Nov 302017

Geekzine editor Andy Jamieson, and Edinburgh-based steampunk impresario Atticus Oldman, give an account of their favourite horror yarns, inspired by Halloween and the dark nights of the winter months….

“I never used to like horror movies and I still find some types of horror difficult to watch. Ghost stories and silly slashers I enjoy but tales that feature possession or anything remotely demonic I generally avoid. There are some truly great examples where horror books or films can work on a number of levels, beyond their scares and shocks. Take Guillermo del Toro’s superlative film, Crimson Peak, from 2015, for example. I consider it a horror film, but all the conflict in the film is driven by the monstrous human characters and not the ghosts, a theme he first explored in his third film, The Devil’s Backbone (2001). In Crimson Peak the very house that dominates the film is decaying, as if consumed by the sickness of the family that inhabits its domain. (I’ll be waxing lyrical about this fantastic film in a separate feature, coming soon). The same can  be said about del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), arguably his most accomplished film, weaving the fantastical trials of heroine Ofelia and the horrifying monsters she confronts, with the all too real horrors of the Spanish Civil War.

When discussing horror films, I am always drawn back to the work of the great John Carpenter, whose original Halloween (1978) still casts a long shadow that very few horror films have come close to. Carpenter’s work has always had that veneer of classy pulp, a stylistic vein that reached its crescendo in his three seminal mid-eighties films, Big Trouble in Little China (1986), Prince of Darkness (1987) and They Live! (1988), the first and last films containing horror elements, whilst the middle is a full-on unsettling fright fest. Aside from In The Mouth of Madness (1994), Carpenter would never reach these cinematic creative heights again.

Another horror favourite of mine is Candyman (1992), directed by Bernard Rose, and adapted from the Clive Barker short story, The Forbidden. I really liked Barker’s early directorial efforts, Hellraiser (1987) and Nightbreed (1990). The latter has seen some resurrection in recent years due to the fan-powered Cabal Cut, which ultimately led to an official Director’s Cut.

I don’t read much horror, being more into fantasy and science-fiction, but Clive Barker’s work appeals to me very much, as his strain of horror fiction charts the fantastical in truly imaginative ways. Cabal (1988) – the source material for the aforementioned Nightbreed – is a lean thriller about a hidden society of monsters, who are more ‘human’ than those that hunt them down. Weaveworld (1987), meanwhile, is Barker’s masterpiece, a flawless behemoth that mostly takes place within another world, trapped betwixt the confines of a rug, but when the plot does break free of its weaved environs, it spins an engrossing tale of the hunted and their prey.

The author Chris Priestley has written some superb horror books, ostensibly for the older children’s market, but you should check them out regardless of your age. His latest, Curse of the Werewolf Boy, is aimed at younger kids but is full of charm, wit and some mild scares. However, I would direct you with all haste to four of his books in particular; the excellent Tales of Terror trilogy – Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror (2007), Tales of Terror from the Black Ship (2008), and Tales of Terror from the Tunnel’s Mouth (2009) – and his wintry masterpiece, The Dead of Winter (2010). The latter is one of my favourite books of all time, and I make a point of reading it every winter.”


Offering up his select choices is Atticus Oldman, a purveyor of steampunk, based here in Edinburgh, and the architect of that online haven of all things steampunk in Edinburgh and beyond, the Steampunk Almanac.

Quartermass and the Pit (1967): I first saw this action adventure concerning a Martian invasion of London late one new year’s eve in the early seventies, when I had been allowed to stay up late in bed watching tv while there was a party in full swing downstairs. I must have only been 8 or 9 at the time, and this film sacred the devil out of me. Still gives me chills to this day!

John Carpenter’s The Thing has just been re-released on blu-ray

The Thing (1982): While most horror films of the early eighties seem hacked apart by the censor, The Thing made it through intact, or near enough, and what we have is a cracking science-fiction-horror that pretty much set the standard for special effects for years to follow. This was the first adult-rated film I snuck into the cinema to see, so it will always have a wee place in my heart.

The Limehouse Golem (2017): A gory and gruesome romp through Victorian London in search of a serial killer is the basis for this excellent story, that has fantastic scenes, settings and acting throughout which makes this relatively new horror release a real modern classic. I thoroughly enjoyed this great movie and hope it will inspire similar productions in the future.

As for my favourite horror read, it has to be Bram Stoker’s seminal Dracula, first published in May 1897. Despite the rather dry travelogue that opens this fantastic masterpiece of horror, Dracula is still an essential read which I return to at least once every couple of years. Best served up on a dark and stormy winter night with a side-order of candlelight and a hot toddy!


Atticus Oldman is one of the leading lights of the British Steampunk scene, and is the founder of the Steampunk Almanac, check it out at

Andrew Jamieson is the award-nominated author of steampunk fantasy novels, The Vengeance Path, and its sequel, Children of War, both available from the Amazon Kindle Store.

