Saturday, July 22, 2017

2017 Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic - Shortlists

The Sunburst Award Committee has announced the shortlists for the 2017 Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. The winners will be announced in Fall 2017.




This year’s shortlists again highlight the eclecticism to be found in today's Canadian literature of the fantastic. Although the majority of those shortlisted are making their Sunburst Award debut, there are a number of return writers: Jonathan Auxier, James Alan Garner, Jo Walton (twice before) and Robert Charles Wilson have all been shortlisted before; in fact Robert Charles Wilson's work has been shortlisted an unprecedented seven times.

The Jury
The jurors for the 2017 award are Nancy Baker, Michel Basilières, Rebecca Bradley, Dominick Grace, and Sean Moreland.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel for PC

XSEED Games Reveals Release Date for Trails of Cold Steel PC Version

Beginning of Critically Acclaimed ‘Trails’ Arc to be Primed and Polished for PC Gamers along with Over 5,000 New Lines of Voiceover Dialogue on August 2

Torrance, Calif. — July 19, 2017 — XSEED Games, the independent-minded console publishing brand of Marvelous USA, Inc., today announced that The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, the start of a new story arc in developer Nihon Falcom’s acclaimed series of role-playing games, is headed to Windows PC on August 2, 2017 via Steam,, and the Humble Store by Humble Bundle with a launch week discount of 10% off the regular price of $39.99, €39.99, and £29.99. Originally released in North America to wide acclaim in 2015 for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and PlayStation®Vita handheld entertainment system, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel will make its debut on Windows PC with visual enhancements and over 5,000 new lines of English voiceover dialogue (approximately a 50% increase).

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy at SDCC

With #1 Worldwide in Physical Game Sales in June, the Previously Unreleased Stormy Ascent Level Now Available for Free Through August 19th to Celebrate Overwhelming Fan Response

Dark Horse Comics’ “The Crash Bandicoot Files” Book Confirmed

Crash™ fans are in for the ultimate challenge today! Activision Publishing, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI), announced during the Crash Bandicoot™ Then and Now panel at Comic-Con International: San Diego that new content is available for Crash Bandicoot™ N. Sane Trilogy. Stormy Ascent  -- a previously unfinished and unreleased level from the original Crash Bandicoot™ game – will be available for free(1) today starting at Noon PT.  Also announced today is the upcoming The Crash Bandicoot™ Files: How Willy the Wombat Sparked Marsupial Mania, a hard cover book from Dark Horse Comics featuring the original design document for Crash Bandicoot. Additionally, fans can now send each other Crash Bandicoot emojis by downloading the free CrashMoji™ app.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Guest Blog by Linnea Hartsuyker - Some of my favorite Genre-Bending Historical Fantasy Novels

Please welcome Linnea Hartsuyker to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. The Half-Drowned King will be published on August 1st by Harper.

Some of my favorite Genre-Bending Historical Fantasy Novels

I’ve always loved historical fiction and fantasy, and some of my favorite books mix the two genres. The first book that made me want to be an author was The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, which retells the Arthurian Legends from the points of view of Morgan le Fay and Guinevere. Here are some stand-outs from the last thirty years from a genre that inspired me when writing The Half-Drowned King.

The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Mists of Avalon is better known, but The Firebrand, Bradley’s retelling of The Illiad, from the point of view the prophet Kassandra, condemned by Apollo to be disbelieved as she predicts Troy’s doom, is my favorite of her novels. Bradley frames the Trojan War as both a political conflict between Troy and the Greeks, as well as a conflict between the Greek gods with which we are familiar, and the older goddess-centric worship of the Anatolian peninsula. The gods intervene literally, as they do in Homer’s version, but the story is also grounded in the archeology of the time, painting a vivid picture of Ancient Troy and the surrounding kingdoms, replete with details of sandals and chariots, rituals and feasts.

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

Just as in Men in Black, aliens hide among the strangeness and vast numbers of people and cultures in New York City, so does the melting pot of nineteenth century New York hide magical creatures in The Golem and the Jinni. It is a slow moving and engrossing tale of these two creatures, a female golem freed from her masters who finds the world’s infinite choices, and her attunement to human’s desires, daunting, and a Jinni who chafes at any strictures. This book does a beautiful job evoking nineteenth century New York and the Jewish and Syrian communities that formed their own little worlds within the huge city.

