Upcoming: Two New Novellas by K.J. Parker!

Each year, K. J. Parker seems to publish at least one novella with Subterranean Press and Tor.com. In 2021, the trend continues with two intriguing and, for me at least, highly-anticipated new novellas. Here are the details:

ParkerKJ-BigScoreTHE BIG SCORE (Subterranean Press) — March 2021

Welcome to the world of Saloninus, the most unlikely Renaissance Man you will ever encounter. A man of many and diverse talents, he is the hero and narrator of K.J. Parker’s witty, hugely entertaining novella, The Big Score.

Saloninus is a man with two distinct professions. In idle moments, he dashes off immortal masterpieces — philosophical treatises, musical compositions, dramas of Shakespearean range and depth — that never manage to turn a profit. His primary profession — that of thief, grifter and itinerant con man — is equally unprofitable, and he spends his life in constant flight from the encroaching forces of the law.

The story opens in the aftermath of Saloninus’s own funeral, an act of self-concealment he has staged many times before. Newly risen from the dead, he encounters an old flame — a sort of archetypal femme fatale — with whom he shares a colorful — and highly illegal — history. She has a plan in mind, one that involves both of Saloninus’s skill sets: criminality and literary genius. If successful, that plan will lead to the elusive “big score” that will set them free forever. Against his better judgment, and fully aware that failure and betrayal may await him, Saloninus agrees to participate. The result is this ingenious — and very funny — tale.

Described as “a comic gem”, the novella “also offers a heartfelt commentary on books, art, and the comforts they provide.” Saloninus is a great character, who also appears in the Blue and Gold (Subterranean Press) and The Devil You Know (Tor.com). The former is also included in the Academic Exercises collection, and the latter in The Father of Lies collection (both published by Subterranean Press).

The Big Score is due to be published by Subterranean Press, in March 2021.

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ParkerKJ-InsideManINSIDE MAN (Tor.com) — June 2021

K. J. Parker returns to the amoral world of Prosper’s Demon with a wry, sardonic novella that flips the eternal, rule-governed battle between men and demons on its head.

An anonymous representative of the Devil, once a high-ranking Duke of Hell and now a committed underachiever, has spent the last forever of an eternity leading a perfectly tedious existence distracting monks from their liturgical devotions. It’s interminable, but he prefers it that way, now that he’s been officially designated by Downstairs as “fragile.” No, he won’t elaborate.

All that changes when he finds himself ensnared, along with a sadistic exorcist, in a labyrinthine plot to subvert the very nature of Good and Evil. In such a circumstance, sympathy for the Devil is practically inevitable.

As the synopsis states, this novella is a sequel to the excellent Prosper’s Demon, which was one of my favourite reads of the year. Really looking forward to where Parker takes the story and setting.

Inside Man is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on June 15th, 2021.

Also on CR: Reviews of The Devil You Know, The Last Witness, Downfall of the Gods, My Beautiful Life, Prosper’s Demon, and Academic Exercises

Follow the Author: Goodreads

Interview with DAVID HAIR

HairD-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is David Hair?

Hi, I’m a New Zealander who writes fantasy fiction. Sometimes that’s epic fantasy, other times mythic, YA or adventure stories. I’ve written 22 novels to date, some set in imagined worlds, others in ours. Readers might best know The Moontide Quartet and it’s sequels. I enjoy travel, football, wine, staying fit and spending time with family and friends.

Your new series will start with Map’s Edge, due to be published by Jo Fletcher Books in October. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce the novel and series to a potential reader?

Map’s Edge is the first book of The Tethered Citadel It’s a fast-paced adventure story about a journey into the unknown, on a fantasy world where humanity is living in the shadow of an Ice Age brought on by misused sorcery. At its core, it’s about misfits banding together in a “road movie” that gradually introduces themes around culture clash and colonialism. Hopefully it’ll be a fun read while having some emotional and moral heft. Continue reading

Very Quick Review: THE DOORS OF EDEN by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Orbit/Tor UK)

TchaikovskyA-DoorsOfEdenUSAn intriguing, twisty portal fantasy

They thought we were safe. They were wrong.

Four years ago, two girls went looking for monsters on Bodmin Moor. Only one came back.

Lee thought she’d lost Mal, but now she’s miraculously returned. But what happened that day on the moors? And where has she been all this time? Mal’s reappearance hasn’t gone unnoticed by MI5 officers either, and Lee isn’t the only one with questions.

Julian Sabreur is investigating an attack on top physicist Kay Amal Khan. This leads Julian to clash with agents of an unknown power – and they may or may not be human. His only clue is grainy footage, showing a woman who supposedly died on Bodmin Moor.