May 282014


Where’s Lando? (And other Episode VII musings)

by Andrew Jamieson, Geekzine UK’s Editor-in-chief

It is the question I have asked more than any other (with regard to Star Wars, of course; usually the most asked question of the day is “what’s for dinner?”) since that cast photo was released at the end of April. Straight away there was some backlash, particularly on twitter that I noticed, regarding a) the lack of females in the cast, and b) the mainly white cast. But one other grumble surfaced, and is the question I refer to, and that was: “Where’s Lando?”

That question is not easily answered, if answered at all. But let us examine the evidence before us. Firstly, the important thing to remember is that this cast announcement is of the principal cast, with confirmation from LucasFilm that more announcements will be made. For example, there will no doubt be numerous supporting roles to fill, for this is the epic universe of the Star Wars saga. So, with reference to the above alphabetized grumbles, I feel quite sure there will be more of a) and that b) will be an ongoing consideration.

BUT. Where is Lando?

Growing up, the sometime rogue-cardshark-turned-administrator-turned-general-and-hero-of-the-rebellion that is Lando Calrissian was one of my favourite characters. From a young mind’s point of view, he quite simply had some of the best action figures. The original Kenner line in the early eighties released a Bespin Governor Lando figure, all in blue shades with a plastic cape. This was followed for Return of the Jedi with Lando in ‘Skiff Guard Disguise’ complete with nifty helmet. Post-film release, Kenner brought out a ‘General Pilot’ Lando, as seen in the latter stages of Jedi, where he commands the Millennium Falcon. This figure had a nylon cape, an upgrade from the plastic sheeting for sure.


My prized Lando Calrissian “General Pilot” figure, from the mid-80s. HANDS OFF!

It is interesting to note that a concern raised post-Episode VII cast reveal, is of the mainly white cast. Back in the summer of 1977, the original Star Wars (pre-A New Hope subtitle, which would be added for the film’s re-release in 1981), as well as being a blockbuster success, also attracted such concerns. So when it came to the character of Lando Calrissian for The Empire Strikes Back, it seems that such criticism had not escaped George Lucas. In his book, Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, author Dale Pollock confirms as much:

The most sensitive part to cast in Empire was Lando. Still smarting from criticism that Star Wars was racist, George conceived of Lando as “a suave, dashing black man in his thirties” and specified in his script that that half of the Cloud City residents and troops were to be black (in the actual film, only a few blacks are visible). Lucas sought Billy Dee Williams from the outset, after seeing him in Lady Sings The Blues. Williams was reluctant to play what he thought was a token black, but soon realized that Lando could be portrayed by a black or white actor. “The part requires a universal, international quality, which I have,” Williams says. “Lando is an alternative to the usual WASP hero.”

(Excerpt from page 213)


Bill Dee Williams (born William December Williams Jnr) was already an established star by the time he was cast in Empire, having appeared in a number of critically acclaimed and academy award-nominated pictures. He was gifted with a character of dubious morality; greeting his old pal, Han Solo, with humour and hugs, it is not long before he has sold him out to Darth Vader (admittedly to keep Bespin Cloud City out of the clutches of the Empire). When Vader reneges on their deal, Lando reveals his honourable streak and attempts to make right his betrayal, and rescues Leia and Chewbacca, but is too late to save Han from being frozen in carbonite, now the prize of the bounty hunter, Boba Fett.

In Return of the Jedi, Billy Dee’s Lando is developed beyond his rogue persona in Empire, and gets some great scenes. Starting off undercover in Jabba’s Palace, he proceeds to aid in freeing Luke, Han and Chewy on a skiff barge hovering above the perilous Pit of Charkoon, home to the fearsome Sarlaac (pre-spesh edish beak), inadvertently dangling into the pit when things get a bit slapstick. I love this scene; there’s great contrast at work by the great, late director, Richard Marquand. We get a bit of Luke in full Jedi mode, backflipping and swashbuckling his way aboard Jabba’s barge, counteracting the slightly botched escape of Han and Chewie: “Boba Fett?” says Han. “Boba Fett? Where?” before sending the bounty hunter off to his ignominous doom in the belly of the Sarlaac…

Lando is then later revealed to now be the cooler-than-ice General Calrissian, and gets to command his old ship, the Millennium Falcon, alongside bizarre alien co-pilot Nien Nunb, at the fore of the fleet sent to attack the second Death Star.

So, this we all know, we’ve watched the original trilogy countless times haven’t we? And Lando, aside from the most famous central characters, is a firm fan favourite, so it would make sense to bring him back, surely? On a cynical note, think of all that merchandise revenue…

I’m not going to entertain idle gossip by speculating as to why Billy Dee Williams hasn’t been announced as part of the Episode VII cast. Idle gossip won’t answer my original question. But I will put forward a theory.

