Links aka Aliette on the web


Briefly emerging from my winter sleep, aka “full-time care of the snakelet while holding a day job and writing a novel/novella ™”, to point out a couple of places I’ve been this week:
-Roundtable on fantastical creatures at The Book Smugglers, with Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Shveta Thakrar, Octavia Cade, Marie Brennan, Whiti Hereaka, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, E.C. Myers, Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Bogi Takács, Joyce Chng and me: part 1, part 2. I talk dragons (rồng) and turtles (rủa) in myths!
-My Beneath Ceaseless Skies Aztec steampunk story “Memories in Bronze, Feathers and Blood” is re-released as part of the Audio Vault, with a new introduction by me on the genesis and worldbuilding of the story: listen here.
-Still at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, the new issue, available at Weightless Books and Amazon, contains my colonial Indochina fantasy “The Moon over Red Trees”, as well as fiction by Richard Parks, K.J Parker (OMG I’m sharing a TOC with K.J. Parker!), and Gwendolyn Clare

Prayers of Forges and Furnaces up at Lightspeed Magazine


Lightspeed Magazine has published my Aztec Western/steampunk story “Prayers of Forges and Furnaces”, a reprint from Sean Wallace’s Mammoth Book of Steampunk .


The stranger came at dawn, walking out of the barren land like a mirage—gradually shimmering into existence beside the bronze line of the rails: a wide-brimmed hat, a long cloak, the glint that might have been a rifle or an obsidian-studded sword.

Xochipil, who had been scavenging for tech at the mouth of Mictlan’s Well, caught that glint in her eyes—and stopped, watching the stranger approach, a growing hollow in her stomach. Beneath her were the vibrations of the Well, like a calm, steady heartbeat running through the ground: the voice of the rails that coiled around the shaft of the Well, bearing their burden of copper and bronze ever downwards.

The stranger stopped when he came up to her. They stared wordlessly at each other. He was tall, a good two heads taller than Xochipil; he held himself straight, like an axle or a rod that wouldn’t break. The glint wasn’t a sword or a rifle, after all—but simply that of a dozen obsidian amulets, spread equally around his belt, shining with a cold, black light that wasn’t copper or bronze or steel, but something far more ancient, from the old, cruel days before the Change.

Read it here. Author spotlight here. And please remember to subscribe to Lightspeed or buy the issue–not only will you get the content early, you’ll also help support the magazine that brings you awesome fiction.



Couple of plugs:
-Fundraiser for Accessing the Future, an anthology of disability-themed SF. Co-edited by Kathryn Allan and Djibril al-Ayad, to be published by Publishing. Djibril already brought the wonderful (and under appreciated) We See a Different Frontier into being, this looks also awesome.
-In a rather different vein, a wonderful short story by Alter S. Reiss, over at Beneath Ceaseless Skies: racial tensions, immigration and murder in the kitchen of a large restaurant: “By Appointment to the Throne”

Rainy Writers Workshop


So, I’m back from Brittany, where we had a fantastic time with Kari Sperring, Kate ElliottRhiannon Rasmussen-Silverstein  and Rochita Loenen-Ruiz. Much good time was had–even though there was more snakelet-minding than I expected. I had time to ponder a few pieces, as well as eat ice cream, buckwheat crepes, and try to grab some sleep.

We visited Carnac, which was lovely–I had forgotten how impressive it was: a broken 4km of standing stones, which they think is part of a larger alignment of 40km between Quiberon and Vannes. And had a lovely buckwheat crepe in a restaurant overlooking the harbour at La Trinité-sur-Mer. Ham and cheese and egg is the best (the bit where you pierce the egg with the point of a knife and watch the egg yolk ooze across the crepe? the best!).

Now am back in the saddle, and busy snakelet-minding. Time to get back to work, methinks…

Darkness notice


Heading to the Rainy Writers’ Retreat in Brittany II with Kari Sperring, Kate Elliott, Rochita Loenen-Luiz and Rhiannon Rasmussen-Silverstein (and the snakelet). Internet access will be present but I expect not much to happen on that front; so email, twitter etc. will be slow.Expect to be back Wednesday.

