Hell of a Party: Jennifer Brozek’s “Dreams of a Thousand Young”

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 Jennifer Brozek’s “Dreams of a Thousand Young,” first published in 2014 in Innsmouth Free Press’s Jazz Age Cthulhu collection. Spoilers ahead.

[“Helen wanted to look away, but the gleaming altar called to her.”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

The Perfect Assassin Sweepstakes!

A novice assassin is on the hunt for someone killing their own in K. A. Doore’s The Perfect Assassin, a breakout high fantasy beginning the Chronicles of Ghadid series. The Perfect Assassin is available March 19th from Tor Books—and we want to send you a copy!

Divine justice is written in blood.

Or so Amastan has been taught. As a new assassin in the Basbowen family, he’s already having second thoughts about taking a life. A scarcity of contracts ends up being just what he needs.

Until, unexpectedly, Amastan finds the body of a very important drum chief. Until, impossibly, Basbowen’s finest start showing up dead, with their murderous jaan running wild in the dusty streets of Ghadid. Until, inevitably, Amastan is ordered to solve these murders, before the family gets blamed.

[Read on for more about the book, and comment in the post to enter!]

Aftermath: The Education of Brother Thaddius by R.A. Salvatore

Like a lot of young kids growing up reading epic fantasy, R.A. Salvatore was one of my absolute favourite authors. Less traditionally, my path to becoming a Salvatore fan wasn’t through his popular Drizzt books (though I’d read and enjoy those later), but rather through his other brilliant epic fantasy, the DemonWars Saga. Over its seven books—comprised of two main trilogies and a bridge novel—DemonWars tells the harrowing, heartbreaking story of Corona, a world gifted with magical stones, the complex socio-political makings of its church, and the legendary Jilseponie Ault, who climbs her way from humble beginnings to become the most powerful magic user in the world. Mortalis, the fourth book that bridges the two trilogies, remains to this day one of the most affecting and beautiful novels I’ve ever read—it helped show a 17 year old reader that epic fantasy could be at once vast and intensely personal.

It was bittersweet to leave Corona behind with the publication of the final book in the series, 2003’s Immortalis—however, over the years, Salvatore has returned to the world, most recently with Child of a Mad God, a new epic fantasy that focuses on a previously unexplored region. It’s an excellent opportunity for long-time fans to return, and also a good jumping on point for new readers. Included with the paperback edition of Child of a Mad God is a novella originally published by Salvatore in 2014 titled The Education of Brother Thaddius. Unlike Salvatore’s previous returns to Corona—which were either set centuries before the DemonWars series, or in parts of the world only touched-upon by the series’ events—this novella is set in the immediate aftermath of Immortalis’s world-changing climax, and, as such, is a delight for long-time fans.

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Kingdom of Heaven’s Disappointing Crusade Against History

In both my scholarship and my fiction, my mind has been on war of late.

I think that’s why I’ve decided to take a breather from my workloads by queuing up Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut (2006).

First, I must tell you that I saw Kingdom of Heaven when it first came out in theaters in 2005. It was both disappointing and exhausting: the main arc of the protagonist made no sense, the pacing was odd, and the historical events were portrayed, well, super wrong. Also, and I must get this out of the way upfront, I’m not a fan of Orlando Bloom in this kind of role. I don’t know what Hollywood was thinking by casting him as a crusader knight. It’s especially odd when so much of the rest of the cast is perfection.

Anyway, I saw it in the theaters, was very much not impressed, and that was that.

But then you, my dear readers, in comments to previous Medieval Matters columns, asked me again and again to review Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut. It’s better, y’all insisted.

So fine. Let’s give this a shot. God wills it!

[Read more]

Series: Medieval Matters

Announcing the 2018 Nebula Awards Finalists

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2018 Nebula Awards, including the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, the Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book, and for the first time, the Nebula Award for Game Writing.

The winners will be announced at SFWA’s 54th annual Nebula Conference in Los Angeles, CA, which takes place from Thursday, May 16th through Sunday, May 19th at the Marriott Warner Center in Woodland Hills, CA.

[Read more]

A Steampunk Mystery with Real Bite: P. Djèlí Clark’s The Haunting of Tram Car 015

On the eve of one of the country’s most important votes in years, a spirit takes over a tram car. Agent Hamed Nasr has been at the ministry for a long time, too long perhaps. He’s seen just about everything. Joining him is a fresh recruit, Agent Onsi Youssef, an eager, learned young man. What starts off as a standard exorcism explodes into the unimaginable. This is no ordinary haunting, and to solve the case Hamed and Onsi will have to make some unexpected alliances in the city’s underbelly.

