Barnes & Noble Bookseller’s Picks for April

Posted in Uncategorized on April 5, 2013 by mikemartel

As always Barnes & Noble monthly fantasy and Sci-fi picks are good, check it out if you’re searching for a good read, these selections are good ones, and are bound to satisfied you’re desire for adventure, drama, action and whatever else you’re searching for.

 

 

Fantasy, Reading and Escapism by Jo Walton

Posted in Uncategorized on April 5, 2013 by mikemartel

I read this little article today that really struck a chord in me. Fantasy literature have a certain reputation we all know more than a little. And for the most part we all hate it, why ? Because it belittles our beloved genre. Nothing annoys me more than someone saying that fantasy literature is not a real literary genre and is only a way of escaping the dreads of our day to day life and that only people who are incapable of facing them read this kind of books. When I hear this, I tend to go into my ”debate mode” and become pretty virulent in my arguments. After all, it is a personal attack on my strength of character and my favorite kind of books.

I do agree that a lot of us go to these books for escapism, but not in the manner people think. We do have to agree that fantasy is a beautiful way of escaping our world and having great adventures, but one thing can be said, it is not a weaker genre. The problems, people and challenges they go through are similar if the not the same we have to go through, only put in a different setting. These books are written by humans and thus, the characters in them are human, even if they look like lizards. Of course this little argumentation could go on and on and on, but I won’t indulge myself in such an endeavor, read the article below, it is definitely worth it.

 

Fantasy, Reading, and Escapism
JO WALTON

JRR Tolkien, on fairy stories

On the subject of reading as escapism, Tolkien asked C.S. Lewis who was opposed to escape, and answered “Jailers.” Yet seventy-five years after the publication of Tolkien’s “On Fairy Stories” where he relates this anecdote, people are still trying to make us feel guilty about our reading.

“What are your guilty reading pleasures?” “Why do you read escapist books?” “Is there any merit to that?” “Is there something wrong with you that you’re reading for enjoyment instead of taking your literary vitamins?”

I love reading. If I say this, people generally look at me with approval. Reading is a culturally approved practice, it improves my mind and widens my cultural capital. But if I admit what I read — more fiction than non fiction, more genre books than classics, fantasy, science fiction, romance, military fiction, historical fiction, mysteries and YA — then I lose that approval and have to start justifying my choices. I also read a lot of Victorian fiction and biographies and random interesting non-fiction and some things published as literature… and I don’t hold any of them as better than any of the others. To me they’re all what I’m reading because I want to read it, because reading it is the most fun I can have in any given moment.

I don’t feel defensive about what I choose to read. I don’t feel proud of some pieces and ashamed of other pieces. It’s all reading, and I do it all for fun. I don’t do it to escape, I’m not in prison. I like my life. But when I was in prison, excuse me, boarding school, and when I was stuck in hospital (which is even more like prison except without time off for good behaviour) of course I wanted to escape and of course I was delighted that books were there for me to escape into. If your life sucks, escaping it makes a great deal of sense. If your life is bounded and restricted, seeing that more options exist helps, even if they’re all theoretical and imaginary. Escaping doesn’t mean avoiding reality, escaping means finding an escape route to a better place. Seeing those options can be the file to get through the bars. Anyone who thinks this is a bad thing is the enemy.

I have never made the career choice of being a dragon’s princess. I have never started a revolution on the moon. I’ve never so much as stolen a magic ring or ordered an attack on Guadalcanal. I bet you haven’t either. But we imaginatively know what it would be like because we’ve read about it and cared about the characters and thrown ourselves into the story. There areworlds I’d hate to live inbooks that make me feel delighted that I’m not living in themdystopias and books where awful things happened to the characters. I still enjoyed them, and I might still have escaped into them. I might have come back to my reality of boarding school and said, “Well, at least it’s not Airstrip One!”

There’s a way in which fiction is about understanding human nature. It’s about more than that, of course, but that’s a significant part of it. I feel that you can tell more interesting stories about human nature if you can contrast it with alien nature, or elf nature, or what human nature would be like if you had nine thousand identical clones, or if people could extend their lives by sucking life force from other people. There are more possibilities for stories in genre, more places for stories to go. More ways to escape, more things to think about, more fun.

