The year in NC science fiction and fantasy, part 3 of 3: Beyond the Triangle

Picking up as promised from part 2, which was a deeper dive covering new books from the greater Raleigh-Durham area, let’s take a look at the incredible variety (and volume!) of speculative fiction published last year from across North Carolina, organized into five geographic areas: Charlotte (and surrounds), The Triad (Greensboro and surrounds), The Mountains (Asheville and Boone and so on), The Coast (Wilmington and New Bern and so on), and, of course, “Other.” Enjoy!

CHARLOTTE and SURROUNDS:

The domain of Gail Z. Martin, A. J. Hartley, Renee Ahdieh, John Hartness, Darin Kennedy, and more, Charlotte’s speculative fiction scene continues to flourish.

Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist, #1) Cathedrals Of Glass A Planet Of Blood And Ice Firebrand (Alternative Detective, #2)

On the heels of her immensely successful The Wrath and the Dawn series, Ahdieh this year launched a new series with Flame in the Mist. Billed as Mulan meets 47 Ronin, the book follows the daughter of a prominent samurai as she infiltrates the group of assassins who waylaid her on her way to an arranged marriage. Continue reading

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The year in NC science fiction and fantasy, part 2 of 3: The Rest of What’s Best from the Triangle

Wait, what’s this? New non-newsletter content at bullspec.com?! Yes, indeed! But, you say, part 2? Where’s part 1? I’m glad you asked!

I was very pleased indeed that Indy Week editor Brian Howe invited me to contribute another “local books in review” column this year, as he also so graciously did in 2015 and 2016. Entitled “Though the Triangle Produces All Kinds of Books, Its Genre Writers Make the Most Noise. Here Are Some of Our Favorites of 2017.“, this year’s edition covers my “top 10” of local science fiction and fantasy (and a couple more genres, just in case), including science fiction by Durham author Mur Lafferty, Cary author Gray Rinehart, Raleigh author John Kessel, Durham author Michele Berger, and Pittsboro author David Drake, fantasy from Chapel Hill author Natania Barron, Lewis Shiner’s collection Heroes and Villains, John Darnielle’s Universal Harvester, and Eryk Pruitt’s “Southern-fried Fargo noir” What We Reckon, as well as Lafferty’s fantastic writing-workshop-in-a-book I Should Be Writing: A Writer’s Workshop.

Heroes and Villains by [Shiner, Lewis] 

I’m not going to repeat what I wrote for Indy Week, so visit them online or (until the current issue disappears on Tuesday) pick up a copy somewhere out and about in the Triangle area. (Or, you know, subscribe to Indy Week, ok? Ok.)

Still, as an article intended for print, there were limits: word count, column inches, photo sizes, etc. Here online, I can go on and on — and you know I will — about everything else book-shaped in terms of science fiction and fantasy from the Triangle this year.

I’m going to start with the year in YOUNG ADULT speculative fiction, because I just couldn’t figure out a way to fit it into my Indy article, and these books really, really should be considered right up there with the best of the year in local books:

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November newsletter: NC Comicon Bull City, Leigh Statham, Michele Tracy Berger and Nicole Givens Kurtz, Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower: The Opera, and more

Vol 7 No 7. Friday, November 10, 2017: Well, this one’s coming a bit later in the month than I’d like, but what else is new, eh? Hopefully not too many of you missed the Zine Machine Printed Matter Festival or the Fall Steampunk Picnic last weekend?

Anyway, last month seemed to really fly by, and there was a fantastic event towards the end of the month as Arcana Durham hosted Books & Brews with a big roster of Falstaff Books authors (John Hartness, Misty Massey, Natania Barron, Michael Williams, on and on!). Books were bought, cocktails were imbibed, stories were read, conversations had. (And apparently after I left, pub style Indian food was consumed?) All in all a lovely time. And to completely put a “bow” on October, HonorCon returned to the Hilton North Raleigh/Midtown.

  

And now, November! And it’s packed with events, from the book launch for Leigh Statham’s Daughter4254 tonight at Flyleaf Books, to NC Comicon Bull City (already underway!), to Michele Tracy Berger and Nicole Givens Kurtz both reading at Ngozi in Durham tomorrow, and plenty more including! the world premiere of Octavia E. Butler’s The Parable of the Sower: The Opera at UNC’s Memorial Hall, readings from Scott Reintgen and Marissa Meyer, and even a science fiction card game launch (Pulsar Event at Atomic Empire, Saturday at 7 pm).

 

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September newsletter: Scott Reintgen, Rebecca Gomez Farrell, Mur Lafferty, James Maxey, Natania Barron, Annalee Newitz, and more

Vol 7 No 6. Tuesday, September 12, 2017:

Fall is nearly here, and it’s bringing an absolute flurry of readings, from Scott Reintgen’s book launch events for Nyxia this week through Marissa Meyer’s return to the Triangle in November, there are more book events in as short a time as I can remember having on the calendar in a few years!

