Review: THE SEVENTH PERFECTION by Daniel Polansky (Tor.com)

PolanskyD-SeventhPerfectionAn excellent new mystery novella about memory

When a woman with perfect memory sets out to solve a riddle, the threads she tugs on could bring a whole city crashing down. The God-King who made her is at risk, and his other servants will do anything to stop her.

To become the God-King’s Amanuensis, Manet had to master all seven perfections, developing her body and mind to the peak of human performance. She remembers everything that has happened to her, in absolute clarity, a gift that will surely drive her mad. But before she goes, Manet must unravel a secret which threatens not only the carefully prepared myths of the God-King’s ascent, but her own identity and the nature of truth itself.

I’ve been a fan of Daniel Polansky’s writing ever since his debut, The Straight Razor Cure, was published in the UK. The Seventh Perfection is his second novella for Tor.com (following the superb The Builders), and I’m very happy to report that it absolutely met my very high expectations. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE SEVENTH PERFECTION by Daniel Polansky (Tor.com)

PolanskyD-SeventhPerfectionLong-time readers of CR will know that I am a big fan of Daniel Polansky‘s work. His Low Town trilogy is one of my favourite fantasy series, and mixes grimdark fantasy stylings with noir-ish crime/mystery. (If you haven’t had a chance to read these, yet, then I highly recommend you give the series a try.) In 2015, Tor.com published his first novella, The Builders — an excellent fantasy novella that took a Brian Jacques-style fantasy world and plonked it firmly in the grimdark sub-genre. Later this year, the publisher will release The Seventh Perfection, a new novella that not only has a stunning cover, but also sounds fantastic:

When a woman with perfect memory sets out to solve a riddle, the threads she tugs on could bring a whole city crashing down. The God-King who made her is at risk, and his other servants will do anything to stop her.

To become the God-King’s Amanuensis, Manet had to master all seven perfections, developing her body and mind to the peak of human performance. She remembers everything that has happened to her, in absolute clarity, a gift that will surely drive her mad. But before she goes, Manet must unravel a secret which threatens not only the carefully prepared myths of the God-King’s ascent, but her own identity and the nature of truth itself.

Easily one of my most-anticipated books of the year, I can’t wait to read this. The Seventh Perfection is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on September 22nd, 2020.

Also on CR: Interview with Daniel Polansky (2011); Reviews of Straight Razor Cure, Tomorrow the Killing, She Who Waits, The Builders, and A City Dreaming

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Annotated Excerpt: THE RANGER OF MARZANNA by Jon Skovron (Orbit)

SkovronJ-RW1-RangerOfMarzannaUSAs someone obsessed with process, I love reading annotated things. Books, comics, movie commentary, what have you. When trying to understand how to do a thing (say, write a book), it can be invaluable to get that peek behind the curtain. But if there is one thing we can say for certain about the process of writing, it’s that no two writers do it exactly the same. So when you read this annotated excerpt, I invite you not to latch on to any one thing too strongly, and view it merely as one more sample in a vast sea of writing processes.

In this world there are writers who simply sit down and start writing the book from the beginning and eventually come to the end. And that’s the book. Done. One of these “people” is a friend of mine, so I will refrain from saying anything else about this “method” except that it is most certainly not mine. My drafting process is messy and chaotic, and subject to change drastically from one revision to the next as I stumble blindly through those early stages.

For example, the excerpt below is the first chapter of The Ranger of Marzanna, but it was not written first, second, or even third. In fact, I’d written the entire first draft before I realized the beginning was completely broken. Among other things, it needed the proper framing for the world, and a proper introduction to Sonya Turgenev Portinari, who I imagined before I ever thought of the story, or the setting, or the theme, or anything else. Perhaps it’s my acting background, but character always comes first for me.

Anyway, the purpose of this chapter was let the reader know just what kind of world they’re dealing with and what kind of person the world perceived Sonya to be. So with those two goals in mind, let us proceed… Continue reading

Interview with MATTHEW WARD

WardM-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Matthew Ward?

