Archive for the ‘Tiemen’ Category


ABC Talks To: SciFi author Django Wexler

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

By ABC Amsterdam Science Fiction & Fantasy buyer Tiemen

Hi Django! Welcome to the ABC blog. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and what the Shadow Campaigns series are about?

Hi! I’m Django Wexler, I write fantasy and love all things SFF. The Shadow Campaigns is my military fantasy series, a story of war and magic in a world loosely based on Europe in the 18th century.

I loved reading The Thousand Names and The Shadow Throne. They are quite different from your average medieval knights and damsels fantasy and instead of swords and dragons you have muskets and mortars. What inspired you to write flintlock fantasy?

I loved George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, and especially the way he took a fantasy setting, the traditional knights-and-castles world, and brought it back to its historical roots in 13th or 14th century England. After reading it, I knew I wanted to do something similar — fantasy with strong historical roots — but I didn’t want to use a historical period that had been done over and over. A bit later, I was reading a book about the campaigns of Napoleon Bonaparte, and realized how many amazing stories you could get out of that era. That was where The Shadow Campaigns got started, and got its roughly Napoleonic feel.

The character of Winter Ihernglass is such an amazing character. How did you come up with the idea of a woman masquerading as a man to enlist as a soldier?

It’s actually a pretty well-worn theme, to the point where I was initially a little nervous about using it for fear of being called cliché. But I really wanted to get a female main character into a book that might otherwise be all men. It’d be hard for her to openly be a soldier without straying too far from my historical model in terms of culture, but it didn’t work very well when I tried her in roles that weren’t really part of the army.

What finally decided me was reading about actual historical examples of women of that period dressing up as men to fight — it really happened, not just once or twice but literally hundreds of times. (We have no idea how many, really, since often they were never found out!) That made me really want to include something like it in the book, and from there that storyline grew until it’s probably the most important part of the series.

Both The Thousand Names and The Shadow Throne seem heavily influenced by the period of the French Revolution and especially in The Thousand Names it is clear that you know your musket from your bayonet. What kind of research did you do for the books and to what extent do you follow historical events from that period?

It’s hard to say, because a lot of the “research” is just the kind of thing I read for fun in any case. I read a lot of military histories, and in particular I try to get a sense of how the battles of a particular age felt to the people involved and the kind of things that tipped them in one direction or another. Battles are kind of vague in a lot of fantasy, and I didn’t want to do that, so I dug a little deeper on the details. The trick is figuring out how much to put in to give the readers a good feel for it without boring them.

Originally, I was going to follow historical events fairly closely, but in a fictionalized world with a bit of magic thrown in. That quickly went by the wayside as I started plotting out the series, though, and the books I ended up with are at best “inspired by” historical events. There’s a few bits and pieces of the original intention left over — the reason Khandar is a hot, desert country, for example, is because it was originally based on Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798.

A lot of fantasy tends to focus on male characters with women playing a secondary part. What I like about the Shadow Campaigns is that you have a cast of female characters who are not merely side characters but play active and crucial parts, both on and off the battlefield. Was this a conscious choice?

That’s definitely a conscious choice. When I was plotting out the very first versions of the story, I realized I had an all-male cast, since it was based on the historical wars and focused on the military rather than the political side. That just seemed boring, so I went looking for ways to break that up with some characters who weren’t just “yet another military officer guy”. As the plot changed, I added more politics, which helped me get another set of wider-ranging characters into the story.

What’s interesting is that the character with the most influence on events, the brilliant colonel Janus bet Vhalnich, stays in the background for large parts of the story. Most of the time you read the story from the point of view of captain Marcus d’Ivoire as he is trying to figure out what cunning strategy his commander Janus is employing this time. I would almost characterize the relationship between the two as a kind of military version of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Would you agree with that view?

That was definitely one of my models, along with Timothy Zahn’s Palleon and Thrawn, who I assume also have a Holmesian influence. The key is that writing from the point of view of a character who is supposed to be a genius is pretty hard, since you’d have to convey an enormous amount of information to the audience constantly, and it’s a little harder for us average folk to empathize with. Making the point of view character the more normal person who stands by the genius’ side actually gives a better view of events, while letting you preserve a little mystery and tension.

Besides writing flintlock fantasy you also started with a Young Adult fantasy series. Could you tell a bit about The Forbidden Library and was it a different experience to write for a younger audience?

The Forbidden Library is the story of Alice, a girl who comes downstairs one evening to find her father talking to a fairy in the kitchen. When he disappears soon after, she’s sent to live with her Uncle Geryon, and discovers he has a massive, magical library where her own powers are revealed. It’s a lot of fun because it has so many of the things I love in it: books, libraries, cats, portals to other worlds, and various strange creatures.

