Review: Black Feathers by Joseph D'Lacey

imageBlack Feathers
Series: The Black Dawn
Author: Joseph D’Lacey
Publisher: Angry Robot
Genre: Fantasy
Release date: April 2013
Blurb:
It is the Black Dawn, a time of environmental apocalypse, the earth wracked and dying.
It is the Bright Day, a time long generations hence, when a peace has descended across the world.
In each era, a child shall be chosen. Their task is to find a dark messiah known only as the Crowman. But is he our saviour – or the final incarnation of evil?
Continue reading “Review: Black Feathers by Joseph D'Lacey”

REVIEW: Awakening #1 (Archaia)

Awakening (Archaia) - 1
Awakening, like all zombie stories, starts the same way. Someone notices that something isn’t right and  they either ignore it or try to do something about it. They tell someone who’s skeptical and then, suddenly, it’s undeniable.
However, in Awakening there’s no suddenly. The build is slow and magnified by the artwork. It’s hard to tell what you’re seeing, just as it’s hard to tell what’s really happening in the city of Park Falls.
The art is some beautiful hybrid between sketching and collage. At first I thought it was messy, but then I realized it was like a good score or well dome lighting in a movie. My inability to fully see detail in Awakening enhanced my experience of the story. Much like the artwork in 30 Days of Night.
Awakening (Archaia) - 2
But the artwork isn’t Awakening’s only selling point. The ground felt familiar but not over done. The story doesn’t jump straight from confusion to panic. The only person (aside from the post-omnipotent narrator) who believes the increase in murders in Park Falls is due to anything aside from bad days is a crazy ex-scientist who runs around in a surgical mask…
There’s room for this type of character because of the slow build and the the fact that the rest of the world isn’t yet in on the new world order. There’s no prepping or fighting. It’s all suspicion and finger pointing.
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The detectives are trying to solve the murders, the crazy lady is trying to convince our protagonist she’s a reliable source and our protagonist just wants to go about his day like the sky was secure.
Park Falls calls in a specialist and there might be a little less skepticism going around.
The first issue of Awakening is free on ComiXology. Subsequent issues are are $1.99.
[rating:4/5]

Review: Crux by Ramez Naam

Crux coverjpg
Crux 

Book 2 in the Nexus series

Author: Ramez Naam

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Angry Robot

Release Date: August 27, 2013 (US/Canada), September 5, 2013 (UK)

Formats: Paperback and E-book

Blurb:

Six months have passed since the release of Nexus 5. The world is a different, more dangerous place.
In the USA, the freedom fighters of the Post-Human Liberation Front use Nexus to turn men and women into human time bombs aimed at the President and his allies.
The first blows in the war between human and posthuman have been struck.

GIANT FINE PRINT (yes, read this first): Crux is the sequel to Nexus. If you haven’t read Nexus, I highly recommend you do NOT read Crux. Why? Because this book picks up where Nexus left off, without stopping to explain what happened. It’s like getting on a one-way train made of nanites; it’s not going to circle around to explain how it got to your stop. It’s just going to keep going. And nothing around you is going to make a lick of sense. You wouldn’t want that, would you? I thought not. So if you haven’t read Nexus yet, stop right now and go read it. It’s a good book, so it’s not like it’s going to be a waste of time.
Also note: I will try VERY VERY HARD not to include spoilers.
What I Liked:

  • The characters. These guys are…well, they’re real. They’re flawed, they have layers, nothing is black and white. You know, they’re like real people.
  • This book goes at a pretty fast pace. I have the attention span of a goldfish, so fast pace is what I look for.
  • Once again, it’s got some thought-provoking scenarios that made me wonder how I would react if I were in that position. (If you’re wondering, my answers were always, “I have no freaking clue.”

What I Didn’t Like:

  • I have to wait a WHOLE YEAR to read book 3 in the series. See above re: attention span. It goes hand in hand with my patience (or lack thereof).
  • If you haven’t read Nexus, the first book in the series, you’ll likely end up wondering what’s going on with that random Nexus 5 drug.

