truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: airship)
I got email from a reader the other day, wondering about other books like The Goblin Emperor (what [ profile] matociquala has dubbed "committeepunk"). I'm kind of terrible at that game, so I did what any sensible person would do. I asked Twitter.

(And thank you very kindly to everyone who responded.)

Someone pointed out that if you merely want more books by me, there are several of them: Mélusine, The Virtu, The Mirador, Corambis, The Bone Key, Somewhere Beneath Those Waves Was Her Home, plus collaborations with [ profile] matociquala, A Companion to Wolves, The Tempering of Men, An Apprentice to Elves (forthcoming in October). But there were also many suggestions of other books to try.

It occurred to me subsequently that other people might also like to have those suggestions, so I'm compiling that Twitter list here--also everyone should feel free to add more suggestions in the comments!

(N.b., just because a book is on the list does not mean I personally endorse it as being like The Goblin Emperor in whatever capacity a reader might be looking for. Many of these books I have not read. Some of them I haven't even heard of.)

Lloyd Alexander, Westmark
Lois McMaster Bujold, The Curse of Chalion
Angela Carter, Nights at the Circus
C. J. Cherryh, Foreigner
Zen Cho, Sorcerer to the Crown
Raymond E. Feist & Janny Wurtz, Daughter of the Empire
Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane
M. C. A. Hogarth, Thief of Songs
N. K. Jemisin, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
Robin McKinley, The Blue Sword
Pat Rothfuss, The Slow Regard of Silent Things
Megan Whalen Turner, The Thief

Again, please feel free to play along at home and suggest more books!
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (cats: nom de plume)
Back in 2009, when my career as a novelist went into a nosedive, somebody asked me what my readers could do to help. I apologize wholeheartedly to that person, for I no longer remember who they are. At the time, I didn't have a good answer, both because I really didn't know and because there was, at that point, nothing readers could do.

But now, five years later, when The Goblin Emperor is finally coming out this April (under my penname Katherine Addison, since alert readers have pointed out that I should probably mention that), I do have an answer, and I'm offering it up--not merely on my own behalf, but so that you all, as readers, know how to help the career of any writer whose work you like. And, as it turns out, the answer is simple. There are three major things any reader can do to support a writer:


I cannot emphasize this strongly enough. Buying the book is absolutely the best thing you can do to help a writer. And that means buying the book when it comes out.

That's easy for my book in this particular instance: it's a standalone. But I know there are a lot of people--and I'm one of them--who much prefer to wait to buy the books of a series until the series is complete. The problem is that the message that strategy sends to publishers isn't, "I'm waiting to buy this book until I can buy all the books." The message it sends is, "I'm not going to buy the book." And you end up with a situation like I was in in 2009: by the time the fourth book came out, the second book was out of print (so that readers who were waiting for the series to be complete were now unable to buy all the books), and Ace had already decided not to offer me a new contract. By the time the series was complete, in other words, my publishing career with that publisher was already over; people buying the fourth book (and Corambis, like The Mirador, is still in print) had no effect on my career at all. It was too late.

Another grim--and frequently realized--possibility is that later books of a series never come out at all. Publishers don't necessarily buy all the books in a series when they buy Book One. (Again, to use me as an example, Ace bought Mélusine and The Virtu together, but they didn't buy The Mirador and Corambis until two years later when they'd had a chance to see the sales figures on Mélusine, which is the only one of the four that earned out its advance.) If they don't like the sales figures on Book One, they may choose not to buy the later books at all. Again, the people who were waiting to buy the series never register as potential sale; they register as No Sale.

So if you're one of those people who prefers to wait (and I promise you, I understand and I sympathize), buy the book anyway. Again, this isn't just about my career, because it isn't just in my case that publishing works this way. Any author you like, if they start a series, buy the books as they come out. Nobody will make you read them until the series is complete, and buying the books as they appear is the only direct way you can tell the publisher you want the series to continue.


(I know this is self-evident, but it just felt weird leaving it out.)


