Archive for May, 2013

Short Fiction Friday: Two “Wild Cards” Stories From Tor.com

REVIEW SUMMARY: Hot on the heels of a weekend spent at ConQuest 44 in Kansas City, MO, which featured both George R.R. Martin and Artist Guest of Honor John Picacio, I review the latest Wild Cards stories acquired and edited for Tor.com by Martin himself.  Artist John Picacio provides the accompanying art for both novelettes.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: In the Wild Cards world of Jokers and Aces, two troubled individuals attempt to come to grips with their genetic traits and a world in which they are not entirely welcome.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Each author captures a strong sense of place; characters whose voices fit well; the first story sets up the Wild Cards world for those unfamiliar with the concept.
CONS: Cherie Priest’s story could have stretched on longer for a more fulfilling ending; Paul Cornell’s style was initially jarring until you realize just how well it fits the protagonist he created.
BOTTOM LINE: I am one of the newbies I referred to above.  These two stories were my first foray into the Wild Cards universe and I knew next to nothing about this shared world until I read these stories.  I was drawn to read these because of the serendipity mentioned in the opening and also because I have long been a fan of Priest’s writing and follow Paul Cornell on the SF Squeecast and thus have been curious about his writing.  Both stories are told with the precision and skill of seasoned authors and, as hand-picked representatives of GRRM’s creation, they do a really nice job of making an uniformed reader like me sit up and take notice.  As stand alone stories they each have strengths, but they also have weaknesses that I believe are more a product of being a part of a long-standing series than anything else.  Overall these two stories are a good introduction to the world of the Wild Cards and I suspect fans of the series will have much to like in this new material.

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Jack Vance, Inventor of Worlds

Earlier this week, SF Grandmaster Jack Vance passed away at the age of 96. His writing career lasted over six decades, and he’s known for his fantastic world building in addition to his enormous volume of works. I wrote about this at the Kirkus Reviews Blog. Go read Jack Vance, Inventor of Worlds.

After our previous episode discussing Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold, the last novel written by C. S. Lewis, we decided that we needed a little more expertise than we were able to bring to bear. To that end, we’ve invited Beth Potterveld, a graduate of Wheaton College who has volunteered with the Wade Center and studied Inklings scholarship (a group which includes Lewis as part of its focus). In this supplemental podcast we discuss some of Lewis’ history with the Psyche myth, different ways of reading the somewhat less clear Part II of the novel, and other influences in Lewis’ work.
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[GUEST POST] Silvia Moreno-Garcia on Getting Published in Lit Pubs

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is currently crowdfunding her first novel, Young Blood, about Mexican narco vampires. Her short stories have appeared in places such as The Book of Cthulhu and Imaginarium 2012: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing . Her first collection, This Strange Way of Dying, is out this year. In 2011, Silvia won the Carter V. Cooper Memorial Prize (in the Emerging Writer category). She was also a finalist for the Manchester Fiction Prize. She blogs at silviamoreno-garcia.com and Tweets as @silviamg.

Yes, Virginia, You Can Get Published in Lit Pubs

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I always feel uncomfortable when people start bickering about whether literary fiction or speculative fiction is better. It’s like watching your parents fight at the dinner table. There is really no need to build brick walls around each category, though we are often eager to do so.

Recently, I was Guest of Honor at Keycon in Winnipeg. Talking to some aspiring writers, it became clear that the idea of boundaries between lit and spec is pretty strong, and sadly it keeps readers from sampling interesting material and writers from finding good homes for their short stories. Because literary magazines do publish speculative fiction.
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The 2013 Phoenix Comicon was held this past Labor Memorial Day weekend and one of the panels was this 20th reunion of the Babylon 5 cast along with creator/writer/do-everything J. Michael Straczynski. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since Babylon 5 premiered on television. It’s still my favorite SF show and nothing since then has really come close.

Enjoy!



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TOC: ‘How the World Became Quiet’ by Rachel Swirsky


Subterranean Press has posted the table of contents for the upcoming collection How the World Became Quiet by Rachel Swirsky.

