HAS BOOK (Shield of Sea and Space Release Day)

Happy Tuesday, everyone! And it is happy indeed, being May 7th and therefore Shield of Sea and Space‘s release day.
Shield-Cover-sm

I’ve just returned from Portland, where I met 250 (!) totally amazing young people who had built games at the Oregon Game Project Challenge. It was an extremely moving, exciting event, and I hope to be involved more in the future. Portland was feeling the love, and the same weekend a really fantastic 4.5 star review was published in the Portland Book Review:

Overall, this final installment ends the story exactly how it should: with bravery, passion and a few tears. This is a wonderful trilogy and sci-fi fans who haven’t yet read it are definitely missing out.

 
sitting-griffin-chick-silver-wolf-903-SW
!!!!GIVEAWAY!!!!
To celebrate, I am giving away a little wolf-colored Windstone griffin chick along with a signed copy of the book. There will be more giveaways as the summer goes on. Just comment here or share this post on facebook to be entered to win!
/!!!!GIVEAWAY!!!!


 
 
 
 
 
 
This year, Mac the Super Dachshund is emcee of the unboxing: shield-unboxing

It’s been a phenomenal road that still manages to feel just a bit unreal even after all these years. I’ll have more thoughts on ending a trilogy another time, but for now, I am humbled, grateful, and once again knocked over by the tremendous production staff at Pyr and what they have made with my work.

Andovar has been with me a long time, in various shapes and sizes. The first incarnation of the world was born in 1995, and here we are eighteen years later with a completed trilogy that is itself just the beginning of a world of stories. In one of the many odd little coincidences that have popped up lately, Jeremy Soule, composer of Skyrim (as well as Oblivion, Neverwinter Nights and more), whose kickstarter I chipped into a couple of months ago, posted today about completing the first movement of a work that had been with him for eighteen years. The brevity of his description resonates; words are for once inadequate.

I am full of thankfulness for the world and for all of you.

Shield of Sea and Space cover art! On shelves May 7, 2013!

Happy Wednesday! My blog is behaving a bit oddly, so if you’re seeing this post, it has been coaxed into cooperation at least for the moment. And with that, I give you:

Click to enlarge.

Cover art for Shield of Sea and Space, the third and final volume in the Chaos Knight trilogy (being that rare bird, the epic fantasy adventure that begins as a trilogy and stays a trilogy). It is, of course, by the marvelous Dehong He, upon whom I can never seem to shower enough praise. If you can believe it, the Chaos Knight is the first book cover series he’s done, and each volume has been more stunning than the last. When this one trickled out via a Pyr catalog earlier this year (I’ve been holding it while the title treatments were worked out — Jackie, the trilogy’s designer, has always had her work cut out for her figuring out how to stick text on top of such living, dynamic illustration as this), it was amazing to see book bloggers pick it out to gawk over the art.

So this is it: for me the beginning of the end of a life era. I can’t imagine it having a bigger bang than this stunning cover. Look upon it, ye mighty, and — well, you know. 😉

I am in debt as always to the wonderful production team at Pyr, and to Lou Anders for taking a chance on this series and maintaining Pyr’s commitment to fine fantasy artists. If you’ve followed the trajectory of fantasy art covers in today’s age of Photoshop fix-ups and dwindling cover budgets, you’ll understand how remarkable it truly is, and I will always feel humbled by how they’ve transformed this stuff that came out of my head into stunning artifacts that speak the language of another world through their every detail.

On #sffwrtcht tonight 6pm PST, reading in SF Saturday 6pm

Hi all. Just a quick heads-up for a couple of events — I will be on #sffwrtcht with the very kind @BryanThomasS tonight at 6pm PST/9pm EST. All you have to do is load up the #sffwrtcht hashtag on twitter.com to tune in! You have many screens to choose from, but I’ll be pleased if you pick this one. The chats are a lot of fun, so stop by on a future Wednesday evening if you can’t make this one.

And if you’ll be in the bay area on Saturday evening, I will be reading alongside Marie Brennan and Ysabeau Wilce at SFinSF. Full details are here, and the short and sweet is:

Saturday, May 19th

Join us for an evening with Ysabeau Wilce, Marie Brennan & Erin Hoffman

6:00PM – doors and cash bar open
7:00PM – event starts
$5-$10 donation at the door benefits Variety Children’s Charity of Northern California – to date, we’ve helped raise over $30,000 for the kids in our community! Learn more here!

