Monday, January 25, 2016

Awards Eligibility 2016

2015 was a busy and exciting year, and I'm pleased to announce that I have work eligible for several 2016 awards:

  • The Buried Life: Recoletta Book 1 is a science fantasy mystery set in an underground city. It was published by Angry Robot on 3 March 2015 and is eligible in the "Best Novel" category of the Hugos, Nebulas, and other awards, as well as "Best Debut Novel" awards such as the Compton Crook Award.
  • Cities and Thrones: Recoletta Book 2 is a science fantasy thriller and the sequel to The Buried Life. It was published by Angry Robot on 7 July 2015 and is eligible in the "Best Novel" category of the Hugos, Nebulas, and other awards.
  • Additionally, I'm eligible for the 2016 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer for both novels as well as "Here Be Monsters," a short story that appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies on 15 May 2014.

Whatever your favorite books and stories from 2015, consider nominating, sharing, and reviewing them. Doing so supports the authors and works you love and builds a vibrant community of readers and writers.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Ashes to Ashes

Last week was an unusual week.

Along with the rest of the Pillars team, I was busy getting The White March - Part 2 ready for release next month. On Monday, I learned we'd been nominated by the Writers Guild of America for Outstanding Achievement in Videogame Writing, which came as an honor and a delight.

I also learned that David Bowie had passed away.

I'd never previously understood grief at the passing of a celebrity. But I grew up listening to Bowie's music--in fact, he was one of the first musicians I came to recognize as a kid. I remember listening to Changesbowie on family road trips, hearing the tale behind "Space Oddity" and not understanding how "Ashes to Ashes" was supposed to be a follow-up (or even a song by the same person), and thinking it just hilarious to sing along to "John, I'm Only Dancing" with my sisters (only now do I realize that our parents' laughter must have been equal parts discomfort and amusement).

Our cousin introduced my sisters and me to Labyrinth, a movie I loved no less for the time an older relative scolded us for watching it, saying, "God didn't make people that way." Come to think of it, I probably liked it even more after that.

When I got old enough to think it over, I decided that I really liked David Bowie's music. I borrowed my dad's albums and got some of my own. Each one was so different from the others and so marvelous in its own way. In high school, I developed this bizarrely specific habit of playing Diablo II while listening to Dad's vinyl of Scary Monsters (that or Kate Bush's Never for Ever, but almost always one of those two). My college roommate and I bonded over Bowie our freshman year--I was walking to the laundry room with my Discman, and she asked what I was listening to.

That said, it feels strange to feel sadness at the passing of someone I never met, and stranger still to write about it.

But one of the things that's been most touching is the notion that Bowie created his last album as a parting gift for fans. It's a lovely thought and a poignant reminder of the highest purpose of art--to share something beautiful and personal with others.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Review: Groom of the Tyrannosaur Queen

I recently read Daniel Bensen's Groom of the Tyrannosaur Queen. It's the kind of book that hits the ground running and doesn’t stop. It’s a time-travel romance that follows a team of paleontologists led by hard-bitten veteran Andrea Herrera. They dip into the distant past to research Mesozoic flora and fauna, but their trip is quickly interrupted by a horde of dinosaur-riding barbarians.

If that doesn’t sound like the start of a fun read, I don’t know what does.

I read Groom on vacation and found it the perfect book for a getaway—fun, funny, and fast-paced. The main characters are a world-weary commando who’s lost her taste for civilian life (and civilian bureaucracy) and a barbarian philosopher who’s stuck playing politics when all he wants to do is kill. The intelligence and charisma of both characters comes through in the witty, observant narrative voice.

Vague, minor spoilers below.

There’s a lot to like about Groom, and much of it comes through in the characters. Types that could have come across as stock—the burnt-out veteran, the bloodthirsty barbarian, the spoiled princess—instead have rich characterizations and deep inner lives. Their evolutions are an intrigue and a delight to follow.

There is, perhaps, one noticeable exception—a character who goes Heart of Darkness a little quickly—but the complexity and nuance of the other characters more than makes up for it.

The story itself mingles the personal, intimate concerns of the main characters with the fate of the fictionalized Mesozoic societies they encounter. This does, however, raise my other gripe, which is a certain plot-relevant oversight in the construction of the powersuits that Andrea and her contemporaries wear. Still, it’s a minor concern, and if you set it aside, you’ve got a real treat of a book on your hands.

Check it out here on Amazon.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Coming soon to San Francisco!

Hey, y'all!

