All the latest news about Conor Kostick, author of the books Epic and Saga.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Review of Saga in the Village

Tony Hickey who wrote an early review of Epic has reviewed Saga in Village (30 November 2006 edition). Unfortunately Village has made some of their content available only to subscribers so the review is only partially available online, which is a pity as it is a good summary:

Conor Kostick's first novel, Epic, set all kinds of records in terms of monies and awards - $50,000 from Penguin USA for the American rights; a trip to China to accept the International Board on Books for Young People 2006 award and translations into all the major languages. Saga, his second book, confirms the style and narrative skill of the debut novel, and will surely receive the same critical and financial success. The story is set in the future where The Black Queen, who is a RAL (Reprogrammed Autonomous Lifeform), has, by a murderous coup worthy of The Sopranos, gained control of New Earth. Her horizons are soon clouded by the mysterious Cindella and Ghost, a 15-year-old skateboarding punk girl, who has no identity record and lives on her wits as part of a shop-lifting, graffiti-carving teenage gang.It is a rock 'n' roll, helter-skelter time, a journey not for the faint-hearted but bound to enthral wired-up skateboarders, the mathematically literatre and those who just enjoy a well-written narrative. This is what happens when Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey meets A Clockwork Orange. Thugs have developed a political conscience and the main protagonists are female. Let's hear it for the girls!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Conor Kostick to appear at P-Con IV

The Phoenix Convention, or P-CON for short, is an Irish science fiction, fantasy, and horror convention, with an emphasis on the more literary end of the genre. This will be the fourth running of the event which takes place over the weekend of the 10th and 11th of March 2007 at Wynn's Hotel in Dublin. Conor Kostick is an official guest and there is a short biography at the conference site. This includes some interesting news:

His next book, provisionally entitled Move (O'Brien Press, 2007), attempts to synthesize quantum mechanical theories of alternate universes with Buddhism.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Epic gets new cover, US launch date

The new US cover for Epic by Conor Kostick

Amazon has the US version of Epic listed for release on April 5, 2007. This is a hardback with a new cover which is similar to the Saga cover. The tag line they are using is fines facere mundo.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A promotional book by Conor Kostick and Oisin McGann

A promotional book by Conor Kostick and Oisin McGann

This is a double-sided promotional book froom O'Brien that contains portions of both Epic and The Harvest Tide Project by Oisin McGann.

Monday, November 06, 2006

What's inside the package of the German audio version of Epic on CD?

What's inside the package of the German audio version of Epic by Conor Kostick

When I originally wrote about the German audio version of Epic I was impressed that it had three voice actors. But in fact there are at least twenty actors performing the different voices. It is quite a large production. Pictured above you can see what comes inside the box. At there is already a five star review which picks up on the philosophical quesions that Epic raises:

Are humans by nature violent? How does evil define itself? What does this relate to the MORAL and the ETHICS of humans? Can totalitarian or egalitarian systems help? How do systems of government change with long lasting power? Does one give POWER also voluntarily? EPIC is a modern version of the answer to one of the oldest questions of mankind
[Automatic translation by Google, hand-edited by me, all mistakes are mine]

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Conor Kostick in China for IBBY awards

Conor Kostick at the IBBY 2006 Conference

As previously discussed Epic was listed on the IBBY Honour List for 2006. Conor was able to attend the awards at the IBBY 2006 Conference in Macau, China. His trip was supported by Culture Ireland and the Irish Arts Council.

Conor Kostick at the IBBY 2006 Conference

Saga launch is close!

Saga by Conor Kostick

Saga's publication seems to be close, and we have a big picture of the new cover. Lady Schrapnell looked for Saga in a bookstore but couldn't find it.

Meanwhile Epic has appeared on a weird site for swapping of advance reader copies. And a review by Nicholas Whyte damns Epic with faint praise.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

More German reviews

NDR is a public radio and television broadcaster, based in Hamburg. On 6 June 2006 they broadcast a review of Epic. From the Google translation:

Kostick [is influenced by?] political philosophers such as Machiavelli, Hobbes and Marx, and so this novel is [...] at the same time also an argument [about] different social utopias.
Schmitz junior (a bookshop for children's literature) has a nice picture of the German cover:

Cover of Epic by Conor Kostick

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Friday, July 21, 2006

First blurb for Saga! has the first blurb for Saga by Conor Kostick.

