Releasing books in a series in quick succession is nothing new. An author sells multiple volumes, already written, which come out in relatively short order with each other. It is far far less common, however, for a publisher to release multiple works by an author at the same time. It’s even rarer to have a pair of twinned works, who inform and influence each other. In The Black Tides of Heaven and The Red Threads of Fortune, two entangled novellas have been released by a new talent on the SF scene, JY Yang.
Living up to the standards of your mother is no easy thing sometimes. Especially when you are Friday Valentina, daughter of Tina Valentina. Tina Valentina broke barriers as a girl reporter interviewing the Australian superhero Solar and breaking news about Australian superheroes for decades. To this day, Tina Valentina is THE Girl Reporter. That’s a lot to live up to.
Living in the 21st century, instead of writing for outfits like Women’s Weekly, Friday has a YouTube channel where she covers superheroes in her own way, like mother, like daughter. Hey, she’s just gotten one million hits on her channel. Friday’s huge! She’s also grown up in a world where superheroes are real and a thing, and she is possibly the daughter of one, or at least all the gossip and tabloids suggest so anyway. Her mother doesn’t talk about that either.
Benjanun Sriduangkaew creates a fascinating and very loose retelling of The Snow Queen folktale with Winterglass, a high fantasy novella that infuses steampunk technology and an interesting form of magic. With gorgeous prose and a refreshing perspective on fantasy in general, Sriduangkaew’s unique take on a classic tale creates a captivating narrative with twists, turns, and deadly secrets. Sriduangkaew’s own-voices retelling features an entirely POC cast and lots of queer rep, set in Southeast Asia. It’s a relatively quick read, and I spent a very enjoyable afternoon in the world of ice and intrigue.
We follow the narrative through two points of view, giving us a deeper look at the complicated and twisted workings of an intriguing world. Sriduangkaew balances the narrative across the different sides, leaving readers an interesting perspective on a world wrapped in ice. The narrative itself relies on a concept of a world in the process of being conquered by a deadly force, a queen who desires to be whole.
Everybody from J.G. Ballard to Paolo Bacigalupi to George Miller has tackled the “extreme drought” future, but few have taken it quite as far as Damon Norko has done in his latest novella, The Levee.
The world of The Levee is one in which not only have the rivers and lakes dried up, but so have the oceans. Barsoom-like*, humanity now dwells on the dead sea bottoms, and water, pumped from deep under those bottoms, has become so scarce and precious that it is used as currency, making for a weird and cumbersome economic system that I’ll expand upon later in this review. [Read more…]
In the last two years, Tor.Com’s publishing division has been publishing novellas and novels engaging with elements of Lovecraft’s Mythos. With the body of Lovecraft’s work outside of copyright or at least in dispute, the Mythos has proven a fertile ground in recent years for authors who want to explore Lovecraft, react to it, make it their own.
In Agents of Dreamland by Caitlin Kiernan, the author ties together elements of Lovecraft along with her own creation of the mysterious Signalman, a government agent of rather unusual provenance. Add in a mysterious contact in the vicinity of Pluto, a distinctive narrative voice, and a narrative told out of sequence. It’s Lovecraft as seen through a strong literary bent, which is perhaps 180 degrees away from Lovecraft’s Pulp homeground. And amazingly, for being everything that Lovecraft is not, it is unquestionably in dialogue and an addition to the Mythos. Kieran manages to bring the Mythos to literary fiction. Kiernan’s skills bring a whole new look at Lovecraft’s work. The Signalman as a character is a real star whose development and direction by the author makes him leap off of the page. It’s perhaps the less accessible of the new crop of Neo-Lovecraftian fiction of what I have read from Tor, meaning that I would not recommend readers from a SFF and Lovecraft bent start here. The unique voice and style are singular and are not really indicative of the form. This is a novella, though, that I would hand someone who was deeply immersed in literary fiction, familiar with its forms, and wanted to try something with a fantastic bent. In some ways, they are an even better audience than someone who has read Lovecraft and SFF.
The other two novellas are on far more solid SFF ground, although with their own twist. [Read more…]
In the evolution and growth of the Novella program from Tor.com Publishing, an innovation that they have hit upon, as their lineup has grown and they have expanded their horizons, is the idea of thematic seasons. Instead of a welter of novellas of all kinds as they did in their initial phases, starting with 2017, the publisher has focused on themes. In Summer of 2017, the focus was on Space Opera.
I’ve previously discussed All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries, by Martha Wells, which kicked off the Summer of Space Opera. I’ve since gone on to read three of the four other novellas in the set. [Read more…]
Novella warriors, wordsmiths, and craft, oh my! In this special episode, Julia and Mike join forces for a roundtable discussion about novellas featuring Eugene Fischer, Fran Wilde, Malka Older, C.S.E. Cooney, and, yes, even Mike Underwood himself! They cover the craft and art of novellas, some favorite examples, recommendations, 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): [Read more…]
The Awakened Kingdom, a 2014 fantasy novella by N.K. Jemisin released both as part of The Inheritance Trilogy omnibus and as a standalone e-book, is told from the point of view of a baby god. And as adorable as the central premise is, the execution is enough to sorely tempt me to quote large swaths of the text in lieu of a real review.
The novella opens thus:
I am born! Hello!
Many things happen!
Hello again! How are you? I am fine. I have learned more about the Proper Ways from Papa Tempa. Papa said that what I did before is not the Proper Way to tell a story, so I will do it over. I do not like the way he says I should tell it, though. That is BORING…
What follows is the coming-of-age story of Shill, a god newly born following the death of another god, in which she tries to find her purpose and her nature. Shill isn’t born knowing how to god, so to speak; her first attempt to interact with mortals results in, um, an accident: [Read more…]