My Thoughts:
It’s not a secret that I am a HUGE fan of Ramez Naam’s books. I reviewed the first book in the series, Nexus, on my own blog last year. This year, I’m spreading the love and posting it on ICoS first. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll recall the squeeing that came out of my brain through my fingers after I finished reading Nexus.
I’ll try to tone down the squeeing. I do know that not everyone will like this book. For me, it’s got pretty much everything I look for in a SF novel: science, gun fights, thought-provoking scenarios, explosions, characters that aren’t cookie cutter cut outs, spies, etc etc. Personally, I loved this book. YMMV.
Crux picks up a few months after Nexus ends — and it assumes that the reader knows what happened in the first book. If you haven’t read Nexus yet, you should. Where Nexus was the instigating action, Crux deals with the consequences of the release of the Nexus 5 drug. (Recap: it’s a liquid you drink that basically turns your brain into a computer, complete with apps. Also, it lets you talk to people telepathically. Basically, it’s pretty cool.)
And the consequences are fascinating. As with any emerging technology — or drug, or new anything, come to think about it — there will be people who will use it for good or for bad. Those who would use it for good can do amazing things with it. On the other hand, those who would use it for bad can do terrible, terrible things with it. This is not a new concept. Ramez Naam takes this idea and runs with it, but adds layers — instead of looking at the possibilities in terms of black and white, he adds motivations. Why would those who would use the Nexus 5 technology for bad want to go down that road? Why would people manipulate the drug for their own purposes? For those who would use it for good, what are their motives? Do they really want to use it for good?
This book sets up a war between humans (boring old us, just the way we are) and posthumans (those who are augmented by the Nexus 5 technology). And this setting really had me thinking. The reaction of the humans seem, for the most part, knee-jerk and violent. They want to get rid of the posthumans. The posthumans have all sorts of advantages that humans don’t, and babies are now being born with Nexus 5 in their brains. They don’t even have to take it as a drug. If there’s a whole generation of people who are augmented from birth, where does that leave the regular people? Will they be wiped out (you know, survival of the fittest and all that)? The humans, it seems, are running scared. And that is their big motivation, why they do the things they do.
When I look at it through that lens, I can see why the humans reacted the way they did. Would I react the same way? I honestly don’t know. I hope not, because the humans did some…unpleasant…things.
The posthumans, of course, are starting to fight back. Because obviously. They’re being threatened, so why wouldn’t they fight for their own survival? Of course, they’ve got the advantage, being augmented and all that. I can see the the upcoming war will be a fight for survival. It’ll be interesting to see who wins.
Now obviously, it’s not all rumination and navel-gazing. Don’t worry, there are still plenty of explosions, gun fights, people dying, etc. The good stuff that’s usually in a thriller. It’s all here! My favorite characters are back (I’m looking at  you, Feng), which make me happy.
I’m not gonna lie, I can’t wait to find out what happens. As you read your way through Crux, you know that there’ll be a war. And it’ll be unpleasant. Unfortunately for me, book 3 doesn’t come out until next year. NEXT YEAR, you guys. In September. (Granted, I’m highly unlikely to forget about book 3, but still. Boo.)
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It had the right combination of science, thought-provoking human condition scenarios, and spies/gun fights/explosions. What’s not to like?
[rating:5/5]
Crux on Amazon.com

Interview: Jay Posey author of THREE

So, your book Three is set in a post-apocalyptic world. This is a world where some kind of technological destruction has been wrought, leaving it suicidally dangerous to be outside after dark.. Tell us – and our readers – a little more about it.
JP:  The story follows Three, a reluctant gunman, as he escorts a dying woman and her son across an urban wasteland, pursued all the while by dangerous elements from her past.  It’s sort of a post-apocalyptic western with a cyberpunk edge and a splash of anime influence.  Or, as a friend of mine said, kind of like the result of throwing Mad Max, Neuromancer, and Metal Gear Solid into a blender.  I’m pretty sure he meant that in a good way.
 
I really liked how the exact type of apocalypse was left pretty mysterious – what caused it, what the Weir were and the like. How did you decide how much to reveal and what to leave out?
JP:  For Three, I really wanted to focus on the core of the story; it’s a pretty small tale, really, just three characters reaching a distant sanctuary, with danger ahead and behind.  I also wanted to avoid dumping a lot of information on readers, since I wasn’t really sure how much people would be interested in as far as the history of the world was concerned.  So my goal was to give readers all the information they needed to understand the heart of the story, and then focus more on creating the proper impression of the world rather than detailing How We Got There.
 
How did you build your post-apocalyptic world?
JP:  I kind of half-jokingly refer to the Duskwalker series as a post-post-apocalyptic tale.  If you take our world, advance it a few decades, throw it into a complete meltdown, and then give it a few years to recover, that’s more or less how I arrived at the world of Three.  I wrote a short story several years ago that had a lot of the future-tech angle to it, and while I was trying to find the right setting for Three, I had the crazy idea of throwing that world into an apocalypse and seeing what came out the other side.   
 
I loved the extra details of the world – Brain Hacking, The ability to upload your consciousness at Death, the fact that the tech had become hereditary. How much will those play into future books in the series, or can you not tell me?
JP:  Those elements will all continue to play a significant role in the series.
 
