Press Release: Marvel Announces DAWN OF X – New Series: X-MEN, EXCALIBUR, MARAUDERS, NEW MUTANTS, FALLEN ANGELS and X-FORCE!

 

At Marvel’s San Diego Comic Con ‘Next Big Thing’ panel 6 X-Men series have just been announced…

Now new series by themselves or as a complete line restructure for any of Marvel’s ‘families’ has rather become business as usual – the more things change… and all that. But sometimes the selections of creative team, titles and characters just gets a buzz going – and this is one of those times.

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Scroll on for the full press release, line up and some stunning art – but here (in our humble opinion) is why this – and what specifically – is just a bit damn cool and will grab the attention of the comic-reading public… Read the rest of this entry »

October 2019 Book Highlights


Carabas - New Book Recommends

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Here’s our round-up of fantastic and fantastical reading for October.

We take in Adult Fiction, fantastical and general, creative and socially minded Non-Fiction, Children’s and YA and Graphic Novels. Whether you’re a general or genre reader or a bookshop looking to make sure your customers aren’t missing out we try to balance an inclusion of the biggest titles with slipstream / crossover hits and those hidden gems for all concerned. FYI we tend to be a little more concise but October is a big month as publishers roll out their big titles ready for that time of year, so rather more to shout about this time round. Read the rest of this entry »

September 2019 Book Highlights

Carabas - New Book Recommends

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Here’s our round-up of fantastic and fantastical reading for September.

We take in Adult Fiction, fantastical and general, creative and socially minded Non-Fiction, Children’s and YA and Graphic Novels. Whether you’re a general or genre reader or a bookshop looking to make sure your customers aren’t missing out we try to balance an inclusion of the biggest titles with slipstream / crossover hits and those hidden gems for all concerned.

Selections are by Tim Bayley and are drawn from publisher submissions, The Bookseller magazine’s own monthly highlights, Buyer’s Guides and more. NB. We believe in supporting bricks and mortar stores whether online or in person and a tiny snippet of any purchase comes our way to go towards site upkeep so any and all support very much appreciated! Hyperlinks lead on to Waterstone’s.

So relax and browse on and check out the great reads in print coming your way in September.

Enjoy!

Tim Bayley

 

Fantastic & Fantastical Fiction

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TITLE * AUTHOR * ISBN * BIND * RRP * PUB * SERIES * VOL

OUR CHILD OF THE STARS * Stephen Cox * 9781786489968 * PB * £8.99 * Jo Fletcher Books

Molly and Gene Myers were happy, until tragedy blighted their hopes of children. Then the Meteor crashes into Amber Grove changing their lives for ever. Molly, a nurse, caught up in the thick of the disaster, is given care of a desperately ill patient rescued from the wreckage: a sick boy with a remarkable appearance, an orphan who needs a mother. And soon the whole world will be looking for him. Cory’s arrival has changed everything. And the Myers will do anything to keep him safe. MORE / BUY

THE GURKHA AND THE LORD OF TUESDAY * Saad Z Hossain * 9781250209115 * PB * £11.99 * Tor.com

When the djinn king Melek Ahmar wakes up after millennia of imprisoned slumber, he comes down the mountain expecting an easy conquest to discover the wealthy city state of Kathmandu, ruled by the all-seeing tyrant AI Karma, a cut-price paradise where even the dregs of society are distinctly unwilling to revolt. Everyone seems happy, except for the old Gurkha Bhan Gurung: knife saint, recidivist, and mass murderer. Prodded by Gurung, Melek Ahmer finds himself in ever deeper conflicts, until they face off against Karma and her forces – then old crimes will come to light and the city itself will be forced to change. [MORE / BUY – link to come]

THE TESTAMENTS (THE HANDMAID’S TALE) * Margaret Attwood * 9781784742324 * HB * £20.00 * Chatto & Windus * The Handmaids Tale

And so I step up, into the darkness within; or else the light. When the van door slammed on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead. The wait is over. Margaret Atwood’s sequel picks up the story 15 years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead. ‘Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.’ Margaret Atwood.  ‘THE LITERARY EVENT OF THE YEAR’ The Guardian. MORE / BUY

