• 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!

     

     

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Bran the Betrayer Part 6 ( a short story by K.J. Taylor )

Here’s part 6 of the new short story by K.J. Taylor, set in the world of her Fallen Moon Trilogy, to get you through Friday afternoon! Don’t forget to comment if you like it, or if you’ve got any questions for K.J. !

Bran the Betrayer Pt. 6

A month or so after this, Bran was in his room trying to coax Laela into eating some bread he’d cut up for her when every single griffin in the Eyrie burst into an earsplitting din.

‘Augh!’ Bran dropped the plate and covered his ears. Beside him, Laela burst into tears of fight. He picked her up and hugged her reassurringly while he went to see what was going on.

As he was entering Kraeya’s nest, he heard a thump as the red griffin landed on the perching ledge outside. An instant later she came bounding in in a rush of feathers and flailing tail.

‘Bran!’ she called. ‘Quickly, you must prepare to fight.’

‘What’s goin’ on?’ Bran asked sharply.

‘Enemies have come,’ said Kraeya. ‘Many of them. We are under attack.’

Bran’s stomach lurched. ‘The Northerners?’

‘No,’ said Kraeya. ‘Wylam and Withypool.’

Swearing, Bran ran back into his own room and put Laela in her cradle while he rushed to strap on his armour. His old short guard sword hung on the wall; he lifted it down and buckled it on, then grabbed the spear he had been given for his official duties.

Then he went to see what was happening for himself, darting out onto the balcony with Kraeya close beside him.

His heart leapt into his mouth when he saw it.

Griffins. Hundreds of them, swarming into the city. They moved together, as a flock, but with a purpose and organisation no other flying creature would ever show. As Bran watched, a group of them broke away and swooped low over the city. They were too far away for him to see what they were doing, but he found out moments later. Flames blossomed into the air, and a moment later a dull thud shook the ground.

‘Son of a bitch!’ Bran swore. ‘They’re usin’ shooting stars! Bloody shooting stars on their own people!’

Sure enough, a second contingent swooped down as he watched, and this time he could just barely see the huge clay jars full of burning liquid as their bearers dropped them onto the city. When they landed they exploded, destroying houses and setting large areas of the city on fire.

Nor was that all. While Canran’s griffins flew to the attack and archers took up position at windows and doorways, other, larger Withypool griffins flew up and onto the clifftop. Bran could see the human figures dangling from their talons.

‘What’re they doin’?’ he asked.

‘Bringing their human fighters into the Eyrie,’ said Kraeya. ‘They will fight their way through to here and take the Eyrie.’

‘Right.’ Bran pulled himself together. ‘What’re we gonna do? Fly away?’

‘No,’ said Kraeya. ‘Out there we will be an easy target. Here we cannot be attacked from above. We must stay here and defend this place. We should find others and fight beside them.’

‘But what about Laela?’ asked Bran. ‘I can’t take her into a fight, an’ I can’t leave her here. What’re we gonna do?’

Kraeya scratched her flank irritably. ‘You are right. I do not think that they are here to kill us all; this is a conquest, not a slaughter. And I am unwilling to die for this city.’

Laela was still crying.

‘I’m gonna stay here,’ Bran decided. ‘I’m gonna defend this room, an’ her, as long as I can. If we try goin’ anywhere, we’ll get caught in the open.’

‘Then we will stay here,’ said Kraeya. ‘I will defend you.’

So Bran stayed in his new room, and got ready for a fight as well as he could. He moved Laela’s cradle into a corner where it would be protected by the stone wardrobe, and blocked the door with any other furniture he could move. While he did that, Kraeya took up position in the outer entrance to her nest, ready to fight off any other griffins who tried to get in.

Bran readied himself, with his spear in his hands. If anyone broke down the door, he would stab them over the furniture barricade. It should hold out. He just had to hope that Kraeya would be able to protect his back.

He gave Laela a quick cuddle to try and quiet her, and gave her her favourite fluffy griffin toy. ‘It’s all right,’ he told her. ‘We’re gonna keep yeh safe. Promise.’

