Alison Stine’s Road Out of Winter is one of those rare books that hits the serendipitous sweet spot of right time, right place, right mood—right everything. Almost. It’s a fairly short read, so I fired up my Kindle and went for it, pulled the trigger, ‘cause why not? A couple of days blurred past, and Stine pulled me through a story of rural landscapes full of climate-wrought confusion and dread, human nature’s ugliest sides, heartfelt friendships, physical and mental adversity, and, to my pleasant surprise, genuine hope.
It’s rare that I get fully engrossed in a fictional political narrative anymore. Sure, the vast number of Tom Clancy novels and movies deliver compelling, high-octane thrill rides, and The Manchurian Candidate (both the 1959 novel as well as the 1962 and 2004 films) still stands as one of the best election stories out there. But, when it comes down to it, the real world of politics (in the United States and elsewhere) is already rife with enough drama, deceit and decadence. Sometimes it’s just so damn tiring—and all of this coming from me, a genuine political junky. (On top of it all, most political stories just aren’t that good.) So, it came as a wonderful surprise when I read Malka Older’s debut novel, Infomocracy, that I found myself invested in a story so distinctly political again.
Join longtime friends Adrian M. Gibson and fantasy author Nicholas for Part Two of a chat about writing craft and creativity, the positive trends in SFF and where the genres are going, music, video games, and much more. This is Part Two of a two-part interview.
Join longtime friends Adrian M. Gibson and fantasy author Nicholas for Part One of a chat about Eames’ life and upbringing, early SFF influences and nerd culture, working in restaurants, editing and working with publishers, why he no longer wears cargo shorts, and much more. This is Part One of a two-part interview.
All the pieces of this jade puzzle worked so well for me. Jade City wowed me with its empathetic characters, engaging worldbuilding and tense action. Jade War amplified that in all the best ways with the addition of an international scope, political intrigue and a more integrated sense of where Kekon and its clans fit within the broader world. And, amidst all of this, the intimacy of the Kaul family bleeds through every page. Fonda Lee has crafted a masterful fantasy world with these two books, gifting me with some of my favorite fictional characters of all time.
From beginning to end, Rebecca Roanhorse’s Black Sun is a stunning work of fantastical fiction. Bringing together inspiration from Pre-Columbian civilizations such as the Aztecs, Maya and various tribes and nations of Native Americans, there is a distinct sense of passion on display here. This is wholly evident in Roanhorse’s worldbuilding, but her characters are where Black Sun truly shines. And as the start to a trilogy called Between Earth and Sky, it is an epic start to what will surely become a memorable series in modern fantasy canon.
I love me a good detective story, and I love me some good comics, so my excitement was off the charts when I discovered Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guardino’s Blacksad comic series. Now, a quick disclaimer: I was a big fan of anthropomorphism—the personification of animals. Past childhood franchises (Winnie the Pooh, Hamtaro, Micky Mouse, Looney Tunes and the like) were great, but Brian Jacques’ Redwall book series was my jam. Seriously, I loved them and read all twenty-two(!!!) books. In adulthood though, I’ve never actively sought out the stuff. But, Blacksad has convinced me that when done well—instead of being an easily overplayed gimmick—it can be a powerful allegory for the real world, past and present. It can also be aimed at and work well for adults.