February Newsletter: Colson Whitehead, John Darnielle, John Kessel, the Playthrough Gaming Convention, and more

Vol 8 No 1. Tuesday, February 6, 2018: It really has taken this long to emerge from my illogiCon-induced contemplations. So many news books and authors that I had to retroactively add back in to The year in NC science fiction and fantasy, part 2 of 3: The Rest of What’s Best from the Triangle and The year in NC science fiction and fantasy, part 3 of 3: Beyond the Triangle, starting a proper 2018 events calendar, and! getting this year’s Manly Wade Wellman Award prospective eligibility list out. Let’s dive in, starting as usual with the most imminently upcoming events, shall we?

  

On Wednesday February 7 at 6 pm, Duke University hosts The Underground Railroad author Colson Whitehead for the Weaver Memorial Lecture. “Colson Whitehead is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of “The Underground Railroad” (an Oprah’s Book Club selection and winner of the 2016 National Book Award and 2017 Pulitzer Prize). His other books include “The Noble Hustle,” “Zone One,” “Sag Harbor,” and “The Intuitionist,” among others. Whitehead is the 2017 Weaver Memorial Lecturer, a series hosted every other year by the Duke University Libraries in memory of William B. Weaver, a 1972 Duke graduate and former member of the Library Advisory Board. Copies of his books will be available for sale at the event. Tickets for the event, which is free and open to the public, are available through the Duke University Box Office.”

On Tuesday February 13 at 7 pm Flyleaf Books hosts John Darnielle discusses his novel Universal Harvester, new in paperback. “It’s the late ’90s, and you can find Jeremy at the Video Hut in Nevada, Iowa, a small town in the center of the state. The job’s nice enough, quiet and predictable, until a local schoolteacher comes in to return her copy of Targets—an old movie, starring Boris Karloff—and registers an odd complaint: “There’s something on it,” she says, but doesn’t elaborate. Two days later, another customer returns another tape—a new release this time—and says the same: “There’s another movie on this tape.” In Universal Harvester, the once-placid Iowa fields and farmhouses become sinister, imbued with loss and instability and foreboding. As Jeremy and those around him are absorbed into tapes, they become part of another story—one that unfolds years into the past and years into the future, part of an impossible search for something someone once lost that they would do anything to regain.”

On Thursday February 15 at 7 pm Quail Ridge Books hosts John Kessel – ‘Pride and Prometheus’, celebrating the release of Kessel’s new novel. “Join us for the launch of the latest book by John Kessel, author of The Moon and the OtherPride and Prejudice meets Frankenstein in this NCSU English professor’s literary mash-up of the classics as Mary Bennet falls for Victor Frankenstein and befriends his monstrous creature.  Pride & Prometheus will be a perfect addition for lovers of modern twists on classics.” A week later on Thursday February 22, The Regulator Bookshop hosts Kessel in Durham, and! less than a week after that (Wednesday, February 28) he’ll be at Chapel Hill’s Flyleaf Books, and! on Thursday, March 1, Kessel will be at Greensboro’s Scuppernong Books. He’ll also be reading at NC State’s Thompson Hall’s Titmus Theater on Wednesday, February 21, at 7:30.

OK, that’s what’s on tap for the next couple of weeks. Here’s a couple more “NEW” events to this newsletter to whet your whistle for the full calendar:

 

March 6 (Tuesday) 7 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts Brendan Reichs – ‘Genesis’. “We are excited to welcome North Carolina-based author, Brendan Reichs, of the best-selling book first book in this series, Nemesis. (Orphan Black meets Lord of the Flies in this riveting new thriller from the co-author of the Virals series.) In followup, Genesis, Min, Noah, and the sophomores of Fire Lake must fight to survive in the second phase of Project Nemesis. He will be in conversation with Maggie Stiefvater (All the Crooked Saints).”