Ghost is a fifteen-year-old anarcho-punk airboarder, with no past and no memories - only a growing realisation of her own extraordinary abilities. But who is she really? And can her world really be virtual, nothing more than a computer game? Why is she becoming embroiled in a battle with the sinister ruler of Saga - the Dark Queen?
I hope this doesn't give away too much of the plot.

Update: O'Brien Press has a page for Saga too. Their blurb is longer:

How do we know we are real and not just some character in an elaborate game? In the virtual world of Saga, Ghost is a fifteen-year-old airboarding anarcho-punk, with no past, no memories, but a growing realisation of her own strange abilities. But who is she really and why is she becoming embroiled in a battle with the warped leader of Saga -- the Dark Queen? And what happens if you dare to reach outside your world, or to question your identity? Is that simply the road to madness, death and destruction?

Again, I hope this isn't too revealing.

Translation of the animated Epic advert

Thanks to David Hughes we have a translation of the animated Epic advert

Die Welt ist ein Spiel.
Die Welt ist Epic.
Wer Gewinnt, dem liegt die welt zu Füßen.
Doch der Hohe Rat macht die Regeln.
Eric entwickele einen intelligenten Kämpfer.
Eine wunderschöne Frau Das Ziel: den Hohen Rat zu besiegen und die Menschen in eine bessere Zukunft zu führen
Eine atemberaubende Geschichte von Kampf
und Macht
Das spiel kann beginnen.
Ein phantastisch Thriller aus den Welt der Computerspiele
Jetzt lesen

The world is a game.
The world is Epic.
Whoever wins, the world is at their feet.
But the high committee makes the rules.
Eric starts a beautiful and intelligent female fighter
The goal is to defeat the high committee and lead humans into a better future
A breath-robbing history of fight courage and power
Play can begin.
Fantastically a thriller from the world of the computer games
Now read it

A review of Epic in German

An automatic translation by Google of a review of Epic in German by Holger Hennig. I have tidied this up a small amount. Update: David Hughes has cleaned up the translation some more.

With a deep red cover and a stylish three-dimensional image in the center, Epic certainly stands out on the bookshelf. It is a children's science fiction book, a twenty year old genre, but this is a little bit different. So does the content of the book live up to the pleasing cover?

Eric lives on a planet called New Earth, settled by humans in days long forgotten. All Laws on New Earth are regulated in the arena. However this arena is only a virtual, because the most important in the life on new earth is to Epic, a Fantasy play, probably "World of Warcraft" not at all so dissimilar, however by data helmet is played. Erik is a nature talent with Epic, however he has momentarily, and quite scarcely before the large qualification tournament for the university, times again his Epic life, and concomitantly his money lost. It has there an idea with a kite, which it wants to kill with superior tactics.

When he creates a female character with the fairy taleful name "Cindella", he remembers actually only to create a character which he can sacrifice cheaply for research purposes. Thus it invests everything into the beauty of Cindella, and is very soon surprised, because contrary to the usual Orkjagen the beauty is equal in a correct history in it and by a NSC is quite plentifully presented. But outside of Epic there are problems, to be transferred because its father, actually a banishing, one of those, which used force once in their life - in addition is enough however already small thrust. When its father is fetched, Erik begins the kite hunt with its friends…

An exciting book, well written and quite a little critically in relation to plays. Conor Kostick successfully laviert between the worlds, which is so apparently peaceful, and which other one, in which force is everyday, and which is more important for many humans, as the life as such. Some motives from the computer game world, from classical Science Fiction and combined from the world of the matrix are there. Thus all nothing new, but everything completely nicely joined.

