• 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!

     

     

  • Advertisements

Voyager at the Ditmars!

We’re feeling super proud of our Voyager stars Kim Westwood and Tansy Rayner Roberts for their nominations in the 2012 Ditmar Awards. Congratulations! Tansy Rayner Roberts’ novel The Shattered City & Kim Westwood’s The Courier’s New Bicycle are nominated in the Best Novel Category. Tansy is also up for a load of other awards too!

To see the full ballot head over to Continuum http://continuum.org.au/ditmar-awards-ballot-released/#content

Advertisements

Bran the Betrayer Part 10 ( a short story by K.J. Taylor )

Here’s part 10 of the new short story by K.J. Taylor, set in the world of her Fallen Moon Trilogy for some weekend reading:

Bran the Betrayer Pt. 10

Isleen brought the old man forward to stand between her master and Bran.

Della spoke. ‘Tell us your name.’

The old man raised his head. ‘My name is Anyon. I was apprenticed to Lord Rannagon, Master of Law in Eagleholm.’

Bran started, and stared in horror. He had known this man once, but… but Anyon was only thirty five, and this man here…

The remains of Anyon’s hair had turned white and brittle, and his whole body was bent and frail. Bran could tell just from looking that he barely had the strength to stand any more.

‘And is this the man you saw helping Arren Cardockson enter the Eyrie that night?’ Della asked.

Anyon nodded slowly. ‘That’s him.’ His voice had gone dry and rasping. ‘That’s Branton Redguard. I worked alongside him once. I knew him very well. He was the blackrobe’s best friend. He helped him.’

‘I never!’ Bran protested.

Continue reading

Bran the Betrayer Part 9 ( a short story by K.J. Taylor )

Here’s part 9 of the new short story by K.J. Taylor, set in the world of her Fallen Moon Trilogy for some weekend reading:

Bran the Betrayer Pt. 9

The Master of Law came to see him that afternoon. She came alone, since the corridors outside Bran’s cell were too small for a griffin to fit, but her fine clothes immediately told him who she was. She was middle-aged, and had a tough, no-nonsense look about her.

Laela was sleeping by now, and Bran stood up and went to the bars. ‘You’re the Master of Law, right?’

‘I am,’ said the lady. ‘You’re Branton Redguard?’

‘Yeah, I am.’ Bran gripped the bars. ‘Now are yeh gonna tell me why I’m in here? What’s all this nonsense about treason?’

‘I’ve brought the list of charges with me,’ said Lady Della. ‘I’ll read them to you now.’

‘All right.’ Bran sat back and listened tensely.

‘You, Branton Redguard, are accused of high treason in that you did betray your home territory of Eagleholm,’ Della said, reading out the formal words from a piece of paper. ‘It has been alleged that while serving as a prison guard on the Seconday of the first week of Midsummer Month, you knowingly and illegally released a dangerous prisoner. It is also alleged that you aided this prisoner’s escape from the city, and that you later aided him in breaking into the Eagleholm Eyrie, where he murdered Lord Rannagon, Master of Law, and set the Eyrie building on fire, causing the deaths of at least one hundred people and forty-three griffins, and the serious wounding of many more. This makes you complicit in one murder, and implicated in the other hundred and forty-three, and also implicated in the destruction of the Eagleholm Eyrie.’

Bran gaped. ‘What? You think I did that?’

‘Those are the accusations that have been made against you by the survivors from Eagleholm,’ Della said calmly.

‘I never did that!’ said Bran. ‘I never did any of it!’

Della must have heard claims like that plenty of times before, because she didn’t react to this one except to say, ‘Those are the accusations, and you’ll have to stand trial. I can promise you that you’ll be fairly treated, and if I can dismiss the charges, I will.’

Bran knew enough about law to have at least some idea of how the trial would be structured. ‘You got any witnesses for all this?’

‘Yes,’ said Della. ‘Plenty of the Eagleholm survivors came here to live after the fire, and they were the ones who came to me with these accusations. There’s been an order out for your arrest for some time.’

Bran grimaced. He wondered if he would recognise any of his accusers. ‘Fine. When do we start?’

‘Tomorrow.’ Della looked past him. ‘Is that a baby?’

‘My daughter,’ said Bran. ‘She’s stayin’ with me.’

Della shrugged. ‘All right. Sleep well, and I’ll see you tomorrow.’

She left, and Bran sat down beside Laela, his mind in a whirl.

