The Exploding Spaceship Reviews The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson

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Review of The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com Sept 1)

This story centers around a caravan, and all the various beings associated with it. The setting has an African feel, with desert, oasis, plain, city and forest features at various points of the journey. It is sort of a strange travelogue focused on Demane and his boyfriend Isa, who is the Captain of the caravan workers. Some beings in the setting are of partially alien ancestry and so have skills and abilities outside the human norm. Isa and Demane both fall into this category. Isa has augmented physical skills and Demane has magical skills. He is called Sorcerer by the members of the caravan. Isa’s “hair” gathers energy from the sun, but looks very much outside normal hair range so he keeps it wrapped unless he is alone with Demane. Through flashbacks the tale of how Demane met Isa and they fell in love is interspersed with the ongoing caravan travel to the Wildeeps, and it turns out Demane left a good job in order to travel with the love of his life. The two men have an interesting relationship while traveling with the caravan because Isa is technically Demane’s boss and the boss can’t be seen obviously playing favorites. The astute members of course realize the truth. The ending is rather tragic and not at all what a reader would expect.

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The world and characters in this novella are very rich, detailed and diverse (both racially and culturally). Characters who look similar but hail from different geographical locations show a wide variation in habits, knowledge and customs. The world feels real and the reader can’t help but feel the pain of these two lovers struggling to stay together while working their way across the world. Kai Ashante Wilson has only published short fiction previously so this is his debut longer work and what a wonderful debut. We will be looking for more of his work in the future. What a wonderful start to Tor.com’s novellas program!


The Exploding Spaceship Visits Sasquan – Worldcon 2015

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This year’s Worldcon was held in the Spokane Convention Center and numerous hotels surrounding it. The convention center was clean, well-maintained, accessible, and had sufficient restrooms and food locations. Food was pricey as it is in all convention centers, but the convention had a con suite in an adjacent hotel and in the evenings there were parties in a hotel several blocks away. There were also some restaurants just a block or two away which were very reasonably priced. The convention center parking was reasonable but there was not enough of it so many had to use the lot across the street which was $15.00 a day. None of the convention hotels were of a price level most fans can afford for a five day stay. It was possible to find cheaper hotels in the area, but most of them were run down and in bad repair. In fact, many parts of Spokane away from the convention center could be described as old and run down in comparison to similar areas in Seattle and Portland.

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Spokane has a very nice park with an antique carousel and a giant red Radio Flyer wagon with a slide for a wagon tongue. The Spokane Falls are at the back of the park and there was a ski-lift type ride which took you out over the falls. Unfortunately due to the fires in the surrounding areas the air quality was very bad and there were health alerts which warned everyone to stay inside, so the parks and outdoor eating places could not be enjoyed. Plus it was exceptionally hot, often above 85 °F, so being outside was a nasty chore, not something pleasant. This made the parking situation worse because you choked half to death while walking to your car. Due to the health alerts there should have been better provisions for people with breathing difficulties who do not normally need a Disabled placard. Read the rest of this entry »


Coming to Town: Kim Harrison for The Drafter at Quail Ridge Books, interviewed by Sharon Stogner

Speaking of NY Times bestselling authors who are no strangers to the Triangle area, Kim Harrison may be breaking our unofficial records with her third local stop in 18 months. She was here last March for The Undead Pool, and again last September for The Witch with No Name as she concluded her long-running “Hollows” urban fantasy series in high style. This time, Harrison will be in town to kick off a new SF thriller series called “The Peri Reed Chronicles” set in a future Detroit, where: “Double-crossed by the person she loved and betrayed by the covert government organization that trained her to use her body as a weapon, Peri Reed is a renegade on the run. Don’t forgive and never forget has always been Peri’s creed. But her day job makes it difficult: she is a drafter, possessed of a rare, invaluable skill for altering time, yet destined to forget both the history she changed and the history she rewrote. When Peri discovers her name is on a list of corrupt operatives, she realizes that her own life has been manipulated by the agency.” In book one, The Drafter, we step fully into a universe that Harrison first offered a glimpse into via the short story Sideswiped in August. It also marks change in publisher (from Harper Voyager to Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books and, read by January LaVoy, for Simon & Schuster Audio) for Harrison, and that in turn led to a significant change in mode of transportation for her upcoming book tour, which kicks off in Detroit (where else!) concurrent with The Drafter‘s September 1 publication date. Find out more about the series, that new mode of transport, and even some tour giveaways in Sharon Stogner’s third interview with Harrison for this column. Enjoy! And for those in NC, don’t miss Harrison at Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Books on Friday, September 4 at 7 pm, or at Charlotte’s Park Road Books on Saturday, September 5 at noon.

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Interview by Sharon Stogner

Q: NC is glad to have you back, but this time it isn’t to promote a Rachel Morgan (The Hollows) book. You have a brand new series that begins with The Drafter. Would you tell us what kind of series this will be and what readers can expect?

