Game of Thrones portraits by Olly Moss

Has death and destruction ever been so cherubic? These men of Westeros are another reason that I think Olly Moss deserves a spot on this year’s Hugo ballot.

Olly Moss is an English artist known for his inventive re-imaginings of famous movie posters, and his involvement with Campo Santo, a videogame development studio whose first game, Firewatch, was recently announced.

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

Publisher: Tor Books - Pages: 448 - Buy: Book/eBook
The Goblin Emperor by Katharine Addison

Once upon a time there was a book. In the first twenty pages it had like a bajillion names, several dozen instances of archaic speech patterns, and quite a bit of moping. I was instantly willing to hate it. But, because I’m a true critic of the arts, I continued. Also, because I can’t really beat a book up unless I finish it, right? I admit to doing this on occasion. However, as I continued to read Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor, I became enthralled. What was off-putting became second nature and beneath it was revealed a gorgeous narrative, a lush world, and dozens of fascinating characters. While there remains an absurd indulgence in complicated naming mechanisms, Addison’s fantasy novel rates among the best I’ve read.

Katherine Addison is a genius

Every book has a story, and The Goblin Emperor‘s begins long before it was published. Katherine Addison is actually Sarah Monette, a critically acclaimed author of four novels for Ace Books. Unfortunately, those books didn’t sell very well. The Goblin Emperor was submitted to Ace and rejected, forcing Monette to shop the project elsewhere. Purchased by the Jim Frankel (who has had some problems subsequently) at Tor, the novel found a home. Monette became Katherine Addison because bookstores aren’t big fans of authors who don’t sell real well, but are easily mollified with byline changes. I mention this because I have no idea whether Monette can write her way out of a paper bag, but Katherine Addison is a genius and Ace should be totally bummed they didn’t buy The Goblin Emperor. Read More »

Art by Julie Dillon

I would see queer romance in a different, more nuanced light, complete with a historical perspective that both undercut Card’s work and crystallized the notion of real-world men who loved each other with their bodies as well as their minds.

Hello A Dribble of Ink! I am David Edison, author of The Waking Engine and editor of GayGamer.net, and I am dribbling my ink all over you. Aidan has asked me to talk about my experiences with inclusivity in the gaming world, which is a great chance to look at the differences and similarities with the equivalent challenge in the world of speculative fiction. I’ll apologize in advance for being unscholarly and scatterbrained: these are, of course, sprawling and complex dynamics, and a genuine analysis is beyond both the scope of a blog post and the capabilities of yours truly.

Let’s start with the idea of finding yourself reflected in the creative works you consume. From my personal experience: I encountered a representation of my own queerness in speculative fiction well before I encountered it anywhere else in our culture, especially games. Orson Scott Card’s Songmaster hit me like a ton of bricks at nine, maybe ten years of age. (There is irony to be found there, of course, which is its own post, methinks.) The pedophilia went right over my young head (paging Alanis Morissette and her 10,000 not-actually-ironic spoons, and yet another blog post), but what mattered to me then, as now, was the love. Only a few years later, when I read Mary Renault’s stunning historical novels like Fire from Heaven, The Mask of Apollo, and The Persian Boy, I would see queer romance in a different, more nuanced light, complete with a historical perspective that both undercut Card’s work and crystallized the notion of real-world men who loved each other with their bodies as well as their minds.

For a young queer man, especially a reader, discovering multiple sources of my own nature (which I had realized at a much younger age than 9 years old, though I did not have the words for it) was a lifeline: suddenly I was a part of the world. Moreover, I could decide between different representations of myself and begin building an identity in concert with reality, rather than wondering if perhaps, to my horror, I might be the only one. Read More »

Elizabeth-Bear

Gollancz announced today that they have acquired a two-volume Space Opera from award-winning author (and A Dribble of Ink-favourite) Elizabeth Bear. The first volume is titled Ancestral Night.

“I’m thrilled to be writing long-form SF again,” Bear told me when I reached out to her to find out more about the novels.

“I’ve been looking for the opportunity to get back into science fiction for some time,” she continued. “Ancestral Night is in its own mode, but deeply beholden to the work of Iain Banks, Andre Norton, and C. J. Cherryh. Expect sprawling conflicts, politics, and ancient alien technologies, all wrapped up in a package of gritty, grounded personal drama.”

Details are scant at the moment, but the Gollancz announcement about the acquisition contained an early peek at what readers can expect.

Combining a unique concept with a compelling plot, Elizabeth Bear’s novels imagine the invention of The White Drive: an easy, nonrelativistic means of travel across unimaginable distances. The gripping story follows salvage operators, Haimey Dz and her partner Connla Kurucz, as they pilot their tiny ship into the scars left by unsuccessful White Transitions, searching for the relics of lost human – and alien – vessels.

“We’re always looking for exciting new voices in SF,” said Simon Spanton, Associate Publisher at Gollancz, “Sometimes that voice is already there but hasn’t broken through in a particular market. Elizabeth’s novels have always fizzed with ideas, passion and character. The chance to publish a new SF novel from her and welcome her to Gollancz is one I absolutely relish.”

Ancestral Night is currently scheduled for a late 2016 release.

iron-throne-simonetti

If the books and TV show seem to be revelling in the worst aspects of human nature, that’s partly because those aspects are what Westeros helps us to recognize in ourselves.

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, George R.R. Martin discussed the past, present, and future of his mega-popular series, A Song of Ice and Fire, and its television adaptation, Game of Thrones. Some of the most interesting moments in the interview concern the future of HBO series and the potential that it might catch up with Martin’s work on the novels.

“The minute you have a series [of books] and a book comes out,” Martin explained (surprising no one), “people immediately begin asking, ‘Where’s the next book?’ And the more successful the series is, the more people ask that question, and the more pressure you begin to feel.”

Martin’s struggle against that pressure is one of the most publicized and scrutinized stories to hit SFF fandom is the past decade. Here’s a creator working on a seminal work of fantasy, adored by millions of people around the world, who is also crushed under the weight of his fame, criticized for his own fannish activities (such as watching football, or attending conventions) and condemned for not writing fast enough. As if works the calibre of those he’s producing can come over night.

Prominence of this issue hit its peak when Neil Gaiman, another writer who understands the intricacies of dabbling in many mediums, wrote an open letter to Martin’s detractors. “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch,” he famously said. “This is a useful thing to know, perhaps a useful thing to point out when you find yourself thinking that possibly George is, indeed, your bitch, and should be out there typing what you want to read right now.

“People are not machines. Writers and artists aren’t machines.” Read More »