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Superposition, For Your Listening Enjoyment

March 28, 2015

The audio recording for Superposition is complete!  The book is read by LJ Ganser, who does a marvelous job of capturing the voice.  I just heard the preview today for the first time.  And so can you!  Just press play and you can listen to the first 18 minutes.  For the rest, you’ll need to buy it from Audible.  (The full audio book will be released on April 7, the same day as the trade paperback and e-book versions.)

(If the embedded widget doesn’t work for you, you can also listen to it here.)

Some people ask me why I don’t read my own audio books.  This is almost never a good idea!  Even well-spoken authors with experience talking in front of others don’t have the training and experience to read a book like a professional voice actor.  The power of delivery, range of emotion, clarity of presentation, and variety of character styles that a real audio book reader can give is far more than I will ever be able to manage.  So if you like having your books read to you (as I do), give LJ Ganser and Superposition a try!

Triple Book Release Extravaganza

March 27, 2015

In just a week and a half, three books by authors in the same writers group will be released not just in the same month, or even the same week, but on the very same day.  Steve Bein, Ken Liu, and I are all members of the Codex Writers Group, and as luck would have it, our books are all coming out on April 7, one from Roc, one from Pyr, and one from Saga Press, the new F&SF imprint of Simon and Schuster.

This brings out a very cool thing about the community of science fiction authors: we’re all on the same side.  One might think that, with books coming out the same day, Steve and Ken and I would be competing with each other, vying to get our book noticed more than the other guy’s.  After all, when you walk into a bookstore, you don’t often walk out with three books, right?  But it’s not like that.  I’d love for you to buy Ken’s book or Steve’s, and they would be glad to see you buy mine.  It’s what this community is like.  I’ve seen countless older, successful authors share their time and experience with younger up-and-comings, though it has no practical benefit.  They do it because when they were young, older authors did it for them.  So check out all three of these books (descriptions below the pictures) and buy whichever one you like.  (And, you know, two or three copies of mine…)

discipleofthewind superposition graceofkings

Disciple of the Wind

When Tokyo falls victim to a deadly terrorist attack, Detective Sergeant Mariko Oshiro knows who is responsible, even if she doesn’t have proof. She urges her commanding officers to arrest the perpetrator—an insane zealot who was just released from police custody. When her pleas fall on deaf ears, she loses her temper and then her badge, as well as her best chance of fighting back.

Left on her own, and armed with only her cunning and her famed Inazuma blade, Mariko must work outside the system to stop a terrorist mastermind. But going rogue draws the attention of an underground syndicate known as the Wind. For centuries, they have controlled Japanese politics from the shadows, using mystical relics to achieve their nefarious ends—relics like Mariko’s own sword and the iron demon mask whose evil curse is bound to the blade. Now the Wind is set on acquiring Mariko.

Mariko is left with a perilous choice: Join an illicit insurgency to thwart a deadly villain, or remain true to the law. Either way, she cannot escape her sword’s curse. As sure as the blade will bring her to victory, it also promises to destroy her….

Superposition

Jacob Kelley’s family is turned upside down when an old friend turns up, waving a gun and babbling about an alien quantum intelligence. The mystery deepens when the friend is found dead in an underground bunker…apparently murdered the night he appeared at Jacob’s house. Jacob is arrested for the murder and put on trial.

As the details of the crime slowly come to light, the weave of reality becomes ever more tangled, twisted by a miraculous new technology and a quantum creature unconstrained by the normal limits of space and matter. With the help of his daughter, Alessandra, Jacob must find the true murderer before the creature destroys his family and everything he loves.

The Grace of Kings

Two men rebel together against tyranny—and then become rivals—in this first sweeping book of an epic fantasy series from Ken Liu, recipient of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards.

Wily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures fighting against vast conscripted armies, silk-draped airships, and shapeshifting gods. Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, they each find themselves the leader of separate factions—two sides with very different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice.

Fans of intrigue, intimate plots, and action will find a new series to embrace in the Dandelion Dynasty.

 

The Great Superposition World Tour

March 21, 2015

Well, maybe not a world tour, exactly.  The week of Superposition’s release, I will be making a few appearance in my local area.  If you live nearby, please stop in and say hi!

  • Tuesday, April 7: Launch Party! at Towne Center Bookstore at 7:00pm
  • Thursday, April 9: Rittenhouse Square Barnes & Noble at 7:00pm
  • Friday, April 10: Devon Barnes & Noble at 7:00pm
  • Saturday, April 11: Springfield Mall Books-a-Million, time TBD

I will also be at RavenCon in Richmond April 24-26, and at Balticon in Baltimore May 22-25.

