About Victoria Sandbrook

Associate Editor at Adams Media, an F+W Media company. I manage Prologue Sci-Fi/Fantasy acquisitions, but also acquire a wide range of non-fiction for Adams. Follow my personal tweets at @vsandbrook and Prologue-specific tweets at @PrologueBooks.

The Sandcats of Rhyl

The Sandcats of Rhyl by Robert E. Vardeman width=

The Sandcats of Rhyl

by Robert E. Vardeman

Available for: Kindle | NOOK | Apple | Sony

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Spacepedition!

Nightwind and his cyborg companion were an unlikely team by galactic standards, but they shared a fierce drive for independence and adventure. When they heard about the lost civilization, and its untapped treasures, they wasted no time to search for it.

But Rhyl was a barren, unrelenting planet; covered with endless deserts, and deadly sciroccos. They were prepared for that hardship, but not for the beasts—sandcats of Hell!

Bestselling Author Ed Greenwood on Booklust and Pulp Fiction

By guest blogger Ed Greenwood


80,000 Tomes

I collect books. I have two cottages (“cabins” to Americans) crammed full of books, and a sleeping hut that has some books, and oh, yes, a house crammed with more than eighty thousand books.

Yes, you read that right. Eighty thousand tomes, mainly fantasy and SF, but a bit of everything, really, from comic books to mighty wrist-crushing reference tomes. (I am also a librarian and a writer, and come from a family of writers, and so collect books by instinct and family habit, as well as through my own booklust.)

I haven’t read all of them (there’s a constant bedside stack of books waiting to be read; in fact, from time to time I put an IKEA lamp on top of the stack and gain an extra bedside table), but I’ve read perhaps ninety-five percent of them, every word—and some I’ve read and re-read often.

These re-reads are “my classics,” you might say, from LOTR to Kipling’s Stalky and Co. to Kay’s Tigana and A Song For Arbonne to Zelazny’s A Night In The Lonesome October and his early Amber books, to Panshin’s Anthony Villiers novels and C.L. Moore’s Jirel tales, to early Vance and Norton and Wodehouse and John Dickson Carr locked room mysteries, and the James H. Schmitz Hub stories and John Bellairs’s The Face In The Frost to Colin Watson’s Flaxborough novels, to E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensman tales and The Galaxy Primes and Spacehounds of IPC and even his circus family SF tales (his Skylark books didn’t grab me as much, for some reason).

Oh, yes, my “classics” include great books, and ripping yarns—and some pulps that are less than . . . ahem . . . stellar as literary works, but are by gosh-darned rip-roaring adventure stories that race you, nay, drag you along to their colorful conclusions.

And I feel no shame at all in embracing these less polished works. They are, by Crom, fun, and work for me.

Why? Well, looking back, I can see that for some of them it was stumbling onto them at the right time.

Let me explain. I happen to be Canadian, and if apple pie is root Americana, then the game of hockey (“ice hockey” to American readers) is somewhere near the heart of what it is to be Canadian. Many Canadians debate, as all sports fans do, who the greatest players and teams were, and who could beat whom blindfolded on a bad day with various appendages tied behind their backs. More grandly and formally, sports writers carry on this debate under the guise of determining when the “Golden Age” of hockey was. One of our greatest former hockey goalies, the lawyer and sometime politician Ken Dryden, sagely entered this debate by stating that the Golden Age of hockey, for you, was whenever “you were twelve.”

I believe this notion (leaving the exact age mutable to best apply to each individual) applies to our reading careers, if we can call them that, too. Just as the (sometimes awful, in retrospect) movies and television shows of our youth shine golden in our memories, so too do many books.

Some of the family stories and romances my elders remember fondly are, well, wretchedly bad. Boring, leaden-paced, clumsy, and unconvincing. So are some of the pulps—but the pulps, for all their overblown highwaymen and crashing moons, their interstellar pirates with robotic limbs and eye patches and love affairs with tentacled aliens, and their wide-eyed and bosomy space explorers with fishbowl helmets, set out with verve and enthusiasm to tell outlandish tales of entertainment. And deliver more than their share of wild rides.

Bring ’em on, I say.

Waiter, another platter of outlandish entertainment! With the tentacles still writhing, mind . . .


