Read an Excerpt from Fireborne, Start of a New YA Fantasy Series

Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution changed their world, giving everyone—even the lowborn—a chance to test into the governing class of dragonriders.

Now they are both rising stars in the new regime, despite backgrounds that couldn’t be more different. Annie’s lowborn family was executed by dragonfire, while Lee’s aristocratic family was murdered by revolutionaries. Growing up in the same orphanage forged their friendship, and seven years of training have made them rivals for the top position in the dragonriding fleet.

But everything changes when survivors from the old regime surface, bent on reclaiming the city. With war on the horizon and his relationship with Annie changing fast, Lee must choose to kill the only family he has left or to betray everything he’s come to believe in. And Annie must decide whether to protect the boy she loves… or step up to be the champion her city needs.

From debut author Rosaria Munda comes Fireborne, a gripping adventure that calls into question which matters most: the family you were born into, or the one you’ve chosen. Available October 15th from G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers.

[Read more]

Heart on Fire: The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad

Fourteen years ago, a heartbroken Ifrit (djinn drawn to order) found a dying girl in the desert and saved the child’s life by surrendering hers. Eight years ago a gang of Shayateen (djinn draw to chaos) attacked the city of Noor and slaughtered thousands, all but two young girls and an old woman. Today, Noor is thriving once more, thanks in no small part to an alliance made between humans and Ifrit, but its future is uncertain. Citizens are being attacked by Shayateen and ghuls (undead monsters) and a rebellion is forming in the rest of the kingdom of Qirat.

In the middle of all this is Fatima, one of the three survivors. After witnessing a terrible, tragic death, she finds herself a human teenager with dangerous Ifrit powers. An Ifrit emissary pulls her into the intrigue at the maharajah’s court and soon she is the only thing standing in the way of the destruction of Qirat. With her new abilities Fatima must protect her fractured family at all costs, even if it means killing her enemies. But she isn’t the only one coming into newfound power. A princess, a sister, and a concubine’s daughter must rise above the low expectations set by the men around them and become the powerful women they truly are.

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Living in Hope is a Discipline: Fire Logic by Laurie J. Marks

Seventeen years after Tor’s original publication of the first Elemental Logic novel, Fire Logic, the fourth and final installment in the series is due out from Small Beer Press on June 4th. In the lead-up, the press has also released handsome reprint editions of the prior books, inviting a fresh base of readers to discover them—including me. Fire Logic was released in 2002 and won the Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Novel the following year. The sequel, Earth Logic, followed in 2003 and also won the same award. Water Logic, the third installment, signaled the publisher shift to Small Beer in 2007—but then nothing for almost twelve years.

As a result of that gap in publication, Laurie J. Marks’s series has lingered at the fringes of my awareness for a long while. I was barely twelve years old when Fire Logic came out, and seventeen when the third book was released; I hadn’t heard of them until I was twenty and delving more deeply into queer SFF awards lists and recommendations. Since then they’ve been on the “if I spot a used copy in the world, I’ll snag it” list but I hadn’t put special effort into seeking the books out as the series remained unfinished…until now. The release of the final novel presents the perfect incentive for finally diving into this continuing classic of queer fantastic literature. Furthermore, the series is as prescient now as ever in terms of its messages about community and resistance. Thus, I’ll be covering each of the novels here in turn, with a new essay appearing every Thursday for the next month.

[Onward.]

John Carter and the Origins of Science Fiction Adventure: A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

In this bi-weekly series reviewing classic science fiction and fantasy books, Alan Brown looks at the front lines and frontiers of the field; books about soldiers and spacers, scientists and engineers, explorers and adventurers. Stories full of what Shakespeare used to refer to as “alarums and excursions”: battles, chases, clashes, and the stuff of excitement.

In the days before the First World War, while the term “science fiction” had not yet been coined, there were authors beginning to write works that would clearly fit into that genre, authors who included H. G. Wells and Jules Verne. In 1911, an American author joined their ranks with his first published story, “Under the Moons of Mars,” which appeared in All-Story Magazine. That story featured a Confederate cavalry officer from the Civil War named John Carter, who found himself mysteriously transported to the planet Mars and propelled into one adventure after another. The readers loved the story, and demanded more—and some of those early fans went on to become writers themselves: writers who would forever remember, and be influenced by, the evocative world that inhabitants called Barsoom.