Can you give me an idea about book two?
JP:  I’m not sure how much I can say without spoiling things from the first one, but suffice to say Book Two picks up not long after the end of Book One, with a number of returning characters and a bunch of new ones.
 

OK, so here’s the stuff we ask everyone:

What do you think the most likely apocalyptic scenario is?
JP:  Well, the most likely one is obviously Angry Robot’s plan for world domination, but I’m not supposed to talk about that.  So, apart from that, I think the most likely apocalyptic scenario is more of a cascading series of events rather than a single Big One; you know, something like a war that leads to a humanitarian crisis that gets complicated by a biological event, that in turn creates an economic issue, that’s maybe compounded by an environmental one just for fun.  Not necessarily in that order, of course.  Whatever the case, I tend to think people’s tendency to overreact and panic will make things worse than they need to be.
 
Can you give our readers some survival tips?
JP:  Have a plan, and don’t wait until the apocalypse to practice your skills.  It’s tempting to think that if you read enough survival books, you’ll know what to do When the Time Comes.  But you don’t have to break a leg to practice splints or basic first aid, and there’s no reason you can’t spend a couple of minutes trying to start your fire without matches before you resort to the lighter.
 
How happy would you be to serve for your natural lifespan under the benevolent dictatorship of myself or the other two fine ladies who run ICoS? Just asking.
JP: I’m pretty sure I’m contractually obligated to my Robot Overlords, but perhaps an understanding could be reached …
 
Now you can tell us anything you like about anything you like.
JP: First off, thanks so much for having me here and for reading the book!  Secondly, I’d like to mention that 10% of my royalties from the sale of Three go to a great organization called Hope For The Warriors®.  The mission of Hope For The Warriors® is to enhance the quality of life for post-9/11 service members, their families, and families of the fallen who have sustained physical and psychological wounds in the line of duty.  They’re an amazing group doing some very important work, and I encourage everybody to check them out at: http://www.hopeforthewarriors.org/
Three by Jay Posey is the first the Legends of the Duskwalker series. Published by Angry Robot, You will be able to buy it from the 30th of July (US and Canada) or the 1st of August (UK and RoW)

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Kickstarter Friday: The Kings of the Wastelands


In the first of an exciting, new, semi-regular feature, we want to tell you all about  The Kings of the Wastelands.

 Our new feature is Kickstarter Friday, where we feature post-apocalypticish kickstarters and interview the creators. Semi-regular, because it very much depends on the willingness of creators to speak to us.

KingsofWastelandThe Kings of The Wastelands is an online webcomic by Delbert Hewitt featuring the adventures of a group of talking animals in a post-apocalyptic world.  With a clean, cartoony art style and a classic revenge adventure story, it’s a lot of fun. Delbert has recently taken to kickstarter in order to fund the print-run of the first volume.

 Let’s let speak for himself – we interviewed him while we secretly injected him with mind-control chips. Ha, don’t say you’re alright with living under our dictatorship unless you mean it, fella.

Can you tell us a little bit about The Kings of The Wastelands?

Sure, One of the last living dogs in a post apocalyptic wasteland where his kind are seen as a delicacy, Jacob is driven to seek vengeance for the violent death of his family at the hands (or paws) of a Tiger named Hunter and his gang of zoo escapees. Jacob must now journey  cross country to find these twisted animals and bring them to heel, no matter what it takes or who stands in his way. Jacob befriends different animals along the way. Millie the cat and Gib the turtle who become his travel buddies! In this world all the animals have evolved and can do everything we can do. Each section or habitat is controlled by a “King” and each “King” was invovled in the death of his family. Jacob has to put the clues together and figure out who done it? Issue his brand of justice.

I like that it’s animals instead of people. It’s a more unusual choice in this sort of narrative. Can you tell us a little bit about the reasoning behind that?

 I’m a huge anime fan and for those living under a rock, anime is japanese animation. I’ve been hooked on the action,stories and the thinking outside the box. I wanted to create something that could make the easy transition from comics to anime. There is nothing more simplistic than a cartoony animals running around fighting. I’m also a huge movie buff and I love post apac movies and the mesh seemed pretty easy to me. Rango (2011)with Johnny Depp meets The book of Eli with Denzel Washington is the simple way to spin what i was thinking. I can totally see this comic becoming an anime.

You took it to kickstarter to fund the first print run of issue one. What has your experience been?