There is an indirect way you can tell the publisher you want the series to continue, or the author to be offered another contract, and that is to tell everyone you know that you like the book.


Nobody actually understands why readers choose to buy the books they do. Nobody understands why J. K. Rowling took the world by storm and Diana Wynne Jones never did. Nobody understands why The Name of the Rose was a best-seller. Or Fifty Shades of Gray. Or A Game of Thrones. Publishers are trying their damnedest to find the books that will replicate this phenomenon, but they do it by guess and gamble, and when they succeed, they don't know why, either. Nobody knows why people buy books.

The thing we do know is that word-of-mouth is the best and most persuasive way for a potential reader to find out about a book.

So if you like the book, tell your friends. Tell your family. Tell your co-workers. Tell anyone you know who you think might like it. Blog about it. Write an Amazon review of it. Ask your library to buy it. (And if you can't afford to buy the book yourself, getting the library to buy it and checking the book out is an excellent alternative.) Get your book club to read it. Spread the word.

Now, none of this is obligatory. I'm not issuing commands here. I'm saying that, if there is a writer whose books you like, these are the best things you can do to help their career continue. And it holds true for self-published authors, as well. The mechanics are different, but those fundamental needs are the same. Authors need readers first and foremost to read their books, because without that, none of this even matters. But to make their careers flourish, authors need readers to buy their books and to talk about them.

Buy, Read, Talk. (Like Eat, Pray, Love, only for books.) That's my answer. That's how readers can help the career of an author whose works they enjoy.

And my first resolution for 2014 was to make this post.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (cats: nom de plume)
1. washed (1) gray and (2) white bras.
2. outlined plot for the rest of Thirdhop Scarp.
3. got a page further in The Goblin Emperor revisions (I know, doesn't look like much, but trust me: it's huge).
4. picked up Emma's ashes (NOT "cremains") from the vet. She would be offended by the paw-print patterned tin; I will obviously have to find something more suitable.
5. bought a BRIGHT YELLOW Lamy fountain pen to replace the one that vanished over the weekend.
5.5 signed stock at the University Book Store
6. discovered that Shakespeare's Books has been reborn as Browzers Books. Feel that this is a sad come-down, namewise, but glad to see the bibliophoenix rise from the ashes.
7. bought The Horrors of the Half-Known Life: Male Attitudes toward Women and Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century America by G. J. Barker-Benfield (research); Women, Family, and Utopia: Communal Experiments of the Shakers, the Oneida Community, and the Mormons by Lawrence Foster (research); and Jack the Ripper: The Complete Casebook by Donald Rumbelow (research). I love my job.
8. wondered where the cut-off is between a respectable interest in historical criminology and a ghoulishly trashy taste for true crime.* One's own birth-date? Hardback vs. paperback? Use of the word "true" in the subtitle? Serial killer vs. non-serial killer?
9. picked up more cat food, more cat litter, more cat treats . . . and a three-day pass for the Midwest Horse Fair.
10. put more gasoline in the truck.

1. hampered
2. purred
3. napped
4. talked to robins
5. purred

1. hampered
2. purred
3. napped
4. was mortified by Catzilla
5. purred
6. vanished into thin air and mysteriously reappeared
7. purred

*Having just marathoned the first season of The First 48, I'm not casting aspidistras at anyone. Just saying: there's clearly a cut-off somewhere, and I don't know where it is.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
1. Happy birthday (yesterday) to [ profile] coffeeem and to [ profile] matociquala's Giant Ridiculous Dog!

2. My second Ellery Queen post is up at tor-dot-com, here.

3. Yesterday, [ profile] heresluck and I braved the winterness of Wisconsin to go bookstore trolling. I picked up [ profile] cmpriest's Boneshaker and Dreadnought to give as xmas gifts (having given h.l. our extra copy of Boneshaker--I am flinging the steampunk zombies far and wide this holiday season), and had excellent book-fu on my own account:
  • Cohen, Patricia Cline. The Murder of Helen Jewett: The Life and Death of a Prostitute in Nineteenth-Century New York (I'm hoping this will be more the book I wanted The Mysterious Death of Mary Rogers to be).
  • Godbeer, Richard. The Devil's Dominion: Magic and Religion in Early New England.
  • Kater, Michael H. Hitler Youth.
  • Sigmund, Anna Maria. Women of the Third Reich (not quite as exciting as if I'd found Jill Stephenson's Women in Nazi Germany, but still).

