Over at the Archonate, where Matthew Hughes can be found, you can now get his collection 9 Tales of Raffalon as an eBook for the introductory price of just 99¢.
Seven of these stories have appeared previously in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction; one (The Inn of the Seven Blessings) was written for the Gardner Dozois/George R. R. Martin anthology Rogues; and one (the novelette Sternutative Sortilege) is seen here for the first time.
It’s a surprisingly long collection, as large as a novel, and since I’m the guy who just formatted it you can believe that I know what I’m talking about. I also got to do the cover for this one – you can see it here.
Here’s the book’s description:
In an age of wizards and walled cities, Raffalon is a journeyman member of the Ancient and Honorable Guild of Purloiners and Purveyors. In other words, a thief.
His skills allow him to scale walls, tickle locks, defeat magical wards. He lifts treasures and trinkets, and spends the proceeds on ale and sausages in taverns where a wise thief sits with his back to the wall.
But somehow things often go the way they shouldn’t and then Raffalon has to rely upon his wits and a well calibrated sense of daring.
Here are nine tales that take our enterprising thief into the Underworld and Overworld, and pit him against prideful thaumaturges, grasping magnates, crooked guild masters, ghosts, spies, ogres, and a talented amateur assassin.
Like several of Hughes’ recent works this one takes place after the Universe has completed its transformation from a realm of reason into one ruled by Sympathetic Association – which we might know better as “magic” – and which, in that state, bears a strong resemblance to Jack Vance’s Dying Earth.
As always with Hughes, highly recommended. Go get one for less than a dollar!
AbeBooks is a huge marketplace of independent used booksellers, with each one posting their own catalog of titles into a single massive online bookstore. Now and then they curate special collections like this one; the curated collections may be a little easier to navigate than the wide-open search that you usually use at the site.
The Pulp magazines collection we’re looking at today offers a pretty wide selection of magazines from the 1930’s on, all with their vibrant (if faded) covers, all in the original format, and often available at tempting prices. You can expect a range of prices because each of these sellers may value their stock a little differently. And as always with vintage publications there are some good copies along with some others that are showing their age.
It’s a great collection that has many examples from Amazing Stories and Astounding but doesn’t neglect their less iconic rivals, like Planet Stories or Super Science Stories. And, you know, All This Could Be Yours.
Each one of these meticulously composed, hyperreal photographs by Michel Lagarde is an elaborate production, and I love them.
Lagarde builds these pictures from the ground up with a combination of techniques that include 3D modeling, miniatures, and model photography, all combined with an impossible sharpness and clarity into weird, engaging images that seem as though they could only come from France, like the films of Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
In the example below, see how the same models appear – even in the same costumes – more than once. The stillness of the stagy composition contrasts with the implied motion of the characters in a bizarre, brain-bending view of motion and motionlessness, all in a single frozen moment.
You can see these photographs in two galleries at Lagarde’s web site, here and here. It’s possible to buy prints from the artist; unfortunately it looks as though his two hardcover collections are out of print.
But in addition to the galleries there are a couple of behind the scenes pages at the site. They’re fascinating. You can see how Lagarde works out his composition with a variety of tools and then builds the parts he needs to create the picture. The number of layers? Up to a hundred, and possibly even more.
The whole site is well worth a visit. Just be ready to lose some time there.
This is Sugar Space, by Russian illustrator George Redreev, and it’s just one of a long series of illustrations he’s posted at CG Society and at Artstation.
The CG Society page has many more pictures, but at Artstation’s page for this image you can see a large animated GIF that chronicles the picture’s progress from a rough thumbnail sketch to the final, full color painting. So both are worth a look.
This picture has such a playful treatment that it’s possible to overlook the pretty obvious objectification that’s at work here. (Well, it was possible for me, anyhow; your mileage may vary.) I look at it in the same way that I delight in the joy and playfulness of Dave Stevens’ pin-ups. The takeaway seems to be affection, and that may be what makes the difference.
His entire galleries show a lot of other work, much of it aimed at childrens’ illustration; one of my favorites appears below. But of course it was Sugar Space’s cheerful retro-futurism that was pretty much up my street. Provided that my street is lost somewhere in an alien jungle, I mean.
Rory Björkman’s The Journey is a beautifully lit, modeled and textured image of a crusty old fellow on his crusty old three-wheeler. You can see the full image and loads of details, color tests, and other preliminary versions here.
It’s all worth looking at, from the many versions of the trike’s grille through the test renders of the helmet, the baggage, and many other elements from the picture. It’s really wonderful work, all of it.
In fact, you shouldn’t stop there: you can see a much larger gallery of Björkman’s work on this page, where I especially recommend Sky Machine No. 47. Nice!