In C.S. Lewis’s The Silver Chair, a book I first read as a small child, some characters are in an underground kingdom where an evil enchantress attempts to persuade them that the sun and the worlds they came from aren’t real, and only the underground world is real. One of them argues passionately that even if the sun isn’t real, he’ll believe in it because even an imaginary sun is better than a lamp.  Now this character, Puddleglum, is not only made up, but he’s not even human, he’s an imaginary creature, a marshwiggle. But remembering Puddleglum’s declaration has helped me get through some hard moments all my life, has helped me believe in fiction even when it’s not real, has given me an example of how you can stand up for what matters even when it might not be real. Lewis meant it for an allegory of religion, but I didn’t know that when I was six years old and it isn’t at all how I read it. People get their own things out of stories. If you give them books and turn them loose they’ll escape, and grow up, and do all sorts of things.

Did I mention that I love reading?

The Way of Kings Reread by Michael Pye

Posted in Uncategorized on March 28, 2013 by mikemartel

Tor.com usually have those great little reread articles that analyse a book chapter by chapter. The most recent of those article is on ” The Way of Kings ” by Brandon Sanderson. It’s no surprise actually, seeing how the second volume is set to come out this year. So if you want to follow the reread step by step, here’s the link, enjoy.

It’s been a while

Posted in Uncategorized on March 28, 2013 by mikemartel

Well hello people, I have to say it’s been a while since I posted any news. The reason for this is that I am now too poor to afford Internet and I have to right this from the comfort of my local library. Which means, the posts will not be as often as I wish they would be.  I will work hard on bringing stuff as often as I can considering. I’m not planning to stop this blog, quite the contrary. If you know people who might enjoy it send them the link. I would love to see other people contribute if they’d like it. Of course, this blog is still as fresh as a new born baby and so I’m doing this one small step at a time. In the meantime, If you’re interested in the new “Quitessence” by David Walton, here’s a great little read about how it came to life.

The king’s blood by Daniel Abraham

Posted in Uncategorized on March 21, 2013 by mikemartel

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I just started reading ” The King’s Blood” by Daniel Abraham and as soon I finish it, I’ll be sure to let you know what I think. For now the second opus of the Dagger and the Coin is very promising and the first few chapters are already throwing us in a great web of intrigues. The book start almost exactly where the first one had left us and Abraham seems to be giving us exactly what we wanted. Will it be predictable or give us a feeling of ”been there, read that”? I’m sure it will, but  that won’t stop me from enjoying it one bit. The author really know how to create a great story and hopefully we’ll be able to learn a bit more about his complex world. ” The Dragon’s Path” left me with many unanswered questions and with the third book of the series coming out this year, I hope we’ll be able to find those answers.

New Orson Scott Card book

Posted in Uncategorized on March 21, 2013 by mikemartel

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At the same time as ”Quintessence” by David Walton is coming out, the sequel to ” The Lost Gate ” is being published in bookstore. ” The Gate Thief ” continues to explore the tales of the exiled mages of Westil and we can be sure to have a great time reading this. Of course, every new book by Orson Scott Card is a a great one. Be sure to check it out. Here’s the summary:

Here on Earth, Danny North is still in high school, yet he holds in his heart and mind all the stolen outselves of thirteen centuries of gatemages. The Families still want to kill him if they can’t control him…and they can’t control him. He is far too powerful.

And on Westil, Wad is now nearly powerless—he lost everything to Danny in their struggle. Even if he can survive the revenge of his enemies, he still must somehow make peace with the Gatemage Daniel North.

For when Danny took that power from Loki, he also took the responsibility for the Great Gates. And when he comes face-to-face with the mages who call themselves Bel and Ishtoreth, he will come to understand just why Loki closed the gates all those centuries ago.

Quintessence by David Walton

Posted in Uncategorized on March 21, 2013 by mikemartel

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So there’s a lot of great read coming out this week, the first of them being ”Quintessence” by David Walton, the book sounds amazing, I’m leaving you a little a little excerpt to make sure you will read it.

