Katherine Addison‘s short fiction has been selected by The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and The Year’s Best Science Fiction. Her new novel, The Goblin Emperor, was just published by Tor. She lives near Madison, Wisconsin.

Tolkien, Orcs, Elves and Goblins

by Katherine Addison

I write a lot of different things, but one of my first and deepest loves is the genre that sometimes gets called “epic fantasy” or “secondary-world fantasy”: stories that take place entirely in imaginary worlds. Unsurprisingly, I came to Tolkien early, I loved–and love–him deeply, and he is undeniably one of a handful of very profound influences on my writing. (Tolkien, Wolfe, and Kushner are the three fantasy writers I most want to be able to write like, which probably explains a great many things about my books.) I love the world he invented, and I strive in my own writing to give the same sense of depth that he does, the same intense sense of history. And if I could write travel narrative as well as he does…well…that would be shiny.
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Miles Cameron is the author of The Traitor Son Cycle, which merges epic fantasy with intricate plotting and scathing action. The first book was The Red Knight. The second book, published this week by Orbit Books is The Fell Sword.

Writing Fantasy-Battles, War, and Violence

By Miles Cameron

In the Traitor Son series, there are a great many battles. But battles, IMHO, are like murders in a good mystery novel. Each of them needs to take place in a context and the results have to have consequences. You can’t just have a battle to see how the magic sword works. Or the hero, for that matter.

And I have to admit that my writing of violence in a Fantasy setting is enormously complicated by having actually seen a war or two.
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Tired of nearly every secondary world fantasy being set in a world that seems to borrow only from Medieval Europe, especially Western Europe? Most especially Northwestern Europe (England, France, perhaps the Low Countries)? Tired of the rest of Eurasia and beyond being ignored, except when token people and lands care called for, or perhaps a crusade against the unfathomable East, with no sense of them as people? With no sense of their cultures, values, flora, or fauna?

Good. So am I. And I’d like to tell you about the fantasy that transcends that barrier.

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In episode 234 of the SF Signal Podcast Patrick Hester, Django Wexler, Cat Rambo, Jason Hough, and Kevin Hearne discuss how the popularity of science fiction and fantasy, varies based on the medium – and how they’ve flipped over time.

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The Completist: SHADOWBRIDGE by Gregory Frost

Stories within stories are one of the greatest tricks in fiction and have been around ever since people have been telling stories. Gregory Frost’s latest novel, Shadowbridge, is a fine example of this storytelling method used to great effect. The protagonist is Leodora a storyteller, a shadow-puppeteer who hunts for the stories she tells. In many ways, Leodora is a traditional heroine – she’s an orphan, is mistreated by her caretakers, and eventually runs away. The running away occurs about halfway through the book, but I don’t think this would be a spoiler by any means. Her reputation has grown to become the greatest shadow-puppeteer since Bardsham, who himself has an air of mythology. While the story has the feel of a traditional fairy tale, Frost makes it clear this is no sanitized kiddy tale as the story progresses.

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Short Epic Fantasy Film: Exordium

Are you in the mood for a gritty (and graphic) fantasy animation? Then check out Exordium, described thusly:

A group of warriors confront that which stands between them and the power to save their people in this rotoscoped animated fantasy short created by Morgan Galen King’s Gorgonaut studios. Starring Jon Tomlinson, and featuring music by Strand of Oaks, Ice Dragon, and Jonn Ollsin

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The 2014 “Beyond Words” Fantasy Author Charity Calendar

As Patrick Rothfuss noted on his blog, right now you can get a supercool calendar and help out some worthwhile charities when you do.

Here’s a description of the 2014 “Beyond Words” Fantasy Author Calendar, which includes beautiful photography by Lauren Zurchin:

Award-winning photographer Lauren Zurchin has created a fantasy photography calendar with fourteen world-famous authors: Holly Black, Gail Carriger, Cassandra Clare, Tessa Gratton, Lauren Kate, Gregory Maguire, Brandon Mull, Lauren Oliver, Christopher Paolini, Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, Maggie Stiefvater, Tad Williams, and Brenna Yovanoff.

Each month features a photograph of a different author (or authors, in one case) dressed in custom costumes made by Lauren, and placed in unique locations with one-of-a-kind props. The overall effect is sometimes dark, sometimes ethereal, sometimes whimsical, and completely fantasy.

Proceeds will go to two charities: First Book and Worldbuilders.

Here about this awesome calendar in their own words, right here:
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John Gwynne studied and lectured at Brighton University. He’s been in a rock ‘n’ roll band, playing the double bass, travelled the USA and lived in Canada for a time. He is married with four children and lives in Eastbourne, running a small family business rejuvenating vintage furniture. Malice is his debut novel.