Here’s the book description:

After a powerful sorceress is murdered, she’s summoned over the centuries to witness devastating changes to the land where she was born. A woman who lives by scavenging corpses in the Japanese suicide forest is haunted by her dead lover. A man searches for the memory that will overwrite his childhood abuse. Helios is left at the altar. The world is made quiet by a series of apocalypses.

From the riveting emotion and politics of “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window” (Nebula winner) to the melancholy family saga of “Eros, Philia, Agape” (Hugo and Theodore Sturgeon finalist), Rachel Swirsky’s critically acclaimed stories have quickly made her one of the field’s rising stars. Her work is, by turns, clever and engaging, unflinching and quietly devastating—often in the space of the same story.

How the World Became Quiet: Myths of the Past, Present, and Future collects the body of Swirsky’s short fiction to date for the first time. While these stories envision pasts, presents, and futures that never existed, they offer revealing examinations of humanity that readers will find undeniably true

Dust jacket illustration is by Shaun Tan.

Here’s the table of contents…
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Friday YouTube Bonus! How Iron Man 3 Should Have Ended

I love this series of videos…
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Free SF, Fantasy and Horror Fiction for 5/31/2013

Today the first book of Dalya Moon’s Spiritdell series is available free on Amazon. My hopefully-not-too-creepy affection for Dalya led me to name a character after her in my After The Fires Went Out series.

What’s special about today’s free fiction?

  1. Beneath Ceaseless Skies #122 – May 30, 2013
  2. Real Pulp has “The Moon Moth” by Jack Vance
  3. SF Signal has a story from Yoon Ha Lee, in case you missed it

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Friday YouTube: Aliens in 60 Seconds

Although not re-enacted by bunnies, this 60-second, hand-drawn recap of Aliens is nonetheless fun.

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There is still some time left for you to enter our giveaway for a copy of The Emperor’s Knife by Mazarkis Williams…but hurry, time is running out!

See the original post for details on how to enter.

SF/F/H Link Post for 2013-05-31

Interviews & Profiles

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BOOK REVIEW: The Shambing Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty

REVIEW SUMMARY: A fun story of New York City’s monsters trying to destroy a likable writer who just wants to get over her past, meet a good guy, and finish her tour guide of the city’s secret culture.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A down-and-out writer is hired by a monster-run publishing company to write a tour guide to the monster underbelly of New York City. Her research leads to attacks by incubuses, zombies, golems and a secret villain who wants to turn the city on its head and unleash the brewing war between human and monster.

MY REVIEW
PROS: Likable heroine; fun supporting cast; creative world building that almost makes you want this kind of New York City to exist; establishes setting for many exciting stories.
CONS: The safeguards that allowed the heroine to intermingle with the monster culture also guarded the reader from feeling truly afraid for her life; humor fell flat too often; the ending jeopardizes future interest in this series.
BOTTOM LINE: The Shambling Guide to New York City starts out well enough to keep you reading, gets even better in the middle, and may or may not satisfy in the end. Unfortunately, for this reader the ending watered down the experience.
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Fun with Friends: Helen Lowe Talks with Gillian Polack


About the Series:
Fun with Friends is an SF Signal interview series in which I feature fellow SFF authors from Australia and New Zealand. The format is one interview per month, with no more than five questions per interview, focusing on “who the author is” and “what she/he does” in writing terms. This month’s guest is Gillian Polack.

Gillian Polack is based in Canberra, Australia. She is mainly a writer, editor and educator. Her most recent print publications are a novel (Ms Cellophane, Momentum, 2012), an anthology (Masques, CSfG Publishing, 2009, co-edited with Scott Hopkins), some short stories and a slew of articles. Her newest anthology is Baggage, published by Eneit Press (2010) and about to be reprinted. One of her short stories won a Victorian Ministry of the Arts award a long time ago, and three have (more recently) been listed as recommended reading in international lists of world’s best fantasy and science fiction short stories such as the Datlow/Link/Grant Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror series. She received a Macquarie Bank Fellowship and a Blue Mountains Fellowship to work on novels at Varuna, an Australian writers’ residence in the Blue Mountains. Gillian has a doctorate in Medieval history from the University of Sydney and one in English (pending) from the University of Western Australia. Contact Gillian on Twitter @GillianPolack, on Facebook at Gillian Polack and on Live Journal at gillpolack. Her webpage needs updating (but not as much as her Wikipedia page) and is untrustworthy, but is at GillianPolack.com.
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‘”Populating a world with men, with male heroes, male people, and their ‘women cattle and slaves’ is a political act. You are making a conscious choice to erase half the world.

