* in which a scientist visits hell and a deal is struck
Walpurgisnacht, the Hexennacht. The last night of April. The night of witches, when evil walks abroad.
He stood at a desolate and lonely place where there would be no interruption, no prying eyes. The air smelled metallic with freshly spilt blood; the body of a decapitated virgin kid goat lay nearby. He had no alloyed metal about him but for a thin-bladed sword of fine steel he held in his right hand; that arm was naked, his shirt sleeve rolled up to the biceps. A silver coin wrapped in paper nestled in his waistcoat pocket. Before him burned a fire of white wood.
His name was Johannes Cabal, and he was summoning a demon.
“…Oarios! Almoazin! Arios! Membrot!” The chanted names faded into the unusually still night air. Only the crackling of the fire accompanied him. “Janna! Etitnamus! Zariatnatmix… and so on.” He drew a deep breath and sighed, bored with the ritual. “A. E. A. J. A. T. M. O….”
There was hidden meaning in the names he must call, the letters he must chant. That didn’t mean he had to approve or even be impressed by them. As he recited the Grand Conjuration, he thought that some magicians might have better served the world by writing crossword puzzles.
Then space distorted, and he was no longer alone.
The demon’s name was Lucifuge Rofocale. He stood a little taller than Cabal’s six feet, but the bizarre fool’s cap he wore–three flopping horns, or perhaps tentacles, ending with arrowheads–made his height vary from moment to moment. In one hand he held a bag containing, at least symbolically, the riches of the world. In the other, a golden hoop. He wore a segmented, studded leather skirt rather like a Roman soldier’s. Beneath it, _fur-_covered legs ended in hooves. He had a fat anteater’s tail, and a silly little Hercule Poirot moustache. As is often the case with demons, Lucifuge looked like an anatomical game of Consequences.
“Lo!” cried the demon. “I am here! What dost thou seek of me? Why dost thou disturb my repose? Smite me no more with that dread rod!” He looked at Cabal. “Where’s your dread rod?”
“I left it at home,” replied Cabal. “Didn’t think I really needed it.”
“You can’t summon me without a dread rod!” said Lucifuge, appalled.
“You’re here, aren’t you?”
“Well, yes, but under false pretences. You haven’t got a goatskin or two vervain crowns or two candles of virgin wax made by a virgin girl and duly blessed. Have you got the stone called Ematille?”
“I don’t even know what Ematille is.”
Neither did the demon. He dropped the subject and moved on. “Four nails from the coffin of a dead child?”
“Don’t be fatuous.”
“Half a bottle of brandy?”
“I don’t drink brandy.”
“It’s not for you.”
“I have a hip flask,” said Cabal, and threw it to him. The demon caught it and took a dram.
“Cheers,” said Lucifuge, and threw it back. They regarded each other for a long moment. “This really is a shambles,” the demon added finally. “What did you summon me for, anyway?”
- WINNER: Ancillary Sword – Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
- The Peripheral – William Gibson (Putnam; Viking UK)
- The Three-Body Problem – Cixin Liu (Tor)
- Lock In – John Scalzi (Tor; Gollancz)
- Annihilation/Authority/Acceptance – Jeff VanderMeer (FSG Originals; Fourth Estate; HarperCollins Canada)
- WINNER: The Goblin Emperor – Katherine Addison (Tor)
- Steles of the Sky – Elizabeth Bear (Tor)
- City of Stairs – Robert Jackson Bennett (Broadway; Jo Fletcher)
- The Magician’s Land – Lev Grossman (Viking; Arrow 2015)
- The Mirror Empire – Kameron Hurley (Angry Robot US)
- WINNER: The Memory Garden – Mary Rickert (Sourcebooks Landmark)
- Elysium – Jennifer Marie Brissett (Aqueduct)
- A Darkling Sea – James L. Cambias (Tor)
- The Clockwork Dagger – Beth Cato (Harper Voyager)
- The Emperor’s Blades – Brian Staveley (Tor; Tor UK)
- WINNER: Half a King – Joe Abercrombie (Del Rey; Voyager UK)
- The Doubt Factory – Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown)
- Waistcoats & Weaponry – Gail Carriger (Little, Brown; Atom)
- Empress of the Sun – Ian McDonald (Jo Fletcher; Pyr)
- Clariel – Garth Nix (Harper; Hot Key; Allen & Unwin)
For the complete list of winners in all categories check out the official press release from Locus. Our congratulations to all the winners and nominees!
