Sleeps With Monsters: Atmospheric and Compelling Stories

A new post over at Tor.com:

Due to the vagaries of e-publishing (and my personal preferences), I continue to only read Lois McMaster Bujold’s self-published novellas after Subterranean Press has picked them up and published them in gorgeous hardcover. The latest of these is Mira’s Last Dance, the fifth Penric and Desdemona novella to be published, and a direct sequel to Penric’s Mission.

Sleeps With Monsters: Disgraced Witches and Norse Mermaids

A new post over at Tor.com:

Thanks to my own peculiar interests, this is another queer-lady heavy column. Perhaps eventually it’ll get boring to keep coming across work that features women who love women—perhaps one day, we’ll reach the kind of excess that produces tedium, or at the very least complacency—but that day is not today.

Sleeps With Monsters: New and Upcoming Books Featuring Ladies Who Love Ladies

A new post over at Tor.com:

You may have noticed that I’m very interested in books with queer female protagonists. Everything, as a friend of mine said once, is better with lesbians—though I’d just say women who love women, myself.

I suspect some of you reading here have a degree of overlap with this interest of mine. So let me share with you some of the new and forthcoming science fiction and fantasy novels where I’m reliably informed there are queer female protagonists, and where I’m reliably informed that their queerness doesn’t end in tragedy.

Sleeps With Monsters: A Pair of Delightfully Queer Novellas

A new post over at Tor.com:

This week, I want to bring to your attention two novellas from Book Smugglers Publishing, Lena Wilson’s Accelerants and Juliet Kemp’s A Glimmer of Silver. These books are mere morsels in length—114 pages for Accelerants, 136 pages for A Glimmer of Silver—but in their different ways, they’re both very good. As well as being delightfully queer, and enjoyably compact!

Sleeps With Monsters: Spec-Fic Romances With Ladies Who Love Ladies

A new column over at Tor.com:

I’m glad that queer protagonists are becoming easier to find in the offerings of traditional SFF publishers (Angry Robot has done quite an interesting lot this year, and I can count volumes from Tor, Saga, Harper Voyager, Orbit, Ace, and Solaris/Rebellion without having to strain my memory), because in general, one has to grade fiction from the lesbian romance small presses on a curve. And sometimes you don’t want to be locked in to a romantic arc. But when you do want an SFF romance between ladies? There are three solid and fun books out from Bold Strokes Books this September and October.

Sleeps With Monsters: Inclusive SF We All Deserve

A new column over at Tor.com:

I finished reading T.J. Berry’s debut novel, Space Unicorn Blues, and said to myself (and several other people): “Maybe Angry Robot Books is becoming the publisher of queer, feminist, sometimes-angry, sometimes-funny, anti-imperialist novels that we didn’t know we deserved.” Because Berry’s Space Unicorn Blues can join a list that includes (in the UK, at least) Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion, Tim Pratt’s The Wrong Stars, Foz Meadows’ An Accident of Stars and A Tyranny of Queens, and Jeannette Ng’s Under the Pendulum Sun, and it stands up very well in this company.

Sleeps With Monsters: Uplifting Post-apocalypses from Carrie Vaughn

A new column over at Tor.com:

These are gorgeous books. Told from Enid’s perspective, written in spare and compelling prose, they are quiet, introspective murder mysteries, deeply invested in ethics and in kindness. Kindness, in fact, lies at their heart—and the push-pull of the best, and the worst, impulses of humanity as they go about their daily life. Enid represents some of the best, in her quiet, staid, determined, unshowy fashion, and the depth of her character is what makes these novels truly shine.

Sleeps With Monsters: Astronaut Ladies

A new column over at Tor.com:

The simplest way to describe Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars and its sequel, The Fated Sky, is as an alternative history of the American space programme. But that’s not all it is: it’s a story about a young Jewish woman with an anxiety disorder using all the tools at her disposal to gain a place for herself in the astronaut programme, and building coalitions with other women to bring them with her.

Sleeps With Monsters: Books Inspired by History and Historical Literature

A new column over at Tor.com:

Elizabeth Bear and Katherine Addison have a new joint effort out this September. You might recognise Katherine Addison as the author of The Goblin Emperor, and you might also remember that she’s also written as Sarah Monette—making Bear and Addison the same team as the ones responsible for A Companion to Wolves and its sequels.

Their new work isn’t a Viking-influenced vision of the frozen north, but a long novella about fifteen-year-old Christopher Marlowe and the murder of a scholar: The Cobbler’s Boy.

Sleeps With Monsters: Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver

A new post over at Tor.com:

There’s a strange phenomenon whereby one truly enjoys a novel, admires it for its craft and emotional impact, and still finds one element painfully frustrating.

Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver is just such a novel, a glittering jewel of a novel influenced by fairytale and by—as far as I can tell—the history of medieval Hungary. Miryem is a moneylender’s daughter, who takes over her father’s business because he’s too soft-hearted to actually demand repayment. She’s so good at it that the Staryk—beings of winter who covet gold—come to believe she can turn silver into gold, and one of them sets her a challenge with her life as the stakes. Victory won’t bring her any joy, either: if she wins, the Staryk king will take her to be his queen, far from home.

Sleeps With Monsters: Melissa Scott’s THE GAME BEYOND

A new column over at Tor.com:

The Game Beyond shows the promise of Melissa Scott’s writing, and lays the foundation for her John W. Campbell Best New Writer Award in 1986 (after, I think, the first two books in her Silence Leigh trilogy had also been published, though correct me if I have the dates wrong). We can see here some of the elements that have continued to be important in Scott’s work: elaborate worldbuilding, especially in terms of background political complexity and rigid social codes; compelling, self-aware characters; atmospheric prose; and solid pacing.

Sleeps With Monsters: Melissa Scott’s Shadow Man

A new column over at Tor.com:

This is a compelling novel with fascinating worldbuilding. In some ways, it shows its age—the Concord doesn’t really seem to have a place for people whose gender identities don’t fit their bodies, even if it allows a wider range of bodies to be recognised as distinct in gender from each other—but in other ways, it remains fresh and new. Particularly in its approach to social revolution: Warreven fights for change on Hara, but ultimately fails to achieve tangible change in for himself. But he opens up a symbolic space, a naming—as it were—of things and of people, even though the authorities ultimately drive him off-planet. (The end of the novel leaves space open for him to return.)

Sleeps With Monsters: Storybundle Pride Month Reading

A new column over at Tor.com:

Melissa Scott’s Mighty Good Road (first published in 1990) employs a world-building conceit that other authors have used since: a railway among the stars, stations linked by permanent wormhole gates. From these stations, less reliable FTL ships head off to planets outside the “Loop,” but in the stations of the Loop, interstellar corporations have their offices, and people live and work and transship cargo.

Sleeps With Monsters: Fun in Imaginary Countries

A new column over at Tor.com:

Stories about imaginary countries are, I feel, sufficiently science fictional (or fantastical) to count as SFF. And Anthony Hope’s 1894 adventure novel The Prisoner of Zenda with its imaginary country of Ruritania has inspired a number of science fiction and fantasy writers, not to mention writers of romance. Now K.J. Charles, whose works frequently combine fantasy and queer romance, has written a response to The Prisoner of Zenda: The Henchman of Zenda.