Guests of Honour
Aliette de Bodard
FranceBorn in the USA of French and Vietnamese parents, Aliette de Bodard was raised in Paris, with French as her mother-tongue, although she writes in English, which partly accounts for her winning the Writers of the Future Award followed so far by 2 Nebulas, a Locus Award, and the British SF Association Award—as well as being a finalist for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, not to mention the Hugo, Sturgeon, and Tiptree Awards, quite a collection!—the other reason for these garlands being excellence. As a professional engineer, she specialises in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science, particularly relating to large construction projects. Her work life happens in French, while her engineering of fiction happens in English, she being bilingual. Obsidian and Blood is her series of noir mystery fantasies dominated by Aztec culture, which she first encountered during Spanish classes. Pre-Communist Chinese/Vietnamese culture serves as inspiration for her alternate history and science fiction, Xuya, in which the Chinese discovered North America first, leading to Asian dominance well into the space age. Currently she is working on an urban fantasy set in Paris. A rice addict, tea addict, and maths geek, among her passions are Ancient Chinese and Vietnamese history, and cooking. Many interesting recipes are on her website.
Richard Morgan is the science fiction and fantasy author of seven novels written in the noir mode, as well as the writer of two graphic novels featuring Marvel’s character Black Widow, and the lead writer for two science fiction video games published by Electronic Arts. Richard’s debut novel, Altered Carbon, won the Philip K. Dick Award in 2003 and was optioned for film by Warner Brothers and Matrix producer Joel Silver on publication. It is now in development with Mythology Entertainment. His third novel, Market Forces, a violent satire on global capital markets, was also optioned for film by Warner Brothers, a deal done before the book was even published. Market Forces was also short-listed for the Arthur C Clarke Award and won the John W Campbell Award in 2005. Richard’s fifth book, Black Man (published in the US as Thirteen), won the Arthur C Clarke award in 2007, was shortlisted for the British Science Fiction Association Award the same year and is currently under option to Straight Up Films. His sixth novel, a revisionist sword and sorcery fantasy called The Steel Remains, won the Gaylactic Spectrum award in 2010. The sequel, The Cold Commands, was listed in both Kirkus Reviews’ and NPR’s best Science Fiction/Fantasy books of the Year.
Since 2008, Richard has worked with Electronic Arts as writer and consultant for a number of video game properties under development. He was lead writer for Crytek’s 2011 science fiction shooter Crysis 2, and for the 2012 reboot of the classic corporate warfare game Syndicate. Originally an English teacher by trade, Richard is a fluent Spanish speaker and has lived and worked in Madrid, Istanbul, Ankara, London and Glasgow, as well as travelling extensively in the Americas, Africa and Australia. He now lives in the quiet backwaters of Norfolk (UK) with his Spanish wife Virginia and son Daniel, about a mile from where he grew up thirty to forty years ago – which feels, if he’s honest, a bit weird. His website is richardkmorgan.com
SpainEnrique Corominas won the National Comic Book Prize for Zona 84 in 1986. Since then he has published numerous books and short stories in France, Italy and Spain, and has illustrated and designed cover art for numerous Spanish publishers, of such titles as Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, Cthulhu, Conan’s Savage Blade, and Kull the Conqueror. Barcelona TM (from Norma Editorial) is a collective comic book by 27 artists and scripters living in Barcelona, including Enrique whose life there is surrounded by cats. Famously he has created all the cover art for the Spanish editions of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire published by Gigamesh—not to mention the giant canvas that dominates the new Gigamesh bookshop in Barcelona. 2011 saw Spanish publication of his graphic novel Dorian Gray, with a French edition following. An autographed watercolour from this, “Opium Smoke”, sold at Christie’s in Paris for over 18,000 Euros.
PolandBorn in 1948, Andrzej Sapkowski trained in economics, becoming a senior sales representative for a foreign company operating in Poland until the escalating success of his award-winning dark fantasy fiction empowered him to write full-time, becoming the most translated Polish author after Stanislaw Lem. To honour him, his home city of Lodz, and his country too, granted him Honourary Citizenship; in 2012 he received the silver medal Gloria Artis for his services to Polish culture. He still lives in Lodz, in his spare time creating fantastical flies to lure fish, which should make his cat rejoice. He is most famous for his gritty Witcher cycle of tales, featuring a mutated hunter of monsters, cynical but honourable Geralt, in a world backgrounded by Slavic mythology and Polish history. This had its first outing in a short story which Sapkowski wrote impulsively for a contest organised by Fantastyka magazine—Sapkowski had already begun translating SF, and now in 1986 he scored with his own brand of writing. By 2001 Witcher was a TV series, and subsequent games adaptations will be crowned in 2015 by a release of the final part for PC, Sony’s PS4, and Microsoft’s Xbox One. Sapkowski’s fiction has won many national and international awards—to name but one: the David Gemmell Legend Award of 2009 for the English translation of his novel Blood of Elves.
FInlandJohanna Sinisalo was born in Finnish Lapland, where Santa Claus comes from, and studied comparative literature with drama at the University of Tampere, after which she worked in advertising, becoming a marketing designer. So far, three of her novels have been translated into English: Not Before Sundown (retitled Troll: a Love Story in the USA), which in 2004 won the prestigious James Tiptree Jr. Award for fiction which imaginatively expands or explores our understanding of gender; Birdbrain (2010); and The Blood of Angels (2013). Sinisalo’s trademark style of surreal invention and savage humour impels the screenplay which she co-wrote for the 2012 movie Iron Sky, about Nazis on the Moon invading Earth, which has already spun off a video game adaptation, a board game, and a comics version, while a movie sequel is being crowdfunded for 2016 release. In her homeland, Sinisalo broke SFF out into the mainstream by winning the Finlandia Prize. Her short fiction has won multiple awards and finalist nominations at home and abroad.
