All posts in Review

Interview with I Should Be Writing, and Starburst magazine reviews SEVEN WONDERS

It’s just one week to go until WorldCon officially starts in Chicago! I’m looking forward to it a lot, and I’ve got a couple of extra days to have a look around the city beforehand too – I can relax a little too, as I’ve just finished the first draft of The Age Atomic, the Empire State sequel. The draft came in at nearly 154,000 words and needs a hell of a rewrite, but I’m going to chill until I get back from Chicago.

On the Angry Robot side of things, there will be nineteen authors and three “staffers” going, which I think is the biggest gathering we’ve ever had – if you head over to the Angry Robot blog, you can see a full schedule of where you’ll find us. My own schedule (with some more detail) can be found here.

Veteran SF magazine Starburst posted their review of Seven Wonders the other day, giving it 8/10 and saying:

It’s compulsive reading at its best… the author’s glee-filled love of comic-books radiating from every page. [Adam Christopher] evokes classic comic book writers such as Busiek, Moore, Morrison and Gaiman, and yet retains a unique style and sense of a world.

Seven Wonders is out in the US next week (August 28th), and in the UK a week later (September 6th).

Finally, I was recently a guest on Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing podcast, where I talked about Empire State, Seven Wonders, future projects (including The Age Atomic, Hang Wire and Shadow’s Call) and various bits and pieces about writing. You can listen to the episode here (or subscribe in iTunes). Being on I Should Be Writing is a pretty big deal for me, because it was this podcast that got me back into writing seriously, in 2006 – its importance to me as a writer cannot be understated. In fact, Mur and I talk about that in the interview – so check it out!



SEVEN WONDERS: Reviews and listings

It’s August! Which means I have a book coming out! Argh! And I also have a book to finish! Argh, slight return!

The mighty Kirkus has listed Seven Wonders among their 11 not-to-miss science fiction and fantasy books for August 2012, and likewise Ranting Dragon have it in their top 20 for August. My thanks to both sites!

And the early reviews are still coming in. The Troubled Scribe said Seven Wonders is “brilliant” and went on to say:

The novel reads like a cinematic masterpiece flashing before your unblinking eyes, lest you miss a single moment of this superhero charged saga. The only way to describe Seven Wonders is by imagining the best superhero movie you can possibly fathom, times that by twenty and then let the story play out in high definition 3D inside your dazzled mind.

Over at Fantasy Bytes, they said:

Now, finally, someone has come along and written an intelligent and beautifully crafted prose novel with all the delicious Heroism, Villainism and Superpower Awesomeness of a Graphic Novel.

And don’t forget, you can still pre-order the limited hardcover collector’s edition of Seven Wonders from Forbidden Planet ahead of the official launch on Thursday 6th September. There are only 100 numbered copies of this, so get in while you can!

SEVEN WONDERS UK launch Facebook page and some EMPIRE STATE bits and bobs

Some admin:

Yesterday I mentioned the US launch for Seven Wonders, which will be held in Chicago on Friday 31st August. Details are here.

I’ve mentioned the UK launch already, which is being held at the Forbidden Planet Megastore in London on Thursday 6th September. Details are here. Now a Facebook event has been set-up for it, which you can find here – you don’t need to RSVP to attend, but feel free to add yourself and spread the invite around! And don’t forget, you can secure your copy of the limited edition Seven Wonders hardcover here… and enter the Goodreads signed ARC competition here!

Some new stuff:

And speaking of books to buy, are running a two-for-£7 offer on top-selling science fiction paperbacks, which just happens to include my debut, Empire State, along with the forthcoming vN by Madeline Ashby, which sounds like a pretty good deal to me!

A few new EMPIRE STATE reviews

I love productive weekends. I did some work. I hit my required word counts on the secret novel. We went to the movies (John Carter – I’ll reserve my comments, other than to say it wasn’t my cup of tea). We went to an antiques fair at a big country house (and now I want a giant grandfather clock for the hallway). I ate some chocolate (a rare treat). I read the 6-issue DC New 52 Huntress mini-series. I watched Double Date, my favourite episode of Justice League Unlimited. I started reading Department 19 by Will Hill.

