Owl and the Japanese Circus Review is Live

My review of Kristi Charish’s Owl and the Japanese Circus just went live over at The Winnipeg Review.

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It was a really fun book! I was excited to read this one, because Kristi’s story “Canadian Blood Diamonds” was my favourite piece in the excellent superhero anthology Masked Mosaic. Read the review, but more importantly, read the book!

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GMB Chomichuk’s Raygun Gothic (Issues 1-5)

With my recent contribution to the Lords of Gossamer and Shadow RPG Kickstarter, I’ve been thinking about Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber. I’ve loved those books since high school. If I am absolutely backed into a corner by persistent inquiry, it’s these novels that I label as my all time favourites (still a bit of a cheat I know, to name a ten books series when someone asks you for your favourite novel singular–if I’m forced to narrow even further, then I pick the second novel in the series, The Guns of Avalon to fill the spot).

What does this have to do with GMB Chomichuk’s serialized comic book, Raygun Gothic? When I first read the first three issues of Chomichuk’s latest work, it reminded me of the vastness of Zelazny’s Amber, and I don’t make that comparison lightly. So what is Raygun Gothic?

Raygun Gothic is: a bombastic science-fantasy tale that spans 14,000 years of  history and the lifespan of one person who is cursed to live that long in protection of humanity.

Raygun Gothic is: knights and dragons and monsters and witches and werewolves.  It is also robots and cyborgs and aliens and starships.

It’s also been serialized on Bleeding Cool and garnered Chomichuk two Prix Aurora Award nominations. GMB Chomichuk and I were guests at Keycon this year, and as I watched him create an original work, I was reminded of how much I loved his art, and also that I wasn’t quite caught up on Raygun Gothic.

So I dived back in, reveling in the slow reveal of an Immortal King who wears his crown from the distant past and into the far future, is called upon again to take an active role in the defense of humanity. Raygun Gothic’s protagonist would be right at home in the intrigues between the Kingdom of Amber and the Courts of Chaos,which puts him right in my wheelhouse of characters to love.

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Raygun Gothic plays with Greek myths (The King’s space warriors are called Hoplites, and they attempt to breach the walls of Ilium and defeat it’s defender, Ajax). I wish like hell I would have remembered this element when I was asked for science fiction that contained mythological references at my Keycon Myth & Folklore panel! Chomichuk doesn’t merely draw on mythology, there are references to Shakespeare too. An uttering of “Once more unto the breach” or The Immortal King meeting with the Crossroad Witches of Dunsinane, who told him of his rise to power–every word they said coming true.

Chomichuk gives The Immortal King many names, Sir Water the Grim, The Forever Man, The Peerless Warrior, and with his millenia spanning career as an eternal champion, the reader can imagine The King fulfilling the role of any great warrior or monarch from literature or myth. Lancelot, Arthur, Leonidas, and yes, my favourite, Corwin of Amber. When a line like “The game we played had the world as it’s prize,” is uttered, imagined Conner MacLeod battling the Kurgan in Highlander. This wide ranging influence across genre boundaries and media plays in the story’s favour and into one of Chomichuk’s artistic strengths: mixing media with unusual and unique results.

Despite the presence of monolithic space vessels, The Immortal King rides into a space battle on a dragon. Or as Chomichuk refers to it, his genetically engineered warwing. A beast that possessed a ferrous skeleton that allowed it to ride magnetic currents “as sure as any creature took to the air.” The juxtaposition of The King wielding a sword while riding a fantastic beast into battle with robots and rayguns is something that I just love.

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The King is empowered by a simple means: Those that would do him harm must risk the same. Whether it is drones, men, cyborgs or dragons that The Immortal King faces, he is up to their challenge, made equal to them by the nature of his gift. As the King battles Ajax he notes, “He had evolved to overcome the science of war. What I did was art.” And what a work of art this comic is! Only five issues in, and so much more to come.

I can’t wait.

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What are you waiting for? Read Raygun Gothic here: 

Let me know what you think of it, in the meantime, I’m going to reread The Imagination Manifesto.

Shutting Down To Start Up Again

I don’t get sick often, but when I do get a cold or flu…it’s usually a doozy. I didn’t do much of anything for the first two weeks of March. I couldn’t even post a March goals blog–which is good, I guess. I wouldn’t have succeeded on any of them.

I did have a number of blogs in the works before this little revelation (yeah, sure you did) but I’ll get to them (yeah, sure you will).

Just before my cold/flu/plague hit, I was reading writing buddy Andy Penn Romine’s blog over at Inkpunks about taking a break and recharging the batteries. It’s a good one, and well worth checking out. (Pretty much any Inkpunks blog has an interesting nugget for the up and coming writer–or even more established folks.) That blog got me thinking that I haven’t been having a lot of fun lately. Between recovering from Retail Hell (you might call it Christmas) and writing work, I’ve been a bit of a grump.

So the break, while unplanned, wasn’t a bad thing. I’m back on track with my Work in Progress and feeling energized about my writing again. Now to re-energize the blog! Coming up on April 6th, as a part of her A Turn of Light blog tour is a guest post from Aurora Award winner, Julie E. Czerneda. I’m thinking of starting to post reviews–not just books, but comics, movies, TV, whatever–I’m working on one now for J.M. Frey’s Triptych.

There will also be a goals post for April (I promise!).

Write on!

Reviewed And Interviewed

I’ve been reviewing books for Quill and Quire since 2008. In fact, a Quill and Quire review was the first piece of writing I was ever paid for. As I was reading old issues of the magazine to get a handle on their style, a few reviews stood out to me, and still do, done by author/bookseller Robert J. Wiersema. So it was a thrill when I saw that he had reviewed Thunder Road (and even more of a thrill that he liked the book!).

