Interview with CHELSEA ABDULLAH

AbdullahC-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Chelsea Abdullah?

I’m an American-Kuwaiti SFF author, reader, video gamer, sometimes-artist… and an all-around creative person who wishes they had more time on their hands to juggle everything! As a writer, I love exploring found family dynamics and experimenting with storytelling structures.

Your debut novel, The Stardust Thief, will be published by Orbit in May. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

The Stardust Thief is an epic fantasy that follows a smuggler, a prince, a jinn, and a thief on their quest through the desert to find a mythical magic lamp. On the way they’ll have to face a myriad of obstacles, including a cunning jinn queen, a mysterious hunter, and an unfortunate number of dead things… Continue reading

Excerpt: THE PUNISHING JOURNEY OF ARTHUR DELANEY by Bob Kroll (ECW Press)

KrollB-PunishingJourneyOfArthurDelaneyToday, we have an excerpt from Bob Kroll‘s upcoming novel The Punishing Journey of Arthur Delaney, which is due to be published by ECW Press on June 7th. Here’s the synopsis:

A 19th-century tale of a father’s greatest regret and path to redemption

Devastated at his wife’s death and stricken at raising two girls and a boy on his own, Arthur Delaney places his children in a Halifax orphanage and runs off to join the Union Army in the American Civil War. The trauma of battle and three years in a disease-ridden prisoner-of-war prison changes his perspective on life and family.

After the war, Delaney odd-jobs his way up the American east coast and catches a schooner to Halifax. There he discovers the orphanage has relocated to a farm in rural Nova Scotia. His children are not there. They and others had been sold and resold as farm workers and house servants through the Maritime provinces, as well as Quebec and Ontario. Their whereabouts is unknown. Arthur Delaney sets out on a punishing 20-year journey across Canada to find them.

This is a heartbreaking, beautifully told story of a father’s attempt to reconnect with his children.

Read on for the excerpt…

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Annotated Excerpt: GLITTERATI by Oliver K. Langmead (Titan)

LangmeadOK-AuthorPic2021Hello – yes! I have been asked by the fabulous owner of Civillian Reader to share an annotated excerpt from my forthcoming novel Glitterati, which is a dystopian satire about fashion, family and the feckless billionaire class.

Simone is a fashionista – one of the fashionable elites, who live in a sumptuous, opulent utopia, with their every whim catered for. Early in the novel, it is only Simone’s strange anxieties holding him back from being one of the most fabulous people around.

Let me introduce you now to Simone, and one of the most acute sources of anxiety in his life…

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Annotated Excerpt: THE COLLARBOUND by Rebecca Zahabi (Gollancz)

ZahabiR-CollarboundUKHCIn The Collarbound, we get to discover a complex world, with khers and mages, fleshbinding and mindlink, lightborns and long-lost giants. I’ve picked this excerpt because it’s a good example of how worldbuilding can be woven into the plot without slowing it down.

This piece is from Tatters’ POV. For the moment, we know little about Tatters except that he is a mage, and that he has a voice called Lal speaking inside his head. We’ve met the head of guards, a kher, and we’ve learnt what khers look like: they’re humanoids with reddish skin, often tattooed, who have long horns that grow out of their foreheads and curve around their skulls, like a ram’s horns.

That’s where we’re at when Tatters and the head of guards meet. She brings him to the watchtower to check he’s on the Nest’s records (he’s trying to sneak into the castle that is the Nest without being invited), and she starts laboriously looking through the entries in chronological order.

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Upcoming: PLEASE REPORT YOUR BUG HERE by Josh Riedel (Henry Holt)

RiedelJ-PleaseReportYourBugHereUSHCI spotted Josh Riedel‘s debut novel in a catalogue, and the synopsis caught my attention, as did the rather colourful cover. Pitched as “For fans of Severance and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” (heard great things about the former, enjoyed the latter), it certainly sounds rather intriguing. Here’s the synopsis for Please Report Your Bug Here:

Once you sign an NDA it’s good for life. Meaning legally, I shouldn’t tell you this story. But I have to.

