Posts Tagged ‘Elizabeth Bear’

I actually have some free time and today (edit, not really. I wrote half of this last Tuesday) so I am going to use it to talk about awesome books. Or at least, books I expect to be awesome. I’m not going to talk about books I’ve already finished this time. I’m elbow deep into Dance with Dragons anyways, so the previous read was a while ago. Today, I want to talk about the books in my To Read Pile. They’re sitting on the shelf, waiting to be read as soon as I finish this last GRRM tome. Of course, at the speed I’ve been getting books done lately, I’ll see October before I finish this pile.

toreadpile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So that’s them, held up with a Medusa head. That’s how I roll. Time to talk about them. From top to bottom and left to right.

Generation V by M. L. Brennan – I think I first heard about her because Brennan was at NY ComicCon with Myke Cole. That sounds about right. Then I saw on twitter she was going to be doing a reading from the latest book in Providence and I was all like “Holy shit! People do things in Rhode Island! …. on days I’m unavailable…” One thing I’m seriously jazzed about, this book takes place in Rhode Island! New Yorkers can get blaze about urban fantasy happening in their backyard but after the author tweeted “Enjoy the RI locales”, I skimmed for where they were. The protag lives in Cranston, all of two miles from my house. I’m absolutely going to troll Cranston and take pictures of where the book happens. I’ve always wanted to do that (the pictures part, not trolling Cranston)

The Cracked Throne by Joshua Palmatier – This guy is a Shelf of Honor author with Well of Sorrows (as Benjamin Tate). This particular book is the second book in his first trilogy. Honestly, I often don’t read the back of the book for Shelf of Honor authors, or sequels to books I already liked. I don’t need any further convincing to buy them and the way the last book left off, the second should pick up pretty shortly after. I first saw him at Boskone 49.

Half-off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire – This is book three in the InCryptid series. I think this will be the fifth of hers that I’ve read. I first started reading her books from a recommendation by Jim Hines. I started with InCryptid, instead of the Toby Daye books, because InCryptid was brand new at the time. McGuire was the Guest of Honor at the last Boskone and is pretty rad.

A Discourse in Steel by Paul S Kemp – Another sequel. Hrm, seems I have a lot of these. This is the second Egil and Nix book. They buckle swashes and kick asses. I’m pretty sure I learned of these books because anything published by Angry Robot is automatically on my radar.

Tricked by Kevin Hearne (a.k.a. Taco Pope) – Book four of the Iron Druid Chronicles, which is up to six or seven plus some novellas. I found Hearne off a recommendation via Sam Sykes (who was recommended by Scalzi). The protag, Atticus, and his dog Oberon are one of the best duos in the SF genre. There’s just as much humor in these books as the serious stuff. It makes the books refreshing.

In a Fix by Linda Grimes – This is a straight up bookstore browse find, the only proper one on the list. The protag is a “human chameleon” who pretends to be other people to fix things for them. Like getting someone to accept a marriage proposal. Shapeshifters and spies? Done. You don’t need any more to sell it.

The Cormorant by Chuck Wendig – Here’s some more awesomeness from Angry Robot Books. This is book three of the Miriam Black series, which just got picked up for a TV deal on Stars. Wendig writes with a lot of flair. And swears. So many swears. He’s also one of the go to people for writing shop talk. I read the first Miriam Black book when it was brandy new based off the trifecta of Lauren Beuckes, John Scalzi and the power of the Angry Robot.

The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig – Copy and paste half of above right here. This is the start of a new series about gangsters and demons and magic.

Zeus and Co. by David Lee Jones – This is an old one I scored on a Book Barn browse. That’s the seriously epic used book store down in Connecticut. The book is old enough that it doesn’t even have a picture on Goodreads. I can’t even find any sort of web page for the correct David Lee Jones. It’s about hackers and Greek gods. I love godpunk so I nabbed this right away. I’m sure the 20 year old tech is going to be silly in it’s oldness, but I’m hoping it holds up anyways.

 Fiddlehead by Cherie Priest – Buying this book was another no-brainer. Fiddlehead is part of the Clockwork Century series which was bequeathed (bequoth?) on the Shelf of Honor. The series is often considered the definitive books of steampunk. I also enjoy how they are all interconnected but still readable as individuals. That’s a nice trait when I don’t usually have time to go back and reread a whole series. I think I first put Boneshaker (the first Clockwork Century) on 2009’s Xmas list after reading a Scalzi Big Idea post.

The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin – This book takes place in a world where the dominant magic system is fueled by people’s dreams. That is bad ass. The practitioners of this magic, well they could heal you … or maybe kill you. Either way. That’s a temple that is definitely worth reading about. Jemisin also comes recommended by most of my twitter feed.

Reamde by Neal Stephenson – Here is another Shelf of Honor author (with Ananthem). This is another of his books set in the real world. Reamde is a cyberpunk deal about online gamers and wars with Chinese gold farmers that spill over into the real world. It will get me all nostalgic for my Warcraft and EverQuest days. I read my first Stephenson book years ago off a recommendation from my dad.