It wasn’t actually all that different from writing my adult books, mostly because I didn’t actually know what I was doing. I pretty much wrote the way I always write, although with a slightly simplified narrative structure (only one point of view, fewer characters) and a shorter target length. My editor did change a few words once I was done, but overall the experience hasn’t actually been that unusual!

And at last the final question, not really fantasy-related but nonetheless a very important life and death question: in the event of the zombie apocalypse what would be your choice of weapon and transportation?

Hrm. See, here’s what always bugs me about zombies — they are thermodynamically impossible, and to my mind that makes zombie stories Fantasy rather than SF or Horror. So a lot depends on how, precisely, the magic animating the zombies works. If we’re in fantasy, I think I’d go with some kind of magic sword as my weapon, preferably one of the ones that makes me into an invincible warrior; those don’t run out of ammo. (Or break, or get dull.) Likewise, horses would make for good transportation once the gas starts to run out. Pegasi or unicorns would be even better!

There are ebooks available for The Thousand Names, The Shadow Throne and The Forbidden Library.  Bonus: The Penitent Damned, a short prequel to The Thousand Names, is available for free online at i09.com.

This Just In: Science Fiction & Fantasy

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Seven Recently-Arrived Titles from the Science Fiction & Fantasy Section:

Please be sure to contact our stores for an exact stock check!

Ebook available for Acceptance and Broken Eye.

This Just In: Science Fiction & Fantasy

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Seven Recently-Arrived Titles from the Science Fiction & Fantasy Section:

Please be sure to contact our stores for an exact stock check!

Ebook available for Cursed Moon.

About Lock In: “Already read it and it’s an instant classic Scalzi novel again. Be sure to check out the prequel novella Unlocked at tor.com.” – Tiemen, Science Fiction & Fantasy Buyer at ABC Amsterdam

Store Bits: Staff Choices

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

A new round of Staff Choices of both new and old books. Happy reading!

The Girl With All The Gifts – M. R. Carey
Recommended by JeroenW

“Zombies have been done to death (pun intended), and this might easily slip under your radar as Just-Another-Zombie-Book, and to be fair, to a certain extent it is. But this just happens to be a really well-written one, with well-fleshed-out characters, some nice twists and a great ending. Highly recommended for anyone looking for an exciting and satisfying read.”

Foreign Fruit – Jojo Moyes
Recommended by Simone

“Daisy and Celia are raised as sisters, in a very protective environment, when they are suddenly confronted with the new owners of the luxurious villa in their small town. Artistic people are “not to mix with”, however, Daisy and Celia cannot stay away.
When Celia brings home her new beau, the son of a rich man who imports exotic fruits, Daisy falls head over heels in love with him, and the complications begin.
Halfway through the book the story jumps forward in time, and page by page, the two storylines become one.
A wonderful and intriguing read.”

The Thousand Names – Django Wexler
Recommended by Tiemen

“There is a distinct possibility after reading this book you will yell ‘Form square!’ at random people in public.
This is a fun and exciting read. Instead of the same old, same old medieval fantasy setting this is so called Musket fantasy; a story deeply inspired by the age of the Napoleonic Wars.
And even though this is fantasy, Wexler has grounded it in a firm foundation of military history and knowledge. Wexler knows his musket from his bayonet and the way he portrays how an army in the Napoleonic age would function is done in a marvelous and interesting way.
Add in a few heartpounding battles – FORM SQUARE! – a Holmes & Watsonesque relationship between the commander and his second-in-command, a mystery about a magical artifact and you get one very entertaining and thrilling read.”

Every Day is for the Thief – Teju Cole
Recommended by Renate

“Previously only published in Nigeria (2007), but now
available for everyone. Yes!

This is a sad and funny book about going home
and trying to make sense of the journey and yourself and
the world along the way.

Cole’s prose is sensual and vivid and clear”

Nostalgia: The Russian Empire of Czar Nicholas II – Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii
Recommended by Marten

“Behind the somewhat offensive title lies a truly a incredible body of work. These color photographs have been taken between 99 and a 110 years ago. The encounter with people and the world of more then a century ago has never seem more vivid! The silence of a world without automobiles more condemning!”

This Just In: Science Fiction & Fantasy

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Twelve Recently-Arrived Titles from the Science Fiction & Fantasy Section:

Please be sure to contact our stores for an exact stock check!

Ebooks available for Blood Song, Defenders, Sand, Neptune’s Brood, The Thousand Names, Cibola Burn.