I am delighted to be getting back to North Carolina for the release of The Drafter, and I can’t wait to start sharing Peri Reed with my long-time readers. Though The Drafter is more of a SF thriller than an urban fantasy, I think my readers are going to find a lot they enjoy. Science takes the place of magic, and there’s lots of room for developing relationships when things slow down. Unlike Rachel, Peri knows who she is and where she is going. She has her place in the world—until it comes crashing down right about page eight. Peri’s story is one of rebuilding, rather than striking out on one’s own.

Q: How long as Peri Reed been taking up space in your head and what kind of person is she? Read the rest of this entry »


Friday Quick Updates: Upcoming events and NC author news

Friday, August 21, 2015: While many eyes (and authors and fans) from the Triangle have turned to Sasquan, there are things to do and talk about here at home as well. To change things up this week, I’ll start with two crowd-driven campaigns with NC ties:

Eastern NC author David Niall Wilson has entered his unpublished urban superhero novel Hoods into The Nerdist Collection Contest at Inkshares. Not exactly a “crowd-funding” campaign in the sense of Kickstarter or Indiegogo, Inkshares is a “crowd-driven publisher” with some aspects of crowd-funding (readers in essense pre-order books they would buy when available) and more traditional publishing (Inkshares commits editing, marketing, and distribution resources to successful campaigns). The Nerdist contest will result in 5 science fiction and fantasy novels being published, with one being selected by The Nerdist as part of its own “collection”, basically an “imprint” within Inkshares. Multiple Bram Stoker Award winner Wilson’s novel Hoods “is the story of four young men and women with remarkable abilities. They have one thing in common… they were born into bad situations with only themselves to rely on.” Think Marvel’s Avengers meets Cory Doctorow’s Homeland. The contest runs through September 30.

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Second, another Kickstarter campaign to pass along with local ties, this time it’s Uncanny Magazine: Year Two with new fiction from NC authors Alyssa Wong and Ursula Vernon (among others as detailed at SF Signal) under $1,000 away from funding, though based on Uncanny Magazine‘s year one success, one guesses the stretch goals will fall like dominoes again this year. There will also be an open submission window, as the professional bimonthly magazine editors Lynn M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas are “deeply committed to finding and showcasing new voices in our genre from around the world.” Funding through September 10.

In town this weekend? We’ve got you covered from kids to comics to poetry and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Here’s what’s coming up, including next weekend’s big reading by local debut author Sean Jackson of his post-apocalyptic NC novel Haw, just out from Harvard Square Editions:

9781941861066-PerfectHAW.indd Read the rest of this entry »


Friday Quick Updates, Thursday edition: A weekend of Swanwick ahead, but first: Noir at the Bar, Valerie Nieman, and award and crowdfunding news

Thursday, August 13, 2015: I really should have done this yesterday so as to include the John Scalzi reading at Quail Ridge Books, but if I had, the standing-room-only crowd as pictured by Monica Byrne may well have been out the door, and Jay Posey’s Twitter quip about the length of the signing line may well have been a truth stranger than fiction. So instead, it’s a Thursday edition of “Friday Quick Updates”, to remind folks of not one but two fantastic events tonight, ahead of an extended weekend which affords us three chances to catch 5-time Hugo Award winning science fiction author Michael Swanwick.

But first…

 

First up tonight is Noir at the Bar Durham III starting at 6:30 pm at downtown Durham’s 106 Main. These events are pretty much a profanity and violence laden blast, at a bar. Where there’s beer. Hosted again by the always fantastic Tracey Coppedge, this one includes some familiar faces (Eryk Pruitt, author of Dirtbags and Hashtag, and David Terrenoire) and new, including SA Cosby (fantasy/crime author from VA), and a local artist who is about to publish his first sci-fi crime novel, Geraud Staton.

If instead a poetry duet between two of NC’s brightest — and speculative fiction-aware — poetic stars is more your speed, then get thee to Chapel Hill’s Flyleaf Books by 7 pm for Valerie Nieman (author of the post-apocalyptic sf novel Neena Gathering) and Richard Krawiec, as Nieman presents her new book of poems, Hotel Worthy, of which  some of the poems are speculative poems, and Krawiec his own latest poetry collection, Women Who Loved Me Despite.

And then! All attention turns to 5-time Hugo Award winning author Michael Swanwick, who has 3 appearances in the Triangle in 3 days:

Michael Swanwick 

Read the rest of this entry »


Coming to Town: John Scalzi for The End of All Things at Quail Ridge Books

John Scalzi is getting to be quite the regular visitor to the Triangle area on his book tours, as we’ve been fortunate enough to have him come to town on his The Human Division tour in 2013 and not one but two stops on his Lock In tour in 2014, and! of course, his Guest of Honor stint this past May at ConCarolinas. And now! To promote the release of his 11th novel The End of All Things, Scalzi is on tour again, and once again it’s Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Books which is playing host. So, for those in the Triangle area and beyond, mark your calendars for Wednesday, August 12 at 7 pm, invite all your friends, etc. Because Scalzi’s tour stops reflect quite well the fact that he’s enjoying himself, and they’re a lot of fun, and folks who make it out to this year’s tour stops will get to hear some of Scalzi’s newest novella, The Dispatcher, and! I hope someone brings a ukulele. (Per Scalzi’s request, make sure it is tuned first!)