Ed Greenwood is a bestselling author and creator of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons.

Author Sarah Zettel on Writing, Excuses, and Dangerous Words


By Prologue Books Author Sarah Zettel


The Excuse

I don’t have a job. I have an excuse. Writing is an excuse.

See, being a writer gives you special license to do all sorts of things that normal people might want to do, but just can’t quite come up with a justification for. With writing, I already have that justification. It’s built in. I’m working on a book. I need to do research, and it is truly amazing all the categories research can cover.

Because I’m writing, I can travel to odd, off-the-map places. You never know, I might want to set a book there. I can go into every little, tiny local museum I can find and engage all the docents in long, detailed conversations about the house and the artifacts. I mean, I might find a fantastic idea in there. You never know.

I can spend hours looking at how things are made. I can poke. I can prod. I can climb over and crawl under. I can delve. I can meet the raised eyebrows of all kinds of people and say “Oh, sorry. I’m working on a book, and I was wondering…”

I can and have sat under cliff faces, or in the back in the dark of whatever theater I happen to be in, or in the shadows of a busy restaurant, to watch the people who don’t notice me go past. I can linger in the food court in the mall, or in the park. I can eavesdrop. I can stare.

I can take up new hobbies, go to new concerts, try new foods and spend entire afternoons at new classes and lectures. You never know. I might learn something that will lead to new ideas.

I can go into every single old used book store, every single cardboard box at every single garage sale, every single library sale and buy any book on any obscure point of history, technology, science, or geography that catches my restless eye. I might need it one day. You never know.

Those may be the three most dangerous words in the writer’s arsenal. I used to think the most dangerous words were “What if…?” because those are the words that give birth to every single novel on every single shelf or in every single eReader. But “you never know,” are at the heart of the writer’s working life. You never know what you’ll need. You never know what will happen next. You never know what you’ll see, or discover; whether it’s in the pages of a new book, or on the road, or in the mall. It’s exhausting. It’s exciting. It can be frightening and sometimes a little depressing, because it never stops. As a writer, you never do know and you have to live there always, whether you want to or not. You never do know, but you want to. It’s uncertainty and curiosity together that make for creativity. You never do know, but you want to. So, you go and find out what you can, and you make up the rest. The more you find out, the more you can make up, and the more you do make up, the more you wonder about what you do know and the more you have to go find out.

So you have to go out again, and do, and listen, and see, and read. I have to. I’m a writer and I’m working on a book.

I have an excuse.


A Sorcerer's Treason by Sarah ZettelSarah Zettel is an American author of seventeen novels across the science-fiction, fantasy, and mystery genres. Two of her four-book fantasy series–Isavalta and Camelot–have been published in Prologue’s Fantasy collection. A Sorcerer’s Treason, the first book in her Isavalta series, is free from July 15, 2012 through July 21, 2012 for Kindle and Nook. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or her website, SarahZettel.com. Read Sarah’s previous guest post, “I Learned to Write in a Dimension of Sight, a Dimension of Mind.” Back to top.

Author Sarah Zettel on Genre Writing

By Prologue Books Author Sarah Zettel


I Learned to Write in a Dimension of Sight, a Dimension of Mind

There are questions that writers get asked a lot. The most popular is “Where do you get your ideas?” But really close after that is “Where did you learn to write?”

Now, nobody means “where did you learn to put words in a line?” They mean “where did you learn to tell stories?”

This leads me to a kind of embarrassing confession for a novelist. I did not learn the best points of storytelling out of books. I learned them from an old TV show. The best of what I know about genre writing, especially the best I know about science fiction and fantasy comes from The Twilight Zone.

This show was unique, and I use that term with precision. There was no other show like it at the time, and there has been none like it since. There have been other anthology shows; but none of them has had the reach or the punch of The Twilight Zone.

And I’ll tell you why.

Rod Serling, the show’s creator and iconic narrator, had an eye for a story that remains unmatched.

Oh, I know there are some turkeys in the bunch. Some were overly sentimental. Some were just bad. And there are some, like, “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” that I’m probably the only person in the world who enjoys, because I’m just like that. Also, if you watch long enough, you can start to see the patterns that run through them: the one thing no one believes is going to turn out to be true. Making bets is inevitably a bad idea, and making wishes is an even worse one. Robots and computers are always alive. Be nice to your dying relatives. And for Pete’s sake, if you see Billy Mumy, run.