That’s a question that takes a lifetime to answer – halfway through, I’m still not entirely sure. Eccentric? Probably. Introvert? Definitely? Cat Servant? Without question (as I write this, there’s a tabby purring on my knee and pawing at me for attention).

Beyond that? I’m a novelist and freelance creative consultant via dropping out of university before I actually started, followed by a dozen or so years developing game systems, lore and product ranges for Warhammer, Warhammer 40,000 and The Lord of the Rings at Games Workshop.

Your debut novel, Legacy of Ash, is published by Orbit. It looks pretty epic: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

Legacy of Ash is the tale of a new generation fighting the mistakes of the one that came before. It’s character-driven epic fantasy, full of action, intrigue and flawed men and women facing impossible choices. I’ve seen folk favourably compare it to Game of Thrones, with the caveat that it’s light on graphic content/language.

As you say, it’s quite long? I’d encourage anyone intimidated by the length to consider it equivalent to a series of TV – it’s even structured a little that way, if I’m honest. Continue reading

Upcoming: A FOOL’S HOPE by Mike Shackle (Gollancz)

ShackleM-LW2-AFoolsHopeUKMike Shackle‘s We Are the Dead is one of the best fantasy debuts I’ve read in years. It was well-written, excellently told, and populated with interesting and engaging characters. On October 15th, Gollancz are due to publish the second novel in the author’s Last War series, A Fool’s Hope. Easily one of my most-anticipated novels of the year, here’s the synopsis:

War takes everything.

From Tinnstra, it took her family and thrust her into a conflict she wanted only to avoid. Now her queen’s sole protector, she must give all she has left to keep Zorique safe.

It has taken just as much from Jia’s revolutionaries. Dren and Jax — battered, tortured, once enemies themselves — now must hold strong against their bruised invaders, the Egril.

For the Egril intend to wipe Jia from the map. They may have lost a battle, but they are coming back.

If Tinnstra and her allies hope to survive, Jia’s heroes will need to be ready when they do.

The sequel to the darkly fantastic WE ARE THE DEAD: with more unflinching action, A FOOL’S HOPE sees Jia’s revolutionaries dig in their heels as they learn that wars aren’t won in a day.

Also on CR: Interview with Mike Shackle (2019); Review of We Are the Dead

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Interview with STARK HOLBORN

HolbornS-TriggernometryLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Stark Holborn?

Who indeed?

Your intriguing new novella, Triggernometry is out now. How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

Triggernometry is an alt-history western, set in a world where mathematicians are dangerous outlaws. It’s a pulp fiction adventure with shoot-outs, bar brawls, heists, peril and vivid landscapes, starring a cast of mathematicians from across history.

What inspired you to write the novella? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?

You have Jared Shurin to thank for this one; we were messing around on Twitter when he mentioned the name Triggernometry. I started musing on what form the story might take, and here we are. The same was true of Nunslinger; it was a 2am post night out joke, until I actually started thinking about it. Of course, I never dreamed at the time it would spark off a 180,000 word, twelve novella epic. Continue reading

Interview with CORRY L. LEE

LeeCL-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Corry L. Lee?

When I find something I love, I throw all-in. All my life, I’ve loved speculative fiction (writing and reading), but I also have a Ph.D. in physics from Harvard (smashing electrons and anti-electrons in a massive particle accelerator!), and I’ve been a data scientist for Amazon (making the customer experience better, through science!). I love physical activity that quiets my mind and challenges my body — rock climbing, yoga, and nordic skiing. And I’m a mom.

Your debut novel, Weave the Lightning, is due to be published by Solaris in April. It looks really cool: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s about learning to control your magic and your choices. Figuring out who to trust and what trust costs. It’s about hope and romance and fighting fascism. And it takes place in a travelling circus. Continue reading