisher Screaming Dreams at roughly the same time that Pam and I were at the emergency vet's watching one of our cats, Strider, breathe his last. It has been a busy but not very happy few days. Normal service will be resumed soon, honest.

 

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