AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: Any Other Name by Emma Newman

REVIEW SUMMARY: A strong second entry into the Split Worlds universe, wonderfully conveyed in audiobook form.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Catherine Rhoeas-Popaver’s desire for emancipation, her new husband ambition, and scheming by all sides complicate their arrival among the London social set.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Excellent character development and growth; intriguing worldbuilding increases the richness of an already rich world; wonderful narration by the author.
CONS: The novel patently cannot be read without reading the first; a concordance would be very welcome.
BOTTOM LINE: A superb second entry into the Split Worlds universe that expands the playground and changes the focus interestingly.

Any Other Name is the second Split Worlds novel from Emma Newman. The Split Worlds series — starting with Between Two Thorns and concluding with All is Fair — occupies a distinctive niche in Urban Fantasy. In a world of Harry Dresdens, Sookie Stackhouses, Toby Dayes, and many others, the characters and world of Any Other Name is definitely different. There are no women with tramp stamps here, no fireballs in back alleyways, no werewolves camping in Rock Creek Park.

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[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

We asked this week’s panelists…

Q: In the past few years there seems to have been a rise in popularity of post-apocalyptic stories, not only in fiction, but in film as well. For some reason, people are fascinated with society having to start over after some sort of devastation, whether it’s plague, floods, weapons of mass destruction, or of course, zombie apocalypse. Why do you think readers are so drawn to post-apocalyptic stories and settings?

Here’s what they said…

Susan Beth Pfeffer
Until Susan Beth Pfeffer‘s New York Times best-selling novel Life As We Knew It was nominated for an Andre Norton Award, she had no idea the book was science fiction. Even with three other books in the series, The Dead And The Gone, This World We Live In, and the upcoming, The Shade Of The Moon, she still can’t spell apocalyptic.

In some ways, post-apocalyptic stories are Cinderella/Horatio Alger variants. It’s always fun to identify with the person who has nothing and ends up triumphant over those who have more.

Of course Cinderella had her fairy godmother and Alger’s heroes were generally befriended by wealthy older men, and neither had to deal with zombies. But they still struggled against great odds and ended in a much better place.

Cinderella and the Alger hero started out in poverty and their problems arose from that. But the popularity of post-apocalyptic stories has grown while the United States has been in recession. I’m willing to believe those floods and plagues and even the zombies are in some ways stand-ins for unemployment, a weak housing market, credit card debt, outstanding college loans, and shrunken retirement plans.

In better times, you’re more likely to have romantic vampires!
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BOOK REVIEW: Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman

REVIEW SUMMARY: An enchanting novel from Emma Newman, an urban fantasy that has no sign of tattooed women in leather pants.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A headstrong scion and an investigator discover dark doings in the outwardly genteel world of Bath’s secret mirror city.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: A wide variety of interesting characters; intersecting stories: the wonderful feel of a larger world only partially glimpsed.
CONS: The ending of the book leaves perhaps too many dangling threads; ecology of the Split Worlds has some problems.
BOTTOM LINE: Accept the invitation to attend the season in Aquae Sulis.

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In episode 180 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester chats with author Emma Newman about Worldcon, her new book Between Two Thorns, a slew of short stories and an ingenious bit of marketing.
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In 2013 Angry Robot books will be publishing three Split Worlds novels, the first is out in March and called Between Two Thorns. I’ve been releasing a new story every week for a year and a day, hosted on a different site every time, all set in the Split Worlds. I wanted to give readers a taste of my kind of urban fantasy and have the opportunity to build in secrets and extra bits for those people who, like me, love the tiny details. It’s also been a major part of my world-building work alongside writing the novels.

This is the fifty-first tale in the year and a day of weekly short stories set in The Split Worlds. If you would like me to read it to you instead, you can listen to it at the bottom of this post. You can find links to all the other stories, and the new ones as they are released here.  You can also sign up to get the stories delivered to your inbox, one per week for a year and a day.


“Overdue”

by Emma Newman

London, 2001

Olivia tried to ignore the way her brother was watching over her shoulder as she poured the liquid into the funnel.

“Careful,” he whispered.

“Shush.”

“There’s too much for that bottle.”

She pressed her lips together. He was nervous and only trying to help.

“Are you sure it’s pure?”

“Oh be quiet, Henry!”

The funnel slipped as the last drops left the bottle and one splashed onto her hand. She wiped it off but still felt a terrible rush of despair. She reminded herself it was not hers.

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MIND MELD: Holding out for a Hero

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

On SF Signal Mind Melds, we’ve discussed Anti-Heroes, Villains, and
Sidekicks. It’s been a while since we tackled straight up heroes.So, this week we asked about heroes:

What makes a hero (or heroine) a hero instead of merely a protagonist? Is the idea of a straight up hero old fashioned or out of date in this day and age?

This is what they had to say…

Emma Newman
Emma lives in Somerset, England and drinks far too much tea. She writes dark short stories, post-apocalyptic and urban fantasy novels and records audiobooks in all genres. Her debut short-story collection From Dark Places was published in 2011 and 20 Years Later, her debut post-apocalyptic novel for young adults, was released early 2012. The first book of Emma’s new Split Worlds urban fantasy series called Between Two Thorns will be published by Angry Robot Books in 2013. She is represented by Jennifer Udden at DMLA. Her hobbies include dressmaking and playing RPGs. She blogs at www.enewman.co.uk, rarely gets enough sleep and refuses to eat mushrooms.

For me, a hero is someone who actively works to achieve a goal for the good of others when there is a risk of losing something, ranging from a peaceful existence to their own life. Perseverance is critical; a hero persists in their heroic endeavour far beyond the point where most people would give up. Most wouldn’t even try in the first place.

As for whether a hero is old-fashioned; no. The portrayal of heroes (i.e massively flawed as opposed to nothing more than bravery in a bap) changes to fit the needs and sophistication of the audience. However, the basic need to see someone being more than we are – but everything we could be – is eternal.

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