I wasn’t going to launch into promo for this book until September, but whatever, it’s almost September, and I want to. So here’s the first chapter of Labyrinthian, which – recap – is coming out in January from Samhain Publishing. It’s a (very, very loose) retelling of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur IN SPACE, and it’s set in the Line and Orbit universe, though it doesn’t feature any of the characters from that book and it stands totally on its own. It takes place shortly after the events of Line and Orbit, and if the L&O sequel ever actually gets a release, one should assume that it’s happening concurrent with that.
Here’s the blurb:
A hunter should never fall for his prey.
A hunter’s heart should never fall prey to his quarry.
Still nursing his latest post-mission hangover, bounty hunter Theseus jumps at a high-paying, high-risk job that sounds ridiculously easy. Yet from the moment he nabs the alleged supersoldier with sedative gas, nothing is as it seems.
On the run from the facility where he was created and raised, Taur is desperate to locate his genetically engineered brothers and sisters. To rescue them—and himself—from slavery. Waking aboard Theseus’ ship, his fury is tempered by curiosity about his captor. Despite his doubts about his prisoner, Theseus figures it’d be risky to let Taur go—until they’re thrown together by a shared betrayal. They declare a tentative truce as they flee from a shadowy and immensely powerful organization that will stop at nothing to find them.
But as they wrestle with their growing feelings for each other, Taur and Theseus face an even greater danger. A lethal threat lurking inside Taur’s own body, waiting to explode…
So here’s the first chapter, which introduces Taur and reveals the fact that he’s not having a very good day, or week, or life.
(Warning: this actually gets pretty violent at one point)
As promised, here’s the first chapter of Ravenfall, free to read.
The Story So Far, by way of the back cover blurb:
In exile from her home and her people, Turn – once Crow and psychopomp-in-training – is living among the mysterious Ravens, a people steeped in magic and forgotten history. Despite a period of relative peace, Turn is restless and struggling to find her place among her adopted tribe. Complicating things are her feelings for her friend and companion Ava, which are both changing and intensifying. And of course, peace can’t last. Unexpectedly, an old friend appears bearing bad tidings, and the Ravens are faced with a choice between fight or flight. But the choice may not be as clear as it appears, and Turn suspects it may be informed by an influence that means to destroy them.
The lost tribe of the Moravici, supposedly stripped of power, are not as dead as they seemed, and are extending tentacles of control and dark coercion into places Turn didn’t believe possible. The Crows, convinced that the Ravens pose a lethal threat, are preparing to make war. In Sol, the world of the living, the dead are rising, and they have an appetite for flesh. The Ravens are arguing among themselves, unable to take action. Despairing, Turn sees little hope of saving anyone.
But of course, help can come from the unlikeliest of places. The question is what price it will demand.
Click the cut for excerpty goodness. And if you like what you read, please add on Goodreads. And buy. And if you buy, it’s always amazing if you review anywhere you like. I pretty much depend on word-of-mouth, so any help there is so appreciated.
I haven’t posted in a bit. Nothing major to announce at the moment, except that I sold a short story – “A Shadow on the Sky”, a tale of a drone queen because of course drones would need one – to Mythic Delirium.
AND here’s a novel update: I’m currently working on two concurrently, because I’m out of my mind. The first is Rookwar, the final installment in the Casting the Bones trilogy – which I am very behind on and need to push hard at this month – and also an as-yet untitled one that I began on a whim. You know how I seem to keep coming back to the Line and Orbit universe? Well, this is the story of Kae, how he met his wife Leila, and how – together – they saved the entire convoy from starvation, managed a conflict between a lost human colony and a sentient biosphere, dealt with Relationship Feelings, and somehow didn’t murder Lochlan.
I’m not very far into it, and like any baby novel its future is uncertain, but I’m feeling pretty good about it and so far it feels like it’s coming relatively smoothly. If you like, here – with the usual caveats about a work-in-progress (rough draft, may not make it into the final product if there is one, etc.) – is an excerpt.
This is from “Singing With All My Skin and Bone”, which will be out at some point in Nightmare, and which I’m posting because I’ve been thinking about it, because it’s pertinent to my post last night, and it remains the most intensely personal thing I’ve written in a long time. It is essentially autobiography through a veil. It was frightening to write. I’m glad I did.
Let me tell you what I wish I could have said, when they saw the blood and the pits in my flesh and tried to get me to stop, because everyone knows a little kid shouldn’t do this shit to themselves. Let me tell you that when you discover a direct line into the fabric of the universe, it’s very difficult to just leave that alone. Let me tell you what it’s like to wear every mark like a secret ornament that only you find lovely, and to hate them at the same time because of what they’ll mean to everyone else, so you hide them as best you can with long sleeves and shadows but they always see in the end. Let me tell you what it’s like to make blood magic, real magic, because packed under your fingernails the world loses its power to hurt you anymore. Let me tell you want it’s like to run pain through a complex refinement process that makes it chocolate and warm sheets and dappled summer sunlight. Let me tell you what it’s like to select your instruments of sorcery according to their sharpness and keen edges. Let me tell you what it’s like to be a witch in junior high school. Let me tell you. Shut up and let me talk.
I wish I could get this into words. None of them are coming out quite right. I want to tell you what it’s like to have magic in your skin. Sit down beside me and let me illuminate all my scars, let me tell you all my many early names. No, they weren’t bestowed like honorable titles and they hurt worse than the actual wounds, but they dug into me just like everything else, and I have them still. Not all scars are the kinds you can see. Not all scars are beautiful. A changing body is a dangerous thing; a body that can be changed is more dangerous still. All these little bodies, all this potential, and imagine if they all found out how to take hold of it all at once. Every single beaten-down body, rising in angry flames.
God, we would have been terrifying. Can you imagine? Can you just imagine that? There’s a reason why we send children off to war.