Laela huddled down in her crib, and chewed on the toy’s already well-chewed wing. The sight of her helped to bolster Bran’s determination. He picked up his spear again, and rolled his shoulders to loosen them.

‘All right, yeh bastards,’ he muttered. ‘Come an’ get some.’

But after that, nothing happened for a long time. Bran stood by the furniture barricade for a while, and then gave up and sat on the bed. The wait dragged on, and he fed Laela the last of her food and ate a quick snack to give himself some energy.

‘Come on,’ he muttered.

After a while, he started to hear it. Faint thumpings and the low murmur of voices shouting in the corridors above him. They were coming.

He stood up again, and readied his spear. In her nest, Kraeya looked up from her grooming. Laela had fallen asleep.

And then the silence shattered.

Without warning, Kraeya leapt to her paws and rushed into the entrance that led to the open air outside her nest. And not a moment too soon. As Bran turned, he saw the other griffin drop onto the balcony outside and launch itself at his partner.

Kraeya was ready for him, and as the enemy landed she powered forward and struck him directly in the belly. Knocked off-balance, the other griffin stumbled backward and fell off the balcony. It was over before Bran could get there to help, and half a heartbeat later his own time came.

The door to his room rattled as someone tried to open it from the outside. Bran hurried back to the barricade and silently braced himself, hoping the soldiers outside would give in before they realised there was someone inside.

The door stopped rattling, and silence came. For a short time Bran hoped they might have gone. But they hadn’t.

A thud shook the door, and then another. They were trying to break it down.

Behind him, Bran heard a screech from Kraeya. He looked back over his shoulder, and simultaneously, a crash came from the door as it broke down.

As Bran raised his spear ready to defend himself, he saw something that made his stomach twist horribly inside him.

A griffin stood there on the other side of his makeshift barricade. Only half Kraeya’s size, but a griffin all the same, its beak open to scream a threat at him.

Bran didn’t hesitate any longer. As the griffin started to clamber over the barricade to get at him, he lunged forward and thrust his spear directly into its throat.

The beast screamed again and stumbled backward, blood soaking into its feathers from where the spear had impaled it. Bran braced himself against the barricade and pulled back, hard. The spear point came free, and a gush of blood followed it.

The griffin thrashed in agony, breaking the legs of the table Bran had used to block the doorway, but its struggle didn’t last long. The gush of blood slowed along with its movements, and then the griffin slumped down and slid back onto the floor, its eyes dimming as it died.

But Bran had no time to celebrate this small victory. A gang of soldiers came quickly on the griffin’s heels, and they had too much sense to try and climb over the barricade. They too had spears, and another had an axe, and while he hacked away at the barricade his friends thrust at Bran. Bran drew his sword and knocked the spears away.

‘Sod off outta here!’ he roared over Laela’s cries. ‘Can’t yeh see there’s a baby in here?’

To their credit, they hesitated.

‘We won’t hurt the baby,’ the man with the axe called back. ‘Or you if you surrender.’

Bran hesitated as well. ‘What d’yeh want?’

‘We’re here to conquer the city,’ said the axe-wielder. ‘Not tear it t’bits. Once the Eyrie Master surrenders we’ll stop.’

‘What’ll yeh do with us?’ Bran asked.

‘You’ll be taken prisoner an’ set free if you swear loyalty to Eyrie Master Penrin or Eyrie Master Kyran.’

Bran shot the man a suspicious look. ‘You’re attackin’ yer own people here. Why’d I believe anythin’ yeh say?’

‘Look,’ said one of the spear-wielders. ‘We don’t like fightin’ other Southerners any more’n you do. We’re just followin’ orders. But we’ve been told not t’kill griffiners unless we have to.’

Bran glanced uncertainly at Kraeya. She had fought off the other griffin, and now came to join him. Laela was still crying. Maybe if he surrendered, it would be better. He didn’t want to kill other Southerners, and the attacking Eyries would have no reason to kill him. Maybe he could find a place with one or other of them, and was this really his fight anyway?

