Interview with KRISTINA PÉREZ

PerezK-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Kristina Pérez?

Gosh, I’m not sure I’ve had enough coffee yet to properly answer that question. Improper answer: half-Argentine, half-Norwegian native New Yorker. Literary agent, medievalist, and the author of fantasy and sci-fi novels.

Your new novel, Bright Raven Skies, will be published by Imprint in August. It’s the third novel in your Sweet Black Waves trilogy: how would you introduce the series to a potential reader? And what can fans of the first two books expect from the new one?

Pitched as Graceling meets The Mists of Avalon, the Sweet Black Waves trilogy is a Tristan and Iseult retelling that stars Branwen, Iseult’s lady’s maid and nascent sorceress. Fans of the series know that you wouldn’t like Branwen when she’s angry, and let’s just say that she’s having a very hard time keeping her darker urges — and magic — under control. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE FUTURE IS YOURS by Dan Frey (Del Rey)

FreyD-TheFutureIsYoursUSTechnology, prediction and friendship collide in Dan Frey‘s upcoming The Future is Yours. I spotted this today on Edelweiss, and think it has a really intriguing premise. The author has described it as “like The Social Network with a time-travel twist, told as a digital epistolary.” Here’s the official synopsis:

Two best friends create a computer that can see one year into the future. But what they can’t predict is how it will tear their friendship — and society — apart.

Ben Boyce and Teddy Chaudry are outsiders struggling to find their place in Silicon Valley. But when Ben reads Teddy’s graduate dissertation about an obscure application for quantum computing, he has a vision of a revolutionary new technology: a computer that can see forward through time by communicating with its future self.

The two friends quit their jobs and team up to form a business, building a company that will deliver their groundbreaking device to consumers around the world. Rival tech giants try to steal their innovation, while government agencies attempt to bury it — but Ben and Teddy are helped by their own cutting-edge technology, staying a step ahead of the competition and responding to challenges before they arise.

As the tension mounts, Ben and Teddy’s friendship begins to fracture under the weight of ambition, jealousy, and greed. Most frightening of all, they discover the dark side of the machine they’ve created — the ways in which viewing the future sets them on a path toward unavoidable disaster of epic, apocalyptic proportions. Unless they can disrupt the technological system they’ve created, there won’t be any future at all.

Told through emails, texts, transcripts, and blog posts, this bleeding-edge tech thriller chronicles the social costs of innovation and asks how far you’d be willing to go to protect the ones you love — even from themselves.

Dan Frey’s The Future is Yours is due to be published by Del Rey in North America and in the UK, in February 2021.

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: PROJECT HAIL MARY by Andy Weir (Del Rey)

WeirA-ProjectHailMaryUSThe Martian was hugely successful when it was released and the movie adaptation announced. The movie is one of my favourites from the past few years, but for some reason I have not, yet, read any of Andy Weir‘s novels (despite owning The Martian and Artemis). I did enjoy the author’s short story Randomize, though. Anyway, that’s a bit of a long-winded way to get to the point: Weir’s next novel, Project Hail Mary, has been announced! With that snazzy cover to the right, I think it sounds quite good — and sure to appeal to fans of The Martian. Here’s the synopsis:

A lone astronaut must save the earth from disaster in this incredible new science-based thriller…

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission — and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.

Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.

All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.

His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, he realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Alone on this tiny ship that’s been cobbled together by every government and space agency on the planet and hurled into the depths of space, it’s up to him to conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.

And thanks to an unexpected ally, he just might have a chance.

Part scientific mystery, part dazzling interstellar journey, Project Hail Mary is a tale of discovery, speculation, and survival to rival The Martian — while taking us to places it never dreamed of going.

Really looking forward to this. Project Hail Mary is due to be published by Del Rey in North America and in the UK, in May 2021.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Quick Review: TRUE STORY by Kate Reed Petty (riverrun/Viking)

PettyKR-TrueStoryUKAn interesting, timely debut novel

After a college party, two boys drive a girl home: drunk and passed out in the back seat. Rumours spread about what they did to her, but later they’ll tell the police a different version of events. Alice will never remember what truly happened. Her fracture runs deep, hidden beneath cleverness and wry humour. Nick — a sensitive, misguided boy who stood by — will never forget.

That’s just the beginning of this extraordinary journey into memory, fear and self-portrayal. Through university applications, a terrifying abusive relationship, a fateful reckoning with addiction and a final mind-bending twist, Alice and Nick will take on different roles to each other — some real, some invented — until finally, brought face to face once again, the secret of that night is revealed.

Startlingly relevant and enthralling in its brilliance, True Story is by turns a campus novel, psychological thriller, horror story and crime noir, each narrative frame stripping away the fictions we tell about women, men and the very nature of truth.

Kate Reed Petty’s debut had quite the buzz when review copies first started circulating. It’s timely mystery about the events of a fateful night during high school, and how it has changed the lives of those involved and caught on the edge. Told through a variety of styles, it’s an interesting examination of how we frame our own stories, who has the right to tell certain stories, and how they shape our lives. Continue reading

Interview with R. B. LEMBERG

LembergRB-AuthorPic (Bogi-Takács)Let’s start with an introduction: Who is R.B. Lemberg?

I am a queer, bigender immigrant writer, editor and academic originally from Ukraine, Russia, and Israel, now living in Kansas. My favorite genre is epic fantasy, but I write science fiction, magic realism, slipstream, and sometimes even horror. I also write poetry and non-fiction. I have a wide range, and I’m rarely bored!

