Friday, October 31, 2014

Gorgeous artwork

Stumbled across this gorgeous piece of artwork done by Richard Solomon. Sometimes it's nice to just kick back and admire a great piece of work!
The Fallen by Richard Solomon

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cover Art Teaser

I received the nearly-complete cover art for my forthcoming sci-fi thriller The Immortality Game the other day, and it blew me away. I knew Hugo-award winning artist Stephan Martiniere was the best artist alive, so I pretty much knew he'd nail it, but it is still nervewracking to worry about how it might turn out.

I don't want to post the full cover shot yet, since I'd like to save that up for when I actually publish the novel, but I thought it would be cool to put up a slice of the cover so people could see some of the astonishing details Martiniere has put into the piece. Note that he is still adding a few touches, so this isn't the final work, but it's close. Click on the photo to get a larger view.
Cover Illustration © Stephan Martiniere
You can't see much of it here, but there is a huge pyramid in the background, which is the base of operations of the Russian mobster gang that serves as the primary antagonist in the story. The pyramid is the location of the climax. The character you see on the right is my main character Zoya, an innocent young woman in 2138 Moscow who happens to get thrown into the action when her gangster brother asks her to hold onto a small package for him (against her will).

I love how he depicted the different lanes of air car traffic. In reality there should be many more of them, but that would have cluttered up the cover too much, so this is perfect for my needs. I can't wait to show you the final cover once I figure out how to design the cover text properly!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Gorky Park

Long ago I read three of the Arkady Renko novels by Martin Cruz Smith, the most famous of which is Gorky Park. I had always really liked the character of Renko, a melancholy man who always seems to face impossible obstacles to solving the murders for which he is the chief investigator, yet he has a doggedness of character that simply refuses to ever give up. When I found out there are now eight Renko novels, I decided to read them all, and I've really been enjoying myself.
 Today I rewatched the movie Gorky Park, the only one of the novels adapted to film. It's a decent movie, but I was shocked to realize that in my mind I had erased the fact that William Hurt played Renko and replaced him with another actor, Stephen Rea. When I thought about it, I realized it is because Stephen Rea ideally represents the way Arkady Renko appears in my mind as I read the books. William Hurt is a good actor and does a creditable job in the role, but he was the wrong choice for the part. It really belonged to Stephen Rea, whose demeanor and style perfectly represent Renko.
For those who haven't read the books and enjoy stories set primarily in Russia or simply like good detective mysteries, I'm including the links below.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Chess Grand Prix in Baku

Last night I attended the opening ceremony of the FIDE (World Chess Federation) Grand Prix tournament in Baku, Azerbaijan. Twelve of the very best players in the world will be competing in a round robin format, and two of them are Americans. Hikaru Nakamura is the top-ranked American player, and I love his uncompromising style. Fabiano Caruana is actually higher rated than Nakamura (he's number 2 in the world after world champion Carlsen), and he was raised in America, but he currently plays for Italy (he holds dual citizenship).
photo from Chessbase
You can barely see me in the shot above, talking to the guy holding the trophy. He was presenting it as his company designed the trophy for the event. Nakamura is the gentleman front and center looking sort of in the direction of the camera. He has been struggling of late, ever since he blew a game he was winning against Carlsen, and I hope he will get back on track.

Caruana is coming off of the best tournament performance ever seen, when he easily won the highest rated tournament ever in St. Louis. He didn't just win it; he dominated, winning seven games in a row against elite competition, including world champ Carlsen. I hope he continues to show that level of play here.

I'm not sure if I'll bother going to watch any of the matches, as the organizers didn't seem interested in allowing people like me a real opportunity to get good photos. Any shots I might be able to get would be from several meters away and from below, as the players are up on a stage. I would have liked to meet Nakamura and Caruana and shake their hands and let them know how much I am rooting for them.