Let us consider the quite notable fact that screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan is penning Episode VII, having taken over from Matthew Arndt, in unusual circumstances; at the time when he was punted from the production, it was rumoured that his script focused more on a new generation of characters, and that Abrams/Disney/LucasFilm were not comfortable with this, and wanted the original main characters to return in prominence. Ergo the increased presence of Kasdan, from consultant to scriptwriter. You can read LucasFilm’s official press release on the exit of Arndt here:

Kasdan, as you may or may not know, co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back, coming in to assist Leigh Brackett, and also wrote Return of the Jedi. Both films feature Lando Calrissian in prominent supporting roles. If any writer on the planet is aware of Lando’s appeal/usefulness as a character, it is Lawrence Kasdan. Therefore, I take some comfort in the fact that if Lando doesn’t feature it may well be for a good narrative reason that Kasdan and J.J. Abrams have considered carefully. Personally, I think Lando will feature at some point, perhaps in a small role somewhere in the new trilogy.

Internet rumours were suggesting that John Boyega, confirmed as one of the cast, would be playing Lando’s son, but this appears to stem from the fact that he is the only black actor cast thus far. Billy Dee Williams, on at least one occasion, has said that his favoured storyline for the Calrissians would be for Lando’s offspring to become a Jedi(s). Time and Kasdan’s script will tell all, but I’m not banking on it. I suspect Boyega will be a young Jedi but I think it unlikely he will be a Calrissian. If he is, then it may be a neat way of not including Lando at all.

On the subject of the new cast, the actors confirmed so far seem a good, diverse mix, ranging from the original films (bar Lando of course), a smattering of recognizable faces (Andy Serkis, Max Von Sydow, Oscar Isaac, Domnhall Gleeson), to relative unknowns (Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley). Of course, it is hard to speculate as to whether this is good casting until we have a better idea of who is playing who, or what. For example, will Serkis be up to his mo-capped escapades once more, in what is likely to be a creature/effects-heavy production, or will we see his face on screen? Perhaps a bit of both, I dare say.


THAT photo, confirming the new cast for Star Wars: Episode VII. BUT where is Lando?

So, production has started, and there does not seem to be a particularly clandestine nature surrounding the production. Good natured secrecy for sure, but J.J Abrams has already recorded a couple of videoblogs for fans (revealing a new creature in a very cheeky fashion), and I suspect this will continue throughout production. We will be fed enough scraps to keep us going but, as with other Abrams productions, it is quite possible that his new film, and the latest chapter in the lives of the Skywalkers, will feature at least one or two surprises along the way. Will Luke turn to the Dark Side? Is Leia a Jedi? Will Chewbacca’s fur be grey? Will the topic of Midichlorians be discussed? (And dismissed)

I have a theory that maybe the antagonist in this new SW may well have been referenced in Episode III, about halfway through the film, in the scene where Chancellor Palpatine is telling Anakin the story of “the Sith legend of Darth Plagueis the Wise”, who according to Palpatine was a Sith Lord who had mastered the Midichlorians making him able to create life, and prevent death. Of course, Palpatine is playing upon Anakin’s concerns over his vision of Padme’s death, and like the dolt he is Anakin plays right into his hands and ultimately ends up being responsible for Padme’s death. What a wally. Anyway, Palpatine infers that this Sith Lord is dead (and it is later revealed by Palpatine that he murdered Plagueis), but if Plagueis truly conquered death, then, well, he might be up and around and needing some vengeance…. Yes, that is the sound of geek straws being scratched through.

Come what may, the prospect of a new Star Wars film on the horizon is damn exciting and, for me, eclipses all of the comic book movies in the world, ever.

But hold on a tic – where is Warwick Davis? And how about Denis Lawson as Wedge Antilles? Admiral Ackbar??! I could go on… However, I want to share with you an interesting J.J. Abrams quote, from issue 299 of Empire magazine, in a feature called ‘Empire’s Greatest Interviews’ (pages 62 to 63):

“Star Wars was everything to me when I was a kid. It was this mind-expanding, visually stunning emotional ride. Like with Star Trek, though, I think the original films are what Star Wars really is. With the prequels, the video games, the endless books and now the TV series, it’s diluted what Star Wars meant in much the same way as what’s happened to Trek.” (from Empire issue 234, December 2008)

What makes this quote even more juicy, is that Abrams is now part of a behemoth production machine that intend to release a Star Wars film pretty much every year from 2015 onwards. Announced on the 22nd May was the news that Brit director, Gareth Edwards, fresh off the success of his Godzilla film, will be helming the first of the Star Wars standalone films, with relatively unknown writer, Gary Whitta, best known for his The Book of Eli script (not bad, good characterisation), and his work on the award-winning The Walking Dead videogame from Telltale Games . You can read LucasFilm’s official press release here:

Two of these standalone movies have been confirmed thus far, and rumours have circulated that these will be origin movies, focusing possibly on Han Solo, and/or Boba Fett, and/or Yoda. Given Edwards quote after the announcement, perhaps he is more interested in the Rebel Alliance period SW; that would hold more potential than a character piece, I think. Now, it is great that Star Wars is getting this upsurge, and I am very excited about seeing the old characters of Luke, Han and Leia back on the big screen (Lando would complete it, of course), and taking my children along to revel in the all-round awesomeness of SW but I am concerned that these standalone pictures will fall flat. There is definitely room for more great Star Wars movies in the world – but definitely not any more rubbish ones.