The Variety Preview Room Theatre
The Hobart Bldg., 1st Floor — entrance between Quiznos and Citibank
582 Market Street @ 2nd and Montgomery
San Francisco, CA 94104

Don’t Drive — BART/MUNI Montgomery Street station is right at our front door, and parking in San Francisco sucks!!! Street parking ($3.50 per hour) is metered M-Sat., til 6PM; find a parking garage here.

Hope to see you there!

Signed copies now at Mysterious Galaxy, and 50% off Sword of Fire and Sea from Pyr!

Whew. Back in SF today, successfully having survived another book signing! Thank you very much to those of you who made it, and those who didn’t, we missed you!

I often receive emails or facebook messages asking where signed copies of Sword or Lance can be obtained. If you can’t make it to an event (say, SFinSF on May 19th?), the very fine folk at Mysterious Galaxy have several copies on-hand in San Diego, freshly signed from this weekend.

I’ve gushed about Mysterious Galaxy before and will add only that every visit reinforces their awesomeness. Great conversation with all who turned out on subjects ranging from paranormal romance to Philip K. Dick to game designing a fantasy world and more. I try to pick up works by authors I haven’t heard of before while I’m there, and left with three.

There were also gryphon cookies! As you can see. I made the cookie cutter using a “kit” — really a long strip of aluminum and some adhesive to bind the ends together — and a later post will document the creation of the exceedingly rare gryphon sugar cookie. You’d think someone would have cornered the gryphon cookie cutter market by now! Also featured was interactive frosting, meaning that we were letting the cookies cool and wanted to test the artistic ability of attendees — Bill is shown here frosting his, and the results were so spectacular they defied photography.

Lastly, Pyr is running a 50% off coupon along with a brief interview in the most recent edition of their newsletter! Head over here to sign up and get your coupon. 🙂 You can also like the Pyr Page on Facebook, where there’s a direct link to the newsletter and coupon.

And now, a picture of Isis, my family’s cat — rescued from the humane society in San Diego waaaay back in 1994, and still going strong:

More soon!

Creature of the Week #6: The Burrowing Owl

Welcome to Creature of the Week #6! First a public service announcement: Sword of Fire and Sea is live on Amazon Kindle! It’s been up for about a day and has popped onto a “top 100” list, so many of you have found it already, but this is a more persistent heads-up. 🙂 Two nice reviews have also come in, one from Scott Barnes at NewMyths.com, who calls SWORD “a swashbuckling fantasy adventure reminiscent of the golden age of high fantasy dominated by the likes of Terry Brooks and Tad Williams.” He also offers up an observation on fantasy politics:

Hoffman has created a fun world populated by gryphons, elemental witches, pirates, and goddesses. I greatly enjoyed the maritime setting, the salty air and cry of gulls never far from my imagination. Many high fantasies ignore commerce all together, as if the economies of their worlds ran on warfare alone and food grew in people’s bellies. But Hoffman’s world is based on politics and trade and the correct assumption (very relevant in today’s political climate) that people in power have the most to lose from change and often will accept a worse fate for their countries in exchange for the status quo.

Thanks, Scott!

This week’s creature was also chosen by voting on the the World of Andovar page! It is, in a way, a hybrid of the two top vote-getters, being both “something from the sky” and “something from down below the earth”: the fabulous little burrowing owl. These guys are so cute that it’s hard to pick just a couple of photos of them, but I did my best.

Burrowing owls have attracted recent attention from conservationists as habitat destruction has driven them into endangered species status in Canada. They’re threatened in Mexico, and under observation in the western US, which comprises the rest of their range. According to Defenders of Wildlife, their wild population is estimated at less than 10,000 breeding pairs.

The burrowing owl isn’t the smallest owl in the world (that’d be the elf owl, but it’s pretty close! With length averaging between 6-10″, males and females being the same size (unusual in raptors). Unlike most owls, burrowing owls are not completely nocturnal, and hunt (insects and small rodents mostly) during the day. They strike prey with their feet, and makes its nest in holes dug out of the ground. Baby burrowing owl chicks can fly at six weeks of age, and make a rattlesnake-like hissing noise when threatened.