All-in-all, not bad.

Meanwhile, some new reviews of Empire State have cropped up.

  • Graham Edwards says: “If ever there was a novel screaming, ‘Adapt me!’, Adam Christopher’s Empire State is surely it… As a debut novel, it’s sassy and confident, and positively oozing creative juices”
  • Teresa Derwin says: “This energetic foray into SF is Christopher’s debut novel, and if this is any indication of the way his mind works, I think future readers are in for a fun time.”
  • Philip Norris says: “As a first novel this is a fresh if twisted look at a classic era that is sure to please any fan of the weird and fantastic.”
  • The Italian blog Minuetto Express says, via the gift of Google Translate and a little editing from me: “But the book has everything you need! Of fights, laser beams, cyborgs, warships vs. airships, mysterious women, explosions, gangsters … If you do not like these things then you are a bad person.”
Times like this I wish I could understand Italian. I’m not sure where the laser beams are in Empire State, but I can promise plenty of them in Seven Wonders

Writerly update, March 2012

I’ve been pretty busy the last few weeks, working on a new novel that I hope to be announced sometime soonish. Having spent the previous two months editing, it feels good to be back creating something new, although it’s going to take a a little time yet to get the daily word count back to what it should be (2000 words a day).

Last weekend I was in Macclesfield, where we first moved to from New Zealand, and was delighted to see Empire State on display at the local Waterstones with the following sign:
… which is pretty neat! (my thanks to Anna too – Waterstones booksellers are wonderful people who really know what they are talking about, and that face-to-face interaction is just something you can’t get from the likes of Amazon).

Actually, while I was signing their stock, a customer came into the SF section looking for a particular Robert Rankin book to take on holiday. The store didn’t have it, but the bookseller who was helping me sign copies quickly introduced me, and quite literally hand-sold him a copy of Empire State! He seemed pretty happy to meet an/the author, and I hope – whoever you are! – that it makes for good reading on the plane.

There’s a couple of new things online too. Firstly, Starburst magazine interviewed me – my first telephone interview too, which was cool. There’s also a great new review over at Book Monkey.

Finally, we got around to watching the 1998 film Dark City for the first time, because so many reviews of and comments on Empire State have mentioned the similarities. I hadn’t heard of it until last month, but I’m glad I checked it out. It’s smart and stylish, without being pretentious, and has a number of similar concepts to my book. We watched the director’s cut, but apparently the theatrical version is also worth a look. Oddly enough, when I mentioned on Twitter that we’d watched the film, several people replied to say they’d go and buy Empire State, as Dark City was their favourite film and they hadn’t realised the book had certain similarities!

Of course, should Empire State ever be adapted for the big (or small) screen, I’d really want Jennifer Connelly to be in it. I can dream, right?

EMPIRE STATE reviewed in The Guardian

So while I was at the SFX Weekender (write-up here), Empire State was reviewed by Eric Brown in The Guardian, who said:

Christopher’s tightly plotted novel is a truly original debut that, while subtly referencing Orwell, Kafka, Marvel comics and Philip K Dick, manages to maintain its own distinctive tone – a genuine pathos and longing for something elusively *other*. Recommended.

Well… that’s… actually, I must admit to be slightly speechless over that review. The only reaction I can muster is: holy schnikes! The review appears online, and was on page 10 of the Review section in last Saturday’s print edition.

That and the review in The Financial Times and I’m one happy author! I think this calls for a celebratory tea and biscuits…

“Something of a tour de force” – The Financial Times on EMPIRE STATE

A bonus blog post today! My debut novel, Empire State, has been reviewed in the Financial Times, which calls the book “electrifying”, and goes on to say:

Suffused with a love for noir fiction and the golden age of American comic books, Christopher’s Empire State is something of a tour de force. If, somehow, Raymond Chandler and Philip K Dick had collaborated on a Superman story, they might well have produced this novel.

So, that’s my weekend made then! The full review is available online here, and is also on page 13 of today’s Life & Arts section:

You can order Empire State here, or if you want a signed copy, head over to Forbidden Planet’s site.

