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Via their blog, Harper Voyager announced today that Becky Chambers’ critically-acclaimed science fiction novel, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet will be coming to the United States this year. It was acquired by Kelly O’Connor, Assistant Editor at HarperCollins Publishers. Chambers initially self-published The Long Way after a successful Kickstarter campaign, and eventually saw the novel nominated for a Kitschie Award. After that, traditional publishers began to take notice. In addition to Voyager, Hodder & Stoughton is publishing Chambers’ novel in the UK.

“We can’t wait to get this into readers’ hands,” O’Connor told me. “We’ve had The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet on our radar for some time, and jumped at the chance to publish it again in the US. This story is space opera at its finest, but also so much more! Becky does a fabulous job of touching on important themes like family, diversity, and identity.”

I’m disappointed to see Voyager re-using cover art assets from the self-published release, rather than following Hodder & Stoughton’s lead and producing a new, original cover for the book (I mean, check out the UK cover! Gorgeous!), but a tight production schedule and (initial) digital-only release necessitate some concessions.

Coinciding with Hodder & Stoughton’s hardcover release in the UK, Voyager will release a digital edition of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet on August 13th, just a few weeks from now, followed by a paperback release in Summer 2016.

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Gary Whitta might best be known as a screenwriter–penning popular science fiction films such as The Book of Eli and the upcoming Star Wars spin-off, Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One, but the former EIC of PC Gamer magazine is a novelist, too. His first book, Abomination, officially hit store shelves today. “[It’s a] bloody, unapologetic fantasy,” says Chuck Wendig, popular SFF blogger and author of Aftermath: Star Wars, this is history twisted by the hands of a master storyteller.”

But Abomination is remarkable for more than just the words between its pages, but also its road to publication, via Inkshares, a new publisher who offer authors a unique way to engage with their audience.

I caught up with Whitta to chat about his new novels, Inkshares, and what he learned from writing a Star Wars film. Read More »

Armada by Ernie Cline

Publisher: Crown - Pages: 368 - Buy: Book/eBook
Buy Armada by Ernie Cline: Book/eBook

Ernie Cline’s novel Armada dropped last week with an enormous publicity campaign that’s sure to get this book selling exceptionally well. Cline has been riding high on his debut novel, Ready Player One, an Easter-egg infused novel that hit the nerd sweet spot with a hefty dose of references and nostalgia. The problem with Armada is that it’s absolutely, fucking terrible.

The plot is basic. A spacecraft drops by the school of one high school gamer, Zack Lightman, and tells him what absolutely every gamer wants to hear: Aliens are about to attack Earth and a secret military organization has shepherded video games, movies, novels and television shows to help attune humanity into fighting back against the alien invaders. On top of all that, Lightman’s one of the top gamers in the world, and that because of his scores in Armada, he’s one of the last best hopes for humanity. He’s brought to a secret base on the Moon, where he meets his long-lost (and presumed dead) father, who’s helping to oversee the counter attack. Read More »

empire-ascendant-by-kameron-hurley

Via the Barnes & Noble Sci Fi & Fantasy Blog, Angry Robot Books and Kameron Hurley revealed the cover art for Empire Ascendant, the sequel to 2014’s The Mirror Empire, and one of my most anticipated novels of the year. As is typical for Angry Robot and artist Richard Anderson (responsible for many great recent covers, including “The Builders” by Daniel Polansky, The Last Mortal Bond by Brian Staveley, and Time Salvager by Wesley Chu), it’s absolutely gorgeous.

“I was floored when I got the sketch for the cover of Empire Ascendant, and blown away by the final version,” Hurley told Joel Cunningham of the Barnes & Noble Sci Fi & Fantasy Blog. “It’s an extraordinary piece of art that perfectly captures the high stakes of the book and its key characters.”

“[I wanted] to contrast the massive, cold, army invading, with the calmness and strength of the two main characters at the table,” Anderson added.

About the Book

Loyalties are tested when worlds collide…

Every two thousand years, the dark star Oma appears in the sky, bringing with it a tide of death and destruction. And those who survive must contend with friends and enemies newly imbued with violent powers. The kingdom of Saiduan already lies in ruin, decimated by invaders from another world who share the faces of those they seek to destroy.

Now the nation of Dhai is under siege by the same force. Their only hope for survival lies in the hands of an illegitimate ruler and a scullery maid with a powerful – but unpredictable –magic. As the foreign Empire spreads across the world like a disease, one of their former allies takes up her Empress’s sword again to unseat them, and two enslaved scholars begin a treacherous journey home with a long-lost secret that they hope is the key to the Empire’s undoing.

But when the enemy shares your own face, who can be trusted?

The Mirror Empire was one of my favourite novels of 2014, and, no pressure, I expect the sequel to continue Hurley’s trend of pushing the boundaries of epic fantasy. Empire Ascendant will hit shelves on October 6, 2015 and is available now for pre-order.

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Happiness for a Fish

Zhuangzi and Huizi cross a bridge over the Hao river. Minnows dart below, silvery and swift. Zhuangzi leans so far over the railing he almost falls. “They swim about so freely—they go wherever they like. That’s happiness, for a fish.”

Huizi crosses his arms; he realizes he’s wrinkling his silk gown, and crosses his arms differently so the gown’s sleeves hang smooth. “You’re not a fish,” he says. “On what basis do you claim to know what fish like?”

Zhuangzi turns back and raises one eyebrow in that way he knows pisses Huizi off. “You’re not me. On what basis do you claim to know what I know?”

We’ve all been there.

We sit across from a friend or an enemy at dinner, standing beside an acquaintance in a bar, we lean against a con party wall, we walk side by side along the river with a lover or a friend. Maybe the conversation skidded out when one of us mentioned unions or the inheritance tax, expecting reflexive “oh sure” agreement and finding a defensive, pointed entrenchment; maybe we’re talking about our feelings and they’re not listening; maybe they said something we find unconscionable, or the other way round. And we feel that hot pressure behind our forehead, because they are just… not… getting it.

We’re homo sapiens on paper, but sapientia’s worth squat without communication. When the first proto-human had her first thought, she looked around for someone to share it with. How many times do you think we, as a species, got that far without reaching the next step—without managing to say “Hey, check this out?”

Cognition research suggests that animals do a lot more of it, cogitating I mean, than we used to think, which won’t surprise anyone who’s tried to keep a poodle in their back yard, so it’s hard to say when that leap happened. We made it back when we were habilis, if not earlier. (And we’re not the only ones who did—whales have languages and dialects.) But still, every once in a while I think about those occasional isolated nodes, the stars that burned before there were other stars to shine against. Think about the loneliness of having a thought and not being able to pass it along.

And we go back there again and again—at the table, at the bar, near the wall, by the riverside, and for all our hundreds of thousands of years of practice, the gap from mind to mind seems uncrossable.

How do we talk to one another? Read More »