However the persons remain quite woodcut-like, and therefore Epic is a book, which cannot convince fully. excitingly and well readably, but very little contentful. There simply or other motivation is missing, why who behaves as. Beautifully multicolored, nice Schmöker occasionally, but nothing that in memory remains.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Australian version of Epic

Epic is to be published in Australia by Funtastic publishing. Funtastic markets to Australia, South Africa and English-speaking Asia The Australian cover of Epic by Conor Kostick

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Audio CD version of Epic in German is listing a future audio version of Epic in German, on five CDs. The voice artists appear to be Gisela Trowe, Andreas Fröhlich and Woody Mues. Both Gisela Trowe (German wikipedia entry) and Andreas Fröhlich (German wikipedia entry) are experienced voice actors. Andreas Fröhlich dubbed Gollum in the German language version of Lord of the Rings.

Updated: to add cover picture

Sunday, May 14, 2006

German cover for Epic

The German cover of Epic by Conor Kostick

We already published some news about Epic in German, now at last the cover is revealed. Apparently this edition is hardback with a 3-D effect cover.

Update: replaced the picture with a better one.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Photos of Conor Kostick doing a reading

Conor Kostick doing a reading for Children's Book Week in October 2005 at Hughes and Hughes Children's Bookshop in the St. Stephen's Green Shopping Centre, Dublin.

Conor Kostick doing a book reading at Hughes and Hughes Conor Kostick doing a book reading at Hughes and Hughes

Photos by Grace O'Driscoll.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Epic in Portugese

epic_pt_cover A slightly different cover for Epic, and a whole new language.

Update: replaced picture with a bigger copy

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Fanastic interview with Conor Kostick includes more news of Saga

The German publisher of Epic asked Conor a few questions recently. They asked some good questions, and Conor has supplied some thoughful answers. The idea of Epic that all arguments must be dealt with in a computer game with real life going by without the impact of violence seems to be good. Why does Epic fail in the long run nevertheless?