EMPIRE STATE review and guest blog

It’s a busy week for guest blogs and interviews – there will be more coming in a few days! For today, a couple of links:

  • Over at The Qwillery I talk about what “noir” actually means, and how it can be applied to any genre. In January, I’m part of The Qwillery debut author challenge, in which members of the blog’s reading group will read Empire State together, and then have a discussion and Q&A with me about it. Should be fun!
  • Drying Ink has posted a review of Empire State, in which they say “Empire State is a fast, likeable novel which aims not only to surprise, but frequently to confound – with intrigue, superheroic subversion, and a few robots playing into the mix!”. Thanks guys! I’m also doing an interview with them, which should be going online shortly.

Work-wise I’m absolutely flat out on a couple of projects I can’t talk about… you ain’t seen me, right?

My Life as a White Trash Zombie

I don’t really write book reviews, because they’re hard work and there are many people who do a far better job of it than I. But I do like to tell people about cool books that I’ve read. Like My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland.

I discovered this book a while ago when Chuck Wendig retweeted the cover art. The painting is by Dan Dos Santos – one of my favourite cover artists – and is so amazingly cool that I just had to take notice; if there was ever an example of the importance of a cover in selling a book, this is it! Hence, I discovered Diana Rowland, and My Life as a White Trash Zombie was duly pre-ordered. Amazon even shipped my copy more than a week before the release date – I like it when that happens.

Anyway. This is a heck of a good book. Zombies may be old hat and the market saturated with titles, but I really think My Life as a White Trash Zombie is something completely new. While I’m hardly a zombie expert, the approach Diana takes appears to be highly original, and the writing itself is fresh and pacey. It’s a funny book, but it’s not a comedy. It’s also a fast read, but not because it is simplistic or light. Far from it. It was a fast read for me simply because I could hardly put it down. And I’m an impatient reader with a short attention span, usually, so this is a pretty rare occurrence for me. Only two other books have had this effect on me so far this year – The Dead Zone, by Stephen King, and Southern Gods, by John Hornor Jacobs.

You can find Diana on Twitter, and if you head over to her site you can grab an excerpt.

And then you need to buy it, because damn, it’s a good book.

Review – Firestarter by Stephen King

The background: I’m reading all of Stephen King’s work in publication order, for the first time, starting with Carrie. I’ve just finished Firestarter, which is the first of his 80s novels.

I’m not entirely sure what to say about Firestarter. King’s writing is, as always, excellent… but for the first time, its almost like he knows it and uses his mastery of character to sidestep the fact that there is hardly any story. Firestarter is 567 pages of beautifully written nothing.

I don’t mind that, in principle. The journey is often more interesting or even important than the ending, and King’s talent at characterisation is breathtaking.

But 567 pages, you start to need something more. Characterisation will take you a long way, but eventually something has to happen. In Firestarter, Andy McGee and his daughter Charlie are on the run, and then they get captured, and then they escape. That’s it.

Which is fine. Everything is painted vividly, and we really explore the thoughts and motivations of everyone involved. That’s characterisation.

But this book took me two months to read. I rattled through King’s previous book, The Dead Zone, in two weeks. Firestarter, I’m sorry to say, was a real chore.

There’s something else, too. Apart from a lack of plot, I had the real feeling that I’d heard it all before. A girl with a terrible psychic power? Carrie. Psychic powers in general? Carrie, The Shining, The Dead Zone. And the fact that The Dead Zone came directly prior to Firestarter doesn’t do the latter any favours, as The Dead Zone is a masterpiece.

Firestarter was a huge disappointment. Despite coining the term “pyrokinesis”, and despite being made into a well known film starring Drew Barrymore, this is, alas, a rather dull book. I did enjoy the technical aspects of the writing, and I’m sure (as always with King) I learnt a great deal about the craft. That’s reason enough to read it once in your life, I think. But for me, Firestarter is even worse than The Shining, which so far is the only other King novel I haven’t liked. The Shining at least is original, and despite a flabby middle section kicks into high gear towards the last quarter.

Firestarter feels like a retread of old ground and never quite hits top speed. The climactic sequence of Charlie’s escape from The Shop is a brilliantly written action piece, but it’s too little, too late.

Chalk this one up to experience.