[Read more]

6 Badass Female Time Travelers Who Get the Job Done

There is no single archetype of the female time traveler. She may be a young newlywed on her honeymoon, or a septuagenarian acting as a secret government weapon. She is black, or white, or from a future less concerned with skin color (but concerned with plenty otherwise). She is a writer, a river rehabilitator, a veteran of a World War. And no two travelers make the same passage through time and space: each of these intricate tales are brought about by everything from futuristic machinery to nanotechnology to magical stones.

Join us under the cut to meet six timestream-hopping women who have left their mark on history!

[Read more]

2018 Aurealis Awards Finalists Have Been Announced

The Continuum Foundation (ConFound) has announced this year’s finalists for the 2018 Aurealis Awards. We’re delighted to report that two books from Tor.com Publishing, Corey J. White’s Static Ruin and Kirstyn McDermott’s Triquetra, have been nominated, as well as Sam Hawke’s City of Lies, which was published by Tor Books in the U.S., and Penguin Random House in Australia. The winners of the 2018 Aurealis Awards, Sara Douglass Book Series Award, and the Convenors’ Award for Excellence will be announced at the Aurealis Awards ceremony, which will be held in Melbourne on Saturday May 4, 2019.

Click through for the full list and congratulations to all the finalists!

[Read more]

Move Over, Westeros: Six SFF Series That Would Rule the TV Landscape

For various reasons—mainly the use of sexual assault as plot parsley—I haven’t been following HBO’s Game of Thrones. That’s not, however, going to stop me from suggesting other SFF book series that might survive the transition to television. After all, everyone else is doing it…

The candidates should be series of at least three books or more—preferably complete. I mean, we wouldn’t want the TV writers to have to imagine their own ending. (Nor would we want the writers to re-imagine the ending. Just to make that clear.) Here are a few that more than fit the bill…

[Death cults, mutant sorceresses, and aeroplanes!]

New Teaser for The Man in the High Castle Announces Final Season

The Man in the High Castle‘s fourth season on Amazon Prime will be its last! But seemingly they’re planning to go out with a bang, as this teaser includes the Statue of Liberty being pulled down, the Liberty Bell being melted, multiple underground resistances fighting for their lives, film reels burning, and a tense slow dance between two of the show’s most pivotal characters.

Plus they’re highlighting the idea that “the end of the worlds is coming”—which can’t bode well for the Philip K. Dick-based multiverse?

[Read more]

Rereading the Vorkosigan Series: Cryoburn, Chapters 6 and 7

This week’s cover is from the Czech edition published by Talpress, and it offers further proof (in case anyone was in doubt) that Martina Pilcerova really pays attention. That’s a cryochamber, with Lisa Sato inside. The guy next to it is the doctor who hid her in his basement, and the pyramids in the background are the New Egypt cryo-facility. I can tell for sure that Miles is not in this picture, because Pilcerova’s portraits of him tend to be more Byronic. I like that because I think that Miles is, in fact, mad, bad, and dangerous to know. This guy looks kind of bland. We will discover later that he’s not so much mad, bad, and dangerous as thoughtless and condescending. Bland can be dangerous.

In this week’s discussion of the interior of the book, we should be starting in Chapter 6. I’m feeling reflective this week, so I need to throw in some thoughts on Chapter 5 first.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Permafrost Sweepstakes!

Fix the past. Save the present. Stop the future. Master of science fiction Alastair Reynolds unfolds a time-traveling climate fiction adventure in Permafrost, available March 19 from Tor.com Publishing—and we want to send you a copy!

2080: at a remote site on the edge of the Arctic Circle, a group of scientists, engineers and physicians gather to gamble humanity’s future on one last-ditch experiment. Their goal: to make a tiny alteration to the past, averting a global catastrophe while at the same time leaving recorded history intact. To make the experiment work, they just need one last recruit: an ageing schoolteacher whose late mother was the foremost expert on the mathematics of paradox.

[Read on for more about the book, and comment in the post to enter!]

All Roads Lead to Darnassus: For the Killing of Kings by Howard Andrew Jones

When a novel’s back cover invokes one of my touchstone books as being part of its DNA, that gets my attention, but it can be a lot to live up to. And when the novel is supposedly a cross between that touchstone book and to a beloved classic of literature, that is even more for a book to live up to. It draws my attention as a reader, but my critical eye is heightened as well.

The touchstone in this particular instance is Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber, the classic in question is Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, and the book that combines the two is historical fantasist Howard Andrew Jones’ turn into epic fantasy, For the Killing of Kings.

[Read more]

Sleeps With Monsters: A Coincidence of Prisoners

An odd coincidence saw me read two books back-to-back—both with the word “prisoner” in the title—by authors who began their novel-publishing career in the 1980s. Both Barbara Hambly and Lois McMaster Bujold have definitely grown as writers in the last four decades, and their recent works can be relied on to provide deep, thought-provoking reads—and deeply entertaining ones, too.

[Read more]

Series: Sleeps With Monsters

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