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Five Books with POV Characters Who Don’t See Eye-to-Eye

I’m a lifelong devotee of speculative fiction, and I spent my childhood reading broadly across that category—fantasy, science fiction, horror. But my favorite books that I read as I grew up always had one major thing in common, regardless of genre: multiple narrators. There’s something deeply compelling about seeing the way different people look at the same situation, showing over and over again that there is more than one side to every story. In YA spec, many authors make use of this storytelling device as a way to bring a cast of characters who seem completely at odds together. When executed well, this broadens world-building and creates depth and tension in character relationships and plot.

Here are five multi-pov speculative YA novels that do a fantastic job of creating characters who seem completely different at first glance, but have more in common than you might think.

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Series: Five Books About…

Oathbringer Reread: Chapter Seventy-Eight

This week on the Oathbringer Reread, Aubree and I will be taking a disturbing journey into the Heart of the Revel with Shallan/Veil/Kishi/whoever the heck Shallan’s pretending to be at the moment… Stay tuned for giant black blob of gluttony vs the woman of a million faces! And simultaneously, in one corner of the Kholinar wall… the boy blue, the brooding wonder, the Shardbearer supreme—Kaaaaaaaaaladin Stormblessed! In the other corner, also in blue, the Worldly Woman, the Princess of Persuasion, the Commander in Chief—Viv—I mean, Azure! Who will reign supreme in these two battles before us?

Well, we won’t find out this week as one ends in a distraction and the other in a timely escape, but come along anyway and join us in the comments!

(I’m just now realizing that I have a tendency towards using Wrestling-style intros for some reason, despite the fact that I don’t much care for wrestling… Look, it’s just fun, all right?)

[Give in. Join the revel.]

Series: Oathbringer Reread

This Website Compiles Every Single Wall Calendar Dedicated to Tolkien and Lord of the Rings

The old (okay, not that old) adage would seem to be true—you can find anything on the internet. Including a comprehensive guide to nearly every hanging wall calendar ever created to celebrate J.R.R. Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings saga. Well, up to the year 2016, that is. And minus the Peter Jackson film calendars, as there are limits to these things.

Where can you find all of this? We’re glad you asked…

[Read more]

Avoiding Angles is Still Harder Than it Sounds: Adam Gauntlett’s “New Build”

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading Adam Gauntlett’s “New Build,” first published in The Private Life of Elder Things in 2011. Spoilers ahead.

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Series: The Lovecraft Reread

Read an Excerpt from Last Tango in Cyberspace

Hard to say when the human species fractured exactly. Harder to say when this new talent arrived. But Lion Zorn is the first of his kind—an empathy tracker, an emotional soothsayer, with a felt sense for the future of the we. In simpler terms, he can spot cultural shifts and trends before they happen.

It’s a useful skill for a certain kind of company.

Arctic Pharmaceuticals is that kind of company. But when a routine em-tracking job leads to the discovery of a gruesome murder, Lion finds himself neck-deep in a world of eco-assassins, soul hackers and consciousness terrorists. But what the man really needs is a nap.

Author Steven Kotler combines a unique blend of cutting-edge technology and traditional cyberpunk in his new near-future thriller about the evolution of empathy in Last Tango in Cyberspace—available now from St. Martin’s Press.

[Read an excerpt]

8 SFF Characters that Embody the Green Man

The forest calls to us. It is at once breathtaking and mystical, yet foreboding and dangerous. We go “into the woods” and come out of it changed people. So it is any surprise that our ever-watchful guardian of the forest, a certain Green Man, crops up everywhere in artwork and fiction? They come with poetry, with history, with songs of old. Don’t forget that they’re waiting in the woods…

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Defending Kylara: Dragonquest, Part Three

Sure, Impressing a dragon and becoming one of the dragonriders of Pern might seem like the ultimate wish fulfillment. I mean, a dragon! A dragon that can take you anywhere and anywhen! A dragon that will share your every thought and always, always love you, ensuring that you will never be alone again.

Can you imagine losing something like this, though?

You could well go insane… as Anne McCaffrey describes in Dragonquest.

Buckle up, everyone. This might not be an entirely pleasant post.

[Read more]

Series: Dragonriders of Pern Reread

Longer Sweepstakes

In LongerMichael Blumlein explores dauntingly epic topics—love, the expanse of the human lifespan, mortality—with a beautifully sharp story that glows with grace and good humor even as it forces us to confront deep, universal fears. And we want to send you a copy!

Gunjita and Cav are in orbit.

R&D scientists for pharmaceutical giant Gleem Galactic, they are wealthy enough to participate in rejuvenation: rebooting themselves from old age to jump their bodies back to their twenties. You get two chances. There can never be a third.

[Read more]

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