SpainA senior journalist for the Spanish national daily newspaper, El País, Rosa Montero began reading intensively and writing as a child when she was off school for four years due to tuberculosis. She was the first woman to win the Manuel del Arco journalism prize on account of her interviews in the Sunday edition of El País, which were published as a collection in 1982. 1979 saw her first novel, and her second in 1983, I Will Treat You Like a Queen (Te trataré como a una reina) was a great commercial success. Among her awards for fiction are the Primavera Novel Prize in 1997 for The Cannibal’s Daughter (La hija del caníbal) and the Qué Leer Prize twice, for The Madwoman of the House (La loca de la casa) in 2003 and for Tale of the Transparent King (Historia del rey transparente) two years later, the former also winning the Grinzane Cavour Prize for the best foreign book published in Italy in 2004. She has also written several books for children, and book-length critical studies of her work have appeared. Tears in the Rain (Lágrimas en la lluvia) of 2011 is her cyberpunk sequel to both Blade Runner and to Philip Dick’s source novel; and her fantasy thriller sequel to this is What Weighs Upon the Heart (El peso del corazón).
UKRhianna Pratchett is an award-winning, seventeen-year veteran of the videogames industry. Initially starting as a journalist for PC Zone and The Guardian, she moved into games development over twelve years ago and has now become one of the most respected writers and narrative designers in her field. Rhianna has wrestled the wild beasts of narrative for Sony, EA, SEGA, 2k Games, Ubisoft, Codemasters and Square Enix and her titles include: Heavenly Sword, Mirror’s Edge, the entire Overlord series, Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider. Her work has received one win and four nominations for the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain’s Best Videogame Script award and a BAFTA nomination. She is frequently named as one of the top 100 most influential women in the games industry and has spoken on numerous panels, podcasts and documentaries. She also has the rare honour of having been interviewed by both Vogue and Playboy. On top of her work in videogames Rhianna also works in comics (notably Mirror’s Edge for DC Comics and Tomb Raider for Dark Horse), short stories, film and TV. Rhianna is co-director of the Narrativia production company and lives in London with her fiancé and pair of neurotic tabby cats.
A founder member of Hungary’s Avana Science Fiction Association,Péter edited Hungary’s most important SF magazine of the period, Átjáró (“Gateway”), from 2001 to 2004, as well as putting together a number of SF anthologies and other books. He has co-organised several ÁtjáróCons and other Festivals, as well as national HungaroCons—being master of ceremonies at the Hungarocons held in Budapest in 2013, 2014, and 2015. He himself has authored SF and fantasy short stories in the past, and a new story by him is due out in the Spring of this year. Currently Péter works as a senior IT developer, leading industrial IT projects, and he lives in Budapest with his wife Szimonetta and their young son.
... and two special guests
Brandon SandersonBrandon Sanderson grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska. He lives in Utah with his wife and children and he teaches Creative Writing at Brigham Young University. His first published novel, Elantris (2005), was received by critic and public as a very interesting renovation of the fantasy genre. He has also published a brilliant trilogy: Mistborn, with the titles The Final Empire (2006), The Well of Ascension (2007) and The Hero of Ages (2008), together with their prequel, The Alloy of Law, where he sets the foundation of his Allomantic Imagery in a world of mist and ashes. After Warbreaker (2009), an epic fantasy book in a single volume in the line of Elantris, Sanderson initiated with The Way of Kings the first part of a great and huge decalogy, The Stormlight Archive. The last books published by Nova are Steelheart and Firefight (followed by Mitosis), the first and second books of the Trilogy of The Reckoners, Infinity Blade: Redemption and The Rithmatist.
Albert Sánchez Piñol
Albert Sánchez Piñol is currently the most translated Catalan writer. He started studying Law, but he finally went into Anthropology. While conducting fieldwork among the pygmies of the Congo, a civil war broke out, which forced him to leave his work unfinished and quit the country. However, his stay in Africa has strongly influenced his literary work.
He published his first book of short stories, The Ages of Gold, in 2001. Many of these stories already show his preferences for the fantastic, which became very apparent in his first novel Cold Skin (2002), about two people trying to survive an attack by mysterious underwater creatures on a deserted island near Antarctica. This is the most translated novel in the history of Catalan literature, into a total of 37 languages. Later, he published Pandora in the Congo, where some European explorers in the late nineteenth century encounter an underground race living inside a mine in Congo, which threatens to destroy humanity.
After publishing a second book of short stories, Thirteen Sad Trances, Albert Sánchez Piñol embarked on what has been his most ambitious novel to date, Victus, published in 2012. This historical novel relates the events that lead to the Catalan defeat on 11 September 1714, through the eyes of military engineer Martin Zuviría. Victus has been the best-selling novel in Catalonia for four consecutive years. In 2015 he published the sequel, Vae Victus, in which he continues the adventures of Zuviría after the war.
Albert Sánchez has also turnedhis hand to non-fiction with his book Clowns and Monsters, about the lives of eight African dictators.