The Podcast is Here!

Hi all,

Slightly delayed, but The Abaddon & Solaris Books Pocast is here! Point your iTunes to this link, or search "Abaddon" (or "Solaris") in the "Search Store" box at the top-right corner of iTunes, to download what is already being called* the most influential podcast of 2010.

Thrill as the editors and staff at Abaddon Books and Solaris Books - two of the fastest-rising stars of Fantasy, SF and Horror publishing - have a lovely cup of tea. Wonder as we chat about our books, other people's books, the state of the industry, and whatever random crap pops into our heads. Er... Glow as we ruthlessly grill special guest authors, listen to readings, and hear convention reports and special announcements.

The first podcast, The Abaddon & Solaris Books Podcast #1: Evil Fish Demons!, featuring the roguishly-charming, ruggedly handsome and debonair David Moore and Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Oliver - author of Abaddon's current release Twilight of Kerberos: The Call of Kerberos - is available now. This is literally the most important thing that has ever happened; missing it will make the rest of your piteously wasted life a hollow, wretched sham.

Did I go over the top just now? I'm never sure where to pitch these things. Never mind.

Download it. Listen to it. Let us know what you think.




*by my mum.

  • Not on iTunes, and have sworn to end your life rather than download a single Apple application? Here to help! Just point your RSS client here to download the feed without putting a penny in Steve Jobs' pocket. Keep an eye on the blog for updates, in case we change the host or something crazy like that.
  • Bewildered by the term "RSS" and unsure what all this means? No problem, ignorant Luddite! Just follow the exact same link, click on the link to the mp3 of the episode you wish to hear, and you can listen right on your browser! Everyone's a winner!

An Announcement

MORE exciting than today's release of the new Apple tablet!!*

Tomorrow, we will release the very first Abaddon and Solaris Books Podcast! iPods at the ready, folks!

The first installment, EVIL FISH DEMONS!, features news on upcoming books, our thoughts on life and general nonsense, David Moore being a cheeky bugger, and an interview and reading from Jon Oliver, author of Twilight of Kerberos: The Call of Kerberos and Editor-in-Chief of Abaddon and Solaris.

*Abaddon Books can neither confirm nor deny rumours that Steve Jobs, reduced to tears by the fear that our podcast release would eclipse the release of his Tablet, begged us to delay our podcast until tomorrow. Thanks for the flowers, chocolates and escort girls, Steve.


Ian Whates on BSFA Shortlist

Great news! Ian Whates has reached the BSFA Awards shortlist for his short story, 'The Assistant.' Curious as to what the fuss is all about? You won't be for long. Go and read it over at his blog, and don't forget to vote!

THE ASSISTANT - by Ian Whates*

I'm currently editing Ian's newest novel The Noise Within, which is brilliant stuff. You guys are in for a treat when it's released in May!

*Originally published in The Solaris Book of Science Fiction Volume 3 and reprinted with permission.


Off to Press!

Hi folks,

Just to let you know, we sent Age of Zeus and Shine off to press over the past week or so.

Still a month or two before they hit the stores, but you can warm up by looking at the covers now.




The first Abaddon and Solaris Books podcast is being recorded as I write this. Exciting!


Reviews and another "Best of..."

Hi all,

Mark Chitty of the Walker of Worlds blog has just written a very nice review of Eric Brown's Cosmopath, the third Bengal Station novel. Ten out of ten!

He's also put the second Bengal Station, Xenopath, fifth in his list of the best books of 2009 (as he only gave Xenopath nine out of ten, I'll expect to see Cosmopath high in his list next year).

And with Justin Gustainis' Evil Ways now out in A-format paperback, Mark's reminded us of the review he wrote for that one, too.

Cheers, Mark!

Blood in the Water - Juliet McKenna

Juliet McKenna's Blood in the Water is now out in all good bookshops, in the US, Canada, and in the UK (despite, we hear, the best efforts of the UK snowpocalypse). Blood in the Water is McKenna's thrilling second addition to her 'Chronicles of the Lescari Revolution' series, which began with the critically acclaimed Irons In the Fire.

In Blood in the Water, the exiles and rebels who were determined to bring peace to the struggling people of Lescar discover that the dukes and duchesses in the kingdom won't give up their power without a fight...

"If you're not reading McKenna, you should be... Sorcery, mercenaries, and the little people rising up against their oppressors. I mean, what more could you want?"
-Kate Elliott

"Shows McKenna at her best, combining politics, violent action, and a concern for the domestic... it's fundamentally about clever people, trying to do their best, in swift-changing circumstances."
-Paul Cornell [on Irons in the Fire]

Juliet has been kind enough to treat us all to a guest-blog in celebration of Blood in the Water's release. Here she writes about some of the thought-processes involved in writing the novel, and her research and inspiration for writing historically accurate and dynamic battle-scenes...