None of it was true, not one word of it, and they had no proof. Surely…

But, he knew… if they did somehow find him guilty, then the penalty would be the one meted out to all traitors. Death by hanging and disembowelling.

And if he died, then Laela would die as well.

But it couldn’t possibly come to that. It just couldn’t.

‘It can’t come to that,’ Bran repeated to himself. ‘It just can’t. No way. It can’t…’

*

Bran’s trial began the next day, at noon. The trial of a griffiner, and especially one accused of such a serious crime as treason, would always take place in the Eyrie’s Council Chamber. His own was no exception. He left Laela asleep in his cell and went with his guards without argument, and they took him to Withypool’s Council Chamber.

It looked quite similar to the one at Eagleholm; similar, in fact, to every Council Chamber he had ever seen. Round, of course, with the gallery above for spectators and the pit below, where the seats for the Council stood in a ring around the Master’s platform. The ceiling had been painted with an elaborate mural of a summer sky, with clouds and a golden sun, and griffins in flight. Above, the gallery was packed. Hundreds of people had come to see what would happen – griffiners and commoners both. He could see a line of guards up there, at the front, ready in case the spectators got rowdy. Below, on the floor, other guards were stationed at the entrances. Clearly, they were taking no chances with him.

The Master of Law was already there, standing up on the Eyrie Master’s platform with her partner beside her. Her two assistants, Isleen and another young griffiner, stood on either side with their own partners standing protectively behind them.

When Bran entered, the crowd hissed. When he came into clearer view, shouts rose. He forced himself not to look up at them, but trudged along between his two guards, hands shackled behind his back.

Ahead, some of the Councillors’ seats had been moved aside to make room for a wooden platform with railings around it. It was just large enough for one man to stand on it, and he already knew that it was for him. Sure enough, his guards led him around to the back of it, where there was a gap in the railings and a step. Bran went up it and onto the platform, and his guards took the shackles off his wrists before moving to take up station on either side of him.

Bran rested his hands on the high railings in front of him, and looked up at the people who had come to see him go on trial for his life. The shouts rose higher in response.

Traitor!’

Blackrobe lover!’

Bran shuddered and looked away.

In front of him, the Master of Law gave him a solemn look and glanced at her partner. Her partner, a male with white feathers, raised his head and screeched. The sound echoed through the great space, and up in the gallery the spectators went quiet.

Lady Della nodded to herself, and began.

‘Lord Branton Redguard of Eagleholm,’ she said. ‘You stand accused of high treason, dereliction of duty, and of implication in the crimes of murder in one hundred and forty three counts, attempted murder in thirty eight counts, and arson in one count. Before we begin, you may speak. Did you commit these crimes?’

‘No,’ Bran said immediately. ‘I ain’t guilty. I didn’t do any of it.’

‘Then you’ll be given the chance here, among your fellow griffiners, to prove your innocence,’ said Della. ‘First, your accusers will be brought in to give their evidence.’ She nodded to Isleen, who hurried out of the chamber. A moment later she returned, leading an old man. He walked slowly and painfully, leaning on a stick, and as he entered a sympathetic groan came from the audience.

Bran leaned forward to see him better, and his stomach twisted when he saw the man’s face. It was scarred and warped down one side, from his cheek to his neck. The ear on that side was entirely gone, along with most of his hair where the scalp was scarred.

*

We’ll post up Part 10 next Friday 27th April!

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

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

David Gemmell Awards 2012

Three Voyager titles have been nominated in the David Gemmell Awards! Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence is up for the Morningstar Award ( Best debut of 2011 ) & the covers for both Journey by Night by Aaron Briggs & Oracle’s Fire by Frank Victoria are up for the Ravenheart Award ( best cover art of 2011 ) Congratulations to all our authors & artists!

Vote for Prince of Thorns here:
http://www.gemmellaward.com/page/the-morningstar-award

and vote for either Journey by Night or Oracle’s Fire here:
http://www.gemmellaward.com/page/the-ravenheart-award

 

Bran the Betrayer Part 8 ( a short story by K.J. Taylor )

Here’s part 8 of the new short story by K.J. Taylor, set in the world of her Fallen Moon Trilogy for your afternoon ride home!

Bran the Betrayer Pt. 8

They refused to explain any more than that.

Despite his protests and furious demands for an explanation, they forced Bran to go with them. His captors hobbled Kraeya’s front legs by force, so that she wouldn’t be able to land easily or run far, and instructed her that she would carry Bran and Laela and fly with them.

