The Sword & Laser book club, spearheaded by fantasy geek Veronica Belmont and science fiction geek Tom Merritt, is one of the most vibrant and enthusiastic fan communities on the ‘net. In addition to the book club, Belmont and Merritt also host a podcast and a weekly video show, which feature discussion about all the hooplah (good and bad) in fandom, book club discussion, and interviews with some of the genres’ most popular authors.
As if that wasn’t enough, the busy duo saw an opportunity afforded to them by their loving community of fans: an anthology of new writers. I reached out to Veronica Belmont to discuss the anthology, which is just a few weeks away from release, and features some pretty great stories (including one from me!).
“The Sword & Laser Anthology is almost two years in the making, at this point,” Belmont explained when I asked her about the origins of the anthology. “We’d been planning it for a long time, but we officially started accepting submissions in March of 2013. Building this community, which has existed since 2007, we realized very early that we had many talented writers among our listeners, and we wanted to give them an opportunity have their voices heard as well. That’s basically where the idea came from.” Continue reading
Buy Cibola Burn by James S.A. Corey: Book/eBook
In a recent blog post, Daniel Abraham pulled back the curtain on several of his projects, including news about his fan favourite series, The Dagger and the Coin and The Expanse.
Abraham discussed the upcoming additions to The Expanse series, which he writes alongside Ty Franck under the name James S.A. Corey, beginning with some hints of what readers can expect from the fourth volume in the series, Cibola Burn. “There are some things about [Cibola Burn] that made me *very* *nervous*,” he said. “But all our beta readers said we got away with it.”
The next Expanse novella, which “used to be called ‘Beloved of Broken Things’, will be released as ‘The Churn’” sometime before the release of Cibola Burn.
Abraham expressed excitement for the announced television adaptation of The Expanse, calling the first script “effing AWSOME.” He admits, however, that Hollywood is a fickle beast and that there is not much tangible value to be taken from a first script and some concept art (besides the goosebump factor, of course.) The show is still a long way from appearing on television screens.
The fifth volume, tentatively titled Nemesis Games, “is well under way,” confirmed Abraham.
He also had news for fans of his fantasy series, The Dagger and the Coin. Page proofs of The Widow’s House, a final stage of the editing process, have been submitted to his publisher, Orbit Books, and he’s currently working on the final volume, currently titled The Spider’s War. “I’m already feeling a little wispy about ending my time with these characters,” Abraham said of the series finale. “I shall be bloody bold and resolute. And there are some scenes coming up soon that I’ve been waiting five or six years to write.”
Busy guy, that Daniel Abraham.
Conservation of Shadows
Release Date: 20130418
Publisher: Prime Books
Up until recently, short stories, as a medium, were largely off my radar. Though I read them avidly and voraciously as a child, at some point during my mid to late teens, I just sort of… stopped. It wasn’t so much a conscious decision as a consequence of the fact that, for whatever reason – their length, presumably – short stories are frequently marketed to kids, but less so to teenagers (or at least, that used to be the case), and once they were no longer being thrust upon me, I didn’t seek them out. I kept writing them, of course, but not very well or often, because it’s extremely hard to develop any proficiency at an art form you aren’t actively exposed to. But ever since I bought a subscription to Clarkesworld for my Kindle and remembered, somewhat belatedly, how amazing good short stories are, I’ve been ravenous for them.
Conservation of Shadows is, to put it bluntly, breathtaking.
Enter Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee – a collection I heard about via Aliette de Bodard, who wrote the introduction – which has well and truly reminded me that, if you’re not reading short stories, you’re missing out on something vital. With settings that range from the fantastic to the science fictional – and including plenty which blur the lines between them – Conservation of Shadows is, to put it bluntly, breathtaking. Lee writes with extraordinary power and beauty: her worldbuilding, which frequently draws its influences from Korean culture and history, is compulsively original and detailed, but without being overwhelming (except on the level of sheer professional envy). Thematically, her stories deal with empire, colonialism, warfare and its aftermath, and the many ways in which all these elements impact on people, history, language and culture. Continue reading
In 2013, Jared Shurin and Justin Landon published Speculative Fiction 2012, the first volume of a new anthology series aimed at collecting the best speculative fiction essays, commentaries, and reviews from around the internet. I was pleased to contribute my own essay on George R.R. Martin’s A Dance with Dragons.
This year, the editorial reins were handed to the wonderful Ana Grilo and Thea James, otherwise known as The Book Smugglers, who today have revealed the cover for Speculative Fiction 2013 and the list of contributors for the latest volume.
Speculative Fiction 2013 collects over fifty truly awesome pieces from all corners of speculative fiction fandom,” they said. “From book criticism to incisive commentary on important issues like sexual harassment at conventions; from feminist themes in summer blockbusters to life-changing video games; from the merits of grittiness and the downfalls of grimdark.”
And what would an anthology be without a foreword from someone fancy and fun? James and Grilo rounded up Seanan McGuire, she of many, many Hugo nominations, to introduce the volume. “Seanan is the author of the Toby Daye urban fantasy series, and, under pseudonym Mira Grant, the Newsflesh trilogy and Parasite. She’s also a Hugo Award-winning podcaster, and a prolific blogger – making her the perfect person to introduce this year’s edition of SpecFic,” described Grilo and James. Continue reading
The Raven Boys
Release Date: 20120918
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Set in Henrietta, Virginia, Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys exhibits characteristics of the “southern novel”, a form I associate strongly with Tom Wolfe or Harper Lee. Novels of the American South tend to focus on the gross inequalities that exist there, often couched in racial terms, but also the nature of inherited wealth juxtaposed with the lack of opportunity that exists in the more urban centers. In the case of The Raven Boys, Stiefvater creates that paradigm between Blue Sargent, daughter to a poor, but comfortable, and exceedingly proficient psychic, and four boys from Aglionby, a feeder high school for the Ivy League.
The Raven Boys is an examination of the power dynamics between people.
For all her life, Blue has been warned that Aglionby boys are trouble. They’re rich and live by a code that means the rules don’t apply to them. These Aglionby boys–Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah–would be no different, except they can’t accept the lives they’ve been given. They want something more, for themselves and for each other. Bound up in a brotherhood dedicated to uncovering a measure of magic in the world, the boys come to Blue and her family for help. While the story is a quest, the novel is hardly about it at all. Not just about the unequal nature of the American South, The Raven Boys is an examination of the power dynamics between people. The power we give to others over us, and the power we reserve for ourselves. In other words, it’s a novel of character and the connections that bind them together. Continue reading