 

Chapter One

THERE was something wrong with the body. There was no smell, for one thing. Stephen Parris had been around enough corpses to know the aroma well. Its limbs were stiff, its joints were locked, and the eyes were shrunken in their sockets—all evidence of death at least a day old—but the skin looked as fresh as if the man had died an hour ago, and the flesh was still firm. As if the body had refused to decay.
Parris felt a thrill in his gut. An anomaly in a corpse meant something new to learn. Perhaps a particular imbalance of the humors caused this effect, or a shock, or an unknown disease. Parris was physic to King Edward VI of England, master of all his profession had to teach, but for all his education and experience, the human body was still a mystery. His best attempts to heal still felt like trying to piece together a broken vase in the dark without knowing what it had looked like in the first place.
Most people in London, even his colleagues, would find the idea of cutting up a dead person shocking. He didn’t care. The only way to find out how the body worked was to look inside.
“Where did you get him?” Parris asked the squat man who had dropped the body on his table like a sack of grain.
“Special, ain’t he?” said the man, whose name was Felbrigg, revealing teeth with more decay than the corpse. “From the Mad Admiral’s boat, that one is.”
“You took this from the Western Star?” Parris was genuinely surprised and took a step back from the table.
“Now then, I never knew you for a superstitious man,” Felbrigg said. “He’s in good shape, just what you pay me for. Heavy as an ox, too.”
The Western Star had returned to London three days before with only thirteen men still alive on a ship littered with corpses. Quite mad, Lord Chelsey seemed to think he had brought an immense treasure back from the fabled Island of Columbus, but the chests were filled with dirt and stones. He also claimed to have found a survivor from theSanta Maria on the island, still alive and young sixty years after his ship had plummeted over the edge of the world. But whatever they had found out there, it wasn’t the Fountain of Youth. Less than a day after they had arrived in London, Chelsey and his twelve sailors were all dead.
“They haven’t moved the bodies?”
Felbrigg laughed. “Nobody goes near it.”
“They let it sit at anchor with corpses aboard? The harbor master can’t be pleased. I’d think Chelsey’s widow would have it scoured from top to bottom by now.”
“Lady Chelsey don’t own it no more. Title’s passed to Christopher Sinclair,” Felbrigg said.
“Sinclair? I don’t know him.”
“An alchemist. The very devil, so they say. I hear he swindled Lady Chelsey out of the price of the boat by telling her stories of demons living in the hold that would turn an African pale. And no mistake, he’s a scary one. A scar straight down across his mouth, and eyes as orange as an India tiger.”
“I know the type.” Parris waved a hand. “Counterfeiters and frauds.”
“Maybe so. But I wouldn’t want to catch his eye.”
Parris shook his head. “The only way those swindlers make gold from base metals is by mixing silver and copper together until they get the color and weight close enough to pass it off as currency. If he’s a serious practitioner, why have I never heard of him?”
“He lived abroad for a time,” Felbrigg said.
“I should say so. Probably left the last place with a sword at his back.”
“Some say Abyssinia, some Cathay, some the Holy Land. For certain he has a Mussulman servant with a curved sword and eyes that never blink.”
“If so much is true, I’m amazed you had the mettle to rob his boat.”
Felbrigg looked wounded. “I’m no widow, to be cowed by superstitious prattle.”
“Did anyone see you?”
“Not a soul, I swear it.”
A sudden rustling from outside made them both jump. Silently, Felbrigg crept to the window and shifted the curtain.
“Just a bird.”
“You’re certain?”
“A bloody great crow, that’s all.”
Satisfied, Parris picked up his knife. Good as his intentions were, he had no desire to be discovered while cutting up a corpse. It was the worst sort of devilry, from most people’s point of view. Witchcraft. Satan worship. A means to call up the spawn of hell to make young men infertile and murder babies in the womb. No, they wouldn’t understand at all.
Felbrigg fished in his cloak and pulled out a chunk of bread and a flask, showing no inclination to leave. Parris didn’t mind. He was already trusting Felbrigg with his life, and it was good to have the company. The rest of the house was empty. Joan and Catherine were at a ball in the country for the Earl of Leicester’s birthday celebration, and would be gone all weekend, thank heaven.