A newly minted college grad with the six-figure debt to prove it, Ethan Block views San Francisco as the place to be. Yet his job at hot new dating app DateDate is a far cry from what he envisioned. Instead of making the world a better place, he reviews bottomless flagged photo queues, overworked and stressed out. But that’s about to change.

Reeling from a breakup, Ethan decides to view his algorithmically-matched soulmate on DateDate. He overrides the system and clicks on the generated profile. Then, he disappears. One minute, he’s in a windowless office, and the next, he’s in a field of endless grass, gasping for air. When Ethan snaps back to DateDate HQ, he’s convinced an issue in the coding caused the blip. Except for anyone to believe him, he’ll need evidence.

As Ethan embarks on a wild goose chase through the Bay Area, moving from dingy startup think tanks to the chrome-slick office of the Corporation, Silicon Valley’s dominant tech conglomerate, it becomes clear that there’s more to DateDate than meets the eye. With the stakes rising, and a new world at risk, Ethan must choose who — and what — he believes in.

Adrenaline packed and hyper timely, Please Report Your Bug Here is an inventive millennial coming-of-age story, a dark exploration of the corruption now synonymous with Big Tech, and, above all, a testament to the power of human connection in our digital era.

Josh Riedel’s Please Report Your Bug Here is due to be published by Henry Holt in North America and in the UK, on January 17th, 2022.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: NEOM by Lavie Tidhar (Tachyon)

Tidhar-CS2-NeomBack in 2016, Tachyon Publications released Lavie Tidhar‘s Central Station, a fantastic novel that went on to win a whole bunch of awards and commendations. Fans of the novel will be very happy to know that a new novel set in the same universe, Neom, is due to be published in November! Here’s the synopsis:

The city known as Neom is many things to many beings, human or otherwise. Neom is a tech wonderland for the rich and beautiful; an urban sprawl along the Red Sea; and a port of call between Earth and the stars.

In the desert, young orphan Saleh has joined a caravan, hoping to earn his passage off-world from Central Station. But the desert is full of mechanical artefacts, some unexplained and some unexploded. Recently, a wry, unnamed robot has unearthed one of the region’s biggest mysteries: the vestiges of a golden man.

In Neom, childhood affection is rekindling between loyal shurta-officer Nasir and hardworking flower-seller Mariam. But Nasu, a deadly terrorartist, has come to the city with missing memories and unfinished business.

Just one robot can change a city’s destiny with a single rose — especially when that robot is in search of lost love.

Lavie Tidhar’s Neom is due to be published by Tachyon Publications in North America and in the UK, on November 9th.

Also on CR: Interview with Lavie Tidhar (2019); Excerpt from The Best of World SF, Volume 1; Reviews of The Violent Century and By Force Alone

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

New Books (March-April)

NewBooks-20220506

Featuring: Olivia Atwater, David Baldacci, Fiona Barnett, Andy Borowitz, Ryan Britt, Guy Haley, Darius Hinks, Isabel Kaplan, Rich Larson, Stephen Markley, Dervla McTiernan, Jason Mosberg, Brian Phillips, C. L. Polk, Eddie Robson, John Sandford, Erich Schwartzel, Lisa Taddeo, Jerry West, Alex White, Rebecca Zahabi, Zou Jingzhi

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Excerpt: NINE TENTHS by Jeff Macfee (JABberwocky)

MacfeeJ-NineTenthsToday we have an excerpt from Jeff Macfee‘s new novel, Nine Tenths. A blend of mystery and science fiction, here’s the synopsis:

Augment phase technology was rare. The last appearance of anything resembling phase technology was fifteen years ago. I knew the date…

It was the date of the Doctor Dimension repo.