May 14 (Monday) 7 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts Deborah Harkness – ‘The World of All Souls’. “Deborah Harkness is here to share a special treat in The World of All Souls: The Complete Guide to A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night, and The Book of Life. For fans of the All Souls trilogy comes a fully illustrated guide packed with rich sources of inspiration for these bewitching novels. History, science, character bios, maps, recipes, and more make this an essential handbook for longtime fans or eager newcomers.”

Registration is now open for Shared Worlds 2018, an innovative residential interdisciplinary program for teens hosted July 15-28 at Spartanburg, South Carolina’s Wofford College. The program, which will feature authors, artists, designers, and scientists, will center on the fictional “shared worlds” participating students create. To build these worlds, participants will have overview classes in many disciplines, including history, religion, and science—many taught by Wofford College professors and instructors, and professionals in the fields of writing and art. Guest writers for 2018 include Charlie Jane Anders, Gwenda Bond, Hiromi Goto, Leah Thomas, John Chu, Julia Liz Elliott, Ekaterina Sedia, and more. Ann VanderMeer is the editor in residence, and Jeff VanderMeer is the co-director, also providing some creative writing workshops/discussions.

NEW BOOKS

2018 has gotten off to a rocketing start in terms of NC books, including two new novels in  new series by James Maxey and! the long, long, LONG-anticipated first volume in Allen Wold’s The Black Ring:

Unearthed (Unearthed, #1) The Tchaikovsky Finale (Fugue & Fable #3)

Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Asheville author Meagan Spooner launches a new young-adult series from Disney-Hyperion (and, in audio, from Listening Library) from the bestselling co-authors of These Broken Stars. “When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying’s advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.”

The Tchaikovsky Finale by Charlotte author Darin Kennedy is the third and concluding book in his Fugue & Fable series, following the psychic Mira Tejedor. (Saying much more than that seems likely to be minor spoilers for the first books in the series, but I think you can guess by the cover that this book features The Nutcracker.)

page_images/BlackRingBook1-510.jpg 

Quoting Allen Wold’s announcement post: “Nearly sixty years, from inspiration to publication, here at last is Zhanai’degau, Volume One of The Black Ring.” Yes! This is a real book, which really, at long last, exists, just published by Double Dragon Publishing. “Our world is just one thread among uncounted others in the weave of the greater reality. Each of these threads is another world, some rather similar to ours, some bizarrely different. Each world has a rich culture, which the agent of a dark outside force is seeking to destroy. Jeanette Delgado, small and young, struggles to make a success of the bookstore she runs with her husband, Steve. After he is killed in a freak accident, she is chosen, while still grieving, by powers she doesn’t understand, to go to one threatened world, then another, and another, each time to assume the role of the hero.”

In F. Hampton Carmine’s April Showers, Failed Fairy, “April Showers looks like a fairy, but she doesn’t feel like one. She’s small and delicate like her friends and family, but they can use magic in the fairy and human worlds but she can not. She has no magic. How will she open the portals between the dimensions to monitor and help in the human world when she comes of age?”

 Siren's Song (Willow Harbor Book 5) by [Haygert, Juliana]

Dreaming in Chocolate by Susan Bishop Crispell (St. Martin’s Griffin, Macmillan Audio) is a heartwarming story of “love, hot chocolate, and one little girl’s wish for her mother” from the Wilmington author of The Secret Ingredient of Wishes. “With an endless supply of magical gifts and recipes from the hot chocolate café Penelope runs alongside her mother in a small town nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, she is able to give her daughter almost everything she wants. The one sticking point is Ella’s latest addition to her list: get a dad.”

Siren’s Song by Juliana Haygert is the 5th book in the shared world paranormal romance series Willow Harbor, which also includes novels by Alyssa Rose Ivy, Sarra Cannon, and Haygert’s fellow NC author Jennifer Snyder.

