Today on Skiffy and Fanty, we have a guest post from Julie Czerneda about the forthcoming Tales From Plexis, an anthology set in her Clan Chronicles ’verse, including a cover reveal, art and photography done by her husband, Roger Czerneda.
Imagine a place where diverse and very different polities come to meet, to trade, to conduct diplomacy, to intrigue. Amidst large and scheming powers in a world on the edge of conflict and war, this is a shining beacon, all alone in the night. Imagine a group of ambassadors who come to meet at this place. They have agendas, factions, goals, hopes, fears that they bring with them from across known space. And what they do will not only change their lives, but the destinies of worlds far beyond theirs.
No, this is not Babylon 5*. For this place is a trio of islands in the sky; the diplomats and ambassadors are skilled with swords and blade-based magic. Welcome to the world of Serial Box’s latest serial, Born to the Blade.
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 Aidan Doyle.
My superpower is reading the air.
I taught English in Japan for 4 years and I once heard my students referring to someone who was KY. I learned this meant kuuki yomenai — literally unable to read the air. Unable to read the unspoken messages others are trying to convey. Unable to grasp the context of the situation.
Our world is dark and full of terrors. I won’t bother enumerating them here. Either you already know them or you’re already hiding in the peace and safety of your own personal new dark age. And anyway, it all will have changed utterly by the time we hit publish on this review.
Bummed out? Now think about the people of Iraq, the cradle of civilization that we’re only the most recent society to have somehow decided would be better off blown to splinters. As exiled Iraqi artist Hassan Blasim reminds us in the introduction to Iraq + 100, the ordinary people of Iraq haven’t known peace in anyone’s lifetime, and that’s just for starters.
But some people have gotten out, including some amazing artists, including the aforementioned Blasim, primarily a filmmaker, but also a writer and anthologist, who, from faraway Finland saw that if there was one thing his beleaguered countrymen (and the rest of us) needed these days, it’s some speculative fiction, some stories created under the assumption that Iraq (and the rest of us) will still be around in 100 years. And thus was born Iraq + 100, an anthology of fantastic, disturbing, wondrous and deeply historically grounded stories by authors and translators who now live all over the world but once called Iraq home. [Read more…]
California is a big state, and occupies an even bigger place in our imaginations, so it’s only to be expected that a collection of stories exploring what makes it so special — so strange — makes for a big book. Which is to say, a promise of value, of bang for one’s buck, is made right up front.
As is outlined in what amounts to a manifesto in the book’s introduction, the stories in Strange California explore not only the state’s varied physical and cultural geography, but also what makes it so very different from the rest of the United States — what makes it strange. As editors Jaym Gates and Daniel Batt emphasize in the introduction, however, this collection is not merely an anthology of weird fiction. California is certainly weird, but it’s also strange — set apart, unknown, perhaps unknowable to those of us who don’t live there, who are strangers to the place.
Since the Nebula Awards’ inception some combination of its winners and nominees has been annually published together in a collection edited by a major genre figure. Unlike typical anthologies or collections, the content isn’t chosen by the editor, but by the members of the Science Fiction Writers of America. Therefore the responsibilities of the editor (this year Julie E. Czerneda) appear minimal, mainly to write the introduction and decide on which category might have its nominees included. Individual stories also include introductions by the authors providing insight into the creation of their work.
Nebula Awards Showcase 2017 thus offers an ideal and affordable digest for seeing what members of the speculative fiction field view as its current best representations. For readers who somehow manage to keep up with all corners of the genre, the collection provides a nice summation and reminder of the current vibe, views, and insights that have gained notice. For the casual or new reader, it offers an opportunity to discover some talented writers and powerful stories. [Read more…]
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 Tansy Rayner Roberts.
My superpower is making extra work for my publisher.
When your publisher is one of your best friends, and you’re invested in her success almost as much as your own career, it’s a very different relationship than when they are a distant, shiny corporation in a big city somewhere in the world.
I’ve had quite a few publishers over the last 19 years as a professional author, and I am very attached to many of them, but Twelfth Planet Press feels like my baby almost as much as it belongs to its publisher, Alisa Krasnostein. I’ve been there from the beginning; watched her projects and aesthetic evolve. I was there as the idea for ‘hey what about monthly collections by female authors’ developed into a massive, sprawling 4 year project. [Read more…]
Tropes get a lot of bad press even as we crave them. People expect the Happily Ever After for a romantic comedy, but the fiftieth inevitable betrayal by the mentor in an action movie gets seen as being cliched. Movie after movie gets made, and makes box office, with a Chosen One, especially as an origin story, and at the same cry decry it as being more of the same. The website TV Tropes is a time suck, as one can get lost for hours following links on various tropes in movies, books and more, falling into a rabbit hole of storytelling conventions.
So what can be said that is new about tropes? How can they be used, subverted, and rearranged? Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling, a diverse anthology and essay collection edited by Jaym Gates and Monica Valentinelli, sets out to do just that. [Read more…]
In the 1970s Brian Aldiss published a seminal anthology of SF stories. Called Galactic Empires, it was a two-volume set of over two dozen stories set in such realms, with authors ranging from Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Poul Anderson to A.E. Van Vogt and Clifford Simak. The age of the stories spanned from the 1940s to the 1970s, not only showing a wide range of themes and ideas revolving around Galactic Empires, their rises, heights and falls, but also showing the breadth of style changes in the genre over that period. It was not only a snapshot of the subgenre, right at the time that Star Wars was dominating the cinema and changing SF forever, but a look backward to the roots of the subgenre as well.
Now, in 2017, Neil Clarke has stepped into the very large shoes that Aldiss has left, and created his own anthology called Galactic Empires. Clarke’s collection of stories have the same remit as Aldiss’: To show the Galactic Empire, in all of its forms, and with a wide range of voices, styles and authors. Clarke’s choices all date from the 21st century. While this does mean that Clarke’s anthology misses the 1980s and ’90s, he does manage to capture more recent eras in glorious diversity. For all of how important the Aldiss anthology was and is, Aldiss’ general overlook of half of the SF field and having an entirely American/British viewpoint was a weakness in his anthology. Only one female author, Margaret St. Clair, was included in Aldiss’ two-volume collection. By comparison, out of the stories Clarke has gathered, nearly half are by women. Further, Clarke’s choices includes significant contributions from the likes of Yoon Ha Lee, Tobias Buckell, and Aliette de Bodard. [Read more…]
“People with disability already live in a post-apocalyptic world.” – Robert Hoge
This crowd-funded anthology of post-apocalyptic fiction showcases the theme of disabled or chronically-ill protagonists. Edited by Tsana Dolichva and Holly Kench, the collection features many Aussie female writers (though not exclusively) and names likely both familiar and new to speculative fiction readers. With all of its diversity in characters, apocalyptic setting, and featured disability/illness, Defying Doomday is remarkably consistent in tone and quality. Out of fifteen stories there is only one that failed for me, and that is completely due to personal taste. (I am done with giving stories in the second person a chance beyond two pages).