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Award winning author, director and graphic artist Istvan Szabo, Ifj. was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1981. Istvan penned his first short stories, the science fiction story, City on the Rings of Saturn, as well as the historical fiction for a literature competition, entitled One Day in the Legion in Elementary School. But he discovered a true love for writing in high school, enrolling in advanced Hungarian and English classes and submitting short stories to various writing competitions, and magazines, as well as self-publishing his works in his school to entertain his classmates. The military thriller short story series, Revenge, a story similar to the movie Toy Soldiers, was a school-wide success. After high school, Istvan attended Information Technology and Technical College, while he also applied to the Marine Military Academy (he always wanted to be a military fighter pilot, and he received his first pilot training at the age of 14.) and Georgetown Law School (he was an avid fan of JAG. :) ). After college he then spent the next few years trying other jobs and careers, including marketing manager, graphic artist and web designer. But he also spent a short time as an insurance agent, movie ticket taker and working in a souvenir-store. He admits that these last two jobs were his favorite and most relaxing non-freelance jobs he ever had, because of the good company, and the free movies, popcorn and souvenirs. Summer jobs, a.k.a. the best days of a different life. :) In 1999, Istvan wrote his first screenplay, the sci-fi drama Mercurion, which was requested by many U.S. agencies, but unfortunately the story never went into production. From 2002 to 2004, he wrote the two hour long pilot and twenty additional episodes for a new Star Trek series, Star Trek: Beyond Frontiers. Star Trek: Beyond Frontiers set 10 years after Star Trek: Nemesis, describing the journey of the U.S.S. Concordia (NX-92337). They're on a mission to find answers for the deadly events revolving around their own sister ship, the U.S.S. Olympia and Section 31, a civil war taking place inside the Federation, and a mysterious phenomenon even the Borg is afraid of. But the story never went beyond the pitching phase, as Paramount already planned to cancel the Star Trek franchise with Star Trek: Enterprise.
In 2003 Istvan wrote a page long short story, called Crystal Shade, which in 2005 became a nine episode long TV mini-series project. This later became the foundation of the Auralight Fantasy book franchise, Crystal Shade: Angeni, which outlines the prelude story of the screenplays. However, due to various circumstances, and to avoid any spoilers, the details of the development and pitching of the Crystal Shade TV mini-series are still classified. However in 2008 one part of the development visited the U.S. Air Force Entertainment Liaison Office. In 2004, a Hungarian based game-development studio, along with one based out of Paris, France, took notice of Istvan. The two companies entrusted him to complete a story for their newest video game. Reviewers and newspapers praised the story itself, however Istvan is not proud of this work, mostly because the story development wasn't in his hands and the end product was far from the idea and screenplays he initially wrote and pitched. But he received various credits for this project, including designer, sound-editor, tester, manual writer, and translator. Later in 2005, shortly before Istvan started to write the Crystal Shade TV Mini-Series, a Hollywood screenwriter by the name of David Freeman was so impressed with Istvan's abilities that he invited him to London as his guest. Mr. Freeman shared some insights with Istvan about the art of screenwriting. Before he turned freelancer, Istvan made one additional game and one additional design project with the studio where he was also credited a few more times in various fields. In 2007, Istvan produced his first short movie 15 Minutes of Fame in which he was the screenwriter, director and storyboard artist. 15 Minutes of Fame won 3rd Place at the UPC-AXN Film Festival 2007, and was the personal favorite of the audience, the critics and Hollywood producer and jury member Andrew Vajna, the producer of Terminator, Total Recall, Die Hard and other great movies. In 2009, Istvan turned his old screenplays Mercurion and Star Trek: Beyond Frontiers into a new ten episode long sci-fi thriller series, called as Nightfall. While this sci-fi story also was requested by various movie studios, due to various circumstances this story also had the fate of Crystal Shade. The book adaptation of the world's only Darklight Science Fiction, Nightfall is scheduled for 2014 / 15.
Between 2009 and 2011, Istvan wrote Crystal Shade: Angeni, the world's only Auralight Fantasy. Volume 1 was released on November 11, 2011, 11:11GMT, and since that time the book is available on 6 continents, in 65 countries and 200+ territorial and regional retailers. While the book is not a fast and easy mainstream read, it has received positive reviews, with critics calling it a "beautiful and elegant writing, a unique fantasy world with a storyline you won't feel you have anything to compare it to." The introductory book, Crystal Shade: Introduction, which presents the development in the words of the author, was released in 2013. The sequels of Crystal Shade, Afterlight and Volume 2 are scheduled for 2014. In 2011 and 2012, Istvan also released two of his short stories in his 7 Post Meridiem series. The noir detective novelette, Pale Moonlight and the extra short noir sci-fi drama, Anno Humanae Salutis, received positive reviews. Anno Humanae Salutis also made it to the Amazon best seller list on February 25, 2012, five days after its release. The next short stories in the 7 Post Meridiem series, the noir detective novelette, The New York Homicide, and the noir sci-fi short story, Deus Ex are scheduled for 2014 / 15.
