Because it’s been a while since I did one of these, and because this blog has kind of fallen by the wayside while I worked on other things (mostly keeping up with the snakelet): have a snippet from my latest short story!
Thanh arrived late at the First Presentation party; deliberately, because it would enable her to mingle more easily into the crowd; and because she couldn’t deal with the thought of making small and inane talk with Anh Ngoc and her new husband for what would seem like hours, while they waited for the other guests.
It had been years, and she wasn’t sure, altogether, if she would even know anyone; if she would even have the proper authorisations to see anyone. But, once she cleared the entry hall and entered the compartment proper–and the overlay of a vast courtyard replaced the narrow compartment, she saw people clustered by a buffet instead of a beautiful, empty landscape; and let out a breath she hadn’t even been aware of holding.
Set onboard a very particular space station that has a very particular way of dealing with things. I actually started this one as an entirely different beast–basically a thriller about circles of power, and the coming back of someone who had been displaced from a ruling position aboard a space station. I had the rough outline, and I got about a scene into it before I realised this just wasn’t the story I wanted to tell; that I needed something more intimate and more concerned with daily life in all its glorious strangeness and eccentricities. Space soap opera ftw
Very very pleased to reveal “my precious”, aka the UK cover for House of Shattered Wings(picture me curled up around my computer, making Gollum noises). Who said “dark and creepy and beautiful”?
It’s a very different beast to the US cover–classier and more refined, but I really like the details (the window and its reflection in the water, broken up by debris; the jewel-like wings, which are very appropriate for my Fallen, whose magic is beautiful, addictive and highly prized. And the arches. This is totally the inside of Notre-Dame before I nuked it )
Just as a reminder, House of Shattered Wings comes out August 20th from Gollancz in the UK and Commonwealth/August 18th from Roc in the US. The UK cover copy is below.
A superb murder mystery, on an epic scale, set against the fall out – literally – of a war in Heaven.
Paris has survived the Great Houses War – just. Its streets are lined with haunted ruins, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine runs black with ashes and rubble. Yet life continues among the wreckage. The citizens continue to live, love, fight and survive in their war-torn city, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over the once grand capital.
House Silverspires, previously the leader of those power games, lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls.
Within the House, three very different people must come together: a naive but powerful Fallen, an alchemist with a self-destructive addiction, and a resentful young man wielding spells from the Far East. They may be Silverspires’ salvation. They may be the architects of its last, irreversible fall…
Here’s some of the things people have been saying about it (for those who’ve been following, yup, there’s two new quotes by Justina Robson and Michelle Sagara. I’m a fan of both of them and feel immensely lucky there ^^):
THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS is a Gothic masterpiece of supernatural intrigues, loves and betrayals in a ruined and decadent future Paris — wildly imaginative and completely convincing, this novel will haunt you long after you’ve put it down.
Darkly entertaining. de Bodard makes Fallen Angels entirely her own in this post-apocalyptic Paris near the turn of the century. The personal politics of necessity blend and clash with the politics of the powerful as people—mortal and immortal—attempt to survive.
Michelle Sagara, author of THE CHRONICLES OF ELANTRA and THE HOUSE WAR series
THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS exists in a rich, evocative Paris that is thick with magical history. Pathos and beauty intertwine in a novel filled with longing.
An intense, beautiful, brutal journey written with an eye for the stunning, vivid detail and the cruel demands of duty, loyalty, and leadership. Its portrait of a ruined Paris ruled by fallen angels is one I won’t soon forget.
In which I catch up to a lot of books. You’ve been warned (yeah. The snakelet got mobile and my spare time got a lot… busier).
–The Very Best of Kate Elliott: an extensive collection of Elliott’s short fiction as well as four illuminating essays, this is utterly wonderful. They’re all very strong stories, focusing on people (mostly women) dealing with war, magic and various other conflicts. The clear highlight for me was “Leaf and Branch and Grass and Vine”, which has the best woman protagonist *ever*, and manage to make a number of pointed remarks about the invisibility of older women and working-class people, but they’re all worth a read.
–Glorious Angels, Justina Robson: “glorious” is about the right word for this. Set on a planet colonised by humans a long time ago, and where an intriguing mix of science and magic dominates, this focuses on the Empire, a loose confederation of cities ruled by Empresses who control their subjects through pheromones. But the Empire is enmeshed in a deadly war; and trouble might soon come from within… There’s so much in this–tremendously inventive world building done matter-of-factly, a kickass family (Tralane and her two daughters are just awesome), and mysterious and deadly beings in the shape of the Karoo, creatures who absorb each other to gain knowledge. And an ending that is both satisfying and immensely frustrating (aka I want to know what happens next!).