Roll on Christmas 2015.


Andrew Jamieson is the Editor-in-Chief and founder of Geekzine UK. He is also the author of cult Fantasy-Steampunk novel, The Vengeance Path, a top 5 bestseller in the Steampunk Kindle Top 100. It is the first (e)book in The Chronicles of Edenos. You can get it from for a few quid here:

Sep 242013
Gav Thorpe

Gav Thorpe

In what can only be described as a coup, I am proud and chuffed to bits to present a most entertaining interview with one of my favourite writers of recent years, a certain Mr Gav Thorpe. A gentleman of legend, a veteran writer and games designer, having learned his trade at Games Workshop HQ. He most recently penned the excellent Ravenwing for the Black Library, it being the first in The Legacy of Caliban trilogy. You may know his name from Angels of Darkness, his seminal 2003 Dark Angels Space Marines novel, or perhaps his excellent Horus Heresy novel, Deliverance Lost. Or you will have read his Time of Legends trilogy, The Sundering. You may even be familiar with his own series, The Empire of the Blood (omnibus edition out this month, published by Angry Robot). If you are a fan of his work, you will enjoy this interview. Even if you haven’t read any of his books, please enjoy this great interview with an author in his prime.

Andrew Jamieson, Editor-in-Chief, Geekzine UK 


In Ravenwing, Gav returns to the world of Piscina, previously featured in Angels of Darkness and The Purging of Kadillus

In Ravenwing, Gav returns to the world of Piscina, previously featured in Angels of Darkness and The Purging of Kadillus

Andrew Jamieson: Ravenwing picks up plot strands from Angels of Darkness. Was it always a plan to revisit the planet of Piscina and, ultimately, the aftershock of your 2003 Dark Angels novel, Angels of Darkness?

Gav Thorpe: Angels of Darkness was originally written as a one-off. I certainly would have come up with a different ending if I had wanted it to be part of an ongoing series! I wrote it in a slightly contrary mood, to be honest, and at the time wanted to do something different to Dan’s Gaunts series and Graham’s burgeoning Ultramarines books. So a single self-contained narrative was the goal.

Then I was asked to write for the Space Marine Battles range and it seemed mad not to go back to Piscina, as I had worked on the background of the original Storm of Vengeance campaign pack while at Games Workshop (this would become ‘The Purging of Kadillus’ featuring Dark Angels legend, Belial – editor). When it was suggested a couple of years ago that a new Dark Angels series could be released to tie-in with the updated Codex and the new Warhammer 40,000 boxed set it seemed natural to write a successor story to AoD without it being an out-and-out sequel in the traditional sense.

AJ: How is Masters of Sanctity, the second in The Legacy of Caliban trilogy, coming along and what can you reveal about its plot?

GT: Delivered to the editors so I’m waiting for their comments and rewrites at the moment. It was a bit of a pig in places, with various strands from Ravenwing continuing whilst new narrative threads were being revealed, but I enjoyed it in the end. The book takes a good look at the Deathwing (and would have been called that if not for the short story/ anthology of the same name thanks to Bill King). In Ravenwing one of the point of view characters is Sammael, and in Master of Sanctity I wanted it to be one of the high-ranking Chaplains of the Dark Angels. Talking to fans at events, there seemed to be a pretty even split between those that wanted to see Sapphon and those who wanted more Asmodai fun. I compromised and ended up using both of them, hence the difficulty in fitting in all of the story strands.

In a nutshell, MoS sees the Ravenwing and Deathwing closing in on the Fallen conspiracy that befell Piscina. It’s a question of how far will they go the capture their prey? One of the main cast from Angels of Darkness returns and head-bending ensues.


AJ: Ten years on, Angels of Darkness is still one of the finest Space Marine novels ever written. What are your memories of its inception and creation?

GT: Thanks! I wrote it as a challenge to myself, to create a story about space marines that I felt was true to their character and background but contained enough compelling non-violent conflict to make a good narrative. The idea that there would be two intertwining stories was in my head early on, even though I didn’t know what that story might be – I was inspired by the structure of Memento to explore the timeline in both directions simultaneously, delving into the past even as the consequences of those acts echo into the future.