Blood in the Water?

Where does it come from?

Swords and sorcery. That’s one commonly-used way of describing what we write for those unfamiliar with the genre, especially when ‘adult fantasy’ conjures up entirely the wrong images. Swordplay has been central to tales of high heroics from The Iliad onwards. Conan cut a bloody swath through the Hyborian Age and Arthur gathered his knights around the table of Camelot. Great set-piece battles decided the fate of worlds and their peoples from Middle Earth onwards.

ut where exactly does the modern writer, living in unparalleled peace and prosperity (certainly in historical terms) get inspiration for detailing the blood, sweat and tears of hand-to-hand combat as well as an understanding of the tactics and strategy of pre-gunpowder warfare? Because that stuff wasn’t any part of my historical education.

Don’t misunderstand me. Throughout school and university, I studied no end of wars. I can still wax lyrical on causes and consequences of World War I, on the rise of fascism in the 30’s, the defeat of Nazism and the post 1945 reconstruction of Europe. That was O Level. Then there was the English Civil War, with Edgehill, Marston Moor and all the rest, not forgetting the fighting in Scotland and Ireland (where, mind you, my Granny McKenna’s version of Cromwell’s exploits was significantly at variance with my history teacher’s). Add the War of the Spanish Succession over on the Continent, and the bloodshed culminating in the French Revolution and that was my A Level syllabus. Off to Oxford, I studied the Graeco-Persian wars, the Peloponnesian War and the internecine wars of the Roman Republic from Marius and Sulla onwards.

For every essay topic that included a battle, I’d diligently tackle the reading list to find out who was fighting, why they were fighting, who won and what that meant for whatever happened next. Only the details on precisely how these battles were won or lost were rarely considered important. There might be diagrams in the text books with arrows going this way and that, with those diagonal-slashed rectangles and the other ones with crosses in but no one paid them much attention. Granted, I recall my teacher deciding the discipline of the Parliamentarian cavalry at Marston Moor warranted a mention, compared with the failings of the Royalist horsemen, but I also remember spending as much time, if not more, discussing the tragic death of Prince Rupert’s beloved poodle ‘Boye’, given the dog’s role in Parliamentarian propaganda.

he deaths of the poor bloody infantry, of any age, were simply considered en masse, insofar as they affected one side or the other’s ability to continue the fighting. Or if they were funny, like the tendency of early musketeers to blow themselves up when their coil of burning match got caught up with their bandolier of gunpowder flasks. Seventeen year old girls can be very callous.

got my first insights into the reality of warfare on a personal level through fiction. I read George Macdonald Fraser’s Flashman books avidly as a teenager, and later, Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe stories (along with a few other insights which we need not discuss here). I got a particularly vivid introduction to the terrors and perils of innocent bystanders thanks to Georgette Heyer. Seriously. Her Peninsula War novel, ‘The Spanish Bride’, is based on a true story, that of Harry and Juana Smith, as detailed in his own autobiography. In her foreword to the book, Heyer mentions the various other Diarists of the Light Division as well as for instance, ‘Grattan’s Adventures with the Connaught Rangers’. Her Waterloo novel, ‘An Infamous Army’ has a two-page bibliography at the back. I can’t claim to have followed that up (yet) but discovering she had used such sources set me avidly reading historical biography and autobiography, a habit that persists to this day and which supplies me with all manner of useful and personal detail, crucial to conveying realism in fantasy fiction.

owever, one thing I have learned from soldiers’ reminiscences is how little the rank and file sees of the bigger picture. This is a consistent theme, from ‘The Diary of a Napoleonic Footsoldier’, through Spike Milligan’s memoirs and Stephen Ambrose’s Second World War books, to the autobiographies of H Norman Schwartzkopf and Colin Powell, and most recently ‘Generation Kill’. I can even add something of my own experience here. A good few years of live-roleplaying showed me just how little one can know of some magic-user’s cunning plan ten feet behind you. All your attention is on the orc at the other end of your sword, so you skewer him before he kills you.

But if I was to write a novel detailing a military campaign, I knew I had to convey the bigger picture to the reader. I also needed to find ways to vary the narrative of battle after battle, to avoid repetitive depictions of the fog of war. To do any of that, I needed to have a thorough understanding of the strategic, operational and tactical issues that all the armies would face, embroiled in this Lescari Revolution. As with so many aspects of fantasy writing, only a tenth of that detail might actually make it into the narrative but the remaining nine-tenths is still essential to supporting it.

