Archive for the ‘Tiemen’ Category

Gift Ideas for Geeks

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Ready or not, the gift-giving season is upon us! Whether you celebrate Sinterklaas, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or any other opportunity to give presents during the dark days of the winter solstice, we’ve got ideas aplenty. As in previous years, the ABC Staff has looked through their sections and hand-picked various choice literary jewels for your gift-giving pleasure.

We will present these titles in a series of blog posts and recommendation lists throughout the coming month. We hope you will find some inspiration in them, but please remember that these titles only represent a tiny fraction of the books on offer in our stores. Be sure to stop by to see what else there is in the area of your interest!

Since such a significant percentage of the ABC Staff falls into the ‘Geek’ category, it’s no surprise this post is filled to bursting with possible presents.  We’ve put together some suggestions from the Science & Math sections, Humor, Comics & Graphic Novels, Manga and – of course – Science Fiction & Fantasy.

You can find our gift ideas from previous years here (scroll down a bit to 2013 and beyond), and be sure to have a look at our ABC Favorites, too.

Science & Mathematics

Ebook available for The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets.


“Can’t get enough of Neil Patrick Harris? Already own a copy of The Bro Code and The Playbook? This book also has the most hilarious book trailer for an autobiography ever! I just love this guy…” - ABC’s Marketing Director Karin on Choose Your Own Autobiography.

“When you have a 13-year old teenage daughter you have to pay attention to what she is doing online and this guy has over 3 million followers on YouTube and is just hilarious…. With this book (and app) he challenges you to complete your book of pointlessness and do virtually nothing with pride. Fully illustrated and packed with a host of games, activities and pranks, this book might also work for boys who don’t want to be seen with one of Keri Smith’s books.” – Karin on The Pointless Book.

Graphic Novels / Comics

If you love comics and graphic novels, be sure to read journalist Michael Minneboo’s regular book reviews on this blog!

“Corrina Park is stuck in the same job for the past five years since she got out of college, her dreams and aspirations of becoming a writer lost in the daily grind. She shoplifts magazines out of her local supermarket to break the dullness of her life. A story about life’s questions on life, happiness and fulfillment told at an easy pace.” - ABC Amsterdam’s Comics and Graphic Novels buyer Jitse on Shoplifter.

“The epic story of Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung was written and drawn by Eisner award winner P. Craig Russell, but was unavailable for years. Now at last the complete story is published in one beautiful hardcover collection. Giants plot against gods, while mortal humans are torn between their love for each other and their love for gold. Heroes are ruined, kings fall, lovers die. A wonderful gift for those who love epic fantasy and mythology.” - Jitse on The Ring of the Nibelung.

“The X-Men from the past have been taken to the now by time travel to see what they will become. But they don’t want to return so the X-Men from the future travel back in time to save them from making a terrible mistake and endangering the future earth. All the while the mutants of earth are attacked by giant sentinels that are out to destroy as many of them as possible, sent out by an unknown menace. A great story with lots of action, time travel and awesome illustrations. This is X-Men at their best.” - Jitse on X-Men: Battle of the Atom.


“A beautifully drawn manga in one volume based on the anime from 2012.” – ABC The Hague’s Manga buyer Ester on Wolf Children: AME & Yuki.

“Hana falls in love with a young interloper she encounters in her college class, only to find out her lover is part wolf. As their relationship blooms they expect their first child, but family bliss is soon destroyed when her lover is tragically taken from Hana. Now she must face life as a single mother with two children that are both man and beast. An endearing fantasy story about love and life’s tough choices.” - ABC Amsterdam’s Manga buyer Jitse, also on Wolf Children: AME & Yuki.

“The newest box set in this ever-popular series.” – Ester on Pokemon Adventures Ruby & Sapphire Box Set.

“The first book of this year’s hit series!” - Ester on Attack on Titan 1.

“Soma Yukihira is hell-bent on one day surpassing his father’s culinary skills and take over the small family restaurant in the less savory end of town. Then one day his father decides to close the restaurant and Soma enrolls in a classy culinary school with a 10% graduation rate. Can he cut it with his culinary skills, and can he convince the beautiful Erina Nakiri that he belongs there at all? An entertaining and saucy story about challengers and cooking, sure to whet your appetite for more.” - Jitse on Food Wars! 1.