God’s War by Kameron Hurley – I swear I had this book on my To Buy List before it was nominated for all the awards. Freelancing ex-government assassins? That’s pretty sweet. “Alien gene pirates” alone would sell me on it. I know that was all part of a back cover marketing angle and there are a lot more layers to the book. Good. As it should be. I think I first heard about Hurley from Seanan McGuire. She’s also a great person to follow on ye olde twitter.

Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear – This is not my first book by Bear and I know it won’t be the last. I previously read Undertow and thought that Bear wrote one of the best alien POV’s I’ve ever read in decades. She even got the seriously obscure reference to the cheela I made when I talked about her well written aliens. Ghosts is the first book in Mongol / Eastern based fantasy rather than the same old Medieval British based fantasy world. Bear came recommended from most of my twitter feed and I finally bought some of her books after seeing her at Boskone 50 last year.

lextalionisIn The Mail – Lex Talionis by R.S.A. Garcia – I was recommended this book when a twitter pal said “Hey, my sister has an awesome book coming out soon.” I was all like “Ima gonna go check this out.” And I did. And I got super happy because Lex uses one of my favorite SF tropes, which I hardly ever see anywhere. Amnesiatic protags that have to discover their identity right along with the reader. I can think of all of four books that do this, and two of them (Nine Princes in Amber and A Thousand Words for a Stranger) are on the Shelf of Honor. So this book is totally happening. I’m pretty sure I would have found this book regardless because Elizabeth Bear has also given it her recommendation.

 

shatteringtheleyOn Order – Shattering the Ley by Joshua Palmatier – Remember above how I said he was a Shelf of Honor author? Still applies here. The magic system in this book is closely tied with the infrastructure of the world and I find that whole concept very intriguing. I’m excited to see an epic storyline set in the urban city of the book. Ley drops in July right before Readercon so I’m hoping Palmatier rolls in for that con and I can add to my signed shelf.

Advertisements

republicofthievesI’m un-neglecting my blog for once! I’ve been busy on the new novel, shopping the old one still, and an odd little short story. But more than all that, this last week, I’ve been busy with The Republic of Thieves.

If you don’t know about The Republic of Thieves and the Gentlemen Bastard books by Scott Lynch… Go! Read them now! This post can wait!

Seriously, this series is one of the books I recommend the most. It is Ocean’s 11 set in a fantasy world. Books like this have the broad appeal that can draw in new readers to the genre. I read the first two books, The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies back when Seas was fairly new in 2008 and have been eagerly awaiting book three since then. Well it finally dropped and wasn’t I just ecstatic that the book release even was up the road in Massachusetts.

Seriously, there is not much that willingly gets me to drive to Boston. That place sucks. A lot. But all the cool writerly stuff happens in Massachusetts and not Rhode Island. (I swear, we really are different states.) I won’t gripe about driving in Boston. Much. A lot of one way streets. Without pavement. It took twenty minutes to get off the exit ramp off the Mass Pike. New Englanders are all nodding knowingly with solidarity.

Scott Lynch reading from The Republic of Thieves

Scott Lynch reading from The Republic of Thieves

So Pandemonium Books is an awesome little store, even if it is inconvenient to get to. We seriously broke the fire code for this reading. It was standing room only. We weren’t far from needing those guys from the Tokyo subways and their sticks. The event was even a two for one. Scott Lynch’s partner, Elizabeth Bear also had a book coming out, Book of Iron, one of those awesome little Subterranean Press minis. I met both of them at Readercon this past summer and Bear was also at Boskone last winter. They’re both very friendly people and great speakers on panels and such. They’re even better when they’re bantering with each other, very witty and well spoken. Each of them treated the room to a reading from their new books.

Even cooler? When I got up to the front of the line, Scott was like “Oh! You’re Mike from twitter!” and in my head I was all “I just won at twitter.” And he remembered that I build submarines for a living. I may hate my job but I forget that other people who don’t work with me find it impressive. My whole set of Gentlemen Bastard books are now all signed and personalized. Not pictured is Seas where it says I’ve “got the right attitude when it comes to work and books” because I told him I was taking the next day off just to hole up with the book once my kiddo was at daycare.

It was a fantastically fun time. When I get jealous about people going to all the fun cons and stuff scattered

"We all live in a nuclear submarine!"

“We all live in a nuclear submarine!”

across the country and the world, I remember that sometimes they’re only one state away from me. Sometimes it’s my turn to do the fun stuff. And someday Rhode Island is going to take over and we’ll get our own cool people events too. Seriously, I’m turning into a real Rhode Islander and 50 miles away requires packing snacks.

Oh so how was the book? Bloody fucking fantastic. There were two Book Throwing Moments. TWO. On the

They brought cookies!

They brought cookies!

same page! Book Throwing Moments are the best things ever by the way and I haven’t run across one since I was reading Well of Sorrows a year and a half-ish ago. BTMs have happened… maybe a dozen times ever?