The Writers That Shaped My Idea of Fantasy

by John Gwynne

Malice is my first fantasy novel, an epic tale with all that that suggests. Epic battles, sweeping landscapes, angels and demons, Machiavellian politics and a coming-of-age tale. Also I hope it has a human heart, telling a story about people and their passions. Epic and intimate was my goal.

Fantasy is one of the big loves of my life, going back as far as I can remember. As I was growing up my dad was in the Royal Air Force, which meant a lot of traveling – usually a new home and school every three years. Books became my friends during these years. Don’t get the violins out, though, it wasn’t so bad. And I do have real, living, breathing human friends now. But because of my circumstances and the regular upheaval books became a big part of my childhood, something that has stuck with me ever since.
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Today’s Kindle deal: Gail Z. Martin’s ICE FORGED, the first book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, for only $1.99!

Here’s the description:

Condemned as a murderer for killing the man who dishonored his sister, Blaine “Mick” McFadden has spent the last six years in Velant, a penal colony in the frigid northern wastelands. Harsh military discipline and the oppressive magic keep a fragile peace as colonists struggle against a hostile environment. But the supply ships from Dondareth have stopped coming, boding ill for the kingdom that banished the colonists.

Now, as the world’s magic runs wild, McFadden and the people of Velant must fight to survive and decide their fate …

From Gail Z. Martin, author of the beloved series THE CHRONICLES OF THE NECROMANCER and THE FALLEN KINGS CYCLE, comes a new fantasy adventure for the ages.

Welcome to the end of the world.

Welcome to the beginning of THE ASCENDANT KINGDOMS SAGA.

This price is good for today only, so act fast.

In episode 208 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester welcomes two of our newest Irregulars, Sarah Chorn and Ria Bridges, along with a couple of long-term Irregulars, Larry Ketchersid and Lisa Paitz Spindler to discuss three books we want to read before the end of the year.

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In this series, I ask various publishing professionals (including authors, bloggers, editors, agents etc.) to recommend 2-3 authors or books they feel haven’t received the recognition they deserve.

Today’s recommendations are by Violette Malan. Violette Malan lives in southeastern Ontario with her husband. People tend to ask her about the choreography of stripping – and she’ll answer – but most of the time she’s the author of the Dhulyn and Parno novels, and the Mirror Lands novels, fantasies available from DAW.

You’ll find her on Facebook, on Twitter, and check her website.
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Rowena Cory Daniells is passionate about writing. Her speculative fiction stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies including Dreaming DownUnder and Dreaming Again. She has supported the writing community by serving on the management committees of two national genre awards, the Queensland Writers Centre, the Brisbane Writers Festival and Fantastic Queensland. When she sat down to write The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin, she set out to write the kind of book that you look forward to after a tough week at work, the kind of book that carries you away. KRK is published by Solaris. The latest book, King Breaker, has just been published by Solaris. You can find Rowena on her website rowena-cory-daniells.com, on Facebook and on Twitter as @RCDaniells

Who Wants To Be King? Not me.

by Rowena Cory Daniells

In the very first book of King Rolen’s Kin (KRK), Byren tells his twin, who is only 7 minutes older than him, that he doesn’t want to be king. Byren says something like: ‘It’s a terrible thing to never know if the woman in your bed is there because she loves you or because you’re the king’s heir.’ Despite this, his twin can’t understand why Byren doesn’t want the crown. People who crave wealth and power, think everyone wants this.

I’ve been watching the TV series White Queen Red Queen which is set during the War of the Roses. I found it really made me think about power and family.
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[GUEST POST] Thoraiya Dyer on Animals in Fantasy

Thoraiya Dyer, an ex-veterinarian, is now a three-time Aurealis Award-winning, three-time Ditmar Award-winning Australian writer. Her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Apex, Nature, Cosmos, One Small Step from FableCroft Publishing, her collection Asymmetry from Twelfth Planet Press, and is forthcoming in Analog. Animals that have featured in her published work include river dolphins, thylacines, melanistic lions and genetically engineered ants. Find her online at Goodreads or www.thoraiyadyer.com.

Animals in Fantasy: Here There Be Kangaroos

by Thoraiya Dyer

It’s an elf with a longbow shooting a deer. It’s a dwarf with a pint and a plate of pork ribs. It’s the thief throwing a bone to distract the guard dog, the innkeeper closing the door against wolves and the healer closing a wound with catgut. It’s secondary-world fantasy, right?

You can tell because of the failure of specificity when it comes to the animals.
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Edward Willett writes science fiction, fantasy, nonfiction and plays. He won the Aurora Award for best Canadian science fiction novel in 2009 for Marseguro (DAW). As Lee Arthur Chane he wrote the steampunkish fantasy Magebane, and as E.C. Blake he’s the author of a new fantasy trilogy beginning this fall with Masks (also DAW). He lives in Regina, Saskatchewan. He can be found online at his website EdwardWillett.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter as @EWillett, @LeeArthurChane & @AuthorECBlake.