The Publishers Weekly and Kirkus starred-review-bearing The End of All Things is Scalzi’s 11th novel, and adding to that his novella The God Engines his recently announced 13-book deal with Tor will more than double his previous book-length bibliography. He’s a busy author, and he recently shared a bit about his working process on Lifehacker, also including one of the more intriguing things about Scalzi: he’s a firm believer that life (and publishing) “is not a zero-sum game”. It’s a mantra on which he walks the talk, using his very popular blog as a platform for other authors’ Big Ideas — a natural inspiration behind the Bull Spec The Hardest Part series.

In The End of All Things Scalzi returns to his bestselling Old Man’s War universe, picking up on the story more or less where The Human Division left off, though (as nearly all of the Old Man’s War novels) fully capable as a standalone entry point, as readers (and audiobook listeners) explore the ongoing saga through each of four novella-length first-person narratives.  One new point of view character, CDF Lt. Heather Lee, finds herself more often in a position of trying to keep Colonial Union planets in line, rather than defending against extra-terrestrial threats: she is a finger in the tightening CDF grip through which Colonial Union star systems are slipping. Or are at least trying to. And it is through Lee’s eyes that we get to see another side of long-time Old Man’s War characters like CDF officer Harry Wilson, whose own narrative closes the new book with Wilson’s usual and distinctive aplomb. Throughout, it’s Scalzi’s trademark blend of space opera action, witty inter-soldier banter, and off-screen actions and motives combining (as the four narratives do) into a highly-entertaining, explosive package, with some chewy nuggets of technological and political import to ponder once the debris field clears.

And now! Scalzi’s first go-round in the Coming to Town interview series, in which we talk about the big Tor.com 13-book deal, discuss his books and audiobooks, and find out that Mr. Scalzi spends quite a lot of time considering the implications of the “brain in a box” theory, as it’s been enough to spawn significant elements of multiple series now. Enjoy! And see you at Quail Ridge Books on Wednesday!

1. Old Man’s War was published by Tor only 10 years ago, in 2005. When I looked that up, it surprised me, as you’ve accomplished so much in the intervening decade that it seems like I’ve been reading you quite a bit longer than that. Is it hard to believe that you were a debut novelist only 10 years ago?

​It does seem a little odd that it’s only been ten years, and other people have commented about the same thing. I think it seems longer in part because the announcement that the book was bought happened very early in 2003, and the nature of its purchase (it was bought off of Whatever, where I had serialized it) was something of an event​, so people had two years of me being a science fiction author before I actually had a book out. Also in part because Old Man’s War reads very old school, so it just feels like I should have been around longer. And of course Whatever has been around since 1998, so that probably has something to do with it too.

But yes: It’s only been a decade. Weird.

2. In the days after Tor announced the 13-book deal, much was been said about stability, about commitment, and so on. But maybe not quite enough about continuing to work with an editor that gets you and pushes you, an art director that has come up with brilliant covers, on and on. You’ve been with Patrick Nielsen Hayden since the very beginning; how much of this deal is loyalty and friendship, distinct from business? Or do those have to be distinct? Read the rest of this entry »


Paul Kincaid’s From the Other Side, July 2015: Adam Craig’s Vitus Dreams, Ian Sales’ A Prospect of War, infinity plus, Tom Holt, Charles Stross, Louisa Hall, and Tales from the Vatican Vaults

From the Other Side, July 2015
By Paul Kincaid

[Editor’s Note: From the Other Side is Paul Kincaid’s monthly column on books and news from the other side of the Atlantic.]

We were in Wales at the start of the month, and in a small bookshop there I came across a beautifully-produced novel from a small Welsh press. Vitus Dreams by Adam Craig (Cinnamon Press) is what used to be called experimental fiction: that is, the book proceeds by puns, spoonerisms and other word play rather than by plot. There is a plot, or rather, there are several plots that rise and recede with the regularity of waves, but they are not the main focus of the novel. And the text is arranged on the page in boxes, at angles, in graceful, swooping curves. In among all of this play with how a book looks and is read, we follow Vitus Bering who sets out to discover a sea that did not exist before he dreamed of it, John Franklin who becomes lost in a map of his own making, and Ulysses wandering aimlessly on his way to Ithaka, NY. Like many such experimental novels, it is at times far too clever for its own good, but if you have patience for such kaleidoscopic inventions it is actually a very enjoyable book. And since I have seen no-one else even mention it, I draw it to your attention here.

Vitus Dreams A Prospect of War (Age of Discord, #1) Read the rest of this entry »


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