After the loss of a limb, some people experience bereavement. Some people are angry. Some people adjust perfectly well. Some people have a hard time working with your particular family of prosthetics. Fewer than there used to be. The majority of people are fine with you, grateful for the advances that have produced you.
But I read the testimonials and I don’t see all that many people talking about it like it’s them. Theirs, yes. But not them.
A very few people experience a curious crisis of identity. They start believing that they aren’t human anymore. They have panic attacks, nightmares. They claim that not only are you not part of them but you’re a separate mind trying to take them over. A tiny minority actually engage in what’s being called re-amputation.
Footage of a man who hacked off his new leg with a meat cleaver. It took him fifteen minutes to get it all the way off. The pain was immense until he rendered the sensory apparatus inoperative. He has permanent nerve damage. The other leg doesn’t work now. He says he doesn’t regret it. He says incomplete but real human is better than the alternative.
Basically what the post subject line says: We See a Different Frontier, the anthology of post-colonial SF that I’m lucky enough to be a part of, is now available in ebook and paperback formats.
So far the book has gotten great buzz from critics. Publisher’s Weekly (which calls my story “haunting”):
Fernandes and al-Ayad, editors of webzine The Future Fire, have compiled an innovative and trenchant anthology of 16 postcolonial speculative fiction stories…all the stories, as Aliette de Bodard says in the incisive preface, center on the voices “of those whom others would make into aliens and blithely ignore or conquer or enlighten.” This is not just an interesting and entertaining collection, but also a necessary, convincing critique of the colonialist tropes that mark many of speculative fiction’s genre conventions.
Locus (which gave my story a “Recommended”):
[T]he anthology does not simply present a series of dreary, bitter polemics. There’s variety here, and quite a few of the stories are entertaining, a lot of fun – particularly for readers who enjoy revenge tales. There is also anger and tragedy, and looks back into history that may open the eyes of some Western readers.
It really is an awesome anthology. I also agree with PW that it’s a necessary one, especially given the conversations that are going on in the SFnal world right now. Check it out.
And an excerpt of my story “A Heap of Broken Images” is under the cut.
Posted in Book launch, Excerpt, Fantasy, Reviews, Science fiction
Tagged alternate history, anthology, excerpt, fantasy, postcolonial sf, science fiction, short stories, sociological sf, we see a different frontier
Here, for your reading enjoyment, is another one of the bits of Line and Orbit that was cut from the final version of the book. It was one of the casualties of our many cuts for length, and ended up going because it doesn’t do a huge amount to advance the plot. However, what it does do is present a sweet little slice of life at home with Kae and Leila, and also builds their characters a bit. Additionally, it brings to light something about Kae’s character that, without this scene, actually doesn’t get revealed until later in the book.
It made me sad to have to cut it. But hey, here it is for free. Hope you enjoy.
A note on chronology: This scene originally came at the end of chapter 9, after Lochlan has taken Adam to meet with the Council and Adam has had his first awkward meeting with Ixchel. There are no majorly important spoilers to speak of unless you count Kae’s character thing, but the scene also won’t make the maximum amount of sense if you haven’t read the book.
The trees thinned out around her, the path widening, and then they fell away entirely and she came out into the fields, the grass whispering in the breeze and carrying the sweet smell of heather and the bracken that grew at the edge of the wood, mixed with the headier scent of honeysuckle. The light of the sunlamps was deepening into afternoon, and for a moment Nkiruka stood, breathing it in. She tilted her head back. Far above her, through the transparent ceiling, the stars shone in the night that went on forever.
She had not been born on Ashwina but on Suzaku, where the High Fields were drier and faded into patches of red desert, and the Arched Halls were–strangely–lusher and more humid, more like what people described as the equatorial jungles of Terra. She had grown up in those Fields and those Halls, had carried their dust and drifting pollen within her when she came to Ashwina to learn how to fight, to dance the death dances, to pilot an escort fighter. It had been an adjustment but she had made it. She would never love these lands the way she loved the lands that rested at the top of Suzaku’s great bulk, but she had grown to love them all the same.
Anything growing. Miracles in the black.
I am so, so happy to be back here again. And I love this character.
Line and Orbit has been out for a month now, and what a month it’s been. I want to once again thank everyone who’s spread the word about it, and again encourage anyone who reads and enjoys it to do the same – you do me and my co-author a truly immeasurable favor when you do so, and we appreciate it so much.
So in honor of its releasiversary, I’m doing two things.
- I’m running a Tumblr giveaway of a free copy of the book. Have a Tumblr account? All you have to do in order to enter is reblog. Monday after next I’ll pick a winner at random.
- I’m posting the entire third chapter below, wherein we introduce our roguish smartass secret-man-pain MC2 Lochlan d’Bideshi, and blind-seer delightfully prickly wisewoman Ixchel. Enjoy.
My slipstreamy short “The Scarred Utopian Takes a Wife” is now available to read for free in issue #14 of Jabberwocky.
On the day of her wedding, the bride of the Scarred Utopian pulls her veil down over her face. She does this unassisted by her attendants, assembled around her in silence of the most solemn kind—this is a thing that she must do herself, her fingertips slipping over the intricate needle lace. She sees patterns of flowers and winding vines spiraling endlessly around birds in flight, leaping stags, wild hares, other creatures impossibly strange. Shapes that change forever, altering themselves the very instant she identifies their nature. She sees this, and then the veil is over her head, a vague white blur, and that is all she sees.
The story itself actually comes out of a paper I wrote in my second semester of grad school, after I’d been devouring a lot of Zygmunt Bauman and Omer Bartov’s writing on utopian ideals and how destructive they can be. Stuck that onto my desire to write something about fairy tale tropes and the removal of women’s agency and here we are.