EARWIG * Brian Catling * 9781473687103 * HB * £20.00 * Coronet

Earwig is employed to look after a strange little girl, never touching her except when he is required to is to make teeth of ice and insert them in her gums. Earwig takes a rare day off and is drawn into conversation with the sinister Tyre and accidentally maims a waitress. He understands on some level Tyre meant this to happen. Shortly afterwards a black cat is delivered to the flat. Travelling across country by train, transporting the girl and her black cat, Earwig is increasingly caught up in a web of unfortunate and increasingly violent coincidences. Not since Edgar Allan Poe and the Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita has there been such a masterly tale of feline evil. MORE / BUY

THE RETURN OF THE INCREDIBLE EXPLODING MAN * Dave Hutchinson * 9781781085844 * PB * £7.99 * Solaris

When journalist Alex Dolan is hired by multibillionaire Stanislaw Clayton to write a book about the Sioux Crossing Supercollider, the world’s first privately funded high-energy physics facility, this is a dream job. For Dolan’s wife, it’s less of a dream. She’s been uprooted from her home and job in New England and dumped in this shabby little town in the middle of nowhere, and eventually she begins an affair with one of the scientists. Then something goes wrong at the site. Very wrong. After the accident, Dolan finds himself changed, and the only one who can stop the disaster from destroying us all. MORE / BUY

 

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MISSING PERSON * Sarah Lotz * 9781473624627 * HB * £18.99 * Hodder

Missing-linc.com comprises a group of misfit sleuths. When Ellie Caine starts investigating the corpse known as the Boy in the Dress, the Boy’s killer decides to join the group. The Boy was Teddy Ryan. He was meant to have been killed in a car crash in the west of Ireland in 1989 but was writing letters from New York a year after he supposedly died. Teddy’s nephew Shaun joins forces with the disparate members of Missing-linc to solve the thirty-year-old mystery. But the killer will be with them every step of the way… MORE / BUY

THE IMAGINARY CORPSE * Tyler Hayes * 9780857668318 * PB * £9.99 * Angry Robot

Most ideas fade when we’re done with them. Some we love enough to become Real. But what about the ones we love, and walk away from? Tippy the triceratops was a little girl’s imaginary friend, but when her father died, Tippy fell into the underbelly of the Imagination, where discarded ideas go when they’re too Real to disappear. Now, he passes time doing detective work for other unwanted ideas – until Tippy runs into the Teatime Man, a nightmare monster who can kill an idea permanently. Now Tippy must overcome his own trauma and solve the case, before there’s nothing left but imaginary corpses. MORE / BUY

THE BONE SHIPS * RJ Barker * 9780356511832 * PB * £8.99 * Orbit * The Tide Child Trilogy * 1

TWO NATIONS AT WAR. A PRIZE BEYOND COMPARE. For generations, the Hundred Isles have built their ships from the bones of ancient dragons to fight an endless war. When the first dragon in centuries is spotted in far-off waters, both sides see a chance to shift the balance of power in their favour. Because whoever catches it will win not only glory, but the war. A brilliantly imagined saga of honour, glory, and warfare, The Bone Ships starts an epic new trilogy from David Gemmell Award-nominated RJ Barker. ‘Excellent . . . one of the most interesting and original fantasy worlds I’ve seen in years’ Adrian Tchaikovsky. ‘A viciously exciting adventure. I loved every second of it’ Tasha Suri, author of Empire of Sand. ‘I can’t recommend it enough’ Peter McLean, author of Priest of Bones. MORE / BUY

A LITTLE HATRED * Joe Abercrombie * 9780575095861 * HB * £18.99 * Gollancz * The Age of Madness * 1

The start of a brand new trilogy set in the world of the First Law… On the blood-soaked borders of Angland, Leo dan Brock struggles to defeat the marauding armies of Stour Nightfall. Savine dan Glokta – socialite, investor, and daughter of the most feared man in the Union – plans to claw her way to the top of the slag-heap of society by any means necessary. The age of the machine dawns, but the age of magic refuses to die. With the help of the mad hillwoman Isern-i-Phail, Rikke struggles to control the blessing, or the curse, of the Long Eye. Glimpsing the future is one thing, but with the guiding hand of the First of the Magi still pulling the strings, changing it will be quite another… MORE / BUY

