In 2004, HarperTorch published Dead Witch Walking, and Kim Harrison‘s urban fantasy “Hollows” series has since grown into a best-selling mainstay. In late February, HarperVoyager published book 12, The Undead Pool, in the continuing adventures of witch and day-walking demon Rachel Morgan, and Harrison was back on tour. As did last year’s tour for Ever After, this year’s tour brings her back to Quail Ridge Books tonight (Friday, March 7) at 7:30 pm. Harrison was kind enough to take some time in the middle of her tour to answer a few questions about her tour, urban fantasy, the Hollows, and what’s next.
Interview by Sharon Stogner
It is so nice to have you back in Raleigh, NC promoting your latest Hollows book The Undead Pool. You lived in SC for 10 years before moving back to your native state of Michigan. Coming to NC is quite a haul for you now. Why do you continue to include NC on our book tours? (I am so glad you do!)
Thank you, Sharon. I’m terribly excited to get back to the Carolinas, especially when I don’t really have a big say in where I go while on tour. I am guessing that I’m back again because of the marvelous crowd I had the last time. People here don’t mind a drive, and it’s great to see them.
Your name is one of the few that routinely comes up when people talk about the urban fantasy genre. After 20+ years of experience are there any general observations you have made regarding the ebb and flow of the industry and the urban fantasy genre in particular? Read the rest of this entry »
The Exploding Spaceship Release Day Edition (a day late in US and a day early in the UK): Reviews of Emilie and the Sky World and the 57 Lives of Alex WayfarePosted: 5 March, 2014
Emilie and the Sky World by Martha Wells (Strange Chemistry, US release March 4, 2014; UK release March 6, 2014)
This is a sequel to Emilie and the Hollow World. Emilie has family problems and runs away from her aunt and uncle, and then finds employment and adventure with the Marlendes as they travel the aether in an airship, exploring the currents and the ways they could lead to alternate realities.
In this volume they end up in another world, a jagged, mishmash landscape that looks like it was formed from pieces of other places. They encounter a couple of different types of beings, one friendly and helpful and the other one not. The magicians in the crew get taken over by the bad aliens, who invade their bodies. This results in some adventures to keep everyone safe and to return everyone to their own universe, and members of a previously lost airship crew are discovered. Emilie discovers that a family member is a stowaway on the Marlendes’ airship, and with the help of Emilie’s plant-person ally Hyacinth, some ladder and rope stunts and harrowing mid-air transfers, almost everyone gets back eventually.
At first the story appears to be a “run-away-and-join-the-airship-crew” story, but due to the complex universe and multiple alien species found, it becomes more of a space adventure.
Emilie and the female scientists who employ her are not your typical females for this genre; they are self-reliant women who can and do defend themselves, and Emilie shows herself to be mature and quite a capable airship crew member.
This is an exciting, fast-paced adventure story with original characters and interesting steampunk technology. The tech is a tool for exploring, but the plot revolves around the characters, as it should. This is a good read for any age and either sex, and hopefully we will soon see further volumes of Emilie’s adventures.
The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare by M.G. Buehrlen (Strange Chemistry, US release March 4, 2014; UK release March 6, 2014)
This is the story of a teenage girl from Annapolis, Maryland, Alex Wayfare, who has had strange visions periodically thoughout her 17 years. She has two little sisters, one of whom has leukemia. Her parents are researchers at an institute for medical research.
Alex is a techie who likes to fix everything she can get her hands on, including her Dad’s old Mustang. This makes her a very odd girl and her school days consist of getting bullied and teased plus an occasional disagreement with her teachers, particularly the history teacher.
After a bad experience at school she runs off and hides in an abandoned auto repair shop to wait until the school day ends. She finds a message to her on a flyer on the wall which directs her to meet Porter at a restaurant in the historic district. Porter gives her an explanation of why she has accurate visions of historical events, but his explanation at this and at subsequent meetings just makes her more confused. Eventually Porter takes her to Limbo, what she knows as the black place before visions, and she is finally able to understand where her visions come from.