Cut Up Girl: Lawless Book One by [Maxey, James] Big Ape: Lawless Book Two by [Maxey, James]

Bam! Pow! It’s two new superhero novels from Hillsborough author James Maxey released (nearly) back to back by Word Balloon Books, launching a new series. In Cut Up Girl: Lawless Book One, “Valentine Summers is famous for all the wrong reasons. Her secret identity as the superhero known as Cut Up Girl has been exposed. Worse, embarrassing photographs taken by a former partner have leaked to the media and she’s become fodder for tabloids and a punchline for late night comedians. It doesn’t help that she has a rotten superpower, the ability to create a perfect clone of herself by cutting off a limb. Her limbs do grow back instantly, but her clones are unstable and their brief lives end with messy explosions. She’d be perfectly happy to put her life as a crimefighter behind her, but it’s difficult to find a job once the world discovers you’re a scandal-plagued former vigilante. Just when it seems her life can’t get any worse, the most dangerous supervillain she ever put in prison escapes. Now she must suit up one last time to save Port City from a time-travelling Victorian scientist and his army of enhanced apes.”

Then, in Big Ape: Lawless Book Two, we get another absolutely unique superhero. “My name is Harry Moreau. You probably know me as Big Ape, from the Lawful Legion. You’ve never heard my real story.” Harry Moreau is the son of the supervillain Dr. Anastasia Moreau, the firstborn of her infamous man/animal hybrids. Once a respected member of the Lawful Legion, Harry’s on the run, framed for murder, hounded by superheroes at every step as the teams up with the mysterious outlaw Reverend Rifle while he works to clear his name. Alas, Harry’s new-men siblings have different plans for him, recruiting him to rescue their mother from the clutches of another supervillain, the 65 million year old dinosaur genius known as Technosaur.

 Devil Inside: A Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter Novella cover art

Speaking of what Maxey has been up to lately, he’s also been publishing the audiobooks of his The Dragon Apocalypse series, read superbly by British narrator Jake Urry. Listening to Greatshadow last year was a wonderful chance to revisit the stories of Stagger, Infidel, The Three Goons, and the huge, motley cast of characters of this series, and I’ve been enjoying a re-“read” of Hush since its publication in late January as well.

And, speaking of audiobooks, Charlotte author John G. Hartness has also been a busy bee since Whoopi Goldberg proclaimed her affection for his Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter books on The View in December. (No, really, that is a thing which actually happened.) In addition to James Anderson Foster-narrated Quincy Harker audiobooks for Calling All Angels and Devil Inside, he also published Cold As Ice: A Bubba the Monster Hunter Novella, narrated by John Solo.

And! Speaking of feasts for your ears — who says I can’t write a segue? — also new this month is Fantastic Geeks and Where to Find Them, a new full-length album from Cary-based The Blibbering Humdingers, those “magical masters of musical hi-jinx and mayhem.”

NEWS

Goodness, there’s a lot. But I’m running out of time to get this newsletter out, and even an e-newsletter can only be so long. I’ll mention one of my favorite pieces of news, which is that Raleigh author Pete Wood Just sold his seventh story to Asimov’s, “Salting the Mine”. Are you kidding me? SEVEN! I don’t know if anyone keeps a leaderboard for this kind of thing, but he has to be getting up there.

There’s also a huge, huge number of awards-related news items, from Dale Bailey’s inclusion on the Stoker Awards final ballot, to John Kessel’s The Moon and the Other on the Locus Recommended Reading List, on and on. Hugo Award nominations are open, people!

But, of course, the big awards news for me is that the prospective eligibility list for the 2018 Manly Wade Wellman Award is out, including 110 novels and standalone novellas published last year by North Carolina authors. It’s only going to be “prospective” for a week, before going final upon the opening for nominations, so please, if you see any errors or omissions, let me know as soon as possible!