‘Do not surrender,’ Kraeya said harshly. ‘I will not lose another fight.’

A screech came, from somewhere outside the Eyrie. Everyone there stopped to listen.

Kraeya tensed. ‘That was Dekrak.’

Bran was about to ask how she could tell, but then the screeching grew louder, and he could make it out. It wasn’t just a call, but a word.

‘Surrender!’

Kraeya groaned. ‘Dekrak is defeated and he is ordering us to surrender. But-,’

But Bran had already thrown his spear and sword down. ‘Fine,’ he said. ‘I ain’t gonna fight other Southerners an’ I ain’t gonna let Laela get hurt. Help me take this barrier down, lads, an’ I’ll come with yeh.’

They looked relieved. ‘Thanks, mate,’ one said.

‘It’s all right, Kraeya,’ Bran said as he lifted the damaged furniture away. ‘This ain’t our fight. Let the Eyrie Masters decide what t’do next. I’m a follower, not a leader.’

Kraeya looked irritated, but she didn’t argue. ‘Perhaps we will find favour because we are not councillers and have not been here long.’

So, resignedly, the two of them went with their captors. Bran wasn’t allowed to bring any possessions, but he carried Laela with him, and one of the soldiers he’d surrendered to brought his sword along.

*

We’ll post up Part 7 next Thursday 5th April!

K.J Taylor is the author of the Fallen Moon Trilogy:

The Dark Griffin, The Griffin’s Flight & The Griffin’s War

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Machines with Soul

‘Biting the Sun’ by Celine Loup

In a recent interview in Uncanny Vernal Equinox, the Voyager author Tanith Lee said, . . . who, apart from the calmest among us, has never wanted to hurl their typewriter or laptop or cell phone through a window, since it has just deleted a vital something, gone to sleep . . .

I thought immediately, how Mercury Retrograde is that? But there’s much more to Tanith Lee’s views than a passing frustration at mechanistic ‘inanimate objects’. In her books, particularly Don’t Bit the Sun, Drinking Sapphire Wine and The Silver Metal Lover, she explores the nature of sentience, intelligence and the growth of soul in humans and their creations.

Machines, even if vastly physically like or unlike humans, are also ‘living’ in their own fashion, and probably more resemble us, as we them, than we normally care to notice. -Tanith Lee in PGB

The animistic view, where metal and rock, rivers and streams, storms and trees all have a ‘nature of being’ and are all part of the whole (M Theory anyone?), comes shining through Tanith Lee’s work and I know I have been strongly influenced by her beautiful prose and the elegant philosophies. In the interview, I am also deeply honoured to be quoted:

One of the things I love about (The Silver Metal Lover) 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 mean pornographic. I’m refer-ring to Eros, the god of love—the original meaning is some-thing that brings two people together in such a way that it creates a lasting transformation. –Kim Falconer in PGB

What is this erotic, soul transforming writing of Tanith Lee like? Here is a glimpse, from a post I did on the Voyager Blog a few years ago. It’s one of my favourite passages. I said:

‘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.
Silence.
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.
Mother….’
TSML

Beautiful, isn’t it?

As we relax with Mars Rx and Mercury Rx we might notice all the ‘inanimate’ things in the world ‘come alive’ to deliver their messages to us. As they do, you might very much enjoy reading Tanith Lee, or even get acquainted with a certain ‘quantum sentient’ named Jarrod, the Juxta-quantum arranged rad ram operating determinant who comes to ‘life’ in Path of the Stray.

Any experiences to share? You KNOW I’m curious!

Farewell Stephanie Smith

It is with much sadness that we have to tell you our wonderful Voyager Associate Publisher Stephanie Smith is resigning. During her 20 years working at HarperCollins, Steph has been instrumental in growing the Voyager imprint into the leading Australian speculative fiction list, publishing such bestselling authors as Sara Douglass, Fiona McIntosh, Kylie Chan, Traci Harding and Jennifer Fallon. She has also played a vital role in establishing the Global Voyager list, and has been closely involved in the success of key brand authors such as George RR Martin, Raymond E Feist and Peter V Brett.