She asks Porter about some people mentioned in one of her visions, but he won’t explain. She gets upset and triggers a vision to the past right before she was born, and she resolves several mysteries while in the vision but she still doesn’t know where her soul-mate Blue is in her current time. They set up a meeting time during winter break, but this volume leaves her arriving in Chicago with Porter and seeing the fountain where she is to meet Blue, but we don’t know if he is there because that’s the end.
Alex is an interesting character and her visions give some quite shocking views of historical periods. The history seems well researched and her supporting characters add a great deal to the vision sequences. Obviously, there will be more adventures since we have been left on a cliffhanger. It will be interesting to see how long Alex can continue her adventures without the bad guys discovering her name. Having her soul-mate in the present day would help too, because they both have memory issues when in a vision.
Having a character with multiple lives is not a new concept, but the way this is set up is different, with bad scientists behind it and a unique explanation given about limbo. Also, other multiple-life characters don’t have as many lives as Alex, because hers go back into the B.C. era. This is an interesting adventure story which is fast-moving and entertaining, so it should grab the attention of teen readers. Although the main character is female, since she is a tomboy her main peer issues have to do with her geekiness and not her sex, so boys should be able to relate too. There are also plenty of male supporting characters including Blue who show up in many scenes. Because much of the book does not take place in a high school, there are still plenty of things to interest adult readers. The mystery of what is going on, how Alex got the way she is, and who is really the bad guy will interest everyone, even those adults who aren’t interested in a tale of modern high school.
I have only myself to blame, but I only heard about Margaret Killjoy‘s forthcoming anarchist utopian novel A Country of Ghosts late last week and only over the weekend about his event tonight. Still, Killjoy, the founder of SteamPunk Magazine, co-editor of the essay anthology We Are Many: Reflections on Movement Strategy from Occupation to Liberation, and the author of the choose-your-own-adventure What Lies Beneath the Clock Tower, found some last-minute time to answer a few questions about his book. (And he does so with considerably more insight than I was able to provide in asking my questions, not having read the book yet, I dare say.) I’m very much looking forward to the book and to his talk tonight (Tuesday, March 4) at Internationalist Bookstore and Community Center on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill at 7 pm on “the usefulness of fiction–with a focus on utopian fiction–in anarchist struggle.”
Interview by Samuel Montgomery-Blinn
Why utopian fiction? You’ve edited non-fiction books, written a Steampunk choose-your-own-adventure, but utopian fiction is notoriously hard: where lies the challenges that drive a story when society’s problems are “solved”?
Writing utopian fiction definitely presents some unique difficulties, and yeah, coming up with good conflict to move the plot forward and keep readers engaged is probably the biggest one. One of the dangers of utopian fiction is avoiding pedantry… my goal isn’t to just describe a great society, it’s to tell a good story. In A Country of Ghosts, the utopian country is being invaded, so there’s obviously conflict there, and the protagonist is a foreigner, trying to figure out his own loyalties. But I also wanted to include internal conflict within the country, where some of their principles are challenged. I don’t know how to get into that part too much without spoiling anything, however.
In trying to compare the book with its literary antecedents, I come up with Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Lucky Strike, and Joan Slonczewski’s A Door into Ocean, but these all involve a much more advanced state of technology than the coal and iron of A Country of Ghosts, though some environmental themes seem to cross over. Perhaps a better antecedent there might be China Mieville’s Iron Council? And does technology help or hurt anarchism? Read the rest of this entry »
Friday Quick Updates: Allen Wold’s new collection, H.G. Wells panel, Mur Lafferty, NC Literary Festival adds Lev Grossman and Nathan Ballingrud, and (tons) morePosted: 28 February, 2014
Friday, February 28, 2014: Wow. There’s a lot to tell you guys about since my last news roundup 11 days ago. So much I hardly know where to begin! Let’s start with what’s new at bullspec.com:
- Coming to Town: Megan Shepherd for Her Dark Curiosity and “The Lovestruck Tour”
- The Hardest Part: Jeremy Whitley on My Little Pony: Friends Forever
- Paul Kincaid’s From the Other Side, February 2014: Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation, Dave Hutchinson’s Europe in Autumn, and The Kitschies
- The Exploding Spaceship Finally Returns, with Reviews of 2013 Anthologies!