THE END OF THE WORLD SURVIVORS CLUB * Adrian J Walker * 9781785035739 * PB * £8.99 * Del Rey * End of the World Running Club – Sequel

In THE END OF THE WORLD RUNNING CLUB Edgar Hill ran 550 miles after an apocalypse to try and find his family. He had it easy. This is his wife’s story. Beth Hill has survived the apocalypse with a baby and toddler in tow. And what’s more she’s done it alone – without her husband’s help. The new world might be very different: no government, no law, no infrastructure and a whole lot more ocean than there used to be. But one thing hasn’t changed – the lengths a mother will go to save her family… MORE / BUY

 

     

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DARKDAWN * Jay Kristoff * 9780008180089 * HB * £14.99 * HarperVoyager * The Nevernight Chronicle * 3

Mia Corvere, gladiatii, escaped slave and infamous assassin, is on the run, pursued by Blades of the Red Church and soldiers of the Luminatii legion. Her mentor Mercurio is in the clutches of her enemies. Her own family wishes her dead. And her nemesis, Consul Julius Scaeva, stands but a breath from total dominance over the Republic. But beneath the city, a dark secret awaits. With her lover Ashlinn, brother Jonnen and a mysterious benefactor returned from beyond the veil of death, she must undertake a perilous journey across the Republic, seeking the final answer to the riddle of her life. MORE / BUY

BLOODCHILD * Anna Stephens * 9780008215996 * HB * £14.99 * HarperVoyager * The Godblind Trilogy * 3

Rilporin has fallen and Corvus, King of the Mireces, reigns over an occupied land. The raiders have conquered, but victory came at a terrible price – the death of a god – and sparks of resistance glimmer. In the south, Mace gathers the survivors of Rilpor’s armies. Crys and Dom search for allies and the truth of what binds them to the Gods of Light. Tara – once a soldier, now a slave – hopes to ignite a rebellion. But time is against them. A child will soon be born with the power to return the Dark Lady from death, and the long-prophesied final battle for the future of Rilpor and Mireces, of humans and gods, is near. MORE / BUY

 

 

Non-Fiction

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THE GOLDEN AGE OF SCIENCE FICTION: A JOURNEY INTO SPACE WITH 1950S RADIO, TV, FILMS, COMICS AND BOOKS * John Wade * 9781526751591 * PB * £16.99 * Pen & Sword

In the 50s, with television broadcasts being advertised as unsuitable for children and the X certificate in the cinema barring anyone under the age of sixteen, John Wade had only the radio to fall back on – but for him today’s science fiction films pale beside the radio, early TV and B-picture films about people who built rockets in their back gardens and flew them to lost planets, or of aliens who wanted to take over. This book is a personal account of his fascination with the genre across all the media in which it appeared, that he revelled in as a young boy and still enjoys today. MORE / BUY

THE GOTHIC WORLD (ROUTLEDGE WORLDS) * Glennis Byron, Dale Townshend * 9781138488274 * PB * £39.99 * Routledge

The Gothic World offers an overview of this popular field whilst extending critical debate in exciting new directions such as film, politics, fashion, architecture, fine art and cyberculture. Structured around the principles of time, space and practice, it looks at: Gothic Histories, Gothic Spaces, Gothic Readers and Writers, Gothic Spectacle, Contemporary Impulses. The Gothic World seeks to account for the Gothic as a multi-faceted force, as a style, an aesthetic experience and a mode of cultural expression that traverses genres, forms, media, disciplines and national boundaries and creates, indeed, its own ‘World’. MORE / BUY

MONSTER, SHE WROTE: THE WOMEN WHO PIONEERED HORROR AND SPECULATIVE FICTION * Lisa Kroeger, Melanie Anderson * 9781683691389 * HB * £15.99 * Quirk Books

