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Django Wexler
16 January 2013 @ 06:57 pm

You don't know me, but believe me when I say that I know you. I know every bit of you, every hair and mole. I ought to, I created you. I am your mother, in a way.

Everything you know is a lie.

Believe me when I say I'm sorry I have to tell you this. I'm writing these words in the hope that you'll never read them.

But if you are reading this, then something has gone wrong. Pay attention now, because this part is important, and don't leave anything out. You'll have to trust me on this.

Under the bed is a locker that will open only for you. Inside it you should find the following equipment:

-One (1) standard ship-suit in your size. Mates with any standard helmet for hostile atmosphere exposure. Includes a protective charm good for thirty minutes in hard vacuum.

-One (1) force-shield belt, Atlorian military spec. Fasten it around your waist, make sure the green light is on. Provides good protection against small-arms fire.

-One (1) Bal-Thos Witch Charm. This is the little thing shaped like a knot on a silver chain. Find the pointy end, prick your finger with it, and wear it around your neck. It will burn out after an hour, but until then it should protect you against anything short of a Rylarian Doomsday Hex.

-One (1) T-87 Plasma Carbine, with six (6) spare magazines. You think you don't know how to use this, but you do. Trust me.

-One (1) Murghul Soul-Eater Blade. Be very careful with this and do not nick yourself by accident. You are an expert swordfighter, though you may be unaware of this as well.

You are on the p-ship Abydos. It is about a hundred meters long and has three main decks. You are familiar with the layout. Most functions are handled by robots and zombies. Ignore them and they will not impede you.

There are three men on board. These men have betrayed us, in a way deeper than you can possibly understand. You have to kill them. For me, for yourself. Search the ship, find them, kill them. You are heavily armed and should have the advantage of surprise. Trust me when I say that they deserve whatever is coming to them.

Once they are dead, go to the bridge (you know the way) and enter "maxex revelation -tres" on the console. The computer will confirm your identity with thaumic resonance; you may feel a slight tingle. You will be told what to do next.

Good luck. And, for what it's worth, I'm sorry.
Django Wexler
26 March 2012 @ 04:26 pm
I should probably mention, for those who haven't noticed, that I'm not on LJ much anymore. I still read it, but these days I mostly use Facebook and, recently, Twitter (@djangowexler). So, feel free to stalk me there, though if you're someone who I only know on LJ and you send me an FB request, you should probably remind me of your LJ name so I know you're not someone random. =)
Django Wexler
26 March 2012 @ 09:32 am

March 26, 2012
Django Wexler's THE THOUSAND NAMES, the first in a gritty, epic military fantasy series in which two soldiers -- and the enigmatic, brilliant colonel who leads them -- wage a campaign against an army with overwhelming martial might, and subtle, sinister magic, pitched as George R.R. Martin meets Bernard Cornwall, to Jessica Wade at Ace/Roc, in a three-book deal, at auction, by Seth Fishman at The Gernert Company (NA).

UK/Commonwealth rights to Michael Rowley at Ebury, in a three-book deal, at auction, to help launch a new sci-fi and fantasy imprint.
Current Mood: excitedexcited
Django Wexler
27 September 2010 @ 04:22 pm
The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson. The first book of Sanderson's I read was Mistborn, way back when, although he later achieved a bit more popularity by writing the final books of The Wheel of Time. (Which I haven't read, or rather gave up on around book six.) The Way of Kings makes it look like he saw the success of what he was doing with the Robert Jordan stuff, said, "Hey, I can do that!" and then did. It's a huge doorstop of a book, a thousand pages or so in hardcover, which in and of itself makes me nervous.

I could tell, even halfway through, that the major theme of any review was going to be "frustrating." Sanderson is a very good writer -- I've known that since Mistborn, even if his more recent stuff like Warbreaker wasn't quite in the same league. And, at times, this is a very good book. But a story needs some justification for being a thousand pages long, and this one just doesn't have it; it feels thin, somehow, as though the plot had been stretched to cover all the detail.

The best part about it is the setting. It's a spectacular bit of world-building he's pulled off, with remarkable consistency and thought put into all the fine points. Starting from a relatively simple premise (periodic super-storms ravage the continent from one direction) he goes through how the world has adapted to this environment, from the way people build their cities to the plant and animal life that retreats into hard shells at the storm's approach. Readers of Mistborn will be unsurprised to learn that he's got another new magic system. (A curiously similar one, actually, although since he's implied that this series and Mistborn are connected in some As Yet Unrevealed way that may be deliberate.)

Unfortunately, the author is super-excited by this wealth of world detail, and determined to show off every bit of it. To his credit, he doesn't take the traditional approach (having characters wander about marveling at things) but there are definitely bits that feel like padding. Also unfortunately, since this is book 1 of N (in this case 10), he holds back a lot of the more interesting bits for future volumes. Which I can understand, of course, but gets a bit frustrating when he seems to tell you everything but what you actually might want to know.

The writing itself is good, for the most part. He doesn't have as much opportunity for the snappy action scenes that lent energy to Mistborn, unfortunately, but the dialogue is good enough to mostly stand on its own. In particular, it lacks the slightly self-aware quality that was a bit distracting in Warbreaker. For the most part characters who are supposed to be clever sound clever, although there are a couple of 'witty' remarks that are more like groan-inducing puns. Still, long as it is, the individual chapters don't drag.

