Sleeps With Monsters: Vivian Shaw Answers Seven Questions

A new column over at Tor.com:

LB: Let’s start with a basic question. Strange Practice’s main character is a doctor who operates a clinic specialising in “monsters”—from mummies and vampires to ghouls and banshees. What’s the appeal of having a physician for an urban fantasy protagonist?

VS: Partly it’s because I love writing clinical medicine. I wanted to be a doctor way back in the Cretaceous but never had the math for it, and I read medical textbooks for fun, so getting to come up with a whole new set of physiologies and the consequent diseases is an endless source of pleasure. Storywise—it’s competence porn. Watching a doctor do what they’re good at is exciting the way watching a lawyer argue or a pianist play is exciting to me, and I love being able to put that kind of easy I-got-this expertise into my books. It’s deeply satisfying to write about people doing things I can’t actually do myself.

VALIANT DUST by Richard Baker

A new review over at Tor.com:

Sikander Singh North is a prince of a planet that is, essentially, a colonial protectorate of the powerful space nation of Aquila. He’s been an officer in the Aquilan Commonwealth navy for ten years, and has now received the position of gunnery department head aboard the light cruiser Hector. He’s junior for the post, and several of his colleagues disapprove of him on grounds of where he comes from. Fortunately, he has a mostly sympathetic captain, but he must prove himself to some of his direct superiors.

 

JADE CITY by Fonda Lee

A review over at Tor.com:

Stylistically, Jade City feels as though it mixes The Legend of Korra with Gangs of New York and a generous helping of Hong Kong action cinema. Lee builds a vivid, densely believable world, and a vivid, densely believable city: Kekon’s cars and televisions, its economic boom and history of conflict, exist in productive tension with its traditions and its clans, its jade and the code known as aisho, its gambling dens and restaurants and boardrooms. A deep attention to detail gives us a view of a society—and people within that society—not all quite yet at home with the changes that have occurred.

Sleeps With Monsters: Melissa Caruso Answers Six Questions

A new column over at Tor.com, my first Q&A in a long while:

MC: Probably the single biggest influence on me as a young writer was Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown. It felt like the book I’d always been waiting for. I took it out of the library again and again as a kid, then bought a used copy with my own money and read that over and over, too. I love so many things about that book, from the wonderful heroine to the voice and the deep sense of setting (so many little real-feeling details!).

KA: DAR OAKLEY IN THE RUINS OF YMR by John Crowley

A new review over at Tor.com that I am belated about sharing, because I spent the weekend in Limerick:

Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr is the most baffling novel I can remember reading. (It may not be the most baffling book, but that’s because I worked my way through Pierre Bourdieu’s The Logic of Practice and Outline of a Theory of Practice, the latter of which contains an oxymoron in its very title). At the prose level, it’s beautiful. Thematically, it seems to be a story about stories and, perhaps, also about death: about change and changelessness.
Buy it Now

Maybe. I’m not sure.

THE TETHERED MAGE by Melissa Caruso

Reviewed over at Tor.com:

The characters in The Tethered Mage are a delight and a joy. Although it’s told in the first person from Amalia’s point of view, the other characters come through sharply, as whole people with their own ideas and concerns—even if Amalia, as a narrator, doesn’t have a full picture of what’s going on. Zaira’s confrontational, brash, and complex. Her confrontational approach comes in part from a history of pain. The slow dance of prickly mistrust that grows into co-operation and eventual friendship—well, sort of friendship—between her and Amalia is one of the novel’s delights, along with Zaira’s pragmatism and her snark.

Sleeps With Monsters: My Year In Queer

A new post over at Tor.com:

Are we reaching some kind of critical mass this year in terms of queer content in books published by mainstream SFF imprints? Where queer people have a central role to play, and where, moreover, being queer does not end universally badly? Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that this year—including some novels I’ve read that aren’t published quite yet—is a banner year.

Sleeps With Monsters: Power Ballads and Professionals

A new post over at Tor.com:

Meera is utterly in love with her boss. She thinks she’s got a really bad crush on a straight girl. What she doesn’t realise is that her feelings are requited. This is a story about how awkward it is to figure out whether or not you can have a relationship with your boss—or with your employee—while investigating the bizarre thefts of dresses designed by a cult fashion designer, including one from off the back of his widow, and also falling off rooftops. (Carina finds being the Skeleton relaxing compared to being in the spotlight.) The awkward dance of does-she-like-me? does-she-like-me-back? is complicated by Meera’s many ex-girlfriends, with all of whom Meera still seems to be on good terms, and who are, to quote Carina, “really thirsty.”

THE BLOODPRINT by Ausma Zehanat Khan

A new review, over at Tor.com:

I wanted to like it [The Bloodprint] more than I did. In terms of voice, characterisation, and prose style, it feels not quite cooked yet: it only begins to feel like it gels together into something greater than the sum of its disparate parts in the last 100 pages (quite late for 400-page-plus book), just in time for it to cliffhanger on the way to volume two. I’m an old and jaded critic, and I have come to prefer books that feel narratively satisfying within a single volume, even if they are clearly part one, than books that feel as though they stopped more because they ran out of room than they reached a natural break point.

Sleeps With Monsters: The Cold Blade’s Finger

A new column over at Tor.com:

I want to rave about Elizabeth Bear’s The Stone in the Skull. Actually, it feels like I need to rave about it: a glorious, dramatic, lush and striking fantasy set in the same continuity as the Eternal Sky trilogy (Range of Ghosts, Shattered Pillars, and The Steles of the Sky), with a brilliant cast of characters and an opening that involves an ice wyrm attacking a caravan on its way up a frozen river. It’s no exaggeration to say I was hooked from the first page.

