Recommended Reads is a monthly feature in which the Skiffy and Fanty crew tell you about one thing they recently read that they think you might like too.
I’ve been a fan of Afrofuturism since I took a class featuring afrofuturist writers in college. This collection brings together a diverse cast of writers from all over the place, from N.K. Jemisin to Lauren Beukes to Indrapramit Das to Tobias Buckell to Junot Diaz and many (MANY) more. I’m not quite finished with the book just yet, but anyone interested in world SF, Afrofuturism, or fiction containing wide range of mythical, social, and political interests will probably love it as much as I have thus far.
The Prince of Lies, Third in the Night’s Masque series by Anne Lyle. (Angry Robot, October 29, 2013)
Finishing out the trilogy, The Prince of Lies has Mal, Coby and their friends face a supernatural threat from their old enemies, the Guisers. A threat not only to them and to those they hold dear, but the Guisers are at the center of a plot that could reshape 16th Century England itself, and not for the better.
The Unwinding: An Inner History Of The New America by George Packer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; May 21, 2013)
This is one of the non-fiction books I’m reading for the current work in progress. It’s actually an easy read. It’s told in a similar style as George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones in that it employs a cast of hundreds who eventually form a bigger pattern. I see it as narrative Pointillism. (Yeah, you should probably know I’m an art major.) Also: like Martin, his ‘characters’ don’t tend to end well. Although, no one has been beheaded yet.
Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee
I’ve been a huge fan of Lee’s work since I read “Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain” a few years ago, and this collection brings together some of her most well known and well-liked tales. Stand-outs include “Effigy Nights”; “Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain”; the titular “Conversation of Shadows”; and a dozen or so others. It’s jam-packed with genre bending, sometimes lyrical, sometimes raw, always polished prose. Highly recommended if you want to explore and exceed the artificial boundaries of genre literature.
Rachel Aaron’s book should be enough to demolish an entire industry: it’s short, it’s less than a buck, and the advice it gives is so solid, concise and practical that it pretty much eliminates the need ever to read another work of its kind. I found myself alternating between nodding my head in agreement, and slapping my forehead as I encountered statements that I should have, in all honesty, carved onto my computer screen years ago. I’ve begun adding some of her strategies to my work habits, and have already noticed a significant increase in speed. Invaluable for both novice and experienced writers.
Most of what I read in any given month is for my job at Angry Robot: forthcoming novels, books under consideration for acquisition by the imprints, and so on. In an effort to not just shill for AR, I’m going to look back and pull out one of my favorite reads of the year so far.
The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough (Del Rey; July 30th, 2013)
One of my favorite reads for the year so far is by Jason M. Hough, a fellow Nelson Literary author represented by Sara Megibow (also my agent). Several things made The Darwin Elevator stand out to me: 1) the characterization was clear, and deftly done, 2) It escalates tension and twists plot expertly, always pushing forward, and 3) it’s very accessible, a fine choice for introducing a new reader to contemporary Science Fiction.
The Darwin Elevator is set in Darwin, Australia, in the late 23rd century. Years before the start of the series, a space elevator is built over Darwin. Then, five years before the series starts, a plague breaks out that kills billions and reduces others to one overriding emotion: rage, lust, fear, hunger. The main characters are the captain of a scavenger crew of people immune to the virus, and the aide to the man who controls the space elevator. Things go to hell very quickly.