Category Archives: Fantasy

Peter Jackson adapting Mortal Engines for film

News just in: Peter Jackson is to adapt Philip Reeve’s very well-received young adult fantasy novel Mortal Engines for the screen! More information at the author’s website: Philip Reeve

Philip was a guest of honour at BristolCon 2013 and he was a pleasure to listen to and talk with.

8th September 2018 Update:

The film version of Mortal Engines is scheduled for release on 14th December 2018.


Zelazny’s Amber to be adapted for TV

From the people who brought you The Walking Dead comes a TV adaptation of Roger Zelazny’s wonderful Chronicles of Amber. More info here:

Think I’ll hang on to my copies of Nine Princes in Amber for now. Here is the US true 1st edition published in 1970 by Doubleday:


Nine Princes in Amber US First Edition

Allegedly the publishers ordered their warehouse to pulp all copies of Zelazny’s existing books the same day this came in from the printer, so only review copies, pre-orders, and library copies escaped into the wild, thus making non-Ex-Lib copies such as this one a rarity. At the time of writing there are around a dozen such copies to be found for sale via the website.

This copy was acquired from a bookstore in The Hague during the time I was working at the European Patent Office in nearby Rijswijk.

A Game of Jackets

It was almost 20 years ago on 5th August 1996 that Harper Collins UK published A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin under their Voyager science fiction and fantasy imprint. Whether this was the world first edition is a matter of contention. Copies of the US Bantam first edition which had been printed well in advance of the official publication date (also in August 1996) were given away at the annual American Booksellers Association convention held in Chicago in June 1996 and on this basis GRRM claims the US edition to be the world first. However, given that this was not the official publication date, I for one would argue that the UK edition is the true first. If give-away copies are to be classed as true firsts then proofs or advanced reading copies which are also given away should be classed as true firsts and that would be a major change across the whole world of book collecting (which I wouldn’t mind, given my tendency to purchase them).

Incidently, the July 1996 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine included a novella entitled Blood of the Dragon which was based upon the Daenerys chapters from AGoT and went on to win the 1997 Hugo Award for Best Novella. But back to the UK first edition…

Prior to publication, Harper Collins produced a Collectors’ Preview Edition (ISBN 0006482759) – a small 124 page perfect bound booklet which contained the first nine chapters of AGoT. It cost 99 pence to buy and offered the purchaser a special price on the full hardcover edition once it became available at the originating bookstore.


A Game of Thrones UK Preview Edition

Needless to say, an example of this small piece of ephemera in fine condition now costs considerably more than 99p! But what interested me about it was the rather imposing bright yellow section to the bottom right of the front panel. Clearly something must be covered up by this frankly inappropriate modification to the excellent jacket artwork  created by the Jim Burns, but what and why?

As can be seen below, the jacket for the UK first edition shows a vignette of a male character dressed for cold weather and therefore from the North of Westeros and presumably one of the Stark family, probably Ned, but could equally be Rob or even Jon Snow.


A Game of Thrones UK First Edition Jacket

Clearly it is necessary to see an image of the original artwork in order for this mystery to be solved, but where is it now? For a time, the original was in the posession of Jim Burns’ agent Alison Eldred, but it was sold to a collector (in Canada, I believe) along with the three other pieces that Jim created for the Voyager editions, i.e. one for A Clash of Kings and two for A Storm of Swords, the mass market paperback of the latter having been split into two volumes due to it’s size.

As it happens, there are two options available for us to view. The first can be found at the website of Jim’s agent (AGoT Fine Art Print @ Alison Eldred) where one can find details of how to purchase a signed, limited edition fine art print of this and the other three artworks from the series. As you can see, it is the wraparound artwork in the raw state, free from all text:

Jim Burns AGoT artwork

Jim Burns’ original artwork for the jacket of the UK first edition of A Game of Thrones

It is immediately evident that the character at the bottom right is quite different from the final version – definitely more oriental in appearance, almost Ghengis Khan-like and presumably intended to represent Khal Drogo. Like myself, Jim usually attends the annual one day convention held in Bristol (the cunningly named BristolCon) and I asked him last year why the change had been made, but he said he could not remember the reason. My guess is that someone at the publisher (presumably the editor) considered it a bit too oriental and suggested it be changed.

What I love about this and the other pieces in the group is that the wood you see is not digitised, it is marquetry – real wood veneer inlaid with the painted artwork.

I said earlier that there was a second option available and this jacket from the Dutch first edition is it:


A Game of Thrones Dutch First Edition Jacket


Somehow this got out into the wild without the edit and is, as far as I am aware, unique amongst all editions published worldwide. The only other edition to feature Jim’s artwork is the Hebrew language edition and that has the edited version, albeit with a reversed image. Just for comparison, here is the wrapper from the Dutch edition (and I know which one I prefer):


A Game of Thrones Dutch First Edition Wrapper

During my time hunting around the bookshops in the Netherlands I only ever found one copy of the jacketed Dutch first edition and this makes me wonder whether it was a proof version of the jacket which was never used. Any other owners of such a copy out there?