Fortunately, I knew I had an invaluable resource to hand, in my husband Steve. We had first met through our mutual interests in martial arts and wargaming. I had become interested in military wargaming through fantasy tabletop gaming while he had travelled in the other direction, from years of playing Squad Leader and re-fighting Napoleonic battles with little lead soldiers.

hen one of my university essays had been on the Battle of Thermopylae, my tutor had specifically tasked us with unpicking the various contradictory primary and secondary sources. After the reading material simply deepened my confusion I had turned to Steve and his pal from the wargames club, Mark. They didn’t bother with academic analyses. They wanted to know the terrain, the forces on both sides, naval and infantry and the objectives of the respective commanders. The only reports they were interested in were the specifics offered by Herodotus. Given this information, they were able to explain exactly who did what and why and how it all fitted together. Professor Lintott was hugely impressed with my subsequent essay and keen to know what additional reference material I had discovered, compared to my floundering fellow students. He was lost for words when I explained the key contribution of two tool-design engineers from the Cowley car plant.

So as I prepared to embark on this second Chronicle of the Lescari Revolution, I sat down with Steve, plenty of blank paper and coloured pens and asked him to comment and advise on the battles I had sketched out to shape the plot I’d envisaged. As it turned out, I got an awful lot more than I’d bargained for. We analysed the terrain, the costs and logistics involved for each side raising an army, the time of year and the weather, the time taken to get troops from any given point on the map to a necessary destination, and in particular, the personalities of their commanders. Yes, we did draw up maps with those rectangles with crosses and diagonal lines. We ended up with spreadsheets detailing each units fighting strength and casualties; dead, wounded and captured, and factored all those considerations into what must happen next.

As we did so, these battles became very different affairs. Precisely how these victories were won, or defeats sustained, by the men and women on the ground, became central to the unfolding story. That was true both in terms of the bigger picture and in the individual tales of particular characters. Deaths that I hadn’t planned on became inescapable amid the wider carnage that we calculated in painful detail. Other survivals surprised me, presenting me and the individuals concerned with a whole new set of challenges. Several characters were presented with choices where their only logical course of action ran directly counter to my original intent. I had to jettison my outline on more than once occasion to maintain the internal coherence of the story.

ost important of all, it became inexorably more and more evident that this really was going to be a damn close run thing, or as Wellington actually said of Waterloo, “the nearest run thing you ever saw...”. Even then, once the fighting was done, the surprises weren’t over.

- Juliet E. McKenna


2009 was a very good year.

2009 was a good year, wasn't it! In addition to David's post of earlier today...

The Fantasy Book Critic picked Tim Akers' Heart of Veridon and James Maxey's Dragonseed as two of the top books of 2009. The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction (volume three) was also on the list as one of 2009's best anthologies.

Several short stories from The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction made it onto the longlist for the BSFA Awards. So go vote for them if you can!

Also, review blog The Bibliphile Stalker has awarded some short stories from our 2009 anthologies New Tales Inspired by Edger Allen Poe, and The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, it's Bibliophile Stalker Awards.

Phew. The pressure's on for 2010, then!


Best of the Year!

Hi all,

The genre-fiction webzine Strange Horizons has declared the Solaris Book of New SF, Volume 3 as one of the best genre books of 2009.

Which is nice.


Friday links

  • Joel Glover has reviewed Juliet McKenna's Irons in the Fire for the David Gemmell Awards website. Review can be read here. Don't forget to get involved and vote for all your favourite Solaris Books!
  • There's a year-end review of Ellen Datlow's anthology New Tales Inspired by Edger Allen Poe at the Dark Recesses Magazine website, which charts all the celebrations in 2009 which marked the 200th anniversary of the gothic author's birth. Linkage here.
  • Last but not least, The Innsmouth Free Press (what a great name for a great site!) has reviewed Brian Lumley's book of Cthulhu Mythos tales, Haggopian and Other Stories, here.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Be seeing you next week.



Happy New Year!

Happy new year everyone! Here's wishing you health, wealth, and, of course, lots of great SF and fantasy books in 2010. It's looking like it'll be a great year.

To ring in 2010, we're treating you to this sneak preview of the cover art for an exciting new fantasy series we've got coming out this year. The author? Rowena Cory Daniells. The series title? King Rolen's Kin.

Rowena has planned three books in this series, each of which will follow the lives of one of King Rolen's three children when his kingdom is invaded by its ancestral enemy, Merofynia.

This is the cover art for the first volume in the King Rolen's Kin series, The Bastard Son. It's painted by Clint Langley, who's well known for his 2000 AD and Marvel Comics covers.

Look at that guy. He's like a walking armory! I don't know about you, but I'm starting to feel sorry for these 'Merofynia' chaps...