Friday, August 28, 2009

'Toothless' Trailer

In a quick update to my last review, JP Moore has released a trailer for the Toothless audiobook, featuring the artwork of Scott Purdy and music from The Monster Symphony by Devin Anderson.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Podcast Novel Review: "Toothless" by JP Moore

Meet J.P. Moore, genre-bending master of the dark and horrific, author of Toothless.

Not that I would have ever thought that, having encountered him first on Twitter, where he is truly a gentleman and a wit, to boot.

I was first enticed to listen to Toothless after following JP on Twitter, where I read a tweet he wrote which went something like this (and I paraphrase):

"So, you take issue with the historical inaccuracies in my audiobook Toothless. Was it the zombies or the demons that annoyed you more?"

Or words to that effect. How I laughed. And, accordingly, I had to get this book.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I get into it, expecting something lively and comic in a brutal, undead monsters sort of way. It is not.

Toothless is anything but comic, except in the blackest sense, but it is brutal, and it is utterly brilliant.

Moore sets himself a raft of challenges in setting this story up, not the least of which is the difficulty of making his main character - the eponymous Toothless - an undead warrior who draws his power by slaying the living, as his demon master leads his fell legions across medieval Europe. Martin was a Templar knight, and his jaw is hacked off in battle by the demon who kills him. When he is reanimated, his mortal memories fleeing his frail shell, he is given the moniker Toothless, and is set to destroying the living, combatants and innocents alike.(Artwork Copyright Scott Purdy 2009)

In this, Moore has his second task: to engage the listener with this lead character who cannot, by any means, speak. I was expecting some contrivance to allow Toothless a voice, but Moore plays the hand he has dealt himself with sheer determination, never once bowing to the lure of dark magic or telepathy to allow his anti-hero communication. In doing so, he reminds us of just how cheap talk really is. Toothless doesn't need to talk. His actions are everything.

Moore takes this tragic beginning and spins it out into a tale of woe, loss, despair, and the dauntless face of human courage despite insurmountable and indescribable odds. Toothless struggles with his guilt and grasps desperately to the fleeting memories he still holds of his lost wife and daughter. In these memories, in the loves he knew as a man, are the seeds of his redemption, and therein lies the story of Toothless.

What really kept me coming back to this book, however, was not the originality of the blended genres or even the need to know how Martin's final quest is resolved, but simply Moore's command of the English language. The writing is simply superb, painting the bleak yet inevitable collapse of civilisation before the Black Yew in infinite shades of mist and grey, scoured with blood and decay. Moore wraps his words around your ears like a fog, swirling to reveal the dying world in awful, sorrowful slivers. I was constantly drawn into the sheer poetry of Moore's prose, often paying more attention to the words themselves than the actual story.

The audio production is crisp and clean, and Moore's dry narration is well-suited to the dark, brittle tale he weaves.

If anything, I found that the story was in places a bit slow to progress, but the excellence of the writing more than made up for this small failing - one which, I'm sure, could easily be remedied in the editorial process.

I rate Toothless at 4 Stars out of 5, with a 5 Star Special Award for Awesome Prose.

Yes, I can make awards up if I so desire. See, I just did.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Podcast World Update

The big news in the world of podcasting this week, of course, is the announcements for finalists in the Parsec Awards.
Many of our favourite Podiobooks authors have made a good showing, including Phil Rossi, JC Hutchins, Matt Wallace, Scott Sigler, James Durham, Christiana Ellis, PG Holyfield, Mur Lafferty, and our very own Philippa Ballantine. Also appearing is Christoph Laputka, author of the impressive, if irregular, Leviathan Chronicles.

Congratulations to all the nominees and finalists in this year's Parsecs, and good luck!

The past couple of weeks have also been busy with great information for new podcasters, and I would be remiss were I not to share a few links here.

Scott Sigler has provided a great audio link to a speech he gave at Balticon in May this year, detailing his views on the future of content delivery. Fascinating listening, from the guy who has done it and made it work.

Mark Jeffrey interviewed Evo Terra, co-founder of, on the past, present and future of the serialised audiobook. This is an in-depth discussion of both the technology and the form of the podcast novel as we know it, as well as touching on the wider aspects of social media that help to drive the format. Essential listening for anyone thinking about podcasting their novel, as well as for already published podcasters.

In what might not be news, but something which I just discovered this week, is the companion podcast to Tee Morris' Podcasting for Dummies.Even though I haven't read the book, and despite the fact that technology and software have moved on to make our lives even easier since this book was published, this is an invaluable guide to getting the core basics right, however you might be going about doing your recording, editing, uploading, and promoting. Just search for Podcasting for Dummies on iTunes.

Podioracket continue to roll out some great interviews, with upcoming folk including J Daniel Sawyer and Mick Bordet. These interviews are always entertaining and full of information, and if you can come join in the chatroom, many great laughs and interesting discussions are always had.

In the new releases department, Starla Huchton has just launched her novel The Dreamer's Thread. In Huchton's words, "The Dreamer's Thread is the tale of one Dreamer's quest to save the realm of dreams from the clutches of darkness." How cool is that? I've listened in on the first episode, and the narration, ensemble cast, audio production, music and writing are all excellent. I'll be following this one with interest.

