• Fiona McIntosh: Voyager Author of the Month

    Fiona McIntosh was born and raised in Sussex in the UK, but also spent early childhood years in West Africa. She left a PR career in London to travel and settled in Australia in 1980. She has since roamed the world working for her own travel publishing company, which she runs with her husband. She lives in Adelaide with her husband and twin sons. Her website is at www.fionamcintosh.com.

    Her latest book, The Scrivener's Tale, is a stand-alone and takes us back to the world of Morgravia from her very first series, The Quickening:

    About The Scrivener's Tale:

    In the bookshops and cafes of present-day Paris, ex-psychologist Gabe Figaret is trying to put his shattered life back together. When another doctor, Reynard, asks him to help with a delusional female patient, Gabe is reluctant... until he meets her. At first Gabe thinks the woman, Angelina, is merely terrified of Reynard, but he quickly discovers she is not quite what she seems.

    As his relationship with Angelina deepens, Gabe's life in Paris becomes increasingly unstable. He senses a presence watching and following every move he makes, and yet he finds Angelina increasingly irresistible.

    When Angelina tells Gabe he must kill her and flee to a place she calls Morgravia, he is horrified. But then Angelina shows him that the cathedral he has dreamt about since childhood is real and exists in Morgravia.

    A special 10th Anniversary edition of her first fantasy book, Myrren's Gift, will be released in December!



July poll: your fave covers this month

We have four very different covers (click to enlarge) in the July new release titles – two epic fantasy, one urban fantasy and one space opera anthology, with very different feels. Which do you like best and why? It’s certainly very subjective!

Just for some further information – The Wounded Guardian cover was designed here in Australia (illustration by Les Petersen), White Witch, Black Curse was designed in the UK  (photograph by Paul Rider), New Space Opera 2 was designed in the US (illustration by Stephen Martiniere), and The Dragon Keeper in the UK (illustration by Jackie Morris).

Locus Awards announced

And you can find the full list of results here.

It’s a star studded line up of authors like Neil Gaiman, Ursula Le Guin, and one of my personal favourites (not that the other’s aren’t but I think this woman ought to be better known) … Kelly Link (author of The Faery Handbag).

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Tanith Lee: on The Silver Metal Lover

SilverIn 1980 I went to the USA for the first time, to attend one of the big conventions. I was just 33, and in the middle of writing a large novel concerning a parallel Romeo and Juliet in a parallel Renaissance Italy. Somehow the combination of America – which I loved on sight – and the Shakespearian dream of young lovers, subsequently resolved into the idea of another novel, which arrived first as a title.

Back in England then, I was sitting in the BBC TV Centre in London, talking with some of the people from Blake’s 7, an SF series I had already written an episode for. We were discussing that old question, so ably brought into the light by such brilliant writers as Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov – the true relation between Man and Machine. Were they ultimately destined to be enemies – or friends. Something in the conversation stayed with me. If enemies, then was it really a war to the death? And if not enemies – then just how far would tolerance stretch. Romeo and Juliet must then also have intervened. What about a man of metal, a man who was a machine, and therefore … perfect … What about a lover made of silver?

The title wrote itself across my inner eye. Pretty soon I started to write the book. (The original Romeo and Juliet had to wait a while to be resumed and finished. That book is called Sung in Shadow. But I actually wrote The Silver Metal Lover in much less than a month. In fact I think it was nearer two weeks. I sometimes did, and still do, write the occasional book extremely fast. )

I had no notion, which is usual with me, what direction the novel would take itself. But it did know; there it went. One event I do recall – completing the very harrowing section near the end around 1 a.m. – and then noticing a strong scent of burning. I had left the oven grill on after a late piece of toast made around 11.30. The grill pan was duly ruined. But the novel was fine.

One curiosity too. My own much-loved, beautiful, talented and clever mother died in 1980. For some reason, perhaps mere contrariness, I seemed to react to that by creating, in TSML, Demeta, the Mom from Hell. I wonder why? Maybe just my way of saying no one could match my mother?

Silver’ has always been popular, by which I feel very honoured and touched. It moved me. If it can move others, that is a very great extra reward for me. I’d never considered a sequel. But then, 23 years later, interest flared among fans and publishers. The book had been optioned for a movie in 1997. (Sadly they didn’t follow through, though the wonderful director, Randall Kleiser, still maintains a firm commitment to ‘Silver’, and recently there is a possibility things may happen.) However, back then, it occurred to me TSML might after all produce an inevitable second act. The main problem – not for me but for a devotee of the book – was that the second act wouldn’t primarily be about Silver, or Jane – except, as it were, off stage.

