Blush Response

Okay – the dust has settled a little now, I guess, and as it does, I’m delighted to announce that The Cold Commands made both Kirkus Reviews’ top SFF novels of 2011 and Amazon’s Best Gay and Lesbian Books of the year.  Needless to say, I’m deeply honoured by this latter accolade, and over the moon about Kirkus, whose original review also carried what has to be my favourite critical quote for a very long time; they called The Cold Commands “bleakly magnificent.”  So yeah, I’m blushing.

Some other, more in-depth responses that I loved are here and here.  And on a closer, more personal note, the number of e-mails I’ve received from gay readers thanking me for creating Ringil continues to grow.  Particularly moving, I thought, was this one from an ex-serviceman:

“As an ex-military “faggot” who had to worry about the “witch hunts” and consequently survived them, thank you for Ringil. Not all of us fit the “Queer as Folk” mold.” 

It seems, despite the knee-jerk flinching away in some critical circles that followed publication of The Steel Remains in 2008, that I have got hold of something worthwhile here after all – and rest assured, I’ll be mining it for all it’s worth!  Dark Defiles – incoming.  Watch this Space!





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42 responses to “Blush Response”

  1. Mark Lysaght

    Congratulations Richard, you deserve it!

    Have been dropping hints to my partner that I wouldn’t mind at all if Santa put a copy of The Cold Commands in my stocking this year, though getting time to read is quite difficult for – relatively new – parents (our son will be 15 months at Christmas, the get so big so quickly!)

    Hope fatherhood is treating you well, best to you and yours.

    Well done again mate.

  2. Mike

    My copy of Cold Commands arrived in the post last week and I’m looking forward to clearing my short-term backlog to re-enter that world.

    I had been cataloguing and reshelving many of my books last month and left a slot open on the shelf for it. I consider it great news that I will get to open a new space later for Dark Defiles.

  3. Raphael

    I’m through the book already and for me it’s the most moving, most intense of the big fantasy books of 2011, leaving Martin, Abercrombie and Rothfuss in the literary dust. I’m especially happy with the way ou portray the sex this time. You found much better words than in The Steel Remains. Less blunt, more poetic, wile loosing noe of the intensity. The whole book is a poem of anger, cast in the form of a fantasy novel. Thank you for that!

  4. Jonny

    These accolades are well deserved man. Even since these two books have been released, people are still clamouring for ‘literary fantasy’ that elevates the genre above what people expect it to be, but it’s right here under their noses. The Steel Remains’ and ‘The Cold Commands’ are miles ahead of the competition.

  5. Bryce

    Hadn’t even considered the ‘The cold commands’ as a gay novel. For me it’s whether any novel is a good read or an awful waste of time. I suppose people just like to or need to label novels. Perhaps ‘The cold command’ should just be on the best novel of the year list. It’s just happens to be one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read this year.

    Not that there is anything wrong with it being a gay novel.

  6. KingBollock

    Congrats, well deserved.

    The Cold Commands was, for me, one of those rare books that induces a constant fear within me, a fear that it’s just not going to be long enough, and it wasn’t! I didn’t want to stop reading, I was totally enthralled. I don’t mean to be impatient but the next one can’t come soon enough. Don’t leave me waiting too long, else I will have chewed my nails to the armpit.

  7. Simon

    Just finished it this morning. Wow. Already want to read it again, but need to reread Steel Remains first, I think. Possibly need to watch an Indiana Jones film as well, after those last few pages.

    From the first pages the difference between your writing and the other stuff I’ve been reading recently is incredible. The picture quality is stunning, so all awards and accolades are richly deserved.

  8. Martin Oline

    I want to thank you for all of the obviously hard work you’ve put into this last work. It is a jewel of a book. Maybe working on the last book now will be a boon to all your readers because the stars seem to be all aligned when it comes to your prose. Run with it while you can.

    I’m also glad that you are younger than me so I can enjoy your work right up to the edge of the grave. I usually don’t read books more than once but will enjoy going back over all the work you’ve shared with us. The future looks bright!