Next to get them out of the way, two bits of “Sam, publisher” news. First is that the Duke Chronicle’s Annie Piotrowski wrote an absolutely fantastic article on three Triangle-area small press magazines, one of which was Bull Spec, for which she took the time to have a phone conversation with me. I really, really love how it turned out. Second! With a huge nod to local author and film-maker Eryk Pruitt, I’m a guest soup judge at this Thursday’s (March 6) Empty Bowls fundraiser for the Urban Ministries of Durham, at the Durham Convention Center. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that I’ve been training for this event my entire life. If I can do anything, it’s eat. A lot. Speaking of Eryk Pruitt, his forthcoming debut novel, the “Southern Fried crime noir” Dirtbags, has a new trailer. And it’s awesome.
More new and awesome things? Allen L. Wold just published A Closet for a Dragon: and Other Early Tales, a huge collection of mostly unpublished short stories, across his decades of writing, from his “first real stories” and even before those to his pre-stories, all with story notes and introductions by the author. And there’s two new local comic books out in the world, both fantastic, in about as different a way as there can be. Tommy Lee Edwards’ VANDROID is a pulpy, dirty, violent riff on 1980s action sf, and Jeremy Whitley’s My Little Pony: Friends Forever #2 is a fun-for-all-ages whimsical romp with the Cutie Mark Crusaders and the chaotic “Discord”, with much fun being had through some references I honestly don’t know how he got past the editors, but he did, and it’s printed, so it’s TOO LATE. I don’t want to give too much away, but: he does make use of the fact that John de Lancie is both the voice of “Discord” on the television series, as well as (of course) the voice of “Q” on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Yes, he does.
There’s also a regional book release, The Narrow Gate: A Supernatural Thriller (Solom) by Scott Nicholson. Nicholson is a prolific author writing near (or in?) Boone. This is book 2 in his “Solom” series: “After the violent death of Katy Logan’s psychopathic husband, she inherits a farm in the Appalachian Mountain town of Solom. Determined to protect her teen daughter Jett and not surrender to fear, she builds a new life in the wake of the tragedy. However, the dark forces that drove her husband to madness still lurk in Solom, and a horseback preacher has returned from the grave with a sinister mission. Solom’s slumbering spirits are stirring, the herds of goats are restless, and the townspeople are banding together to ward off the sinister force that threatens to destroy them. Katy and Jett discover an unexpected ally as they are drawn into the supernatural showdown, but is anyone–or anything–powerful enough to walk away from Solom’s final battleground?”
OK, announcements time, rapid-fire edition: Read the rest of this entry »
After a four month hiatus, we return to reviewing!
So sorry for the downtime, but we had a parental heart surgery, several trips, and a house move in the last quarter of 2013 and the first couple of months of 2014. We should now return to our regular appearances on the pages of the magazine.
The last quarter of 2013 was a busy time for good anthologies. Having not read many all year, there were suddenly five which looked like good winter reads. Hank Davis of Baen edited both Halloween and Christmas anthologies. For those who like a good scary science fiction story, In Space No One Can Hear You SCREAM (of course it was released in October, 2013) contains a variety of old but not seen recently stories and some stories in a classic style from modern authors. All the stories have a spooky element to them, but none of them are gory. This volume contains stories by George R.R. Martin, Arthur C. Clarke, Neal Asher, Theodore Sturgeon, and several Baen regulars. One of the best things about Hank’s anthologies is his choice of content. Some science fiction magazines contain some stories which bear no resemblance to Your Humble Reviewers’ definition of science fiction (or that of anyone else who likes classic adventure stuff). Hank likes the classic stuff and writes some of it, too, so we rarely find a story we don’t like in his anthologies. So while we primarily read novels, a few anthologies get in which are either Hank’s, contain stories by people whose novels we read, or are edited by people we know.
Whispersync Deal Roundup: Night Shade Books, the Baen Free Library, and The Shambling Guide to New York CityPosted: 27 February, 2014
There’s actually a significantly large number of local and regional authors in this roundup of ebook/audiobook deals:
Originally posted on The AudioBookaneers: