Sleeps With Monsters: Queering Classic Fantasy Stories

New year, new queer! If that’s not a catchphrase somewhere, it ought to be, and—as you may have guessed—queerness is the element that unites the stories I want to talk about this week. The presence of queer women in the stories I read is becoming so delightfully frequent as to begin to feel unremarkable, and I’m really enjoying this current state of affairs. It’s not something I feel I can allow myself to get used to, because it was a rarity for years.

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Series: Sleeps With Monsters

Vultures by Chuck Wendig is the Perfect End to Miriam’s Story

Everything has been building up to this. Miriam is pregnant and isn’t particularly excited about it. The man she loved is dead, murdered by someone she cared for. The woman she loves has a rapidly approaching expiration date. The feds are onto her. And the Trespasser is circling like a vulture over its prey. Miriam is beaten but not broken, but for the Trespasser it’s only a matter of time until she snaps. The Trespasser can wait; it has all the time in the world. Miriam doesn’t. Her time is quickly running out and when it finally does…

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For The Killing of Kings

Their peace was a fragile thing, but it had endured for seven years, mostly because the people of Darassus and the king of the Naor hordes believed his doom was foretold upon the edge of the great sword hung in the hall of champions. Unruly Naor clans might raid across the border, but the king himself would never lead his people to war so long as the blade remained in the hands of his enemies.

But when squire Elenai’s aging mentor uncovers evidence that the sword in their hall is a forgery she’s forced to flee Darassus for her life, her only ally the reckless, disillusioned Kyrkenall the archer. Framed for murder and treason, pursued by the greatest heroes of the realm, they race to recover the real sword, only to stumble into a conspiracy that leads all the way back to the Darassan queen and her secretive advisors. They must find a way to clear their names and set things right, all while dodging friends determined to kill them – and the Naor hordes, invading at last with a new and deadly weapon.

Howard Andrew Jones’ powerful world-building brings this epic fantasy to life in For The Killing of Kings, the first book of his new adventure-filled trilogy—available February 19th from St. Martin’s Press.

[Read an Excerpt]

Swashbuckling Fantasy with Political Intrigue: A Labyrinth of Scions and Sorcery by Curtis Craddock

An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors (2018), the first volume in Curtis Craddock’s The Risen Kingdoms series, was an extremely accomplished fantasy novel. It combined intrigue, adventure, and swashbuckling in a setting filled with airships and floating kingdoms, ancient religion, lost knowledge, and powerful magic. Its politics bore the influence of Renaissance Europe while its narrative approach held something of the flair of Alexandre Dumas. An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors set a strikingly high bar for any sequel to follow.

Fortunately, A Labyrinth of Scions and Sorcery more than meets that bar. It’s just as good as its predecessor—if not better.

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The Federation Allowed Families On Starships to Keep Starfleet Enlistment Up

If you’ve watched Star Trek: The Next Generation, it has probably occurred to you that keeping families on a starship is a questionable practice. The Enterprise-D is constantly heading into dangerous situations, and while we can assume that there are protocols in place to keep the kiddies feeling safe and cared for, you have to wonder who thought this was such a brilliant idea to begin with.

Turns out the answer is: probably the Federation?

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5 Young Adult Novels That Blew Me Away

For a long time, I didn’t read much YA. I’m old enough that our modern, awesome version of the genre didn’t exist when I was a teen—I often joke that all we had to read were Newbery Award-winning books about dead dogs. I got into adult SFF at a fairly young age and made that my home for quite a while. Aside from Harry Potter and a few other mega-hits, I didn’t pay much attention to YA.

When I became a professional writer, I started reading a little bit more widely, and found that so much great SFF was happening in YA there was a pretty big gap in my knowledge. So I recruited a couple of friends to give me reading lists and went on a binge to find out what I’d been missing. These are a few of the books that I absolutely loved—but no means exhaustive, of course, because I still have a lot of catching up to do! So many books, so little time…

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Series: Five Books About…

Why Science Fiction Authors Need to be Writing About Climate Change Right Now

The future is arriving sooner than most of us expected, and speculative fiction needs to do far more to help us prepare. The warning signs of catastrophic climate change are getting harder to ignore, and how we deal with this crisis will shape the future of humanity. It’s time for SF authors, and fiction authors generally, to factor climate change into our visions of life in 2019, and the years beyond.

The good news? A growing number of SF authors are talking about climate change overtly, imagining futures full of flooded cities, droughts, melting icecaps, and other disasters. lists 382 SF books with the keyword “climate” from 2018, versus 147 in 2013 and just 22 in 2008. Some great recent books dealing with the effects of environmental disasters include Sam J. Miller’s Blackfish City, Edan Lepucki’s California, Cindy Pon’s Want, Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140, and N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy. It’s simply not true, as Amitav Ghosh has suggested, that contemporary fiction hasn’t dealt with climate issues to any meaningful degree.

But we need to do more, because speculative fiction is uniquely suited to help us imagine what’s coming, and to motivate us to mitigate the effects before it’s too late.