Everyone knows about Mary Shelley, creator of Frankenstein; but have you heard of Margaret Cavendish, who wrote a science-fiction epic 150 years earlier? Have you read the psychological hauntings of Violet Paget, who was openly involved in long-term romantic relationships with women in the Victorian era? Or Gertrude Barrows Bennett, whose writing influenced H.P. Lovecraft? Monster, She Wrote shares the stories of women past and present who invented horror, speculative, and weird fiction and made it great. You’ll meet celebrated icons (Ann Radcliffe, V.C. Andrews), forgotten wordsmiths (Eli Coltor, Ruby Jean Jensen), and today’s vanguard (Helen Oyeyemi). And each profile includes a curated reading list so you can seek out the spine-chilling tales that interest you the most. MORE / BUY

THE DAY IT FINALLY HAPPENS: THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT THE BAD NEWS―AND THE BAD NEWS ABOUT THE GOOD NEWS * Mike Pearl * 9781473685574 * HB * £16.99 * Hodder

In The Day It Finally Happens, Mike Pearl games out many of the scenarios we’ve all speculated about, assigning a probability rating, and taking us through how it would unfold. He explores what would likely occur in dozens of possible scenarios – the final failure of antibiotics, the loss of the world’s marine life, the abolition of the British monarchy, and even the arrival of aliens – and reports back from the future, providing a clear picture on how the world would look, feel, and even smell in each of these instances. Thankfully, the odds of humanity pulling through look pretty good. MORE / BUY

BECOMING SUPERMAN: A WRITER’S JOURNEY FROM POVERTY TO HOLLYWOOD WITH STOPS ALONG THE WAY AT MURDER, MADNESS, MAYHEM, MOVIE STARS, CULTS, SLUMS, SOCIOPATHS, AND WAR CRIMES * J. Michael Straczynski * 9780062857842 * HB * £22.00 * Harpercollins US

Featuring an introduction by Neil Gaiman! The acclaimed writer behind Babylon 5, Sense8, Clint Eastwood’s Changeling and Marvel’s Thor reveals how the power of creativity and imagination enabled him to overcome the horrors of his youth. To survive his abusive environment Joe found refuge in his beloved comics and his dreams. But even as he found success, he could not escape a dark and shocking secret that hung over his family’s past, a violent truth that he uncovered over the course of decades involving mass murder. This is a story of creation and darkness, hope and success, a larger-than-life villain and a little boy who became the hero of his own life. MORE / BUY

 

   

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ON FIRE: THE BURNING CASE FOR A GREEN NEW DEAL * Naomi Klein * 9780241410721 * HB * £17.99 * Allen Lane

For more than twenty years Naomi Klein’s books have defined our era, chronicling the exploitation of people and the planet and demanding justice. On Fire gathers more than a decade of her impassioned writing from the frontline of climate breakdown, and pairs it with new material on the staggeringly high stakes of what we choose to do next. With dispatches from the ghostly Great Barrier Reef, the smoke-choked skies of the Pacific Northwest, post-hurricane Puerto Rico and a Vatican attempting an unprecedented ‘ecological conversion,’ Klein makes the case that we will rise to the existential challenge of climate change only if we are willing to transform the systems that produced this crisis. MORE / BUY

DON’T LOOK BACK IN ANGER: THE RISE AND FALL OF COOL BRITANNIA, TOLD BY THOSE WHO WERE THERE * Daniel Rachel * 9781409180715 * HB * £20.00 * Trapeze

The nineties was the decade when British culture reclaimed its position at the artistic centre of the world. Don’t Look Back In Anger chronicles the Cool Britannia age when the country united through a resurgence of patriotism and a celebration of all things British. But it was also an era of false promises and misplaced trust, when the weight of substance was based on the airlessness of branding, spin and the first stirrings of celebrity culture. Through sixty-eight voices that epitomise the decade – including Tony Blair, John Major, Noel Gallagher, Damon Albarn, Tracey Emin, Keith Allen, Meera Syal, David Baddiel, Irvine Welsh and Steve Coogan – we re-live the epic highs and crashing lows of one of the most eventful periods in British history. MORE / BUY

