Big! Announcement! NEW SERIES!!

Been sitting on this for a brief while, but finally got the okay to spill the beans. I’ve sold a new trilogy to Orbit! Can’t tell you much about it yet — it’s the Untitled Magic Seismology Project (UMSP) that some of you have seen me talking about here now and again; that was the reason for the research trip to Hawaii a few weeks back. I’m working on the first book now, but I don’t like talking much about my works-in-progress until they’re more complete. So suffice it to say that this will be a postapocalyptic epic fantasy trilogy, set in a world of seismic magic users and enigmatic nonhumans called stone-eaters. I’m experimenting with writing the kind of trilogy that follows a single character through mutliple books; this is the first time I’ve ever wanted to try doing so. And while the books have tentative titles for now, I think I’ll hold off on sharing those, given my usual track record with titles (i.e., they usually get changed. Lots.) Let’s just keep calling this the UMSP for now.

So, WOO HOO!! Wish me luck and steady wordcount!

All Purpose Cultural Cat NukuNuku, 1993ish-2012

NukuNuku, back to viewer

Not feeling the best right now, no. But almost-20 years was a phenomenal run for a cat, and she felt no pain at the end. We should all be so lucky.

I miss you, li’l cat, silly bat, Nunuku susuku bubuku. But wherever you are, give the mice there hell.

ETA Fixed the date. Wishful thinking there.



Fanart depiction of the Three: Nahadoth, Yeine, Itempas

Another entry in the “I get the best fans, ya’ll” category of Awesome, this one’s from Neondragonart, who sent it to me and gave me permission to post. Isn’t it amazing? She’s also done some kickass fanart of Martha Wells’ Raksura books, which I loved too. Go tell Neon how awesome she is!

Other shinies: I forgot to post here about it, but The Killing Moon got a starred review from Library Journal! And if you missed me squeeing about it all over Twitter last night, io9 liked TKM too!

THE SHADOWED SUN sample chapter 1 posted!

The Shadowed Sun comes out one month after The Killing Moon — but since it’s a sequel to the first book, I’m left at a bit of a loss as to how to advertise it without spoiling the first one! So I’m posting the first chapter of TSS, which is tightly focused on Hanani, one of the story’s three main protagonists, and doesn’t spoil anything for TKM. I think it stands nicely on its own. But I can’t post any more than that until after TKM comes out. Sorry!

Read it here.

THE KILLING MOON sample chapter 2 posted!


Look up. Are you reading this on the main page of this blog? Then in the header you should see the words “Chapter 2” all lit up underneath that photo of The Killing Moon. Reading it on a subsidiary page? Look up again, but this time scroll over the “Books” link, and go to one of the pages there for the Dreamblood or the first book. It’s linked there too.


“The Trojan Girl” online at Escape Pod

FYI for all — for those of you who missed it in Weird Tales last January, my “cybergoth” story “The Trojan Girl” is live now at Escape Pod. “The Trojan Girl” is part of a sequence of science fictional stories I’ve been working on — another of those stories, “Valedictorian,” will soon be published in the dystopian YA anthology After later this year– in which artificial intelligences that have risen spontaneously from a futuristic internet struggle to figure out their place in the world. An excerpt:

Fizville was where Meroe had been born. Such places littered the Amorph, natural collection points for obsolete code, corrupted data, and interrupted processes. It made a good hunting ground, since lesser creatures emerged from the garbage with fair regularity. It was also the perfect hiding-place for a frightened, valuable child.

But as Meroe and his group resolved between a spitting knot of paradox and a moldering old hypercard stack, they found that they were not alone. Meroe growled in outrage as a foreign interface clamped over the subnet, imposing interaction rules on all of them. To protect himself, Meroe adopted his default avatar: a lean, bald human male clad only in black skin and silver tattoos. Zo became a human female, dainty and pale and demurely gowned from neck to ankle to complement Meroe’s appearance. She crouched beside him and bared her teeth, which were sharp and hollow, filled with a deadly virus.

Fizville flickered and became an amusement park with half the rides broken, the others twisted into shapes that could never have functioned in the Static. Across the park’s wide avenue stood a new figure. He had depicted himself as a tall middle-aged male, Shanghainese and dignified, dressed in an outdated business suit. This was, Meroe suspected, a subtle form of mockery; a way of saying even in this form, I am superior. It would’ve worked better without the old suit.


There’s no such thing as a good stereotype.