25th October 2016 update: Recently received this link from Jonty Clark regarding a Canadian guy named Pat Robinson who has a huge collection of GoT artwork, including the Jim Burns originals:

Last year at BristolCon, Jim mentioned that Pat wanted to commission him to do artwork in the same style for A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. As Jim will be attending this year’s BristolCon on Saturday 29th October, I shall ask if has accepted the commission.

Post-BristolCon 2016 update: A spoke with Jim and he confirmed to me that he had indeed accepted the commission.

Temeraire – The Next Big Thing?

Back in the summer of 2005 Sue and I took a trip to Glasgow in order to take part in the Interaction Worldcon and one of the many sessions we planned to attend was a reading by Jude Fisher – author of the Fool’s Gold fantasy trilogy.

We were well aware of Jude Fisher’s real name – Jane Johnson – who was then (and at the time of writing, still is) an editor on Harper Collins’ Voyager imprint and responsible for the UK editions of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire and Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy, amongst many others.

But for Jude/Jane, the programme schedule was not kind, for concurrent with her session was one featuring GRRM and when we arrived at the appointed time and place, the only occupants of the room were Jane and her colleague Emma Coode. It was clear that there was no point in having a formal session, so instead we had a chat about various bookish things, including my questioning as to why Jim Burns had been dropped as ASoIaF cover artist after A Storm of Swords, cost being one reason given and a desire to “modernise” fantasy cover art being another. As I recall, Jane didn’t do a reading, but she did have a copy of the TPB edition of Rose of the World (the final book in her trilogy) with places marked with her compliments slips inserted and this she gifted to us at the end of the shorter-than-scheduled session.

I couldn’t help but notice that Emma had brought along an uncorrected proof copy of the debut fantasy novel Temeraire (known as His Majesty’s Dragon in the US) written by Naomi Novik. There had been advance publicity in the UK, there was old map-ish cover art by Dominic Harman (who also attended the 2005 Worldcon) and the enticing, genre-merging tagline  ‘A Cross between Susanna Clarke and Patrick O’Brian’ from Stephen King (apparently genuinely) gracing the wrapper. I can’t remember whether I blagged it or she offered it, but I walked away with the proof. Sad alert: I still haven’t read that copy; I waited until the following January when the first UK hardcover edition was published so as not to spoil the book.


Naomi Novik – Temeraire – UK 1st Edition

Moving on, once I had read Temeraire and having read both Susanna Clarke and Patrick O’Brian, I partially agreed with Mr. King, but would have substituted Pat O’Brian with Julian Stockwin (of the Kydd series of historical naval fiction) – a move which would never have happened at that time as Stockwin was still relatively unknown in the US. I won’t review the story in detail right now; suffice it to say that to me, the concept of a dragon air force working alongside the Royal Navy had an attractive, almost Disney-esque feel to it which I mentally ported into the hands of Peter Jackson – then riding high on the success of the Weta Workshop’s Wonderful Work in Wellington for LOTR. It seemed a natural fit and it soon became apparent that Peter Jackson had the same view because in the year of publication he took out an option for the film rights to the story. However, according to a recent post by the author, those rights have now expired and are back under her control. Surely the time is right for a either a film, or better still a TV series, so here’s hoping that someone with the necessary expertise and resources agrees. I wonder what David and Dan are doing next…

Latest news: Naomi Novik’s new fantasy novel Uprooted wins the Nebula 2016 Best Novel award and is shortlisted for the Hugo 2016 Best Novel award, the movie rights having been taken by Warner Bros with Ellen DeGeneres producing. Hopefully, this could be the doorway that leads to some certainty regarding the dramatisation of the Temeraire series. Thinking about it, this could be ideal because whilst there is only one Uprooted (at the time of writing), there are eight Temeraire novels ((with the ninth and final one soon to be published) and so maybe this is a toe in the water from Warner Bros. The key, of course, is the casting, but if they can emulate the GoT crew, they won’t go far wrong. It would be good challenge for the CGI guys – storms at sea and aerial combat with both dragons and humans in the mix – go for it!

25th June 2016 Update: Uprooted wins the 2016 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel

22nd August 2016 Update: Uprooted comes second in the Hugo 2016 Best Novel Awards at  MidAmeriCon II, the 74th World Science Fiction Convention, held in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. The winner was The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin.

4th October 2016 Update: Uprooted wins the 2016 British Fantasy Award for Best Fantasy Novel