Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Tor Free E-book: In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker

baker-garden_of_iden Tor throws another one at us—this time their free e-book giveaway is In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker.

Ms. Baker has had a varied list of careers: graphic artist, mural painter, “several lower clerical positions”, playwright, bit player, director, teacher of Elizabethan English for the stage, and, of course, author.

“In the Garden of Iden” is the author’s debut novel, though her web site lists a fair number of accomplishments since. In the author’s own words, “20 years of total immersion research in Elizabethan as well as other historical periods has paid off handsomely in a working knowledge of period speech and details”.

This book is as much a period piece as it is science fiction—time travel, immortal cyborgs, 16th century England. The basic premise is that 24th century members of a group called Dr. Zeus Inc. “rescue” orphans or people who are otherwise on the verge of dying from all over time and, with the promise of everlasting life, change them into cyborgs who then are transported back to key moments in history in order to preserve significant artifacts and species. The catch is that there is more to Dr. Zeus Inc. than they let on, and the greatest mystery of all seems that no one knows what happens after the year 2355. It is known simply as the Silence; time travel or any form of communication with people beyond 2355 is not possible.

Sounds intriguing. I’ve got my copy. Go get yours.

For a running list of all of Tor's free e-books, go here.

When To Stop Reading, Part 1: The Rules

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A multi-part series where I address the question, When to stop reading?

You just put down some hard-earned moo-la on a new book. The copy makes it sound fantastic. You rush home just so you can start reading. You get about twenty-five pages in and it’s not grabbing you. Not a biggie—you haven’t given it enough time. You read on to page fifty. You’re starting to feel a little frustrated. When is this book going to get going? Still, maybe fifty pages isn’t enough, and you did just spend the equivalent of a couple of gallons of gas (or more) on it, so you read on. Page one hundred, and it still ain’t doing it for you. Frustration is spilling over, cause now you’ve not only wasted your money but you’ve got some time invested, too. Because of the latter, you press on, giving it one more chance. You reach page one hundred and fifty, and that’s it.

This goose is cooked.

It’s hard to simply cut off a book at a set number of pages. Some books are short, others are epics. It might even be just one book of many in a series, so perhaps you expect some slowness as it builds momentum. In those cases, perhaps a percentage rule makes more sense, like the 33% Rule.

Another one, the Page 99 Test, is based on a quote from Ford Madox Ford:

"Open the book to page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you."

In any case, we all come to a point in a book that just isn’t doing it for us when we start thinking of putting it down. I used to never do such a thing. If I bought a book, I was going to finish it, no matter the cost. Now, however, I’m not above putting a book down when it fails to hold my interest, regardless of the investment. My own rule, however, isn’t so much based on page count as it is on the quality of the writing as well as where the story’s gone and where it might be going.

From a writer’s perspective, there’s an important lesson in all of this: Make sure you’re not only grabbing the reader’s attention but keeping it. Also, keep in mind that just because  an editor or agent requests the first three chapters doesn’t mean they’re going to make it even that far. Often, in those cases, you might have only a few pages to hook the reader.

So, how many pages do you give a book before putting it down?

Tor Free E-book: Orphans of Chaos by John Wright

Orphans of Chaos

Orphans of Chaos

by John C. Wright is this week’s Tor Free E-book Giveaway.

Here we have yet another author which I am hereto unfamiliar with. I don’t know if this is a sign that I’m not as well-read as I would like to think I am, or if it simply speaks to the sheer volume of fantasy and science fiction out there. It’s probably a little bit of both. However, what better way to become familiar with a new author than by receiving a free copy of their work?

A little background on the author…

Mr. Wright spent prior years as a lawyer and newspaper man before turning to writing. His debut novel, The Golden Age, marked the author as the “equivalent to William Gibson and Gene Wolfe in potential importance”. Orphans of Chaos was a Nebula award finalist and is the first of the three volume The Chaos Chronicles.

Mr Wright maintains a blog. More info about his other books can be found at his sff.net page.

The book itself is about five orphans who attend a boarding school in England and who routinely have to deal with the oppressive nature of their instructors. There’s more to it than that, of course: the instructors are really gods and the children, as the title of the book suggests, are the children of Chaos.

Sounds like a good read, plus if you like it there’s two more books after it in the series.

For a running list of all of Tor's free e-books, go here.

Call for advanced readers: Seeds of Change

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John Joseph Adams is looking for advanced readers for his upcoming anthology Seeds of Change. Follow the link for sign-up information. I commented in the blog post that I’d be interested and John shot me over an e-copy within an hour.

The copy reads:

Imagine the moment when the present ends, and the future begins–when the world we knew is no more and a brave new world is thrust upon us. Gathering stories by nine of today’s most incisive minds, Seeds of Change confronts the pivotal issues facing our society today: racism, global warming, peak oil, technological advancement, and political revolution. Many serve as a call to action. How will you change with the future?

It boasts a very nice list of authors:

  • N-Words by Ted Kosmatka
  • The Future by Degrees by Jay Lake
  • Drinking Problem by K. D. Wentworth
  • Endosymbiont by Blake Charlton
  • A Dance Called Armageddon by Ken MacLeod
  • Arties Aren’t Stupid by Jeremiah Tolbert
  • Faceless in Gethsemane by Mark Budz
  • Spider the Artist by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
  • Resistance by Tobias S. Buckell

I’m especially interested in the last story by Tobias Buckell as it’s a Pepper story, a character I just got familiar with through Sly Mongoose.

If you’re interested in getting a free copy for posting a review, check out John’s post and make it so.

Tor Free E-book: A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham

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I flipped through A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham, which just so happens to be this week's Tor Free E-book Giveaway, and was immediately taken with the author's dedication:

To Fred Saberhagen,
the first of my many teachers

The name Fred Saberhagen sure brings back some memories. I absolutely devoured his Swords books when I was younger. The fact that Mr. Abraham so notes his own appreciation of Saberhagen has me stoked to see what A Shadow in Summer is all about.

I snagged this synopsis fragment from Bookmarks Magazine:

Debut novelist Daniel Abraham bolts out of the gate with an enthusiastic recommendation from SF guru George R. R. Martin. The critics agree with Martin's appraisal, and reviewers welcome Abraham's rich characterization, deft plotting, and the particularly ambitious central conceit that ideas can be made flesh—and controlled by poets, no less.

This, too:

The Empire hangs on, literally, by a thread; the cloth industry depends on the ability of andat Seedless to magically remove seeds from cotton plants to keep commerce flowing and the barbarians in check.

Sounds intriguing. Anytime you find a real economic system put into a fantasy setting you have some great potential for realism and world-building.

I did a little digging on the author: Mr. Abraham's web site is sorely outdated, the last bits of news having been posted in May of 2007. He does, however, have a blog which at least shows some activity as recently as last month. He has an impressive list of short fiction and a handful of novels, A Shadow in Summer being his first. It is, in fact, the first book of the "Long Price Quartet", so if you like this first installment you have some more of his writing to experience in the same world.

I also noticed as I was searching around that you can view the entire book on Google Book Search. Or, of course, sign up for Tor.com's newsletter and get it as a free download.

For a running list of all of Tor's free e-books, go here.