Finn MacCool by Morgan Llywelyn

Finn MacCool was a legendary Irish warrior, or perhaps giant. I grew up with a picture book about Finn’s trickster wife running off a much bigger giant who wanted to do Finn harm. When I read Llywelyn’s Finn MacCool as a teenager, I discovered a much different version, a Bronze-Age Irish warrior trying to rise above his uncertain birth, falling in love with a fairy woman, and in his middle age, weathering the loss of a young wife and his pride. This book evokes the strange customs of Bronze-Age Ireland, and gives Finn a wonderful supporting cast of brother warriors whose stories are as compelling as his.

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Fantasy and horror have always been kissing cousins, and in Lovecraft Country Matt Ruff explores the more fantastical side of Lovecraft, while also delving into the precarious, dangerous position occupied by a black family in Jim Crow era US. Ruff uses the more fantastical elements of the Lovecraft mythos to tell this story, and in his hands, Lovecraft’s obsessions with blood and contagions are used to illuminate the horrors of racism. Still, this book is not relentlessly bleak. The characters approach the weird situations they encounter with a gallows humor, and cleverly outwit their antagonists, making it an enjoyable and thoughtful read.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Another take on The Illiad, this time focusing on a romance between Achilles and Patroclus, strained when Achilles is overcome with the madness of battle, moving further and further from the gentle Patroclus. This novel invents Patroclus’s upbringing in the court of his father and later with the centaur Chiron. A more intimate novel than The Firebrand, The Song of Achilles deals with the Trojan War’s impact on one couple, and shows how harmful violence is even to its perpetrators.

The Flower Reader by Elizabeth Loupas

On the surface, the plot of The Flower Reader seems as though it would be at home in a Phillippa Gregory book, but it approaches the story differently because the heroine, Rinette, can tell the future from flowers. It is a charming device that provides some of the most compelling scenes in the novel and makes it easy to believe in its reality in this novel’s world. When Rinette’s husband is murdered she comes into possession of a casket that contains documents her enemies will kill for. She uses her talent and her cleverness to outwit her more obvious enemies and those who would use her affections against her.

The Mabinogion Tetralogy by Evangeline Walton

Predating The Mists of Avalon by almost 50 years, The Mabinogion Tetralogy by Evangeline Walton is a set of four books that re-tell the Mabinogion, the Welsh creation legends, and mythological underpinnings of the Arthurian legend. Fans of Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain will recognize re-workings of his source material in these books, with Prince Arawn of Annwyn, who is no villain here, and the hero Gwydion and his brothers, who are not nearly as noble in the original mythology or Walton’s retelling of it. Walton’s sparse prose suits the legends, and paints vivid characters, like Prince Pwyll, a haughty young man who loves hunting above all, and because of his single minded pursuit of his prey has to spend a year in the land of the dead. These books are as fresh and strange today as when they were first written in the 1930s and 40s.

The Half-Drowned King
Harper, August 1, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages

"Lovers of epic rejoice! Hartsuyker illuminates these old stories with authority and visceral detail, bringing to life the adventure, bleak beauty, and human struggle that lie at their heart. A vivid and gripping read." —Madeline Miller, bestselling author of The Song of Achilles

"Linnea Hartsuyker brings myth and legend roaring to life in this superbly good page-turning saga of Viking-era Norway. Hartsuyker is fearless as she navigates a harsh, exacting, and hair-raising world, with icy fjords and raiding seasons and ancient blood feuds. But the book’s fiercest magic shines in the characters of Ragnvald and Svanhild, as unforgettable a brother and sister duo as I can remember in recent literature. Linnea Hartsuyker is an exciting, original voice in historical fiction, and The Half-Drowned King is nothing short of mesmerizing."—Paula McLain, bestselling author of The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun

An exhilarating saga of the Vikings that conjures a brutal, superstitious, and thrilling ninth-century world and the birth of a kingdom—the debut installment in a historical literary trilogy that combines the bold imagination and sweeping narrative power of Game of Thrones, Vikings, and Outlander.
Centuries ago, in a blood-soaked land ruled by legendary gods and warring men, a prophecy foretold of a high king who would come to reign over all of the north. . . .