‘Where’re we goin’?’ Bran demanded.

‘To Withypool,’ one of the three griffiners who would guard him along the way finally answered. ‘Where you will stand trial.’

‘For what? What’d I do?’

‘You’ll be told when we arrive,’ was the terse answer.

‘But I ain’t even ever been to Withypool,’ Bran persisted as they gestured at him to climb onto Kraeya’s back.

‘Your accusers are from Eagleholm,’ came the reply.

That was the best explanation he got, before or during the journey to Withypool. Kraeya flew patiently in formation, constantly tailed by the three guard griffiners and several unpartnered griffins as well, who could manoeuvre more easily in the sky than her since they were riderless.

When they landed to rest, the hobbles stayed on Kraeya’s legs and they would add more to her wings during the night. Bran was allowed a tent to sleep in, so he could keep taking care of Laela, but with Kraeya restrained and under guard he had no opportunity to escape. Not that he wanted to; if he ran away now he would become a fugitive. At least if he went to Withypool as they wanted he could clear his name. He was certain he could do that; the charge of high treason was preposterous. He’d never broken the law in his life. His whole adult life had been spent enforcing it, for gods’ sakes. They had to have him confused with someone else, surely.

But assurances like that couldn’t stop his apprehension from growing as Withypool got closer.

Laela seemed to sense his fears, or maybe she just disliked travelling, because she was just as restless as him. Fortunately, though, his captors didn’t pay much attention to her and allowed him to take care of her. But he had no idea what they might do with her when they arrived at Withypool.

He and Kraeya got almost no chance to speak during the journey; in the air it was far too noisy for talk, and on the ground they were seperated. He could tell, though, how angry she was.

‘It is a lie,’ she was finally able to say to him when they landed atop Withypool’s Eyrie. ‘We have not committed any crimes, and we will prove it and be freed.’

‘Let’s hope,’ Bran said grimly as he dismounted. ‘Hey-!’

Two of his guards had just grabbed him by the shoulders. A third took Laela away, and before he could reach out to take her back they had twisted his arms behind him and shackled his wrists together.

Bran struggled. ‘Lemme go!’ he roared. ‘Don’t you dare take her off me, you bastards!’

‘You’re going to be locked up,’ said the griffiner holding Laela. ‘The child will be given to somebody to look after until the trial is over.’

‘Oh no she won’t,’ Bran snapped back. ‘Nobody looks after her but me.’

The woman looked slightly taken aback. ‘You’re going to be in a cell, Lord Redguard.’

‘Then put her in with me if yeh have to,’ said Bran. ‘She stays with me.’

‘All right then,’ the woman shrugged.

Kraeya had already tried to come to Bran’s aid, but the other griffins there surrounded her and herded her away from him.

‘What’re you doin’ with her?’ Bran asked, trying to go to her and failing as his guards held him back.

‘Your partner will be locked up in the fighting pits,’ said the woman, ignoring Laela’s whimpers as she reached out for Bran. ‘Normally she would stand trial with you, but she is not accused of anything.’

‘Dammit, let her go!’ Bran yelled.

‘We will, after the trial,’ the woman said blandly. ‘We can’t risk her interfering. But rest assurred; she won’t be harmed.’

Kraeya snarled. ‘You will not hurt my human!’

The woman ignored that completely, and despite her protests and threats Kraeya was forced away by the other griffins.

‘Bran!’ she called back. ‘Do not falter, do not surrender! I will see you again soon.’

‘Don’t worry!’ Bran called back. ‘I’ll be fine! You take care of yerself, right?’

‘I shall!’ Kraeya took off and flew away down over the city, following her captors. Bran watched her go, and hoped she would be all right. But at least she wasn’t accused of anything. She would be fine.

Now it was just a question of whether he would be fine as well.

The woman who was in charge of his own guard gestured impatiently at her underlings. ‘Take him below. I’ll follow.’

Bran went down into the Eyrie, flanked by two men and followed by the woman. ‘Can yeh tell me what I’ve done?’ he asked.

‘My master will come and see you some time today,’ said the woman. ‘She will give you the list of charges.’

‘Who’s yer master, then?’ Bran persisted.

‘Lady Della, Master of Law,’ said the woman.

Bran already had her own name, at least. ‘You’re Isleen, right?’

‘I am,’ the woman said briefly. She was young; younger than himself, and had a round, bland face.

