The Swallowed Man Reflects on Art and Family From the Bottom of a Whale

I hadn’t expected to see a new Edward Carey novel for a few years yet, but here is The Swallowed Man, just two years after the publication of Little, his big book about the waning and waxing of Madame Tussaud’s fortunes in the French Revolution. That massive novel took fifteen years to write; to receive another book so soon is a pleasant surprise. Little was an epic about the obscure story behind a familiar name; The Swallowed Man, in contrast, is a compact retelling of a familiar story from an obscure perspective.

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Five Ways to Sell People on the Thankless Task of Planetary Colonization

Once developed, a planet is a boost to the whole human economy. More people! More production and consumer demand! More trade! But you have to develop the world first. For example, Mars. It could be terraformed and developed, as we know from countless SF novels. But how do you convince people to take the first step of settling on the Red Planet?

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My Ride or Die: Fantasy Heroines That Fight Systems of Oppression

For me, characters are the gateway to a great story, pulling me into their headspace, compelling me to see the world through their eyes, empathize with their plight, and root for them to win. And while I fall in love with all sorts of characters, those that have an extra sweet spot are heroines fighting oppression. Be it taking on the system or battling a product of systemic oppression, I love that gut-wrenching angst when a character is up against impossible odds and burn with a fire to succeed anyway. From Katniss to Laia, to my own protagonist in Wings of Ebony: Rue, I’m going to ride or die with any hero or heroine who doesn’t back down, while learning a bit about themselves along the way.

If that’s you, too, you have to add these these five books to your TBR, now!

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Series: Five Books About…

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Alfred the Great, and Viking History

A couple years ago on this site I “reviewed” Assassin’s Creed: Origins, which takes place in Cleopatra’s Egypt, the same world in which I set my first historical fantasy novel: it wasn’t a gameplay review so much as it was an extended expression of my astonishment at the amount of history that Ubisoft wedged into the game.

Today, I’m going to take a similar approach to the latest Assassin’s Creed game: Valhalla, which is set (mostly) in early medieval Norway and England.

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Series: Medieval Matters

Reading The Wheel of Time: Siuan Sanche Enacts Secret Plans in Robert Jordan’s The Fires of Heaven (Part 17)

So, do you think Robert Jordan actually believed that there were some seductresses out there who had an itemized list of every way you can touch or kiss someone? Or is this as much of a fantasy as the One Power and women having to get naked every time they go through a portal?

Welcome back to Reading The Wheel of Time. This week covers Chapters 26 and 27 of The Fires of Heaven, in which Siuan, Leane, Min, and Logain finally find the rest of the Aes Sedai, and Siuan has to put her plan in motion without anyone knowing that it’s a plan, or that she’s affecting anything, or anyone, at all. You have to admire Siuan. She’s good at what she does, and she never quits.

[The Last Battle is coming, and the Tower must be whole.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Is It Possible That Johnny Mnemonic’s Future Is Better Than Our Own?

In May 1995 we received a bold vision of the future. A glittering world where physical cities merged with cities on the internet. Where bodyguards wore chainmail tank tops and carried pink, glitter-encrusted hand grenades. Where payphones still existed but you could phreak them with mobile, red plastic phones… which were almost as large and conspicuous as the payphones themselves. Where mini-discs were successful.

And the more I think about it, this vision wasn’t just a cyberpunk lark, it was a warning. A bleating klaxon of what awaited us.

That warning was Johnny Mnemonic.

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Understanding Horses: Horses, Anger, and Letting Go

2021 has been an amazingly, mind-blowingly, devastatingly chaotic year so far—and it’s still only January. In the US we’ve swerved from deadly insurrection to presidential impeachment to presidential inauguration, with a brutal sidecar of pandemic. On top of all that, the city of Tucson commemorated the tenth anniversary of the shooting in front of a supermarket that killed six people and severely injured several more, including our congresswoman, Gabby Giffords.

I remember that day all too clearly. I came home from Saturday-morning errands to the news that had been clanging through the multiverse: that a member of the US Congress had been shot in front of a supermarket. She was dead. She wasn’t dead. Others were dead, wounded. This many, that many. Shooter in custody. Lone gunman, had an accomplice, not political, yes political, nobody knew, though speculation was rampant.

That was my congressperson. That was my city that had been reduced to sound bites. The shock to us all was profound and lasting—just as it has been everywhere else that has seen its peace shattered by violence.

For me on the farm, surrounded by animals, and especially horses, the effect was not at all muted. But it was transmuted.

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