Gav's seminal 2003 Dark Angels Space Marines novel, Angels of Darkness

Gav’s seminal 2003 Dark Angels Space Marines novel, Angels of Darkness

As with all of my earlier works, it was written whilst I was still full-time at GW, which meant evenings and weekends for the most part. It doesn’t stand out as particularly difficult in my memory, everything was mostly fully formed by the time it came to applying fingers to keyboard. More recent books have given me much bigger headaches even though I have had all day to work on them… the biggest issue was a computer crash just before deadline, in which I lost almost 40,000 words. Aiyiyi! Luckily most of them were still in my head in reasonable order, but I (re)wrote the second half of the book over two weekends and a week of late nights!

I also remember definitely wanting to mess with the heads of Dark Angels fans. Ever since the Angels of Death codex release there had been the notion that somehow the ‘dark secret’ of the Chapter was done and dusted, discussion over. I wanted to turn things on their head, prodding that sense of security with a sharp pointy thing. Even though recent Horus Heresy books have shown the lie of some of the assertions in AoD, the loyalties and goals of the Dark Angels are still far from black-and-white.


AJ: The Empire of the Blood Omnibus is out this month. What pleases you most about this trilogy?

GT: I’m genuinely happy that it was well received and has gathered some really good reviews along the way. Until The Crown of the Blood I had only written tie-in fiction for the Black Library and while I do not see that as anything other than awesome, I was conscious that with the release of TCOTB there would be some hoping I’d fall flat on my face and prove the old saw ‘Tie-in writers only write tie-in fiction because they can’t write their own books’. I couldn’t let down my fellow tie-in authors and more importantly Angry Robot were just starting out but already making waves and getting good press, and it was up to me to keep the good vibes coming. There was some pressure coming out of the comfort zone with Black Library, but since I’d recently left GW and gone freelance full-time the 50/50 terror/excitement ratio seemed natural at the time.

I trusted Marco and the team at Angry Robot not to let something sub-par onto the shelves, so I was confident on an intellectual level, but always there is that gremlin on your shoulder, the doubt fairy smacking you over the head with her wand.

When the first couple of reviews were put up I breathed a big old sigh of relief. I knew I’d written a decent book, the editors knew I’d written a decent book, and thankfully there were others who agreed with us. The fact that people have handed over their hard-earned for a book with my name on the front, and not just because it says Warhammer or Warhammer 40,000, and did so for the next two books, is another adrenaline shot of legitimacy that keeps me tapping away when the words are not flowing well or somebody has slapped up a one-star review for something on Goodreads or Amazon.


Empire of the Blood omnibus edition, available NOW for £9.99 approx.

Empire of the Blood omnibus edition, available NOW for £9.99 approx.

AJ: You are a very versatile writer, switching between the different worlds and the many races of Warhammer, Warhammer 40K, Horus Heresy, plus the world of the Crown trilogy. Is that constant manoeuvring something you thrive on? What is the most challenging aspect of such versatility?

GT: I get bored really easily, though I have a finely tuned challenge threshold as well. Too easy and I can barely muster the energy to start; too hard and I get frustrated. I love keeping things fresh, whether that’s setting, format, or even style. One of the biggest drawbacks is commercial, going back to the issue with Angels of Darkness, for instance. Writing a trilogy is about the furthest extent I have been able to maintain my interest up until now. For this reason, I cut my cloth to that length, rather than weaving even grander epics that could go on to six books, ten, more…

The Sundering, in hindsight, could have been something completely different, for example. If I had known I had the creative stamina it could easily have been nine books rather than three, bringing out some of the lesser characters that had to take backstage because of the structure I had set from the start.

On the other hand, having come to this conclusion, that now becomes the challenge I need to overcome. The Crown of the Blood was a self-contained narrative in the same vein, but the non-Black Library work I hope to be starting soon will focus more on a world that, hopefully, I can create and subsequently explore again and again to my heart’s content. Watch this space (in a couple of years’ time, maybe)!


AJ: The Horus Heresy has become a huge success for the Black Library over the last few years. After the impact of Deliverance Lost, will you be revisiting the story of the Raven Guard Legion? And do you have plans for a Dark Angels HH title?

GT: Yes, and yes. I sorta blabbed a bit too much at the Horus Heresy Weekender event, so I have to watch what I promise. However… >checks no editors are looking< there will be future installments of the Raven Guard coming – I’m writing one at the moment – and I will, if things go to plan – be penning a Dark Angels HH novel sometime next year. And judging by people’s reactions in the meetings we have, that should be very exciting.


Gav's debut novel in the Horus Heresy series, Deliverance Lost

Gav’s debut novel in the Horus Heresy series, Deliverance Lost

AJ: Aside from your work for the Black Library, what other projects are you involved with?

GT: I’ve done a bit of games design – Cutlass! for Black Scorpion miniatures as well as a few personal projects that might see the light of day in the future. I’ve been helping a friend out with a skirmish ruleset too, called Open Combat. That should be public in the next fews weeks, barring any mishaps.