Well this isn’t my first rodeo. I did a kickstarter last nov called Ebony Kiss and even though funding failed. I was able to gain lots of encouragement from fellow kickstarter peers and sign a publishing deal with Hound Comics! I’m a huge fan of kickstarter and i’ve backed almost 30 projects myself. I think its a great way to get your projects a jumpstart. Like most people i don’t have one thousand dollars lieing around to print a comic. The hardest part is getting your name out there and get a fan base of people who want your product. If you already have a fan base your on easy street. I want the world to know what I have created because it’s different and there are people like me who want something different. How many ways can you spin the superhero genre? That’s why I loved the Watchmen graphic novel because it was different. The walking dead is different and well done! I feel if it’s good it’s good period. I just wanted to create something outside the box and I think I did. I hope the world enjoys it as much as I do.

These are the questions we ask everyone:

What do you think is the most likely apocalypse? What will happen?

It will be bio explosion for sure! something will blow up and release a toxic gas and turn everyone in zombies! Something along those lines lol. Or we are all killed and the animals take over!

Can you offer some survival advice to our readers?

Yeah. Get a bunker and keep it stocked! Make sure you have food, water and weapons in order to survive. People turn crazy when there is no order so you have to create it.

Would you mind living under the benevolent dictatorship of myself or the other two ICoS ladies?

ICoS ladies can rule over me anytime! I thought I was in the benevolent dictatorship of ICoS ladies?  Did I miss the monday memo?

And tell us anything you want about anything you want.

I want to say thank you so much for the chance to share my love and my heart with the world! This is just the tip of the Iceberg. I have many more comics in the works as we speak. Just for the ICoS ladies here are some future titles in the works. Kollectas, Noted Winds, Analog, Ebony Kiss and much more of the Kings of the Wastelands to come! Check out all my links and please share this kickstarter with everyone you know! you’ll be amazed by what a post will do or a tweet! Just pledge and share because we are seven days in and we are already at 50% of the way to my goal! A special thank you to Caitlin because your awesome!

 Thanks very much, Delbert.

If you are interested in the Kings of the Wastelands comic, check it out. If you would like to see it as a print comic, back it.
If you have a Kickstarter you’d like us to feature, please CONTACT US.
 

The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West (BDI)

Well this didn’t look like any Oz I’d ever seen and this Dorothy was no dainty farm girl desperate to go home an iron the wrinkles from her dress. No, the Dorothy in The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West is a hardened, take charge, no nonsense kind of cowgirl who still just wants to get to Oz.

Have you ever heard of BDI (big dog ink) the comic publisher? What about The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West? I hadn’t heard of either of them. I feel like I’ve seen the BDI logo before but can’t say I remembered it or them or what they make.
Not their fault, there are a lot of publishers out there and hundreds more comics.
Lucky for BDI, I’m a shelf appeal kind of girl. Also lucky for them, Free Comic Book Day was made for people like me. People who just can’t go into a local shop and take free stuff then not buy anything at all.
This is how I came to own a copy of BDI‘s The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West. There on the shelf, right with in reach of my short little arms (I’ve been known to not buy something rather than ask for help getting it down– what if they take it down and I don’t like it? Panic!) was a bad ass looking cowgirl with ruby pistols on her hip claiming to be Dorothy Gale in Oz of all places.

[Note: This review was previously published here]

Well this didn’t look like any Oz I’d ever seen and this Dorothy was no dainty farm girl desperate to go home an iron the wrinkles from her dress. No, the Dorothy in The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West is a hardened, take charge, no nonsense kind of cowgirl who still just wants to get to Oz.wickedwestannouncement
The story introduces savvy but worn out cowgirl, Dorothy, and her loyal steed, Toto, trudging their way down what’s left of the yellow brick road. Most of the golden bricks that made up the road have been stolen over the years and the path to The Emerald City is hard to follow both mentally and physically.
This version of Oz reminds me a lot of the Scissor Sisters song Return To Oz. “Where The grass is dead, the gold is brown, and the sky has claws. There’s a wind-up man walking round and round. What once was Emerald City’s now a crystal town.”
Hoping to take a breather and considering calling it quits on her search for Oz, Dorthy quickly lands herself on the radar of some shape-shifting brutes in the form or drunks and then winged gorillas. Quick on the draw with her of ruby-encrusted pistols, Dorothy and her whip-fast reflexes make quick work of the gorillas, an ally, and a few enemies in the process.
If you’re not into buxom ladies in the tightest of clothes, BDI‘s take on L. Frank Baum’s Wonderful Wizard of Oz might rub you wrong. But then again, so would most comics…
I didn’t feel her fanservice figure detracted from the story or the character. On the contrary, I felt the illustration by  Alisson Borges and Kate Finnegan (colors) were fantastic and added great levels of depth to the world Tom Hutchenson was building through the story.
It’s a glossy little number. Well illustrated and well written. However, the issue felt way short (28 pages) for a $3.50 comic. I wish it was available digitally and at a lower price point or with longer issues.
I was intrigued by The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West and I’d buy another issue –but with caution.

