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Zoraida Córdova

Fiction and Excerpts [2]

Fiction and Excerpts [2]

Speculative Fiction Through a Latin American Lens

I have always believed in the fantastical. As a kid growing up in Queens, New York, I was bored with the mundane world. I wanted a gateway to take me to another land with supernatural creatures and epic quests or a journey to the stars. This was the beginning of my fascination with portal fantasy. (I finally got my wish when I created a faerie portal in Cunningham Park in my novel Wayward Witch.) I’ve spent my entire career building the stories and worlds that I wanted to inhabit, never forgetting that I am a Latina writing SFF.

When I was in college, the feedback I tended to get from critique partners and teachers was that fantasy was cool, but why wasn’t I writing “my real story.” When I had six books under my belt, a librarian once told me at a conference that if I wrote “my story” in a “contemporary” setting that I’d be a shoe-in for a big Latino kidlit award. I know in publishing we’re always looking for THE STORY. What is my story, then? And why couldn’t I tell “my story” in science fiction and fantasy? Where do our stories fit in thrillers, noir, paranormal, and everything that might fall under the umbrella of speculative fiction?

All of this led to Reclaim the Stars, a young adult anthology of SFF stories through the lens of the Latin American diaspora. I wanted to celebrate these voices, these authors, and their perspectives. Here are some books I think belong on any genre lover’s bookshelves, no matter the age group.

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Fall in Love With SFF’s Hottest Royals

There are few archetypes as exquisite as a wonderfully written royal. The rogue, the runaway, the wrathful. Whether it’s in a fantasy kingdom or catapulting through the stars this character is truly *chef’s kiss*. Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell is just one recent addition to make good on that promise. This debut is bursting with romance and the escapism of a good space opera.

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Beyond Shadow and Bone: Your Guide to Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse

With the recent release of Netflix’s Shadow and Bone, hordes of viewers are falling in love with the series based on Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse. This isn’t Leigh’s only universe. She’s written the DC Icon’s novel about the legendary Amazon, Wonder Woman: Warbringer, as well as the adult dark academia hit, Ninth House. But, newcomers may not know where to begin when it comes to the Grishaverse books. Well, you’ve come to the right place. Allow me to be your archivist-tour-guide type from Ravka to Ketterdam to the dreaded Shadow Fold.

Hold on to your fur hats, we’re going to Ravka!

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Fall in Love With Some of SFF’s Hottest Royals

There are few archetypes as exquisite as a wonderfully written royal. The rogue, the runaway, the wrathful. Whether it’s in a fantasy kingdom or catapulting through the stars this character is truly *chef’s kiss*. Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell is just the latest addition to make good on that promise. This debut is bursting with romance and the escapism of a good space opera.

Read More »

Series: Five Books About…

Reading Smoke and Iron: Book 4 of the Great Library by Rachel Caine

Jess Brightwell and his friends and colleagues have rebelled against the Great Library, which controls access to and dissemination of all written knowledge in the world. Once a beacon of light, the Library has become a despotic and oppressive force controlled by despotic and cruel men who mean to hold onto their power by any means necessary.

At the end of book 3, Ash and Quill, Jess, his identical twin brother Brendan, Obscurist Morgan, and royal Dario make a secret decision to pretend to betray the other members of their group in a desperate gamble to infiltrate the Library’s home base. Jess and Brendan switch places (as identical twins can theoretically do).

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Reading Ash and Quill: Book 3 of the Great Library by Rachel Caine

Roxanne Longstreet Conrad, also known as Rachel Caine, passed away on November 1st, 2020 after a long fight with a rare and aggressive cancer. We started this read-a-long to share Rachel’s words with more people. The author of 57 novels, she reached millions. The Great Library is a small but mighty part of her oeuvre. Thank you for reading and remembering Rachel with us. Here is a statement from her family and loved ones.

* * *

The principle of Chekhov’s Gun has become a truism in writing. In a letter to a friend, the Russian writer Anton Chekhov wrote: “One must never place a loaded rifle on the stage if it isn’t going to go off. It’s wrong to make promises you don’t mean to keep.”

The prologue of book one, Ink and Bone, introduces our protagonist Jess Brightwell, son of a book smuggling family, his father, and his twin brother. Why does Jess have an identical twin brother? The brother is one of several Chekhov’s guns placed in the series. At the end of book three, Caine makes this one go off to great effect.

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Reading Paper and Fire: Book 2 of the Great Library by Rachel Caine

We return for book two of Rachel Caine’s five volume Great Library series. In book one Caine introduces her alternate history set up: The Great Library of Alexandria, which in our historical timeline was destroyed in late antiquity, not only survived into the modern era but thrived and eventually took control of all permitted transmission of knowledge in the world.