  9. Fran

    if I can quote Brit Mandelo, a little out of context, Cold Commands was Fucking Fantastic! I had some pretty high expectations after Steel Remains, all of which were met. I’m going to spare you the rest of my gushing praise…

    Are you at some time going to deconstruct the Envoy / Takeshi Kovacs / Quell links? Hit me over the head hard enough and I see them, but Firfirdar (?) (Virginia?) and the rest? Will it all become clear or will I, god damn it, need to dust off and exercise my intelligence and imagination? On reflection, I’d guessing the latter. I’m going back to re-read those three books, see if that helps me.

    Its good to see that Kovacs has not let being a god get in the way of his attitude.

  10. Linda P

    Thanks for the links to the book reviews at Tor and Ranting Dragon. Ranting Dragon has a link to a great interview with Richard in October. I particularly liked it because there were actually questions asked of Richard that I hadn’t seen in a dozen other interviews. Here’s the link:

    I have lots of questions about things mentioned in the book that either mean something important – or I’m really reading a lot more into it than is really there.

  11. mont

    My favourite approach to both SR and CC is to read the book first, then listen to the amazing audio book versions read by Simon Vance. Never before has there been such a perfect combination of prose and performance.

    Seriously, it makes these great books take on a whole new life of their own.

  12. Ricky

    Hi, Richard –

    Just finished my re-read of TSR and posted my (five-star) review to Goodreads online. Can’t wait to dive into TCC–which I picked up last weekend. Thanks, again, for your books.

  13. Charlie

    I have to admit that I find this disappointing since it will only encourage you to continue. The Altered Carbon series is so far superior that it is on a different scale. Steel Remains is just boring. Even Elric became parodic and nobody really needed another entry in the jillions of derivative S&S wannabees. I mean, even dragons? It’s going to be just way easy to pass on CC.

    I can only hope that you will return to themes that are worthy of your very real talent.

  14. Mark C

    @ Charlie: Boring? Really? My only (minor) gripe with the series is the three year gap between the first two books! But even this lengthy cloud has it’s silver lining: I needed to re-read TSR before getting into TCC and, man, I’d forgotten just how good it is, how quickly Richard drags you deep into his own intriguing take on fantasy; the world building and character development after even just a few pages and the hints and glimpses of whats to come definitely benefit from a re-read. First night in and I was shocked to see I had done 80 odd pages already.

    Still, each to their own. It probably helps that I had never really ‘got’ fantasy and am pretty poorly read in the genre…

  15. Lance

    I’m just getting stucking into CC, and it’s a breath of fresh air after grinding my way through the last GRRMartin. Well, maybe “fresh” isn’t the best word to use, but it’s considerably more richly flavoured.

    Keep ’em coming! :-)

  16. Fabe

    I’m close to the end of CC and its even better than I anticipated. I’m actually feeling a bit like I’ll finish reading the last page and turn right back to the first and start again! @Charlie, you have, like, totally missed the point.

  17. Joshua Ez

    I *just* purchased my copy here in Canadaland…. it’s so very hard not to toss my current read aside to get into this one. I greatly enjoyed The Steel Remains and from what I’ve heard The Cold Commands takes what I enjoyed the first time around and amps it up. I work at a library and have made sure that we carry these books to spread the goodness. Thanks for being awesome.

    (… see, it’s just sitting there, tempting me… all shiny and new…)

  18. Throken

    Hi Richard,

    Really enjoying this series. I picked up The Steel Remains after reading the Takeshi Kovacs Series, Black Man, and Market Forces, without knowing anything about it, just that you were the author.

    After realizing that yes, the main character is gay as fuck, I didn’t put the book down. Kept reading, loved the story, the characters, etc, but my reaction afterward wasn’t the same as other awesome books. I didn’t know if I should recommend it to my friends.

    I did though, and they loved it too, so I want to thank you for writing something like this, putting a twist on the genre.

  19. Your fan Stan

    I know what I want from you: violence, steamy sex,and a psyological fucking..all in a book!

    Not sure what you want from me?

    p.s.Men like you make me run to Daddy

  20. Your fan Stan

    I know what I want from you: violence, steamy sex,and a psyological fucking..all in a book!