I agree, the resolution of conflict in a virtual place is a wonderful idea. Imagine, no more casualties from wars. Unfortunately though, the virtual arena that the people of New Earth have adapted for the purpose was designed as a game, not as a way of mediating conflict. There are several fault lines as a result: over time a small elite become wealthier and more powerful within the game; more and more time is spent playing the game by society as a whole, so the real economy is declining and worst of all, there is a way to cheat!
Erik is playing Epic in completely differently way than most other players, which makes him discover new opportunities of interacting. Would this be your advice for young readers? To be courageous and try new ways, to go against the tide, without being afraid to look stupid? I think, it's very unusual for a young boy to choose a female figure in a game.
Definitely. Just because very many people accept certain ideas and ways of doing something does not necessarily mean that their approach is the best way. I think a lot of developments in science and art have come from new ways of looking at problems. I like the character of Erik for several reasons, but this is probably the main one, that he is not afraid of trying something new, in fact he only enjoys Epic when experimenting with it. A certain amount of research has been done on males playing female roles in online games and it seems that about 20 percent of males try female characters. One of the interesting features of the online game medium is that you can do this, and it is interesting to see how people react to you differently, depending on your gender.
What will happen after the destruction of Epic? The game was, in a perverted way, stabilizing the social structure. Will there be an outburst of anarchy?
The game prevented violence, but there was still a conflict over resources on New Earth, one that was being resolved in an unjust way. I’m sure that life will now get better for the people, because there will be far more people making an input into how resources are managed and no longer will you need to spend hours and hours clipped up. Of course it will be confusing for them, until they work out a system. But they still have the global communication system to assist them. Also, the new world will have a lot of respect for the ideas of Erik and Injeborg who helped bring about change, and they are basically decent human beings, with positive values. So, although there might be a certain dislocation and of course there will still be arguments, at least the method of resolving problems will be a more democratic one than before. I don’t see their society giving up their fundamental belief in non-violence. Not so long as everyone feels they have a voice.
Do you plan a sequel to Epic?
I have just finished editing Saga, which should be out in Ireland by the end of the year (2006) and internationally soon afterwards. Saga is set in the same universe as Epic, but we meet a very different set of characters, as well as find out what has happened on old Earth. So it is not exactly a sequel, but Cindella does make several important appearances.
Epic goes for a novel of the new genre of cyber fiction. What was your model while writing?
Naturally, given the times we live in, a lot of fantasy authors are dealing with the interaction between virtual realities and our physical universe. But I feel my own ideas on the subject were influenced more by thinking about the changes being introduced in our society by massively supported online games than books. Having posed the question: what would it be like to live in a world where your performance in a virtual fantasy environment determined everything? I drew on political philosophy, such as that of Machiavelli, Hobbes and Marx to make the dynamics of such a world as believable as possible. You might notice characters in Epic trying to make sense of the world from these different perspectives. When it comes to written works I would say that Greg Egan is the writer I admire most with regard to this genre. William Gibson is often seen as the founder of the related genre cyber punk and I enjoyed his works also, although they are much darker than Epic.
Do you like playing computer-games? Or do you prefer reading books?
I very much enjoy computer games. My favourites tend to be online games, but I can be drawn into spending hours on strategy games. My nephew gets me to play fast moving football and racing games, and I find that these are also terrific fun. But reading is a much more significant activity for me. Even forgetting about the value of reading in communicating knowledge (and I read as much non-fiction as fiction) the impact of reading can be profound. To really empathise with other people, to be inside them, you have to read. No game or film can yet recreate that sensation. Moreover the number of possible universes available to you when you engage with text is infinite. Games are more limited in this regard, allowing you to play only in their own particular universe. Your imagination, which is such an integral part of your personality and your happiness, is far less involved in a game than a book. Fortunately, we don’t have to choose between games or books, but can have both.
You are the designer of the first fantasy role playing game. What’s the name of this game?
This question needs to be rephrased a little. I was a designer for the worlds first live fantasy role-playing game. The name of the game was Treasure Trap. It was based at Peckforton Castle in Cheshire, England. People came to the castle, to dress up in fantasy costumes and take part in adventures. I was only 19 at the time but I was lucky enough to have been recruited to the venture from a nearby town, Chester, when the organisers visited the local games club. My time at Treasure Trap was enormous fun, and while I made a modest contribution to the development of the rules, my main job was that of designing adventures. My planning involved having to make the best use of luminous costumes for skeletons, giant polystyrene boulders, explosions, smoke, and all the other effects, as well as the placement of monsters and characters played by staff or volunteers. Sadly Treasure Trap was ahead of its time and despite attracting very loyal members, it was not a financial success. The rules we developed there have evolved though and survive in modern Live Action Role Playing (LARP) groups.
You teach medieval history at Trinity College Dublin. What do your colleagues say to your book?
My colleagues have been tremendously supportive of Epic. It's strange to have such scholars, with their precise attention to historical sources, express enthusiastic praise for a work of the imagination. But I think even the most rigorous historian appreciates time off from research and not only have my colleagues enjoyed the book but so too have their children or relatives. As a whole the Department is happy with the success of Epic and the fact that it is winning awards and critical praise internationally. You never know, perhaps prospective students are more aware of the Department of Medieval History in Trinity College because of the book, even though it really has no bearing on the subjects I teach.
Do you have children?
I do not. I do, however, have a nephew, also called Conor and a niece, Juno. At the time of writing this answer they are 7 and 4. I’ve written several stories for them, although Epic, of course, is for older children. Conor has passed the stage where I need to hold back in games to make them fair, and for most racing or football games it is me who now needs extra assistance. With regard to games, Juno has shown a great aptitude for draughts. Soon I shall try to teach her chess. It's about time the world chess champion was female!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Conor Kostick to visit China for IBBY awards

Epic is listed on the IBBY Honour List for 2006, and Conor is to visit Beijing to attend the 30th IBBY world conference. IBBY also administers the Hans Christian Andersen Award in recognition of a "lasting contribution to children's literature". Alas I don't recognise many of the recent winners, but in the 1960s the winners included this fantastic trio of writers: Astrid Lindgren, Erich Kästner and Tove Jansson. Unfortunately IBBY Ireland's website is a bit out of date, but I was able to discover that Michael O'Brien (the founder of O'Brien Press) is the president of IBBY Ireland.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Epic shortlisted for Lancashire Children's Book of the Year

