Monday, July 15, 2013

Weekly Update #111

Editor's Note

Real life can suck. As much as I like my day job a part of me would like to make a leap to being a full-time professional writer. I think I can do it, but I don't think I can afford to loss of income while I work to make a career out of writing.

So as a present for me since my b-day is coming this Friday, I decided to take the day off and just write as if it was my day job. I am actually looking forward to it even though it likely will mean a lot of time spent quietly pounding away on the keyboard.

So yeah it sounds like a strange way to celebrate one's birthday, but screw you! It's my birthday and its the one day out of the year I can be a selfish jerk.

And now the news...

North Colorado Wants to Secede

So American states wanting to declare independence and leave the Union went out of style with the Civil War and is now mostly confined to the fringe of politics. Nevertheless, movements to partition an existing state and create the 51st state (sorry Puerto Rico, we gave you enough chances) continue to appear in mainstream politics.

The most recent is the North Colorado movement that gained attention last week. Commissioners in Weld County, Colorado announced a proposal to leave Colorado and form the state of North Colorado citing concerns with state policy and recently enacted legislation involving sweeping gun control legislation and calling for more renewable energy (which is especially bad for the region since oil and gas production is important to the local economy). Commissioners stated they would hold public meetings to gather input before crafting a ballot initiative by August 1, and that the proposal had preliminary interest from fellow commissioners in Morgan, Logan, Sedgwick, Phillips, Washington, Yuma and Kit Carson counties.

I like to point out that the last state to successfully secede from an existing state was West Virginia during the Civil War in 1863. In fact, without a war going on, it is ridiculously difficult to form a new state. North Colorado would need approval from voters, the Colorado General Assembly and U.S. Congress. Still you would be surprised how often people still try. Here is a short list from Mental Floss, which also showcases both liberal and conservative movement to secede.

So my verdict: not likely to happen, but alternate historians should be tickled by the news anyway.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Gets Pilot Order at Fox

I don't know whether to laugh or cry about this one. We all know about the train wreck that was Fox's LXG (I refuse to use its full name in this article), the film based on Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novel featuring the Justice League of Victorian England. Well Fox has decided to take another shot with Moore's League and has ordered a pilot for a television series on the comic.

Should we be worried? Well Nuge of Geek Syndicate was a little optimistic pointing out how the show could work well as a TV series, how the film was a decent action film (if you don't compare it to the original source material) and the writer of the pilot, Michael Green, did work on Heroes...but if he is responsible for the last three seasons of that show then we really need to be worried.

Sigh, sorry to rant, but I don't trust Fox with this one. I would love to be proven wrong, but I don't see it happening.

Update: The Executioner’s Heart by George Mann

A new steampunk novel that caught my attention last week was The Executioner's Heart by George Mann, the fourth entry into the Newbury & Hobbes series. Here is the description from Amazon:
In Executioner's Heart--the fourth Newbury & Hobbes steampunk mystery from George Mann--the detectives are up against the most frightening villainess England has yet seen. 
It’s normal for Charles Bainbridge, Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard, to be called to the scene of a crime, but this is the third murder in quick succession where the victim’s chest has been cracked open and their heart torn out. Bainbridge suspects there’s a symbolic reason for the stolen hearts, so he sends for supernatural specialist Sir Maurice Newbury and his determined assistant, Miss Veronica Hobbes. 
Unfortunately, neither of them are in much shape to take the case. Veronica has been hunting for some way to alleviate the mysterious forces that have been hounding her family of late, and Newbury has been retained by a private client: Edward, Prince of Wales, who's concerned that his mother, the Queen of England, is losing her grip on the nation.  
However, the two detectives pull together long enough to determine that the killings may be the work of a mercenary known as the Executioner. French, uncannily beautiful, her flesh covered in tattoos and inlaid with precious metals, the Executioner is famed throughout Europe, with legends going back for hundreds of years. Something is keeping her in a form of living stasis, but her heart is damaged, leaving her an emotionless shell, inexplicably driven to collect her victims’ hearts as trophies. 
Who is the Executioner targeting, and who hired her? Why has Veronica stopped trusting Bainbridge? What does the Prince of Wales really want? These are just some of the mysteries that Newbury and Hobbes will confront on the way to unearthing the secret of the Executioner’s Heart.
Reviews have so far been good. John DeNardo at SF Signal called it "[o]ne of the best in the series." Falcata Times, meanwhile, remarked on the great dialogue and wonderful twists. I know not everyone who reads The Update is interested in steampunk, but perhaps this is one novel you should consider trying out.

Amazon Launches its own Comics Imprint Jet City Comics

Amazon Publishing announced the launch of Jet City Comics, a new imprint focused on comics and graphic novels. Jet City launches with new comics from George R.R. Martin (Wild Cards and some books about dragons and other such nonsense), Neal Stephenson (The Foreworld Saga) and others.