I'll be in San Francisco this weekend, and it's going to be an action-packed weekend! Here's what's on the roster:

First, I'm stopping by Borderlands Books at noon on Saturday, November 14. I'll sign some stock (probably mine) and meet the fine folks of this illustrious establishment. It's all pretty informal, so consider yourself in-the-know.

Next, I'm thrilled to join Writers with Drinks, Charlie Jane Anders' legendary literary variety show! I'll read a bit from my own work and bask in the glory of Sarah Jeong, K. Tempest Bradford, Jessica Erica Hahn, S. Kay, and Michael Collins. This all happens in The Make Out Room at 7:30pm on Saturday, November 14.

Finally, I'll be at the San Jose Barnes & Noble at 3:00pm on Sunday, November 15 to sign copies of The Buried Life and Cities and Thrones!

If the fates (or furies) take you to any of these fine establishments this weekend, come on over and say hello!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Announcements: Nook special, Writers with Drinks, and Pillars stories, oh my!

I thought October was a crazy month, and then I looked into the future and into November.

But first, Nook special! For the rest of the week (through Halloween), THE BURIED LIFE is on special for $2.99 on Nook! If you haven't picked it up, now's a great time to do so, and if you have, write your review to let other readers know what you thought. If you don't have a Nook, you can also get the Kindle deal on Amazon.

Next up, I'm thrilled to announce that I'll be joining Sarah Jeong, Jessica Erin Hahn, S. Kay, and Michael Collins at Writers With Drinks in San Francisco! It all goes down on November 14 at 7:30 in The Make Out Room, so be there!

ALSO, while I'm in town, I'm looking forward to stopping by Borderlands Books around noon on the 14th to sign stock and visit. Come over and say hello!

Over the next few weeks, you can look forward to seeing some PILLARS OF ETERNITY short stories by Eric Fenstermaker, Paul Kirsch, and yours truly. "The Ratcatcher," starring Sagani (and Itumaak, natch) is already out!

And finally, I'll be at the World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs the first weekend in November, where I'm looking forward to catching up with old friends and meeting new friends. It was one of the most social and fun conventions I went to last year, and I'm really looking forward to repeating the experience. Hope to see you there!

Monday, October 5, 2015

A brief list of books I've loved lately

Sharing is caring. Maybe not when it comes to salmonella, but definitely when it comes to excellent books.

With that in mind, here's a short list of books (in no particular order) that I've read and enjoyed lately:
If you've read something and loved it, tell others about it. Write a review of it. Not only does that help others discover something wonderful, but it also goes a long, long way toward ensuring that the authors you love can keep producing.

What have you been reading?

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Review: Cat's Whirld by Rodolfo Martínez

Cat's Whirld is the new translation of La sonrisa del gato, a 1995 Spanish cyberpunk novel written by Rodolfo Martínez and translated into English by Steve Redwood. It’s an ambitious, fast-paced story about self-aware AIs, warring empires, and the ragtag band of hackers and cyberthieves caught between them, and it’s definitely worth a read for fans of cyberpunk and space opera.

The book is set in a spinning space station called the Whirld, a kind of wild west positioned between two highly regulated empires, Confederacy and Mandate. It’s a hotbed for the kinds of technological advances that both empires require (yet are too cautious and rule-bound to develop themselves). As such, the labs of the Whirld are filled with projects that are as dangerous as they are visionary, and the station’s busy corridors and seedy lounges are filled with operatives trying to buy, sell, or steal them.

Cat’s Whirld tells a big story on a refreshingly small scale. Even though the grand designs of rogue AIs and powerful empires are responsible for many of the inciting events of the book, the action follows a close-knit group of data thieves who call the space station home. This tight focus adds a layer of warmth and humanity to the circuits and corridors that dominate cyberpunk, though it does feel as if more concepts and conflicts are introduced than thoroughly explored.

But these characters are the true focus of the story, and it’s their relationships—rather than their ideologies—that drive them.

The frame story is an interrogation, which nicely teases the intrigues and developments of the central plot. Good frame stories are an art, and I found myself surprised by the full revelation of circumstances at the end. The interrogation narrative also nicely focused the events of the central plot, even if it leads to a bit of overly expository dialogue.

Cat’s Whirld clips along at a nice, quick pace, and it’s over almost before you know it. The chases through the hazardous space station, the games of cat and mouse between the thieves and the authorities, and the high-stakes gambling between resourceful humans and hyperintelligent AIs keep the story speeding forward.