Links of interest!

Star Trek: Discovery:

At Lady Business:

One of the things I loved so, so much about The Vulcan Hello, and about Michael’s character, is that both show that Discovery is in love with space. Michael’s space walk scene is a really obvious, hearts over the ‘i’s,love letter to space (as well as a clever wink to the technique of shooting Star Trek in the early days) and it is glorious. Her early scenes among the sand dunes shout ‘Yes, space is unknown and can be scary but look how amazing it is out there’ and then throw chocolates at space’s feet. Michael’s practical, exposition drop of an opening speech quickly turns into ‘I remain optimistic. It’s hard not to be in the face of such beauty.’ and a discussion of a binary star system while looking out onto beautiful space vista. Star Trek: Discovery <3’s space. Hard.

 

At NoAward.net:

  • Liz is intensely amused that there was plot justification for heavy lens flare
  • There are Starfleet insignia on the boots. Like, these costumes were designed expressly to torture cosplayers, right?
  • We were so busy having feelings that we kind of overlooked the plot stuff. Liz is intrigued by Michael’s upbringing and the bombing of the Vulcan Learning Centre, and is reserving judgement on the Klingon stuff. Are Klingons inherently interesting when Worf’s not around? Look, they can’t help not being Romulans or Cardassians. No one’s perfect.
  • Liz was chatting to Tansy Rayner Roberts, who described the premiere as “emotionally intelligent”, and I think that’s a really good summary.

 

At The Mary Sue:

I’m looking forward to the far more gender-fluid future where gendered stereotypes lose ground, and anyone can be named anything that they damn well please, though we’ll still have to grapple with the cultural weight of names.

 

Books:

Elizabeth Bear on female characters and epic fantasy:

If women existed in the real world at the same ratios in which we exist in epic fantasy, the human race would be obliged to reproduce as do anglerfish. Which is to say, with one large female swimming along, going about her business, while a plethora of smaller males clamp their jaws onto her flanks, graft their bloodstreams to hers parasitically, and allow themselves to be dragged along with her wherever she happens to roam because it’s their best chance of having the opportunity to release a stream of milt over the eggs that she will inevitably deposit.

(Don’t read the comments.)

 

K. Arsenault Rivera on personal failure in fiction:

So often in epic stories the hero always makes the right decision, so often they act in the interest of the greater good. To me, it’s always been far more interesting—more human—when they choose to wallow a little instead. We might all like to imagine ourselves winning duels and pulling swords out of our loved ones, but we can all relate to making bad decisions.

 

Other:

A scientific study of cat personalities.

Call for Papers on classical receptions in speculative fiction.

 

HORIZON by Fran Wilde

A new review over at Tor.com:

The things I’ve liked best about Fran Wilde’s Bone Universe books—2015’s award-winning Updraft, last year’s Cloudbound, and now the trilogy’s capstone, the compelling Horizonhas been the character of Kirit Densira, accidental hero, accidental city-breaker, and determined friend; the weird, wonderful worldbuilding (invisible sky-squid that eat people! enormous bone towers in which people live far above the clouds! a society based around unpowered human flight!); and the deep concern with consequences.

Horizon is all about consequences.

Octocon, 6-8 October, Camden Court Hotel, Dublin

I’ll be attending Octocon next weekend. If anyone wants to bring a copy of my book for me to sign, I’d be happy to do that. I’m afraid I won’t have copies with me, but you can order them through all reputable booksellers, including Hodges Figgis on Dawson St.

I’ll be bringing some of my stack of books I will never get to read/reread in order to give away, so there’s that.

These are the panels I’ll be on:

 

Beyond the Hellmouth

Saturday 17:00 – 18:00, Salusa Secundus (Camden Court Hotel)

What makes a convincing fictional hell? Is it the uptempo singing or dancing or must it be personal and bespoke? Should moral relativism define your eternity and isn’t it possible to get used to anything eventually?

Lynda E Rucker, Peadar Ó Guilín, Dr. Allen Stroud, Fionnuala Murphy (M), Dr. Liz Bourke

 

The Art of Shipping (Free Shipping With Every Order Of The Phoenix) [18+]

Saturday 21:00 – 22:00, Salusa Secundus (Camden Court Hotel)

From characters on tv shows to countries to fast food restaurants to Kirk and Spock, everything seems to have ships now a days. Why are fangirls / is everyone obsessed with shipping?

Sakura Perez (M), C.E. Murphy, Diane Duane, Dr. Liz Bourke, Ms. Wendy Fries

 

Shapes of Family & Relationships In Genre

Sunday 12:00 – 13:00, Salusa Secundus (Camden Court Hotel)

What would be the shape of a “traditional” family off the surface of this planet? How do relationships work on a spaceship or during early planetary colonisation? What would be the economic incentives shaping family life in space? From Heinlein’s line marriages, the alien / human sexual partnership in A Long Way To A Small Angry Planet, multi-parent families in for example The Expanse, how have these questions been explored and how have the ideas stood the test of time.

C.E. Murphy, Paul Anthony Shortt, Russell A. Smith, Fionna O’Sullivan (M), Dr. Liz Bourke

 


 

I still haven’t bought my membership, because I am a broke freelancer and also slow. I should probably get on that…