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I love coming across literary sculptures, whether they are the slew of Paddington Bears which recently appeared in London, a dapper James Joyce leaning on his cane on Earl Street in Dublin or Don Quijote and Sancho Panza trotting through the Plaza España in Madrid.
This curious monument of a man sitting amid the tentacles of a giant octopus is also a literary monument. It is in Vigo, in Galicia in North-Western Spain - but what is it?
It is a homage to the French novelist Jules Verne, often described as the inventor of the genre of science fiction, and to the Galician references in his much-loved adventure Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. First of all, the sculpture reminds us of the terrifying chapter in which Captain Nemo and the crew of the submarine Nautilus are attacked by giant squid, as in the English translation, or more correctly by giant octopus (les poulpes, in French). Galicia, renowned for spectacular seafood, is particularly in thrall to the octopus and Pulpo a feira, octopus in the style of the fair, is its signature dish - boiled in huge cauldrons by the pulpeiras, specialist octopus cooks, the tentacles snipped up with massive scissors and sprinkled with olive oil and pimentón.
But there is another chapter of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea which takes place right in the Ría de Vigo, the Bay of Vigo. This was the real life location of a major naval disaster in 1702 when English ships burnt and scuttled the French and Spanish fleets which were returning from the Caribbean laden with treasure from the New World. In the novel, Captain Nemo comes to Vigo to loot the ships´treasure.
Around the Nautilus for a half-mile radius, the waters seemed saturated with electric light. The sandy bottom was clear and bright. Dressed in diving suits, crewmen were busy clearing away half-rotted barrels and disemboweled trunks in the midst of the dingy hulks of ships. Out of these trunks and kegs spilled ingots of gold and silver, cascades of jewels, pieces of eight. The sand was heaped with them. Then, laden with these valuable spoils, the men returned to the Nautilus, dropped off their burdens inside, and went to resume this inexhaustible fishing for silver and gold.
I understood. This was the setting of that battle on October 22, 1702. Here, in this very place, those galleons carrying treasure to the Spanish government had gone to the bottom. Here, whenever he needed, Captain Nemo came to withdraw these millions to ballast his Nautilus. It was for him, for him alone, that America had yielded up its precious metals. He was the direct, sole heir to these treasures wrested from the Incas and those peoples conquered by Hernando Cortez!
Don´t miss the monument to M. Verne if you are visiting this less well known corner of Spain, a place redolent with stories of shipwrecks, smugglers, fishermen´s tales and foot-weary pilgrims, the furious music of bagpipes and an all-pervading smell of octopus and sizzling sardines. And of course, I recommend that you read the book too!
In June this year, at Continuum X (the 53rd Australian National Science Fiction Convention), I launched LynC’s debut science fiction novel Nil by Mouth. Today’s blog post (the third in a series of launch related posts) is an approximation of my launch speech. I say approximation, because although I had notes, I actually winged a […]
Ah, I am seriously so interested and excited by this book. For folks who are unfamiliar with The Madman’s Daughter series by Megan Shepherd, the basic premise is as follows: what if Dr. Moreau (island, animal-human hybrids, H.G. Wells) had a daughter with the same scientific bent? The first book (Wendy has a positive review of that book here; Tonya liked it less) follows Juliet Moreau from London – where she’s been living and working, cleaning university laboratories and the like after her father disappeared following a scandal that besmirched their family name – to the fabled island her father’s currently set up shop on. Juliet’s anxious and excited about reuniting with her father, but her feelings become more troubled when she discovers that the rumors are true: not only is her father a vivisectionist, but he is crafting human beings from the parts of different animals. (Whom he names after characters from Shakespeare, because... Read more »
Amie says: Some months back, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of Now That You’re Here, Amy K. Nichols’s debut novel. I loved it. I mean, I LOVED it. So much, that this is the blurb I gave it:
“The perfect blend of sci-fi and swoons, Now That You’re Here is like no other book I’ve read. Riveting, romantic and utterly original, it kept me up late!”
And in a starred review, here’s what Publisher’s Weekly said:
“These geeks own their intelligence like a badge of honor, using science to help a friend and explore strange new worlds.”
If you want a fantastic holiday gift for yourself (you deserve it!) or the science-fiction lover in your life, pre-order yourself a copy — it’s out on December 9th!
I loved the science in Now That You’re Here so much that I asked Amy to tell us how she approached the task of incorporating it into her story. Here’s what she had to say!
Growing up, I wasn’t a very enthusiastic science student. Perhaps it was a lack of awareness of science’s relevance to my self-absorbed teenage existence, but the last science class I remember actually enjoying was in seventh grade when we dissected frogs, learned about the hazards of smoking, and my teacher told us how hot dogs were made. (I haven’t eaten one since.) So I find it somewhat ironic that I’m now a science fiction author.
Somewhere in my college years, I discovered how cool science is, going so far as to consider a career in medicine and reading science books for fun. (I can just imagine my seventh-grade self raising an eyebrow at me.)
Then came the Large Hadron Collider.
Around 2007 I started hearing about this ginormous apparatus deep beneath the Swiss Alps that would answer all the questions of the universe…or create a black hole and swallow up the earth.
Black hole? Well that caught my attention. Even though I hadn’t shown much interest in science classes, I grew up loving science fiction stories, especially those involving portals to other worlds. One of my favorites was H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. So I started reading books about black holes, string theory, multiverses. A couple that stood out were Lisa Randall’s Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions, and Michiu Kaku’s Physics of the Impossible. I can’t say I understood all of it, but it definitely made an impression on me.