-Sam

UPCOMING EVENTS, FEBRUARY 2018

NEW: February 7 (Wednesday) 6 pm — Duke University hosts The Underground Railroad author Colson Whitehead for the Weaver Memorial Lecture. “Colson Whitehead is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of “The Underground Railroad” (an Oprah’s Book Club selection and winner of the 2016 National Book Award and 2017 Pulitzer Prize). His other books include “The Noble Hustle,” “Zone One,” “Sag Harbor,” and “The Intuitionist,” among others. Whitehead is the 2017 Weaver Memorial Lecturer, a series hosted every other year by the Duke University Libraries in memory of William B. Weaver, a 1972 Duke graduate and former member of the Library Advisory Board. Copies of his books will be available for sale at the event. Tickets for the event, which is free and open to the public, are available through the Duke University Box Office.”

NEW: February 10 (Saturday) 12 pm — Durham’s Atomic Empire hosts a Community-Driven Game Design Workshop. “Bring your family and friends for an afternoon of community game making! Local artist and designer Ben Spalding will share strategies for designing board games and card games that accommodate the specific needs of a play group, and then lead attendees through making their own group games.”

February 13 — Raleigh author novel release day for Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel (Saga Press) — “Pride and Prejudice meets Frankenstein as Mary Bennet falls for the enigmatic Victor Frankenstein and befriends his monstrous Creature in this clever fusion of two popular classics.”

February 13 — NC author book release day for Iron Tide Rising: Map to Everywhere Book 4 by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) which continues their Map to Everywhere series for young readers. “Intrepid travelers Fin and Marrill have shared countless thrilling and treacherous adventures on the magical waters of the Pirate Stream. But neither could have expected that their final adventure would force them to team up with their oldest enemy: the evil wizard Serth! With the fate of the Stream and all their friends hanging in the balance, can they challenge the most frightening power they’ve ever come up against?”

NEW: February 13 (Tuesday) 7 pm — Flyleaf Books hosts John Darnielle discusses his novel Universal Harvester, new in paperback. “It’s the late ’90s, and you can find Jeremy at the Video Hut in Nevada, Iowa, a small town in the center of the state. The job’s nice enough, quiet and predictable, until a local schoolteacher comes in to return her copy of Targets—an old movie, starring Boris Karloff—and registers an odd complaint: “There’s something on it,” she says, but doesn’t elaborate. Two days later, another customer returns another tape—a new release this time—and says the same: “There’s another movie on this tape.” In Universal Harvester, the once-placid Iowa fields and farmhouses become sinister, imbued with loss and instability and foreboding. As Jeremy and those around him are absorbed into tapes, they become part of another story—one that unfolds years into the past and years into the future, part of an impossible search for something someone once lost that they would do anything to regain.”

NEW: February 15 (Thursday) 7 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts John Kessel – ‘Pride and Prometheus’, celebrating the release of Kessel’s new novel. “Join us for the launch of the latest book by John Kessel, author of The Moon and the OtherPride and Prejudice meets Frankenstein in this NCSU English professor’s literary mash-up of the classics as Mary Bennet falls for Victor Frankenstein and befriends his monstrous creature.  Pride & Prometheus will be a perfect addition for lovers of modern twists on classics.”

NEW: February 16 (Friday) 2-4 pm — Ultimate Comics Cary (1301 Buck Jones Rd) hosts comics writer Donny Cates for a signing. “His past works include Buzzkill, The Ghost Fleet, The Paybacks, Interceptor, Star Trek, and Atomahawk. He’s currently writing God Country and, like, nine other things he can’t tell you about. He’s from the town that King Of The Hill was based on but lives in Austin, Texas.”

NEW: February 17-18 (Saturday and Sunday) — Playthrough Gaming Convention at the Raleigh Convention Center. “A weekend long extravaganza showcasing the latest games and providing an opportunity for gamers to meet others who share their passion. Whether you are interested in video games, eSports, tabletop games, or play testing new creations, Playthrough has something for everyone.”

