Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Innovation Starvation?

I came across an interesting article by the novelist Neal Stephenson today. It's on the World Policy Institute's Website.

In arguing that modern culture is failing to innovate big scientific ideas for the future, Stephenson considers the role that science fiction writers might play in encouraging scientific advancement.

For example, he mentions two ways the SF writers may have influence:

"1. The Inspiration Theory. SF inspires people to choose science and engineering as careers. This much is undoubtedly true, and somewhat obvious. 

2. The Hieroglyph Theory. Good SF supplies a plausible, fully thought-out picture of an alternate reality in which some sort of compelling innovation has taken place. A good SF universe has a coherence and internal logic that makes sense to scientists and engineers."

He makes some interesting points. Leaves me hankering for a big, hopeful, bold novel of a future that we can aspired to. I like dystopian fiction as much as anyone, but... it might be nice to find a way to feel positive about a possible future - and challenged to achieve it.

You can read Stepheson's piece HERE.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

There's a nice review by Jessica Nani up at It's her take on Acacia: The War with the Mein, and it's a positive one!

Even better, it looks like they'll be reviewing the next two books in the series soon. Here's hoping they continue to like it!

You can read the review HERE.

Oh, and another thing that's cool is there's an ad up for The Sacred Band on the site. Looks like Anchor is shelling out a little cash for promotion. Lovely.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

On Meeting George

Hiya. My offering for today is from a short piece I wrote at my paperback publisher's request. They want a little essay from me to include in promotion material for The Sacred Band, preferably something light and humorous - if I had that in me.

Since I was riding high on getting that great blurb from George RR Martin at the time, I decided to write about my recollection of the first time I met him. That's what I did.

I just noticed that it's up on the Random House Website now. If you're interested, you can read it HERE.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Acácia - The T-Shirt!

I don't usually feel inclined to inflict photos of myself on the general public, but I'll have to this time.

My Portuguese publisher, Saida de Emergencia, has come through as promised. I recently received this:

Consider me pleased enough to pose for a photo and grin goofily...

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

When I heard this story yesterday on NPR I had to do a serious double take.

The part that amazed me is the notion that E.M. Forster (yes, the British guy who wrote "A Room with a View" and "Howard's End") apparently wrote a seriously prescient science fiction story.

Blows my mind...

Have a listen HERE.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Hines on Amazon Pricing

There's an informative post from Jim C. Hines regarding Amazon's control of self-published ebook titles. They changed his price without telling him, and with no explanation of why.

They can do that, you know...

You can read about his experience HERE.

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Spooky Girl

Today, a post showcasing my daughter's continued growth as an artist.

She's recently begun taking an online art course with Juliette Crane. I met Juliette a few years back, and I've admired her artwork ever since. As Maya was needing a challenge with her work, we thought Juliette's course "How to Paint a Girl" might do the trick.

So far, it's been lovely. Even has Gudrun and Sage inspired to try their hand at it. Maya's the star, though. She's caught on wonderfully to painting, to layering, to making use of mixed media. Photos don't quite do her girls justice - since there's so much texture and fabric at play also - but here's a glimpse:

Spooky Girl
Cat Girl
The girl's got talent...

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Friday, February 17, 2012

A Fantasy Reader

Another nice review for The Sacred Band...

This time it's at A Fantasy Reader.

Kind words, much appreciated.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

10 Bestselling Books with 80+ One-Star Reviews

This from Galleycat:

One-Star Reviews for Bestselling Books at

1. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (669 one-star reviews)
2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (396 one-star reviews)
3. A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin (344 one-star reviews)
4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (169 one-star reviews)
5. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (157 one-star reviews)
6. Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich (119 one-star reviews)
7. Inheritance by Christopher Paolini (118 one-star reviews)
8. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (191 one-star reviews)
9. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (96 one-star reviews)
10. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (81 one-star reviews)

Not that I'm encouraging one-star reviews or anything. Just offering up useless information. Be entertained (or encouraged) as suits you...


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

ACÁCIA - Presságios de Inverno

The second volume of The War with the Mein just appeared in it's Portuguese edition. It's called ACÁCIA - Presságios de Inverno.