Her brilliant editorial skills, respect and support for her authors and understanding of the speculative fiction genre have stood Steph apart from her publishing peers around the world. She has worked outside her brief many times, including nurturing developing writers via the Varuna Program.

Steph’s “tree change” will take her to Tasmania where she will be closer to her family. She has been a dream to work with and we will miss her very much.

We are thrilled, therefore, that Deonie Fiford will be taking over when Steph leaves us at the end of the week. Deonie has over 15 years publishing experience, having worked both in-house and freelance as an editor for Hachette (where she helped to establish the Orbit list), Simon and Schuster and HarperCollins. She is very well respected in the speculative fiction community and has been on the judging panel of the Aurealis Awards.

Upon hearing of Deonie’s appointment, Steph had this to say: “Great choice! Deonie loves sff and has good connections in the genre community already. She has the talent and people skills to take Voyager’s premier position into the future.”

Farewell Stephanie! You are truly the Voyager Queen and we wouldn’t be where we are without you.

Bran the Betrayer Part 5 ( a short story by K.J. Taylor )

Massive apologies for the late posting of this! Our Captain’s brain has clearly taken a holiday. Here’s part 5 of the new short story by K.J. Taylor, set in the world of her Fallen Moon Trilogy.

Bran the Betrayer Pt. 5

But events outside the city were moving faster than Bran could ever have guessed. More reports started to come back to Canran’s Eyrie – reports of battle out there in what had once been Eagleholm’s lands. Wylam, Withypool and Canran had all sent their forces out to seize what they could, and now they had begun to fight among themselves. For a while Canran had the upper hand; Bran heard stories of a battle near the old village of Idun, where Arren had been born. Canran’s forces had fought those of Wylam and defeated them – the village, though, had been torn to pieces.

In the weeks following, though, Bran saw some of Canran’s forces starting to return to the city. Griffiners at first. The original Master of War returned, along with many of his offsiders. They were quick to return to their old homes, but the Master of War himself was so badly wounded that he only lived a few days after his return. After his death, his replacement – originally his apprentice – quietly took his place.

Plenty of other griffins and griffiners came back injured, and many never came back at all. Eventually the ground troops returned as well, with a small group of griffiners who had stayed with them as protection. But even Bran could see how depleted they were. Clearly, the victory had been hard-won.

That evening there was a modest feast to welcome back the returning griffiners. Bran went along, bringing Laela. She sat on his lap at the table and he fed her while he ate.

Nearby Kraeya and the other griffins helped themselves to some carcasses that had been laid out for them.

Bran had sat himself next to one of the old Master of War’s assistants, and he took the opportunity to speak with him.

‘So,’ he said. ‘What happened out there? Why’d everyone come back?’

The young griffiner had clearly seen fighting; he had one arm in a sling, and sported a nasty cut on his chin. ‘It’s over,’ he said bitterly.

‘What, the war?’ said Bran.

‘Yes. For the time being, anyway.’

‘But didn’t yeh win over at Idun?’ asked Bran.

‘We did, but it wasn’t worth it,’ said the man. ‘Who are you, anyway? I don’t recognise you.’

‘Branton Redguard. I work with the Master of Law. An’ you?’

The other griffiner eyed Laela – clearly, he thought it was a little odd for a man who looked like Bran to bring a small child to a feast. ‘Lord Amon. Is that your child?’

‘’Course,’ said Bran. ‘Say hello, Laela.’

Laela eyed Lord Amon. ‘Hullo,’ she said. It was one of the new words she had learned in Canran.

