Through an error on the part of yours truly, author Emily Devenport’s response was left off last week’s Mind Meld. That means she gets her own Mind Meld post! The prompt was:
Something old, something new, something borrowed. . .
Recommend three books to our readers out of your list of favorites: An older title, a newer title, and a title you discovered because you borrowed it from a friend or a library.
Here’s Emily’s response:
Nine of Emily’s novels were published in the U.S. By NAL/Roc, under three pen names. She’s also been published in the U.K., Italy, and Israel. Her novels are Shade, Larissa, Scorpianne, Eggheads, The Kronos Condition, Godheads, Broken Time (which was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award), Belarus, and Enemies. My new novels, The Night Shifters, Spirits of Glory, and Pale Lady are in ebook form on Amazon, Smashwords, etc.
Her short stories have been published in Asimov’s SF Magazine, the Full Spectrum anthology, Uncanny, Clarkesworld, and Aboriginal SF, whose readers voted me a Boomerang Award. She has a story in the upcoming Mammoth Book of Kaiju. Learn more about Emily at her blog www.emsjoiedeweird.com. She’s married to artist/writer Ernest Hogan, studies geology, and lives in Arizona, where she volunteers at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.
I’ve read a lot of good science fiction novels over the years, but the one that always comes to mind when I think of examples of my favorites is Mind of My Mind, by Octavia Butler. I was in my late teens when it came out, and I had read plenty of novels about characters who were telepaths, but Butler was the first writer I had ever seen who could examine that concept without giving in to wishful thinking concerning the sanity and/or character of someone who could hear other people’s thoughts. I’m also dazzled by the way she managed to build sympathy for a troubled young woman by pitting her against a pitiless antagonist with whom she sometimes agreed and even sympathized, though he terrorized her. Butler fearlessly explored the human shortcomings and desires that drive us all, and when I re-read the novel twenty years later, it provoked a nightmare that inspired my fifth novel, The Kronos Condition. I could never have written it if Octavia Butler hadn’t blown the cobwebs out of my head.
The new novel on my list is really new-ish, but I haven’t read that many science fiction novels in recent years. I lean more toward non-fiction science books (usually geology) or mystery/horror novels these days, so it was by accident that I discovered 14, by Peter Clines. I read the synopsis on Audible, whose audio service I use to “read” new books, and bought the book on sale, thinking it was a mystery novel. It does have a mystery framework, but it quickly broadens its scope into science fiction, horror, and adventure realms. It does so without sacrificing its pacing or its focus, and also manages to be great fun. I was comparing it to an adult version of Scooby Doo even before its characters began to do so, and I would love to read a sequel. I hope Peter Clines will feel inspired to write one. I’m also holding out hope for a mini-series adaptation.
The borrowed book on my list came to my attention because of my husband’s day job. Ernie works at the Phoenix Public Library, and I spotted this book one night when I arrived early to pick him up from work. I had 45 minutes to kill, so I sat down in the New Arrivals section and snagged the brand new Stephen King novel, 11/22/63. It turned out to be one of the best books I’ve ever read. I got about halfway through it before I bought it on Audible and listened to the wonderful narrator (Craig Wasson) tell the rest of the story. 11/22/63 is another book that straddles several genres, though the framework might best be described as thriller. But at its heart is a science fiction concept that few writers have pursued to such disturbing ends. Is it possible for time to come unraveled if you tamper with it too much? And what would that unraveling look like? Stephen King is another writer who is not inclined to give in to wishful thinking, and who always considers the direst consequences.