He turned the knife over in his hand, lowered it to the corpse’s throat, and cut a deep slash from neck to groin. The body looked so fresh that he almost expected blood to spurt, but nothing but a thin fluid welled up from the cut. He drove an iron bar into the gap, wrenched until he heard a snap, and pulled aside the cracked breastbone.
It was all wrong inside. A fine grit permeated the flesh, trapped in the lining of the organs. The heart and lungs and liver and stomach were all in their right places, but the texture felt dry and rough. What could have happened to this man?
Dozens of candles flickered in stands that Parris had drawn up all around the table, giving it the look of an altar with a ghoulish sacrifice. Outside the windows, all was dark. He began removing the organs one by one and setting them on the table, making notes of size and color and weight in his book. With so little decay, he could clearly see the difference between the veins and the arteries. He traced them with his fingers, from their origin in the heart and liver toward the extremities, where the blood was consumed by the rest of the body. He consulted ancient diagrams from Hippocrates and Galen to identify the smaller features.
There was a Belgian, Andreas Vesalius, who claimed that Galen was wrong, that the veins did not originate from the liver, but from the heart, just like the arteries. Saying Galen was wrong about anatomy was akin to saying the Pope was wrong about religion, but of course many people in England said that, too, these days. It was a new world. Parris lifted the lungs out of the way, and could see that Vesalius was right. Never before had he managed so clean and clear a view. He traced a major vein down toward the pelvis.
“Look at this,” Parris said, mostly to himself, but Felbrigg got up to see, wiping his beard and scattering crumbs into the dead man’s abdominal cavity. “The intestines are encrusted with white.” Parris touched a loop with his finger, and then tasted it. “Salt.”
“What was he doing, drinking seawater?” Felbrigg said.
“Only if he was a fool.”
“A thirsty man will do foolish things sometimes.”
Parris was thoughtful. “Maybe he did drink salt water. Maybe that’s why the body is so preserved.”
He lifted out the stomach, which was distended. The man had eaten a full meal before dying. Maybe what he ate would give a clue to his condition.
Parris slit the stomach and peeled it open, the grit that covered everything sticking to his hands. He stared at the contents, astonished.
“What is it?” Felbrigg asked.
In answer, Parris turned the stomach over, pouring a pile of pebbles and sand out onto the table.
Felbrigg laughed. “Maybe he thought he could turn stones into bread—and seawater into wine!” This put him into such convulsions of laughter that he choked and coughed for several minutes.
Parris ignored him. What had happened on that boat? This was not the body of a man who hadn’t eaten for days; he was fit and well nourished. What had motivated him to eat rocks and drink seawater? Was it suicide? Or had they all gone mad?
The sound of carriage wheels and the trot of a horse on packed earth interrupted his thoughts. Parris saw the fear in Felbrigg’s eyes and knew it was reflected in his own. The body could be hidden, perhaps, but the table was streaked with gore, and gobbets of gray tissue stained the sheet he had spread out on the floor. His clothes were sticky and his hands and knife fouled with dead flesh. King Edward had brought many religious reforms in his young reign, but he would not take Parris’s side on this. It was criminal desecration, if not sorcery. Men had been burned for less.
Parris started blowing out candles, hoping at least to darken the room, but he was too late. There were footsteps on the front steps. The door swung open.
But it wasn’t the sheriff, as he had feared. It was his wife.
Joan didn’t scream at the sight. To his knowledge she had never screamed, nor fainted, nor cried, not for any reason. Her eyes swept the room, taking in the scene, the body, the knife in his hands. For a moment they stood frozen, staring at each other. Then her eyes blazed.
“Get out,” she said, her voice brimming with fury. At first Felbrigg didn’t move, not realizing she was talking to him. “Get out of my house!”
“If you can bring any more like this one, I’ll pay you double,” Parris whispered.
Felbrigg nodded. He hurried past Joan, bowing apologies, and ran down the steps.
“How is it you’re traveling home at this hour?” said Parris. “Is the celebration over? Where’s Catherine?”