Metallic Love isn’t The Silver Metal Lover. It isn’t meant to be. Though it may be a Truth that most writers tend to write the same story, or group of stories, over and over in different forms, I certainly didn’t want to, or could have, written a carbon copy of Jane and Silver’s love story. Instead, Loren and Verlis took centre stage. Of course I understand this may have disappointed readers, but I didn’t do it to be perverse. It simply was, for me, the next thing that needed to be said, looked at, explored. Despite being a love story, TSML is still very much about that question I mentioned earlier: the antagonism/attraction/comparison of Man and Machine. And ML is about this, too. While both address that other issue – Do machines have souls? The exact same thing so much of mankind has asked itself through the centuries. But ML is a love story as well. And anyone who reads all the way through, sees where the third book – if ever there is a third one, (it does have a title: The Tin Man) will be going. Which is straight back to Silver, and so too straight back to Silver-and-Jane.

Tanith Lee, UK 2009

Tanith Lee is the author of a huge number of books, and you can find a full bibliography here. She lives in the UK and besides her many novels she has also published 9 collections of novellas and short stories. She has twice won the World Fanatsy Award for short fiction and was awarded the August Derleth Award in 1980 for her novel Death’s Master.  And if it is not already obvious, the Captain of this blog is possibly Tanith’s biggest fan in the world (although I suspect most of her fans feel that passionate about her work). Voyager author Kim Falconer is another fan… click to see her review.

And please do post a reply and tell us: What was the first Tanith Lee book you read, and how did you find your way to it?

The Silver Metal Lover by Kim Falconer

 The Silver Metal Lover

When discussing Sentience, our captain mentioned her favourite book, The Silver Metal Lover, by Tanith Lee. She encouraged me to read it and the experience opened my eyes. For those who aren’t familiar, here is a review by Victoria Strauss.

One of the things I love about TSML is how Tanith explores the hard problems of consciousness without intruding on the story. It was only during times ‘away from the book,’ that I pondered her insights—how the erotic nature of love can grow souls.

When I say erotic, I don’t me pornographic. I’m referring to Eros, the god of love—the original meaning is something that brings two people together in such a way that it creates a lasting transformation. In this sense, sex is rarely erotic, but it can be, as can the non-sexual relationship between an artist and their craft or a teacher and student. In TSML not only is the sex erotic but so is the art, music and intimacy shared between Jane and Silver.

To begin with, Jane is far from individuated. She says, ‘My mother has a lot of opinions, which is restful, as that way I don’t have to have many of my own.’ Jane is sentient but has little self awareness. Then she falls in love.

Mother, I am in love with a robot.
No. She isn’t going to like that.
Mother, I am in love.
Are you, darling?
Oh, yes, Mother, yes I am. His hair is auburn, and his eyes are very large. Like amber. And his skin is silver.
Mother. I’m in love.
With whom, dear?
His name is Silver.
How metallic.
Yes. It stands for Silver Ionized Locomotive Verisimulated Electronic Robot.
Silence. Silence. Silence.

Silver has a sense of self from the start. I’m a robot, he says, but is he sentient? He’s like a toaster making lovely golden toast but then he explains a ‘cruel look’, showing he is more than the sum of his circuitry. ‘When something occurs that is sufficiently unlike what I’m programmed to expect, my thought process switch over. I may then, for a moment, appear blank, or distant.’ How ‘human’ is that?

By the middle of TSML I realised Tanith wasn’t writing about romance, or coming of age, or social inequality or advanced technology or environmental disasters—even though these themes are present. She was writing about the nature of being. In her beautifully woven story is a Cartesian thesis on mid-body dualism. Are we the product of our physicality—a result of biochemical reactions in the brain? Or is consciousness spirit, reflected in our capacity to transform through love?

When I reached page 232 I wanted to stop. Jane . . . Jain says, ‘I love him. He loves me. It isn’t a boast. I can hardly believe it myself. But he does. Oh God, he does. And, I am happy.

This moment reflects the perfect lightness of being, the epiphany before the fall—I longed to stay in this Eden of consciousness—the brilliance before expulsion from the garden. But Tanith holds us to our mythologies that say the ‘fall’ is necessary—separation is necessary for soul growth.

TSML is an extraordinary tale of erotic love and the lasting transformation it brings. Highly recommended. Who else has read it? Please share your thoughts!

arrows of timeKim Falconer is the author of The Spell of Rosette, Quantum Enchantment Book 1. She lives in Byron Bay in Australia with two black cats. As well as writing, she runs Falcon Astrology, and I am sure wishes you all Happy Solstice for yesterday and Happy New Moon today! Her next book, Arrows in Time, Quantum Enchantment Book 2, is due out in August 2009. Look out for a post from Tanith Lee herself, coming this week, all about The Silver Metal Lover.

