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!
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Well, we’re already a month deep into 2016 and so far so… uh… good? I mean, overlooking that whole David Bowie, Alan Rickman thing… Too soon? Yeah, too soon.
To take my mind off all the tragic losses 2016 has thus far slung our way, I dove into my reading list pretty deep. As of today I’ve read 19 books in January. Truth be told, some of them were nothing more than short stories, but a good bunch of them were 600-700 page Chihuahua crushers. Curious as to which ones I found most fabulous? Well, keep reading, dear reader, and I shall tell you.
Best Books of January 2016!!!
Blindsight – Peter Watts (For fans of cyberpunk/posthuman space operas with an almost unhealthy diet of technobabble)
I LOVED Blindsight. There, I said it. This book isn’t for everybody. It’s heavy like some extra-super-duper whipped cream on the technobabble, which can be off-putting if you’re not into that particular brand of sci-fi. But, if you can get past that, you’re in for a story of ideas unlike anything I’ve read since Charlie Stross’ Accelerando. This story is told from the point of view of a highly autistic individual with significant cybernetic augmentations. This gives the story a cold, almost clinical, feel at times, but it works beautifully because it’s perfectly within keeping of that main-characters baseline emotional output.
Still not convinced? Well, here’s the trump card: Vampires in space. Yeah, that’s right. Blindsight has the most fantastically awesome setup for vampires that I have ever read. But Watts didn’t stop there. Nope. He didn’t just bring vampires back, he launched them into space. Needless to say, this is one of the most original vampire/scifi mashups I’ve ever encountered.
Kingpin – Kevin Poulson
This is one of those “Stranger than Fiction” type books based on the real life events of the super hacker Max Baylor. Interestingly, I didn’t know this was non-fiction when I started the book. By the third chapter I thought, this story is a little too crazy, this author needs to work on telling a more believable story. Then I went to the Google machine only to realize that the story was in fact ALL TRUE. My mind was blown as Kevin Poulson takes us on a wild ride through the seedy underbelly of internet crime.
Kingpin ranks right up there alongside Kevin Mitnick’s Ghost in the Wire as one of the best books on the history of computer crime/hacking. Highly recommend this, though beware, you’ll never look at the internet the same way again.
Stone and Iris – Jonathan Ballagh
Ballagh is the new kid on the Indie block and he’s got the chops to last. Stone and Iris is the first short story I’ve read from him, but it probably won’t be the last. Ballagh employs a depth of prose that is downright beautiful in places. Stone and Iris shows alot of the tell-tale signs of a new author in terms of plot and structure, but Ballagh’s raw talent shines through. This guy could definitely be one to watch in the coming years.
Lagoon – Nnedi Okorafor
This was easily the most ambitious bit of storytelling I encountered this month. Okorafor shows of her mastery of prose and storytelling by weaving seamlessly between multiple POV’s like it’s nothing. She begins the story in pulled out 3rd person, then does some deft head-hopping (of the likes I haven’t seen executed so well since Dune), before transitioning into a couple crazy chapters of 1st person. With such a complex narrative type, there were plenty of opportunities for Okorafor to stumble. Surprisingly, she never really did. What follows is an imaginative first contact story unlike anything I’ve ever read before. If there was anything to gripe about in this story, it might be that it’s perhaps a bit too meta at times. Then again, that’s a huge part of its charm.
So now what about you, dear reader? What’s tickled your literary pickle this month? Read anything good? Stop into the comments and let me know. I’m always on the lookout for great new reads. Don’t disappoint me!
Martha’s Bookshelf has just reviewed the Time Heist audiobook and is giving away 3 FREE copies of the ebook and 1 FREE copy of the audiobook.
“The primary characters are intense and strongly flawed. The addiction aspects are interesting even as they are repellent.” – Martha
If you’ve been wanting to snag a copy of Time Heist, but haven’t been able to scrounge
up the necessary loose change from the couch, then this is the opportunity for you. Just head on over to Martha’s Bookshelf and leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway. If you’re undecided about whether you want to read or listen to Time Heist, well, then you might want to give her review a gander and see if that can’t persuade you one way or the other.
P.S. I have no control over the pricing of the Time Heist audiobook. Sometimes it’s $24, sometimes it’s $2. Right now it’s one of those special moments where it’s only $2! Which is a crazy ridiculous price for an audiobook. CLICK HERE to grab your copy today before that sale runs up.
So some of you may or may not already know that earlier this month it was announced I’d be joining The Leighgendarium to write one or two Indie oriented reviews per month. Well, yesterday I decided to start it off with a bang and do a “Top-7 short stories of 2015” list. If you’re into the short fiction, you should definitely head on over there and check it out. I guarantee you’ll find a new author/story to love.
Also on the sort fiction front, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give my own horn a little toot-toot. Ryan from RedEaglesLegacy enjoyed Parallel enough to add it to his end of the year list. Huzzah! If you’d like to get your own copy of Parallel (along with two other free stories), signup for my NEWSLETTER and you’ll automatically get 3 free short stories.
Alright, folks. ‘Til tomorrow!