4. There's even more winter over in Minnesota.

5. When I was buying Boneshaker and Dreadnought, the owner of A Room of One's Own did a double-take at my check and said, "Are you Sarah Monette the science fiction writer?" And when I agreed that I was, she said, "Are they going to put your books out again? Because I get a lot of people asking about them." And I told her about the rights and my plan to find a small press, and she mentioned the TOTALLY INSANE prices The Virtu is going for on eBay, and so on.

I've had conversations like that with booksellers before, but they've always been in-genre (Dreamhaven, Larry Smith, etc.). So having the conversation again with someone who sells all kinds of books feels like, in the middle of a lot of discouragement about my career, a kind of encouraging milestone.

5 things

May. 25th, 2010 09:52 pm
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (otter)
1. The Columbus Zoo has otter pups, and video of the mama otter teaching one of her babies to swim (via Zooborns, and it's [ profile] heresluck's fault I was over there in the first place).

ETA: also, the Sacramento Zoo's video clips of their new Sumatran tiger cub and her gorgeous mother are marvelous.

2. via @catvalente, this unspeakably awesome cartoon about angler fish. No really. Go read it.

3. "White Charles" is in the table of contents for Paula Guran's Year's Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2010. w00t!

4. Fountain pen geeks, do any of you have comments on Noodler's black inks? I like my black inks REALLY BLACK, and Noodler's Polar Black is disappointing me by being more of a grayish sort of black. Are any of their other blacks better?

5. On Monday, as I was heading to the State Historical Society's reading room (which has just been renovated and is absolutely freaking GORGEOUS), I was diverted from my trajectory by a bookstore, where I found Tituba, Reluctant Witch of Salem (Elaine G. Breslaw); A Quest for Security: The Life of Samuel Parris, 1653-1720 (Larry Gragg); and The Logic of Millennial Thought: Eighteenth-Century New England (James West Davidson). It is possible that I am still smug about these finds.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
Alaya Johnson's novel Moonshine is out this week. I was asked for a blurb and thus read Moonshine in ms last year, but I wrote up my impressions and saved them so that I could post them at a moment when people who read the review could actually then go buy the book.

If you're interested in Johnson's take on what she's wrought, she's featured on John Scalzi's Big Idea today (which also, happily, reminded me to make this post). And there's an excerpt of Moonshine up here.

Review behind cut. No spoilers. )
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (books)
This is a collation of several science fiction/fantasy/horror awards* given to novels: Hugos, Nebulas, BSFA, World Fantasy, Dick, Clarke, Stoker, Tiptree, and Brandon. (I don't know what the heck all this displacement activity is in service of, but there you go.) They are in reverse chronological order, so you don't have to scroll through all the Hugos of the '50s to get to last year's results.

If you notice an error, please let me know!

click! )

*Award information taken from AwardWeb; the Philip K. Dick Award site (with an assist from the Wikipedia entry when the award site confused me utterly); the James Tiptree, Jr. Award site; the Wikipedia entry for the BSFA award, as the BSFA site was having some sort of conniption fit; and the Carl Brandon Society awards page.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
Congratulations to the Nebula Awards nominees! And extra bouncing and hugs to [ profile] yuki_onna (reaction shot here) and [ profile] cmpriest (reaction shot here), for whom I could not be more delighted if I tried.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (writing: catfish)
What with the whiny princess feet, I've been thinking a lot about the Little Mermaid recently.