Ragnvald Eysteinsson, the son and grandson of kings, grew up believing that he would one day take his dead father’s place as chief of his family’s lands. But, sailing home from a raiding trip to Ireland, the young warrior is betrayed and left for dead by men in the pay of his greedy stepfather, Olaf. Rescued by a fisherman, Ragnvald is determined to have revenge for his stepfather’s betrayal, claim his birthright and the woman he loves, and rescue his beloved sister Svanhild. Opportunity may lie with Harald of Vestfold, the strong young Norse warrior rumored to be the prophesied king. Ragnvald pledges his sword to King Harald, a choice that will hold enormous consequence in the years to come.

While Ragnvald’s duty is to fight—and even die—for his honor, Svanhild must make an advantageous marriage, though her adventurous spirit yearns to see the world. Her stepfather, Olaf, has arranged a husband for her—a hard old man she neither loves nor desires. When the chance to escape Olaf’s cruelty comes at the hands of her brother’s arch rival, the shrewd young woman is forced to make a heartbreaking choice: family or freedom.

Set in a mystical and violent world defined by honor, loyalty, deceit, passion, and courage, The Half-Drowned King is an electrifying adventure that breathtakingly illuminates the Viking world and the birth of Scandinavia.

About Linnea

Linnea Hartsuyker grew up in the middle of the woods outside Ithaca, New York, and studied Engineering at Cornell University. After a decade of working at internet startups, and writing in her spare time, she attended NYU and received an MFA in Creative Writing. She lives in New York City with her husband.

Website  ~  Twitter @linneaharts

Facebook  ~  Instagram  ~  Tumblr

Comet Crash 2: The Kronkoid Wars Coming August 8th to PS4

Comet Crash 2: The Kronkoid Wars, the second entry in the Comet Crash series by developer Pelfast, will be released exclusively for PlayStation®4 on August 8, 2017, as a digital download for $14.99. In this real-time strategy title, players must defend civilization by collecting resource rocks that fund the expansion of maze-like tower systems, weapon upgrades and massive armies to protect their worlds and defeat the Kronkoids. Comet Crash 2 retains what players loved about the award-winning original game, an offensive RTS with tower defense elements, updated with a new storyline, new enemies, big bosses, and an all-new online multiplayer mode.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Legendary Pokémon Coming to Pokémon Go

From Myth To Augmented Reality, Legendary Pokémon Soon Descend Into Pokémon GO

New Pokémon GO Trailer Teases Epic Cooperative Battles with Legendary Pokémon

SAN FRANCISCO—JULY 20, 2017— In celebration of Pokémon GO’s one-year anniversary, Niantic, Inc. and The Pokémon Company International have revealed that Legendary Pokémon will begin to soar into the real world soon. A new Pokémon GO trailer offers a glimpse at the way Trainers will cooperate with one another to discover, battle, and catch elusive and extremely powerful Legendary Pokémon. Once in the wild, Trainers can search for unique Legendary Eggs at Gym locations around the world. Players can team up with friends and other Trainers to join a Legendary Raid Battle to defeat the Legendary Pokémon and earn a chance to catch it.

Interview with Michael F. Haspil, author of Graveyard Shift

Please welcome Michael F. Haspil to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Graveyard Shift was published on July 18th by Tor Books.

The QwilleryWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Michael F. Haspil:  Thank you for your welcome. I enter of my own free will. I started writing in earnest probably in the 5th or 6th grade when I was at New York Military Academy. I may have written stories before but my English teacher there at NYMA, Mrs. Marion Thomas, ran a small literary magazine students would publish stories in. She ran it off on a ditto machine, so it wasn’t the most sophisticated of affairs. But I remember a story I wrote which she published (which happened to be about werewolves) was the first one I received any acclaim for. My classmates loved it and we even made a quick one-shot role-playing campaign out of it.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

MH:  I’m a hybrid, though lately I’m more of a plotter than a pantser. Before I even start a story, I tend to have a scene, usually the climax or the ending, firmly in my mind. Then I break out a plotting grid and start working out the story from there. But the plotting grid is a guide, not fixed in stone. So, as I write, if something better comes up or a plot point becomes too problematic, I jettison the plot grid and revise it.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

MH:  The most challenging thing for me, and I suspect for others, is simply finding the time to write. I’ve gotten rid of my television and cut incredibly back on computer games, but it still seems that I can’t find the time. One thing that has helped me recently is to come to terms that I will never find the ideal block of free time to let me summon the muse. So, I just have to make do without her and write despite having no time to do it. I find that usually if I get going without her, she gets annoyed and shows up anyway.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

MH:  I would like to say all kinds of lofty references to literary great works, but that wouldn’t be true. The truth would be a lot of genre fiction in film, in books, and comics; a lot of which are considered schlocky by today’s standards.