Another figure appeared in the doorway behind Joan, but it wasn’t his daughter. It was a man, dressed in a scarlet cloak hung rakishly off one shoulder, velvet hose, and a Spanish doublet with froths of lace erupting from the sleeves. Parris scowled. It was Francis Vaughan, a first cousin on his mother’s side, and it was not a face he wanted to see. Vaughan’s education had been funded by Parris’s father, but he had long since abandoned any career, preferring the life of a professional courtier. He was a flatterer, a gossipmonger, living off the king’s generosity and an occasional blackmail. His eyes swept the room, excitedly taking in the spectacle of the corpse and Parris still holding the knife.
“What are you doing here?” Parris said. The only time he ever saw his cousin was when Vaughan was short of cash and asking for another “loan,” which he would never repay.
“Your wife and daughter needed to return home in a hurry,” Vaughan said. “I was good enough to escort them.” He rubbed his hands together. “Cousin? Are you in trouble?”
“Not if you leave now and keep your mouth shut.”
“I’m not sure I can do that. Discovering the king’s own physic involved in … well. It’s big news. I think the king would want to know.”
Parris knew what Vaughan was after, and he didn’t want to haggle. He pulled a purse out of a drawer and tossed it to him. Vaughan caught it out of the air and peered inside. He grinned and disappeared back down the steps.
Joan glared at Parris, at the room, at the body. “Clean it up,” she hissed. “And for love of your life and mine, don’t miss anything.” The stairs thundered with her retreat.
But Parris had no intention of stopping. Not now, not when he was learning so much. He could deal with Vaughan. He’d have to give him more money, but Vaughan came by every few weeks or so asking for money anyway. He wasn’t ambitious enough to cause him real problems.
There were risks, yes. People were ever ready to attack and destroy what they didn’t understand, and young King Edward, devout as he was, would conclude the worst if he found out. But how would that ever change if no one was willing to try? He had a responsibility. Few doctors were as experienced as he was, few as well read or well connected with colleagues on the Continent. He’d even communicated with a few Mussulman doctors from Istanbul and Africa who had an extraordinary understanding of the human body.
And that was the key—communication. Alchemists claimed to have vast knowledge, but it was hard to tell for sure, since they spent most of their time hiding what they knew or recording it in arcane ciphers. As a result, alchemical tomes were inscrutable puzzles that always hinted at knowledge without actually revealing it. Parris believed those with knowledge should publish it freely, so that others could make it grow.
But Joan didn’t understand any of this. All she cared about his profession was that it brought the king’s favor, particularly if it might lead to a good marriage for Catherine. And by “good,” she meant someone rich, with lands and prospects and a title. Someone who could raise their family a little bit higher. She was constantly pestering him to ask the king or the Duke of Northumberland for help in this regard, which was ludicrous. He was the king’s physic, the third son of a minor lord who had only inherited any land at all because his older two brothers had died. His contact with His Majesty was limited to poultices and bloodletting, not begging for the son of an earl for his only daughter.
He continued cutting and cataloging, amazed at how easily he could separate the organs and see their connections. Nearly finished, a thought occurred to him: What if, instead of being consumed by the flesh, the blood transported some essential mineral to it through the arteries, and then returned to the heart through the veins? Or instead of a mineral, perhaps it was heat the blood brought, since it began a hot red in the heart and returned to it blue as ice. He would write a letter to Vesalius.
When he was finished, he wrapped what was left of the body in a canvas bag and began to sew it shut. In the morning, his manservant would take it to a pauper’s grave, where no one would ask any questions, and bury it. As he sewed, unwanted images flashed through his mind. A blood-soaked sheet. A young hand grasped tightly in his. A brow beaded with sweat. A dark mound of earth.
He must not think on it. Peter’s death was not his fault. There was no way he could have known.
His conscience mocked him. He was physic to the King of England! A master of the healing arts! And yet he couldn’t preserve the life of his own son, the one life more precious to him than any other?
No. He must not think on it.
Parris gritted his teeth and kept the bone needle moving up and down, up and down. Why had God given him this calling, and yet not given him enough knowledge to truly heal? There were answers to be found in the body; he knew there were, but they were too slow in coming. Too slow by far.

Copyright © 2013 by David Walton