YEAR OF THE MONKEY * Patti Smith * 9781526614759 * HB * £12.99 * Bloomsbury

Following a run of New Year’s concerts, Patti Smith finds herself tramping the coast of Santa Cruz, about to embark on a year of solitary wandering. She draws us into her private wonderland, with no design yet heeding signs, including a talking sign that looms above her, prodding and sparring like the Cheshire Cat. In a stranger’s words, “Anything is possible: after all, it’s the year of the monkey.” Smith melds the Western landscape with her own dreamscape. The unexpected happens; grief and disillusionment. But as Patti Smith heads toward a new decade in her own life, she offers this balm to the reader: her wisdom, wit, gimlet eye, and above all, a rugged hope of a better world. MORE / BUY

 

Children’s and Young Adult

   

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THE GIRL WHO SPEAKS BEAR * Sophie Anderson * 9781474940672 * PB * £6.99 * Usborne

Found abandoned in a bear cave as a baby, Yanka has always wondered about where she is from. She tries to ignore the strange whispers and looks from the villagers, wishing she was as strong on the inside as she is on the outside. But, when she has to flee her house, looking for answers about who she really is, a journey far beyond one that she ever imagined begins: from icy rivers to smouldering mountains meeting an ever-growing herd of extraordinary friends along the way. Interwoven with traditional stories of bears, princesses and dragons, Yanka’s journey is a gorgeously lyrical adventure from the best-selling author of The House With Chicken Legs. MORE / BUY

UKI AND THE OUTCASTS * Kieran Larwood * 9780571342792 * HB * £12.99 * Faber * The Five Realms / Podkin One-Ear

From the Ice Wastes beyond the Cinder Wall emerges an unlikely hero. Rejected by his village and left to die, young Uki is given life and unique powers by a long-buried spirit from the time of the Ancients… and a life or death mission. Joined by two other outcasts – a trained assassin who refuses to kill people and a very short rabbit who rides the fastest jerboa on the plains – Uki must capture Valkus, the Spirit of War, before rabbitkind destroys itself in conflict. A thrilling new book set in the Five Realms of Podkin One-Ear. MORE / BUY

GUARDIANS OF MAGIC * Chris Riddell * 9781447277972 * HB * £12.99 * Pan MacMillan

In Guardians of Magic the award-winning, 2015-2017 UK Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell weaves together a stunningly illustrated magical quest in which three ordinary children, with extraordinary gifts, come together to defeat the enemies who threaten the mysterious cloud horses. The Kingdom of Thrynne is a place where fairy tales don’t behave, and magic can be found in unexpected places. But magic brings danger to Zam, Phoebe and Bathsheba, because it is forbidden. Now, the future of magic itself is under threat from powerful enemies: those who fear it and, worse, those who want to use it for their own ends. What can three ordinary children do to protect it? MORE / BUY

 

Graphic Novels

   

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I GO QUIET * David Ouimet * 9781786897404 * HB * £12.99 * Canongate

I Go Quiet is the exquisite story of an introverted girl, struggling to find her place in a noisy world. Through the power of books, creativity and imagination, she begins to see possibilities for herself beyond the present, to a future where her voice will finally be heard. ‘Astonishingly beautiful… I wish this book had been around when I was a child: I would not have felt quite as alone.’ NEIL GAIMAN ‘David Ouimet understands that to comfort means to strengthen, not to coddle. I want to send it back in time to my seven-year-old-self.’ STEPHEN FRY ‘A powerful book, about the intensity that can live behind silence; about the power of books and how they give us strength and knowledge to deal with the world in which we find ourselves.’ MATT HAIG. ‘Completely original. Unique, in fact.’ PHILIP PULLMAN. MORE / BUY

RUSTY BROWN * Chris Ware * 9780224078139 * HB * £25.00 * Vintage

‘The week after I finished the last page of Jimmy Corrigan I immediately started a new long story based on characters who had originated as parodies, but whom now I wanted to humanize… amidst a setting of memories of my Omaha childhood and Nebraska upbringing.’ Chris Ware, Monograph. Now, twenty years later, Ware is publishing Rusty Brown in book form. It is, he says, ‘a fully interactive, full-colour articulation of the time-space interrelationships of six complete consciousnesses on a single Midwestern American day and the tiny piece of human grit about which they involuntarily orbit.’ The six characters are Rusty Brown himself, a shy schoolkid obsessed with superheroes, his father `Woody’ Brown, an eccentric teacher at Rusty’s school, Chalky White, another schoolboy, Alison White, Chalky’s sister, Jason Lint, an older boy who bullies Rusty and Chalky and fancies Alison, and the boys’ teacher, Joanne Cole. Ware tells each of their stories in minute detail, producing another masterwork of the comics form that is at once achingly beautiful, heartbreakingly sad and painfully funny. MORE / BUY

