Interview with AMAL EL-MOHTAR and MAX GLADSTONE

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Let’s start with an introduction: Who are Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone?

AE: Two sentient beings, both alike in dignity, in fair EssEffEff, where we set our — wait maybe that’s too zoomed out. Let’s see. Max is a brilliant superhuman writer, author of The Craft Sequence books (at six and counting!), just-released standalone space opera The Empress of Forever, and head writer of Serial Box’s Bookburners.

MG: And Amal is a world-renowned and award-winning writer, editor, scholar, NYT-published critic, and general badass — her phenomenal “Seasons of Glass and Iron” won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards!

This is How You Lose the Time War, a novel you have written together, will be published in July. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

AE: It’s an epistolary spy vs. spy novella across time and space; think Griffin and Sabine meets Killing Eve by way of Steven Universe. Alternately, imagine if Florence + the Machine’s Lungs was a novella in which all the songs are sung to women in letter-form. Continue reading

Guest Post: “Our Fascination with Genre Distinctions” by Christopher Ruocchio

RuocchioC-AuthorPicI don’t know what it is about genre distinctions that so fascinates writers and readers alike. We enjoy them perhaps for the same reason we obsess about character classes and skill trees and so on in games like Dungeons and Dragons and why so many of us obsess (wrongly) about “magic systems” (as if anything which supercedes and violates natural law should be systematic, ha)! We like complexity, perhaps too much, we like categories (heavens, so much trouble in fan culture of late is the result of trying to categorize fans and creators alike: for their immutable traits, for the beliefs, for their politics, and so on). Complex categories give the world a texture that we nerds find pleasing, for they bespeak a deep sense not merely of order, but of ordered chaos.

The best of both worlds. Continue reading

Upcoming: THRAWN – TREASON by Timothy Zahn (Century), plus pre-order special!

ZahnT-SWThrawn3-Treason-PreorderPicThe third novel in Timothy Zahn‘s rebooted Thrawn trilogy is out later this month! An enduring, fan-favourite character from the Star Wars Expanded Universe (he was introduced in 1991’s Heir to the Empire), the character was revived in Thrawn (2017).

Set within the new canon, the new series has been popular and fans have welcomed the return of the cold, calculating and brilliant Empire Admiral. In Thrawn: Treason, Zahn brings the trilogy to an end. Here’s the synopsis:

Grand Admiral Thrawn faces the ultimate test of his loyalty to the Empire in this epic Star Wars novel from bestselling author Timothy Zahn.

Such was the promise Grand Admiral Thrawn made to Emperor Palpatine at their first meeting. Since then, Thrawn has been one of the Empire’s most effective instruments, pursuing its enemies to the very edges of the known galaxy. But as keen a weapon as Thrawn has become, the Emperor dreams of something far more destructive.

Now, as Thrawn’s TIE defender program is halted in favor of Director Krennic’s secret Death Star project, he realizes that the balance of power in the Empire is measured by more than just military acumen or tactical efficiency. Even the greatest intellect can hardly compete with the power to annihilate entire planets.

As Thrawn works to secure his place in the Imperial hierarchy, his former protégé Eli Vanto returns with a dire warning about Thrawn’s homeworld. Thrawn’s mastery of strategy must guide him through an impossible choice: duty to the Chiss Ascendancy, or fealty to the Empire he has sworn to serve. Even if the right choice means committing treason.

To celebrate the release of the novel, Zahn’s UK publisher, Century, is holding a special giveaway for everyone who pre-orders the novel. If you send proof of the pre-order through this form, they will send you a special edition pin. (They did something similar for the release of Thrawn: Alliances.)

The novel is due to be published by Century in the UK (July 25th) and Del Rey in North America (July 23rd).

Further Reading: Interview with Timothy Zahn on The Verge (2018)

Follow the Author: Facebook, Goodreads

Very Quick Reviews: THE BLOODIED ROSE by Danie Ware and AURIC GODS by Nick Kyle (Black Library)

Two very good books from Black Library’s first Novella Series

WareD-WH40k-TheBloodiedRoseTHE BLOODIED ROSE by Danie Ware

From the blasphemy of the fallen… Our Emperor, deliver us. At the edge of the Imperium sits the fetid jungle world of Lautis. Amidst the creeping foliage and ancient monuments, a horror is rising. From the depths of a crumbling cathedral come bloodied nightmares, intent on fulfilling their dark purpose by any means necessary. Only one thing stands in their way: the wrathful, holy fire of the Adepta Sororitas. Filled with the light of the Emperor, Sister Superior Augusta and her squad are a force to be reckoned with. They are here to purge the darkness from Lautis with prayer and bolter, and nothing will stop them. But the things that dwell in the darkness aren’t afraid. Augusta must put her trust in her Battle Sisters and lead them into the shadows of the crypts in search of the truth. Faith and fire are powerful weapons, but will they be enough to defeat the sinister powers that lurk in the deeps?

