May
11

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The Liberation: An Interview with Ian Tregillis

Last year I sat down with Ian Tregillis over at Black Gate to discuss his new book. Tregillis is one of the few modern writers I go out of my way to read, and I think my regular readers would really enjoy him.

Here’s a reprint of that discussion:

As John O’Neill wrote in November of 2016, the last book in Ian Tregillis’ new trilogy comes out this month (December 2016). I’m a big fan of Tregillis, and was fortunate enough to read The Liberation in manuscript. It was a blast, and you should buy it it. Seriously. Go buy the trilogy, and if you already have the first two, go buy the third.

Alright. Now that you’ve done that, Ian and I kicked back last and talked about his trilogy. Here’s what he had to say:

Howard: You’re on an elevator with your new book when Ringo Starr enters, sees the cover and says how fab it looks. He wants to know what the book’s about – what do you tell him?

Ian: OK. First of all, I’d probably be hard pressed not to lose my composure the moment he stepped into the elevator. I mean, there I’d be sharing an the-liberation-ian-tregillis-smallelevator with A BEATLE. I discovered their albums at just the right age, and I swear I listened to that music practically nonstop during high school. So keeping it cool would be a challenge, *especially* if Ringo asked about the book.

But assuming I could recover my composure enough to speak coherently without babbling, and assuming he wanted the long version, I’d tell him it’s an adventure story about a clockpunk Terminator apocalypse in a world where the industrial revolution never happened, disguised as a story about slave rebellion and Free Will.

If he wanted the short version, I’d tell him it’s basically Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots but with more swearing and stabbing.

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May
9

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Lankhmar

I wrote a Lankhmar book for the Savage Worlds game system, and the Kickstarter for it went live last week.. It’s probably as close as I’ll ever get to writing a story starring Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.

I had a blast writing the thing, but my favorite parts were designing adventures — which I did my very best to make feel Leiberish — and designing the adventure generator, which seems to create Leiber-like stories well enough that I used it to generate two of the adventures I wrote up for the book.

Check it out — The Savage Seas of Nehwon!

May
6

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Horse Adventures

I’ve mentioned before that one of my horses likes to lean against the top fence rail to get the grass on the other side. Unfortunately, it’s the largest horse that does this, and his weight frequently breaks the rail, which ends up in a lot of fence repair every spring. It’s among my least favorite things to do. Fixing each rail takes about 45 minutes. So far this year he’d already busted about five of them. But wait…

This Saturday my wife and I were walking around the barn to get to some yardwork only to discover that one of our horses was calmly standing outside the fence, doing what horses are usually doing, eating grass. A little further downslope was the big horse, also munching grass. Nearby we saw how they’d gotten out — Trigger, the large horse, must have leaned against the top rail to get to some juicy grass on the other side, and then leaned against the middle rail, and then stepped over the bottom rail once both were destroyed. The other horse had followed.

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Apr
30

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Chainsaw and Corris

So this weekend I fired up a chainsaw and wielded it for the first time. I have the power! Also, I had protective chaps and gloves and helmet and face shield.

I have been binge reading the Australian mystery writer Peter Corris. He and Lawrence Block are among  the closest modern writers I know to hardboiled. I’ve loved Block’s Matthew Scudder’s detective novels, and I’ve discovered I love the different landscape and atmosphere of the Corris novels, which are all set in Australia.

There are about 40 books, and some of them are short story collections, and I’ve probably read 10 of them now, although not all in the last few days. The mysteries are strong and he’s great with characters. So far I’ve just been reading the ones he wrote in the ‘80s rather than the ones he’s written most recently, so maybe they drop in quality. Or maybe they get even better.

The other morning I finished The Marvelous Boy and I saved this bit of prose for you as our hero Cliff Hardy is walking into a weight lifting club to seek information: Read More

Apr
26

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Flamehair

For years now I’ve been hearing about the adventure fiction of H. Bedford-Jones, a pulp historical writer famed as being one of those guys who wrote an astonishing amount of prose. Some people love him. Until now, though, everything I’ve read by the guy has been… competent, and I figured maybe that’s what you’d get out of a guy who mass produced his fiction — high competence but maybe not a great deal of characterization or sophisticated plotting, maybe a guy who recycles plots, or who doesn’t really revise much.

But after talking with Tom Roberts of Black Dog Books at Windy City, he reminded me again of that H. Bedford Jones book he’d given me a few years back, and I pulled it off the shelf — and man, does it start with a bang. It’s far and away the best thing by the writer I’ve ever read. Will it hold up as I get deeper into the book? I dunno. Are there other good stories by H. Bedford Jones? Maybe so. I wonder who’s done the digging through his immense catalog to discover which by him are the very best?

Any of you out there Bedford-Jones fans? I’d love to hear if there are other fine tales out there by him.

And here’s a link if you want to pick up a copy and read along with me.

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