So, Time Heist just got its 50th review on Amazon and this seems like one of those times I should just stop what I’m doing and say a big thank you to everybody who’s invested their time and energy into reading and/or reviewing my stories.
Writing is terribly lonely business, and at times it feels like we’re just throwing words at a wall and hoping somebody happens to glance at them for more than a passing second as they walk on by.
To those of you who’ve actually stopped and read the words I’ve scribbled on the wall, thank you, thank you, thank you.
Anne Leckie’s Imperial Radch series has been one of the hottest SFF topics in the last couple years. After Ancillary Justice stormed on the scene to win the Hugo (and pretty much every other notable award to boot), expectations were high for the rest of the trilogy.
The sequel, Ancillary Sword, garnered a lot of attention in a Hugo year that was anything but normal. Now, people had some very mixed feelings on Sword, which is totally understandable given how high expectations were coming off Justice. Even so, I found myself in the crowd of individuals who wasn’t terribly fond of Sword for a whole slew of reasons.
So, it was with mixed feelings and a lot of anticipation that Anne Leckie released the third and final chapter in the trilogy, Ancillary Mercy, last fall. I was lucky enough to snag myself an advanced review copy, but after finishing the story, I decided to sit on my review for a couple months until I had a bit more time to suss out my feelings.
Well, guess what? I’ve sussed my feelings and it’s time to tell you what I thought of Ancillary Mercy:
It was AWESOME!
Curious to know why? Head on over to SF Signal to learn the details.
In a lot of circles I’m known as the science fiction guy. No surprise considering most everything I’ve published to date qualifies as science fiction, but I’ve got a dirty little secret… you ready for it?
I think of myself as a Fantasy writer.
“Huh?” You grunt perplexedly “<–totally an awesome word! Say it out loud. Go on, I dare you.) “But don’t you write about robots and spaceships and artificial intelligence and how do you justify all those lasers? Not to mention the aliens… and don’t even get me started on the–“
Yes, alright, I write about many ‘science fiction’ concepts ’cause I think they make for awesome plots. But when I say that I think of myself as a Fantasy writer, it might help to make clear how I divide Fantasy from Science Fiction. Luckily, I’ve written a blog post about this before. If you want the real, down and dirty, nitty gritty details, you should click below:
Now, I don’t blame you if you don’t want to read another blog post just to understand this blog post (that would be getting a little Inception-y, wouldn’t it?) So let me summarize.
Science Fiction extrapolates the social effects of technology on a society.
Fantasy provides a world of complete immersion to escape within.
I’ll be the first to admit, those are painfully reductionist in their simplicity, but they serve for our purposes.
When I write a story (whether it be definitely science fiction or fantasy or a mystery-thriller-rom-com) I spend a lot of time and effort crafting big, wide, robust worlds like you might find in an epic fantasy. Deep worldbuilding, even in a short story, is immensely satisfying to me. So it’s not surprise that I spend a lot of time thinking about it. Of course, I do also enjoy exploring the implications of certain technological advancements, so perhaps a more apt way of thinking of my work is as a fusion of fantasy and sci-fi.
Anyways, this is an incredibly drawn out introduction to the reason you stopped over today which, if you don’t remember (don’t worry, this was circuitous and I’ve nearly lost myself a handful of times already), had something to do with the 3 Fantasy Series you should absolutely be reading.
Why should you be reading them? Well, it ties into what I was saying before about balancing robust world-building with social awareness in regards to ‘technology’. The 3 three series I’m about to drop on you are part of what I consider a new school of fantasy that really does an amazing job balancing not only the immersive aspect of good epic fantasy, but also (in my mind at least) goes one step further than many of their predecessors in the field by delivering a sort of social commentary that goes beyond the mere distinction of Good vs Evil.
Enough preamble. Here are the series you absolutely should be reading right now.
I’ve reviewed City of Stairs on here before, and even included it in my Top 5 Books of 2015 post, so you should go and check those out if you’re curious why this book is so good. City of Blades was just recently released. Sequels can sometimes suffer by comparison to their older sibling, but remarkably Robert Bennett Jackson manages to deliver a story as good, if not better, than the first.
Dang. What a show off.
These books really have it all. Worldbuilding on a level I can barely wrap my head around (consisting of dead gods, no less); a depth of narrative that you could fall endlessly into; a cast of characters both unique and compelling; and an expert handling of the complex myriad of social, political, and economic issues that inevitably arise in the wake of… you know, killing gods.
Next up on the list is another series I have gushed about previously: Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence.
Again, I’ve reviewed Two Serpents Rise in a previous blog post (CLICK HERE FOR REVIEW!) so I’ll refer you there if you’re interested in the details of why I find this series so compelling. In short, take all the things I said about City of Stairs and apply it here, and you’re good to go. Though, I will say this: Gladstone’s focus on the economic fallout of dead and dying gods is particularly interesting and compelling. The Craft Sequence focuses on this particular aspect more so than the other two series listed, and to great effect. If you’re intrigued by magic systems and bureaucracy (not always an obvious partnership, I admit), this could be the series for you.
Last, but certainly not least, we get N.K. Jemisin’s The Inheritance Trilogy. I’m late to the Jemisin party myself, only recently discovering what everybody else in fandom has already known for years: Jemisin is wickedly talented. Her narrative voice is a raw force of nature. I’m not sure who I could compare her to, and there, perhaps, lies the compliment. She’s the type of storyteller that pulls you in so completely, you don’t even realize you’re living in a story world until it’s over. And then you’re just sad.
The Inheritance Trilogy is possibly the most traditional of the three series listed in terms of setting and plot, but Jemisin’s handling of the tropes feels so new and fresh that reading her is like rediscovering the entire fantasy genre.