Let’s start with some of those readings coming up over the next couple of weeks:

  I Should Be Writing: A Writer's Workshop
  

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July Newsletter: Jay Posey, ConGregate/DeepSouthCon and SuperCon, Scott Reintgen, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, and more

Vol 7 No 5. Saturday, July 8, 2017: There are some fantastic new events this month — starting this afternoon! — and two big centerpiece conventions to preview, as well as run down some of the new books from North Carolina authors this summer and spill the beans about a new writer’s group and a new horror book club. Let’s get to those new events first:

  

July 8 (Saturday) 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm — The Streets at Southpoint Barnes & Noble hosts Jay Posey for a signing of Sungrazer, the second book in his science fiction thriller series Outriders. “In a new Cold War between Earth and the colonies on Mars, when devastating weapons go missing, there’s only one team you can call — the Outriders. A crack force of highly specialized super-soldiers, their clone bodies are near-immortal.”

July 15 (Saturday) 6:30 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts Southern YA authors fantasy panel hosted by Scott Reintgen. “Fantasy is alive and well in the South.  We host a panel of regional fantasy authors, writing for children and YA audiences.  Join us on Saturday, July 15, at 6:30 pm for a look at their recent or upcoming releases. Aspiring writers, we bet there’ll be a bit of shop talk and advice! Among the busy panelists: Amanda McCrina, Shaila Patel, Beth Bowland, Chris Ledbetter, Leigh Statham, Brynn Chapman, E.M. Fitch, and Julie Reece.”

July 22 (Saturday) 5 pm — Flyleaf Books hosts Jeff VanderMeer for a conversation with Ann VanderMeer, about Jeff’s new science fiction novel Borne. “In Borne, a young woman named Rachel survives as a scavenger in a ruined city half destroyed by drought and conflict. The city is dangerous, littered with discarded experiments from the Company—a biotech firm now derelict—and punished by the unpredictable predations of a giant bear. Rachel ekes out an existence in the shelter of a run-down sanctuary she shares with her partner, Wick, who deals his own homegrown psychoactive biotech. One day, Rachel finds Borne during a scavenging mission and takes him home. Borne as salvage is little more than a green lump—plant or animal?—but exudes a strange charisma. Borne reminds Rachel of the marine life from the island nation of her birth, now lost to rising seas. There is an attachment she resents: in this world any weakness can kill you. Yet, against her instincts—and definitely against Wick’s wishes—Rachel keeps Borne. She cannot help herself. Borne, learning to speak, learning about the world, is fun to be with, and in a world so broken that innocence is a precious thing. For Borne makes Rachel see beauty in the desolation around her. She begins to feel a protectiveness she can ill afford.” [Facebook Event]

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June Newsletter: John Claude Bemis, Sina Grace, The Writers Coffeehouse, Steampunk MidAtlantic, Wellman Award finalists, and more

Vol 7 No 4. Saturday, June 10, 2017: New events, new books, and awards news await in this month’s newsletter. Without further preamble, here’s this month’s new events highlights:

  

Today in Hillsborough, John Claude Bemis hosts the latest in his fantastic series of launch parties — er, I mean, celebrates the release of the latest of his fantastic books for young readers! No, seriously, if you haven’t been to one of John’s book launch parties at the Eno Farmer’s Market Pavilion, expect live music, giveaways, interactive art, and a lot of fun. This year the festivities are for Lord of Monsters, the second book in his alchemical retelling of Pinocchio for Disney-Hyperion Books.

Tomorrow, June 11 (Sunday) from 12 pm to 5 pm, Fight or Flight Comics (Falls of Neuse Rd, Raleigh) hosts Sina Grace, writer for Iceman. “Come meet Sina Grace, the writer of the brand new Iceman series from Marvel Comics.”

On June 24 and 25, Steampunk MidAtlantic hosts its convention at the Ramada Raleigh, with guests of honor Stephen Chapman, Papa Stro Maestro, and the Blibbering Humdingers. There’s a vendor expo, cosplay contest, panel discussions, a film festival, and a welcome party on Friday June 23. Tickets are $10 for one day and $15 for both days, with kids under 12 admitted for free.

I also want to mention a new literary horror book club hosted by Jon Caroll Thomas getting kicked off in July: “The Literary Horror Book Club will focus on the darker side of literature, from gothic classics  to current award winners. We like dark fantasy, supernatural and existential horror, or anything that’s both well-written and blood-chilling. Moderated by Quail Ridge staffer and life-long horror enthusiast, Jon Carroll Thomas (look for the guy to the left).  The club meets the second Thursday of each month at 7 pm. July 13: Universal Harvester by John Darnielle; August 10: The Vegetarian by Han Kang; and September 8: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff.”