But despite the lapses, for five years and 136 episodes, Serling was able to create one brilliant episode after another. He assembled excellent casts, drawing from a pool that included small screen up-and-comers like William Shatner, and this minor young fellow named Robert Redford, and actors Hollywood had worn down or discarded, from Mickey Rooney to Ida Lupino, to magnificent character actors like Jack Klugman and Burgess Meredith.

But great actors have to have something to work with, and it was the scripts Serling helped create that made that show unforgettable. Those stories, with their deep character studies, their dark humor, their searching morality, their faith in humanity, and their fear for humanity. Serling presented people thrown into circumstances where anything, literally, could happen. You could meet the devil. You could become the devil. A toss of a coin could give you the power to read minds. The world could end by man’s hand or God’s. A sad man could become Santa Claus, a doll could take revenge, all sorts of aliens could interfere with the Earth. The people of Earth could become the aliens. But every single story was built around a strong central character. A hardened woman alone on a farm. A salesman who wants to make one good score. An old woman who just wants to live. A man who just wants time to sit and read. A small boy who just wants his own way.

Each one of them was fully and recognizably human, with human flaws and motivations. Their weaknesses sometimes opened the door, and sometimes their strengths got them through. No matter how strange or terrible the circumstances surrounding these characters became, the stories flowed directly from the characters. If there was a common thread running through the stories, it was that in each there was a moment of choice that the story turned on. A human action, a human choice, could end a life, end the world, or save us all.

It’s that concentration on character that is at the heart of really good storytelling, no matter what medium the writer is working in. The strengths and weaknesses of the individual determine the course of events, no matter how strange or magnificent the world around them. That’s what I learned from that stripped down, sparse, black and white show that had already been in re-runs for years before I started watching it. For me as a writer, there was a sign-post up ahead, and it showed up on when I was a kid, Saturday afternoons with a dark suit and a cigarette and terminally creepy theme music. But I was always right there, eyes and imagination wide open, and I never truly went home again.

So, where, you ask, did I learn to write? Where we all do, and yes, it is submitted for your approval. In The Twilight Zone.


A Sorcerer's Treason by Sarah ZettelSarah Zettel is an American author of seventeen novels across the science-fiction, fantasy, and mystery genres. Two of her four-book fantasy series–Isavalta and Camelot–have been published in Prologue’s Fantasy collection. A Sorcerer’s Treason, the first book in her Isavalta series, is free from July 15, 2012 through July 21, 2012 for Kindle and Nook. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or her website, SarahZettel.com. Check back on Friday, July 20, 2012 for another post by Sarah! Back to top.

RORK!

RORK! by Avram Davidson

RORK!

by Avram Davidson

Available for: Kindle | NOOK | Apple | Sony

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Ran Lomar wanted only to be left alone—to get away from it all. That’s why he volunteered for duty on Pia 2, the most remote, isolated world in the Galazy.

His assignment was simple. The problem on Pia 2 was redwing, a plant used throughout the Galaxy as a medical fixative. Redwing grew only on Pia 2 and lately, less and less was being harvested. Lomar’s job was to find out why, and to do something about it.

A simple job. Or so it seemed. Tan Carlo Harb, the Station Officer, tried to warn him. But Lomar had to find out for himself about the strange inhabitants of Pia 2—the Tocks, the Tame ones, and the Wild ones, and the mysterious, legendary “rorks” that everyone feared . . .

Praise for RORK! and Avram Davidson
“Every word of every chapter is wholly convincing . . . completely
believable . . . fascinating.”
Analog, 1966

“Davidson is in exceptionally good form in this one . . . the writing
is good enough . . . an exotic background . . . ”
Fantasy & Science Fiction, 1966

OTHER BOOKS BY AVRAM DAVIDSON

Mutiny in Space

Mutiny in Space by Avram Davidson

Mutiny in Space

by Avram Davidson

Available for: Kindle | NOOK | Apple | Sony

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Marooned on a lost planet at the edge of Space. Their only companions? A howling army of screaming, crazed women.