INFERNO * Various * 9781302919702 * PB * £29.50 * Marvel * X-Men Milestones

Strike the match… fan the flames… and light the Inferno. Limbo’s demon-lords corrupt two of the X-Men’s nearest and dearest Colossus’ sister Illyana and Cyclops’ wife Madelyne Pryor and use them to bring a horde of demons raining down on New York City. But as Illyana battles to regain her soul, Madelyne threatens to cast a spell that will merge Earth and Limbo permanently… And when Mr. Sinister brings his own agenda into the mix, secrets are revealed that rock Cyclops to the core. Collecting: X-Terminators 1-4, Uncanny X-Men (1981) 239-243, X-Factor (1986) 35-39, New Mutants (1983) 71-73. MORE / BUY

 

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@TimBayley1
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August 2019 Book Highlights


Carabas - New Book Recommends

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Here’s our round-up of fantastic and fantastical reading for August.

We take in Adult Fiction, fantastical and general, creative and socially minded Non-Fiction, Children’s and YA and Graphic Novels. Whether you’re a general or genre reader or a bookshop looking to make sure your customers aren’t missing out we try to balance an inclusion of the biggest titles with slipstream / crossover hits and those hidden gems for all concerned. Read the rest of this entry »

July 2019 Book Highlights


Carabas - New Book Recommends

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Here’s our round-up of fantastic and fantastical reading for July.

We take in Adult Fiction, fantastical and general, creative and socially minded Non-Fiction, Children’s and YA and Graphic Novels. Whether you’re a general or genre reader or a bookshop looking to make sure your customers aren’t missing out we try to balance an inclusion of the biggest titles with slipstream / crossover hits and those hidden gems for all concerned. Read the rest of this entry »

Nobody does it Better: Book vs Film – Fight! Panel at the MCM London Comic Con 2019 – with Tasha Suri, Claire North, RJ Barker, Jen Williams and Adrian Tchaikovsky!

 

Okay, so you invite a panel of authors to discuss this modern age-old question – we could probably guess their answer right? In what fantastical reality are some of the top talents of the speculative-fantasy genre going to place the televisual medium over their own?

We’re back at the MCM Comic Con with SFF authors Tasha Suri and RJ Barker (earlier in the Representation in Fantasy Panel – perhaps Zen Cho is in the audience?) now joined by Claire North, Jen Williams and Adrian Tchaikovsky, with Tasha having her first go at moderating. There’s a levity amongst the panel: this is going to be fun… Read the rest of this entry »

Gig Review: JOHN + SLONK, DIM VANILLA & FRANK ‘N’ THE BEANS @ Brixton Windmill 09/02/19

 

Mark K headed to The Windmill Brixton to catch John, actually two Johns who were previously ‘John Times Two’ but had three others to check out also (none called John we gather). Here’s how it went… 

 

Tonight’s headliners John were until recently known as John Times Two, as both members of the band are called John. However, before we look at them, we must consider their three (count ‘em!) support bands. Read the rest of this entry »

Breaking into Comics Then and Now: Panel at the MCM London Comic Con 2019 – with Duncan McAlpine, Jarrett Melendez and Howard Mackie!

 

Here at this panel at the MCM Comic Con 2019 it’s hard to tell whether the crowd are primarily aspiring creators here for advice or fans of and here for the panellists. Serious aspirants are likely to have built a portfolio of repeated advice – will this panel deliver more of the same or are there any hidden nuggets to be unearthed?

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Either way, this panel is about breaking into comics in different eras so for the comic fans generally it’s going to be as much an insight into different eras and creators as the advice fest some will be here for.

Read the rest of this entry »

Representation in Fantasy: Panel at the MCM London Comic Con 2019 – with Zen Cho, Tasha Suri and RJ Barker!

 

It’s Saturday afternoon at the MCM Comic Con at the Representation in Fantasy panel with Zen Cho (author of the Sorcerer Royal books, moderating), Tasha Suri (the Books of Ambha) and RJ Barker (The Wounded Kingdom).