I should say clearly, btw, that I hate Hans Christian Andersen. Terry Pratchett is on record as hating Lewis Carroll, and the way he feels about Carroll, although completely antithetical to my experience of Carroll, is pretty much word for word the way I feel about Andersen: "I didn't like the Alice books because I found them creepy and horribly unfunny in a nasty, plonking, Victorian way. Oh, here's Mr Christmas Pudding On Legs, hohohoho, here's a Caterpillar Smoking A Pipe, hohohoho. When I was a kid the books created in me about the same revulsion as you get when, aged seven, you're invited to kiss your great-grandmother."

Except, of course, that Andersen has no particular sense of humor.

As alert readers of the Doctrine of Labyrinths will probably have noticed, there is one Andersen story I like: "The Tinder Box." But "The Steadfast Tin Soldier"? No. "The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf" Hell, no. "The Little Mermaid"? No no no.

I should also say that, while (having a weakness both for musicals and for animated films) I enjoyed Disney's Little Mermaid, I was aware from the beginning that it was a cheat--quite literally the Disneyfied version. In many ways, it's a more satisfying story than Andersen's, but Andersen seems to have been quite deliberate in his choice to tell UNsatisfying stories. (N.b., I am not and do not pretend to be an Andersen scholar; I'm only going on my memories of the stories of his I've read.) And, you know, I do genuinely respect that as a choice, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

spoilers for Peter Straub's novels SHADOWLAND and THE THROAT )
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (books)
Since it has occurred to me that somebody out there may be curious, below is an extremely incomplete list of the nonfiction books I'm currently looking for.

Caveat: Except in exceptional circumstances--such as a gift card--I don't buy books online. When I tell you that the complete (though of course infinitely expanding) list of books I'm looking for--fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama--is 17 pages, 10-point and single spaced, you will perhaps understand that this is an act of mercy upon my bank balance. So please, don't tell me where I can find these books from an online seller. You will only make the baby trellwolves cry.

On the other hand, if you want to recommend other books on these subjects, please feel free!

[ETA: Caveat 2: I'm not actually looking for help in finding these books. I know about libraries and interlibrary loan and all other such marvels. The reason my book posts are always headed UBC (Unread Book Challenge) is because I have MOUNTAINS of unread books in my house--although this doesn't stop me cheerfully going off and buying more books in used bookstores (I almost never buy books new anymore, unless they're written by friends). I get a profound and abiding satisfaction out of trolling used bookstores, a satisfaction which I don't think I can explain. If for some reason I needed one of these books urgently, I would certainly turn to the university libraries. As it is, this list is all about the hunt--and the thrill I get when I capture one of these books in the wild. *ahem* I just realized that my patron saint here is Professor Wormbog. Tra la la lally.]

cut to spare the world )

There are dozens more, but I'm giving myself a headache, so I think it's time to stop.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (ws: poets)
This is a PSA and also a gloat: Stephen Booth's King Lear, Macbeth, Indefinition, and Tragedy is now available from the most excellent people at Cybereditions. How do I know this? Because I HAVE A COPY. I am not clutching it in my grubby little paws even as we speak because I have to type, but otherwise I totally would be.

Despite its unwieldy title, KLMIT is my favorite book of literary criticism EVER. It radically changed the way I thought about plays and narrative, and I am incapable of talking about King Lear (as my friends know to their chagrin) without citing it. It is ALL OVER my dissertation. It is also READABLE (which, sadly, one cannot always say about books of literary criticism) and conveys, along with the intellectual fascination, the joie de vivre that the best Shakespeareans bring to discussions of Shakespeare. I have been trying to find a copy to love, hug, squeeze, and call George for probably fifteen years.