SPAWN goes with you without covering you in necroplasm!

Image comics just announced that the SPAWN universe is going digital with the release of five titles on ComiXology.com– two more coming in July!.

Image Comics/TMP just announced that the SPAWN universe is going digital with the release of five titles on ComiXology.com.
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Image Comics and Todd McFarlane Productions (TMP) have announced the digital release of five TMP titles on comiXology. CURSE OF THE SPAWN, HAUNT VOLUME 4, HELLSPAWN: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION, SAM AND TWITCH: THE WRITER, and SPAWN: THE UNDEAD (as well as the collected edition) are all available for purchase now on the digital comics platform, and more titles will be released weekly in the coming months.

While reading about all sorts of alien and supernatural creatures is vital to your survival, carrying around all these books just isn’t practical—unless you go digital!
I’m most excited about CURSE OF THE SPAWN. Why? Because it’s set in a futuristic world in the throes of apocalypse, when Evil stands at the threshold of victory.
I’ve been a fan of digital comics for a while now. It’d be nice if there was a bit more options, but luckily ComiXology prices competitively as they’re still competing with stores and sentimentality. But once you realize the power of portability and having books, comics, writing drafts, movies and more all in a purse-sized viewer you’ll never survive without it.
So, if you have or plan to have an eReader, start your collection off on the right foot.

Checkout all five newly digital SPAWN series:

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CURSE OF THE SPAWN
HAUNT VOLUME FOUR – Continues the saga of the Kilgore brothers — one of them living, one of them dead, both of them united as the superhero Haunt
HELLSPAWNre-defined McFarlane’s SPAWN mythos with stories by Brian Michael Bendis and Steve Niles (CHIN MUSIC), drawn by Ashley Wood and Ben Templesmith
SAM AND TWITCH: THE WRITER – The SPAWN universe’s favorite flat-foots, detectives Sam Burke and Twitch Williams, take on a serial killer with a literary bent as fear and snow alike descend on the city.
SPAWN: THE UNDEADfocuses on the HellSpawn once known as Al Simmons, with a self-contained story about the individuals who encounter him in the SPAWN world of urban horror in each issue.

Coming Soon:

SPAWN: GODSLAYER one-shot, available on July 10
SPAWN: THE DARK AGES, which will roll out new issues weekly starting on July 10.
Check out the Image/TMP section on ComiXology.com for all your SPAWN needs.
 

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In summary, you should read The Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox

Jack Russell Terrier with ball.
Jack Russell Terrier with ball. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did the title spoil it? I like to let the headline tell the story while everything else is supporting details. Speaking of details and headlines telling stories –spoiler alert—you might already know how the The Accidental Demon Slayer[1. This book was provided for review by the publisher]
ends…
Fortunately, the ending isn’t why I’d recommend The Accidental Demon Slayer.
Angie Fox managed to write a convincing up-tight preschool teacher, gang of biker geriatrics, and talking Jack Russell Terrier.
Throughout this action-adventure-comedy Lizzie, the protagonist, is making choices and thinking with reason that makes sense to normal humans regardless of Urban Fantasy tropes.
She’s suspicious of the motives of those professing to be Team Lizzie and concerned for the welfare of her dog. She accepts that this story is happening to her but not without question and not without a fight.
I appreciated that Lizzie was never really a damsel in distress so much as a damsel dealing with distress.
Demons are trying to kill her so they can take over the earth and she finds this wholly irritating. She has plans, and a job, and would much rather be wearing her self-styled uniform from The Gap.
The Accidental Demon Slayer wasn’t perfect, but it was great fun. Check the pros and cons below.
Continue reading “In summary, you should read The Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox”

Interview with Dean Crawford. Plus, GIVEAWAY.

I reviewed Dean Crawford’s Apocalypse a little while back. It’s a good book, and I’d like to give one of our readers a chance to read it. Simply enter our giveaway for a chance to win a copy. Comment, share and like us for more chances.
But first, read Dean’s thoughts about post-apocalyptic living.
Continue reading “Interview with Dean Crawford. Plus, GIVEAWAY.”

Zompire Apocalypse RPG

There’s a new online RPG shuffling our way, and it looks like it could be a hell of a lot of fun.
Zompire Apocalypse is set in 2057 after a disease created zombie/vampire hybrids to plague the living. Now, there are only three groups left alive – and you can play as a member of one of them!
Continue reading “Zompire Apocalypse RPG”