Dr Khan’s research was theoretical; then she found cracks between our world and parallel Earths. Now these cracks are widening, revealing extraordinary creatures. And as the doors crash open, anything could come through.

In his latest novel, Adrian Tchaikovsky takes his imagination into a new area of SFF: portal fantasy. It quickly becomes clear that this is more evidence that the author really can turn his hand to anything. An intriguing mix of mystery, fantasy and science fiction. I enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: REALMSLAYER by David Guymer (Black Library)

GuymerD-RealmslayerGotrek Gurnisson returns, to a world very much changed…

Gotrek Gurnisson was the greatest monster slayer of the age, who met his doom at the End Times.

The heroic duardin stepped forth into the Realm of Chaos to fight the daemons gnawing at the world’s ending and satisfy his death oath, leaving behind his companion Felix Jaeger.

Now Gotrek has returned, having outlived the old gods and the Old World. Spat from the ruinous depths with his redemption unfulfilled, he emerges into the Mortal Realms, a strange new world where gods walk the earth and dark forces are ascendant. Nothing is as he remembers. His oaths are dust, and the lands are torn asunder by Chaos. Yet when Gotrek learns of human champions being elevated to immortality for Sigmar’s fight against this darkness, the so-called ‘Stormcast Eternals’, he knows why fate has brought him into this new age. To find Felix. For only then can he find the peace in death he seeks. But is there more to Gotrek’s apotheosis than even he can fathom? Has he truly been chosen by Grimnir and for what purpose?

I finally get around to listening to the return of Gotrek. He’s one of my favourite Black Library characters, so I’m always keen on reading (or listening) to stories about him. Realmslayer is an interesting story, and sure to appeal to audiobook and Black Library fans of many stripes. Continue reading

Interview with JANE YOLEN

133576271Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Jane Yolen?

I have been in the book making business since my first book (non-fiction) came out in 1963. But I had been in publishing before that as an editor, magazine writer, and poet.

Tachyon are due to publish your latest story collection, The Midnight Circus, in October. How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

Who knew Jane Yolen, the fairy-tale writer, author of the Commander Toad in Space books, and the How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight series, wrote dark fantasy and dark science fiction. Yet she had stories in World’s Best Horror several times over her long short story writing career. Not dark slasher fiction, but the frisson of terror, the haunt of oppression, the creak of a door where no door exists, kind of darkness. Continue reading

Quick Review: REMOTE CONTROL by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com)

OkoraforN-RemoteControlAn intriguing novella about belonging, community, and what drives us

An alien artifact turns a young girl into Death’s adopted daughter…

“She’s the adopted daughter of the Angel of Death. Beware of her. Mind her. Death guards her like one of its own.”

The day Fatima forgot her name, Death paid a visit. From hereon in she would be known as Sankofa — a name that meant nothing to anyone but her, the only tie to her family and her past.

Her touch is death, and with a glance a town can fall. And she walks — alone, except for her fox companion — searching for the object that came from the sky and gave itself to her when the meteors fell and when she was yet unchanged; searching for answers.

But is there a greater purpose for Sankofa, now that Death is her constant companion?

I’ve been a fan of Nnedi Okorafor’s work since Lagoon. Since then, I’ve always kept my eyes open for new fiction by the author. I’m happy to report that Remote Control is an excellent sci-fi novella, and I really enjoyed reading it. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE AUTUMN REPUBLIC by Brian McClellan (Orbit Books)

McClellanB-PM3-AutumnRepublicThe conclusion to the Powder Mage trilogy

Tamas, Taniel, and Adamat have been betrayed and Adro now lies in the hands of a foreign invader. But it remains the duty of the powder mages to defend their homeland unto death…

The capital has fallen…
Field Marshal Tamas returns to his beloved country to find that for the first time in history, the capital city of Adro lies in the hands of a foreign invader. His son is missing, his allies are indistinguishable from his foes, and reinforcements are several weeks away.

An army divided…
With the Kez still bearing down upon them and without clear leadership, the Adran army has turned against itself. Inspector Adamat is drawn into the very heart of this new mutiny with promises of finding his kidnapped son.

All hope rests with one…
And Taniel Two-shot, hunted by men he once thought his friends, must safeguard the only chance Adro has of getting through this war without being destroyed…

Brian McClellan’s first two Powder Mage novels were great — I remember devouring them both. With great characters, an interesting magic system, and a balanced blend of action and political mystery, they ticked pretty much all of my reading buttons. For some reason, I left The Autumn Republic for quite some time before reading it (the author has written an entire other trilogy since this one). I enjoyed it, but it didn’t pack the kind of punch I expected from the end of a trilogy. Continue reading

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

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

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