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From Up On High

I still remember the day I got my first sight of serious mountains. I was a student at Caltech, working at JPL as a summer intern, and one of the engineers on my project invited me along on a backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada. It’s a good thing I wasn’t the one driving to the trailhead. I probably would’ve crashed the car when we reached the Owens Valley and saw the Sierra’s stunning eastern escarpment. Jagged snowcapped peaks rise to 14,000 feet straight out of the sagebrush and alkali desert of the Owens Valley, which is one of the deepest in the world.

As it was, I craned my neck out the backseat window with my jaw hanging open and only one thought in my head: OH HELL YES. I yearned to climb those airy ridges and balance on those serrated pinnacles. But during my undergrad years I had to settle for occasional backpacking trips in the Sierra. As a student I had no money, no car, and most climbers I knew were rock jocks rather than mountaineers. Read More »

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City of Stairs was my favourite novel of 2014. It goes without saying that I’m ravenously excited for this follow-up, City of Blades. Doesn’t hurt that the cover’s gorgeous to boot.

The city of Voortyashtan was once the domain of the goddess of death, war, and destruction, but now it’s little more than a ruin. General Turyin Mulaghesh is called out of retirement and sent to this hellish place to try to find a Saypuri secret agent who’s gone missing in the middle of a mission, but the city of war offers countless threats: not only have the ghosts of her own past battles followed her here, but she soon finds herself wondering what happened to all the souls that were trapped in the afterlife when the Divinities vanished. Do the dead sleep soundly in the land of death? Or do they have plans of their own?

City of Blades is due for release on January 26, 2016.

Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

Publisher: Tor Books - Pages: 352 - Buy: Book/eBook
Buy Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear: Book/eBook

Karen Memery is a seamstress – which is to say, salon girl – at the Hotel Mon Cherie in Rapid City. Though romantically inclined towards womenfolk, Karen is a practical soul in a comfortable, well-paying position that lets her save for the future, and her employer, the formidable and aptly-named Madame Damnable, makes sure her girls are protected. But not all who share their profession are so lucky: Chinese and Indian girls in particular are vulnerable to slavery and exploitation, as are those who work the streets. So when Merry Lee, the famous saviour of trafficked girls, shows up badly injured with Priya, her latest rescue, Karen and her sisters are quick to defend them against their pursuers – a man named Peter Bantle and his toughs. But Bantle won’t give Priya up so easily, and soon, his escalating retaliations against Karen, Madame Damnable and the other girls land them with much bigger problems. Who is killing Rapid City’s streetwalkers? How is Bantle running for mayor? And what can Karen do to stop it? Read More »

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“Now I will tell you how Octavia, the spider-web city, is made. There is a precipice between two steep mountains: the city is over the void, bound to the two crests with ropes and chains and catwalks. You walk on the little wooden ties, careful not to set your foot in the open spaces, or you cling to the hempen strands. Below there is nothing for hundreds and hundreds of feet: a few clouds glide past; farther down you can glimpse the chasm’s bed. …

Suspended over the abyss, the life of Octavia’s inhabitants is less uncertain than in other cities. They know the net will only last so long.”  — Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino

A few things to know before we set out:

First, we’re going up… and (maybe) down, so pack your chutes. Aidan asked me to write a post about worldbuilding in the air — a somewhat non-traditional fantasy setting — because of a few stories I have in the wind. I set both the short story, “A Moment of Gravity, Circumscribed,”1 out this month in XIII: Stories of Transformation (Resurrection House, March 2015), and my upcoming novel Updraft above the clouds. Read More »

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As the Hugo nomination period draws to a close, here are the items that will appear on my final ballot. If you’re unfamiliar with any of the items, I highly encourage you to check them out. 2014 was a wonderful year for genre fiction and art.

Note: If a category doesn’t appear or is incomplete, it’s because I either a) did not make any nominations, or b) will be undecided on some of the final inclusions until the final hour.
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