This speculative idea is the foundation of Caine’s story. She uses it as a springboard to do what science fiction does best: Ask questions about the present day. Who controls ideas? Is knowledge more valuable than people? Is progress inevitable? Will authoritarians prevent technological and social advances in the name of stability, if by stability they mean their own grip on authority? Does power corrupt? Is the sky blue? This list barely scratches the surface of the questions Caine asks in the series, and we hope readers will chime in with their own observations.

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Your Guide to Rebecca Roanhorse’s Fantastical Worlds

In June 2018, Rebecca Roanhorse put her stamp on the SFF world with Trail of Lighting, a post-apocalyptic saga about monster hunters. That was just the beginning. Since then she has ventured into middle grade, comics, the Star Wars universe, and short stories. Centering Black, Indigenous, and queer characters, there is no one doing it quite like Roanhorse. I’ve had the immense honor of working with several authors in my career as a colleague and as a short story editor, and Rebecca Roanhorse is one of them. With such an expansive body of work, there is a book for every reading mood and occasion.

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Reading Ink and Bone: Book One of the Great Library by Rachel Caine

Fair warning: In the post itself there will be mild spoilers, but we will do our best to minimize them for those of you who may not yet have read the books because we really want to entice you into reading the series. However, in the comments section feel free to discuss the book with spoilers. Please hold spoiler comments about later volumes to when those posts are made in subsequent weeks. Thank you!

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Introducing a Read-Along of Rachel Caine’s Great Library Series

Zoraida Córdova and Kate Elliott would like to invite readers to join them here at for a six part read-along (not counting this post) of Rachel Caine’s five-volume Great Library series.

Libraries as archives of records and writing appear early in history in places like Sumer, Egypt, and Zhou Dynasty China. One of the most famous of these ancient libraries is the Great Library of Alexandria, founded and built by Ptolemy I and his son Ptolemy II, and expanded into a daughter institution the Serapeum by Ptolemy III. For a while the Great Library was probably the largest library in the Mediterranean and Western Asian world (the Ptolemies surely intended it to be so), but under later Roman management the institution fell into neglect and eventually was destroyed and most or all of its scrolls burned. This decline and destruction happened in stages rather than in a single riotous act but the end result for us in the modern era remains the same: A great repository of knowledge was lost.

As her jumping off point, Caine uses the existence of the Great Library in her foundational alternate-history premise: Instead of being lost, the Great Library not only survived but thrived and eventually took control of all permitted transmission of knowledge in the world. The opening volume of the series, Ink and Bone, begins with a prologue set in 2025, and the main story’s “present day” takes up the narrative six years later.

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Read an Excerpt From Wayward Witch, Conclusion to the Brooklyn Brujas Trilogy

We’re excited to share an excerpt from Wayward Witch, the third novel in Zoraida Córdova’s Brooklyn Brujas young adult trilogy. Infused with Latin American tradition—the Brooklyn Brujas series follows three sisters—and witches—as they develop their powers and battle magic in their hometown and worlds beyond. Available September 1st from Sourcebooks Fire.

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Hugo Spotlight: Crossing Unimaginable Distances in Becky Chambers’ To Be Taught If Fortunate

In the lead-up to the 2020 Hugo Awards, we’re taking time to appreciate this year’s best novella Finalists, and what makes each of them great.

Sometimes space feels like a theory.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I do not deny the Milky Way and our scientific innovations and findings. I know it’s a place, out there and beyond. And although there is a science to getting human beings from the space we take up on here to being in the space out there—to me it has always felt so very far away. A theory, a fiction—more Star Wars than not. This is, perhaps, not the hot take that some people want. But I’m going to be perfectly honest and say there are simply moments when I feel so small and question the idea of reality and why we exist on this rock and in this solar system. TLDR; it all feels like too much. Like space is so distant that it might as well be a dream.

Becky Chambers takes us to that unimaginable space and beyond in her spectacular novella To Be Taught, If Fortunate—and when I devoured every word in one sitting, it felt oh so real.

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Vampires Never Left: A History of Vampires in Young Adult Fiction

With the announcement of Stephenie Meyer’s forthcoming Midnight Sun, vampires are fresh on everyone’s mind. Meyer’s return to her world of sparkling vampires in Forks, Washington takes the YA classic Twilight and reimagines the love story from vampire Edward Cullen’s point of view.

Casual lovers of the genre might say that vampires are back! But to that I would say that vampires never left. Follow me through the journey of YA vampires.

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5 Young Adult SFF Spin-Offs to Keep on Your Radar

There are some worlds that beg to be revisited. Immersive fantasy invites you to stay within those pages. It hugs you, comforts you, and helps you forget about the here and now. But what happens after you’ve reread the same book dozens of times and you still want more? More characters and more journeys!

Luckily some authors can’t wait to these worlds, either. Here are five recent spin-offs of beloved YA series that you can pick up right now!

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Series: Five Books About…

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