As anyone who followed my reviews in 2013 knows, I’m a slavering fan-boy for Elizabeth Bear’s Eternal Sky trilogy (Reviews: , Shattered Pillars, Steles of the Sky). Seriously. It’s the best completed fantasy trilogy I’ve read in a decade. Along with Kameron Hurley, I think that Bear is publishing some of the most progressive, interesting and important SFF today.
So, needless to say, I’m pretty excited to see that the first details about Bear’s next novel, Karen Memory, have been revealed. An I think you should be, too.
In conversation with Liz Bourke on Tor.com, Bear said:
Currently I’m working on a wild west Steampunk novel called Karen Memory, which is coming out from Tor in 2015. It involves heroic saloon girls, massive conspiracies, and at least one fascinating and oft-ignored historical character.
While fans of her fantasy trilogy might be disappointed to see Bear leaving the epic fantasy subgenre, I’m excited to see that she’s continuing to explore the boundaries of genre fiction. Bear is one of the genre’s more diverse and exploratory writers, and readers can expect the same level of care and thoughtfulness that she applied to epic fantasy to be shown towards Steampunk and its (very popular) tropes and traditions.
Karen Memory is slated for release in 2015 from Tor Books.
Steles of the Sky
Release Date: 20140408
Publisher: Tor Books
Steles of the Sky, like its two preceding volumes in Elizabeth Bear’s outstanding Eternal Sky trilogy, proves that room remains in fantasy for fresh ideas, unique world-building, hearty characterization and high-stakes magic and warfare. Bear’s trilogy pushes the genre forward, challenging her contemporaries to write tighter, more inclusive and creative fantasy, while also paying homage to many of the genre’s oldest roots.
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. Continue reading
Best of '13 — My Favourite Books by Women
Note: This article was originally published as part of Smugglivus, a year-end celebration of all things books over at The Book Smugglers. Check out the rest of the fun!
To begin the year, I set myself a challenge: read a perfect split balance of male:female authors in 2013. It was a personal challenge, and I asked no one else to follow along with me. This challenge had two purposes. The first was to provide more exposure for female fantasy and science fiction writers. The second was to expand my own tastes, to discover new authors. As 2013 winds down, I consider this challenge a success, but it wasn’t without some controversy.
In particular, the comments thread generated some salty discussion about my challenge and the idea of ‘quotas’ playing against the natural interests of a reader/critic. I read a lot of the same arguments, mostly about being ‘genderblind’, that I had once made. These arguments are so easy to fall back on, a safety net to avoid falling into blame. At first, I was quick to respond the same way, “I just read what I want to read, and ignore the gender of the author completely.” Well and true, maybe, but I started to recognize that, despite these excuses, there was a large bias (about one to three, female to male) in my reading habits. I began to ask myself why. I still don’t have an answer, but I did recognize that a conscious course correction was something I could be proactive about without needing an answer right away. Continue reading
I’m completely and utterly gaga over this series and this cover. Seriously, if you haven’t, read my reviews of Range of Ghosts and Shattered Pillars to find out why I think this trilogy is “one of the finest fantasy trilogies of the past decade.” It’s extra wonderful that Tor has wrapped the three books in such unique, gorgeous art from Donato Giancola. There are few books slated for 2014 release that I’m anticipating more than Steles of the Sky.
Release Date: 20130319
Publisher: Tor Books
“I am the Ruined Queen. Nothing of Erem can harm me. And we must drill, my soldiers. You must practice for war.”
Range of Ghosts (REVIEW), the first volume of Elizabeth Bear’s fantasy trilogy, The Eternal Sky, was something of a revelation. At once it it managed to be full of life, of individuality, yet still reminiscent of the Fantasy genre’s adventurous roots in the ’80s and ’90s with Brooks, Feist and Eddings, and beyond that to the Sword & Sorcery of Leiber and Howard. Bear’s fictional world, deeply inspired by the steppes of Mongolia, the jungles of south-east Asia and the majestic Himalayans, was as heartbreakingly beautiful as it was fun and thoughtful. In 2013, there’s little else I ask for from a Fantasy novel than that it remains inclusive and progressive. When a novel has these qualities, and also manages to echo those early touchstone novels without feeling derivative, it’s like literary heaven. I had never read a novel by Bear before, and so was sheltered from preconceptions and expectations going into Range of Ghosts. Shattered Pillars, now, has the misfortune of being judged as the sequel to a book that I consider a beacon of hope for the future of epic fantasy. I once wrote about the dangers of reader expectation, yet I begin few novels with so high a level of expectation as I did when I opened Shattered Pillars. Continue reading