Istvan loves to create new worlds, and expand his brands toward additional marketing areas. As a professional artist, he also loves to make all the graphic sketches of the characters, weapons, items and worlds he created. He has also has created illustrations, character art, short CGI animations and marketing materials for various projects, such as foreign movie projects Descent (Australia), Brandish (United States) and for the independent movie studio Syzygy (United States, credited for 65 episodes), as well as for his own works, Crystal Shade, 7 Post Meridiem, Nightfall and Project Nephthys. Istvan is also the owner of Sapphire Guardian Publishing and its renowned subsidiary, Sapphire Guardian Formatting and Conversion Services, and he has worked on dozens of books for both independent authors and professional publishers.
on Sep. 24, 2013 :
I rarely write reviews, almost never, but Crystal Shade deserves recognition, so now I make an exception. One of the things that recommends Crystal Shade and makes its considerable length justified is its characterizations and interesting, unique story and world. I’m always little skeptical of the realism in fantasy. Realistic fantasy is like real life, seemingly nothing is black and white; there is no ultimate good and no ultimate evil, but Crystal Shade’s story and presentation is perfect in this. This is as close to reality as a fantasy or an angel story can get. In real life heroes sometimes die or commit murder or make mistakes. One review I read criticized the book because the plot didn't go in the direction the reader expected, the character was to in-depth, the story had moral values, and foremost because the plot was slower and more detailed. Honestly, I praise the book for the same reason.
Grace is one of the best examples of the in-depth characterization we find in Crystal Shade. She is the major character of the novel. She is a well written and simply an incredible, believable character. When we first meet her she is a daydreamer, eager to learn, eager to discover her home world – but along with her we quickly learn in the span of a few chapters that there is more to her than her attitude might suggest. She realizes the difference, reality and daydreams, and her mind must be her weapon; it is her wits that she wields instead of the legendary crystal blade about she always dreamed of. And the other characters are also so real. Women and even children are authentic. In many fantasy stories portrayal of women and children are really annoying. But unlike in other fantasy novels in Crystal Shade all the characters seem and act like real people you may love, like or hate.
Crystal Shade is possibly the most unique fantasy stories in the last ten-twenty years. It is not a copy cat of Song of Ice and Fire or The Lord of the Rings. It is Crystal Shade, a unique angel story which is not a religious propaganda, but a very strange mix of many genres and very unique fantasy tale for everyone. After so many fantasy stories it was refreshing to experience something completely different. The author makes a huge breakthrough with this well written, immediately engrossing, and incredibly intricate tale that keeps you hooked all the way through. It is a well plotted, but slower paced, still excellent, fresh fantasy tale, which is not for the mainstream lover, impatient and undereducated readers. And I’m serious. Crystal Shade is a professionally written book with one of the most beautiful proses. This book is not for Twilight or other mainstream fanatics. Plots, discovery, dreams and reality, myths and legends that all combine to create one of the most compelling novels I have ever read. Crystal Shade has a very unique story to tell. It is beautiful, it is slow and it is cruel as you have to understand what you read and you have to use your imagination to see everything. This book is decades ahead of it’s time.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on July 02, 2013 :
- Beautifully written elegant and enchanting read
- A complex and very unique heroine and a great storyteller
- Believable secondary characters and dialogues
- A brand new fantasy world. No known classes, no known weapons or character traits. Finally!
- A very unique, unpredictible and interesting angel story which is finally not a religious propaganda, but it is for everyone. Forget everything you think you know about angels. These angels, rather guardians are much better.
- It is about a journey and revelations. Finally it is not a book full of actions just to keep you entertained. Peace dominates
- Few, but well crafted and memorable battle scenes
- Each detail has a place, each element has a purpose
- A so strange, realistic and very detailed fantasy world without the known cliches, mixed with science fiction and other genres. The description says its an Auralight Fantasy. It perfectly describes the book
- Long chapters with a story in a story. Each chapters has a beginning, middle and an end
- Great contrast between the beginning and the end
- Cliffhanger ending. Intense, full of unpredictible twists.
- Slower read. Patience required
- It is not for everyone
- Long chapters (148,000 words, but only 9 chapters)
- Cliffhanger ending. You have to wait for the sequel.
Verdict: 4.75 out of 5
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Feb. 02, 2012 :
A story about an angel coming of age. This first of a fantasy series is about a young girl, Grace who dreams of and then becomes an angel. At first, her training is almost like a child's game, with simple tricks and gentle philosophy. But that changes as the training becomes harsher. The line between good and evil also becomes blurred. She later encounters and fights humans and demons, all while revealing the meaning of the Crystal Shade.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Dec. 23, 2011 :
I found this book to be interesting.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on Dec. 02, 2011 :
To begin, this is not your everyday Fantasy novel. It's an interesting story about a little girl who dies and becomes an Angel. Without giving too much away, the first half of the book focuses on her training. There are lots of descriptive pages and the story is very in-depth and involved. The second half is about..... Well you'll just have to read it and find out. For a first novel from this Author, I'll have to say it's very well written. It's intriguing and thought provoking. It is not a book you can just quickly skim through and read in one night, you have to absorb the words and create the fantasy in your mind. I would call this a supernatural fantasy. It is very different. I'll be waiting for volume 2 to see how it plays out. Also if anyone's interested go to the Crystal Shade Angeni website and check out the artwork for this novel, the Author is also an artist and he has outdone himself. The artwork is absolutely breathtaking, some of the most beautiful art I've ever seen. Well done Mr. Szabo.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)