As storytellers, there are more interesting choices we can make.” – Kameron Hurley

“But history should not be a straightjacket!  ‘Historical accuracy’ should never be used as a cudgel to bash down ideas — to blithely declare something ‘unrealistic’ is insulting to the variety of the historical human experience.” – Django Wexler

I’ve been following a discussion for the past several days about women as warriors (and, more broadly, as active characters) in fantasy fiction. This discussion has a much longer history than that, but I think that Kameron Hurley’s essay, linked to above, re-energized the conversation and provided a lot for me to think about as a reader and fiction writer. I also read Django Wexler’s long post (also linked above) about the conditions that could or could not produce a class of female warriors. Taken together, they are a powerful argument for broadening the options for a level of agency of female characters in fantastic literature, particularly of the “fantasy” subset.
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Terry Pratchett’s The Discworld Graphic Novels

Today over on the Kirkus Reviews Blog, I take a look at a graphic novel that comprises the adaptations of Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic.

From the post:

The Colour of Magic.  Rincewind is a wizard.  Unfortunately, he is not a very good wizard.  He never got high marks during his time attending the Unseen University.  As such, he doesn’t have many prospects.  He does have a penchant for running away and escaping danger.  Enter Twoflower, the Discworld’s first ever tourist, who has travelled from the Counterweight Continent all the way to the city of Ankh-Morpork to ‘look at things’.  This odd behavior attracts a lot of attention, as does the fact that Twoflower carries a lot of gold and doesn’t seem to understand how much that gold is worth in Ankh-Morpork versus his homeland.  Rincewind is tasked with showing Twoflower around, and seeing him safely back to his home with a pleasant story that will bring more of these ‘tourists’ to Ankh-Morpork to spend their gold.

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Yoon Ha Lee is the author of over two dozen short stories, sixteen of which appear in her debut collection Conservation of Shadows. Her stories “Ghostweight” and “Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain” have been Sturgeon award finalists (both are included in the collection). Her fiction has appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Clarkesworld, Tor.com and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. It tends to include math, and war, and language, and spaceships, and magic. She kindly took the time to answer a few questions for us.
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Free Fiction: “The Black Abacus” by Yoon Ha Lee

We are pleased to be able to bring to you a story from Yoon Ha Lee‘s wonderful collection Conservation of Shadows. “The Black Abacus” is just one of the 16 stories in the collection.

The collection itself is described like so:

There is no such thing as conservation of shadows. When light destroys shadows, darkness does not gain in density elsewhere. When shadows steal over earth and across the sky, darkness is not diluted…

In this debut collection of short fiction from one of science fiction and fantasy’s most notable new writers, Yoon Ha Lee often integrates tropes of science fiction with elements of myth to create tales that are both wonderfully fresh and deeply ancient. No matter what the theme, her wide variety of stories are strikingly original and always indelible.

Enjoy the story…

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Daily Science Fiction Roster of Stories for June 2013

Daily Science Fiction has announced its June 2013 line-up of free stories. All stories will appear on the web one week after their email publication.
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Sad news: Jack Vance has passed away. Tor has an excerpt from a novel by Dan Simmons that is based on Vance’s Dying Earth series. I’ve also added an eBook from Project Gutenberg: Sjambak by Jack Vance.

What’s special about today’s free fiction?

  1. Interfictions has a story from Kiini Ibura Salaam
  2. SciFi Ideas has their monthly story, this time by Ruth de Haas
  3. Tor has another story from George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards universe, by Paul Cornell

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SF/F/H Link Post for 2013-05-30

Interviews & Profiles

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