Representation is of course very much the subject of the moment yet, as they tell us, both Zen and Tasha have been on double digits of panels on the topic.

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So the air is light and the more informal with a sense of yes it’s important and we’re pleased to be here but we’re just going to enjoy it rather than have the same conversations again.

Zen is Malaysian, as is the protagonist in her second book, and her first concerns a black man, Zacharias Wythe the titular sorcerer, in 1800s London where she now lives. Tasha toured India as a child, the setting of her books being inspired by India’s medieval period. The protagonist of RJ’s Wounded Kingdom Trilogy is disabled and RJ explains that he’s chronically ill, suffering from Crohn’s disease which affects his joints, his own experiences informing those of his characters. Tasha, clearly a fan of the series, notes there are comparatively few assassinations and RJ shares how he loves a 1-star Amazon review he received, the reader saying they ‘bought a book about assassins and all they do is talk about their feelings’.

Much laughter.

 

Tasha expresses the view that it – writing and perhaps the discussion of it – becomes very limited when it’s just about diversity. She mentions Seth Dickson’s The Traitor and how the interesting, distinguishing thing about his female protagonist – beyond not being straight – is that it’s a case of accountant as hero: she uses economics to manipulate an empire’s fiscal supply chains and so its destiny. From that the panel share what their day jobs are conjuring whimsical speculations of what a fantasy protagonist might do with similar expertise. Zen’s a product lawyer, Tasha’s a librarian (and yes, there are a few fantasy librarians out there)… RJ was a tax inspector before becoming ill and half-jokes that he’d love to write of a fantasy tax inspector.

SF and Fantasy, as Tasha notes, have always been doing progressive things and while this panel is the more whimsical, it’s perhaps highlighting how from a considered intention for representation, characters have been emerging who are innovative and interesting beyond their ‘non-heterogenous’ identity. On the other hand in recent years there’s been a lot of dragons (I remember chatting some years back with Gollancz’s Gillian Redfearn who predicted the phenomenon, noting them as the new vampires). Tasha, it’s clear, isn’t keen on dragons. RJ is at least dragon ambivalent.

The panel do seem to be enjoying themselves and, before we get too deep into dragon over-representation, Zen reminds the panel that, from chatting ahead of it, they were going to talk about toilets. Well why not? Fantasy draws to some degree or other from history and, as Tasha raises, do you know how many people died of dysentery? (I’m almost surprised no audience member calls out with some riff on the meme from US educational game The Oregon Trail where the player is informed upon failure ‘You have died of Dysentery’.) RJ notes how his series begins in a toilet: ‘They start in the shit and end up as kings’.

Zen raises how readers expect certain things in fantasy novels, and are okay with some but not others. People seem happy with violence. Even, Tasha notes, violent sex – but not swearing.

 

‘People did know how to swear,’ she goes on. But is this plain prudishness on a reader’s part, or is it something to do with fantasy’s grounding in history and the use of contemporary expletives challenging the all-important willing suspension of disbelief? One for another panel maybe.

The floor is opened to the audience, and the panel receive a question on representation in terms of antagonists which Tasha answers emphasising that ‘if you have an evil lesbian you have to have a nice lesbian’ – or at least a differently representative protagonist.

They move on to the pitfalls of representation. RJ notes how a fan was disappointed there weren’t more difficulties faced by his character, though of course his work is about how they get over and around their disability. As Tasha raises, you can build a world that reflects the injustices of ours where you can actually perpetuate those injustices. And dystopic elements of fiction can be overplayed where more subtle prejudice regarding day to day interaction can be the more powerful, like a loving gay couple being unable to hold hands in public.

This segues into how outsider protagonists aid the reading experience in terms of communicating the setting, whether unfamiliar or outrightly fantastical. Zen’s protagonists travel to a less familiar cultures and, as they discuss, readers identify with the character’s journey in experiencing a different place, learning of it as they do. It’s a film technique, RJ notes, close shot to wide shot: start on the main character and pull out to the world. Of course the author is the expert on their setting, by background, research or invention. Tasha tells us how her editor noted a character motive that doesn’t exist outside of India where her work is set so she had to build in an explanation. Editors, RJ says, are unsung heroes.

