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Fran Wilde

Fiction and Excerpts [4]

Fiction and Excerpts [4]

The Jewel and Her Lapidary

|| The kingdom in the Valley has long sheltered under the protection of its Jewels and Lapidaries, the people bound to singing gemstones with the power to reshape hills, move rivers, and warp minds. That power has kept the peace and tranquility, and the kingdom has flourished. Jewel Lin and her Lapidary Sima may be the last to enjoy that peace...


After the dust settles, the City of living bones begins to die, and more trouble brews beneath the clouds in Fran Wilde’s Cloudbound, the stirring companion to Updraft. Available September 27th from Tor Books.

When Kirit Densira left her home tower for the skies, she gave up many things: her beloved family, her known way of life, and her dreams of flying as a trader for her tower. Kirit set her City upside down, and fomented a massive rebellion at the Spire, to the good of the towers—but months later, everything has fallen to pieces.

With the Towers in disarray, without a governing body or any defense against the dangers lurking in the clouds, daily life is full of terror and strife. Nat, Kirit’s wing-brother, sets out to be a hero in his own way—sitting on the new Council to cast votes protecting Tower-born, and exploring lower tiers to find more materials to repair the struggling City.

But what he finds down-tier is more secrets–and now Nat will have to decide who to trust, and how to trust himself without losing those he holds most dear, before a dangerous myth raises a surprisingly realistic threat to the crippled City…

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It’s All in the Rigging: My Favorite Fantasy Boats

Once upon a time (cough, August 6, 2013, actually), published “I Hate Boats,” by Carl Engle-Laird. Carl’s gone on to brilliant things, but I still want to argue with him about the post, and especially this sentence in particular: “Whenever my beloved protagonists get on a boat, I groan, put the book on the table, and pace around the room muttering angrily to myself, alarming friends and loved ones.”

Carl, now that you’re a big-deal editor at, I’m finally ready to tell you that I feel exactly the opposite way. I love boats, and when I see one in a book, I feel a lot of hope. I grew up sailing on the Chesapeake Bay, reading nautical histories, and what I want in my fiction is a boat that feels real and suits the plot.  When a book takes me over water, I’m eagerly looking for the most seaworthy craft.

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The Women of The Expanse: An Interview with Daniel Abraham

I had a fantastic time guest posting at Sleeps With Monsters last fall. So much so that I badgered Liz to let me back through security for another round. This time, I wanted to step away from language and take a different tack: to look at one of my favorite television shows from the past season—The Expanse—and specifically at the women on the show.

One of my favorite things about The Expanse (and there are quite a few, because I love my space opera, and I’ve worn treads in BSG, The 100 [with two glaring exceptions] and Farscape) is the plurality of women in major roles on the show. Naomi Nagata on the Canterbury and Rocinante, Chrisjen Avasarala on Earth, Octavia Muss and Captain Shaddid in the Belt. All have deep backstories, active involvement in the show’s trajectory, and solid character arcs that weave dramatic threads throughout the plot—often independent of arcs relating to the primary male characters. ::fistpump:: Even Captain Yao on the Mars battleship and Elise Holden on the homestead, two secondary characters, feel strongly depicted and multi-layered. And of course, there’s Juliette Mao, the show’s… well, I have a theory about what and who Julie Mao is, but I’ll leave it to the end.

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Series: Sleeps With Monsters

The Jewel and Her Lapidary

The kingdom in the Valley has long sheltered under the protection of its Jewels and Lapidaries, the people bound to singing gemstones with the power to reshape hills, move rivers, and warp minds. That power has kept the peace and tranquility, and the kingdom has flourished.

Jewel Lin and her Lapidary Sima may be the last to enjoy that peace. The Jeweled Court has been betrayed. As screaming raiders sweep down from the mountains, and Lapidary servants shatter under the pressure, the last princess of the Valley will have to summon up a strength she’s never known. If she can assume her royal dignity, and if Sima can master the most dangerous gemstone in the land, they may be able to survive.

A tale of courage and transformation, Fran Wilde’s The Jewel and Her Lapidary is available May 3rd from Publishing.

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How Do You Like Your Science Fiction? Ten Authors Weigh In On ‘Hard’ vs. ‘Soft’ SF

With The Martian a big-screen success and Star Wars: The Force Awakens blowing box office doors off their hinges, articles like this one from NPR have begun appearing all over, encouraging SF authors and readers to “Get Real.” Meanwhile, debates about whether one movie or another is scientific enough are cropping up in various corners of the internet. (This, in my view, feels like an odd ranking system—if one movie has a sarlacc pit as an ancestor, and another might be seen as channeling Ghost [1990, the one with Demi Moore] as a way to explain cross-universe communication via physics… it’s pretty cool, yes? It’s fun to let imaginations wander about? Yes. I’ll be seeing you in the comments, yes. Onwards.)