Your debut novella, The Four Profound Weaves, is due to be published by Tachyon in September. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

The Four Profound Weaves is a novella that follows two transgender elders on a journey of identity and adventure — they must learn to weave from Death itself to defeat a tyrant who hoards the bones and souls of his victims. The book is a stand-alone, set in my Birdverse universe. I’ve been publishing in this world since 2011, but only short work so far. Each story set in Birdverse stands alone, but together they add up to something greater — a rich tapestry of many perspectives, stories, and lives. The Four Profound Weaves is the first Birdverse book in print — the rest of the published pieces are online. It’s a good gateway into the world — you do not need to know anything else. Continue reading

Q&A with CLIFFORD JACKMAN

JackmanC-AuthorPic (© Antoine Tanguay)Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Clifford Jackman?

I’m a lawyer and novelist who lives in Guelph with my wife and two sons. My first novel, The Winter Family, was longlisted for the Giller Prize and shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award.

Your new novel, The Braver Thing, is due to be published by Random House Canada in August. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

The Braver Thing is like a combination of Treasure Island and Animal Farm, about a group of pirates that forms to chase a big score and then struggles to govern themselves. Continue reading

Review: SATURNINE by Dan Abnett (Black Library)

AbnettD-HHSoT4-SaturnineA superb novel: action-packed, revelatory, both grand and intimate in scale.

As the traitors tighten their grip on Terra, Rogal Dorn must marshal the Imperial hosts to weather the storm. But not all of the defenders will survive the onslaught…

The Traitor Host of Horus Lupercal tightens its iron grip on the Palace of Terra, and one by one the walls and bastions begin to crumple and collapse. Rogal Dorn, Praetorian of Terra, redoubles his efforts to keep the relentless enemy at bay, but his forces are vastly outnumbered and hopelessly outgunned. Dorn simply cannot defend everything. Any chance of survival now requires sacrifice, but what battles dare he lose so that others can be won? Is there one tactical stroke, one crucial combat, that could turn the tide forever and win the war outright?

The Loyalists have their backs against the wall. Resources are fast depleting, and nobody knows the status of potential reinforcements. The Traitors are throwing everything they have — corporeal and never born — at breaking open the Imperial Palace’s walls. Primarchs Dorn and Perturabo are locked in a deadly game, trying to find chinks in the other master tactician’s plans. When one appears, both sides rush to exploit it. This is a superb novel: it packs quite a punch, drops revelations all over the place, advances the overall meta-story, and is utterly gripping. Continue reading

Quick Review: INTIMATIONS by Zadie Smith (Penguin)

SmithZ-IntimationsA superb collection of short essays

Deeply personal and powerfully moving, a short and timely series of essays on the experience of lock down, by one of the most clear-sighted and essential writers of our time

“There will be many books written about the year 2020: historical, analytic, political and comprehensive accounts. This is not any of those — the year isn’t half-way done. What I’ve tried to do is organize some of the feelings and thoughts that events, so far, have provoked in me, in those scraps of time the year itself has allowed. These are above all personal essays: small by definition, short by necessity.”

Crafted with the sharp intelligence, wit, and style that have won Zadie Smith millions of fans, and suffused with a profound intimacy and tenderness in response to these unprecedented times, Intimations is a vital work of art, a gesture of connection, and an act of love — an essential book in extraordinary times.

Intimations, Zadie Smith’s new non-fiction collection, includes six fantastic essays that are observant, generous, sometimes wry, passionate, and always engaging. While some of them look at life as the COVID-19 pandemic started to take hold, it is not a book specifically about the pandemic. It is an engaging read throughout. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Annotated Excerpt: DRIFTWOOD by Marie Brennan (Tachyon)

BrennanM-D1-DriftwoodDriftwood might be the oddest novel I’ve written, and I say that as somebody whose previous novel is composed of diary entries, letters, newspaper clippings, and the footnoted translation of an ancient mythological epic.

Part of the reason for that oddness is the setting, which is composed of the still-decaying fragments of mostly-destroyed worlds. But part is that it didn’t start life as a novel: it’s what’s known as a “fix-up,” composed of short stories joined together to make a larger whole. (If you find yourself thinking, “huh, so the form of the book reflects the form of the setting,” give yourself a cookie: that’s why I decided to create a fix-up rather than writing a more conventional novel.) For this excerpt, I’ve decided to give you the opening two scenes of the first story in the book, which is also the first one I wrote.

Continue reading

Review: THE PEOPLE, NO by Thomas Frank (Metropolitan Books)

FrankT-ThePeopleNoThe interesting, if flawed history of American populism and its corruption by the elite

Rarely does a work of history contain startling implications for the present, but in The People, No Thomas Frank pulls off that explosive effect by showing us that everything we think we know about populism is wrong. Today “populism” is seen as a frightening thing, a term pundits use to describe the racist philosophy of Donald Trump and European extremists. But this is a mistake.

The real story of populism is an account of enlightenment and liberation; it is the story of American democracy itself, of its ever-widening promise of a decent life for all. Taking us from the tumultuous 1890s, when the radical left-wing Populist Party — the biggest mass movement in American history — fought Gilded Age plutocrats to the reformers’ great triumphs under Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, Frank reminds us how much we owe to the populist ethos. Frank also shows that elitist groups have reliably detested populism, lashing out at working-class concerns. The anti-populist vituperations by the Washington centrists of today are only the latest expression.

Frank pummels the elites, revisits the movement’s provocative politics, and declares true populism to be the language of promise and optimism. The People, No is a ringing affirmation of a movement that, Frank shows us, is not the problem of our times, but the solution for what ails us.

I’ve been a fan of Thomas Frank’s writing for some time, now. His books have offered plenty of interesting and incisive examinations and critiques of American politics, culture, and economics. In The People, No, he turns his attention to “populism”: a term that has become quite ubiquitous in the age of Trump, but it is a term that is widely misunderstood. Frank provides a history of this movement, and explains how it has been twisted for nefarious ends. Continue reading