You don’t reckon I did anything, do yeh, Isleen?’ Bran asked, hoping to find at least a little support.

But Isleen’s reply was flat and compassionless. ‘My family burned at Eagleholm,’ was all she said.

‘I didn’t do that!’ Bran protested.

Isleen ignored him.

But she did, at least, keep her word. Once Bran had been taken to a small cell under the Eyrie and his arms had been unshackled, she gave Laela back.

‘Food will be sent down soon for both of you,’ she told him briefly, and left as the cell door slammed behind him.

Bran sat down on the bench provided, and groaned to himself. Laela clung to his arm, confused but clearly happy to be back with her adopted father.

Bran gave her a hug. ‘It’s all right, Laela; I got yeh now. But I’m damned if I know what’s gonna happen to us next.’

Laela gurgled.

‘High treason?’ Bran repeated to himself. ‘What the blazes is goin’ on here? What do they think I did?’

Laela, naturally, didn’t have anything to add to this, so Bran answered himself. ‘Whatever they think I did, I know it’s gotta be a lie, or some kinda mistake. It’s gonna be all right, Laela. We’ll sort it out.’

The cell, at least, wasn’t too bad. Bran had seen plenty of cells during his time as a guard, and this one was more comfortable than most. It had a bench, and a small bed, and even a chair. He guessed that this must be a high class cell, meant for griffiners. He’d never seen one himself, but he knew griffiners got better treatment even when they were in prison.

The food when it came was good too; a bowl of hot stew for him, with bread on the side, and boiled carrots and milk for Laela.

Bran fed her before he ate his own meal, and cleaned her up as well as he could with the jug of water provided. He did his best to neaten himself up as well, hoping to make a slightly better impression on the Master of Law when she arrived. After that there was nothing he could do but wait, and hope.

*

We’ll post up Part 9 next Friday 20th April!

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

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

George R.R. Martin interview with Jane Johnson – Part One

GRRM in conversation with UK publisher Jane Johnson At the Bloomsbury Theatre in London this Tuesday night, 500 George R.R. Martin fans had the opportunity to listen to the man himself in conversation with his UK editor (and Voyager Publishing Director, and successful author in her own right) Jane Johnson.  Here’s the first part of the conversation transcript!

Jane: I’ve heard you say that historical fiction and fantasy are “sisters under the skin”. Can you tell me more about what you mean by that?

George: Historical books are a little grittier, which is one of the things I wanted to do when combining the two; to take that sort of gritty realism you find in a historical novel and combine it with the imagination and wonder of Fantasy.

I have thought about writing historical fiction myself, when I interviewed Bernard Cornwell for Harper a few months ago we talked about this.  For me the frustration in writing real historical fiction is that if you know history you know how it comes out. You can write about the actual Wars of the Roses and you know what’s going to happen to those princes in the tower and you know what’s going to happen at the battle of Bosworth Field. With my books I like to keep them a little off balance. Ultimately you don’t know what’s going to happen to the kids in my books or who’s going to live or die or end up with their head on a spike.

But the reading experience can be quite similar. Jane has been reading the Accursed Kings series by the great Maurice Druon – a wonderful series of historical novels.  One of the great things for me when I read them was that I didn’t know a lot of the history. You know, French people may know all of this but for me it wasn’t something that was covered on our history courses, nor presumably, in history courses here. I didn’t know who these people were, even only the most abstract terms, or how this was going to come out. That was a very similar reading experience to a fantasy novel.

Jane: They read incredibly fresh. We’ve just bought the world rights to publish them because they’ve been out of print since the sixties, I think it’s going to be great fun to make them available to people. They read as if they were written yesterday, they’re really sharp and funny, as well.

The brothers Goncourt said: “History is a novel that has been lived…” I think that’s a really good quote but I feel also that with A Game of Thrones, you feel that every character in your books has a life that goes on behind the scenes: they’re not just walking out on stage and playing out what you want them to play out. You do see them as real people. How much of that elaboration do you have in your head before you set out writing your characters?

George: I’m not actually deluded enough to think that they are real people. I know that I’m making them up. It seems obvious but I’ve met some writers over the years that have peculiar views on the subject and seem to think they’re receiving emanations from other dimensions or something. I don’t buy into that but certainly when I’m writing these characters and living with them they achieve enormous reality to me.