February 20 — (Ex-) Local author book release day for Iron, Ink, and Glass by Gwendolyn Clare. “A certain pen, a certain book, and a certain person can craft entirely new worlds through a branch of science called scriptology. Elsa comes from one such world that was written into creation by her mother―a noted scriptologist. But when her home is attacked and her mother kidnapped, Elsa is forced to cross into the real world and use her own scriptology gifts to find her.”

NEW: February 21 (Wednesday) 7:30 pm — NC State hosts John Kessel for a reading from his new novel Pride and Prometheus at Thompson Hall’s Titmus Theater.

NEW: February 22 (Thursday) 7 pm — The Regulator Bookshop hosts John Kessel, “Pride and Prometheus”.

February 23-25 (Friday to Sunday) — MystiCon 2018 at the Holiday Inn Tanglewood in Roanoke, VA with author guest of honor Joe R. Lansdale.

NEW: February 28 (Wednesday) 7 pm — Flyleaf Books hosts John Kessel discusses his novel Pride and Prometheus.

MARCH 2018

NEW: March 1 (Thursday) 7 pm — Greensboro’s Scuppernong Books hosts John Kessel, “Pride and Prometheus”.

NEW: March 2-4 (Friday to Sunday) — The Carolina Theatre of Durham hosts Anime-Magic Film Festival featuring the films of Mamoru Oshii, Hayao Miyazaki, Paul Grimault, Jules Bass, Satoshi Kion, Michael Arias, and Katsuhiro Otomo.

March 6 — Local editor book release day for Star Destroyers edited by Tony Daniel and Christopher Ruocchio (Baen). “Boomers. Ships of the Line. Star Destroyers. The bigger the ship, the better the bang. From the dawn of history onward, commanding the most powerful ship around has been a dream of admirals, sultans, emperors, kings, generalissimos, and sea captains everywhere. For what the intimidation factor alone doesn’t achieve, a massive barrage from super-weapons probably will.”

March 6 — NC author book release day for Genesis by Brendan Reichs. “The blistering sequel to the instant New York Times bestselling Nemesis by Brendan Reichs.”

NEW: March 6 (Tuesday) 7 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts Brendan Reichs – ‘Genesis’. “We are excited to welcome North Carolina-based author, Brendan Reichs, of the best-selling book first book in this series, Nemesis. (Orphan Black meets Lord of the Flies in this riveting new thriller from the co-author of the Virals series.) In followup, Genesis, Min, Noah, and the sophomores of Fire Lake must fight to survive in the second phase of Project Nemesis. He will be in conversation with Maggie Stiefvater (All the Crooked Saints).”

NEW: March 17-18 (Saturday and Sunday) — NC Comicon Oak City at the Raleigh Convention Center, featuring the Creator of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Kevin Eastman.

NEW: March 17 (Saturday) 8 pm — Durham’s Motorco hosts NoSleep Podcast in Durham, NC. “WARNING: This is a horror fiction podcast. It is intended for mature adults, not the faint of heart. Join us at your own risk…”

APRIL 2018

April 3 — Local author book release day for Though Hell Should Bar the Way by David Drake, the latest in his RCN Series from Baen Books.

NEW: April 14-15 (Saturday and Sunday) — The 7th Annual Festival of Legends: Dragons at 2908 Optimist Farm Rd, Apex, NC. “The Festival of Legends is a celebration of the mythic arts and the magic of life itself. It is a playground for the imagination – for children as well as adults – and an escape from the mundane world. It is a journey to the romantic by-gone eras that never were, and an exploration of the fantastical realms that have always been. The inhabitants are magicians and musicians, acrobats and comedians, artists and crafters, proud knights and fairytale creatures. Step into the Festival of Legends, and step into a place of wonder.”

NEW: April 14-15 (Saturday and Sunday) — BrickUniverse Raleigh LEGO Fan Expo at the Raleigh Convention Center.