The new imprint launched with the publication of Symposium #1, the first original Foreworld comic from the series created by Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, Nicole Galland, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey and Cooper Moo. Written by author Christian Cameron and art done by Dmitry Bondarenko, Symposium details the origins of the Shield-Brethren in Ancient Greece in the days following Athens crushing defeat to Sparta in 394 BC. It went on-sale last week, with new installments releasing monthly before being collected in a series of graphic novels in 2014.

Jet City issues will publish on Kindle as standalone comics, as serialized comics released over multiple episodes, and as bundled graphic novels, with print editions available at amazon.com and other comics retailers.

“Comics and graphic novels, especially in digital format, represent a unique area for innovation,” said Jeff Belle, Vice President of Amazon Publishing. “Our focus will be on adapting great books for this medium as a means of expanding the audience for our authors, pushing boundaries with new ideas that combine visual and narrative storytelling, and creating compelling new experiences for readers.”

Well good luck Jet City, but you might not need it with someone like Amazon behind you. Now that I have a Kindle Fire I might just have to subscribe to some of your new comics.

Update: Sufficiently Advanced Technology by Christopher Nuttall

Friend of The Update, Chris Nuttall has a new book coming out from the folks at Elsewhen Press. It is called Sufficiently Advanced Technology and it will be the first book in the Inverse Shadows universe. Here is the description from the publisher:
For the post-singularity Confederation, manipulating the quantum foam – the ability to alter the base code of the universe itself and achieve transcendence – is the holy grail of science.  But it seems an impossible dream until their scouts encounter Darius, a lost colony world whose inhabitants have apparently discarded the technology that brought them to the planet in order to adopt a virtually feudal culture.  On Darius, the ruling elite exhibits abilities that defy the accepted laws of physics.  They can manipulate the quantum foam! 
Desperate to understand what is happening on Darius, the Confederation dispatches a stealth team to infiltrate the planet's society and discover the truth behind their strange abilities.  But they will soon realise that the people on Darius are not all the simple folk that they seem – and they are sitting on a secret that threatens the entire universe ...
Sufficiently Advanced Technology is Chris' latest novel to be published by Elsewhen Press and although it is not alternate history, I like to support to people who produce as much content for The Update as Chris has. Congrats on your new novel Chris.

Paradox Books Now Available on Amazon

Paradox Interactive has added six titles to its e-book library and are now available for purchase on Amazon.com. The line-up includes three previously unannounced books, based on the Crusader Kings II and War of the Roses franchises.

First up is The Chronicles of Konstantinos: A Crusader Kings II Narrative Guide. Half strategy guide and half novel, this “Narrative Guide” to Paradox's award-winning Crusader Kings II tells a fictionalized tale of deceit, diplomacy, and dynasties. Players will learn winning tactics for playing the game as they read through an intriguing story set in the medieval game world. The book also includes original comics by David “Svip” Udsen.

Next up we have A Fall of Kings: Champions of Anglia. Set in an alternate 1066, where England must defend herself from the largest invasion since the days of Rome, while two young Earls work to unravel hints of a conspiracy that could tear the kingdom apart!

Finally we have The Sword is Mightier: Scholar Knight. We are again in England, except now it is 1454, during the Wars of the Roses. Jack Rose would rather be a scholar than a knight. However, when a brutal landowner steals his family estates and plans to evict the tenants, Jack must take up the sword and win back his inheritance by force of arms. As he wades through increasingly lethal encounters, he must decide who he really is.

LoneStarCon News

Wow a lot of news from LoneStarCon 3, the 71st World Science Fiction Convention ("Worldcon"). First up, LoneStarCon 3 will be featuring unique presentations for the WorldCon membership:
  • A special exhibit on Texas writer Robert E. Howard, literary pioneer in both sword and sorcery and the weird western
  • Original artwork from TSR's "Dungeons and Dragons" role-playing game
  • An exhibit on the "Texas-Israeli War of 1999," based the on the award-winning novel by Jake Saunders and Howard Waldrop
  • A recreation of the bridge of the USS Enterprise from the original "Star Trek" TV series
  • A celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the BBC TV series "Doctor Who"
  • An exhibit inspired by the genome of science fiction writer Jay Lake, which was recently mapped as part of Lake's fight against cancer
  • A special display on science fiction music.
As well, in addition to the traditional Art Show and Dealers' Room, members will find the usual historical exhibits that are a staple of Worldcon, including:
  • The World Science Fiction Society banner, first flown at NyCon II, the 1956 Worldcon in New York City
  • The Guest of Honor exhibits, honoring the LoneStarCon 3 guests and special guests
  • 70 years of Worldcon history, with photos, programs, artifacts, and much more
  • The Hugo Award Display, featuring Hugo Award trophies, from the first presentation of the award in 1953 to the present.
The LoneStarCon 3 exhibits will be in Exhibit Hall A of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.