In a world full of “Augments” — humans who use technology to imbue themselves with superpowers of every sort — being an average man would seem a good way to keep out of trouble. Not so for repo man Gayle Harwood. It’s his job to seize enhancements from Augments who fall behind on the payments for their high-tech advantages. And they rarely part with them easily.

Now an infamous job Gayle was a part of long ago has come back to haunt him. An incredibly powerful piece of tech that was supposed to have been turned over to the government is being used again. People are dying, and those in power are convinced Gayle knows something about it.

Unfortunately, they’re right.

And unless Gayle can uncover the sinister secrets of the past and find whoever has hijacked the lost tech and stop them, no superpower in the world is going to be enough to save him…

Read on for Chapter 1…!

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Annotated Excerpt: WHIRLWIND ROMANCE by Sam Thompson (Unsung Stories)

ThompsonS-WhirlwindRomanceThanks for asking me to annotate a passage from Whirlwind Romance. The book is a collection of stories about the moments when our reality falls apart. The stories vary in subject, setting and genre, but most of them hover somewhere between the real and the fantastical — and all are interested in the many ways that the world we have been living in, imagining it was solid under our feet, can turn out to be fragile. Travelling to an unfamiliar country could reveal uncomfortable truths about home, or reconnecting with a long-lost sibling could show your childhood in a new light, or becoming a parent could teach you that you are not who you thought you were. Falling in love could make you realize that the most precious person in your world lives in a different reality from your own; getting lost in a book or a video game could take you further from normality than you intended; living through a global disaster could strip you of the illusions you once believed were sane.

All these scenarios play out in Whirlwind Romance, but for this commentary I’ve chosen the opening passage of ‘The Red Song’. This is the second-longest story in the book: when I started working on it I thought it was going to be a novel, and put in a lot of world-building and plot-planning accordingly, but I found that it kept folding down into a tighter, more allusive kind of text. It tells the story of an English academic, Flora Hardy, who accepts a research fellowship and travels to the remote nation of Hesper a short time after it has gone through a revolution and deposed its long-reigning dictator. Flora is an expert on the literature of the place, but she discovers that she knows little about its present. Continue reading

Quick Review: PORTRAIT OF A THIEF by Grace D. Li (Tiny Reparations)

LiGD-PortraitOfAThiefUSHCDiaspora, History, Heists, and Ennui

History is told by the conquerors. Across the Western world, museums display the spoils of war, of conquest, of colonialism: priceless pieces of art looted from other countries, kept even now.

Will Chen plans to steal them back.

A senior at Harvard, Will fits comfortably in his carefully curated roles: a perfect student, an art history major and sometimes artist, the eldest son who has always been his parents’ American Dream. But when a mysterious Chinese benefactor reaches out with an impossible — and illegal — job offer, Will finds himself something else as well: the leader of a heist to steal back five priceless Chinese sculptures, looted from Beijing centuries ago.

His crew is every heist archetype one can imag­ine — or at least, the closest he can get. A con artist: Irene Chen, a public policy major at Duke who can talk her way out of anything. A thief: Daniel Liang, a premed student with steady hands just as capable of lockpicking as suturing. A getaway driver: Lily Wu, an engineering major who races cars in her free time. A hacker: Alex Huang, an MIT dropout turned Silicon Valley software engineer. Each member of his crew has their own complicated relationship with China and the identity they’ve cultivated as Chinese Americans, but when Will asks, none of them can turn him down.

Because if they succeed? They earn fifty million dollars — and a chance to make history. But if they fail, it will mean not just the loss of everything they’ve dreamed for themselves but yet another thwarted at­tempt to take back what colonialism has stolen.

Who doesn’t like a heist story? I love them, so when I had the chance to read and review Grace D. Li’s debut novel, I jumped at the chance. Five amateur thieves thrown together by a wealthy benefactor, on a mission to retrieve stolen Chinese antiques. This had a lot of promise, and I’m happy to report that it lived up to my expectations. I very much enjoyed this.
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