Kate Elliott’s Spiritwalker trilogy

- One comment

Composed of Cold Magic, Cold Fire and Cold Steel. Set in an alternate version of Europe where Carthage never fell; where a sheet of ice covers everything north of England and Belgium; and where the Taino Empire still rules in the Caribbean, Kate Elliott’s most recent trilogy is a thing of beauty. It’s a very tightly focused fantasy: the narrator if Catherine (Cat) Hassi Barahal, born into a family of Phoenicians couriers and spies–who finds herself, quite unexpectedly, married to a cold mage from one of the most powerful Houses in Europe, and thurst in the midst of intrigues both political and supernatural.

In the world of Spiritwalker, magic comes in two flavours: cold mages can spread a cold strong enough to douse fires and shatter steel; whereas fire mages channel flames and conflagrations, often to disastrous results. But magic users must take care not to become too powerful; for once a night on Hallow’s Eve, the Wild Hunt comes from the spirit world, and kills and dismembers a powerful magic user. The cold mages are thus powerful, but not overly so; and they govern Europe in a loose alliance with the princes who wield temporal power. But radicals are agitating for equal rights, and the infamous general Camjiata (this storyline’s version of Napoleon), has recently come back from his exile and is busy raising another army to conquer Europe… Cat and her beloved cousin Beatrice (Bee), who both find they have more abilities than they suspect, flee as every faction attempts to lay hands on them and use them for their own purposes.

It’s hard to do justice to the worldbuilding in this: one of Kate Elliott’s great strengths is her ability to create a universe that truly feels lived in–that gives you the impression that it doesn’t solely exist for the plot, and that everyone and everything has an existence that goes beyond the narration of the trilogy. The magical system is also fantastic (magic based on thermodynamics! Entropy between the spirit world and the mortal world!). And the characters really shine: from impulsive and kind-hearted Cat to theatrical and pragmatic Bee; from the arrogant and magnificent cold mage Andevai to the canny and manipulative Camjiata, they all leap off the page–you might not always agree with what they do, but they’re all thoughtfully depicted; and I really loved that the story went unexpected places, and explored issues of consent, equality and power, and how revolutions might or might not be the best way to grant these. And special props to the Master of the Wild Hunt, who’s in a class of his own for manipulative bastard.  Also, the salt plague is one of the awesomest, most refreshing ways of doing zombies in speculative fiction ever (and I say this as someone who’s a bit burnt on the subject of zombies).

There’s a few extras, too: The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal features Bee’s POV, and lovely art by Hugo Award winner Julie Dillon; and “The Courtship” takes up the story a few days after the end of Cold Steel from the POV of another character.

Highly recommended, in case you had doubts.

Your hemi semi yearly Vietnamese poem


Because it’s such a pretty, heartbreaking poem:

Tác giả: Xuân Diệu

Yêu là chết ở trong lòng một ít
Vì mấy khi yêu mà chắc được yêu.
Cho rất nhiều song nhận chẳng bao nhiêu;
Người ta phụ, hoặc thờ ơ, chẳng biết…
Phút gần gũi cũng như giờ chia biệt.
Tưởng trăng tàn, hoa tạ với hồn tiêu,
Vì mấy khi yêu mà chắc được yêu!
– Yêu, là chết ở trong lòng một ít.
Họ lạc lối giữa u sầu mù mịt,
Những người ai theo dõi dấu chân yêu;
Và cảnh đời là sa mạc cô liêu.
Và tình ái là sợi dây vấn vít.
Yêu, là chết ở trong lòng một ít.

Rough translation (not my own)
( Xuan Dieu )

To love is to die a little in the heart,
for when you love, can you be sure you’re loved?
You give so much, so little you get back —
the other lets you down or looks away.
Together or apart, it’s still the same.
The moon turns pale, blooms fade, the soul’s bereaved,
for when you love, can you be sure you’re loved?
To love is to die a little in the heart.
They’ll lose their way within dark sorrow land,
those passionate fouls who go in search of love.
And life will be a desert stripped of joy,
and love will tie the knot that binds to grief.
To love is to die a little in the heart.

Guest of Honour at Eurocon 2016


Guest of Honour at Eurocon 2016

Very pleased to announce I’ll be a Guest of Honour at Eurocon 2016 in Barcelona, along with Richard Morgan, Jun Miyazaki, and Enrique Corominas. Dates are 4-6 November 2016. (yeah, you’ll have noticed I seem to go to Barcelona quite a bit those days. Not complaining, it’s a great city, the food is awesome, and I get to practise my–ailing–Spanish…)