 

And perhaps that’s a useful ending point: representation, like the saturation of dragons, might ironically have become almost over-represented in an authors’ panel itinerary, but only because of a previous dearth which does require correction. Either way it’s an ongoing cultural conversation between the authors who creatively represent, editors who contextualise for best effect, and readers seeking new novelistic realities. Oh, and convention-goers who get to enjoy a very different kind of panel on the subject of representation.

As long as things are moving forward.

Tim Bayley

 

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Check out more Panel coverage on Carabas here!

 

Gig Review: ELLIE BLEACH, LUCY LU, ART SCHOOL GIRLFRIEND & LAUREL @ OLD BLUE LAST 29/01/2019

 

Mark K went to check out the last of DIY magazine’s Hello 2019 gigs. Here’s what he made of it…

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Tonight is the final gig of the four Hello 2019! Shows. The purpose of these nights is to showcase artists that the promoters feel will make waves in 2019. We shall see. Read the rest of this entry »

June 2019 Book Highlights


Carabas - New Book Recommends

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Here’s our round-up of fantastic and fantastical reading for June.

We take in Adult Fiction, fantastical and general, creative and socially minded Non-Fiction, Children’s and YA and Graphic Novels. Whether you’re a general or genre reader or a bookshop looking to make sure your customers aren’t missing out we try to balance an inclusion of the biggest titles with slipstream / crossover hits and those hidden gems for all concerned. Read the rest of this entry »

Catalyst by Nick Bryan and Robert Ahmad – Preview!

Check out our preview of Nick Bryan’s latest comic one-shot published by Comichaus! Copy from publisher:

Guy is a Catalyst, an artificial being travelling from universe to universe, genre to genre, instigating the stories. Whether you need a clue to your mystery, a warning from a mysterious stranger or a hint of hope, he’s there. Whatever gets you into the next scene. But why does this helpful robot always end up beaten senseless? Did you need to stab him as you accepted the ancient scroll?

As the realities roll by, Guy’s patience starts to wear thin. But can he ever be anything else?

Read the rest of this entry »

May 2019 Book Highlights

Carabas - New Book Recommends

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Here’s our round-up of fantastic and fantastical reading for May.

We take in Adult Fiction, fantastical and general, creative and socially minded Non-Fiction, Children’s and YA and Graphic Novels. Whether you’re a general or genre reader or a bookshop looking to make sure your customers aren’t missing out we try to balance an inclusion of the biggest titles with slipstream / crossover hits and those hidden gems for all concerned. Read the rest of this entry »

April 2019 Book Highlights


Carabas - New Book Recommends

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Here’s our round-up of fantastic and fantastical reading for April.

We take in Adult Fiction, fantastical and general, creative and socially minded Non-Fiction, Children’s and YA and Graphic Novels. Whether you’re a general or genre reader or a bookshop looking to make sure your customers aren’t missing out we try to balance an inclusion of the biggest titles with slipstream / crossover hits and those hidden gems for all concerned. Read the rest of this entry »

March 2019 Book Highlights


Carabas - New Book Recommends

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Here’s our round-up of fantastic and fantastical reading for March.

We take in Adult Fiction, fantastical and general, creative and socially minded Non-Fiction, Children’s and YA and Graphic Novels. Whether you’re a general or genre reader or a bookshop looking to make sure your customers aren’t missing out we try to balance an inclusion of the biggest titles with slipstream / crossover hits and those hidden gems for all concerned. Read the rest of this entry »

Gig Review: AVI BUFFALO + JORDAN ROOKER & LOWPINES @ Oslo Hackney 14/02/2019

 

Mark K just couldn’t resist the line-up at Hackney Oslo on February 14th, and indeed found no little amount to love in the line-up…

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Whether or not they’re otherwise attached, tonight’s show consists of three artists who usually play with bands playing solo. First up is Jordan Rooker, a singer/songwriter from Sheffield. He does admit that he usually plays with a band; luckily he’s sufficiently accomplished that they’re not missed. His melodic, lyrical songs make for an enjoyable start to the evening. Read the rest of this entry »