I’ve enjoyed all of Danie Ware’s Black Library fiction to date, and I’m very happy to report that The Bloodied Rose is another fantastic story. It draws on a fair few horror components to make for a sinister, grim WH40k story. The novella plays with some classic WH40k fiction tropes and styles, but updates it to incorporate some grittier elements. I really enjoyed this.

I certainly hope Ware is planning to write more Sisters of Battle stories (and others in general). Great stuff. Recommended for all fans of WH40k, and a must-read for fans of the Adeptus Sororitas.

*

KymeN-WH40k-AuricGodsAURIC GODS by Nick Kyme

For millennia the Adeptus Custodes have stayed true to their sworn duty – defend holy Terra and the God-Emperor to their very last breath. But when the Great Rift tears the Imperium apart, loosing tides of daemons upon mankind, they are faced with a dilemma. Should they continue to guard the Palace and the Golden Throne, or take to the stars to proactively root out the Ultimate Enemy? When Shield-Captain Cartovandis receives a mysterious distress call from the planet Vorganthian, he gathers a band of Custodians to investigate. When they arrive, they find a world in the grip of self-annihilation, overrun by Chaos cultists. In a race against time, the Custodians must find out what has happened, and hunt down those responsible, before the madness has a chance to reach its true target – something much closer to their hearts.

Tense moments, claustrophobic and intense action, and some suitably crazy Chaos shenanigans and beasties — this was a very interesting WH40k story. The story plays around with what we know about members of the Adeptus Custodes, and also what it means to leave an organization like this. (In fact, I had no idea that was even possible, before reading this.) I enjoyed seeing the Custodes differently — rather than the single-minded, utterly sure guardians of the Throne, in this story there is some uncertainty. One of the characters is not so polished. There are cracks in that golden armour, if you will.

If you’re a fan of the Custodians, and have been wondering how they operate post-Horus Heresy, then this novella is definitely recommended (as is Chris Wraight’s The Emperor’s Legion, which is climbing my TBR mountain).

*

Both The Bloodied Rose and Auric Gods are out now, published by Black Library. The paperback editions have now been discontinued, but they are available individually as eBooks. Both stories will appear in the forthcoming collection, Servants of the Imperium.

Also on CR: Interview with Nick Kyme (2011); Interview with Danie Ware (2013); Excerpt from Danie Ware’s Ecko Endgame

Follow the Author (Ware):Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Follow the Author (Kyme):
Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Annotated Excerpt: ASH KICKERS by Sean Grigsby (Angry Robot)

GrigsbyS-2-AshKickersToday, we have the annotated first chapter of Sean Grigsby‘s latest novel, Ash Kickers — the sequel to Smoke Eaters. Published this week by Angry Robot Books, the author has added some commentary about the story and his writing. First, though, here’s the synopsis:

With ex-firefighter Cole Brannigan in command of the Smoke Eaters, the dragon menace is under control. Thanks to non-lethal Canadian tech, the beasts are tranquilized and locked up, rather than killed. But for Tamerica Williams, this job filled with action and danger, has become tediously routine.

When a new threat emerges, a legendary bird of fire – the Phoenix – it’s the perfect task for Williams. But killing the Phoenix just brings it back stronger, spreading fire like a plague and whipping dragons into a frenzy. Will it prove to be too much excitement, even for adrenalin-junkie Williams?

And now, on with the excerpt!

Continue reading

Interview with LAVIE TIDHAR

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Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Lavie Tidhar?

I am a mild-mannered writer by night, an eater of sandwiches by day. I tweet. I once spent a year living on a desert island. I also wandered into the jungles of Borneo, across the Gobi Desert, been on the Trans-Siberian, and once climbed a volcano in bare feet. I used to have long hair. I don’t know if that really answers the question. I’ve written a bunch of books.

The Violent Century is getting a re-issue in North America via Tachyon. I really enjoyed the novel, but how would you introduce it to a potential reader?

I think of it as a romance novel! But you could equally say it’s a spy novel, or a murder mystery, or a WW2 novel, or that it’s about the death of empire and the inevitability of history. You know, fun stuff. Or you could say, as Cory Doctorow very astutely pointed out, that it’s about slightly shit superheroes. Continue reading

Interview with ADA HOFFMANN

HoffmanA-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Ada Hoffmann?

I’m an autistic computer scientist from Canada and a speculative fiction author. I’ve been publishing short stories since 2010, and I’ve been longlisted for the BSFA and Rhysling awards for my short work. I recently received my PhD from the University of Waterloo and now I’m adjuncting while living with a happy polyamorous family and a very good black cat. When I’m not writing or working, I like music, LARP, and autism self-advocacy.

Your debut novel, The Outside, was published this month by Angry Robot. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

The Outside is a space opera with AI Gods, cyborg angels, cosmic horrors, multiple factions of compelling villains, and an autistic scientist named Yasira who’s caught in the middle of it all. It stands on its own with a complete plot, but I’d love to expand it into a series if the publisher permits. Continue reading