Rantytime. Warning for profanity — although I’m going to try and rein it in, as best I can. Nobody listens to Angry Black Women, after all.

This rant has been partially triggered by yet another discussion of “strong female characters” circulating in the blogosphere. (A good jumping-off point for this discussion is this io9 article, where I butted into the comments for a minute to pretty much make this same point.) This isn’t a new discussion, of course; people have been talking about it for awhile on and off. It’s just the latest hiccup.

The strong female character (SFC) is a stereotype. It’s gone beyond just a trope at this point. It’s ubiquitous; we see this character appear in films, in books, in video games — and because it’s a stereotype, we’ve started to “see” it in real life. Conservatives love Sarah Palin because she shoots things, and Ann Coulter because she thinks women should never ask for help, and should tote guns (and vote the way their husbands tell them). We celebrate images like this one, which has been all over my Facebook feed this week. We warn that the Republican “war on women” will “awaken the sleeping giant” — with violent, threatening language re what will happen when women fight back.

This is a good thing, right? We all know women can be strong. Us women can wield the big guns like the big boys. We can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan; we can do anything, everything, we can work and have babies and cut the cords with our teeth and then still get up and punch a motherfucker in the face with our brains

— Yeahno. See, that’s the problem with stereotypes. They contain a grain of truth, sure, but the rest is all melodramatic bullshit.
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Ignorant Mail, and Linkspam


I get emails from readers from time to time, and 99% of these emails are positive and welcome. (Thank you!) But every so often I get one that’s… soooo very not. It isn’t exactly “hate mail”. Generally I only get those via the comments on my more “controversial” blog posts, like when I complain about messed-up video games or movies. (Yeah, I don’t think those are controversial either, but the fact remains; I get more crap over the stuff I watch/play than the stuff I write.) I’m quick on the banhammer, so most of you don’t have to see those gems.

What people do occasionally send me, however, are what I’m starting to call “ignorant mail”. These are usually superficially-polite screeds full of passive-aggressive hijinx, many flavors of ‘splaining (man-, white-), and so forth. I’ve been lectured at length on how I disrespect the venerable epic fantasy genre by rejecting Campbell’s “hero’s journey” paradigm* in favor of heroines who don’t go anywhere. I’ve been helpfully advised by non-readers that they might eventually get around to buying my work, if only I make a greater effort to be like [their favorite author]. And today I got told that I was “playing the race card” because I wrote this story. Because most of the characters are black, see, and because the story actually talks about the racism of the era. Doing this is just like inviting some friends over to play a game — pointless and unnecessary, that is. The kind of thing you do just for fun, or as a tactic to win some prize.

::more sigh::

“The Effluent Engine” is meant to be a fun story, of course, because how could I not have fun writing a story full of bustle-wearing spies and derringers and secret societies and pecan penuche? But given the era it’s set in, I included some story elements that IMO it would’ve been disrespectful of history to ignore. It’s not real history in many ways; there’s an obvious divergence from the timeline of actual history at the point of the Haitian Revolution, which — in case you didn’t know — was not won by dirigibles. But I took pains to stick to history in every other way, as much as the narrative allowed. Norbert Rillieux was indeed a Creole inventor, though he probably wasn’t as much of an ass as he is in the story; his innovation to prevent Yellow Fever outbreaks in New Orleans was thwarted, and possibly stolen, by a rival named Forstall (Edmund, rather than Raymond). Norbert did have a sister named Eugenie, though I made up her personality from whole cloth. Rochambeau’s barbarous war crimes against the Haitian people are well-documented, and although I altered the name slightly, the Order of the White Camellia is based on the very real secret society called the Knights of the White Camellia, who thankfully were less effective than my creation. (Although they are theorized to have morphed into the very effective White Citizens’ Councils, later on.)

Of equal importance to me was trying to acknowledge the psychological and social impact of life in a slave society; for example the friction between Creoles and other free black people, between freedmen and slaves, and between women and men of color. The legacies of colorism, classism, sexism, and internalized racism still linger powerfully in American society today, so I tried to have all the characters reflect the earlier forms of this to some degree or another.

But working these things into my story, rather than ignoring them, was the wrong thing to do according to my detractor.

I’ll spare you this person’s rambling, condescending, self-contradictory WTFery; suffice it to say this one wasn’t even worth grading. But congratulations, Detractor! You at least merited a (brief) rant on my blog. Good job!