In conclusion, GLOAT.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (books)
Bartov, Omer. Hitler's Army: Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

This book is obviously influenced by the Historikerstreit (as Dr. Bartov is the first to point out), as it is in large part a refutation of the German-soldiers-as-Hitler's-noble-and-innocent-victims thesis, that thesis being what started the argument in the first place. Bartov disproves this thesis with primary source evidence, particularly the letters of the soldiers on the Eastern front, and his evidence is horribly convincing. Bartov also offers something I have been longing for without knowing it, a nuanced non-binary model of the relationship between the individual and an ideology. He's modifying the "primary group" theory of military success:
[...] some insight into the relationship between the people and the regime may be derived from the notion that while real "primary groups" do not fully explain combat motivation due to their unfortunate tendency to disintegrate just when they are most needed, the idea of attachment to an ideal "primary group," composed of a certain category of human beings, clearly does have a powerful integrating potential. This kind of "primary group," however, is in some respects the precise opposite of the one presented in the original theory, for it is very much the product not merely of social ties, but of ideological internalization, whereby humanity is divided into opposing groups of "us" and "them." Indeed, the sense of identification with one group, and the abhorrence of the other, are in both cases dependent on an abstraction; personal familiarity may only weaken the individual's commitment by revealing the less than ideal aspects of his own side, and the human face of his opponents (which is why armies dislike fraternization). This kind of categorization is of course just as applicable to civilians, and in both cases does not necessitate any profound understanding of whatever world-view one believes oneself to be fighting or working for. Instead, it calls for internalizing only those aspects of the regime's ideology based on previously prevalent prejudices, and most needed to legitimize one's sufferings, elevate one's own status, and denigrate one's enemies, be they real or imaginary.
(Bartov 6)

This formulation dovetails nicely with Kershaw's work on the "Hitler myth," for Bartov shows that fanatical devotion to the Führer was one of the pieces of the Nazi world-view most readily internalized by soldiers on the Eastern front, just as Kershaw showed its operations in the civilian populace. They didn't have to understand what Hitler wanted in order to unite in worship of him.

Bartov also shows the soldiers' belief in their own innate and immense superiority as Germans, and their belief that--as Hitler told them--the Jews had started the war; that if Germany hadn't attacked Russia, Russia would have attacked Germany; that the terrible slaughter of Jews and "commissars" and "partisans" was necessary and deserved; and that Germany was, in fact, heroically defending THE ENTIRE WORLD from the Judeo-Bolshevik menace which would otherwise destroy them all. The polar reversal characteristic of the Nazi worldview was in full operation on the Eastern front.

Books Read in 2009*
(as close as I'm going to come to a year-in-review type post)