Books in the Mail

March 13, 2015

I just got word from Pyr Books that my copies of SUPERPOSITION are in the mail!  There’s something incredibly exciting about getting a box of one of my books.  I’ve seen the cover art, and I’ve seen the interior layout, so there’s nothing really new… but holding the actual finished product in my hand is one of the real joys of the writing life.  It’s only my name on the front, but a lot of other people’s work go into creating that book, from beta readers to editors to proofreaders to artists and designers and quite a few others.  And for the rest of you… less than four weeks to go until launch, and you can hold one in your hands as well!

Why SFF: A Reading List

February 11, 2015

Please welcome my friend M.K. Hutchins, whose YA fantasy novel Drift is both a Junior Library Guild Selection and a VOYA Top Shelf Honoree.  I asked her why she wrote science fiction and fantasy, as opposed to other genres, and she responded with this delightful set of book recommendations and musings about the value of the genre.

I write fantasy and science fiction for a very simple reason: it’s what I love to read. But explaining why in the abstract proves beyond me. So here’s a list of novels and short stories that exemplify what I love best about the genre. Of course other genres can do these things, but the blend of these elements is the reason I come back to fantasy and science fiction over and over again.

ghostbrideSense of Place: It’s okay, in SFF, to lavish a little extra love on the setting and description. The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo does a remarkable job of creating immersive settings — when I think of this book, I still smell coconut. The novel takes me across the world, back in time, and then drags me into a supernatural realm. J.S. Bang’s short story, “The Judge’s Right Hand”, likewise transports me with careful use of details and voice — this time into an eerie Western frontier.

whatsleftIdeas. When I was a kid, my family played a game at the dinner table called PMI: Pluses, Minuses, and Interesting Points. We’d start with a question — what if all cars were blue? — and go from there. SFF asks what if? all the time, extrapolating technology and culture from simple starting points. Kat Zhang’s What’s Left of Me is an alternate history where everyone is born with two souls; it delves into the PMIs of sharing a body and never being alone. This was great fun. Leah Cypess’ “What We Ourselves Are Not” explores a fascinating what if? about culture and memory.

naturalhistoryRemoving Contextual Bias. It’s pretty much impossible to talk about Prohibition without talking about the 1920’s. Place a story in a fantasy world or a space station, and suddenly it’s possible to take a fresh look at government control, the social cost of alcohol, and maybe even make me look at the 1920’s in a new way.

I’m enamored of Marie Brennan’s A Natural History of Dragons in part because in taking me to new places, it makes me think about my own world — both about how culture interact and clash and about how science happens. There’s also a delightful narrative voice and dragons. Dragons are awesome. “Tuesdays with Molakesh the Destroyer” by Megan Grey takes a familiar situation — being a high school student — and makes me revisit it with fresh eyes because, well, that old neighbor next-door is a demon. It’s not exactly my world anymore.

crescentmoonAdventure. This probably doesn’t need any explanation. I love a great adventure. The Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed has heart-pounding action, intrigue, and mystery, along with compelling characters, tight worldbuilding, and really scary monsters. I also heartily recommend Eric James Stone’s “Rijiggering the Thingamajig.”

herosguideSheer Fun. Maybe when there’s magic and spaceships in the manuscript, it’s easier to step back and laugh at yourself. I really don’t know why, but whether it’s smiling at a hobbit’s understated wit or laughing out loud at a purposefully-zany plot, I enjoy the humor I find in SFF. The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy is ridiculous and over-the-top in the best possible, Middle Grade kind of way. I also love Oliver Buckram’s “When Robot Mermaids Attack,” and his “Un Opera nello Spazio” and “Half a Conversation, Overheard While Inside an Enormous Sentient Slug”. Oliver Buckram’s an expert at this.

desertofsoulsNostalgia. So, I’m a sucker for things like fairy-tale retellings. It turns something well-know and much-loved into something fresh that I can experience again for the first time. The Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones isn’t based on any particular story that I know of, but it feels like it belongs with Arabian Nights. “The Light Crusader’s Dark Desert” by James Beamon makes great use of ancient deities and a post-apocalyptic world and creates something new and amazing from them.

I suppose I love speculative fiction because of the way it makes my brain work — it gives me wondrous settings and ideas to experience and explore, along with an emotional ride that is thrilling, thought-provoking, or hilarious (or all in turn). Whether I’m reading it or writing it, this is what I come to SFF for.

M.K. Hutchins’ YA fantasy novel Drift is both a Junior Library Guild Selection and a VOYA Top Shelf Honoree. Her short fiction appears in IGMS and Daily Science Fiction. She studied archaeology at BYU, giving her the opportunity to compile ancient Maya genealogies, excavate in Belize, and work as a faunal analyst. She blogs at http://www.mkhutchins.com.

Your Other-Dimensional Doppelganger

February 6, 2015

A very cool review of SUPERPOSITION over at Starburst Magazine:

“…an utterly addictive murder mystery with a fantastic twist.”

“…a compelling and carefully woven sci-fi murder mystery.”

“If you don’t read this book, chances are that your other-dimensional doppelganger will, and you don’t want it having all the fun.”

