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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Cover Reveal: MECH: AGE OF STEEL Plus An Interview With Co-Editor N.X. Sharps (by Mihir Wanchoo)

Ragnarok Publications has slowly and surely gaining fans since they launched their first anthology Kaiju Rising. It was a resounding success and since then they have only launched many more amazing books and further spectacular anthologies such as Blackguards & Genius Loci.

Just this weekend, they announced their newest anthology titled MECH: AGE OF STEEL This anthology will feature a diverse array of tales from some of the genre's finest talent (including some returning favorites from Kaiju Rising) and each story will be accompanied by a piece of interior art by either Frankie B. Washington or Oksana Dmitrienko.

The Mech: Age of Steel Kickstarter campaign will be launched in the latter half of 2015 and here's the lineup that has been announced with the addendum that there will be a couple more big names joining this list:
• Kevin J. Anderson & David Boop 
• Jody Lynn Nye 
• Graham McNeill 
• Peter Clines 
• Jeremy Robinson 
• Martha Wells 
• Jeffrey J. Mariotte & Marsheila Rockwell 
• Ramez Naam & Jason M. Hough 
• Gini Koch (writing as J.C. Koch) 
• Jeff Somers 
• Matt Forbeck 
• Anton Strout 
• Bill Fawcett 
• C.L. Werner 
• James Ray Tuck, Jr. 
• M.L. Brennan 
• Timothy W. Long 
• Jennifer Brozek 
• Kane Gilmour 
• Paul Genesse 
• Patrick M. Tracy 
• Andrew Liptak 
• Steve Diamond 

I’m particularly fascinated by the author lineup, which includes many of our FBC favorites such as Peter Clines, M.L. Brennan, Ramez Naam, Jason M. Hough, Martha Wells and many others. The superb cover art seen above is by Victor Adame and the cover design is by Ragnarok regular Shawn T. King.

I wanted to explore a few more details behind the inception the anthology and was extremely glad when Nickolas X. Sharps obliged my call. Nickolas is the co-editor of MECH: AGE OF STEEL along with Tim Marquitz. He has been involved with Ragnarok Publications from the start and has masterminded their social media strategy. He was also the co-editor of Kaiju Rising and frequently reviews SFF titles over at Elitist Book Reviews.

So read ahead to find out how MECH: AGE OF STEEL came to be and what readers can look forwards to from it. So please join me in welcoming Nick:

1] Please tell us about the inception of MECH: Age of Steel and how you came to be involved with it? 

NXS: We started planning MECH shortly after we finished editing Kaiju Rising. I envisioned a trilogy of anthologies, each with a separate theme but with a degree of overlap. Like Kaiju Rising, MECH is the product of a childhood passion. As a kid the only thing I loved more than giant monsters were giant robots and it all started with watching Gundam Wing on Toonami after school.

Pacific Rim reminded me how awesome kaiju are but I never forgot the coolness of mecha. Kaiju Rising features several really great stories involving both monsters and robots but I felt like the robots deserved a big ol’ book all of their own and of course Joe and Tim backed me up.

2] This anthology is said to be a companion anthology to Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters. Please tell us more about this connection? 

NXS: You’ll no doubt notice several authors on the Kaiju Rising lineup returning for MECH. We’ve got Peter Clines, Gini Koch, C.L. Werner, Timothy W. Long, Kane Gilmour, Paul Genesse, and Patrick M. Tracy all returning to contribute. Several of these authors have sequels to their Kaiju Rising stories while others have decided to try something new. Giant monsters and giant robots go together like peanut butter and jelly. Or peanut butter and chocolate. Or peanut butter and bananas. Have you ever noticed that peanut butter goes well with most things? These anthologies are companions in that they both take an awesome theme and explore a multitude of ways in which to express said theme.

3] With Kaiju Rising, you compiled a fascinating line-up of authors, this time around as well you have compiled an intriguing one. Tell us more about the authors involved and why you approached them? 

NXS: Some of thes folks on the lineup were recommended to me. Then there are the Kaiju Rising authors who threatened me with blackmail and violence to secure invitations. Several of authors were even invited to contribute to Kaiju Rising but were unable to make such a commitment at the time. But simply put these are authors I read, enjoy, and have come to admire. I knew that each and every one of them would be able to bring something unique to the project and that was the one driving force behind assembling the lineup.

4] Which tale is your favorite in this compilation and which one surprised you the most? 

NXS: It’s difficult to pick a favorite, especially since we’ve only received half the submissions by this point. I know it’s a major cop-out to say this but I love them all. I will admit that as the first story I received, Graham McNeill’s “Ordo Talos” does hold a special place in my heart. I’ve been reading McNeill’s Warhammer 40,000 and Horus Heresy novels for years and I geeked out hardcore when he accepted the invitation to MECH. Plus it’s hard to beat a story about Roman legionnaires fighting a barbarian wickerman-mech.

The most surprising story so far has likely been Jody Lynn Nye’s “Easy as Pie.” I was too busy laughing while reading it to stop for a breath – Nye is a comedic genius. That said all the stories are rather surprising in their own way. Readers will want to check their expectations at the door before delving into MECH.

(Artwork by Frankie B. Washington for Jeremy Robinson’s MECH story “Rogue 57")

5] I loved the movie poster mode of the cover art. Could you expound on how it came to be? 

NXS: Joe Martin wears many hats as co-publisher of Ragnarok but I think the role he most enjoys is Creative Director. We passed names of some different artists back and forth before he found Victor Adame. We were instantly taken with the piece that would become the MECH cover and Joe morphed into negotiating mode. Not only was Joe able to secure this cover but he also purchased a second piece that we’re considering the “Crimson Variant” that will be a Kickstarter exclusive.

Shawn King, Ragnarok’s design guru, wanted MECH to stand out and have an almost anime/high budget sci-fi action film feel to it. We’ve come to trust Shawn’s design sense implicitly so he took that direction and just went crazy with it. We’re all very pleased with how it turned out and I think even J.J. Abrams would approve! 

6] When will the kickstarter for MECH go online? What awesome goodies can the fans look forward to from it? 

NXS: We are looking at launching MECH in Q3/Q4 of 2015. Sorry if that’s a little unspecific but we want to make sure to meet our fulfillments for Genius Loci before we move forward. Plus there’s a super secret project that Ragnarok is participating in this summer that should be very, very cool.

As for awesome goodies? For starters we are looking at interior art for each story. We’ve recruited Frankie B. Washington and Oksana Dmitrienko to illustrate these stories. Then we’ve got a challenge coin designed by Ian Jobe that compliments the Kaiju Rising coin. We’re also planning posters, bookmarks, magnets, and of course Tuckerizations. 

Thank you for the questions! We can’t wait to share MECH: Age of Steel with the world.

NOTE: All pictures courtesy of Ragnarok Publications and Nick. X. Sharps.


Tristan said...

Looks Great!

Tim Ward said...

Wow, two awesome surprises on top of the excitement for this project. Looking forward to finding out the secret project this summer and for what the theme will be for the next one. I'm putting my money on aliens, with the dark horse, zombies.

Stellar cast and artwork. I can't budget for all the crowd funding I see, but this is looking like a front runner.

Who else loves Nick using the N.X. Sharps penname?


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