  • Allert, Tillman. The Hitler Salute: On the Meaning of a Gesture. 2005. Transl. Jefferson Chase. New York: Picador-Henry Holt & Co., 2008. (06/27)
  • Arendt, Hannah. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. 1963. 1965. New York: Penguin Books, 1994. (03/03)
  • Bartov, Omer. Hitler's Army: Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. (12/31)
  • Berkhoff, Karel C. Harvest of Despair: Life and Death in Ukraine Under Nazi Rule. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2004. (03/25)
  • Browning, Christopher R. Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland. New York: HarperPerennial, 1993. (01/24)
  • Craig, William. Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad. 1973. New York: Penguin Books, 2001. (08/01)
  • Demos, John. The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995. (02/21)
  • Downum, Amanda. The Drowning City. New York: Orbit Books, 2009. (03/11)
  • Fox, Daniel. Dragon in Chains. New York: Del Rey-Ballantine, 2009. (03/11)
  • Furet, Francçois, ed. Unanswered Questions: Nazi Germany and the Genocide of the Jews. [L'allemagne nazie et le génocide juif, 1985.] New York: Schocken Books, 1989. (01/05)
  • Godbeer, Richard. Escaping Salem: The Other Witch Hunt of 1692. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. (12/17)
  • Green, Anna Katharine. The Leavenworth Case. 1878. Teddington: Echo Library, 2008. (08/10)
  • Heyer, Georgette. The Black Moth. 1929. N.p: HQN, n.d. (05/14)
  • Heyer, Georgette. The Black Sheep 1966. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Casablanca-Sourcebooks Inc., 2008. (05/14)
  • Johnson, Alaya. Moonshine (in press). (05/30)
  • Kershaw, Ian. The 'Hitler Myth': Image and Reality in the Third Reich. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987. (12/22)
  • Koch, H. W. The Hitler Youth: Origins and Development 1922-1945. New York: Dorset Press, 1975. (12/27)
  • Kogon, Eugen. The Theory and Practice of Hell: The German Concentration Camps and the System Behind Them. [Der SS-Staat, 1946.] Transl. Heinz Norden. 1950. Introd. Nikolaus Wachsmann. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006. (01/28)
  • Lifton, Robert Jay. The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide. New York: Basic Books, 1986. (01/22)
  • Miéville, China. The City & the City. New York: Del Rey-Ballantine Books, 2009. (07/16)
  • Maier, Charles S. The Unmasterable Past: History, Holocaust, and German National Identity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988. (02/04)
  • Morgan, Edmund S. The Puritan Family: Religion and Domestic Relations in Seventeenth-Century New England. 1944. Revised and expanded. New York: Harper Torchbooks-Harper & Row, 1966. (06/27)
  • Onions, Oliver. "The Beckoning Fair One." The Collected Ghost Stories of Oliver Onions. 1935. New York: Dover Publications, 1971. 3-70. (03/28)
  • Reitlinger, Gerald. The SS: Alibi of a Nation, 1922-1945. 1956. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: 1981. (07/09)
  • Stargardt, Nicholas. Witnesses of War: Children's Lives Under the Nazis. New York: Vintage Books: 2007. (01/16)
  • Starkey, Marion L. The Devil in Massachusetts: A Modern Enquiry into the Salem Witch Trials. 1949. New York: Anchor Books-Doubleday, 1989. (06/27)
  • Vinogradov, V. K., Pogonyi, J. F., and N. V. Teptzov. Hitler's Death: Russia's Last Great Secret from the Files of the KGB. London: Chaucer Press, 2005. (06/27)
  • Waite, Robert G. L. The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler. 1977. New York: Da Capo Press, 1993. (06/27)
  • Weiner, J. S. The Piltdown Forgery. 1953. Introd. Chris Stringer. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. (09/20)
  • Wistrich, Robert S. Hitler and the Holocaust: How and Why the Holocaust Happened. London: Phoenix Press, 2002. (02/05)
  • Yoe, Craig. Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman's Co-Creator Joe Shuster. New York: Abrams ComicArts, 2009. (06/27)

*Not counting the two (three?) binge rereads of Heyer.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
Today, the mail brought me my contributor's copies of Lovecraft Unbound, in which [ profile] matociquala and I appear in the excellent company of Caitlín R. Kiernan, Michael Chabon, Joyce Carol Oates, Laird Barron, Amanda Downum, and many other excellent persons, all under the aegis of Ellen Datlow. Our story, "Mongoose," is set in the same universe as "Boojum" (because that universe is seriously the Best Toy Ever) although it is not a sequel or otherwise related.

Also, I love the book design and its cunning use of fonts.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
This is Banned Books Week. Banning books seems to me so self-evidently wrong that I don't actually have anything to say on the subject. Except, hey. Support intellectual freedom. Read a banned book.

Last Drink Bird Head, a collection of flash fiction, the proceeds of which go to ProLiteracy, is available for pre-order. I'm in Last Drink Bird Head, along with a really astonishing plethora of cool people (Gene Wolfe! Peter Straub! the full list of contributors is on the ordering page); my contribution begins as follows:

Their names don’t translate.

We can look at the symbols of their language, and we can identify





We can open the doors with our machines, and we can investigate
what we find: the dust, the bones, the leathery remnants of skin, the
stains of spilled blood.

They were oxygen-breathers, like us.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (muppets: kermit-sgreer)
Today is the release day for Amanda Downum's first novel, The Drowning City. Amanda ([ profile] stillsostrange) is a friend, so I offer a woo-hoo! and a flailing frog to her. Also, though, I read The Drowning City back in March for blurb purposes, and enjoyed it immensely*, so I commend it to your attention as a book worth picking up.

