Judge Dee is back to solve a brand-new case involving the mysterious death of the vampire Count Werdenfels. The mystery? Who killed him. The twist? Three different people are proudly proclaiming to have committed the crime.
Fiction and Excerpts 
I spent the past decade trying to pitch a simple idea to publishers: a mass market anthology of international speculative fiction for the bookstore shelf. The responses varied from, well, no response at all to an under-an-hour rejection (that one still hurts).
The idea is simple and, to me, both logical and necessary. I am of that new generation of writers who grew up in a language other than English, and who decided at some point that our way in is to write in this peculiar, second language. Somehow, we reasoned, against all odds and common sense, we’ll break through into that rarefied Anglophone world, maybe even make a go of it. After all, how hard could English be?
No vampire is ever innocent…
The wandering Judge Dee serves as judge, jury, and executioner for any vampire who breaks the laws designed to safeguard their kind’s survival. This new case in particular puts his mandate to the test.
Is an Arthurian story a telling or retelling? What are the Arthurian mythos, exactly? And was Merlin really an old dude with a big bushy beard, or do we all just remember it wrong?
To answer these questions, I chose the only path one could, reasonably, take: that is, I got dropped, through no fault of my own, into teaching a group of American undergrad students an advanced literature course on British Fantasy Fiction.
How and why and are you mad? are probably questions for another time and story.
Security through physicality. Security through redundancy. Security through obscurity.
How do immortal artificial intelligences defend themselves? With an air gap. With a security force that has no connection to anything that can harm them. With a young woman, trained to fight and to die who, along with her cohort must keep them safe. But In Xanadu things don’t always go as planned…
My first children’s novel, Candy, is out now from Scholastic UK, and forthcoming soon in several European countries. This is as surprising to me as it must be for anyone who realises my last book in the UK was about Adolf Hitler, but there you go! Candy is about a 12 year old girl detective, Nelle Faulkner, in a world where chocolate has been made illegal and children now run the candy gangs…
Which got me thinking of some of the classic heroines in children’s books that continue to have such a resonance to this day, and who must have been in the back of my mind as I was writing! No doubt I’ve missed many—Meg from A Wrinkle in Time? George from the Famous Five? Anna from Mister God, This is Anna? Dorothy? Hermione? You tell me!—but these five in particular stood out for me as I was writing.
Series: Five Books About…
Can dreams come true? They can if you win the lottery, which promises to provide what your heart desires. For a humble shopkeeper in Yiwu, it’s a living, selling lottery tickets. Until a winning ticket opens up mysteries he’d never imagined.
A space opera adventure set in a universe controlled and run by Jewish religious authorities. An enforcer is sent to a distant planet where he discovers an android who changes his mind about what is right and wrong.
Central Station, my new SF novel from Tachyon Publications, is itself a sort of homage to a bygone era of science fiction, one in which many novels were initially published as more or less self-contained stories in magazines before being “collected” into a book. Appropriately, Central Station corresponds with many other works of the corpus of science fiction, though perhaps not always the obvious ones. Here are five novels that helped shape my own work.
Series: Five Books About…
“Terminal” by Lavie Tidhar is an emotionally wrenching science fiction story about people, who, either having nothing to lose or having a deep desire to go into space, travel to Mars via cheap, one-person, one-way vehicles dubbed jalopies. During the trip, those in the swarm communicate with each other, their words relayed to those left behind.
[Read “Terminal” by Lavie Tidhar]
When Boris Chong returns to Tel Aviv from Mars, much has changed. Boris’s ex-lover is raising a strangely familiar child who can tap into the datastream of a mind with the touch of a finger. His cousin is infatuated with a robotnik—a damaged cyborg soldier who might as well be begging for parts. His father is terminally-ill with a multigenerational mind-plague. And a hunted data-vampire has followed Boris to where she is forbidden to return.
Rising above them is Central Station, the interplanetary hub between all things: the constantly shifting Tel Aviv, a powerful virtual arena, and the space colonies where humanity has gone to escape the ravages of poverty and war. Everything is connected by the Others, powerful alien entities who, through the Conversation—a shifting, flowing stream of consciousness—are just the beginning of irrevocable change. At Central Station, humans and machines continue to adapt, thrive… and even evolve.
Lavie Tidhar’s cyberpunk novel Central Station is available May 10th from Tachyon Publications.
One of my favorite books is Philip K. Dick’s The Man In The High Castle (an obvious influence on my own Osama), and one of the most important passages in that book comes very early on, on page 10 or so.
And then he thought about Africa, and the Nazi experiment there. And his blood stopped in his veins, hesitated, and at last went on.
It’s one of the most chilling lines in the book, and it’s important, I think, for what it doesn’t say. Dick does go on—“That huge empty ruin” and a little bit more—but we don’t, I don’t think we do, find out exactly what the Nazis did, what the “experiment” was. We get hints, throughout the book, throwaway references, but what Dick does here is to not mention, to allude without clarifying. Which is what makes it all the more horrific, of course. It is the thing We Do Not Like To Mention—something used, more recently, by Howard Jacobson in J, for instance, where it is the obscure “what happened, if it happened,” some sort of nameless Holocaust, too awful to ever mention.
For seventy years they guarded the British Empire. Oblivion and Fogg, inseparable friends, bound together by a shared fate. Until one night in Berlin, in the aftermath of the Second World War, a secret that tore them apart.
Now, recalled to the Retirement Bureau from which no one can retire, Fogg and Oblivion must face up to a past of terrible war and unacknowledged heroism—a life of dusty corridors and secret rooms, of furtive meetings and blood-stained fields—to answer one last, impossible question: What makes a hero?
Lavie Tidhar weaves an alternate history in The Violent Century, available February 24th from St. Martin’s Press.
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