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…)
So… September is just around the corner, and I’m quite happy to reveal the US cover for House of Shattered Wings, aka “OMG OMG so pretty” (also, creepy. Yes, this is a dark fantasy book, why do you ask? :p). The art is by Nekro, who also did this lovely piece I pinned on Pinterest a while back.
A book about a devastated Paris, fallen angels and the ruins of a once great House? Sounds about right!
(more seriously, I really like this. It’s got oodles of atmosphere, it says creepy in all the right places, and the burning feathers are just a lovely touch from the opening scene of the novel. This is meant to be Morningstar’s throne in Notre-Dame, in its current state, and I love the ruined city in the background! I’m sure that makes you want to pick up the book, right? *big grin*)
And here’s the cover copy:
In the late Twentieth Century, the streets of Paris are lined with haunted ruins. The Great Magicians’ War left a trail of devastation in its wake. The Grand Magasins have been reduced to piles of debris, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine has turned black with ashes and rubble and the remnants of the spells that tore the city apart. But those that survived still retain their irrepressible appetite for novelty and distraction, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over France’s once grand capital.
Once the most powerful and formidable, House Silverspires now 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 angel; an alchemist with a self-destructive addiction; and a resentful young man wielding spells of unknown origin. They may be Silverspires’ salvation—or the architects of its last, irreversible fall. And if Silverspires falls, so may the city itself.
More info here, and you can pre-order the book here: Amazon.com|Barnes and Noble|Book Depository|Amazon UK (obviously the last amazon link is the UK edition, which won’t have this cover). Out tail end of August (August 20th for the UK edition, beginning of September for the US edition).
Er. So I’ve sold the story I wrote last week to Carl Engle-Laird at Tor.com. Wow. I’m over the moon. I love what Tor.com is doing (and I love their art too, which is always striking), and I’m really glad I shall be appearing with all the cool kids.
This is a bit of a change from my usual stuff: it’s, er, dark post-apocalyptic fantasy . With a twist.
Many thanks to Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch, D Franklin, Gareth M Skarka and Mur Lafferty for the seed of this; and to Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, D Franklin and Rachel A Marks for the read!
They bury you at the bottom of the gardens–what’s left of you, pathetic and small and twisted so out of shape it hardly seems human anymore. The river, dark and oily, licks at the ruin of your flesh–at your broken bones–and sings you to sleep, in a soft, gentle language like a mother’s lullabies; whispering of rest and forgiveness; of a place where it is forever light, forever safe.
You do not rest. You cannot forgive. You are not safe– you never were.
I’ve finished a new Xuya short story, “In Blue Lily’s Wake”, which takes place in the Dai Viet Empire after the civil war (the one mentioned in numerous stories like On a Red Station, Drifting and The Days of the War, as Red as Blood, as Dark as Bile).
From the planet, the mindship’s corpse had seemed to loom large enough to fill the sky–hugged tight on a low orbit, held back from plummeting towards the surface only by a miracle of engineering–but, once in the shuttle, Yen Oanh realised that it was really quite far away–the pockmarks on its surface blurred and hazy, the distorted paintings on the hull visible only as splashes of bright colour.
“How long until we arrive?” she asked the disciple.
The disciple, Hue Mi, was a young woman barely out of childhood; though the solemnity with which she held herself made her seem older. “Not long, Grandmother.” She looked at the mindship without any sense of wonder or awe; no doubt long since used to its presence.
The ship, after all, had been dead for eleven years.
(FYI, I put longer snippets of stories in the newsletter, if you want to subscribe . Yes, totally shameless :p)
On the novel front, I’m on my edits marathon: I’ll post more when I’m done with said edits, but right now I’m a bit busy wrangling a manuscript that won’t behave and hoping to be finished as soon as I can. I’m posting tidbits on twitter , under the hashtags #amrevising #novel (I really should start a #shatteredwings hashtag…) and some hivemind questions on Facebook (it’s easier on FB because you don’t have the 140 characters limit). To give you an idea, my last question: “if a cathedral gets nuked and no masses are celebrated there any more, are the ruins still consecrated ground”? (yes, it’s Notre-Dame. A significant chunk of action takes place there!)
Have fun, everyone. Normal (well, sort of normal) service resuming ASAP.