Captain Marrus Rond and his command staff were castaways, and the Starship Persephone was in the hands of the mutineers. Abandoned on an unknown planet, the ship’s deposed officers moved slowly through the depths of a dark, twisted alien forest, seeking food and shelter—and some way home.

What they found was beyond their imagination.

Praise for Mutiny in Space and Avram Davidson
“To read Mutiny in Space today is like having a window into the past.”
—Michael Swanwick

OTHER BOOKS BY AVRAM DAVIDSON

Masters of the Maze

Masters of the Maze by Avram Davidson

Masters of the Maze

by Avram Davidson

Available for: Kindle | NOOK | Apple | Sony

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Between the worlds and across the eons runs the Maze⎯a pathway to all space and time.

Its Masters know its secret and guard it⎯but now the monstrous Chulpex are using it to swarm across the galaxy and ravage Earth.

Only one man, chosen by the Masters, can stop them.

Praise for Masters of the Maze and Avram Davidson
“Maybe his best sf novel.”
Conlang.org

“A thing of such polished beauty . . . a very fine piece of light reading.”
Galaxy, 1966

“Has everything in it . . . rich . . . fully portrayed characters . . . an amazing concept.”
Analog, 1967

OTHER BOOKS BY AVRAM DAVIDSON

The Island Under the Earth

Island Under the Earth by Avram Davidson

Island Under the Earth

by Avram Davidson

Available for: Kindle | NOOK | Apple | Sony

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Earthy, hot-tempered Captain Stag followed a simple man’s quest; Tabnath Lo the trader was driven by obsessions; the enigmatic augurs Castegor and Gortecas manuervered toward secret ends; and around them all the Sixlimbed Folk massed in hatred and plotted barbaric vengeance . . .

Praise for Island Under the Earth and Avram Davidson
“A world of living legend peopled by centaurs, golems, harpies, and primitive but shrewd humans . . . I was completely caught up in the saga.”
—Fritz Leiber

“It’s always exciting to discover a new dimension in the work of a writer you think you know pretty well. The Island Under the Earth reveals that Avram Davidson is at one of those points of discovery and renewal.”
—Peter S. Beagle

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Number 87

Number 87 by Eden Phillpotts as Harrington Hext

Number 87

by Eden Phillpotts as Harrington Hext

Available for: Kindle | NOOK | Apple | Sony

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The Club of Friends may not have liked Alexander Skeat very much, but no one should meet his Maker so violently, so mysteriously . . .

Though Skeat may have been the first, but he wouldn’t be the last. Found dead in London with no wounds but a small incision beneath his shoulder, Skeat’s demise was written off by many at first. But when the gentlemen of the Club of Friends thought more about the account of the policeman who found him—of the black, winged creature hulking over Skeat’s body—they realized there must be more to the crime than they’d imagined.

It takes little time for panic to stretch across London, Europe, and the world as its attacks range wider and occur with greater frequency. Is it really “the Bat,” as it becomes known, that obliterates the Alfred Memorial? Common science seems helpless, but then, this is no common beast . . .

Praise for Number 87 and Eden Phillpotts
“A pseudo-scientific mystery . . . that would raise gooseflesh on a billiard ball.”
The Bookman’s Guide to Fiction, 1922

OTHER BOOKS BY EDEN PHILLPOTTS

The Statue

The Statue by Eden Phillpotts

The Statue

by Eden Phillpotts

Available for: Kindle | NOOK | Apple | Sony

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When the tall, dark, handsome young millionaire Maurice Courlander closes the grounds of his sprawling estate for a full year his friends in London and neighbors in Bedfordshire were confused. But when curiously worded invitations inviting them all for a visit arrived, everyone was curious. With little haste, Courlander reveals statue so magnificence and imposing, his guests believe him very strange indeed. Still, his gargantuan tribute to Energy towered over the countryside, face filled with hope and expectation. But when war breaks out and when death arrives in the English country side, one must wonder if her giant shadow conceals genius, murder . . . or both?

Praise for Pan and the Twins and Eden Phillpotts
“The secret is ingenius”
The Observer, 1908

OTHER BOOKS BY EDEN PHILLPOTTS