The characters are more of a mixed bag. They're almost universally well-depicted, but as a group they have an unfortunate tendency towards mopery and angst. It's not that bad -- excessive angst is one of the things that will make me throw a book across the room, c.f. Thomas Covenant, but there are a few chapters where I was inspired to say, "Yes, your life is very sad, get on with it." My suspicion is that this is a result of the plot failures -- when nothing is permitted to happen, the characters have no real choice but moping.

The plot, unfortunately, is the weak point. It's not so much bad as anemic -- once you reach the end, if you look back and think about what has actually happened over the course of the novel, it seems like amazingly little. One character fights his way up from slavery in painstaking detail, with every minor triumph and setback enumerated; another major plotline consists of a character vacillating over handing over his power to his son, deciding to do it, then deciding not to do it. None of it is uninteresting, and none of it is irrelevant, but I can't help but feel like it would have been far, far better compressed into the first, say, three hundred pages of a book. It's only in the last few chapters that you realize he's essentially taken the "Farmboy Of Destiny" plot that normally occupies a few chapters and stretched it out into an entire novel.

Then, in the final fifty pages or so, he jumps up with around a half-dozen big reveals, one after another. Some of what he shows is pretty fascinating, but of course the book ends shortly thereafter, so you're left more frustrated then intrigued. (Since if all the books are this long, who knows when they next one will be out? Though Sanderson appears to have a much more regular schedule then, say, grrm . ^^)

So, overall, frustrating. It's a great world, with occasional great bits of story in it, but the novel as a whole is a heck of a lot to drill through to get there. I have the unfortunate feeling that this will end up being quite a good series (once he gives himself permission to progress the plot a bit!) and that the first book will be something I need to encourage people to get through before they get to the interesting part. That's for the future, though. As it stands, if you enjoy world-building as the main component in your fantasy, check this out, but those looking for something fast-paced should seek elsewhere.
Django Wexler
18 February 2010 @ 11:37 am
How To Get Rich Without Any Investing Acumen Whatsoever:

Step 3: Profit!Collapse )
Django Wexler
20 October 2009 @ 04:42 pm
Empire in Black and Gold, by Adrian Tchaikovsky. I honestly forget if I saw this recommended from somewhere, or just picked it up because I thought the cover was cool, or what. Probably the former because the cover isn't that cool. Anyway, it's a more-or-less epic fantasy about a world in which all human beings share some traits with insects (not physical traits, more like magic and temperament) and a new empire of Wasps is rising to sweep away the civilized world.

While reading, I was reminded of this Penny Arcade comic. Overall, it's an odd but very typical (for epic fantasy) combination of having both too much and too little content. On the one hand, there's a ton of major characters, each with his or her own plotline and characterization to take care of, and I feel like quite a few of them get short shrift. (There's a couple of romances that come out of nowhere, for example.) On the other hand, it's a long book, and there are big sections of it that are a bit slog-y.

The writing itself is competent if not spectacular. The author does a good job with description, particularly in fight scenes, but he falls into the martial-arts-movie trap -- namely, even a well-done fight scene is only cool and interesting if a) we have some reason to care about the people involved and b) there's some sense of tension. Here repetition doesn't help either; despite the author's well-researched swordplay and decent prose, after the sixth or seventh scene of "the protagonists kill a bunch of Wasp soldiers" I'd rather he summarize and move on.

The characters felt like a bit of squandered potential, too. Most of them are interesting, but don't really shine in the course of the novel; they're usually explored pretty unidirectionally. There's also a few weird bits where the author tries to inject some ethical questions the material can't support -- as in, a character thinks something like, "My god, I've killed a human being! The horror!" but then is merrily slaughtering more soldiers a few pages later. The arc from "naive but determined young warrior" to "callous, bloodied veteran" is certainly worth exploring, but this feels more like a brief nod in that direction then a real insight.

The best part of this is the world design, which is deep and fairly complex. The various insects all have a set of racial traits, but not to the extent that they're reduced to caricature. There's also a divide between the races who "get" technology and those that don't; interestingly, this isn't presented as the usual (nonsensical) "magic negates tech and vice versa" property of the physical world but rather a racial characteristic that lets some races understand arcane forces but unable to comprehend simple mechanisms. (Even doorknobs!) The tech level is vaguely steam-punk-y but it's not at all clear *why*; for example, they have gunpowder and even gunpowder-fired weapons (some kind of speargun (?)) but crossbows are still in wide use for some reason. (It occurs to me that I'm much more willing to accept impossible technology -- for example, they use vehicles on six legs, ostensibly without magic, which is not believable at that tech level -- then I am willing to accept the lack of clearly possible technology. I'm happy to hand-wave things that are too awesome to be real, but if you've got advanced metal-working, and gunpowder, then why are you still using catapults instead of cannon? At least provide a reason.)

Anyway, the end is a bit disappointing. For one thing, the penultimate climax is more of a climax then the actual finale, so the last hundred pages or so of the book feels kind of unneccesary in a dramatic sense. And then, of course, it ends with the Promise of More to Come, with the evil villains Only Temporarily Thwarted by their defeat. I'm not sure I'm interested enough to find out what happens next, though, especially since he seems to be splitting the party up, which means we get many times as many traveling-across-the-world scenes! So, overall, while the world design is a high point and the writing is not bad at all, I can't really recommend this. Someone who was really into epic fantasy or steampunk might take a look, but those are hardly under-represented genres these days.