Cute enough for the silver screen, the latest highly recognizable Hollywood burrowing owl is Digger, first appearing in Kathryn Lasky’s The Capture, and one of the main characters if the stunning Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole AnimalLogic film.

What do you think? Would you want to meet an owl gryphon?

Just saying… 😉

(Okay, can’t help it. Some more photos, these guys are too cute.)

Where to get signed copies!

For those of you kind and intrepid and incredible folk who have been interested in signed copies of Sword of Fire and Sea, here are some answers!

First, you can come to the next signing, which will be July 23, 2011 at Borderlands Books in San Francisco. If you can’t make it there, I’ll be at Westercon July 2-4, Dragon*Con September 2-5, and World Fantasy Con October 27-30. I may be adding a couple of more trips; when I have them finalized I’ll be updating this page with them.

Secondly, you can order signed copies anytime from Mysterious Galaxy! Mysterious Galaxy is a fantastic independent science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and horror bookstore in San Diego (my hometown!). They’ve been around since 1993 and have been keeping genre alive and building one of the best genre fiction communities in the country.

I have many memories of peeking into Mysterious Galaxy’s windows (there’s a Japanese restaurant in the same center that my family has been going to for years), so it was particularly awesome to “launch” Sword of Fire and Sea there officially. And despite it being my first signing, I don’t know how you could ask for better support: they advertised the heck out of the event, and Maryelizabeth provided terrific advice over facebook before I came down. Patrick and David were wonderful throughout, making sure everything ran smoothly and providing a convention’s worth of stimulating science fiction and fantasy conversation in just a couple of hours.

So there are your answers! Go forth and buy books from a terrific San Diego institution! There are more photos from the signing on the Andovar facebook page (but you’re already a member there, right?), and on Flickr.


Kiba, fresh in her summer coat, says: shop from sources who put good things into the world!

Poised on the threshold of a lifelong dream

I’ve been thinking about this blog post for a long time, and thinking about the subject for even longer. But as is often the case with such things, a picture gives you the important information faster. 🙂

And in case that’s not clear enough:

I have author copies, they are beautiful, and the book is available on Amazon now, though at the moment there are only 11 5 2! left in stock.

Kiba, as you can see, is quite excited.

Nothing I could say would be even remotely adequate. I have memories of walking through the aisles at Crown Books at ten years old and thinking about how amazing authors were. I remember being midway through a fantasy book once and being suddenly existentially struck by what an amazing thing a book is. That we think of it as a finished object, a thing, but what we don’t consciously wrap our minds around while reading is how every word put down is a moment in another person’s life, that each page and collection of pages is a chronology of experiences, probably multiple experiences, days and weeks and months of hard work and pure invention.

And now I have one, and, perhaps in part because I work in games I am unusually aware of the number of people that go into this (and yet I’m not as aware as Lou Anders is, who actually works with them all). In Prometheus’s case, right around fifty hardworking people who all touch every book at some stage of its production. Which basically multiplies the complex work of the story, refines it, polishes it, makes sure that every moment of your reading experience is a crafted one, carefully considered. They did a hell of a good job.

It’s obvious, I think, from my shield-banging about sustainability and organic food and conservation activism that I am a pretty passionate environmentalist. My tax return so attests. And I love technology, and I love what it’s doing to the experience of reading. But crafted objects like this, touched by so many people, delivered to you, the reader, are what will keep paper books around, at least for the next while. And though I am biased (ridiculously biased!), this one is a treasure, and I am humbled to have it. If you seek it out (or if I throw it at you — cough), I hope you enjoy it too. And if you do, or even if you’re just interested and haven’t taken the plunge yet, I’d love if you’d consider joining the party on the Andovar World Facebook page, where there will be info, links, giveaways, and more. 🙂

If you want to read more of my thoughts about game design, storytelling, and a bunch of other things, before I was flummoxed by this meteor of awesome, Jeremy Jones was kind enough to interview me for Clarkesworld Magazine. If you take a gander I’d love to know what you think.