Comic artist Mike Luoma has been remastering his audiobook Vatican Assassin, originally recorded in 2006, and the new episodes are now available on Murder, Religion and Sci-Fi, all in crisp new audio. Check it out.

And if you haven't already, be sure to go and check out Calvin Hubbard's blog, featuring lyrics, thoughts and songs from his stay in the town of Harvey. Celebrity bloodhound Ozzy Sheraton obviously hasn't Googled this up yet, or she'd know better.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Legion Trailer

This is mind-blowing.

Trailer for Legion, a movie where the Apocalypse is not an army of demons, but angels.

Totally NSFW.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Fortnight in Podcasting

Yeah, I need to be honest, I'm getting to this every couple of weeks, not every week.

But it sure has been a busy fortnight!

The brilliant and long-running Podcast Novel How to Succeed in Evil by Patrick McLean is complete. This book is both a hilarious deconstruction of the superhero/supervillain mythos, as well as being an intelligently written exploration of the darker side of human ambition. Well worth a listen. Complete at around 70 episodes.

Also, J.P. Moore is mixing down the final episode of Toothless, his Lovecraftian-Zombie-Templar epic, so the final episode should be due for release very soon.

As for ongoing series, JC Hutchins is making noises on Twitter about getting back into Personal Effects: Sword of Blood, after his frantic couple of months promoting Dark Art. Very much looking forward to that.

Bizzaro author Jeremy C. Shipp has had another of his stories (my personal favourite, in fact), Dog, released as an mp3 by Black Hard Press. The recording catches the story's gruesome yet deadpan tone brilliantly. Check it out.

In the new release department, I have taken a walk away from my usual speculative fiction preferences to listen to the first episodes of Trapping a Duchess, by Michelle Bekemeyer. While not a fan of epic romance by any means, I was surprised to find Duchess quite entrancing. Bekemeyer writes her characters with stunning depth and personality, drawing even a skeptic like me into the tangled web of hearts and egos and social decorum that shapes her world. It makes for a nice change of pace, and anyone who likes who a good romantic drama will love both the story and Bekemeyer's crooning voice.

The Dead Robots' Society have just launched their new Sci-Fi Space Opera, Tales of the Breaking Dawn - The Ties That Bind. I've listened in on the first episode, and was impressed to hear an ensemble cast, all the voices levelled out well, laden up with just enough atmos and effects and filters to give the piece a nice, creamy Sci-Fi feel. Looking forward to hearing more from these guys in weeks to come.

In interview land, Podioracket will be talking with Tee Morris, Philippa Ballantine and Phil Rossi all in the next couple of days on Blog Talk Radio. Rhonda Carpenter always runs a great talk, and listeners can hop into the chatroom and ask questions along the way. If you can, make the time to be there.

Phew! I think that's it for now.

Happy listening!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Guest Postage

You know, I do more than just write and cook and listen to podcasts.

I also write.

Hang on, did I say that already?

Ah well, I'm very excited to tell you that I've written my first ever Guest Blog Post, and you can read it over here at Jenni's Blog, Talula the second.

Without wanting to put too fine a point on it, it's about writing.

Please take a minute to go visit Jenni, have a read, and leave her a comment.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Podcast Novel Review: "Ancestor" by Scott Sigler

The thing about Scott Sigler's books is the way they hang around in your head, burned into your memory, long after you've finished reading them (or in this case, listening to them).

Ancestor is no exception.

With this book, Sigler takes his twin fascination with science and monsters to new heights.
Ancestor is a more scientifically credible story than Nocturnal or Earthcore, but Sigler still manages to tell a thumping good yarn while sticking to his scientific guns. Drawing on the premise of isolating stem cells as a means of generating cures for all sorts of diseases, Ancestor tells the story of a corporation driven to the edges of the earth to push on with their experiments, while even the CIA are trying to shut them down. But it's not just altruism that motivates the crew to work against all odds to find this semi-mythical cure; it's also greed, and pride, and fear.

Sigler takes a simple science fiction tale of the dangers of technology outstripping ethics, and weaves it into a web of betrayal, deceit, murder, and revenge.

Oh, and there are monsters. But you knew that.

As usual, Sigler's narration and audio production are faultless, though I still wish he'd take a leaf out of Seth Harwood's book and get some female voice talent to read his female characters, or take Jeffrey Kafer's advice and just read them straight (listen to Kronos by Jeremy Robinson for a great example). I still find the whining tone of male readers trying to put on a woman's voice not only distracting but also slightly demeaning.

Aside from that, Ancestor is a thoroughly enjoyable book, and I think it represents a significant maturing of Sigler's writing talent. As Tee Morris suggested to me when we met in Dannevirke a few months ago, Ancestor is sophisticated storytelling that blends sci-fi, horror, and thriller seamlessly. Sigler handles his characters and settings with ease, whipping out clever dialogue as easily as he hammers home blood and violence.

If you haven't listened to any Scott Sigler yet, this is probably a good place to start.

I give Ancestor 4 Stars out of 5.

Ancestor is available as a free podcast novel from or through iTunes, and will be released in hardcover by Crown Publishing in December 2009 or early 2010.