I have also recently been helping with the world design on a forthcoming AAA video game, but NDAs and an enormous legal department prevent me from saying any more at the moment. Except, of course, that the game is going to be awesome, with a capital AWE. No, really, even if I wasn’t creatively involved with the project I know for sure that I’d be playing the hell out of this game when it is released.

I’ve also been working on some fiction for various indie and small press publishers. The only one that seems a certainty to reach readers any time soon is a short story for the Raus! Untoten! project coming from Fringeworks. I love short fiction – the premise of in-and-out quickly – so I’ll be looking to write more in the future. Financially it’ll never pay the mortgage but it’s creatively very rewarding to explore lots of different ideas.

And as I just mentioned, I’m giving myself a break of a couple of months away from commissioned Black Library work to do some stuff that’s more speculative – in the sense that I don’t currently have an agent or editor lined up to pay me wads of cash on delivery yet… Interested parties welcome, all offeres entertained. It’ll be a swords-and-sorcery setting (I’m jokingly referring to it as ‘spellpunk’), I’ve got the plot for the first book in my head and some interesting characters, so we’ll see how it goes. It’s a bit different from Warhammer, and certainly different in tone from The Crown of the Blood, but I’m very excited by the ideas that are coming along with it. It’ll also be pretty short, for a novel, not another 150k epic, which will hopefully mean that I can write plenty more stories in the future without draining myself too much.


AJ: Out of the many books, short stories and varying projects you’ve written, of which are you the most proud of and why?

GT: I can’t choose favourites, it’s a biological impossibility. Really, whether it’s my work, favourite films, bands, etc, it always depends on mood and what criteria I want to apply at any given moment.  I think Shadow King is still one of the best, most complete novels I’ve written so far, but I’m really proud of The Crown of the Blood because I dragged it into existence from nothing. From another point of view, there are several collaborative projects at GW I really like, especially the original Codex: Sisters of Battle and the Inquisitor rulebook. One of my earliest short stories – The Faithful Servant – about a warrior priest being tempted by a Champion of Chaos is still one of my favourites. I enjoyed getting into the psychology of the interrogation scenes in Angels of Darkness, so much so that they return, in spirit, in Master of Sanctity.


AJ: What was the last good book that you read? Do you have a favourite book?

GT: The latest good book I’ve finished is Baneblade by Guy Haley. Looking forward re-reading his latest offerings too. Currently enjoying Terminal World by Alistair Reynolds. Don’t have favourites, but a very long list of multiple-reads like Excession and The Lord of the Rings.

AJ: What advice do you have for any aspiring writers?

GT: Finish something. Writers write, authors finish. A 1,000 word short or a 100,000 word novel, get a first draft finished, and then do a rewrite. And another one. And then get feedback and write it again. Short stories are hard but you can turn them around pretty quickly and few folks finish a marathon before they do a 5k run.

Also, work out the ending first and then plan the story to lead you there in the most exciting fashion possible. Synopses and plans are boring but for some of us usually essential.

But whatever and however, just finish something.


Thank you to Gav for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer the Geekzine’s questions. AJ

Ravenwing is out now in paperback at £8.99, published by the Black Library. Geekzine UK review to come soon…


Andrew Jamieson is the author of The Vengeance Path, a Steampunk Fantasy and the first in the ongoing series The Chronicles of Edenos, set on an alien planet far into the future.  Available as an eBook from Amazonor from the publisher’s website.

Dec 102012

In one of the biggest coups the geekzine has experienced, we are extremely pleased to feature an interview recently conducted with Anne Rice, author of Interview With The Vampire, and many other novels, including most recently, The Wolf Gift. Ms Rice was kind enough to answer Editor-in-Chief Andy Jamieson’s questions, as part of the promotion for new graphic novel Interview With The Vampire: Claudia’s Story, adapted and illustrated by Ashley Marie Witter. Claudia’s Story is available now in hardback, published by Headline for the sum of £13.99. It is a beautiful addition to the Vampire Chronicles, and promises to be the first of many illustrated adaptations.


Andy: Claudia’s Story is a beautifully illustrated book and an unusual addition to the Vampire Chronicles. Can you reveal what inspired the project and how it came about?

Anne: Yen purchased the right to adapt the book as a graphic novel, and it was their idea to do it from Claudia’s point of view.  I agreed to let them do this.

AJ: Are there any further illustrated Vampire Chronicles planned?  

AR: I hope that all of the books will be graphic novels eventually.   There is only one Yen.  I hope they show interest in The Vampire Lestat and other titles later on.

AJ: You have had such a successful and varied career as a writer. What keeps you motivated and inspired? 

AR: My mind never stops making stories and characters.  I see books now that I want to write but cannot get to.  I’m working on a new novel, but have plans for a novel after that, and after that.  It’s “the never ending story” pouring out of my soul.  I can’t claim any credit for this.  It just happens.