Once every two years or so sounds about right. So in twenty years of reading SFF that would be about ten or eleven. Ever. Some of my all time favorites don’t have a BTM and Thieves has two in what may be one of the best chapters I’ve ever read.

I could talk all sorts of shop about this book. The ins and outs and the mechanics and what works and what doesn’t quite and how it fits in with the other two books. But that’s not the hat I’m wearing today. Today, I’m wearing a reader hat, a fan hat and I want to impart how much this book is a joy to read and how much everyone should be reading Scott Lynch.

Go. Do it now.

Undertow

Posted: May 8, 2013 in Reading
Tags: , ,

One of the great things about the internet, is that authors can use their awesomeness to make me want to buy their books just by hanging out online and not much more really. This is doubly so at cons where you can see them actually talk. I’ve yammered on about that before, but the first line of a blog post always stymies me and there’s a good chance I’m going to go back and change all this before I post it. Or not. Rambling intro or not, this is one of my finds from the last Boskone, Undertow by Elizabeth Bear. Spend any time in the SF circles and you’re bound to hear her name. She’s a beast when it comes to productivity with a massive laundry list of books out. She’s got award noms all over the place. In fact, she was nominated for three more today, about three hours ago.

Also can I say, Holy shit New England! Woo! Finally, some SF writers that aren’t from the Great Lakes corridor or the Pacific Northwest. It’s almost a rule you’ve got to be from there or at least lived there for a while. I swear it’s most of the authors I follow with the exception of an Arizona enclave and a couple in Brooklyn.

Now if only Rhode Island can become a hotbed of SF….

No more distractions, I’m on a schedule! Back of the book time!

A frontier world on the back end of nowhere is the sort of place people go to get lost. And some of those people have secrets worth hiding, secrets that can change the future – assuming there is one…

Andre Deschenes is a hired assassin, but he wants to be so much more. If only he can find a teacher two will forgive his murderous past – and train him to manipulate odds and control probability. It’s called the art of conjuring, and it’s Andre’s only route to freedom. For the world he lives on is run by the ruthless Charter Trade Company, and his floating city, Novo Haven, is little more than a company town where humans and aliens alike either work for one tyrannical family – or are destroyed by it. But beneath Novo Haven’s murky waters, within its tangled bayous, reedy banks and back alleys, revolution is stirring. And one more death may be all it takes to shift the balance…

So as I said, I picked this book up at Boskone a couple months ago and when I was standing at the huskster’s table I had an oh shit moment. My plague ridden phone wasn’t about to play nice with the internet to reassure me I was picking a Book One or a Standalone. And like I said, Bear has a lot of books out. A large part of my decision to start with Undertow was simply that it was the most standalone sounding of all the books at the table that day. I didn’t want to poke around the internet too much about it and spoil the book so there were times during the book where I wasn’t sure.

All the human characters have pasts that weigh heavy on them. Cricket, who is as much of a protag as Andre, has an especially heavy past. Greene and Closs, the antagonists who do the running of the planet, have interactions together that seem much bigger than just one story. Andre himself has a lot of baggage with his family. Because of all this, I kept flip flopping in my head if Undertow was truly a standalone book or part of a bigger world. In the end, it’s just a good book. The characters have serious depth and that’s really the important part. If it is perfectly standalone, Bear should totally mine those backstories for more books. If it’s or becomes part of a bigger world, it reads like the Clockwork Century books do, connected but not dependent on the other stories.

Ever get tired of Star Trek/Wars type aliens that are humans with makeup? Undertow has one of the best written alien species I’ve ever read. The ranids of Green’s World are amphibians that reminded me a bit of EverQuest frogloks. The ranid POV chapters are some of the most fascinating reading I’ve done recently. Everything about their from their social structure and how their effected by humans down to their communication methods and use of unique pronouns are all seriously well thought out. They think fundamentally different than people and that’s ridiculously difficult technical thing to write and have any sort of readability leftover.

The ranids are easily in the top three aliens I’ve ever read, right there with the cheela from Dragon’s Egg and the drapsk from Julie Czerneda’s Trade Pact Universe.

Mega character depth and kick ass aliens. There’s got to be something cool to tie it all together, right? Hell yes there is. Andre is a professional assassin after all. The planet is on the brink of rebellion to begin with and he pushes it past the point of no return with his latest hit. He falls in with Jean Gris, a conjure man who does all that bending of probability, and Cricket, the archinformist (hacker). The POV moves around, which is good because I liked the other two better than Andre. Fight against the man, stop the bad guys’ heinous plan and try to make a clean getaway. It sounds very basic but when you’re boiling things down to barest plot points to avoid spoilers (and hide the fact that I don’t take notes when I do this and I don’t always type these right when I finish a book), of course it’s going to sound basic. It’s a character driven story anyways. If this crew was doing their laundry, I’m sure it would be interesting. There’s some nifty tech that shows up in the latter half of the book that throws a cool twist in matters. I love it when philosophy and tech combine. Quantum anything makes me happy.

Closing statement? Sure I’ll make one.

Undertow is a great book. Simple right? It’s also perfect if you want a primer on how to write aliens that are actually alien.