On a more positive note — I’ve been insanely busy lately, hence the slow updating. Sorry! But here’s some interesting stuff to tide you over in the meantime:

*I reject Campbell’s philosophies on the whole, because if not for him there might be more writers of color in the genre today. I don’t really care if he was right about some things. He’s wrong for me.

ETA: As folks have pointed out in the comments, I’ve been conflating John Campbell with Joseph Campbell, apparently for years. D’oh! Going to have to go back and re-read Monomyth!Campbell now; I might find my opinion of the theory improved if I no longer think of its author as a bigoted asshat. (Probably not, but we’ll see.)

Wikiwikiwikiwiki (shut up)

Cool points to whoever gets the subject line reference.

Just an FYI — I’ve mentioned this before, but finally got around to posting the Inheritance Trilogy Non-Wiki — that is, the notes I kept while I was working on the trilogy, to try and keep track of which godling had what affinity and where the Toks live and whether it was the Ken or the Min who were famous for their piracy. Why am I posting this? Because I’m not planning to write any more books in this universe — I’m not discounting the possibility of a creative bolt of lightning, but I’m not planning it — and because I figure it could be useful for folks who are contemplating fanworks, etc. Enjoy!

Now THAT was a trip.

Back from Hawaii. Exhausted, as one is wont to be after any 12-hour flight and jetlag, but it doesn’t help that I spent the whole trip doing stuff like this:

Me hiking Kilauea Iki; standing in hiking gear making goofy face

That was day 1 of the trip: a 4-mile hike around and across Kilauea Iki, which is basically the remains of a lava lake that was pretty jumpin’ — by which I mean, boiling hot and utterly deadly — back in 1959. These days it’s a much more sedate place, although the hike is substantially challenging even for people who haven’t just traveled to the other side of the planet and aren’t quite recovered from bronchitis. The ground is still hot in places, and most of the landscape there feels like something out of a desolate postapocalyptic story. I made it, though, and there’s no better feeling than finishing something like that. Better still, I decided to have lunch while sitting in the still-warm throat of an active volcano. Toasted my spam musubi over a hot crack in the ground, actually. Mmmm, delicious geothermal energy.

I also visited Mauna Kea, although I didn’t go to the summit (would’ve needed a 4WD vehicle — and the skill to drive it — to make it there, unless I wanted to go with a busload of retirees, which I kinda didn’t), and Pu’u O’o, the most currently active volcano on the island. Did the latter one via a helicopter tour, since I didn’t want to die; it’s been erupting continuously for the past 20 years or so. Apparently I’m now one of the last people to see the Lava House standing, as it was destroyed the next day! Alas, I wasn’t able to hike to the current site at which lava flows into the ocean; I was pushing the budget as it was, and while I can handle an old lava lake, I wasn’t about to go marching across a still-deadly-in-places lava field without a guide. But I did several next best things, so I’m happy.

And I did some stuff that has squat-all to do with research, like a day-long road trip along the northeastern coast of the island with fellow author and buddy Kate Elliott. Imagine spending a day talking about fantasy (and everything else) with an author whose books you’ve loved for years, and who’s as witty and adventurous as one of her own characters, while driving through one of the most fantastic settings on our planet! ::happysigh::

So. At this point I’ve been back a little over 24 hours, and I’m finding myself missing the Big Island in a way I rarely miss places I visit. The soft humid air, which my skin loved after being baked in New York apartment heat for the past few months. The coqui frogs, which are a recent and invasive addition to the island’s ecology… but their songs are beautiful. The food! HOMG, while I was there I had fresh local papaya, apple bananas, strawberries, kiwifruit, bacon made from wild boars, bread pudding made with Portuguese sweet bread, poke made with the freshest ahi tuna, sweet sticky rice treats sweetened with rambutan juice, and delicate liliko’i juice. I sampled kava (…ew) and listened to live folk music by the ocean and chased crabs along the beach on which the Kingdom of Hawai’i was unified. I wrote a chapter of the UMSP while sitting beside a koi pond at the B&B I stayed at (highly recommended, BTW), and even though I was missing Altered Fluid’s annual retreat in the process, I still managed to achieve that sense of inward stillness that’s so crucial for any writer’s creative process.

Hell, I’m even thinking about moving there, when I grow old and feel like retiring somewhere. So yeah. Good trip.

I’ll be posting more photos from the trip on my Facebook page shortly; just need a little more time to decompress.