I was very curious as to what the reaction was going to be. My Portuguese publisher, Saida de Emergencia, split the book in two. I know they have their reasons for this, but since I didn't write it with that in mind it's always a bit worrisome. Readers know it's been split in two, and yet they can't help reading each book as a separate book since... that's what they appear to be.

The first book got some positive press, but the jury was out until the second book appeared. I've just read my first review of it, at the popular website Ler y Criticar. I'm pleased to say Luis had lovely things to say about the book, enough so that it seems he's sent some readers out to the store - despite their nearly empty pockets!

 I'm happy. You can read the review HERE.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Ladies Are Back

When we arrived here at Upper Park last summer, the fields were alive with the sounds of sheep baaing and cows mooing. (I'm talking rural Scotland here, just for context.)

It was a time of abundant poo.

A time of these weird poo-loving flies, and nosy neighbors.

It was a time of opening and closing gates. To keep the sheep in here, out of here. In there, not here. Driving up to the house meant stopping at gate one, getting out of the car, opening gate, getting back in the car, driving forward, getting out of the car, closing gate, getting back into car, driving.

And then, a little further on, doing the exact same thing again.

It was a time of... patience.

I won't even talk about the frustrations of driving through herds of sheep and cattle, except to point out that they don't always like to move.

Anyway, then came winter. The four legged beasts moved down to lower pastures. The fields were clear of everything but pheasants and quail - and the occasional deer. Granted, pheasants have their own strange relationship with automobiles. They tend to run down the track as we drive, getting more and more frantic, but continuing to follow the track. Everywhere it turns they turn. As does our car...

Last month, there was the great pheasant slaughter. Lordly-folks with guns, minions to herd the birds toward them. You know how it goes. Feathers flew. Birds splattered. After that...

Ah, the solitude.

Gradually, the poo dissolved. The flies vanished. Saba (our carnivore) grew calmer without the constant moving display of prey.

Until today.
The girls are back. They arrived in all their glorious abundance. Oh joy.

The cows can't be far behind.

Oh, the flies too.

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

King of the Nerds

There's a very nice review of The Sacred Band over at King of the Nerds!!!

Take a look if you're so inclined.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Worst Book Ever?

I don't know what to think of this. I'm partially amused. Partially horrified. A tad annoyed. And a little confused.

All this is prompted by a post on the Publishers Weekly blog, titled The Worst Book Ever is "Moon People". If you have some brain cells that need killing, go take a look.


Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Birks

Earlier today I had the pleasure of listening to my son recite (over and over again) the Robert Burns poem/song The Birks of Aberfeldy.

It was a school project. He had to memorize it and recite it aloud, preferrably with a solid Scottish accent. And in dialect!

The Birks are a stream side walk about ten minutes from where we live at the moment, in Perthshire, Scotland. Very pretty, waterfalls and lovely old trees and a statue of Burns sitting on a bench. (The statue kinda freaks our dog, Saba, out a bit.)

Here are the melodious choruses Sage regaled us with:

The Birks of Abergeldie.

Bony lassie, will ye go,
Will ye go, will ye go;
Bony lassie, will ye go
To the birks of Aberfeldy.

Now Simmer blinks on flowery braes,
And o'er the chrystal streamlets plays;
Come let us spend the lightsome days
In the birks of Aberfeldy.

The little birdies blythely sing
While o'er their heads the hazels hing,
Or lightly flit on wanton wing,
In the birks of Aberfeldy.

The braes ascend like lofty wa's,
The foamy stream deep-roaring fa's,
O'erhung wi' fragrant spreading shaws,
The birks of Aberfeldy.

The hoary cliffs are crown'd wi' flowers,
White o'er the linns the burnie pours,
And rising, weets wi' misty showers
The birks of Aberfeldy.

Let Fortune's gifts at random flee,
They ne'er shall draw a wish frae me;
Supremely blest wi' love and thee,
In the birks of Aberfeldy.

Bony lassie, will ye go,
Will ye go, will ye go;
Bony lassie, will ye go
To the birks of Aberfeldy.

Personally, I think the bony lassie is quite likely to go with him...