Epic has been shortlisted for the Lancashire County Library Children's Book of the Year. In response Conor Kostick wrote this letter:

To everyone, young and not-so-young, involved with the Lancashire Children’s Book of the Year. Thank you for the card and the heartwarming news that I have been shortlisted for the 2006 Lancashire Children’s Book of the Year. I am flattered to be associated with the very fine writers who have, over the years, also been shortlisted for the award. The fact that the judges who chose Epic for the shortlist are young gives the award its distinct flavour and, I’m sure, makes writers particularly pleased to have earned their approval. From my own part, I find that when I meet young readers I am more anxious to learn from the feedback provided by their comments than those of adults. I came relatively late to reading, but when I did it was with a hunger for books and a fervour that saw me read though my school library collection and much of the children’s collection of my local library. In those times I would have been delighted to have been asked to nominate my favourites. I am sure that Lancashire’s schools generally have a much greater engagement with writing for children as a result of the conversations that participation in the award must generate. I am impressed by the amount of new reading that the judges take upon themselves. My own favourites when I was around twelve years old were Stig of the Dump by Peter Tabern; anything by Henry Treece; The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin and Carol Kendall’s The Minnipins. If Epic is bringing to the current generation of young readers even half the pleasure and stimulation of the imagination that these books gave to me, I shall be immensely satisfied. I look forward to the award ceremony on the 24 June, which I will be able to attend.
As this prize is voted for by kids it is a good one to win. Year nine classes from each of the twelve districts in Lancashire are the judges for the competition. The final judging panel includes a representative from each of the twelve schools involved.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Conor Kostick and Epic in Wikipedia

There are now entries in Wikipedia for both Conor Kostick and Epic. Good to see that they originally spelled his name incorrectly. It will be interesting to see how these articles evolve.

Booktrust recommends Epic

Booktrust is an independent educational charity working to promote children's literature. Booktrust administers the Nestle Children's Book Prize. Every year they publish an annual guide to the best children's books. Their Best Book Guide 3: books for teenagers recommends Epic with the following review:

On New Earth, the only arena for violence is a computer game called Epic, in which people adopt characters and interact with one another online – the twist being that what they achieve there is reflected in their real life. Eric, from a poor family, in a poor region, is struck by the unfairness of the system, and its bias towards The Committee, which runs everything. He sets out to save his family, and ultimately comes to struggle with the corruption of the system itself. This is a cross-genre book, with resonance for the teenage reader, not only through the accuracy of the gaming world, but also through issues of isolation and detachment explored in the story.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A world controlled by kites

I used babelfish to translate a German blurb for Epic to English

Welcomely in Epic. The play can begin... Epic is more than one computer game. On new earth, a planet somewhere in the universe, Epic is a question of lives and death. Humans, who live here, play in Epic around their future, their social position and their possession. Eric knows that he must be successful, in order to prevent that its family loses everything. Ever and its friends continue to themselves dare Eric inside into the dangerous world, which is controlled by kites and Fantasiegestalten. Eric has only one goal: He would like center the steering element committee, which determines all rules, defeats and humans into a better future leads... A Fantasy-thriller from the world of the computer games - also for adults breath-robbing excitingly!

Conor Kostick signs $50,000 book deal with Penguin in the USA for Epic and a sequel called Saga.

In a very informative interview with Conor Kostick at askaboutwriting we learn some interesting news:

  • There will be a sequel to Epic, to be called Saga.
  • Conor has signed a $50,000 book deal with Penguin in the USA for Epic and Saga
  • Conor is also working on a history of children at the time of the First Crusade
Congratulations Conor!

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This blog is not written by Conor Kostick. It is owned and operated by Andrew Sherman. Please send comments, questions and suggestions to andrew <dot> sherman <at> gmail <dot> com