Raymond E Feist talks about Rides a Dread Legion

Rides a Dread Legion is out now. Read about how fellow Voyager author Duncan Lay met Raymond E Feist, and subsequently wrote his first novel, The Wounded Guardian, which is out next week.

Where did it all begin? Voyager debut Duncan Lay tells us

Duncan's first book

Duncan's first book

I find it hard to answer when people ask: “Where did it all begin?”

Do I go back to my childhood and my love of reading and writing? What about when my best mate introduced me to fantasy reading, by giving me a copy of Legend, by David Gemmell, at age 15?

But one definite place where it all began was when I interviewed fantasy giant Raymond E Feist, in 2002, at Starbucks coffee shop in Hornsby.

Back then I was the editor of the Hornsby Advocate and, like so many other people, a frustrated writer.

My one attempt at a fantasy book had slightly interested one agent – and that was it. Convinced I couldn’t write fantasy, I was trying – and failing – to get a contemporary Australian novel published. After getting to the final 10 of a pitching contest at the Sydney Writers’ Festival, and having an agent want to read the whole manuscript, I had hit a brick wall.

But if I couldn’t write, at least I could interview one of my favourite authors, who was out here on his Talon Of The Silver Hawk promotional tour.
I managed to arrange an interview with Feist through HarperCollins, as he was also going to have a book signing at Borders Hornsby.

Now, no author is going to be unpleasant to an interviewer, even one from a suburban newspaper, but I found Feist to be charming and an absolute delight to talk to.

We discussed his books, as well as fantasy in general and also his friend William R Forstchen (they co-authored Honoured Enemy). I have all eight of Forstchen’s Lost Regiment series – coincidentally bought at Karen Miller‘s Phantasia bookshop in Penrith.

Then we began talking about writing, and he described how his characters sometimes take his story threads off in different directions to the one he planned. That they almost tell the story for him. The way he described it they begin at A and have to get to Z but they don’t go there via B, C, D etc – they might jump to H, then back again and so on.

This was very similar to the way I like to write – that once I have my characters firmly in my mind, they almost take control of the story.

We spoke for so long, the HarperCollins PR lady had to come and get him, as the crowds in Borders were getting restless!

I walked away from that interview just buzzing, my mind afire. If Feist, the mind behind such classics as Magician, wrote like that, then why couldn’t I?
It was hugely invigorating.

Now the story that became The Wounded Guardian did not begin to take shape until 2004, almost exactly two years later – my son was born one month after the Feist interview and helped occupy my time – but I decided in 2002 to leave my contemporary novel and go back to fantasy.

Now, seven years later, my dream is about to come true!

I emailed Raymond E Feist after I signed my contract with HarperCollins and he wrote back, a lovely email that included:

“Don’t go blaming me, mate, if you got the storytelling bug. And if you somehow manage to get rich and famous doing this, it’s not my fault!
Anyway, continued success to you and if I played even a small part in motivating you to live your dream, thanks for letting me know.’’

He does not endorse books, and I would not expect him to ever read The Wounded Guardian. But he played more than a small part in motivating me to live my dream!

Find out more about The Wounded Guardian, which is officially published on 1 July (but will be hitting bookstores from next week onwards).

Duncan Lay is a layout designer and headline writer at the Sunday Telegraph. He lives on the Central Coast of NSW. Visit Duncan’s blog.

The world first publication of an unknown work by Tolkien

Just in case you’ve been hiding under a rock … 🙂

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Presented for the first time, The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrún will transport readers to the heroic landscape of the nameless North of Sigurd the dragon slayer and the Völsungs, a mythic world of ancient Scandinavia, when gods walked the earth and dragons were real.

The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrún, written by J.R.R. Tolkien some years before the publication of The Hobbit, was inspired by Norse legends contained within the poems of the Elder Edda and depicts drama and adventure in language only Tolkien could have written. Comprising two complete works of narrative verse, the book has been edited by Christopher Tolkien, who provides detailed commentary on the verses as well as a sketch of the complex history of the legend.

“That the ancient poetry in the Old Norse language known by the names of the Elder Edda or the Poetic Edda remained a deep if submerged force in his later life’s work is no doubt recognised. It is at any rate well-known that he derived the names of the dwarves in The Hobbit from the first of the poems in the Edda, the Völuspá. But it is certainly not well-known, indeed scarcely known at all, that he wrote two closely associated poems treating of the Völsung (or Nibelung) legend, using modern English fitted to the Old Norse metre, amounting to more than five hundred stanzas: poems that have never been published until now, nor has any line been quoted from them.” – Christopher Tolkien

The first full flourishing of a rich narrative style, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún showcases the powerful and dramatic storytelling that was destined to become famous throughout the world.

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