Sleeps With Monsters: Where Are the SFF Stories About Pregnancy and Child-rearing?

A new column over at Tor.com:

The literature of the fantastic is a fruitful place in which to examine gendered questions of power. People have been using it to talk about women’s place in society (and the place of gender in society) pretty much for as long as science fiction has been a recognisable genre. Joanna Russ and Ursula Le Guin are only two of the most instantly recognisable names whose work directly engaged these themes. But for all that, science fiction and fantasy—especially the pulpishly fun kind—is strangely reluctant to acknowledge a challenge to participation in demanding public life (or a physically ass-kicking one) faced primarily (though not only) by women.

Pretty sure you’ve already guessed what it is. But just to be sure—

Pregnancy. And the frequent result, parenting small children.

Sleeps With Monsters: The Adventures of Murderbot

A new column over at Tor.com:

Martha Wells is an amazing writer, whose work I’ve generally loved since first encountering The Element of Fire. When her novella All Systems Red came out last year from Tor.com Publishing, it was a delight to see Wells turn her considerable talents to original science fiction—space operatic science fiction with a sense of humour and a deep well of kindness. This year will see two sequels published, Artificial Condition (May) and Rogue Protocol (August), and—not a word of a lie—they’re both really good.

 

Sleeps With Monsters: Time Travel and Living Ships

A new column over at Tor.com:

The difference between a really good novella and an excellent one lies partly in the ability of the author to make the ending feel right, inevitable, and a satisfactory conclusion to all that has come before. There are other differences (and some of these are also differences between a good novella and a bad one, depending on how they arise), and this statement is also true for a lot of novellas. But if there’s a difference between Kelly Robson’s really good Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach (Tor.com Publishing) and Aliette de Bodard’s excellent The Tea Master and the Detective (Subterranean Press), it’s that Robson’s ending feels right and inevitable, but not satisfactory, while de Bodard’s ticks all three boxes.

Sleeps With Monsters: Demons On A Mission

A new column over at Tor.com:

There’s nothing quite so disappointing as not being able to get your hands on a book you really want to read. Due to a peculiar combination of factors, including Barnes & Noble’s approach to (not) selling ebooks outside North America, my personal intense dislike of the .mobi format, and an unaccountable gap in Kobo availability, I’ve had to wait for the Subterranean Press editions of all of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Penric novellas. The third and latest to reach the shelves is Penric’s Mission, and it is utterly fantastic.

Sleeps With Monsters: Magic Roadtrips, Graceful Space Opera, and a Bleak Take on Star Wars

A new column over at Tor.com:

Cast in Deception is the latest novel in Michelle Sagara’s long-running Chronicles of Elantra series. The Chronicles of Elantra stars Kaylin Neya, a private in the Hawks—the police force of the city of Elantra—who consistently finds herself at the centre of cataclysmic events. Over the course of the series, she’s gathered around herself a wide variety of friends and allies, from the last living female Dragon to a set of peculiar young Barrani (an immortal race—think elves, and not the friendly kind), and the only Barrani Lord in the Hawks. In Cast in Deception, Kaylin’s current Barrani houseguests get her involved in their problems, and magic, politics, and found family all tangle together in a story about growth and trust and unwanted roadtrips.

Sleeps With Monsters: Strange Differences and Unusual Similarities

A new post over at Tor.com:

Creatures of Will and Temper starts slow and measured. It’s the end of the 19th century. Sisters Evadne and Dorina Gray—Evadne awkward, worried about social conventions, only passionate about fencing; ten years older than Dorina, young, unconventional, interested in everything to do with art and beauty and seducing other women—visit their uncle Basil in London.

Sleeps With Monsters: Odd and Satisfying

The first column of the new year, over at Tor.com:

Clockwork Boys by T. Kingfisher—the penname of the Hugo-Award-winning Ursula Vernon—is really fun, and strangely difficult to describe. Its main characters have been condemned to death (or longterm imprisonment) for various crimes. But their city is losing a war, and losing badly. Their enemy employs “Clockwork Boys”—constructs of machinery and flesh that are practically unstoppable. Finding out how the Clockwork Boys are made, and how to stop them, is a suicide mission that’s already killed dozens. But our heroes’ lives are already forfeit.

 

Sleeps With Monsters: Therapeutic Compassion

Midwinter’s come and gone, and we’re rolling in towards the New Year. I’ve missed most of the last few days, snowed under with a cold, but here’s a new column over at Tor.com anyway:

I missed Michelle Sagara’s Grave when it came out in January 2017, though I’d been looking forward to the conclusion of the trilogy that started with Silence and continued in Touch. Emma Hall, whose necromantic power has drawn unpleasant attention from the Queen of the Dead, is on the run with her friends. If she’s going to survive and keep her friends alive—and open the doorway that leads the dead to peace, the one that the Queen has kept shut for centuries—she’s going to have to figure out how to confront the Queen and win.

 

Sleeps With Monsters: Alex Wells Answers Six Questions

A new post over at Tor.com:

AW: I definitely set out to make Mag and Hob’s friendship the emotional core of the book, from the start. Even back when I started writing it, I was already sick of the mass media depiction of friendship between women—well, and friendship between woman and men too, come to that. It’s such a common, annoying trope that women are friends until suddenly there’s This Guy and then it’s all about This Guy and the friendship falls apart. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a real friendship between women that’s been so weak as that.

Sleeps With Monsters: Djinn and Politics in an Interesting Debut

A new column over at Tor.com:

S.A. Chakraborty’s City of Brass is only the latest of this year’s excellent run of debut novels. It’s not my favourite—I have fairly specific tastes in what really hits my utter favourite spots. But it is a really solid fantasy novel with a vivid setting and an interesting set of protagonists.

Sleeps With Monsters: Lost Suns, Times, and Theorems

A new column over at Tor.com:

Tessa Gratton’s The Lost Sun came across my radar thanks to a Twitter recommendation by Leah Bobet. The first volume of the Gods of New Asgard series, it takes place in a world recognisably similar to our own, but one where the initials U.S.A. stand for “United States of Asgard,” where gods and valkyries and prophets are an intrinsic part of the political process, and trolls roam the landscape. It didn’t sound at all like my sort of thing—but it turns out it’s really great.

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.

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.”

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.