Playing Nicely With Others: A Novelist Writes for a Computer Game

By Edward Willett

When I was a kid, I was forever disappointed by my fellow children. I always wanted to play a long-running game of detailed make-believe, in which we would each be a specific character and have wonderful adventures repelling aliens, fighting Nazis, guarding a castle, or maybe event fighting Nazi aliens from the walls of a castle.

They wanted to play Yahtzee.
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Django Wexler graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh with degrees in creative writing and computer science, and worked for the university in artificial intelligence research. Eventually he migrated to Microsoft in Seattle, where he now lives with two cats and a teetering mountain of books. When not planning Shadow Campaigns, he wrangles computers, paints tiny soldiers, and plays games of all sorts. Visit him online at djangowexler.com.

The Thousand Names Blog Tour: Launching The Shadow Campaigns
Training: Using History to Build a Fantasy Society

How important is it that fantasy be ‘historically accurate?’
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Evie Manieri is fascinated by intricacy. She loves books with complicated plots where every detail matters.  Her debut novel from Tor Books is Blood’s Pride, first in her Shattered Kingdoms epic fantasy series. Evie grew up a product of the Philadelphia public schools, played French Horn, acted in drama club, sang in show choir then went on to Wesleyan University in Connecticut, studied theater and medieval history, majoring in Taking Herself Too Seriously. Her acting past ingrained in her ideas about pacing, dramatic  tension, holding audience’s attention, economy, and not dissipating energy that influence her writing. The next book in the Shattered Kingdoms trilogy, Fortune’s Blight, is due out later this year. She can be found on Goodreads, Twitter and via her website at EvieManieri.com.

SFFWRTCHT: Where’d your interest in speculative fiction come from?

Evie Manieri: Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. Read it in fifth grade and was smote, in the biblical sense. My agent mentioned it in her bio. It’s why I queried her.
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BOOK REVIEW: The Thousand Names by Django Wexler

REVIEW SUMMARY: Extremely strong debut, flintlock fantasy at its best.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The Vordanai Colonial regiment believes their miserable time in Khandar to be coming to a close – that is until a clever new Colonel arrives with a batch of reinforcements. With a force only 4,000 men strong, the Colonel intends to reclaim the city of Ashe-Katarion from a numerically superior force of rebels, raiders, and religious fanatics.

PROS: Excellent action scenes that display a wealth of military knowledge; unexpectedly strong female presence; clever world building; good characters.
CONS: If martial fiction isn’t your cup of tea you might not want to crash this party.
BOTTOM LINE: Wexler’s debut will appeal to fans of fantasy and fans of military fiction. I cannot wait for the next book of The Shadow Campaigns.
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Fun with Friends: Helen Lowe Talks with Ian Irvine

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 Ian Irvine.

Ian Irvine, a marine scientist who has developed some of Australia’s national guidelines for protection of the marine environment, has also written 29 novels. These include the bestselling Three Worlds fantasy sequence (The View from the Mirror, The Well of Echoes and Song of the Tears), a trilogy of eco-thrillers, and 12 books for younger readers. Ian’s latest fantasy novel is Rebellion, Book 2 of The Tainted Realm trilogy. He is currently editing Book 3, Justice. Ian’s website is ian-irvine.com.

Helen: Ian, you are a scientist currently writing epic fantasy. Do you find the science informs the epic, for example with world building, or are the two parallel but separate realms?
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BOOK REVIEW: No Return by Zachary Jernigan

REVIEW SUMMARY: Vivid, varied, and violent. At once beautiful and terrible to behold.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS:  On the planet of Jeroun god exists, and he is far from benevolent. Adrash looks down upon the world, prepared to unleash final annihilation. Men in suits of black and white do battle in his name, some wish to submit to him and others wish to defy him. Vedas, a Blacksuit of the Thirteenth Order embarks on a journey to a great fighting tournament that may well decide the fate of Jeroun.

PROS: Stunning imagery, absorbing setting, diverse cultures, intriguing characters, cool ideas.
CONS: Not enough exploration of some of the settings and ideas. Climax was a little weak.
BOTTOM LINE: Ambitious, impressive, and bold. This is not your run of the mill fantasy.

No Return is an excellent start to the new reading year. This is the sort of novel that stands in the shadow of two super genres, for it is neither science fiction nor fantasy. It is instead a beautiful twining of both. It is epic in the in the more traditional sense of the word, though not a narrative poem. No Return features heroic deeds, strange cultures, dark violence, and consequences. It has the trappings on a new age legend, set on an extraordinary world.

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Another month, another slew of speculative fiction titles vying for your book-buying dollar…

Today at the Kirkus Reviews blog I make an attempt to whittle down your choices by offering My Picks for the Best SF/F for March 2013.

Check it out and be sure to offer up your own picks.

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