What do you think of these picks? Did your favorites win? Did you noticed that 3 of the 4 novel categories were won by women?
There are some touching human moments in Game of Thrones that often get overshadowed by the violence.
The winner of the John W. Campbell Award for 2015 was announced at the Campbell Conference Awards Banquet and Conference held June 11-14, at the University of Kansas. The winner is The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North. Our congrats to Claire and all the nominees.
- 2nd Place: A Darkling Sea – James L. Cambias (Tor)
- 3rd Place: The Three-Body Problem – Cixin Liu (Tor)
- The Race – Nina Allan (Newcon)
- The Peripheral – William Gibson (Putnam)
- Afterparty – Daryl Gregory (Tor)
- Europe in Autumn – Dave Hutchinson (Solaris)
- Wolves – Simon Ings (Gollancz)
- Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel (Knopf)
- Defenders – Will McIntosh (Orbit)
- The Bees – Laline Paull (Ecco)
- Bête – Adam Roberts (Gollancz)
- Lock In – John Scalzi (Tor)
- The Martian – Andy Weir (Broadway)
- Annihilation – Jeff VanderMeer (FSG Originals)
- Echopraxia – Peter Watts (Tor)
What say you to this result? Harry August has a very nice 4.285 out of 5 from 14 ratings on WWEnd and 4 reviews so far. I suspect we’ll be seeing some more reads and ratings now that it’s won the Campbell.
It sounds just like the setup for an old joke. A high school gang leader, the information broker, and a Dullahan all meet up at the Russian sushi place… which is considered neutral territory because nobody messed with Simon. You know, Simon, he’s a 6’4” black Russian who brooks no arguments. Russian mafia connections? Probably, but at least he thinks conflict is not good for the digestion.
It’s got to be a joke, right? Nope. This could actually happen in the wonderfully self-contained world that is Ikebukuro, our stage for Durarara!!
This is what Yen Press says about volume one:
At the invitation of an old school friend, introverted high school student Mikado Ryuugamine, yearning for a life less ordinary, makes his way to Tokyo. His destination: Ikebukuro, a hotbed of madmen living most unusual lives. On his first day there, Mikado encounters a cast of characters so colorful, the rich hues of his rural hometown pale in comparison! And as if the naive stalker chick, the high school senior obsessed with the rather creepy object of his affections, the hikikomori genius doctor, the hedonistic information dealer, the strongest man in all of Ikebukuro weren’t enough…Mikado also chances upon a sight that leaves him rubbing his eyes and scratching his head — the Black Biker, who is black as night from bodysuit to license plate, soundlessly weaving through the streets like a figure out of an urban legend. Who is this “Headless Rider” on the jet-black metal steed!? And why does it seem like Mikado’s already gotten himself neck-deep in the insanity that is the norm in his new home!?
And what a first day it was.
If the trailer I posted earlier didn’t do it for you I understand. It was nice but not very exciting. This one that just dropped will make up for it, I promise.
Our congrats to Jeff and all the other nominees.
- The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)
- Trial by Fire, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
- Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
- The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu (Tor)
- Coming Home, Jack McDevitt (Ace)
Locus has the full list of winners in all categories.
Annihilation has 63 reads on WWEnd and is rated a healthy 3.715 stars out of 5 and we’ve got a dozen reviews for you to check out. Are you one of those readers/reviewers? What do you think of this result?
- Tales from Rugosa Coven by Sarah Avery (Dark Quest)
- The Angel of Losses by Stephanie Feldman (Ecco)
- Songs for Ophelia by Theodora Goss (Papaveria)
- The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris (Gollancz)
- Locke & Key Series by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
Our congrats to all the finalists. The winners of this year’s awards will be announced during Mythcon 46, to be held July 31 – August 3, 2015, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
What do you think of this lineup? I’m particularly interested in the Locke & Key Series of graphic novels. I’ve seen them in the comic shop but didn’t pay much attention to them before. I shall have to remedy that.
Bill Nye and The Planetary Society have launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a solar sail spacecraft. And if that’s not enough to get you over there to back this amazing project he’s got Neil deGrasse Tyson on board as well AND it’s going to be launched by SpaceX! Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson and SpaceX. Need I say more?