April 17-19 (Tuesday to Thursday) — East Coast Game Conference at the Raleigh Convention Center.

NEW: April 21 (Saturday) — The North Carolina Writers’ Network 2018 Spring Conference will be held Saturday, April 21, in the MHRA Building and Curry Auditorium on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

MAY 2018

NEW: May 14 (Monday) 7 pm — Quail Ridge Books hosts Deborah Harkness – ‘The World of All Souls’. “Deborah Harkness is here to share a special treat in The World of All Souls: The Complete Guide to A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night, and The Book of Life. For fans of the All Souls trilogy comes a fully illustrated guide packed with rich sources of inspiration for these bewitching novels. History, science, character bios, maps, recipes, and more make this an essential handbook for longtime fans or eager newcomers.”

May 15 — Raleigh author book release day for A Rebel’s Stone by P.T. McHugh (Glass House) Book 2 in his “Stone Ends” series after Keeper of the Black Stones.

May 15 — NC author book release day for The Crossing by Jason Mott (Park Row Books). “In this thrilling dystopian novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Returned, the world is at war and two siblings are forced on the run, challenged to do whatever it takes to save themselves—and each other.”

JUNE 2018

June 1-3 (Friday to Sunday) — ConCarolinas at the Hilton Charlotte University Place.

June 5 — NC author book release day for Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). “The highly anticipated sequel to New York Times bestselling Flame in the Mist–an addictive, sumptuous finale that will leave readers breathless from the bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn.”

June 22-24 (Friday 8 pm to Sunday 5 pm) — 2018 Steampunk MidAtlantic at the Ramada Inn Raleigh (1520 Blue Ridge Rd). “Join us for the Second Annual Steampunk MidAtlantic! Great guests, vendors, steampunk cosplay, fun and adventure await!”

JULY 2018

July 3 — Local author book release day for Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio (DAW). “Hadrian Marlowe, a man revered as a hero and despised as a murderer, chronicles his tale in the galaxy-spanning debut of the Sun Eater series, merging the best of space opera and epic fantasy.”

July 10 — NC author book release day for Willa of the Wood by Robert Beatty (Disney-Hperion). “From #1 New York Times bestselling author Robert Beatty comes a spooky, thrilling new series set in the magical world of Serafina. Move without a sound. Steal without a trace. Willa, a young nightspirit of the Great Smoky Mountains, is her clan’s best thief. She creeps into the homes of day-folk in the cover of darkness and takes what they won’t miss. It’s dangerous work-the day-folk kill whatever they do not understand. But when Willa’s curiosity leaves her hurt and stranded in a day-folk man’s home, everything she thought she knew about her people-and their greatest enemy-is forever changed

July 13-15 (Friday to Sunday) — ConGregate 5 at the High Point Radisson, with guests of honor Jane Lindskold and Charles E. Gannon, and the presentation of the Manly Wade Wellman Award for North Carolina Science Fiction and Fantasy.

July 15-28 — Spartanburg, South Carolina’s Wofford College hosts Shared Worlds 2018, an innovative residential interdisciplinary program for teens. The program, which will feature authors, artists, designers, and scientists, will center on the fictional “shared worlds” participating students create. To build these worlds, participants will have overview classes in many disciplines, including history, religion, and science—many taught by Wofford College professors and instructors, and professionals in the fields of writing and art. Guest writers for 2018 include Charlie Jane Anders, Gwenda Bond, Hiromi Goto, Leah Thomas, John Chu, Julia Liz Elliott, Ekaterina Sedia, and more. Ann VanderMeer is the editor in residence, and Jeff VanderMeer is the co-director, also providing some creative writing workshops/discussions.

July 27-29 (Friday to Sunday) — Raleigh Supercon is July 27-29 at the Raleigh Convention Center.

OCTOBER 2018

October 9 — Local author book release day for The Delphi Revolution by Rysa Walker (Skyscape).

– END –

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