By the time CERN flipped the on switch for the LHC (which, thankfully, didn’t destroy the world), I’d already decided to give this writing thing a go, and was actively working to improve my craft. I’d even written a novel (that is really bad it should be burned with fire). I’d also started writing a story about a boy who suddenly finds himself in a body that’s his own but isn’t, in a world that’s his own but isn’t. Somehow, he’d jumped to a parallel universe.
Somehow. That’s the fiction side of science fiction.
In the early drafts of Now That You’re Here, Danny’s jump just happened, more like magic than science. I included just enough science to make it clear he’d jumped without getting into the specifics of how. I mean, this was science fiction, right?
Then my agent sold the book to Knopf, and I started working with my editor, the brilliant Katherine Harrison. From the start, she honed in on the science. How exactly did Danny jump? What is the science holding up the fiction?
So I began researching, trying to form a theory for this scientifically impossible connection between Danny’s parallel worlds.
Now, this is where it gets a bit tricky. If I go into a lot of detail about the actual theory, it’ll spoil the book. So I’m going to try to do this without giving away any spoilers.
Somewhere in my research, I read How to Build a Time Machine by Paul Davies, and attended a talk he gave at Phoenix Comicon. It was fascinating, reading and hearing about the mechanics of time travel. But I wasn’t writing time travel. I was writing parallel universe travel, which is an entirely different animal.
Or is it? I continued researching and tinkering, writing ideas into my revisions. My editor liked the direction I was going, but asked for more grounding. At one point she said, “I showed your book to my friend who is a physicist,” and I thought, Nooooooo. It’s fiction, not actual science! She encouraged me to write a book where readers couldn’t easily poke holes through the science, which is such a great goal. But how do you make the implausible plausible?
I kept googling and searching, reading scientific studies to support my fictional account of a boy landing in a body and world that isn’t his. I wish I could show you the list of websites in my browser’s bookmarks. It’s long. Really long.
As I worked through my revisions, I created a construct for the impossible elements of the book, all of which are based on actual scientific principle and tested theory. When I stepped back and looked at it, my geeky little heart went pitter-pat.
Then came book two.
See, we’d sold Now That You’re Here as a two-part series, where the books mirror each other. Same characters, but two different stories in two parallel worlds. Pretty cool, right? But…science.
Suddenly the science of the second book had to work with the science of the first book. Since I was telling a different story in a different world, it couldn’t be the same science, either. It had to be something similar, but different.
So I went back to work. More research. More reading. More theorizing. More imagining.
By this time I was geeking out. I not only fell in love with science, I fell in love again with science fiction. All those stories I’d loved as a kid felt so…possible. A time machine? Sure. Flux capacitor? Okay. Wardrobe leading to a winter-cursed land? Why not?
And then it happened. I found the Holy Grail I’d been searching for. I was reading an article about Nikola Tesla and scalar wave function, and everything clicked. All the bits of info I’d been collecting suddenly fit together to create one cohesive system involving both worlds, and there in between stood my character, Danny. I revised Now That You’re Here again, and this time, I got the science right. (Or at least my editor said so.)
Is it still science fiction? Yes. Is there still a gap between the scientific and fictional elements of the story? Of course. Fiction always requires some degree of suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader. But hopefully, thanks to research and my mindful and diligent editor, it’s more a step over a crack than a leap over a chasm. And maybe, just maybe, somewhere my seventh grade self is smiling.
Amy has been crafting stories for as long as she can remember. She earned a Master’s in literature and worked for years as a web designer, though, before realizing what she really wanted to be was an author. Her first novel, YA sci-fi thriller Now That You’re Here, will be published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on December 9, 2014. The follow-up, While You Were Gone, will be published in 2015. She is mentored by award-winning crime novelist James Sallis. You can find Amy on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr.
I have read a lot of fairytale retellings recently, many of them sci-fi, a lot of them doing very interesting things with the stories they are retelling. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one, but I was excited for a science fiction story that did something different with the Snow White tale. I will be honest: Stitching Snow was not the book for me. Stitching Snow is about Essie, the princess of Windsong, the planet that rules the galaxy. She runs away to the mining planet of Thanda after her step-mother tries to kill her and lives there somewhat peacefully for eight years until a mysterious boy, Dane, crash lands near her home. Also, she is something called an Exile, an otherwise normal human with the genetic quirk that she can enter another person’s consciousness and know everything they’re thinking. The premise was interesting enough, but I found... Read more »
This book. This book, you guys. I wanted angst, and torment, and heartbreak across dimensions. Instead I got a sort of weird sci-fi light story, mixed with historical fiction, and a half-hearted love triangle to boot. The basic gist is that consciousness swapping across multiple universes is real and scientifically supported. If you like any sort of novel in which the character escapes reality and is able to visit other worlds this will immediately appeal to you. But where the story began to lose me is that it dumps you into the “after the fact” of the protagonists’ emotional journey. She is already in deep mourning for her father who was apparently sabotaged by his graduate student, Paul. There is an attempt to make up for this by showing us flashbacks of family interactions and how Paul, and Theo, another grad student, interacted with Marguerite’s family before, but everything after... Read more »
I am a closet-case sci-fi fan. Or, as multiple book reviews on this blog have probably revealed, maybe not so closet case. I looked forward to reading Ancillary Justice when I'd seen it won the Hugo and Nebula awards. I cut my sci-fi teeth on the likes of Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles and Frank Herbert's Dune in between installments of Little House on the Prairie. That is the seventies in a nutshell. And I figured, if Leckie could beat Andy Weir's The Martian, which I love, in the awards category, I was about to fall in love again.