2014 was a busy year, but mostly because I spent it taking care of the infant (and running after him in the last quarter of 2014)!
It’s very appropriate that out of all the stuff I published in 2014, my favourite is “The Breath of War”, my science fantasy story with spaceships, stone people and pregnancy. It was, hum, heavily inspired by September 2013 experiences, although of course I didn’t give birth in the middle of a space war :p
(if you read this blog, you’ll already know my position on the presence of women and positive depictions of pregnancies in fiction, so I won’t belabour it here–but it is part of why I’m putting this particular story forward).
It was on Tangent Online’s Recommended Reading List for 2014, and you can read it here at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, where it was first published; there are also ebook versions [EPUB|MOBI|PDF|RTF]. And an audio version read by Tina Connolly if audio’s more your thing!
And now onto other people’s fiction: I’ll direct you to my Book Smugglers Smugglivius post for the fiction I loved this year, but here are a few additional things I forgot.
Ahead of everything (which is a lot this year), I’ll just put in a strong recommendation for Xia Jia? She’s been publishing a lot of good fiction (an excellent novelette in Clarkesworld about the festivals of the future, and another one in Upgraded on old age and technology), and I think it’s a shame she’s not getting the recognition she deserves in the West. Here’s an interview with her done by Ken Liu, too.
From my Smugglivius post:
-Zen Cho, Spirits Abroad. A series of wonderfully light and funny stories, from the troubles of getting a boyfriend when you’re a pontianak (Malaysian vampire), to the changes wrought on a family by generations of immigration.
Just a quick note/reminder that my novelette “A Slow Unfurling of Truth” is now available for sale, as is the rest of Eric Choi’s and Ben Bova’s hard SF anthology Carbide-Tipped Pens. It’s a Xuxa story about my field of expertise (well, OK, I have many such. But what I graduated in was Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, with a strong focus on probabilities). If you want to know how to do robust authentification when changing bodies, look no further
Just a quick heads-up that you can now buy The Fox Spirit Book of European Monsters, which includes my story “Melanie” as well as other enticing offerings. It’s a coffee-table book with beautiful illustrations–the first time I’ve been in a book of that format–exciting!
(also, if you happen to want a review copy, there are PDFs available. Feel free to email me).
(well, second, really. The rewrite pushed it from a slight 6k to a solid 7k words. With thanks to fabulous betas Victor Fernando Campo and Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, who didn’t blink at the quick turnaround time and provided very valuable insight on what wasn’t working so well with it)
I settled on “Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight” as the title; and here’s a snippet:
Green tea: green tea is made from steamed or lightly dried tea leaves. The brew is light, with a pleasant, grassy taste. Do not over-steep it, lest it become bitter.
After the funeral, Quang Tu walked back to his compartment, and sat down alone, staring sightlessly at the slow ballet of bots cleaning the small room–the metal walls pristine already, with every trace of Mother’s presence or of her numerous mourners scrubbed away. He’d shut down the communal network–couldn’t bear to see the potted summaries of Mother’s life, the endlessly looping vids of the funeral procession, the hundred thousand bystanders gathered at the grave site to say goodbye, vultures feasting on the flesh of the grieving–they hadn’t known her, they hadn’t cared–and all their offerings of flowers were worth as much as the insurances of the Embroidered Guard.
10.5k words. Like pulling teeth all the way, I swear… Set in the world of the novel, around 60 years before actual novel, and temp title is “The Death of Aiguillon” (which I do not like, but will think of something better afterwards).
In the end, as she had known, Huyen crept back to the House of Aiguillon.
Dawn was barely breaking over Paris–a sick, vague pink tinge to the maelstrom of spells that filled the entire sky like roiling clouds. No sun, no stars; merely the acrid taste of spent magic that settled in the lungs like the beginnings of a cough; and a haze over the cobblestones that could hide anything from explosives to chimeras.
The great gates hung open. Through the haze, Huyen caught a glimpse of bodies, lying like discarded puppets in the gardens; and of what had once been the corridors, now open to the winds with the familiar peony wallpaper singed and torn–Huyen remembered running with one hand following the flowers, drawing a line through the corridor as a way to find her way back to the kitchens–another time, another age. The House had succumbed, and nothing would ever be the same.
Off to bed now, and then to catch up on all the other stuff that was running late…