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Daniel Polansky

Fiction and Excerpts [4]
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Fiction and Excerpts [4]

Five SFF Books About Memory

As children, with our lives ahead of us, we wonder ‘what if?’—what if that squirrel could talk, what if I had wings, what if Mommy and Daddy disappeared and I could live in my house all alone and eat dessert any time I wanted. As time passes and the past comes to trail behind we turn this sense of fantasy away from the present back to the past. ‘What if’ becomes ‘what if I had’—moved to Panama, quit smoking, walked away that night, told him I loved him. No child ever wished for a pony half so hard as your average adult wishes to have the chance to rectify an error, supplement a conversation, salvage some lost portion of our lives.

It is no wonder, then, that genre fiction has always been interested in memory—which, after all, has a far closer kinship with fantasy than fact. The Seventh Perfection is a book about a woman with perfect recollection seeking to untangle truth from the twisted strands of history (both personal and societal), and the consequences which spring from this single minded obsession.

Here are five other books likewise fascinated (tormented?) by memory.

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Series: Five Books About…

A City Dreaming

M is an ageless drifter with a sharp tongue, few scruples, and the ability to bend reality to his will, ever so slightly. He’s come back to New York City after a long absence, and though he’d much rather spend his days drinking artisanal beer in his favorite local bar, his old friends—and his enemies—have other plans for him. One night M might find himself squaring off against the pirates who cruise the Gowanus Canal; another night sees him at a fashionable uptown charity auction where the waitstaff are all zombies. A subway ride through the inner circles of hell? In M’s world, that’s practically a pleasant diversion.

Before too long, M realizes he’s landed in the middle of a power struggle between Celise, the elegant White Queen of Manhattan, and Abilene, Brooklyn’s hip, free-spirited Red Queen, a rivalry that threatens to make New York go the way of Atlantis. To stop it, M will have to call in every favor, waste every charm, and blow every spell he’s ever acquired—he might even have to get out of bed before noon.

Enter a world of Wall Street wolves, slumming scenesters, desperate artists, drug-induced divinities, pocket steampunk universes, and demonic coffee shops. M’s New York, the infinite nexus of the universe, really is a city that never sleeps—but is always dreaming. Daniel Polansky’s A City Dreaming is available October 4th from Regan Arts.

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A Kippled Meal

When the idea of having Lawrence M. Schoen and Daniel Polansky write together came up, it seemed an unlikely match. Daniel’s The Builders is a tale of of bloody revenge and razor sharp wit, while Lawrence’s Barsk is a story of prophecy, the afterlife and deep pathos. Then we looked again and realized that Barsk features sentient, genetically engineered post-elephants as protagonists, and The Builders has a star studded cast of anthropomorphic desperados. Of course! Each authors’ characters are sympathetic and human-like, but the choice of creature matters, revealing key character- and world-building details.

“A Kippled Meal,” the result of their collaboration, is a meditation on the nature of various idealized animals. A mole, a cat, a sloth, a dog, and various other animals discuss their perfect meal—suppers that reveal their innermost instincts, with some more uncouth than others…

[Bon Appetit!]

Building The Builders

The Builders is a straight love letter to pulp. A tale of anthropomorphic animals killing each other in a fantastical western setting, it is, Frankenstein-like, composed of any number of other tales. Some of the corpses I carved from follow; if you’re familiar with any of them, my apologies for that subtle feeling of annoyance that someone else has laid a claim on your own pop culture gem. If you aren’t familiar, get ready to blow a C-note or so at your local media depot, because the following 6 (yeah, that’s right, there are 6, I know 5 per list is traditional but that’s just how I roll, OK? Don’t try and shackle me with your bourgeois norms!) films and novels are knock-your-socks-off enjoyable. And when you’re done with them, maybe check out the first few chapters, and then if you dig it then maybe just go ahead and buy the damn thing

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The Mysteries of Gene Wolfe’s Peace (and Why They Keep Me Up at Night)

I’ve had trouble sleeping lately, found myself wide-eyed as the LED lights flicker beside me, my breaths labored, my mood dark. What past sin or future worry waits at my bedside, prods and pushes slumber away. Climate change? Business reverses? Lost love?

No. Well, yes, but not primarily. That question which has been tormenting my evenings like Poe’s lost Lenore is a simple one, though the answer itself is not: Who was it that got killed in the orange juice factory freezer? And who was it that killed him?

[Say there was a library. No, say there was the library, the absolute repository of all human literature.]

The Builders

A missing eye. A broken wing. A stolen country… The last job didn’t end well.

Years go by, and scars fade, but memories only fester. For the animals of the Captain’s company, survival has meant keeping a low profile, building a new life, and trying to forget the war they lost. But now the Captain’s whiskers are twitching at the idea of evening the score.

We’re pleased to present an excerpt from Daniel Polansky’s upcoming novella, The Builders—available in paperback, ebook, and audio format November 3rd from Tor.com!

[Read an excerpt]

Five Books About Indelible Cityscapes

I have always loved cities, always been excited and frightened by them. I never wanted to go on a long journey towards Mordor—I don’t even really like to camp. In my dreams I wander through vast and teeming metropolises, through slums where misery is distilled and handed round like shots of liquor, past white towers and laughing lovers and skittering children, down alleyways that curl back on themselves where old women blind as worms peek out from half-shuttered windows and mutter in an unprepossessing fashion.

Those Above is, along with a lot of other things, a story about this essential cityscape, though of course I’m not the first writer to find himself inspired by the teeming hives of mankind. Here are five favorites of mine!

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Series: Five Books About…

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