Anne Rice's most recent novel, The Wolf Gift

AR: I’m working on a new novel,  but can’t say much about it at this point.  Then I want to return to the Songs of the Seraphim and Toby O’Dare, and do a third book in that series that is big and juicy and draws the whole series together in a consummate way.

AJ: Will we see any more cinematic Vampire Chronicles adaptations in the future? 

AR: I hope so but working with Hollywood is soooo difficult.  And with the Vampires in particular it is difficult because there are so many books.

AJ: Which of your books are you most proud of and why?  

AR: Christ the Lord, The Road to Cana is the best book I ever was able to write.  But I’m proud of all of them for differing reasons.

AJ: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

AR: Treasure and protect your individual voice.  You’ll be slammed for your originality but your originality is the greatest thing you possess.  Don’t ever water down your books for some one.   The world fears extremes.  But it craves them.   Be brave, be bold. Ignore critics, and go for it.

AJ: Have you read any great books recently? 

AR: I read tons of non fiction.  I’m always reading non fiction that inspires and informs.  When it comes to  contemporary fiction I read very little actually and keep going back to the classics.  I wish I could read faster and read more.

Thank you to Anne for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions, and a big thanks to Caitlin at Headline for making this happen. AJ

Interview With The Vampire: Claudia’s Story is out now.

Check out Anne Rice’s website too:

Sep 202012

Iain M. Banks

The Hydrogen Sonata, the new Culture novel by Iain M. Banks, is out in early October. He is one of the world’s foremost science-fiction writers as well as a prominent fiction writer (as Iain Banks). Mr Banks took time out from his busy schedule to answer my questions….


Andy Jamieson: What inspired your new Culture novel, The Hydrogen Sonata? Has it been an idea gestating for  a while?

Iain M. Banks: I’d been intending to go into more detail about what Subliming involves for a few years, so, yes, it had been simmering.


AJ: Is The Hydrogen Sonata accessible to new readers unfamiliar to the Culture series? 

IMB: Well, I wouldn’t go to it first if you don’t read SF at all – of mine, Consider Phlebas and Player of Games would be where to start – but a hardened skiffy reader could probably cope with no knowledge of the earlier Culture stories.


AJ: When you first started out designing the universe of the Culture, beginning with Consider Phlebas in 1987, did you plan for it to have such longevity as a series? Do you foresee there being an end in sight to the series?

IMB: The order in which the books were published is deceptive; the first Culture book written was Use of Weapons, in 1974 (though in a pretty awful first-draft form); The Player of Games first draft dates from 1979.  So the Culture was a mature technology, if I can put it that way, by the time I came to write Consider Phlebas in 1981.  I always thought of it as open-ended; something I’d probably want to come back to now and again.  At the same time I didn’t want to get too in a rut about it, so I always intended writing other non-Culture stuff too.

I guess it’s surprised me how much more I’ve found to write about within the series, but then a detail from one book – like the idea of subliming for example – will spark a whole new train of thought, and sometimes blow up like a little bubble-universe of its own to create an entire novel.  I guess it’ll end when I’m no longer around to write about it!  I certainly won’t be rounding it all off in some big explosive finish as that’s a bit clichéed, and somehow feels antithetical to the spirit of the Culture itself, which is largely about not Subliming and instead sticking around to interfere and try to do good.


AJ: Would you like to see any of your Culture novels adapted for television or cinema? And is there any particular book in the series that you feel is an obvious contender for adaptation? Has there been any interest?

The first Culture novel, Consider Phlebas

IMB: Good grief yes; all of them! Consider Phlebas would be the one to start with, I suppose, as it’s the most gaudy and spectacular – a romp, basically. There was serious interest in Player of Games from Pathé many years back, and there are always low-level rumblings of interest, but nothing to get too excited about.


AJ: Do you feel that, as a genre, science-fiction is in a healthy condition at the moment? Are there any books or particular authors, besides yourself, that have reinvigorated the genre?

IMB: I’m probably not the best person to ask; John Clute would know.  I think it’s sufficiently healthy that new writers come along all the time and keep reinvigorating it.


AJ: After all your success over the years, what keeps you fresh and inspired creatively?

IMB: I suspect it’s a deep-seated refusal to acknowledge how old I actually am.  Other than that, just still finding stuff interesting, I suppose: history, current events, science and technology; all that malarkey.


AJ: Does the process of writing a novel differ between your fiction and science-fiction novels, beyond the content?

IMB: No; they all have plots, characters, dialogue, and so on.  The skiffy ones are a bit longer … and tend to have more non-human sarcasm issues.  I blame the drones.


AJ: What is the best advice you can give to aspiring writers?

IMB: It’s about the three ‘P’s:  practice practice practice.  Basically writing is like everything else; the more you do it, the better you get.  Also, it helps to be (and have been) a voracious reader.  Last tip:  get to the end, then revise.  Don’t polish that first sentence / page / chapter for so long you never get to the end of the story / novel.


AJ: What do you read for leisure? Any recommendations?