Taking the Psychopath Test

Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test is an enthralling read for anyone who is even the slightest bit odd. (And if you’re reading this, chances are I mean you.) It’s a wild ride, a Philip K. Dickian roller coaster through some of the darkest crevices of human behavior, spiraling out into the macro-levels of societal power structures and human history, and then back into the minutiae of everyday people living lives with the greatest intentions of normalcy. And in its way it is an act of torah, in the universal sense — a paean of love for humanity, of love that looks closely and does not flinch.

Be warned that if you go in and go deep you will probably go a little crazy. And perhaps the great honesty of the book is that it dives in deep here as well, pushes you to reflect on your own crazy, and the expanded crazy of the greater semi-conscious social system that we live in.

It will make you think about your friends, your enemies, your coworkers, your family. I know people who are capable of violence. Some of them great violence. You know people like this, too — maybe you even are one. One of the questions at the heart of this work is one asked by dystopians for centuries, and yet one that seems to get sharper with every increase in our civilization and technology: where do you draw the line around what kind of abnormalities should be eliminated from society, by imprisonment, by medication?

To draw that line is to say that we have found the pattern. We want so badly for there to be a decisive list, for there to be labels and boxes, for things to be clean. We are pattern-seekers. Patterns make a chaotic world comprehensible, they lull us into functionality. And so ultimately, we need books like this, the world needs books like this, that peel back the skin of reality and have a good sticky look inside, to challenge the artificiality of the psychological borders that keep us safe. And as all truly well designed things are, it achieves a life of its own by being entertaining, by taking us from Douglas Hofstadter’s Strange Loop to Bedlam to Mississippi industrial ghost towns, from Wall Street to the brainstem of psychiatry to mass murderers, from Scientology to DSM IV, from opulent Florida mansions to four-year-old children being treated for bipolar disorder.

In the end, once we have gone through the wormhole of inquiry and emerged onto the far side, changed, the concluding question is: if there were a “normal”, truly, would we want to be it? Even considering the consequences of the vast systems around us, their need to contain us, to statistically filter out danger and potential disruption?

Hopefully, the answer remains no. Hell no. My cold dead hand no. God is dead no.

And yet, being the social animals that we are, it is inevitable that we try. And that’s okay. And also a little bit crazy.

Beautiful Things

I’ve been sitting on this awhile, though some of you know this already, or have kindly pointed it out to me. 😉

First point of order, though, is introducing Kiba, also known as Kiba The Wonder Pup, seen here and in my icon. She is a “goldendoodle” (Golden Retriever + Poodle) and comes to us from Dee Gerrish in North Carolina. Mac has always loved other dogs, and we’d been making do with him getting his buddy fix at EveryDog Day Care, but now he has a puppy of his very own. She is unbearably cute and has therefore been appointed my new Chief Marketing Officer.

Following that, Kiba instructs me to say: In case you didn’t know from copious posting on other forums (fb, twitter, the usual), my first fantasy novel (!), SWORD OF FIRE AND SEA, was picked up by Pyr Books in May and will be published in June 2011. As you can see from the tweet, Editorial Director Lou Anders (of much fame this year and others) describes it as “Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion meets Avatar: The Last Airbender”, and more recently has been throwing in a dash of Final Fantasy, which suits me swell.

And now its gorgeous cover is viewable by all, courtesy the heroic efforts of Lou and Prometheus design staff (would love to use specific names but don’t yet know if they like being publicly credited!). It’s been amazing watching this come together and I’m beyond thrilled to be able to share it. The artist is Dehong He, a digital artist from Singapore who works by day on MMORPGs. He was perfect for a bunch of reasons, first of course being his phenomenal talent (you can see more of his artwork here). Beyond that, I’ve always loved the vibrant style of Asian MMO art, as well as the unique way they show humans — faces, costumes, everything. Being multiethnic myself, to me their art is distinctly international in a way much western art is not. I’ve also always been an anime fan, and know that there are many anime fans who also read fantasy, so have wondered if a cover that “speaks” to anime fans with its art style would recognize that crossover more.

Needless to say I am entirely biased, but assume my current “omg” level to be in the gazillions, so if you scale that down for bias this is still really awesome. Here is the link to the Amazon page (where you can zoom in and see a larger version), and without further ado:

If I have anything to do with it I’m sure you’ll be seeing it everywhere soon… 😉