I'm James Maxey, the author of numerous novels of fantasy and science fiction. I use this site to discuss a wide range of topics, with a heavy emphasis on cranky, uninformed rants about politics and religion and other topics that polite people attempt to avoid. For anyone just wanting to read about my books, I maintain a second blog, The Prophet and the Dragon, where I keep the focus solely on my fiction. I also have a webpage where both blogs stream, with more information about all my books, at jamesmaxey.net.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Solaris Books Now Available

I've caught my first real cold in ages. I used to get colds all the time, but my last few years with Laura I somehow managed to avoid them. Since she had a weakened immune system most of the time due to chemo, I was just much more careful during the winter time, washing my hands constantly. And, if encountered people who were sniffling or said they felt sick, I got away from them as quickly as possible. My vigilance paid off. Alas, I've slowly been letting my guard down, and last week I had a sore throat that just stuck around. Monday night, the sore throat went away and I started sneezing. I went to work yesterday but left after a few hours. I've spent about 18 of the last 24 hours asleep.

In the time I have been awake, I've been lying in bed reading the new releases from Solaris. Solaris is a "new" publishing house from Britian. I put "new" in quotes because Solaris is actually a new imprint of a larger publishing empire, Games Workshop. It's being run by people who actually know a thing or two about publishing books and getting them into bookstores. And, sure enough, when I went to Barnes and Noble last Saturday, they had several face out copies of each of the first two releases from Solaris. The first is a novel called the Summoner by Gail Z. Martin. I read the 40 pages or so this morning. Quite promising, fast paced, set in a fantasy world I didn't feel I had to work too hard to understand. I read some of the reader reviews on Amazon and a few people were rating it poorly for being built on cliches. But the cliches they mentioned (a prince being robbed of his rightful throne, or magic having a dark side and a light side, for example) strike me not so much as cliches as archetypes of fantasy. If every story that has a prince or a princess as a protagonist gets labeled unoriginal, then pretty much the whole fantasy genre has to take that hit. Admittedly, I'm just 40 pages into a book that's over 600 pages long, but so far the slightly familiar feel of some of the characters (the tom-boyish sister, the happy-go-lucky bard, the stern and skeptical soldier) just helps me to orient myself in a book with a plethora of characters and subplots. Quickly knowing who the characters are and what their agendas are likely to be makes the book more readable.

My one complaint so far is that, amid a long list of purely made up names, Martin's named the villian Jared. Jared seems like a pretty sinister dude and I think he'll live up to his villianous potential, but I still can't help but see him as the guy from the Subway commercial.

If you want to read a sample before you go out and buy a copy, go to www.solarisbooks.com. They've got the first chapter there as a pdf for you to read.

The second book I picked up is the Solaris Book of New Science Fiction. This is an anthology that so far has gotten nothing but good reviews. I've only read two stories so far, both solid little SF tales. Unlike the anthologies Phobos attempted to launch with full of new writers, this anthology is full of new stories by well established pros. Brian Aldis, Stephen Baxter, Paul Di Filippo, Mike Resnick, David Gerrold, and Ian Watson to name a few.

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