IMB: I read pretty much like I write; half mainstream, half SF.  Yes:  read Mike Harrison’s trilogy (who’d have thought that?) comprising Light, Nova Swing and Empty Space.  It is / they are peerless.


The Hydrogen Sonata is out on Thursday 4th October, published by Orbit, £20 in Hardback.

Iain will be appearing alongside Peter F. Hamilton at Waterstone’s Edinburgh West End branch on Wednesday 10th October at 6pm. The authors will be reading from and discussing their new books, and will be signing afterwards.

Tickets are free from the branch but limited. Call the branch on 0131 226 2666.

Many thanks to Iain for his time. Interview conducted by Andy Jamieson, geekzine Editor-in-Chief.

Sep 112012

Warhammer 40K: Dark Vengeance

Boxed set, Games Workshop, approx. retail £65


It is quite standard now that when a new edition of the Warhammer 40, 000 rulebook comes out, as it did this summer, that there will be a new boxed set following soon after.

And here we have it: Dark Vengeance, out now as a limited edition for £65 (cheaper online if you hunt around…), featuring a model that will not be in later editions of the Dark Vengeance box, so it seems (Chaplain Seraphicus).

Dark Vengeance features two complete armies, Dark Angels Space Marines, and a force of Chaos Space Marines and Chaos cultists. This latter faction represents the most notable addition to the W40K rules: that of alliances. There is a handy allies table inside the miniature rulebook (page 113) that comes with the Dark Vengeance box-set.

There are varying degrees of alliance: Battle Brothers (ie: close allies, so Space Marines & Imperial Guard), Allies of Convenience (so, Tau and Chaos Space Marines, for example), Desperate Allies (eg: Dark Eldar and Space Orks), and Come The Apocalypse (alliance not happening!). It’s an intriguing set-up and allows for some inventive pairings: Tau and the Black Templars might put aside their differences and team up to take on, say, the Tyranids, or the Necrons.

Ah, yes, the Tyranids. They are filed strictly under “Come The Apocalypse” . They can’t be an ally for anyone, as they are the ultimate predator, and destroy & consume anything and anyone. No one teams up with the ‘nids…

 So, most eye-catchingly, the models; there are  48 miniatures in total.

 (plus the exclusive limited edition Interrogator-Chaplain Seraphicus, see left; more on him later…)

1 x Dark Angels Company Master

1 x Dark Angels Librarian

5 x Deathwing Terminators

10 x Dark Angel Tactical Marines

3 x Ravenwing Bikes

And the bad guys…

1 x Chaos Space Marine Lord

6 x Chosen Chaos Space Marines, 1 x Hellbrute, and 20 x Chaos Cultists.

The level of detail throughout is superb, and there are lots of unique models, such as the character figures, that you won’t find anywhere else. The tactical marines and the chaos cultists have repeating models throughout their ranks, but approximately half of the miniatures are individual sculpts.

The Hellbrute dominates the set (see right), and there is wonderful contrast between the clean, sharp lines of the Dark Angels, and the baroque, somewhat rag-tag Chaos army.

And then, of course, is the reason for the ‘Limited Edition’ label…

Introducing Interrogator-Chaplain Seraphicus!

Here he is put together, below left:

(the helmet by his base is a Mark 5 Heresy armour head, from a Forge World set, that I’m considering using instead of the chaplain’s skull-helm, for which I may have other plans in another Space Marine army I’m building…)

As far as I can gather, the Seraphicus figure is only available for a limited  time in the initial batch of DV sets, and future runs of the game box will  not feature the  chaplain. It is a superbly sculpted figure, with vast  amounts of detail, particularly impressive are the character’s torso, his  crozius arcanum and his skull-faced  helm.

As well as the  actual figure, which comes with a great  sculpted base,  you  get a unique character reference sheet  for Seraphicus  (see above left).

It is a canny marketing  trick, making a very desirable box set even more so.

I certainly fell for it!

No regrets here, though. In my opinion, this box set easily trumps the last  W40K release, Assault On Black Reach.  Along with the rule book and the usual templates and  blast markers, there is included a fantastic ‘How To Play’  booklet, with background to the storyline, explaining the conflict between the Dark Angels and the Crimson  Slaughter Chaos Space Marines (they have a great backstory), the major characters involved, and also featuring a sequence of six missions using the models in the set.

I will admit I am a bit of a Warhammer 40k novice, so I am particularly pleased at the way the booklets explain things in a very boiled-down style. Or, idiot-proof is  an equally valid description….

So here is the big question – is Warhammer 40,000: Dark Vengeance worth the outlay of hard-earned? Yes, definitely, and, if I were you, I’d make an effort to get hold of the Limited Edition set.

I’d go so far to say that this is the most impressive Games Workshop release since the Space Hulk box set came out in 2009.

Dark Vengeance is out now.

Andy Jamieson, Editor-in-Chief, geekzine