*Here's what I posted then: The Drowning City takes place in an entirely imaginary city, Symir, which is a point of conflict between the Assari Empire (I suspect the echo of "Assyrian" is not accidental) and its reluctant rain-forest vassal state of Sivahra. The plot involves spies and necromancers and ghosts and demons and a volcano; it's fast-moving and a lot of fun, and it's very well-written. In particular, the magic system, with its combination of the esoteric and the absolutely down-to-earth, fills me with utmost delight.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
For those of you still trying to find a copy of The Virtu: as of yesterday, Uncle Hugo's Science Fiction Bookstore had two paperbacks left in stock (along with copies of all my other books). Also as of yesterday, the two paperbacks (and the other books) are signed.

If you're interested, email the store at unclehugo (AT) aol (DOT) com.
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
Closer to the publication date of Alaya Johnson's novel Moonshine (coming out from Thomas Dunne Books in 2010), I will post a review. For now, I just want to gloat unbecomingly about the fact that I got to read it early.

truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
This post is as much a PSA as anything else: two publishers, Sourcebooks Casablanca and HQN (otherwise known as Harlequin), seem to be in competition to reprint Heyer's books. The funny thing is, it's very difficult to tell one from the other. Trade paperback, similar palettes, similar fonts (the fonts they use for GEORGETTE HEYER are almost indistinguishable), similar choices wrt cover art: oil paintings of Regency people. Sourcebooks is using better quality paper and has eschewed the dodge of "foreword by NYT bestselling author!"--and doesn't have ads for their other books in the back, either, which I confess counts as a win in my estimation. Sourcebooks is also making a serious effort to reprint Heyer's historical novels (i.e., all the ones that aren't category romances) and mysteries, which means that I finally, finally have a copy of The Unfinished Clue that isn't literally falling to pieces in my hands. So, yeah. PSA. If you're looking to complete your Heyer collection, or to replace books in bad condition, now is a really good time.

The Black Moth and Black Sheep are the two Heyer romances I have never previously been able to find. (You may imagine my glee in the dealers' room at Penguicon when I discovered them.) They make an interesting pair, and not only for the color motif in their titles.

The Black Moth is Heyer's first novel, famously written to entertain a convalescent brother when she was seventeen, and if the book as published is what she wrote as a seventeen-year-old, she was magnificently precocious and should possibly be canonized as St. Georgette, patron of teenage writers.

The Black Moth: spoilers--also discussion of These Old Shades and Devil's Cub )

Black Sheep: spoilers--also discussion of Lady of Quality )
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
Downum, Amanda [[ profile] stillsostrange]. The Drowning City. New York: Orbit Books, in press.

Fox, Daniel [[ profile] moshui]. Dragon in Chains. New York: Del Rey-Ballantine, 2009.

These are both books that were sent to me in hopes of getting a blurb, and they're both going to get one. What I wanted to say here--aside from recommending both of them--is a comment about how diverse the possibilities are in the genre of secondary world fantasy. Both of these books take place in imaginary worlds. Both reject default-fantasy-Caucasianism. Both are excellent. But they could not otherwise be more different.

The Drowning City takes place in an entirely imaginary city, Symir, which is a point of conflict between the Assari Empire (I suspect the echo of "Assyrian" is not accidental) and its reluctant rain-forest vassal state of Sivahra. The plot involves spies and necromancers and ghosts and demons and a volcano; it's fast-moving and a lot of fun (apparently, it's easier for me to read mysteries than other kinds of plots), and it's very well-written. In particular, the magic system, with its combination of the esoteric and the absolutely down-to-earth, fills me with utmost delight.

Dragon in Chains takes place mostly on the island of Taishu (which is Taiwan in a deliberately minimal disguise) and has dragons and emperors and all kinds of magic. It is written with intense and exquisite attention to language, so that I spent most of it breathless with admiration. It is very much about the effects of "great events" (in this case a rebellion which has hounded the emperor to Taishu) on ordinary peoplevery mild spoilers ). It is an elegiac book, and at the bottom of it all waits the dragon.

As I said, these are both excellent books, and aside from the fact that they happen in imaginary places, they could not be more different.

This is my genre. No wonder I love it.


truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)

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