There's more on the Birks of Aberfeldy HERE.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Pride of Carthage Audiobook!

I'm very pleased to announce that finally, seven years after it's original publication by Doubleday, my novel Pride of Carthage is available as an audiobook. Hurrah!

I couldn't be happier with the way it came together. The deal was done as a partnership between myself and the narrator, Dick Hill. He's the very talented narrator that gave voice to the entire Acacia Trilogy.

Another cool thing - for me - is that if you look at the "publisher" information it says: David Anthony Durham. Heh. I'm a publisher!

Wondering what this book is all about? Let me dust off an old review. Here's what Publishers Weekly had to say in a Starred Review:

Known for his novels of African-American life in 19th-century America (Gabriel's Story; Walk Through Darkness), Durham leaps continents and centuries to tell the epic story of Hannibal and his march on Rome in this heady, richly textured novel. After Hannibal assumes command of the Carthaginian army in Spain and conquers the Roman city of Saguntum, Carthage refuses to accept Rome's demand that it abandon the city, precipitating the Second Punic War. In 218 B.C., Hannibal begins his daring march toward Rome, leading an army of upward of 100,000—complete with elephants and cavalry—over the Pyrenees, across the Rhone and through the snowcapped Alps. Ill prepared for the frigid weather, pummeled by avalanches and harassed by Celtic tribes, the army arrives in Italy reduced to perhaps 30,000. Against all odds, Hannibal brings his soldiers through the tortuous marshes of the Arno, and traps and massacres a large Roman force at Lake Trasimene and again at Cannae. The novel's grand sweep is balanced by intimate portraits of Hannibal, his family, his allies and his enemies, as well as by the stories of two humble characters: Imco Vaca, a soldier, and Aradna, a camp follower, who meet and fall in love as the saga moves inexorably toward an account of the beheading of Hannibal's brother and Hannibal's eventual defeat at the gates of Rome. Durham weaves abundant psychological, military and political detail into this vivid account of one of the most romanticized periods of history.

Kirkus and Booklist also gave it starred reviews, but I don't want to overdo it. So...

I'll just say I'd love for you to consider this audiobook. It's a novel I'm very proud of. It's similar to the Acacia Trilogy in terms of being the multiple points of view, large cast, politics and history, and it's got got a considerably higher body count. Unlike Acacia, this one's a true story!

You can find it:

At Audible

Or here, via Amazon.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Throne of the Crescent Moon

I don't usually post twice in the same day, but I just got a reminder from Saladin Ahmed that his debut novel, Throne of the Crescent Moon, is out today! This is a very good thing for fantasy readers, especially ones that are looking for a fresh, innovative, distinctive new fantasy world, one that uses all the imaginative flare of fantasy, but does so in a different cultural landscape than the norm. That's exactly what Saladin has written.

I wouldn't want you to think I'm suggesting this book to you because cultural diversity is good for. It is, but that's not the point. Saladin's an effortlessly entertaining writer. He makes unusual choices every step of the way in terms of characterization and plot, and his Arabian Knights influenced alternative world provides a vivid backdrop for his story.

I read the novel in galley form a while back, and have been looking forward to its publication ever since. You'll be happy to know I'm not the only one that liked it. For example:

From his starred Publishers Weekly Review -

"Ahmed’s debut masterfully paints a world both bright and terrible."

From his starred Kirkus Review -

"An arresting, sumptuous and thoroughly satisfying debut."

Fantasy Book Critic has lengthy review up HERE.

The Ranting Dragon has one up HERE.

I've no doubt at all that this book marks a major step forward in what's sure to be a very impressive publishing life. Do check it out.

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Worldbuilders 2011

Hey folks. I just want to remind you today (Feb 7th) is the final day of the Worldbuilders donation/giveaway/raffle extravaganza over at Pat Rothfuss' blog.

If you're interested in a terrific cause (and in lots of very cool free stuff) go take a look. And donate! You won't regret it.

All the info is HERE.

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Monday, February 06, 2012

A Couple of Nice Links

The first one is purely self-serving, but I can't help it. It's a little feature over as Suvudu called "George R. R. Martin Recommends David Anthony Durham".