Let's just say Ancillary Justice and I got off to a rocky start. It was not love at first sight. In fact, the novel frustrated me (incidentally, it was the same when I first met my husband).
Basic plot - a space ship decides to take revenge on the leader of the culture that made - and ultimately attempts to destroy - it (Ancillary Justice, not my marriage; it's still happily intact).
It's fascinating stuff. AI taken to a whole new level. However, the AI can't decipher female from male and so refers to everyone as "she". Sometimes, gender is specified, but then the ship reverts to calling said characters "she". For me, it made connecting with characters really hard. And that made me wonder, why does gender matters in story? Or rather, does gender matter in story? Should it matter? What does Leckie gain by making her story more or less gender neutral?
I haven't finished figuring all of this out, but I have come to the conclusion that for the story, by making everyone gender neutral, characters become sentient beings. That's it. They have flaws and quirks, but in remaining gender neutral, they never became much deeper than that. This may, in part, have to do with the boundaries of my hermeneutics. I live in a world in which, for the most part, the gender of any person I interact with, is clear. With that comes mounds of unspoken data. Without that, I have to rethink my world. That is what Leckie forced me, as a reader, to do in her novel. I had to see it through a different lens, a new lens, one I haven't completely finished sanding down yet, and won't, without further interaction.
The absence of gender imploded my hermeneutic structure of interpretation. It made me feel uneasy. And it's kept me feeling uneasy. And thinking. In other words, it's genius.
Hello, friends! This glorious day is finally upon us. Today is the day The Midnight Garden discusses Animorphs! We hope you were able to join us in reading Books 1-3. It’s such a lovely sci-fi series full of action, aliens, a diverse truly bad ass cast of kid characters, and spades emotional depth. All three of us ended up loving them; we hope you did as well! Let’s dive in! General Thoughts Layla: This was delightful and I wish I’d been reading these alongside Goosebumps when I was a baby! There’s so much reading I missed out on! On the bright side, I’m sure my loss was the family dog’s gain; she probably wouldn’t have appreciated my attempts to acquire her DNA. Wendy: I never read these either, but man oh man, would I have been all over them as a kid. As I was reading book one, I realized... Read more »
Cress is the third in The Lunar Chronicles, which began with Cinder, a book I definitely enjoyed. Scarlet I wasn't quite so taken with. I'm back on board with Cress, though.
What Cress does really well is get readers into the story without leaving them mystified because this is part three of a serial and who remembers what happened in part two? Book One was a clear and clever Cyber Cinderella story. Book Two was an intriguing take on Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, but connecting it to Cinder's story a little awkwardly. The awkwardness is gone in Book Three.
Cress is a techie Rapunzel figure, trapped on a satellite for years doing the evil queens bidding. She is also an inexperienced romantic who believes the space cowboy she ends up leaving the satellite with is the hero of her dreams. It makes sense that she gets pulled into Cinder's scooby gang, which is plotting to save a Prince Charming from having to marry an evil Moon Queen who is planning to...
There's some romance going on in these books. It's pretty clear to me that all kinds of couples are going to come out of these Chronicles. I don't usually care for romance. But there are clever things going on with these people. Cress, for instance, is such an over-the-top sucker for romance and the object of her affections is so bad-boy questionable that there is almost a little parody going on there.
This is a serial, and I do wish I'd been able to read them in a binge instead of over a few years. That's pretty much my only complaint at this point.
Raise your hands if you enjoy any of the following: Conspiracy theories! Fighting the man! Technology in the future! Androids! What it means to be a human! …or embodied! …or an individual subject! Playing “catch that allusion” re: sci-fi as a genre! Because The Body Electric thinks about all of these things, and if these are things you are also interested in thinking about, you’re in for a good time, I promise. While I wasn’t totally in love with everything in this book (and I’ll get to that), the book does a lot of things right: it entertains many interesting questions, features solid world-building, and is written beautifully. And those aspects were enough to make my readerly experience a positive one. Here’s the premise: our heroine, Ella Shepherd, lives in postwar Malta in the new city of New Venice, the site of a new global government. Shortly after Ella discovers that she... Read more »
We’re big fans of These Broken Stars here at The Midnight Garden, so when we were asked to host the tour for the second Starbound novel This Shattered World, how could we possibly resist? Last year’s tour was tons of fun, and I’m excited to be working with Amie and Meagan again. These authors are such a dream to work with, as they’re both super creative, responsive, and funny–and their guest posts and interviews are always entertaining and informative, both for their avid fans and for new readers. Tour Details We’re finalizing details of the tour, but here are the basics of what you can expect. As with all TMG tours, these are a labor of love for us, so you know you’re in for a good time when you see one! Tour Dates: December 8 – 19th, 2014 Featuring: Exclusive guest posts, interviews, character interviews, excerpts, and review stops... Read more »
The world probably isn’t ready for it, but I’ve learned that the world is never ready for all the good stuff. So don’t wait. Do it now.
So why not Latino/a Rising, the first collection of U.S. Latino/a science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative genres? Editor Matthew David Goodwin already has Kathleen Alcalá, Giannina Braschi, Pablo Brescia, Ana Castillo, Daína Chaviano, Junot Díaz, Carlos Hernandez, Adál Maldonado, Carmen Maria Machado, Alejandro Morales, Daniel José Older, Edmundo Paz-Soldán, Alex Rivera, and Sabrina Vourvoulias onboard.