Here’s an excerpt:

Ginther handles both the mythic and human aspects of Thunder Road with considerable skill… Thunder Road is a fast-paced, thoughtful novel, and news that it’s the first in a trilogy is welcome indeed.

I’ll post a link to the full article as soon as I have it.

In other news, kicking around bookstores, libraries and other places where the arts matter in Western Canada, you’ll find the Winter 2012 issue of Prairie books NOW (it’s free, and full of awesome prairie books, snag one if you can!) in which I am interviewed by the indomitable Perry Grosshans of THIN AIR fame (infamy?). This was actually the first interview I did as an author, so, another thrill.

Write on!

THIN AIR Begins And Other News…

THIN AIR, the Winnipeg International Writers Festival, starts today. I’ll be lurching my way to Brandon with the other zombies to take in Corey Redekop’s reading of Husk at the Evans Theatre prior to a screening of A Little Bit Zombie. Corey’s book looks great (read a bit at work yesterday…sssssh!) and the movie looks hilarious. Throw in a chance to hang out with some of my old Brandon chums, and my festival is already off to a great start.

Normally I’m the guy in the audience (when I’m not sitting behind the book table), but I’m not just attending THIN AIR this year, I get to participate. I’ll be reading from Thunder Road 7 pm Sunday, September 23rd at the Oodena Celebration Circle at the Forks. Hope to see you there! And, as an added bonus, my promotional temporary tattoos have arrived. Who wouldn’t want my name semi-permanently inscribed on their body? Track me down after the reading and I’ll happily sign books/hand out tattoos.

After two weeks at the top of the at #3 on the Winnipeg Free Press bestseller list. Pretty awesome result for the book’s third week of release. Huge congratulations to Katherena Vermette, her poetry collection North End Love Songs took the top spot. I attended her launch, and it was a blast. She’s a great poet and an awesome person. Congrats are also due to my fellow Turnstone Press authors, Kristian Enright and Katherine Bitney, who rounded out this week’s fiction list. My editor, Wayne Tefs, is also a very accomplished writer, and his new book, On the Fly hit #2 on the non-fiction list. Look for this book to have some serious legs through the fall and winter. The longer the NHL lockout lasts, the more Winnipeg Jets fans will reach out for any taste of hockey.

The latest issue of Prairie books NOW is kicking around. I interviewed David Annandale about his horror novel Gethsemane Hall for this issue. Next issue, THIN AIR GM Perry Grosshans will be interviewing me about Thunder Road–very cool.

Speaking of cool… another review rolled in today. This one is from blog Speculating Canada and it is amazing! I’ve reviewed a lot of books in my writing career thus far, and while I’m obviously pleased at how much reviewer Derek Newman-Stille loved the book, I also appreciate how well-crafted this review was. Speculating Canada has already been a huge supporter of my book, in addition to quoting lines from Thunder Road on the blog, I have an interview with Derek in the pipeline. Speculating Canada is definitely the Canadian SpecFic blog to watch.

That’s all for now, back to the salt mines of editing before I can let the fun start…

Write on!

First Review Is In!

Well that’s a bit of a load off.

Thunder Road has its first review in. And it’s a good one. Today the Winnipeg Free Press called the book “a creative fantasy” and “an excellent first novel” saying it “delivers fast-paced action and witty dialogue.” You can read the entire review here.

Another nice surprise was to see Thunder Road atop the local sales chart again. It was a good week for Manitoban writers, as Thunder Road was joined by Katherena Vermette’s North End Love Songs, David Annandale’s Gethsemane Hall, and Jeffrey John Eyamie’s Zombie Princess Apocalypse. David’s book is one of the spookiest reads I’ve had in a long time, and after attending Katherena’s launch, I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of her poetry.

So, I’m sorry lovers of bondage and Twilight fan-fic, you’ll have to wait at least one more week for 50 Shades of Grey to return to the top. But fair warning, I don’t plan on leaving quietly…

Review Anxiety

The launch is over. I’ve done my reading. I’ve signed a bunch of books. That means one thing:

Thunder Road doesn’t belong to me anymore.

The book is in the hands of readers (and so I’ve been told, reviewers), and once published, books really do belong to the reader not the writer. I had things I wanted to accomplish in writing this novel, and I think I accomplished those things, but it’s impossible to really say. Until the reviews roll in.

And so I sit, and wait, and hope. Wait for my first formal review. Hope that the Winnipeg Free Press reviews the book and that is a positive one (ten years of bookselling has shown me that a good Freep review will do more for a book locally than pretty much any other review). Will Quill and Quire or the Globe and Mail choose to review the book, so that it gets attention on a national, rather than only a provincial scale? When will word on Twitter and Facebook, or comments on this site and notices from other bloggers start to roll in? What willl they say?

I’m trying not to obsess about it. It will happen when and if it happens, and those reviews will say what they say. If following publishing and authors behaving badly over a negative review has taught me anything, it’s that there’s no money in responding to negative review. Or a bad review for that matter. And while I don’t think the two are the same thing, it’s best to keep your nose out of either hornet’s nest.

Telling the reviewer they’re wrong, or trying to explain what they missed, or sending your friends and family to gang up on them proves one thing, and it’s not that you were right and they were wrong. It proves you’re unprofessional. I don’t want to be that guy, and the solution is simple. Just don’t be that guy. I’m sure my resolve will be tested. I’m sure I will want to respond to a review at some point in my career.

But I won’t.

And so, while I wait to see how the book is received it’s hard not to wonder, and worry, about what might be said; what might be inferred that I didn’t say and never intended. The more I consider it, the more I feel it’s not unlike submitting the book to a publisher in the first place; It’s just a level up in the game of waiting and hoping. I weathered the previous one, I’l make it through this too.

Write on.