NEW BOOKS

Three — count ’em! — three North Carolina authors had new books out last week:

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Happy Release Day: Natania Barron, A.J. Hartley, and John Claude Bemis

Three — count ’em! — three North Carolina authors have new books out today:

Frost and Filigree by Natania Barron is a novella in the new The Shadow Council Case Files novella series from Falstaff Books, a spin-off shared world of stand alone novellas set in John Hartness’ Quincy Harker Demon Hunter series. “They have worked behind the scenes of society for centuries, protecting humans from threats beyond their understanding. They are The Shadow Council, and these Archives are the stories of their members and adventures throughout recorded history. From folk heroes to monsters out of darkest nightmare, the Shadow Council Archives explore the world beyond mundane understanding.” In Frost and Filigree, “Vivienne du Lac and Nerissa Waldemar — a.k.a. la belle dame sans merci and the lamia — have been living among the elite of Tarrytown for quite some time, undetected but for the trail of goats in their wake (one must eat, after all). But just as their eccentricities begin to raise eyebrows, a dark evil arises, intent on murder. They meet a with a young woman named Christabel Crane and a group of bumbling cultists calling themselves the Circle of Iapetus, who beg for help combating the creature. As they plunge deeper into the mysteries surrounding the New York elite, old flames rekindle, and old grudges, too. Vivienne and Nerissa agree to help fend off the darkness, but will spilled blood mean the end of their reform? And if not, at what cost?”

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May newsletter: Cory Doctorow, FCBD, The Writers Coffeehouse, Ursula Vernon, Renée Ahdieh, GeekCraft Expo, Moogfest, and more

Vol 7 No 3. Thursday, May 4, 2017: This month sees readings with Cory Doctorow, Ursula Vernon,  Renée Ahdieh, and Daniel Wallace, along with Free Comic Book Day this weekend, a new monthly writers networking group, and the international music/art/technology festival/conference Moogfest.

But before I turn to the events, I want to urge one last round of participation in this year’s Manly Wade Wellman Award nominations. Voting is open until Monday, May 22, and this will set the lineup of finalists to be announced at ConCarolinas. If you have lost your ballot email (searching your mail archives for “CIVS Wellman” should turn it up) a reminder can be sent, or if you have not yet registered to vote, there’s still time! And if you have any such questions or issues, or if the lengthy eligibility list makes the ballot confusing, don’t hesitate to reach out. I suppose I had better make my own final rankings and submit my own ballot as well!

THIS WEEKEND

 

Cory Doctorow visits Chapel Hill’s Flyleaf Books tomorrow (Friday!) at 7 pm, where he’ll be joined in conversation by Durham author Mur Lafferty. Doctorow’s new book Walkaway is an “optimistic disaster novel” which sees a near-future movement of “walkaways” abandoning the artificial scarcity of cities and nations for an abundance fueled by open source software, drones, and 3D printing. Last week, Mur and I had the opportunity to talk with Doctorow on Carolina Book Beat, as the first half of a two-guest program which also featured Raleigh author John Kessel, talking about his new novel The Moon and the Other.

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Review: Saiensu Fikushon 2016 (Haikasoru)

Saiensu Fikushon 2016 by [Fujii, Taiyo, EnJoe, Toh, Hirotaka, TOBI]

Saiensu Fikushon 2016 (Haikasoru, 2016) is a sushi sampler sized feast of bizarre, compelling, and legitimately technophobia-inducing speculative fiction from Japan, launching a new annual (we can hope!) mini-anthology series that hearkens back (with its conception and cover design, at least) to classic Japanese manga anthologies. Here’s the publisher description: Continue reading

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March newsletter: Mur Lafferty, Renee Ahdieh, Samantha Shannon, John Scalzi, Roshani Chokshi, Oak City Comicon, more events, awards news, writing camps, and more

Vol 7 No 2. Monday, March 6, 2017: Thankfully February was a short month again this year, so I hope you’ll forgive me for not having a newsletter out last month. Unfortunately I must ask your further indulgence for still not including a full “news and notes” or even “new books and audiobooks” section in this newsletter, even as (especially) publication notes begin to pile up to the ceiling! But enough of my groveling, let’s jump right in and talk about some upcoming events:

  

The big event this week is actually tonight, March 7 (Tuesday) at 7 pm as Flyleaf Books hosts Durham author Mur Lafferty to discuss her new books Six Wakes: A Novel and the first collected volume of Bookburners.

Later this month sees events with Renée Ahdieh (Quail Ridge Books, Monday March 13), Samantha Shannon (Flyleaf Books, Tuesday March 14), Asheville author Robert Beatty (Quail Ridge Books, Sunday March 19), John Scalzi (Quail Ridge Books, Wednesday March 22, and Flyleaf Books, Thursday March 23), and Roshani Chokshi and Ryan Graudin (Flyleaf Books, Thursday March 30), along with an even more “bigger” Oak City Comicon, this year called NC Comicon Oak City, on March 18 and 19 at the Raleigh Convention Center. Continue reading

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