So is a deeper, harder line being drawn in the sand about “hard” science fiction than usual? Or are we discovering that perhaps there’s a whole lot more sand available with regards to how imaginative and future-looking fiction can develop, and even entertaining the possibility that these developments could become blueprints for future-fact?

I asked ten science fiction authors about their definitions of “hard” and “soft” science fiction, and how they see science fiction (hard, soft, and otherwise) in today’s terms. They returned with ten fascinating—and not surprisingly, entirely different—answers.

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Intersection: Here’s What Happens When You Read The Water Knife and The Peripheral At The Same Time

While traveling this summer, I read Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife (Knopf, 2015) in hardback and William Gibson’s The Peripheral (Penguin, 2014) on my e-reader… synchronously.

Why read both together? On the road, screen-reading is sometimes more convenient, but at other times, what I desire most is a real book in my hands, all deckled pages and shiny dust-jacket. Not having either in both formats, I read back-and-forth between the two.

If not wholly advisable, the results of reading in this manner are at least interesting: I’m fairly certain one of these books is taking place within the other’s universe.

[The problem is, I’m not entirely sure which one.]

Change the Language, Change the World

A Note from Liz Bourke: I’ve asked Fran to write this week’s Sleeps With Monsters column because I really like her novel Updraft. Let her tell you something about how she went about writing it.

“… in daily speech, where we don’t stop to consider every word, we all use phrases like ‘the ordinary world,’ ‘ordinary life,’ ‘the ordinary course of events’ … But in the language of poetry, where every word is weighed, nothing is usual or normal. Not a single stone and not a single cloud above it. Not a single day and not a single night after it. And above all, not a single existence, not anyone’s existence in this world.”

Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska, in her 1996 Nobel Prize speech about the work of poets, concluded the above paragraph this way: “It looks like poets will always have their work cut out for them.”

All writers do this work in some fashion, even if poets get to use the prettiest knives. Part of the work is a constant re-honing of language; making us think about its power, and the uniqueness of everything we use language to describe, lest its opposite deaden our response to the world around us.

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Behind the Scenes at Ad Astra: The 50th Anniversary SFWA Cookbook

2015 marks SFWA’s 50th Anniversary Year, and the organization is celebrating in many ways. One of these is a cookbook, Ad Astra: The 50th Anniversary SFWA Cookbook, that contains recipes from many of your favorite writers. asked Ad Astra’s editors, Cat Rambo and Fran Wilde, for a behind-the-scenes peek at the book, and for information on where you can find your copy this summer.

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Five Books About The Monstrous

Earlier this year, I wrote about gravity being monstrous. Above the clouds, gravity is that unreasonable force always waiting for someone to make a mistake.

When thinking about monsters for Updraft, I wanted to explore variety and opposites. Not all monsters take a quasi-human form, not all devour (though some of the great ones do). I looked at how monsters occur—whether from the dark corners of our subconscious, or from a darker side of our conscience. My research built a catalogue of characteristics that began with Grendel’s startling appearances and his mother’s grief in Beowulf, and reached all the way to black holes out at the wobbly edge of space. I did a lot of reading.

[Chimeras, krakens, yetis, rocs and more!]

Series: Five Books About…


Kirit Densira cannot wait to pass her wingtest and begin flying as a trader by her mother’s side, being in service to her beloved home tower and exploring the skies beyond. When Kirit inadvertently breaks Tower Law, the city’s secretive governing body, the Singers, demand that she become one of them instead. In an attempt to save her family from greater censure, Kirit must give up her dreams to throw herself into the dangerous training at the Spire, the tallest, most forbidding tower, deep at the heart of the City.

As she grows in knowledge and power, she starts to uncover the depths of Spire secrets. Kirit begins to doubt her world and its unassailable Laws, setting in motion a chain of events that will lead to a haunting choice, and may well change the city forever-if it isn’t destroyed outright.

Fran Wilde is the acclaimed author of short stories appearing in Asimov’s, Nature, Beyond Ceaseless Skies, and more. Her first novel, Updraft, publishes September 1st from Tor Books. You can also find Fran at this year’s BEA and BookCon! Get the full Tor Books schedule here.

[Read an Excerpt]

The Ghost Tide Chantey

In celebration of National Poetry Month, we are pleased to present “The Ghost Tide Chantey,” an original poem by Fran Wilde, acquired for by editor Miriam Weinberg. is celebrating National Poetry Month by featuring science fiction and fantasy poetry from a variety of SFF authors. You’ll find classic works, hidden gems, and new commissions over at the Poetry Month index.

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Series: Poetry Month

Food of the Future

Science fiction has a bad reputation as far as portraying food goes—people are more likely to remember the yeast in Asimov’s Caves of Steel, the “earl grey, hot” from Star Trek, and the food pills from Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Worse, they’re more likely to say fantasy has better food. Is this actually true?

Six science fiction authors—Elizabeth Bear, Aliette De Bodard, Ann Leckie, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Benjanun Sriduangkaew, and Fran Wilde—gathered at a virtual Food of the Future roundtable to hash out the possibilities.

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