Thanks for reading, Starburst!

Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma

February 1, 2015

Please welcome my friend and talented author Alex Shvartsman, whose short story collection “Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma and Other Stories” comes out today!  Alex is particularly known for his humor, and for good reason, but I can tell you that his serious fiction is pretty gripping.  You’ll find both in this collection.  To celebrate the release, I asked Alex a few questions to find out a little more about him.

Why do you write science fiction, as opposed to other genres?

I discovered science fiction when I was around ten years old, and I never looked back. With quality books of any genre being as difficult to procure as most other luxuries in the Soviet Union, I’d scoured our personal library, those of our friends, and every other source I could access for more books. By the time my family emigrated from the Soviet Union, I’ve read most of what was available in the genre at that time, and the embarrassment of riches in reading material became a strong incentive for me to learn English quickly.

I’ve written an occasional mystery, and I’ve certainly read widely outside of genre, but I have little interest in writing fiction that strays too far away from science fiction or fantasy. These are the stories I’ve always wanted to tell.

You’ve gained a reputation as a humor writer, but not all your stories are funny.  Do you think the reputation is accurate?  Do you prefer writing funny stories or serious ones?

I very much enjoy having developed the reputation as a humorist. Certainly not everything I write is humor, and some of my stories are really dark, but it’s nice to be able to have that range. Also, it doesn’t hurt that I edit the Unidentified Funny Objects annual anthology series of humorous SF/F. To that end, being recognized for my own humor writing is a huge boon!
When I set out to write fiction, I never pictured myself developing this sort of a reputation. However, when I tried writing humorous or sarcastic stories, I discovered those come more easily to me. While writing humor is generally more difficult, it is something I enjoy very much. Writing straight-up horror, on the other hand, is nearly incomprehensible to me.

You emigrated to the United States from the Soviet Union when you were 13 years old.  How have your experiences learning a new language and culture affected your writing?

There are both pluses and minuses to writing fiction in a language other than your native tongue.

On one hand, my English isn’t perfect, and it never will be. My friends beta read my stories and lovingly correct my numerous sins against the English language before any editor might see them. I also work harder on revisions and perhaps write slower than most of my colleagues. Not that I’m complaining — writing fiction had always been a dream of mine, but it was a dream I gave up on at a young age, because I never expected to learn the new language well enough to write fiction in it. Needless to say, I’m glad to have proven myself wrong.

On the other hand, growing up multilingual and multicultural can be a great boon when it comes to storytelling. I get to mine my background and experiences for story ideas and, hopefully, realistic portrayal of people who are transplanted to another culture. A number of my stories deal with such issues. Many of my other tales are set in Russia, or have Russian characters in them, as I believe I can write those with much greater degree of realism than the portrayal of Mr. Chekhov on Star Trek. Or at least I can give them more realistic Russian accents.
What’s your favorite story you’ve written?

You know that’s like asking a parent who his favorite child is, right?

I think the most powerful story I’ve ever written is “The Rumination on What Isn’t,” published in Nature. It’s a very short piece, so I’d rather link to it than spoil it for you.

Ken Liu, who’s one of the smartest people I know, feels my strongest story is to date is “Icarus Falls” (Daily Science Fiction.) It deals with space travel, memory loss, and the ethics of telling lies.

And then there’s, of course, “Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma” (Intergalactic Medicine Show), by far my most successful story, and a good example of the kind of humor I write. It’s set in the world’s oldest magical pawn shop. It won the 2014 WSFA Small Press Award for Short Fiction, an accomplishment I’m super-proud of.

Tell us about your new short story collection!

I’m so very excited about the release of “Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma and Other Stories,” my first short story collection which launches on February 1. The paperback edition contains 40 of my best short stories, but I’ve also included a bunch more in the e-book: it literally has all the stories I wrote since I began writing fiction in 2010 that have had their rights revert to me. I like the “completist” approach because as a reader I love collections that get me every possible story by authors whose fiction I enjoy.

The three stories I mentioned above are included, as well as two previously-unpublished stories. “The Hourglass Brigade” is an action-packed story that offers an unorthodox take on time travel and “Small Magics” is a fantasy tale about a clan of pixies under attack by the huge gnomes (because size is, of course, relative.)

Launching a short story collection by a relatively unknown author is always difficult, but I was fortunate enough to have a lot of much better-known friends who were willing to help. Ken Liu wrote an introduction so kind, I blush when reading it. Mike Resnick, Esther Friesner, Jody Lynn Nye, Gini Koch and Henry Gee were all kind enough to read the manuscript and write blurbs for the book. And the early reviews are starting to come in too; notably Tangent Online posted a very kind and favorable review of the book.

So all the pieces are now in place. Now it’s just a matter of whether the readers like it, which is the most important metric of all.
Thanks, Alex!  And good luck with the book!
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