Latino/a Rising will not only include literature. There are many Latino/a artists who are using science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative genres in their art work. And this anthology will include some of their most interesting artwork.
Wait a sec, I think I forgot something . . . oh yeah!
There’s going to be a story by yours truly in it, Under the Texas Radar with Paco and Los Freetails.
The Paco of the title in none other than Paco Cohen, Mariachi of Mars, hero of two of my stories The Rise and Fall of Paco Cohen and the Marichis of Mars and Death and Dancing in New Las Vegas that originally appeared in Analog.
And yes, I’m working on more stories that I hope to assemble into an epic -- suitable for adaptation into a major motion picture or miniseries -- novel . . .
Meanwhile, contribute to the campaign. Help turn these wild Latino/a dreams loose on this troubled planet!
Ernest Hogan is trying to find time to finish a number of stories while publicizing the new edition of Cortez on Jupiter, and helping get High Aztech ready for re-release. There are also other projects he keeps remembering.
As a Chicano writer of fantasy and science fiction, in 2013 I was invited to participate on eight panels of the World Science Fiction Convention, also known as WorldCon, the biggest annual gathering for sci-fi/fantasy, including the prestigious Hugo Awards for best fantasy and sci-fi of the past year. I felt more overwhelmed by the number of panels than I felt honored, so I trimmed it down to five. You can read about my Con experience in the series Strange Chicano in a Stranger Con.
My panels were part of Lone Star Con's "Spanish Strand," the organizers' effort to diversify a normally very white-attended event. Honored to be involved in that, at the conference I turned out to be one of just a handful of Latino spec fans or writers. For WorldCon to improve Latinos', and other's, participation, I made a few recommendations in my report. Apparently, I should have made more, like, including some as special guests.
The 2015 WorldCon, Sasquan, will be held in Spokane. According to their latest (Aug.) progress report, the line-up of guests of honor looks much like 2014 LondonCon and 2013 LoneStarCon, as well--a bunch of white people. You need to go back to 2011 for the last time a non-European, non-white person received such an invitation, Peruvian-born Boris Vallejo.
Vallejo invited because?
It's funny to see a Sasquan graphic of brown, green and purple aliens, wondering if that indicates a growing awareness of the need for the American sci-fi/fantasy too-white community to diversify itself more than it did at LoneStarCon. Or perhaps that was meant to be a one-time effort. Especially given that next year's con will be held in the Northwest, in a city named Spokane and for a con named Sasquan.
Spokane was named for a Salishan tribe, the Children of the Sun. Sasquatch, the Big Foot creature that's the take-off for the Con's title--was the original Halkomelem tribe's name for the creature. And here's a map of the tribes who were forcibly removed so that SF/F fans can enjoy next year's event without having to worry about "Indian raids" or paying anything to those tribes.
People like to say that I'm "frustrated" or "bitter" bringing up such history, so to pre-empt that, here's the short version. The city of Spokane's land wasn't settled in the 1800s; it had been lived on, in and with for thousands of years by Salish-speaking tribes, renamed the Flathead tribe. Beginning with the 1855 Hellgate (appropriate?) Treaty, the U.S. gov't, military, and illegal white squatters took over 20,000,000 acres of homelands, built railroads through their villages, forged signatures of their leaders and eventually ratified the "relocation" to the Jocko (Flathead) Reservation. The Salish practiced a belief in nonviolent resistance to meet the threats of bloodshed and starvation they faced if they didn't relocate. To keep tribes from exercising to at least hunt outside of the reservation, in 1908 the Swan Valley Massacre sealed the deal. Included in the desecration of a way of life were American heroes like U.S. Grant, James Garfield, and maybe some ancestors of those who'll attend Sasquan 2015.
Sherman Alexie, SF indio author
So, next year, instead of simply trying to diversify the Con's attendance as WorldCon did in San Antonio, organizers could consider INCLUSION of Native American SF/F authors as invited guests. Maybe Sherman Alexie, author of Flight will be available. If he's not, I don't doubt he could suggest other First Nations authors who've written spec lit. At the least, I could provide some names.
But I'm not done being "frustrated and bitter." Since the Con is on the West Coast, why don't organizers realize what was begun in LoneStarCon with the Spanish Strand should be continued by INCLUSION of Latino SF/F authors? Putting aside my own literary obscurity, there are many who could help increase Latino participation from populous California and the Northwest--for instance, Victor Milán or Junot Díaz (writing a new sci-fi) as Special Guests. Or how about some youth for Toastmaster, for a change, like Matt de la Peña or Amy Tintera? There are many more, but at the moment, none on the Con's agenda who would interest Latinos into attending. Chingau, what if they were interesting to Anglo attendees?
spec author Matt de la Peña
Here's two other points, adjusted, that I suggested to WorldCon organizers:
• If high school and college Latinos (add Native Americans) are desired, more day passes need to be made available to nearby communities. Attendance could turn significant and be a good investment where it is normally not available.
• Con organizers should allow for one very famous gringo author on every panel related to Latinos (add Native Americans) in order to attract sufficient, Anglo attendees. Small audiences for such issues can be interpreted as belittlement.