TQDescribe Graveyard Shift in 140 characters or less.

MH:  An immortal pharaoh battles an ancient vampire conspiracy, using drastic measures and questionable allies, to prevent something much worse.

TQTell us something about Graveyard Shift that is not found in the book description.

MH:  One of the vampires is a Catholic priest who used to be a Spanish conquistador.

TQWhat inspired you to write Graveyard Shift? What appeals to you about writing Urban Fantasy?

MH:  I had a dream about the world where it takes place. When I woke, all I could remember was the sentence, “I used to kill vampires for the NSA, now I work vice.”

What I like about writing Urban Fantasy is that it isn’t that far removed from our own world. It’s that thing you catch a glimpse of out of the corner of your eye. It’s the rumpled jacket on the chair in the dim light that might just be some demonic imp crouching and observing you through the darkness, waiting for you to look away so it can pounce. I love the idea that we think we know what is real, but we’re most probably wrong.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Graveyard Shift?

MH:  I did a lot of research on the Miami-Dade police department and on urban police operations in general. I really wanted to try and get that as right as I could so the story would be grounded. At the same time, I had to loosen up and acknowledge that strictly realistic police work might not be possible in a Miami populated by all manner of preternatural beings.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for Graveyard Shift.

MH:  Stephen Youll is the cover artist behind the magnificent cover for Graveyard Shift. It doesn’t portray any single moment from the novel and yet he managed to capture the spirit of the novel perfectly. When I saw the cover, I thought, “Wow. That’s is exactly what the book is about.” And yet it is silhouettes, splashes of color, and ghostly figures from out of time. I love it.

TQIn Graveyard Shift who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

MH:  Marcus was the easiest character to right because his motivations are very straightforward. In many ways, he’s the “Boy Scout” of the characters. He’s a former Roman who was beholden to some serious secret societies (and he might still be loyal to them) but he knows what he should do and is generally focused on exactly how to do it.

The hardest character to write was Rhuna, who is a shapeshifter. She is vicious and deadly and takes pleasure in being so. But she’s not a bad person. She’s not entirely human and so her emotions and motivations are also not entirely human. She can be laughing one instant and at another’s throat in the next. But she’s very loyal in her own way. The surrounding characters very much need to walk on eggshells when around her.

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in Graveyard Shift?

MH:  There are some social issues present throughout Graveyard Shift, though I don’t present solutions to any of them. The book certainly touches on issues of drug abuse and human trafficking very prominently. But our heroes often deal with issues where situational ethics come into play and they are forced to make awful decisions to avoid something worse in the future.

TQWhich question about Graveyard Shift do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

MH:  How did the Pharaoh Menkaure become an immortal mummy? Well, I won’t answer much of that but it had something to do with him sacrificing his immortal soul to protect humanity from an unspeakable evil. That’s much of the plot of an upcoming novel and if I answered the entire question truthfully, then it would be rife with spoilers.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Graveyard Shift.


Quote 1: “I rewarded them with the finest of Hathor’s yrp wine and from that day forth, they called themselves Menkaure’s Drunkards.”

Quote 2: “I remember the story that Romulus and Remus were suckled by a she-wolf…but that’s just a myth, right?”

TQWhat's next?

MH:  Right now, I’m working on a fun pop-culture geek novel in the tradition of Geekomancy and Scott Pilgrim. Sort of Ready Player-One meets Through the Looking Glass (complete with a live Jabberwock and a vorpal blade!) It’s not connected to the world of Graveyard Shift in any way.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

MH:  Thank you for hosting me! I really hope people will enjoy the book.

Graveyard Shift
Tor Books, July 18, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

Police procedurals go supernatural in this gritty urban fantasy debut by Michael F. Haspil in Graveyard Shift

Alex Menkaure, former pharaoh and mummy, and his vampire partner, Marcus, born in ancient Rome, are vice cops in a special Miami police unit. They fight to keep the streets safe from criminal vampires, shape-shifters, bootleg blood-dealers, and anti-vampire vigilantes.