“William Twining is a young aristocrat in 19th century England. His family is bankrupt and when looking for something to sell in his family’s basement he accidentally summons the demon Dantalion, a Grand Duke of Hell, who informs him that he is chosen to be the ‘Elector’, destined to choose the next ruler of Hell. As a scientific realist, William does not believe in such superstition, even as more powerful demons come to plea for his favours. Soon he finds himself at the center of a war between Hell and Heaven as he discovers the mysterious past. A great read for those who love mysteries, intrigue and the supernatural.” - Jitse on Devils and Realist 1.

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Ebook available for The Girl with All the Gifts, The Peripheral (at the end of November), The Mirror Empire and Lock In.

“This is the best zombie movie I’ve ever read. Carey brings a nice twist to the by now pretty exhausted zombie-genre. This would be a fantastic last hurrah. A great gift for fans of The Walking Dead and The Last of Us.” - ABC The Hague’s Science Fiction & Fantasy buyer JeroenW on The Girl with All the Gifts.

“Patrick Rothfuss fans have it rough; it’s been three years since the release of The Wise Man’s Fear, and there’s still no word on when the third part of the Kingkiller Chronicles will be out. Well, this holiday season will at least see the publication of a small amount of prose which managed to escape Rothfuss’s brain (it is said he sieves his stories from the air using his beard, like a blue whale extracting krill from sea-water).  It’s only 176 pages, but that’s 176 pages more than doodley-squat. It goes without saying that this is the perfect gift for Rothfuss fans.” – JeroenW on The Slow Regard of Silent Things.

“After four years we finally get another William Gibson novel – and it looks like it might be a good one. Gibson seems to have set his sights on online gaming and Global Warming, and it remains to be seen what he’ll make of these modern blights, since at the time of writing this, it hasn’t been released yet, but I’ll find out along with you because The Peripheral will be my gift to myself this Christmas.” - JeroenW on The Peripheral.

“Did you hear that sound? That’s Kameron Hurley raising the bar for epic fantasy. Hurley takes traditional fantasy tropes and transforms them with a deft hand into something astonishing new. Bored with the standard kingdom threatened by ancient evil? Try genocidal invasion on the multiverse scale. Plus giant carnivorous plants.” - ABC Amsterdam’s Science Fiction & Fantasy buyer Tiemen on The Mirror Empire.

“It doesn’t matter which genre Scalzi writes in, the result is always an entertaining and witty novel. This time the story is set in the near future in which a global disease has resulted in large parts of the population being locked in their own bodies. With no cure available millions of people use mind controlled robots to interact with the outside world. And this is all the background of a complicated murder mystery in which it soon turns out to be that robots are not the only things that can be controlled from afar.” – Tiemen on Lock In.

“The ultimate feel good book of 2014. The Goblin Emperor is a well-crafted court intrigue fantasy with a refreshingly honest and decent protagonist. It’s a smart novel about politics, responsibility and doing the right thing. Ever wondered what it would be like if you are suddenly thrust into the role of emperor? Then The Goblin Emperor is the book for you.” - Tiemen on The Goblin Emperor.

“This is a funny story and a sad story. This is a complicated novel about empire and culture, but also a straightforward whodunnit murder mystery. This is epic fantasy, but also an almost literary story about the past, present and future. But above all, this is a story about a giant secretary named Sigrud, who is just the coolest character since Tyrion the Imp.” - Tiemen on City of Stairs.

“This is portal fantasy with a very clever twist. Trust me, while reading this book you are going to be aware how many times you blink with your eyes at any moment. It’s an intelligent story which weaves complex issues like disability, class issues and power dynamics into a thrilling plot.” - Tiemen on Otherbound.

“Octavia Butler is one of the great names of science-fiction, but until recently I had never read anything by her. Having now read Lilith’s Brood I can say that I should have read her sooner. The story, which spans over three books, is a sad but beautiful tale about the human condition viewed from an alien perspective. It is a sensual novel about hope and despair and the painful but vibrant effort of trying to rebuild after humanity has almost destroyed itself.” – Tiemen on Lilith’s Brood.

This Just In: Science Fiction & Fantasy

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

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

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

Ebooks available for Solaris Rising 3, Magician’s End, Raising Steam, Red Rising, Proxima and The Witch With No Name.

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

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” – Tiemen, Science Fiction & Fantasy Buyer at ABC Amsterdam