Amy Tinter SF novel
If you want to contact them, here's the word from Sasquan organizers: "Make Sasquan a truly unique convention. We're always looking for program suggestions. If you have any, drop by our Idea Forum. We'll be sending out invitations to be on programs, between this fall and next spring. Sasquan would like to hear from you if you're interested in being considered as a Program Panelist and/or Events Performer. Fill out our Panelist/Performer Volunteer form."
By the way, I hope Sasquan doesn't fall into minority-bloc mentality and use an Asian SF/F writer to fulfill a "quota." In 21st Century U.S., Asians are definitely in and easy, all over the screen and on the tube whenever the historically under-represented Others need to be assuaged. An Asian SF/F writer would be good diversity for WorldCon. What I've been talking about is INCLUSION of Latinos and Native Americans. They are different, even if not as accepted and respected.
To pre-empt another point, someone might suggest I volunteer to help diversify WorldCon's exclusion of us and the indios. Bastions of white privilege should fix themselves, not expect our free time and labor to divest themselves of what we point out to be exclusion-problems of their own making. I would help. As soon as WE saw more reasons for doing so. Like I did at LoneStarCon. And, if I have a new book coming out, as a Chicano spec writer I hope to attend Sasquan. I hope its program and speakers list gives me and others more reason than that for doing so.
The accent in Milán
I recently had an exchange with SF author Victor Milán where I pointed out that the accent in his last name didn't appear on the cover of his latest book, Dinosaur Lords. In La Bloga's Latino Spec Lit Directory, we hadn't established what he considered himself, but now that's settled. Here's how it went:
1st response: "Thanks, Rudy. Also thanks for including me in the Latino Spec Lit Directory. My father was puertorriqueño; I have considered (and characterized) myself as a Latino writer pretty much throughout my career. Also, thanks for reminding me about that accent mark...."
2nd response: "All done. Wrote to Editor Claire asking for the change. For them as don't know: that's not an affectation. Milán is my family name. It's not on my birth certificate, but they didn't do none o' that there furrin stuff in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the mid-1950s. But I've used it as my name pretty much everywhere the "ick" (as a long-ago lady friend amusingly termed it) was an option. Also, those who have followed my work know that Victor Milán is my professional name as well as my actual surname. And so appears on much if not most of my published writing. "It shouldn't be hard to change. It's not as if it's incorporated into the swell painting or anything. And when the becomes a Bigassasaurus of a blockbuster movie, the accent's gonna be on my name in the credits, too. So there." - Victor Milán
I want to thank and welcome fantastic fantasy author, Carol Browne for sharing her personal writing journey with us on my blog today. Carol’s book The Exile of Elidel is the first book of a trilogy and can be purchased from Musa Publishing, Amazon, and other on-line bookstores. Bonus: Stay tuned for a chance to win an ecopy of The Exile of Elidel at the end of this post. So let’s get this interview started…
How long have you been writing, Carol?
I started scribbling when I was about seven years old. From that point on I always wanted to be a ‘proper’ writer. It was a very long time before I achieved that goal – we’re talking nearly five decades!
I feel you, Carol. It sounds like we’ve been on the same path. Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write The Exile of Elindel?
In 1976, I was listening to a jukebox in an English pub when Mike Oldfield’s In Dulci Jubilo came on. The music conjured up an image in my mind of two fantasy characters who seemed to be nearing the end of some kind of quest. I felt compelled to write their story and find out who they were and what was going to happen to them. I set them in Dark Age Britainbecause Anglo-Saxon had been part of the English degree I had just completed at University and the era appealed to me. I felt I was going with these characters on their adventure, watching as they collected back stories and companions along the way.
What sets The Exile of Elindel apart from other books/series in the same genre?
I have to confess to not being a great reader of the sword-and-sorcery type of fantasy genre, so there’s little I can compare mine with. I like to think my elves are a bit different, though. They’re vegetarians and they talk to animals and have tremendous reverence for nature. They would definitely join the Green party if they were around today!
I also like to add humour to lighten the mood. Too much angst and jeopardy can get very tedious. I mixed up the genres a little too. In Book II there is an element of sci-fi as well as fantasy, while in Book III there’s a good dollop of horror. I’ve added some light romance as well; so something for everyone!
You’ve certainly thought of everyone, Carol! As a fantasy author, what is your writing process?
I write my first draft in longhand and have all my notes and research Blu-tacked to the walls of the room where I work. Once I commit myself to writing something, it is with me all the time so I take a pen and paper out with me in case I get any fresh ideas. I have a housekeeping job and frequently have to stop to jot something down. I hate it when characters start talking to each other in my head. I have to say ‘Shut up! I can’t write all that down now.” It’s infuriating that I can’t set aside regular time slots for writing. I guess I’ll have to hang on till I retire.
Seems like you’re always prepared when your characters come a-calling! How long did it take for you to start and finish The Exile of Elindel?
That’s a difficult question! I can’t remember that far back. (Those files have been deleted!) I do remember the first draft being ENORMOUS. It rambled on forever; more padding than a king-size duvet. I wrote it in the summer of 1977 and spent the next thirty-odd years lugging it around in suitcases, storing it in attics, taking it out to rewrite it and submit to publishers, putting it back in the attic.
Thirty years? Now that’s dedication! Do you have any advice for other writers striving to write in your genre, Carol?
Use your own original voice and ideas. Don’t try to be the next Tolkein.
Brilliant advice! Everyone is unique in their own way. So, what’s next for Carol Browne the author?
