Posts Tagged: Elizabeth Bear

karen-memory-banner
The Indispensable Prostitute

“Gosh, Bear,” you might think, “at least she’s a good person, in spite of being a prostitute!”

Hi! I’m Elizabeth Bear, the author of Karen Memory, and I’m here to talk about the fine art of avoiding some of Western literature’s most tired sex-worker tropes, such as The Disposable Prostitute and The Hooker with a Heart Of Gold.

On The Hooker with a Heart of Gold… words to strike dread into the hearts of… well, everybody who ever consciously tried, in their work, to avoid a stereotype. Any stereotype. And it’s not the only—or worst—stereotype—of sex workers around!

“Gosh, Bear,” you might think, “at least she’s a good person, in spite of being a prostitute!” Read More »

karen-memory-by-elizabeth-bear

How is Elizabeth Bear following up the best epic fantasy trilogy of the past decade? With a rip-roarin’ standalone Steampunk novel with an ass kicking heroine, of course. Not what you were expecting? Me neither, but Bear is full of surprises and one of the most versatile writers in SFF.

And, just look at that cover by Cynthia Sheppard! Cephalopods? Shotguns? Creamy Steampunk goodness? Checks all around. Read More »

hugo-awards-2013-transparent1
2015 Hugo Nominations v 0.1
Best Novel

The flush of the 2014 Hugo Awards is fading, and, with the holidays just peeking around the corner, I wanted to take the time to discuss some of my favourite novels from 2014, the ones that, at this very moment, would comprise my nomination slate for the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel. Will it change by next spring when nominations are due? Undoubtedly.

These are all terrific novels, and, if you haven’t read them already, well, I envy you.

Best Novel

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

Say hello to the best fantasy novel of 2014.

Even as I was startled by its twisted depth, I adored every moment I spent with City of Stairs. Colonialism lies at City of Stairs‘ centre, and RJB handles it with equal parts boldness and delicacy. The ruined beauty of Bulikov and its fallen gods haunted me long after I turned the final page.

Robert Jackson Bennett is best known for his contemporary fantasy and horror crossovers, such as American Elsewhere and The Troupe, so his move into more traditional epic fantasy put him on the radar of a lot of new readers, and the result is something special. On first reading City of Stairs, I described it to a friend as “China Mieville without the ego.” I’m not sure I still agree with that statement, because it’s unfair to saddle one writer with another’s baggage, but while reading City of Stairs I couldn’t fight the feeling that RJB was mixing and refining elements from some of my recent favourite fantasies. Other touchstones exists, such as Kameron Hurley’s The Mirror Empire and Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence, that place RJB among the most exciting and vibrant young fantasy writers working today.

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

Buy City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

Read More »

claws_of_the_storm_by_najtkriss-d5bk9v7
Writing in Ink
to Samarkand

You can hear a distant thunder of hoofbeats, steadily growing louder as it approaches. It is a stratum of fantasy that looks beyond the boundary.

You can hear a distant thunder of hoofbeats, steadily growing louder as it approaches. It is a stratum of secondary world fantasy that looks beyond the boundary, the Great Wall of Europe. Secondary world fantasy that is inspired by Byzantium and the Silk Road, all the way to the western borders of China. Characters, landscapes, cultural forms derived from the Abbasid Caliphate, the Taklamakan Desert, and the Empires of Southeast Asia much more than Lancashire.

Thanks to the rising popularity of fantasy fiction, riding, in part, on the wave of Game of Thrones‘ massive success, many of science fiction and fantasy’s old paradigms and forms of have gotten a new look by virtue of new and diverse styles and varieties of stories, new and formerly inhibited voices (primarily women, genderqueer, and minorities), and new or formerly under-utilized wellsprings of inspiration. Elizabeth Bear, one of the many authors at the center of this paradigm shift, calls this “Rainbow SF.” As Science fiction readies its generation ship to move beyond the white-heteronormative-males-conquer-the-galaxy pastiche, popular fantasy is beginning to look beyond the faux-medieval western European that remained so popular throughout the genre’s formative decades. And this doesn’t even include the rise of World SF, as fiction from markets and voices beyond North America and England begin to be heard in the field.

I call such books “Silk Road Fantasy.” Read More »

shattered-pillars-header

I’ve made no secret of my excitement for Elizabeth Bear’s The Eternal Sky trilogy. I recently sang my praise of the trilogy in a review of the final volume, Steles of the Sky, which was released yesterday:

Bear fills Steles of the Sky, and the entire trilogy, with a masterfully crafted meld of Asian and Middle Eastern mythology, legend and history with the wholly unique and deeply considered secondary world she has created. Shedding the tried and true landscapes and politics of faux-medieval western Europe, Bear introduces readers to a diverse world and political landscape that avoids feeling like the same ol’, same ol’, despite readers a story that uses many of the genre’s most recognizable tropes—ancient magic; an exiled youth of royal blood; a journey from one side of the map to the other; evil sorcerers; dragons; clashing armies.

So, it is with no small amount of enthusiasm that I pass along news that Bear has sold a sequel trilogy, The Lotus Kingdom, to Tor Books. “While Range of Ghosts, Shattered Pillars, and Steles of the Sky comprise a complete story arc in and of themselves,” said Bear, via The Big Idea on John Scalzi’s blog, “I can now reveal that Tor will be publishing at least three more books in this world.”

The Lotus Kingdoms, will follow the adventures of two mismatched mercenaries–a metal automaton and a masterless swordsman–who become embroiled in the deadly interkingdom and interfamilial politics in a sweltering tropical land.

The first volume of The Lotus Kingdom will be released in (*gasp*) 2017. Meanwhile, if you haven’t read The Eternal Sky trilogy, you should, starting with Range of Ghosts: Book/eBook.