Amon smiled indulgently. ‘Isn’t she cute? Yes, well, the battle was a disaster, to put it mildly. We got them on the retreat, but the cost-,’ he shook his head. ‘We had so many dead or wounded that the old Master of War knew we couldn’t hold onto the land. Withypool’s forces were on their way, and we knew we’d be slaughtered, so we left. It seems Lord Holm decided we’re going to let Wylam and Withypool sort it out between themselves. Hopefully they’ll be too worn down by the time they’re finished that we’ll be able to take advantage. If only we hadn’t lost old Lord Argyl. He was the finest general Canran ever had.’

‘So we’re gonna send more troops out later?’ Bran suggested.

‘Yes. We should have everything ready and more recruits trained up when the time comes. And Lady Idelle tells me that plenty of new griffiners came here while we were away. I assume you’re one of them?’

‘That’s right,’ said Bran. ‘Me an’ Kraeya came here from Malvern.’

‘Oh.’ Amon looked grim. ‘Yes, you and plenty of others. The ones who survived, anyhow. But Malvern’s tragedy could be our advantage; I think most of the refugees came here, since we’re the closest. Griffiners like you could be the saving of us.’

‘Hopefully!’ Bran said politely, but inside he was glad he had Laela as an excuse for not joining the ranks of the fighting griffiners. He had already seen too many people die at the hands of Northerners, and the last thing he wanted was to be forced to fight other Southerners as well.

Greed had done this, he thought. Pure greed. If the other Eyries hadn’t been so busy squabbling over Eagleholm they might have been able to save Malvern. But they hadn’t, and now Malvern was lost all people like Amon cared about was getting more griffiners from it to help them kill their own people. It was revolting.

But, he thought, at least the worst of it was over. Canran had withdrawn, and hopefully the war would end soon.

It didn’t.

*

We’ll post up Part 6 this Friday 30th March!

K.J Taylor is the author of the Fallen Moon Trilogy:

The Dark Griffin, The Griffin’s Flight & The Griffin’s War

Aurealis 2011 finalists announced!

The finalists for the 2011 Aurealis Awards have just been announced and lots of Voyager authors have been selected! Congrats to Jennifer Fallon, Glenda Larke, Tansy Rayner Roberts & Kim Westwood!

This is from the official press release:
‘ Winners of the 2011 Aurealis Awards and the Peter McNamara Convenors’ Award for Excellence will be announced at the Aurealis Awards ceremony, on the evening of Saturday 12 May at the Independent Theatre, North Sydney. Details of the evening and a link to the online booking website are available at www.aurealisawards.com

An after party will be held at Rydges, North Sydney, following the awards presentations.  Accommodation is available at Rydges for $149 (room only) or $174 (including full buffet breakfast).  To take advantage of these rates please use the code ‘Aurealis’ when making your booking.

For further information about the awards please contact the convenors at: convenors@aurealisawards.com

The 2011 Aurealis Awards are sponsored by HarperVoyager and Cosmos Magazine and proudly supported by Galaxy Bookshop.’

Here are the Australian Voyager finalists:

FANTASY NOVEL

The Undivided by Jennifer Fallon (HarperVoyager)

Stormlord’s Exile by Glenda Larke (HarperVoyager)

The Shattered City by Tansy Rayner Roberts (HarperVoyager)

SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

The Courier’s New Bicycle by Kim Westwood (HarperVoyager)

For the full list head to www.aurealisawards.com

The Courier’s New Bicycle Honoured in the Tiptree Awards!

The Courier’s New Bicycle  by Kim Westwood has made the Honours List of the Tiptree Awards! Congratulations Kim! Apart from the overall winner, there were just four other novels shortlisted (the other four appear to be short stories).
The James Tiptree, Jr. Award is an annual literary prize for science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender.
The Courier's New Bicycle

AWESOME Fan-made interactive Song of Ice and Fire map

A Song of Ice and Fire & Game of Thrones fan ‘Ser Mountain Goat’ has created an amazing interactive map of the world of George RR Martin’s epic series, from the continent of Westeros to the Dothraki Sea and beyond! They’ve even made a Google-Earth style planet view (Though its a bit big for slow internet connections.)