–The Traitor Baru Cormorant, Seth Dickinson (ARC from publisher): if you’re not in the mood for brutal and depressing, this is probably not the book for you. It’s been a long while since I read something that was pure tragedy–you know exactly what this book is building up to, and yet you still turn the pages and hope against all hope that there will be a happy ending. (also, the focus on economics and war is really interesting, even though I wasn’t 100% sold on some of the politics). I did find myself wanting to argue with it, at length, after I’d finished it; but I suspect you’re meant to do so.
–Shattered Pillars, Steles of the Sky, Elizabeth Bear: I’d read Range of Ghosts, the first volume of the Eternal Sky a while back, when it first came out, but I hadn’t had a chance to check it out until now. Set in a fantasy version of the Silk Road (featuring analogues of Persia, Mongolia and China among others–more as loose inspirations than the actual historical setting), this is a breathtaking epic fantasy with very strong set pieces (and horses! OMG Bansh and her foal), political intrigue and realistic characters (while I love Temur, my favourite is Samarkar, the wizard who was once a princess, and her relationship with Edene, Temur’s fiancée). The ending is heartbreaking and wonderful.
–The Grace of Kings, Ken Liu (ARC from publisher): epic fantasy using Ancient China as its foundation. A cross between the Iliad, Three Kingdoms and Lord of the Rings. But it’s also very adult and very modern in its handling of power–who gets it, who is worthy to handle it and how you cling to it. And very very cynical and dark in some ways (the violence is always drily factual, but I’d argue that makes it even more horrific)
It does some amazing things with narration–and one of these is showing how everyone has a story–this might be the tale of Kuni Garu and Mata Zyndu, but everyone in the cast ends up feeling very, very human and yet larger than life. It’s a neat trick. Again, I love the cultural foundations of this–scholars and filial duty! Confucius (well, Kong Fiji)! Kites and fireworks as weapons.
I do have one reservation, though, and it’s the same issue I have with Three Kingdoms. Because this is a universe where men do the fighting (and women, with notable exceptions, don’t), and because this is a story of war, women end up being relegated somewhat to the back burner. The story is very aware of it, and aware of how women try to gain power (and there’s subversion going on, more or less subtle), but I still ended up… a bit frustrated? There’s awesome women fighters, and some court intrigues in the last third. (and it looks like book 2 is going to be more about the building of peace and rivalries at court, therefore will remedy this)
NB: the fact that this last one has a longer review doesn’t mean I loved it more than the others! Just that I typed this one when I had a little more time than now, when the snakelet wasn’t mobile yet…
Delighted that “The Dust Queen” (published in Jonathan Strahan’s Reach for Infinity), and “Memorials” (published in Asimov’s Science Fiction) are both Locus Awards finalists, respectively in Best Short Story and Best Novelette.
Complete list of finalists here; there’s some very very cool people on there and it’s going to be tough competition
Quite pleased to announce I’ve sold my novella “The Citadel of Weeping Pearls” to Asimov’s for their Oct/Nov 2015 issue, aka “Xuya meets time-travel”. More info (including rough cover copy) here.
It’s about the same length as On a Red Station, Drifting, so more of a short novel, really (34k words); with four POV characters and a fairly complex plot that includes an entire imperial court, thirty-two dead emperors emulated on complex hardware, and a science laboratory in a derelict tea-house; and a lot of familial relations and moral quandaries. Basically, if you liked On a Red Station, Drifting, you’ll probably love this one (and it has a cameo from Linh, too!). And if you didn’t like it–it’s a way more ambitious piece with a bigger scope, so maybe more to your taste *g*
This blog will now lapse back into darkness while I sort out my childcare and my copy edits simultaneously (hint: neither of them are particularly efficient…)
An event at the American Book Centre in Amsterdam with Bill Campbell, Tade Thompson, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz and Tiemen Zwaan (and possibly Corinne Duyvis), on Nov 21st, 2015. Come meet us and chat about our books!
Just a quick reminder I’ll be at Eastercon this year, but just Friday and Saturday (have a snakelet to take care of after that :p).
My schedule is here (with many thanks to Tim and Judi for working out miracles). Note that my reading has moved compared to the original time: it’s now Saturday at 12:30 (and I’ll be reading from House of Shattered Wings, so if you’re curious about the novel, this is the place!).
Just a reminder I’ll be a guest at North London Lit Fest tonight, 17:30-19:30–where I’ll be taking part in a panel with Stephanie Saulter and Farah Mendlesohn. More info here; it takes place at Middlesex University, Hendon Campus.