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Black Panther Nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars

The nominees for the 91st Academy Awards were announced this morning, with the delightful news that Black Panther is among the nominees for Best Picture. (Though unfortunately Ryan Coogler did not get a nod for Best Director.) While it is the only explicitly genre film among the eight Best Picture nominees (last year had Get Out and eventual winner The Shape of Water), the Best Animated Feature category recognized Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Incredibles 2, and Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2.

Further, you’ll spot other genre films from the past year like Avengers: Infinity War, Ready Player One, and A Quiet Place in the requisite visual and sound effects categories; Black Panther has a few nominees among those as well, such as Kendrick Lamar’s “All the Stars” going head-to-head with Lady Gaga’s earworm “Shallow” for Best Original Song. (That’s seven nominations total for Black Panther. Wakanda forever!) One notable disappointment is no nominations for Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You.

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Reading The Ruin of Kings: Chapter 14

Greetings, salutations and what up, It’s another RROK post! Just what you wanted!

This blog series will be covering the first 17 chapters of the forthcoming novel The Ruin of Kings, first of a five-book series by Jenn Lyons. Previous entries can be found here in the series index.

Today’s post will be covering Chapter 14, “Bedtime Stories”, which is available for your reading delectation right here.

Read it? Great! Then click on to find out what I thought!

[I still have my “Moistened Bint” button around here somewhere]

Series: The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons: Chapter 14

Debut author Jenn Lyons has created one of the funniest, most engrossing new epic fantasy novels of the 21st century in The Ruin of Kings. An eyebrow-raising cross between the intricacy of Brandon Sanderson’s worldbuilding and the snark of Patrick Rothfuss.

Which is why is releasing one or two chapters per week, leading all the way up to the book’s release on February 5th, 2019!

Not only that, but our resident Wheel of Time expert Leigh Butler will be reading along and reacting with you. So when you’re done with this week’s chapter, head on over to Reading The Ruin of Kings for some fresh commentary.

Our journey continues…

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Series: The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

Reading the Wheel of Time: Despair and the Shadow in Robert Jordan’s The Great Hunt (Part 25)

In The Eye of the World, when Moiraine learned of Ba’alzamon’s plan to find the Eye of the World, she remarked that the Pattern had brought all the threads together, first to let them know of the threat to the Eye of the World, then to provide them a way to get to it in time. It was one of the first times I really understood what ta’veren meant in this world, as Moiraine explained how Rand, Mat, and Perrin could be shaping the Pattern around themselves, or the Pattern could be forcing them where they need to be.

However, compared to the nearing climax of The Great Hunt, the Pattern’s work in The Eye of the World doesn’t seem quite so impressive. Here in Chapter 46, not just multiple people but multiple units of people are being drawn together into a great conflict with little or no knowledge of the others. Nynaeve, Elayne, Egwene, and Min have no idea that Rand and company are in Falme, the Seanchan don’t know about either of them, and the Whitecloaks know very little other than that the Seanchan are invaders that must be faced. I actually feel a little bad for Captain Bornhald and his company; they are in so far over their heads and they don’t even know it. In a few chapters the Dragon Reborn is probably going to show up, and maybe Ba’alzamon too, and then there’s the issue of the damane to worry about. I really wonder what Verin is up to right now, how much she knows of the unfolding events, and what her motivations might be.

But first, let us recap Chapter 46: To Come Out of the Shadow.

[The Web can still be woven many ways, and some of those designs would be disastrous. For you, for the world.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Unicorn Magic with Realistic Underpinnings: Meredith Ann Pierce’s Birth of the Firebringer

I’ve gone on record as not being a fan of talking-animal fantasies, but I make exceptions. The Silver Brumby is one, and there’s The Horse and His Boy, which for all its problems still has some lovely bits. And now, having missed Meredith Ann Pierce’s Birth of the Firebringer when it was first published, I’m adding another to my very short list of talking-animal stories that I actually enjoyed.

The book is not technically about horses, but close enough. It’s about unicorns. It’s a hero’s journey, with a mysterious prophecy and an ancient evil and a prince’s son who won’t play by the rules.

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Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: The Flowers of Vashnoi

The Flowers of Vashnoi is the most recent Vorkosigan novella. It is set between Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance and Cryoburn. It’s a short adventure focusing on Ekaterin, with Enrique in a major supporting role. While carrying out a research study on bugs that process radioactive waste, Ekaterin and Enrique find a family of mutants hiding in the contaminated area outside the ruins of Vorkosigan Vashnoi. The Flowers of Vashnoi came out last year in the same week as my birthday, which is irrelevant to any and all readers whose birthday isn’t in the same week as mine, roughly 51/52 of literate humanity, but I mention it anyway because I regard the book as a present. To me. I know Bujold didn’t write it for me, but she wrote it and I’m blogging about it, and here we are.

And because of that, it feels a little weird to be blogging about this book. You’re not supposed to dissect presents. You’re supposed to say thank you and be properly grateful and carry your present off to read and appreciate. I did all of those things. I love it and I appreciate it, and I’m also a little skeptical about it.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Meet Murderbot in Chapter One of Martha Wells’ All Systems Red

“As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete failure.”

We’re pleased to encore the first chapter of Martha Wells’ award-winning novella All Systems Red, the first entry in the bestselling science fiction series, The Murderbot Diaries. One of our favorite books of 2018, All Systems Red is now available in hardcover from Publishing!

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