Those are a nice collection of words to have together in one title. It's really just upping the frequency on the stellar blurb that GRRM offered me a while back.

The second one is only partially self-serving. It's a link to "A Dozen of the Best from 2011" at Locus Online. The list is compiled by Jeff VanderMeer.

I'm pleased, of course, that he included The Sacred Band on it, but I send you toward it with the other titles in mind too.

Something you missed, perhaps?

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Saturday, February 04, 2012

Books in Wonderland

There's a lovely review of L'Alliance Sacrée (the French The Sacred Band) at the website Books in Wonderland. The reviewer, interestingly, only read the last book. Still had kind things to say about it, though!

It's HERE.

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Friday, February 03, 2012

Rise of the Apes, Maybe

Last night we watched Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I rather liked it for lots of reasons. Pretty cool to see a pre-apocalyptic movie. I kinda dug that.

Part of it prompted an exchange I found humorous.

After an episode where Caesar (a highly intelligent ape) pummels a human neighbor, he gets put into custody. He's not happy and feels abandoned. As the screen shows his distraught face as his humans leave him, my son, Sage has a question for me...

Sage looks at me, all seriousness, and asks, "You wouldn't do that to me, would you?"

"What, leave you in a facility with a bunch of troublesome apes?"

He says, "Yeah."

My daughter, Maya, says, "Sage, you wouldn't chase a man down the street, beat him and bite his finger, would you?"

Sage hesitates a moment, thinks it over, and finally says, "Maybe."

Sage was definitely relating to the apes in this one.

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Thursday, February 02, 2012

A Glimpse Into Editorial Life

Courtesy of The Penguin Press...

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

A Book, and a Sprig of Heather

I got an email from a reader recently. I really enjoyed receiving it, and I asked him if I could post it here. He said yes.

First, the background... I've corresponded with this reader, let's call him JK, for a while now. He was kind enough to ask if he could buy a signed copy of The Sacred Band from me. I said sure, but cautioned that it would cost a bit to ship it from Scotland, etc. He deferred to his wife, asking her to make it a Christmas present. Reasonable man.

His wife, to her credit, played the whole thing wonderfully. To him she made it seem that the extravagance of buying a hardcover book all the way from overseas just wasn't something she was that into. But to me, she emailed and set up the purchase. I was pleased enough that I even picked a sprig of heather on one of my walks and slipped it inside the book.

Fast forward a few months, and I received this:

Sorry it has taken so long to thank you for sending me the signed book. Work has been crazy, and as I said I wanted to re-read the first two before I started the new book. Let me tell you how I got it: I got a few things for Christmas from the wife… NHL Bruins jersey… socks... Then I get a hardcover book shaped gift. I think to myself (SHE GOT IT!!).  I say, “I think I know what this is...” Open it and it's...

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini.

Apparently my expression changed. My wife said, “OH, were you thinking it was that book from what’s his name in Ireland?” I tried to cover the disappointment with, ”No, no, this is great. I really wanted to read the last book... But, oh it's Scotland not Ireland.” 

So the morning continued as my 3yr old opens all 45+ gifts. Finally, as we were cleaning up and my daughter was in an adrenalin induced coma, my wife handed me a wrapped book and said, “You really think after all the not so subtle hints I wasn’t going to get this! I know its Scotland, but I threw you off didn’t I?”

It was a very nice surprise. I wound up bringing the book to the Christmas family gathering to show off to my brother-in-law. He is reading book 2 currently. 

Anyway, the book was fantastic, I was sad to have the story close but happy to get resolution to all the plot lines. As I got closer to the end of the book I was concerned that there wouldn’t be enough time to tie it all up, but thankfully I was wrong. You have written a great story, David. When you think about everything that happened and all the detail put in, it doesn’t feel like it would fit in only three books. I truly enjoyed it and I know that I will read the trilogy again in the future as well as pass the books on to my daughter to enjoy... 

I can scarcely imagine receiving a nicer letter as a writer. To know that my books were part of such an elaborate plot, that they were that wished for, and that they'll be part of a Christmas memory going forward...

That's just terrific.