Guest Post: “Culture As Weapon” by Yoon Ha Lee

When I conceived of the Andan faction of the hexarchate, I saw them as beautiful, rich, and cultured. In particular, I saw them as the people who weaponize culture. Raven Stratagem depicts a major Andan character for the first time, and while she’s somewhat atypical (she went into special ops against her mother’s wishes), she hasn’t entirely escaped her early training.

Years ago, when I was in college, I borrowed some of my boyfriend’s Robotech tie-in novels. I went online (as one does) and looked up more information on Robotech on the internet, and found an interesting essay that questioned the novels’ portrayal of singer Lynn Minmei and her songs as a cultural weapon. I’m sorry I can’t link you to the essay; cursory Googling has failed to turn it up and, as it’s been something like fifteen years, I have no idea if it’s even still on the web. Continue reading

Interview with TITUS CHALK

ChalkT-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Titus Chalk?

A literary chancer with a new book out! Otherwise, a typical Berlin implant; a Brit taking advantage of the city’s cheap rent to work a bit less and write a bit more. I’ve recently left a decade or so of sports writing behind me to spend time in the library learning to write fiction – that’s currently what I am hoping to with my life, having taken Generation Decks from initial idea to a bookshelf near you soon.

Your new book, Generation Decks, will be published by Solaris. It looks interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

It’s the story of the world-changing fantasy game Magic: The Gathering and a memoir of my time playing it. But more than that, it’s a look at the way business, culture and community changed with the advent of the internet age. It tries to capture that transition in the early 90s where everything was turned on its head as more and more people plugged in their dial-up modems and logged on to this strange thing called the web. Although Generation Decks is ostensibly about a very complex and rich strategy game, it’s absolutely not a specialist book – it’s for non-gamers and gamers alike. And for anyone with an interest in the way pop culture evolved in the digital age. Continue reading

Guest Post: “Everything is Exhausting…” by Cassandra Khaw

KhawC-AuthorPicGetting off my butt to run is hard: I don’t like running. I’ve just eaten. I am going to get cramps. I have something else to do. It is far too late to run. I can always do it tomorrow. I’m tired.

Putting my shoes on run is hard: I know what is going to follow. It is too hot. It is too early. It is possibly unsafe to be on the streets. It is embarrassing to lumber within the sight of the neighbours. I am not unfit. I could do this tomorrow. I’m tired.

Staggering through those first five minutes of a run is hard: I don’t deserve to be in optimal condition. I have failed myself. There is no point to this literal exercise. What’s the use? I’m only going to get sidelined by something else again. I’m worthless. I should give up. I’m tired.

Everything is exhausting lately. Continue reading

Guest Post: “Living Larger with Animism” by Arianne “Tex” Thompson

ThompsonAT-AuthorPicYou know, one of the coolest things about SFF is how it invites us to mothball our skepticism and explore just about any metaphysical concept. Avatar Aang lives in a world where reincarnation is inarguably real. So does Rand Al-Thor. Just so, Narnia is a world with a concrete moral order, and the Marvel universe is absolutely lousy with gods. Fate, karma, magic, ghosts – you name it; we’ve got a franchise for it.

But here’s one big idea that I’d like to see getting more air-time: animism. It’s one of the oldest belief systems in the world, and put simply, it’s the idea that non-human creatures and things have souls, and therefore should be treated with awareness. In sci-fi and fantasy, animism usually comes to the fore whenever a creator wants to craft a culture that’s all about living in harmony with nature – your wood-elves, blue cat-people, et al. The problem is usually that they are so dang harmonious that they would never be worth writing about if they didn’t get bulldozed by the plot. (Literally, if we’re talking Ferngully and its like.) Continue reading

Interview with STEVE RASNIC TEM

steverasnictemLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Steve Rasnic Tem?

Writer, father, grandfather (but not in that order), dabbler in art and photography, ex-puppeteer, ex-magician, ex-ventriloquist, ex-animator (maybe).

Your new novel, Ubo, will be published by Solaris in February. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

Ubo is a meditation on violence using a story which is a mix of both science fiction and horror. Daniel is trapped in Ubo. He has no idea how long he has been imprisoned there by the aliens who resemble giant cicadae or roaches. Every resident has a similar memory of the journey there: a dream of dry, chitinous wings crossing the moon, the gigantic insects dropping swiftly over the houses of the neighborhood, passing through walls and windows as if by magic, or by some unknown technological means, “like a deck of baroquely ornamented cards, fanning themselves from one hidden world into the next.”

The residents of Ubo are forced to take trips into the past where they must live inside the heads of some of history’s most violent figures: Jack the Ripper, Charles Whitman, Stalin, Himmler, Gilles de Rais, and others. Continue reading

Interview with K.M. McKINLEY

Let’s start with an introduction: Who is K.M. McKinley?

You can call me Kay. I’m a writer. There, I said it. I have been for several years now. Before that I worked as a journalist and editor for fourteen years or so. I live in Yorkshire, in the UK. The Iron Ship book bio is out of date, as I wrote it before moving back to where I grew up.

Your new novel, The City of Ice, will be published by Solaris this month. It looks rather good: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

It’s an epic, multiple point of view fantasy set in a world undergoing an industrial revolution fuelled by the science of magic. Six siblings make their way through a society undergoing massive upheaval, while a terrible threat from ancient days makes itself known. The world is lovingly crafted, and hides deep mysteries. I’d recommend it. Continue reading

Interview with HILLARY MONAHAN

monahanh-authorpicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Hillary Monahan?

An author, a queer woman, a basset hound enthusiast, a feminist, among other things. For the purposes of this interview, I’m a New York Times bestselling author of YA and adult horror under Hillary Monahan. I’ve received critical acclaim for my humorous YA under Eva Darrows, and I have three romances under Thea De Salle coming out from Simon & Schuster starting in February.

Your new novel, Gods & Monsters: Snake Eyes, was recently published by Abaddon. It looks rather cool: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

It’s a modernized telling of the Lamia and gorgon myths set in the Everglades. We know what happened thousands of years ago, but let’s talk about what happens to immortals in a modern day when they are, for all intents and purposes, forgotten. Continue reading