    Not sure what you want from me?

    p.s. I’m friends with Kovac

  21. John

    Ever wonder how Takeshi Kovacs would look and sound if he were played by a complete pussy?

    Scene from Broken Angels featuring Tanya Wardani and Tak:

    Body language: WRONG!

    Tone of voice/delivery: WRONG!

    Facial expressions/attitude: WRONG!

    His whole approach is just wrong, wrong, wrong! Why is he playing Takeshi as a complete pussy? Everything about his portrayal screams “weak-ass bitch”. Could they not at least have read his character description on Wikipedia first? Certainly doesnt look like they bothered reading the book.

    Girl who plays Tanya is ok though but in no way do you believe that these two have just had sex.

  22. John

    PS. Actually I just watched it again and that part at the end where she supposedly gets pissed off with him isnt very believable either. Both their performances show a total lack of conviction – like they’re reading their lines off cheat sheets. Guess they just blew their shot at being in the movie. Cool idea to do it but bad execution.

  23. Linda P

    Yes, cool idea, but I guess they couldn’t find a black sleeve to play Kovacs.

  24. John

    Correction: In the book they hadnt just had sex before this although the healing system he uses on her is described as “uncomfortably close to a sexual assault” – albeit a non-violent, quite pleasurable one by the sounds of it. The future of therapy.

    If it wasnt for the whole rights issue I would suggest that we organize a competition whereby people act out different scenes from the books, put them on youtube and then Mr Morgan judges the best one but as I believe the property is under a movie option then that really isnt workable. At least not with Mr Morgan’s involvement. It could be done unofficially though.

    Note to would-be Kovacs: At the very least the man should be played with confidence, charisma and attitude. The guy in the clip above looks like he’s about to burst into tears at one point in the clip. He has a plaintiff, scared quality to him that really has no place in any portrayal of the character as I’ve read him.

  25. Martin Oline

    I think that’s a great idea John. Who cares if the movie is under option.
    How about a scene from Black Man (13)? That is the one I always recommend to people because it’s complete in itself.

  26. John

    When it comes to great, dramatic dialog scenes that jump off the page and cry out to be brought to life in the live-action form AC is just chock-full of them. The virtual interrogation scenes, the exchanges between Kovacs and Bancroft, the scene where he talks to another version of himself – all instant classics that even if they do eventually make a movie of it will probably only make it in as watered down or truncated versions of themselves.

  27. Tully

    Jesus, Richard; get back to writing more Tak Kovacs novels will you. This gay blood and guts sword and sorcery shite is beneath you. It’s like Michael Moorcock having a bad hair day.
    I know you said you couldn’t see anywhere else for the Kovacs character to go, but come on, there must be a complete novel just in his younger years when he joined the Corp and then joined the Envoys and the adventures that took place thereafter.
    And we’re all still waiting to see if the alien avian race are still out there, and who or what enemy were they fighting against. And did Tak ever find his lost love and her daughter. Much to be resolved I think.
    The Kovacs novels were without doubt the best stuff you’ve written. I’m betting the 3 Kovacs books have outsold any of your other titles. There’s a reason for that.

  28. David in Ontario

    Hi there.

    I’ve been following your work since Altered Carbon first came out and I’ve got to say that the long, long wait for The Cold Commands was 100% worth it. I’ve been reading fantasy and SF for 30 years and you just blew my mind.

    Yours is some of the best SF and Fantasy I’ve ever read. Fantasy has been a weak field for a very long time but you and Erikson are turning that around in very different but complimentary ways.

    For far too long Fantasy has pandered to familiar and comfortable themes and the teen/easy-reading audience. Your works (and the Malazan books) are bringing fantasy back to the adult audience. First, this series requires that the reader bring something to the table in order to fully appreciate the tale. Second, you challenge both the reader’s and genre’s per-conceptions and conventions of what a fantasy tale should be.

    I can only hope that this is the beginning of a renaissance in Fantasy.

    Well done sir! I’m already salivating over The Dark Defiles.

  29. Angelos

    Disclaimer: I’ve bought all of your books sir, (both in hardback and paperback), I’ve gifted the Kovacs novels more times than I remember and your current fantasy venture resides in my “Best Fantasy Books Ever” shelf. Yes sir, I am a BIG fan.

