The Middle Kingdom cover art

Forum member Hunchback Jack has just posted a hi-res version of the cover art for the new series issuance of The Middle Kingdom, and the official website has a side-by-side of all three covers in sequence. Personally, I’m loving the designs and the continuity from novel to novel, but I’m not sure what do think of the depiction of Fei Yen on the third book’s cover. I always pictured her with finer features – more like Zhong Ziyi, I suppose.  

Have thoughts about the new cover? Share your comments. (Thanks Hunchback!)

Son of Heaven review and Wingrove interview in Interzone

Not much new on the Chung Kuo news front, but UK-based science fiction magazine Interzone has a well thought out review of Son of Heaven and a lengthy interview with Mr. Wingrove. They discuss the genesis of the new sequence and China’s increasingly dominant role in global affairs. Definitely check it out if Interzone is the kind of thing you can get around your parts.

That’s all for now!

Aiya, the spam!

This is (almost) completely unrelated to Chung Kuo, but I wanted to mention the spam issue on the site and forums. Not too long after this site went live back in early February, it started seeing the occasional spam comment, which would usually be something to the effect of “Wow your site is so great lol I never thought about it you make a good point click here” and I’d have to go in and manually clear all that out.

Then, after The Forums opened, the nonsense really started to fly. Every day, I had to go remove spam posts, oftentimes in other languages and in attempts to sell totally random crap like automobile parts. I tried banning the IPs that these spammers were coming from. No help. Then, I tried several types of captchas during (the squiggly letters that supposedly aren’t machine readable) during the registration process. That didn’t work either.

BUT… it’s now been a few weeks since there’s been any spam anywhere on the site. This is what finally did the trick:

  • On the blog (WordPress): Akismet. Akismet catches the spam comments before they post and relegates them to a reviewable spam folder in the WordPress admin panel. It works perfectly. The downside is, for a small non-personal blog (like this one), it’s $5 a month. One one hand, that adds up a little over the course of the year, but on the other hand, I just spent more than that at Taco Bell. It’s worth the money.
  • One the boards (phpBB): Q&A. Any newly registering user has to answer a simple query (of my choosing) that can’t be machine-answered and isn’t easily parsed from Google search results. The answer to the question will easily be known to anyone who’s ever picked up a Chung Kuo book, new or old. It’s so much simpler than graphic captchas, but somehow so much more effective. Since this has gone live, not a single fake registration (or spam post) has shown up.

So, in the event that you’re starting your own blog or forum, I highly recommend that you check these out. On the flipside, if you’re having issues here (comments on blog posts not showing up or unable to register for the boards), hit me up at ofgiftsandstones <[at]> gmail.com so that I can figure it out.

Zaijian for now!

EXCLUSIVE: The Wounded (Teaser)

I’ve managed to have a teaser section for The Wounded, a 60,000-word novella by David Wingrove, fall right into my lap. Although not part of the Chung Kuo universe, I know some of us  have been looking for stuff to read between novels. This teaser is the first scene of the story, which I understand might be a part of something bigger in the future. Enjoy! Full text of the teaser after the break…

Continue reading EXCLUSIVE: The Wounded (Teaser)

The Chung Kuo Wiki

When forum contributor Apikoros18 suggested something that I had just recently thought of — creating a Chung Kuo wiki site — I figured it wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

In case you aren’t aware, a wiki is a collaborative content system that typically allows anyone to edit any page. Wikipedia is the most common example, and hopefully you have used or seen Wikipedia (unless you live under a rock. A rock in space. A rock in space twenty years ago).

The idea behind The Chung Kuo Wiki is that it’ll be a compendium of Chung Kuo knowledge: details about all the books and characters. A not-too-shabby model would be Memory Alpha, a wiki site for all things Star Trek. You like Star Trek, right?

As of this writing, there are only two pages that I put up, mainly just to make sure it worked. It’s almost empty. It’s up to you (and me, and him, and her) to get it up to where it needs to be.

So without further ado, head on over to The Chung Kuo Wiki and let’s get some content up!

Check out The Forums!

The Forums have just been updated to aesthetically match this main page (and to remove the old default styles). There’s some great discussion and speculation starting to build there, so if you’re an old school Chung Kuo veteran, or a brand new fan who just picked up Son of Heaven, head on over there and give us your two cents.

Some current topics include tips for those interest in playing wei chi, old sequence vs. new sequence differences, and everyone’s favorite series character. Spoilers abound in those latter two links so beware!

Daylight on Iron Mountain news!

The Corvus website has now listed listed entries for Daylight on Iron Mountain, Book 2 in the Chung Kuo series.

The Special Edition publication date is listed as October 1, 2011; the hardcover and ebook versions on November 1; and the paperback on June 1, 2012. Looks like it’s going to weigh in at 416 pages, short of SoH‘s 480.

Here’s the marketing text/synopsis:

CHANGE IS ON THE AIR: The generals of the Middle Kingdom await the decision of the emperor.The campaign to secure the border from China to Iraq has reached a strange impasse. Two blood enemies, Arabs and Jews, have united against their common cause. But with the lives of thousands at his whim, the exalted Tsao Ch’un, the Son of Heaven, cannot decide. Destroy the Middle East in one blinding flash? Or take another path?

BUT THE WAY IS UNCLEAR: In the court of Tsao Ch’un, men of power have become smiling lackeys, whose graces conceal their fear, or their ambition. A man that can be trusted absolutely is a rare thing. And so, with his family held hostage by the empire, General Jiang Lei finds himself appointed to a special task: the orchestration of the last great war against the West. The total dominion of America.

WAR APPROACHES: But life in the world of levels continues. No hint of war, or want, or discontent can infiltrate the oppressive, ordered society that replaces the world Jake Reed once knew. Since the first airships rolled over the horizon, nothing has been the same. His new life means new thinking, new customs, a new way of behaving, and with his every move scrutinized, Jake can only serve the bureaucracy of new China. But he is not the only citizen who feels discontent with the anodyne new order.

And here’s the teeny tiny thumbnail of the cover.

This is not a dictatorship.

…it is a fan blog, after all. And I know I’m not the only fan (as evidenced by some action on the Forums after only one day of being live). If there is anybody who has reflections, opinions, fair criticisms, breaking news, or any other relevant info about the Chung Kuo series, then I’d love to have some other contributors to this site.

In the interest of full disclosure, I do (and will continue to) receive the revenue from the Google ads at the right in an attempt to recoup the funds that pay for the domain and hosting of this site — so far I’m up to around $1.79 or so after two months, not quite enough to quit my day job yet. Also, as the administrator of the site, I’ll retain editorial control of all the content, which isn’t to say that I won’t agree to the posting of entries that I disagree with (quite the opposite!), but I do want to maintain a certain standard of content, including relevance and quality of writing. Indeed, a thorough command of the English language is an expected pre-requisite.

What I’m thinking is that I’ll post your first entry (under your name or nickname), and for any further content I’ll create a WordPress username and account for you. If anyone’s interested, hit me up at ofgiftsandstones [[at]] gmail.com and we’ll discuss how we’ll get started!