When poisoned artificial blood drives vampires to murder, the city threatens to tear itself apart. Only an unlikely alliance with former opponents can give Alex and Marcus a fighting chance against an ancient vampire conspiracy.

If they succeed, they'll be pariahs, hunted by everyone. If they fail, the result will be a race-war bloodier than any the world has ever seen.

“Gritty urban fantasy and hard-boiled noir packed into a hand grenade of awesome!” —Mario Acevedo, author of Werewolf Smackdown

About Michael

MICHAEL F. HASPIL is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, where he distinguished himself as an ICBM crew commander. After retiring from the military, he served as a launch director at Cape Canaveral. He has been writing original stories for as long as he can remember and has dabbled in many genres. Graveyard Shift is his first novel.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @MichaelHaspil

Hello Kitty ♥ PAC-MAN Mobile Game and Merchandise

Sanrio and BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Join Forces with New Hello Kitty ♥ PAC-MAN Mobile Game and Merchandise

Pop Icon Hello Kitty and the First Video Game Hero to Chomp Tasty Dots and Pesky Ghosts, Debuting Collaboration at Comic-Con International: San Diego 2017

SANTA CLARA, Calif., (July 19, 2017) – Sanrio, Inc. and leading anime video game developer and publisher BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment today announce Hello Kitty ♥ PAC-MAN, a new collaboration featuring PAC-MAN, the world’s first video game hero, joining forces with supercute global pop icon, Hello Kitty. Developed by Sanrio, Inc. and BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment as a license program, the collaboration kicks-off on July 19th at Comic-Con International: San Diego with a Hello Kitty themed update to the PAC-MAN app available now as a free download on Google Play and the Apple App Store.

Dark and Light from Snail Games Launches July 20th on Steam Early Access

Snail Games, a leading developer and publisher of interactive entertainment, has announced that Dark and Light, the dark fantasy multiplayer survival game, will launch on Steam in Early Access on July 20th for $29.99.

Dark and Light puts players in an immersive fantasy world that is filled with magic, monsters, and mystery. In this world, they will be challenged to survive and thrive through a combination of crafting, exploration, and powerful magic.

Dark and Light’s features include:
  • Master the Elements: Discover, craft, and cast dozens of powerful magical spells to take on the threats looming on Archos.
  • Explore a Massive, Living World: Travel from frigid mountain peaks, to dense forests, floating islands, hidden caverns, volcanic regions, and more.
  • Build a House and Support Your Faction: Join one of three factions, build your own noble house, and take on other players to dominate Archos.
  • Choose a Side: Support the Light or the Darkness, fill the world with powerful Dark creatures, or purify the world with Light.
  • Take Command of Powerful Creatures: Tame virtually any creature you encounter in the world - giant treants, mystical elementals, and legendary dragons can be at your command.
  • Protect Your Home: Build anything from a straw shack to an enormous fortress to defend against hostile forces.

Crystal Dynamics Celebrates 25 Years

This July marks the 25th anniversary for Crystal Dynamics®, the studio behind the critically acclaimed and world-famous TOMB RAIDER® franchise which has sold over 58 million copies globally.  In celebration, the studio has organized a series of charitable events and activities that takes us on a trip down memory lane, commemorating Crystal’s 25 years of producing unforgettable experiences.

“The collaboration of our top industry talent all focused on creating ground-breaking, unprecedented gaming experiences is the engine that drives Crystal,” said Ron Rosenberg, Co-Head of Studio at Crystal Dynamics. “We’re extremely proud of all that we’ve accomplished over the last twenty-five years, and, as we look to the future, we are excited to bring our passion and craftsmanship to even more games including the 'Avengers' project.”

Starting July 18th, Square Enix® and Crystal Dynamics are offering an exclusive Crystal Dynamics 25th Anniversary game bundle through GameChanger. Patrons who donate $25 or more will receive this exclusive bundle of 12 new and classic Crystal Dynamics games, including Tomb Raider, Lara Croft® and the Temple of Osiris™, Legacy of Kain™: Defiance, Project Snowblind™, and more. Funds raised will be given to GameChanger Charity and support their mission of bringing happiness and gaming to children facing life-threatening illnesses in hospitals around the world.