    But – in the spirit of xmas and forgiveness – can I moan a little bit about one thing that I cannot get out of my mind?

    Archeth’s “callsign” -> “Archidi”. Unfortunately in Greek slang it means “testicle” or “bollock”. Truly.

    It was SO hard to get this out of my head. I ended up having to visualise it by emphasizing the first “i”, reading phonetically it as ARCH-AY-DEE.

    I’m fully aware that there’s no way for an Fantasy author to fool-proof the names he comes up with against all languages of the world. I just thought you’d like to know :)

    Oh, and to be fair, Reimond E. Feist’s Captain “Kolos” (Daughter of the Empire series) takes first place. Kolos = Arse.

    You keep writing sir and we’ll keep buying. Wishing you an ever productive and happy 2012.

  30. John

    Has anyone here read Robopocalypse by Daniel H Wilson yet? It may have a lame title and the oldest premise in sci-fi history (robots get smart and take over) but in what must be the biggest Cinderella story in publishing history it was snapped up by Dreamworks before the book deal was even signed and is now on the fast-track to be directed by Spielberg himself for a 2013 release date. Unbelievable. Wilson you lucky fuck!

  31. Mark C

    Just had me a bacon roll, touch of tommy sauce. Made me happy.

    Well, I needed something to cheer me up seeing as I finished TCC last night! Best yet and it pains me to think it could be anything up to three years before I get the next RM book in my hands!

    Slightly disappointed at all the talk of this series being a continuation of the Kovacs books. I really just took it as a bit of hat tipping to your previous work (didn’t you do this in ‘Market Forces’?) and, while I loved the Kovacs trilogy (it’s what got me here), I think this new adventure is your best yet…

  32. Lawrence

    I’m in the middle of reading TCC and can formulate by now – it leaves very pleasant taste of coldness and eternity. So matching my regular inner state. Delicious!

  33. Rich Black

    This is all well and good, but I’m still waiting for the next Takeshi Kovacs…

  34. Linda P

    All you guys who are waiting for Takeshi Kovacs are really funny.

  35. Mark C

    The Cold Commands is in The Legend Poll, for best fantasy novel of 2011 at

    Gets my vote!

  36. Paul K

    I didn’t read it as a gay novel, more as a novel with gay and lesbian characters. In the same vein, it wasn’t a noir novel, or a fantasy novel, or a novel about imperial politics. It just (masterfully) combined elements of each.

  37. Jon

    @Linda P, why are all the guys waiting for Kovacs really funny?

  38. Linda P

    The Sky Dweller Takavacs = Takeshi Kovacs. The En Foi = Envoy. Takeshi came back, just not in the way some fans were expecting.

  39. Mark C

    @Linda: I think he’s just fecking with ye. Didn’t he do this in Market Forces? I think it’s his ‘thing’. Like Hitchcock appearing in all of his movies, RM gives the Kovacs trilogy a wee nod in all of his books…

  40. Ravi

    Just noticed that Altered Carbon is the 20th best SF book according to Reddit.

    Link Here:

    Great stuff, Richard!

  41. damaia

    @Linda P-

    Plus, y’know:

    “I stole fire from the High Gods, and forged it into a new weapon against them. I commanded angels in battle, brought bat-winged demons out of the dark to overthrow the old order, I crossed the void as a fucking _song_ so that the old order would fall. I broke those fuckers in battle over the arch of this world when none could or would do it but me.”

    Angelfire, the team from the Soul Market, martians, needlecasting… it’s all there, really.

  42. J. Folgard

    I’ve been reading your books since ‘Altered Carbon’ came out -a writer from 2000AD had recommended it- and, apart from a mild disappointment with ‘Market Forces’, I’ve really enjoyed them all. I remember having a good time reading ‘The Steel Remains’ four years ago, but I had not anticipated how much I’d enjoy reading about those three bastards again. I’m no critic and certainly no writer, but you’ve obviously poured a lot of thought and care into this one, without losing the fun, and it shows: wonderful fantasy pulp fiction with great characters! It was worth the wait and I’m eager to see where you’ll take them next.

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