The rest of the trilogy will be out next year: Book II, Gateway to Elvendom, in March and Book III, Wyrd’s End, in December – as long as everything goes smoothly with the editing process. Meanwhile, I’m nearing the end of my work in progress, a paranormal thriller. I recently wrote myself into a corner with this one and so lost a few days while I worked things out. I have discovered over the years that if you are stuck with a plot or character, there’s always a solution, but it might have to simmer away in the old brain pan for a while before it bobs to the surface.
It sounds like you’ve got your work cut out for you! Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series—If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?
If I could go back to the Battle of Hastings in 1066, and somehow make sure the Saxons won instead of the Normans, I would. But let’s be realistic! I have always admired Horatio, Lord Nelson, and I love those old ships of the line. (I stood on board HMS Victory myself during a visit to the Naval Dockyards in Portsmouth a few years ago, and it is a day I will never forget). If I could, I’d like to go back to the time of the Napoleonic Wars and meet Nelson. I’d love to know if he was as charismatic as everyone said he was.
Thank you very much for having me on your blog, Sharon. I did enjoy the experience!
Elgiva, a young elf banished from Elvendom, must seek shelter among the Saxons as her only hope of surviving the coming winter.
Godwin, a Briton enslaved by the Saxons, is a man ignorant of his own inheritance and the secret of power he possesses.
A mysterious enemy, who will stop at nothing to wield absolute power over Elvendom, is about to make his move.
When destiny throws Elgiva and Godwin together, they embark upon the quest for the legendary Lorestone, the only thing that can save Elvendom from the evil that threatens to destroy it.
There is help to be found along the way from a petulant pony and a timid elf boy but, as the strength of their adversary grows, can Elgiva’s friends help her to find the Lorestone before it falls into the wrong hands?
Carol Browne first appeared on the planet in 1954. She regards Crewe, Cheshire, as her home town and graduated from NottinghamUniversity in 1976 with an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living in the Cambridgeshire countryside with her dog, Harry, and cockatiel, Sparky, when she’s not writing fiction, Carol spends her time as a housekeeper, proofreader, and ghost writer in order to pay the bills. Pagan and vegan, Carol believes it is time for a paradigm shift in our attitude to Mother Nature and hopes the days of speciesism are numbered.
ENTER TO WIN: Carol has her magical elfin hat cleaned out and rearing to go. All you have to do is leave a comment along with your contact information, and Carol with add your name into the hat for a chance to win an ecopy of The Exile of Elindel. You have until midnight EST Monday, October 6th2014 to submit your comment, and then POOF— the magical elfin hat picks the winner! Good luck, everyone!
M. T. Anderson has a talent few other authors can boast: he can suck in a reader like nothing else. Hilarious YA novel about competing burger chains? Yep. Picture book biography of Handel? Check. Middle grade fantasy about (among other things) mechanical goblins? No problem. Historical fiction written in next-to-perfect 18th century diction? Of course! An increasingly long series of books written as a pastiche of historical series books, with perfect understanding of the series tropes, characters that appeal to modern readers, and extremely affecting (and hilarious) stories? Why do you even ask?
He Laughed with His Other Mouths is the latest in Anderson’s Pals in Peril series. This one focuses on my favorite of the three main characters — Jasper Dash: Boy Technonaut! In the 1930s and 40s, Jasper starred in his own series of sci-fi adventure novels (and movies, and t.v. serials and advertisements, etc), but now he lives in Pelt with his single mother (Jasper was created by a highly concentrated beam of information projected from the region of the Horsehead Nebula), and tries, with the help of his friends Lily and Katie, to fit in the modern world.
After a disastrous science fair project (it didn’t even try to take over the world! AND people laughed at him!), Jasper feels so low that he decides, over the objections of his mother, to transport himself to the Horsehead Nebula to see just who it was that originally sent that concentrated beam of information. Was it his . . . father? Or was it Something Else? This rash decision will have drastic consequences not just for Jasper, not just for his mother, Lily, and Katie, but FOR THE ENTIRE WORLD!
CAN YOU STAND to find out what Jasper discovers in the Horsehead Nebula?!
THRILL to outer-space hijinks!
SHIVER at the desperate danger!
DON’T WAIT to read this fabulous book, filled with, I’m sure you’ll be glad to hear: “Even more death rays! No, really! Way, way too many death rays”!
Musa Publishing's speculative fiction imprint, Urania, is thrilled to be celebrating the release of Merm-8, Eric J. Juneau's novel about what happens when a mermaid is found in the future:
"It doesn't matter if you believe in mermaids. She believes in you.
Gene is a rogue-for-hire, using his one-man ship to make a decent living on the flooded Earth. Most of the population has been driven out to Seaplexes--artificial islands glutted with poverty, commercialism, and organized crime. His AI companion, Stitch, does most of the work of their salvage and smuggling jobs. Life is good.
Until a mermaid crawls into his ship's exhaust port.
Now it's not enough for Gene to avoid the mafia he's in debt to, enforced by bio-engineered hulks. Everyone wants to know what this fantasy creature is doing on a dying planet. Corporations want to exploit her. Old friends want to capitalize on her fame. Gene has to choose between protecting her and keeping himself safe. And all she wants is to return home."
Merm-8 will be sold for 20% off until Friday October 3rdto celebrate its release, so grab your copy sooner rather than later!
Last fall, Tu Books released Killer of Enemies, a post-apocalyptic steampunk adventure by Joseph Bruchac. Readers were introduced to seventeen-year-old Apache hunter Lozen, a kick-butt warrior who kills monsters to ensure the safety of her family.