Next attending membership rates have been set that will apply from August 1 onward for both online and at-the-door sales.
  • Full Adult Attending Membership rates will increase from $220 to $240
  • The cost of converting from Adult Supporting to Adult Attending Membership will increase from $160 to $180
  • Young Adult (17-21) and Military Attending rates will increase from $110 to $120
The Child (0-16) Attending rate will remain unchanged at $75, and the Supporting membership rate will remain unchanged at $60. Day Admission rates will also remain unchanged.

The Family Rate for two adults plus two or more dependent children will increase from $520 to $540, representing an additional $20 discount for family groups. Child and Young Adult rates are based on the person's age as of Monday, September 2, 2013.

Finally, LoneStarCon, has secured additional room capacity at the Hilton Palacio del Rio. This hotel is located across the street from the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, only a half block walk from the main entrance. The $154 price for single/double occupancy for this hotel is the same as the convention's original room blocks at the Marriott Rivercenter and Marriott Riverwalk, with the added benefit of free wireless Internet access in the guest rooms.

Although the original Marriott room blocks will soon be fully allocated, a small number of rooms might become available from time to time from members who cancel existing reservations. With over 1300 rooms already booked by convention members, San Antonio's Riverwalk area is expected to be buzzing when the Worldcon arrives in town on August 29.

Calendar of Events

July 18-21: Steampunk version of Macbeth in Woonsocket, RI.

July 20: Last day to see Churchill at The Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds, UK.

July 23: A program on Steampunk at the Tinley Park Public Library, IL.

Aug 9: Last day to fund the Atomic Robo Kickstarter.

Links to the Multiverse

Articles

Adventure, mystery, romance, sex!, action... Nefertiti's Heart by @AWExley at The Masquerade Crew.
Book Trailer: DISENCHANTED & CO. by Lynn Viehl at SF Signal.
Coming Soon! “The Time Traveler’s Almanac” Edited by Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer at SF Signal.
Confessions of a History Geek: Blending History and Fantasy by DB Jackson at Tor/Forge's Blog.
Fairytales and Steampunk by Suzanne Lazear at Steamed!
A ROYAL report for INCEPTIO by Alison Morton.
Sobel Wiki: the dictatorship of the plutocracy by Johnny Pez.
Time Travel and Alternative History at Eleanor Arnason's Web Log.
WE’RE HERE III: Black Science Fiction & Fantasy Websites and Social Media by Balogun at Chronicles of Harriet.

(Counterfactual) History

5 Ridiculous Lies You Believe About Ancient Civilizations by J. Wisniewski at Cracked.
How America Could Have Ruled the Earth in 1898 by Ron Miller at io9.
Maps of Vast Empires That No Longer Exist by Vince Miklos at io9.

Book Reviews

The Art of Steampunk, Second Revised Edition by Art Donovan at Steampunk Scholar.
Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis at SF Signal.
Christian Nation by Frederic C. Rich at Cleveland.com.
Escapement by Jay Lake at Shelf Inflicted.
Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal at Fantasy Matters.
Island 731 by Jeremy Robinson at The World According to Quinn.

Comics

Atomic Robo Kickstarter!? Sign Me Up! by Matt Farr at Geek Syndicate.
Before Watchmen Ad To Run On Times Square Jumbotron by Rich Johnston at Bleeding Cool.
The Manhattan Projects: Science Bad by Patrick Hester at Kirkus.

Films

DVD of the Week: Django Unchained by Matt Farr at Ramblings of the Easily Distracted.

Games

Cthulhu Wars Kickstarter Devours Its Target by Matt Farr at Geek Syndicate.
March of War – A Turn-based Diesel Punk MMO! by Stephen Jackson at Jump to Gamer.

Interview

David Weber at SF Signal.
D.B. Jackson Interviews Ethan Kaille, Thieftaker at Black Gate.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a blogger on Amazing Stories. His new story "The Enchanted Bean" can be found in Once Upon a Clockwork Tale from Echelon Press. When not writing he works as an attorney, enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

1 comment:

  1. Today I received my paperback copy of he Executioner's Heart by George Mann.
    I read the previous three Newbury & Hobbes novels and liked them a lot.

    All Newbury & Hobbes Investigations fans should mark the 24th of September 2013 in their calendars because it is the publishing date of The Casebook of Newbury & Hobbes (pb, 2013) [ISBN-13: 978-1781167427] by George Mann

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