But it’s not just style with Jemisin. She also has substance. The quality and depth of her worldbuilding is staggering (as you would expect from all great fantasy). I plan on doing a more in-depth review of Jemisin’s work in the near future, so I won’t beat it to death here. Needless to say, you should grab this series.
What about you? What are some of your all time favorite Fantasy books? Are you reading anything now that’s absolutely knocking your socks off? Get down to the comments section and share with the rest of us!
Also, lest you forget, remember to sign up below for the Time Heist audiobook giveaway. Contest ends soon, so be sure to tweet, share, and like to better your odds of victory!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Confession time: I love audiobooks. They’re a fantastic alternative to dragging your eyeballs across an electronic screen, or a sheet of dead tree sprinkled with bits of black ink. Problem is:
Audiobooks are crazy expensive.
After having gone through the production process to bring Time Heist into existence as an audiobook, I now understand why. Production costs include so many variables that getting a high quality audiobook on a measly budget is darn near impossible. As a result, ten hour long books such as Time Heist retail at around $24!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I like to think it’s totally worth that. But, did you know, there are ways to get it for under $5? Yeah, I stumbled upon this myself not too long ago. The trick is to buy the ebook first from Amazon and then you can take advantage of a special sale price of the audiobook. For Time Heist, all told, you can get the ebook and audibook for under $5.
That’s a great deal, but I want to go one step further.
I want to give you the Time Heist Audiobook for FREE!
So, I’ve set up a little Rafflecopter giveaway with the idea of giving away 5 FREE audiobooks along with another 5 FREE ebooks.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The contest will only run through the weekend, so if you want to win a prize, you’d better sign up today.
Want to better your chances of winning? Easy. Get more bonus entries into the giveaway by blogging or tweeting about this giveaway. Or just follow me on Facebook or Twitter for a quick and easy bonus entry.
Winners will be chosen on Monday night. Audiobook winners will be gifted a copy of Time Heist through Audible. Winners of the ebook will be gifted a copy through Amazon.
Alright, folks! Comment and share to better your chances of reigning victorious in this winner-take-all-battle-royale! (Actually, that’s not true. I will not be awarding one person 5 copies of the same book. So, more accurate would be to say 5 winners-take-all-battle-royale!)
This poor project has had the absolute worst luck in getting finished. I began it last Spring while an early draft of Mind Breach was in the hands of my Alpha reader as a short story simply known as “3 Days After“. That story concluded at roughly 30,000 words and I thought to myself, “Well, what happened 3 Days Before?” So then I started scribbling out a second story, only loosely connected to the first by a single ancillary character. After wrapping that up at around 25,000 words the gears were still turning and I had this burning urge to explore what happened even before the events of the other two stories took place. Once more I took up the pen and wrote a third story (a prequel to the prequel) which finished up at around 15,000 words or so.
Then I got the call from Samuel Peralta and tabled all that so I could quickly write what would eventually become Extant. I eventually got back to working on this Augment project, and as I neared the finish line, I began talking with cover designer extraordinaire, Adam Hall, from AroundthePages. If you’ve never checked out this guy’s work before, you should. He’s amazing.
Don’t believe me? Well, fine, check these out!
Yeah, those are some pretty snazzy covers, huh? Also, on a totally related note, I’ve read each of those stories and they are all marvelous. If you got a few extra pennies lying around, I highly recommend you check them out.
Anyways, back to Augment. October rolled around and Augment was all ready for one final read-through and then it could go off to the editor. Unfortunately, around this time, I realized how far behind I was on Mind Breach (Book 2 in the Firstborn Saga). I made the decision to put Augment, and life for the most part, on the back burner while I blitzed through Mind Breach. But the whole time, I’ve had this amazing Adam Hall cover burning a hole in my back pocket.
But not no mo. It’s time to share the fruits of Adam’s labor with all ya’ll. Ready? Good. Here ya go.
Pretty snazzy, huh? I really dig this cover for a bunch of reasons. First, it’s bold and simple with a surprising amount of detail and nuance. Second, it really nails the episodic nature of this book.
Now, you may be asking yourself, when can I grab myself a copy of this flashy book. And the answer is… I don’t know. It’ll be at least another month, but I’m ears deep in the muck of The Firstborn Saga right now and I don’t want to ruin that flow. What I can tell you, however, is that the lovely folks subscribed to my Newsletter will get first crack at it. (Also, they may or may not be getting it at a significantly discounted rate, just saying). So, if you haven’t already, might I recommend you sign up for the Newsletter? Also, you’ll get 3 FREE stories to tie you over until Augment’s release, so that ain’t so bad, right?
Curious what the actual stories are about? Good question. Here ya go:
They thaw Trigger out whenever they need a job done, wipe his memories, and give him a name. He does the rest.
He’s running from a past he can’t remember, but it beats rotting in prison.
Trigger once said he’d kill for a second chance; he’ll gladly prove it.
Naiara killed herself. Or so they say. Her personality construct, housed inside Quark’s massive server-farm on Jordan Graves’ private island, however, is pretty sure she wouldn’t do something like that.
But nobody trusts the word of a depressed woman’s digital reconstruction. Somehow she’ll just have to prove it to them.
The Watchmaker’s Daughter
Ana-Lisa was only two-years-old the first time she died. Famed neural prosthetic scientist, Rebecca Davignon, burdened by a mother’s crushing grief, thought she could bring her daughter back.
Unfortunately for them both, she was right.
Alright, all you beautiful people at home. I want you to do me a favor. Get down to the comments and share with us your favorite book cover of the last year.