Set to be released next month, Joseph Bruchac has written an e-novella that’s a prequel to Killer of Enemies, titled Rose Eagle.
Rose Eagle is set in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where readers are introduced to seventeen-year-old Rose Eagle of the Lakota tribe who is trying to find her place in a post-apocalyptic world.
Before the Silver Cloud, the Lakota were forced to work in the Deeps, mining for ore so that the Ones, the overlords, could continue their wars. But when the Cloud came and enveloped Earth, all electronics were shut off. Some miners were trapped in the deepest Deeps and suffocated, but the Lakota were warned to escape, and the upper Deeps became a place of refuge for them in a post-Cloud world.
In the midst of this chaos, Rose Eagle’s aunt has a dream: Rose will become a medicine woman, a healer. She sends Rose into the Black Hills on a quest to find healing for their people.
Gangly and soft-spoken, Rose is no warrior. She seeks medicine, not danger. Nevertheless, danger finds her, but love and healing soon follow. When Rose Eagle completes her quest, she may return with more than she ever thought she was looking for.
Thanks to the following blogs for participating in the Rose Eagle cover reveal:
In Virals, acclaimed mother and son writing duo Kathy and Brendan Reichs have created a captivating and enthralling series by incorporating science fiction and crime with a contemporary perspective, via 4 teens who are navigating an unusually adventurous adolescence.
For most teenagers having your mum die, having to live with your mum's twin sister in another city, and having your body go all strange on you (massive growth spurt, tingling all over body, visions and nightmares) would send you in a depression - not Evie. She's feisty and motivated even when thrown a curve ball on top of everything else ... When she meets up with her childhood friend Kitty it sparks a desperate desire to protect her friend at all costs.
Find out who is trying to harm her friend and why Evie feels so compelled to rescue her. Throw in a potential romance, intrigue, and you have an exciting Sci-fi thriller for YA. Okay, so I love science fiction but even people who do not have Dr Who or Star War leanings will love this book. There's no other world, or planets, or aliens but an ordinary girl mixed up in an experiment gone wrong two generations ago.
I literally couldn't stop reading this book (until the early hours of the morning); the twists and turns in the plot had me turning page after page. When I finished the book (matchsticks propping up my eyes) and tried to find out when the next book in the series was coming - I read the author's bio and was really surprised ... The story is set in USA and it reads like an international bestselling book - I was not expecting it to have been written by a first time author from a provincial town in New Zealand.
Rachael Craw has a great support team: agents Barbara and Chris Else, her writers' group, and the Walker Book team, and she has been an English teacher at High School - needless to say, this is a writer to watch. Her writing is taut, the plot is gripping, and her characters are very likeable. I can't wait for the next two books in the series: Stray (book two, 2015) and Shield (book three, 2016). If you're a Divergent or a Viral fan - you'll be hooked on this new exciting series.
Other info: Chris D’Lacey has also written the Last Dragon Chronicles.
Summary : When Michael Malone discovers his supernatural ability to alter reality, he is recruited by an organization dedicated to investigating strange and paranormal phenomena. He joins in hopes of finding his father, who mysteriously vanished three years earlier. Michael's first task is to solve the mystery of a dog he rescued from a precarious clifftop -- a mystery that leads him to a strange and sickly classmate and a young girl who was killed in a devastating accident. Stakes are high as Michael learns to harness his newfound ability and uncover the deadly truth about his father's disappearance. A bold and thrilling tale of alternate realities, paranormal mystery, and extraordinary adventure.
Review: Michael’s going to school via a non-normal route when he senses the thoughts of a suicidal dog, and somehow manages to stop her going over a cliff. This brings him to the attention of UNICORNE, who say they can tell him what happened to his father, who disappeared. They set him on the task of finding out what the dog was doing on the cliff, and this leads him to a mystery involving a classmate, a dead girl, and his newly discovered powers.
I’ve heard great things about Chris D’Lacey’s other work (which I have never read) so I was hoping this would be good. The blurbed concept isn’t particularly original, but I really liked the idea of cellular memory and the way it played out in the book.
There’s science-fiction elements, fantasy elements, and some thrillery elements too. It could have been a good mix, but in parts it goes so quickly that things don’t get explored as much as they could have been.
I like the characters, especially Josie, Michael’s ten year old sister, Chantelle, a UNICORNE agent, and Freya, Michael’s sick classmate.
The plot twists and turns, sometimes well, and sometimes in convenient places. I like the mix of more normal things that Michael has to deal with, in between the paranormal. I think the start of it was stronger than the way the setup played out though; it started with a strong hook, but then got a bit confusing. The main mystery did get played through well looking back on it, but with side elements being created due to Michael’s powers, it is harder to follow than it needed to be.
Overall: Strength 3 tea to a genremixing thriller.
Other info: Malinda Lo has also written Huntress, Ash (review here), and Inheritance.
Summary: Flocks of birds are hurling themselves at aeroplanes across America. Thousands of people die. Millions are stranded. Everyone knows the world will never be the same. On Reese's long drive home, along a stretch of empty highway at night, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won't tell them what happened. For Reese, though, this is just the start. She can't remember anything from the time between her accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: she's different now. Torn between longtime crush David and new girl Amber, the real question is: who can she trust?
Review: It all starts when Reese Holloway is waiting for a plane back from debating and birds fall out of the sky. Stranded, she and the debate team decide to head home in a rented car, and things change even more. With no idea of the events after a crash, nor the later happenings or procedures, Reese finds some anwers that will change her life, and humanity, forever.
