Book Review: The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu

17 Apr Grace of Kings by Ken Liu

“A knife is not malicious merely because it is sharp, and a plot is not evil merely because it is effective. All depends on the wielder. The grace of kings is not the same as the morals governing individuals.”

My expectations were high after learning about Ken Liu’s debut novel, and I wasn’t disappointed. The Grace of Kings is both spectacular and significant, an approach to epic fantasy that combines some of the best elements of the established genre with Liu’s unique sentiments and voice. I’ve been trying to avoid reviews before writing this up, but judging from the headlines, I’m not alone in excitement and appreciation.

First in a series dubbed The Dandelion Dynasty, the novel is set in an archipelago called Dara. Following a mythological pre-history, Dara existed for generations as a divided land of seven kingdoms, each with a patron god and its own unique resources and culture. The instability of shifting alliances and waves of conflict represented the price for maintaining the independent nations until one king realized the potential peace, stability, and progress that could be achieved by uniting Dara into one standardized empire. Yet the common people still suffer, and many miss the aspects of local culture now being lost. Rumblings of unrest lead to eventual rebellion following the chaos of a difficult imperial succession. But with the empire dissolved, what will a new Dara look like, and upon whom will each god’s favor befall? Continue reading

267. Betsy Dornbusch (a.k.a. the God Sword) — Emissary (An Interview)

17 Apr

Diplomacy, war, and glowing swords, oh my! Betsy Dornbusch joins Shaun and Paul to discuss her newest novel, Emissary.  We explore the novel’s treatment of diplomacy, its worldbuilding, war tactics, and much more.

We hope you enjoy the episode!

Note:  If you have iTunes and like this show, please give us a review on our iTunes page, or feel free to email us with your thoughts about the show!

Here’s the episode (show notes are below):

Episode 267 — Download (MP3)Emissary by Betsy Dornbusch

Show Notes: Continue reading

Book Review: Romance and Ghosts: Delia’s Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer

16 Apr 10576071

Delia Martin’s early 20th-century American life as a woman of money and means is not all peaches and cream. Delia has an unwanted and rather terrifying ability to see ghosts. After the Great Earthquake of 1906, Delia left her San Francisco home, and she thought, the ghosts forever. One determined spirit that crossed the country to find Delia brings her back to her hometown. Delia, with the ghost, which she has named Shadow, arrive just in time for her best friend’s wedding and the Pan-Pacific Exposition besides. And the possibility of a new romance for Delia. Oh, and also just in time to wind up in the middle of the bloody run of a serial killer. A serial killer who has killed before.  And a serial killer to which Delia’s shadow might have a connection.

The eponymous Delia’s Shadow is the debut novel of Jaime Lee Moyer.

Continue reading

266. Juliet E. McKenna (a.k.a. the Historian) — An Interview at LonCon3

15 Apr

London, airplanes, and history degrees, oh my!  Author Juliet E. McKenna joined Shaun, Julia, and Paul at LonCon3 last year to discuss her work, politics and their influence, her experience with historical research, and feminism!

We hope you enjoy the episode!

Note:  If you have iTunes and like this show, please give us a review on our iTunes page, or feel free to email us with your thoughts about the show!

Here’s the episode (show notes are below):

Episode 266 — Download (MP3)

The Assassin's Edge by Juliet E McKenna

Show Notes: Continue reading

Book Review: Edge of Dark by Brenda Cooper

9 Apr Edge of Dark by Brenda Cooper

When a set of post humans, the Next, long ago banished to the edge of their society’s solar system, start making aggressive moves down the gravity well, no one is safe from their maneuvers and machinations. Not Chrystal, living on the High Sweet Home with her four-part family, who is attacked by The Next. Not Nona, Chrystal’s friend, and descendant of the famous Ruby Martin of The Creative Fire, who would risk much to see to Chrystal’s safety. And not Charlie, Ranger on the ecologically devastated planet Lym. Post humanity clashes with humanity, and a solar system wide conflict is brewing, even as these three seek to find a way to survive the danger and find answers, for themselves, and each other.

Edge of Dark is the first novel in the Glittering Edge duology by Brenda Cooper.

Continue reading

My Superpower: Ken Liu (Grace of Kings)

7 Apr Grace of Kings by Ken Liu

My Superpower is a regular guest column on the Skiffy and Fanty blog where authors and creators tell us about one weird skill, neat trick, highly specialized cybernetic upgrade, or other superpower they have, and how it helped (or hindered!) their creative process as they built their project. Today we welcome Ken Liu to talk about how the power of tax enthusiasm relates to Grace of Kings.

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My superpower is the ability to get readers excited about taxes.

Taxes are critical in my silkpunk epic fantasy, The Grace of Kings. This is the story of two unlikely friends, a duke and a bandit, who join together to overthrow tyranny only to find themselves on opposite sides of a deadly rivalry over how to create a more just society. There are all sorts of cool things in it:  soaring battle kites and airships based on Chinese prototypes from antiquity; unyielding heroes, kennings, and litotes in the mode of Anglo-Saxon epics; magical books that read minds; jealous gods who are concerned with the value of Pi; a street urchin who becomes the greatest battlefield tactician of her generation and teaches women to fight in the skies; ladies and princesses who plot and fight alongside lords and princes; and giant water beasts who bring storms and tempests to human affairs. Continue reading

#32. Agent Carter (Episodes 1-4) — A Shoot the WISB Subcast w/ Raven Oak

6 Apr Agent Carter

Clever gadgets, super spies, and awesome 1940s women, oh my!  Our “Women and Non-Binary in SFF” theme continues with this special discussion of the first half of the Agent Carter miniseries.  Raven Oak joins us to talk about the show, its influence, its themes, and all the reasons why it is just plain awesome.

We hope you enjoy the episode!

Note:  If you have iTunes and like this show, please give us a review on our iTunes page, or feel free to email us with your thoughts about the show!

Spoiler Alert:  the following podcast contains spoilers for the film being reviewed; if you wish to see the film without having it ruined for you, download this podcast and save it for later. Continue reading

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