You know, many years ago I wrote a short story, a novelette actually, that won the Nebula award called “Portraits of His Children”. It is about a writer and his relationship with his characters. Its sort of a cliché that characters are a writer’s children but there’s a great amount of truth to it. At least for a writer like myself; the characters I have created over the years are a part of me, are a part of my life. They are not me, but they are created by me and are a part of me. The analogy with the children has a certain apt-ness to it.

Jane: Well you’re a cruel father

George: I take after the Romans; they had the whole “paterfamilias” thing going on there. If you were a disappointing son “I’m sorry son you’re disappointing me would you please commit suicide”…“Yes dad I’d be happy to”. We’ve lost some of these traditions over the years.

Stay tuned for the rest of the interview!

Biodiversity

So you’re into sci fi? But what about sci fact? Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction…

Each month ( though we had some issues last month, so this month you’ll get double the dose of sci-facts! ) our very own Voyager Science Queen* will bring you interesting, quirky and downright bizarre tasty morsels from the world of science. And its all completely, totally, 100% true!

———-


In the news there has been a lot of talk about biodiversity. It is a word overused in the current rhetoric taking place in the world arena. And yet understanding the full implications of what biodiversity really means will become more important as biodiversity is rapidly lost in our world-wide environment.

A perfect example of the opposite of biodiversity is seen in the vegetable aisles of your local supermarket. There is only one kind of celery, one – or if you are lucky, two – kinds of corn on the cob, two or three kinds of tomatoes, three kinds of lettuce. Evert single one of the celery stalks will smell and taste the same and have the same texture. Unless you go to a farmers’ market or grow heritage vegetables, you might think all celery or corn look like those supermarket specimens; however, this is not true. What you see in the supermarket are vegetables that have been developed to be uniform genetically,[1] and to have a long shelf life. (Flavour and texture are secondary considerations.)

Originally, wild celery and wild corn were much more diverse in shape and flavour. This meant that they could inhabit a much wider range of environmental conditions compared to their pampered descendants; it wasn’t so much that each individual plant was tougher but that there were enough differences in the population that celery or corn plants could and would grow anywhere with soil, sun and water. Just like weeds!

Weeds are a perfect example of biodiversity, because no two weed plants are exactly the same. When you mow the lawn, there are always some clover and dandelions that escape the blades by being very short or holding their leaves flat to the ground, while the taller plants are cut down. (Personally, I like clover and dandelions better than boring old grass.) This means in real terms is that the weeds – and the wild celery and corn – are better adapted when conditions change due to flood, drought, or a sudden increase in herbivores or pests. Some of the population will have the right combination of characteristics to survive and reproduce.

On the other hand, domesticated crops are very susceptible to diseases or disasters because they are all so very alike. If one plant gets a rust, it will spread quickly to its surrounding plants. If environmental conditions change too much, the crop will fail and die. They are not hardy. They are not diverse genetically and any genetic defects will be common to all the crop.

Biodiversity also plays a part in complex ecosystems with many different flora and fauna competing and complementing each other to form, for example, rainforests or coral reefs. The complexity created can be quite robust, and survive the loss of some species due to environmental degradation cause by pollution or logging or global warming. Ecosystems can survive and bounce back so long as biodiversity is maintained. That is part of the process of evolution: new species arise as the old ones change because of environmental pressures.

Any loss of biodiversity means that an ecosystem has lost some of its ability to change and adapt. And eventually a degraded ecosystem reaches a tipping point and there is a complete collapse of the system, with many species dying out too rapidly to be replaced by evolutionary forces. At that point, the environment may be so altered that a similar ecosystem would not arise if given the time and opportunity to recover; grassland might replace a forest, a desert might replace a savannah.

Mankind tends to forget that it is part of the ecosystem, just like every other species on Earth. As our planet loses biodiversity, we are increasing the chances of a worldwide extinction event. There is very little chance that such an event won’t impact on humanity, as the loss of arable land and fresh water, and the effects of environmental degradation, reduce available food sources and general living conditions.

So. What can you do as an individual? Might I suggest that you grow heritage vegetables (and fruits) or try to source them from your local organic grocer. And, as always, try to reduce, recycle, reuse. It can be something as simple as growing heritage tomatoes in a pot on your balcony. That is the beauty of encouraging biodiversity, it accepts that not every tomato is red and perfectly round like an ball.


[1] Please note that ‘genetically uniform’ is not the same thing as ‘genetically modified’.

———————-

*The Voyager Science Queen is also known as Lynne Lumsden Green- find out who she is in About Our Contributors!