Huntress, I didn't enjoy especially, but Ash was one of my favourite books due to the writing style and the new take on an old story. Adaptation leaves the fantasy route and goes down the scifi men-in-black route, and it does this really well.
I love the characters. Amber's probably my favourite, because she's adorable and funny and I fell in love with her. I also liked that you had to constantly question her and her loyalties. David- CHINESE MC HECK YEAH (I get excited by chinese main characters) was also really adorable and smart. Reese isn't one of my favourite characters, she seemed a bit ordinary compared to a cast full of scientists and government agents and conspiracy theory website runners and things which I want to say but that's kind of spoilery, but I did like the fact that she constantly questioned things. Oh, and love to Reese's mum. See the lawyering badass love for her daughter and reaction to her coming out as bisexual.
Nowhere in this book is a good place to stop reading-most certainly not the end.. Every point in Adaptation was either too intriguing or too exciting or too adorable to let you even think about putting it down, and I've had the must-never-stop-reading-this-feeling for very few books before.
Overall: Strength 5 tea to a book I recommend to everyone, especially mystery, scifi, thriller, romance fans.
My friends, I am in COUNTDOWN MODE. Beth Revis’s new novel The Body Electricis nearly with us, and it’s so close I can taste it! October 6th, you are so close! From the NYT bestselling author who catapulted us into space with Across The Universe, this is a new story that answers the question: what happened on earth while the Godspeed was making her way to a new world? Bring. It. On. I’ve already ordered my limited-edition copy! And today, I’ve got Beth here with us to answer all our burning questions!
But first, a little about The Body Electric…
Ella Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift—the ability to enter people’s dreams and memories using technology developed by her mother—to help others relive their happy memories.
But not all is at it seems.
Ella starts seeing impossible things—images of her dead father, warnings of who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a rebel group, using her ability to experience—and influence—the memories of traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in love—even though Ella’s never met him before in her life. Which can only mean one thing…
Someone’s altered her memory.
Ella’s gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn’t even know was happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella’s head, she cannot trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings.
So who can she trust?
Beth, welcome! In Across The Universe and its sequels, you took us into space, trapped us on claustrophobic ships and landed us on incredible new planets. Tell us about your inspiration for The Body Electric! Where did this story start? A dream? A musical clip? Plain, old-fashioned brainstorming?
I first started getting the idea for The Body Electric while writing Shades of Earth, the last AtU novel. Amy and Elder have a little interaction with Earth, and it’s not positive. It made me start thinking: what was happening on Earth while Amy and Elder were in space? How did Earth change to become the kind of place where the events that happened in Shades of Earth happened?
Of course, I was also influenced by a lifetime of reading and SF movies–especially the works of Philip K. Dick. There are hints of Total Recall and Blade Runner in this book.
That’s insanely cool, and I think it’s a question more than one reader has wondered about– I certainly did! So, if you were transported into your book, which scene would you most want to reenact?
NONE OF THEM OMG EVERYONE IS ALWAYS ABOUT A CHAPTER AWAY FROM DEATH IN MY BOOKS. I want to stay right here, pants-less and on my couch, thank you very much.
That is a point very well made. On to other things! Your decision to self-publish The Body Electric has given you a lot of freedom to release and promote the book exactly the way you want, from getting hands-on in cover design to the choice to include amazing swag with your limited-edition paperback. Can you tell us a bit about that decision and your journey?
I did not come to self-publishing lightly, although now it seems like the clear, obvious choice. My agent helped me a TON in making this decision and in realizing the potential I had with doing this book exactly the right way for my readers. A big part of my motivation to self publish came from wanting to thank the people who made my career what it is: my readers and indie bookstores. So I made the Limited Edition–it has 30 pages of extra content, full color art cards, a coupon for an ebook copy, swag, and more. And I was able to choose the price, and keep it at $14.99. And the Limited Edition is only available from my local indie bookstore, but the Special Edition–with all the same content, minus the art cards and my signature–is available from any bookstore in America.
Of course, the book is available in lots of other formats: a cheaper paperback available through Amazon, e-book editions, etc.
The freedom of this has been amazing. I love having such a voice in every aspect, from the cover design, to the price, to literally everything. It’s been so freeing.
Seriousness aside: Pub Brawl!!!!! What weapon are you wielding?
My weapon is Jayne from Firefly. I win.
Yes, yes you do. I have nothing to add on that count. What are you reading right now?
I’ve just started reading The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin. I’m so jealous I didn’t write this book. It’s been brilliant–an engaging plot, crafted masterfully. [Amie: On Beth's recommendation I've just picked up a copy, can't wait to get stuck in!]
Beth, thank you so much for visiting! We can’t WAIT for The Body Electric!
Beth Revis is the NY Times bestselling author of the Across the Universe series. The complete trilogy is now available in more than 20 languages. A native of North Carolina, Beth’s new science fiction novel for teens, The Body Electric, will release October 6, 2014. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram.
Amie Kaufman is the co-author of THESE BROKEN STARS, a YA sci-fi novel out now from Disney-Hyperion (US) and Allen & Unwin (Australia). Book two, THIS SHATTERED WORLD is out in December! Her new trilogy will start with ILLUMINAE, coming from Random House/Knopf in 2015. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary. You can find her on Twitter or on Facebook, or visit the These Broken Stars website for exclusive sneak-peeks and contests. Amie lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her husband and rescue dog.