Category: links

The House of Shattered Wings around the web


So you can now buy The House of Shattered Wings both in the US and the UK–I thought it was high time to round up a few of the things that have been going on with the novel, just in case you’re feeling indecisive (or if you want to know more!).

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A roundup of where I’ve been on the web so far (I think I’ve got most of them? Haven’t been keeping very good track…):
-The Forum at BBC World Service: Magic
My Favorite Bit at Mary Robinette Kowal’s website (Morningstar, in case you had doubts ^^)
Big Idea piece at John Scalzi’s blog
-I talk on the Coode Street Podcast with Jonathan Strahan and Gary K Wolfe about the novel: Jonathan Strahan calls it “powerful and engaging”.
An intimidation of Shrimp: Cooking the Books podcast with Fran Wilde and Zen Cho on weaponised food, and food and worldbuilding
Midnight in Karachi podcast with Mahvesh Murad
Six Books at Nerds of a Feather
-On the Gollancz blog: Eight inspirations for the Novel (CS Friedman’s Coldfire trilogy!)
-At Scifinow: Merging Fantasy and SF in a ruined Paris
-At Intellectus Speculativus: Diversity and Gender Roles in The House of Shattered Wings
-At Geekmom: my favourite manga and anime
-At how Les Miserables and The Count of Monte Cristo inspired the novel
Interview with Michelle Hebert
Commented excerpt at Reader Dad
Commented excerpt at Civilian Reader
Commented excerpt at Geek Syndicate

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A few reviews around the net (not exhaustive, sorry, I couldn’t keep track of everything!):
Publishers Weekly (starred review):

Gripping (…) De Bodard aptly mixes moral conflicts and the desperate need to survive in a fantastical spy thriller that reads like a hybrid of le Carré and Milton, all tinged with the melancholy of golden ages lost.

Jessie Potts at Romantic Times (RT Top Pick for August):

Will grab readers and force them to pay attention to the amazing writing and the phenomenal characters (…) It’s a whirlwind, it’s heartbreaking and it’s one of the best fantasy novels of 2015.

Library Journal (starred review):

A fascinating Paris of decay and cruelty. ­Phillippe is a marvel of a character, unreliable as a narrator but compelling in his flaws and his deep well of homesickness.

Gary K. Wolfe, Chicago Tribune:

Especially haunting(…) convey(s) a visceral sense of immediacy (…) a surprising but compelling murder mystery, which plays out according to the supernatural terms de Bodard has laid out so evocatively.

Paul Weimer at SF Signal:

A dark and wondrous fantasy (…) every setting and location is invoked in vivid detail, and a very dark world is brought to life.

NPR review by Tasha Robinson:

Grimly prosaic (…) wrapped up in intrigue and politics (…) comes closer to the blunt, grounded violence of Game Of Thrones than the high gothic fantasy it outwardly resembles (…) a grim story with high-flown conventions, but by finding so much ugliness even in supernatural beauty, de Bodard makes both seem more compelling, and more concrete.

Jonathan Hatfull at Scifinow:

Fascinating, moving and hugely readable.

Niall Alexander (originally at, reprinted on his blog):

The year’s best urban fantasy by far (…) takes a whole hoard of over-familiar fantasy tropes and turns them, evidently effortlessly, on their collective head (…) There’s an intelligence—and, yes, an elegance—to The House of Shattered Wings that is as rare and precious as angel essence.

D Franklin at Intellectus Speculativus:

Aliette de Bodard has written an absolute masterpiece whose sequel cannot come soon enough.

Dario Ciriello at his blog:

One of the most unusual and absorbing books I’ve read in years (…) a vivid sense of remembered splendour and grandeur (…) a powerful novel that sinks deep into the reader’s psyche, taking you into a world so rich and characters so compelling that they linger for months after turning the last page. Don’t miss it.

Bookshelf Butterfly:

Not for the faint hearted but is a literary feat of imagination that will astound readers.

R.A. Kennedy at his blog:

a novel that is not easy to put down (…) has has some incredible moments that will leave you wanting more (…) a thrilling, gripping read, that will leave you wanting another hit of angel essence.

Glen Mehn:

Haunting and sticks in the mind.

The book is also an Amazon Best Book of the Month in Science Fiction/Fantasy.

Still undecided? You can sample a bit before making up your mind.
Read Chapter One!
Read excerpt from Chapter Three!
Read excerpt from Chapter Four!

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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

Roundtable: Food in SF


Roundtable: Food in SF

Another of my January project has gone live at a roundtable on The Food of the Future, with Ann Leckie, Elizabeth Bear, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Benjanun Sriduangkaew, and Fran Wilde. Check it out here.

Thanks to everyone who took part–it was a lot of fun, and especially many many thanks to Fran Wilde for masterminding it and sending me pointed reminders about fixing and submitting it in what has been a rather overwhelming month (well, OK. Lately all months have been overwhelming).

Chie and Weng interview Benjanun Sriduangkaew


-The awesome Rochita Loenen-Ruiz and her sister interview Benjanun Sriduankaew:

I think of short stories as presenting a question, even if it’s something as simple as ‘how will the characters get what they want?’  It’s my hope that readers will be engaged by that question even if the story isn’t presenting a direct answer – so that’s what I hope they take away: a question. But I also hope to excite a sense of wonder and a sympathetic interest, when possible.

Read more here (and fully concur with the reminder that Benjanun’s eligible for a well-deserved Campbell Award for Best New Writer next year at Loncon3!)

Linky linky


-Damien G Walter very kindly names me as one of 20 most promising young novelists in this Guardian article. The company is kind of… impressive, to say the least.

-Over at The Shake, Zucchini Bikini reviews On a Red Station, Drifting::

All in all, I highly recommend this book, both for itself and for what is represents – a different way of writing hard sci fi, a way that includes and magnifies stories and pasts that haven’t been represented well in this genre before.

-Calvin N. Ho on “The Stigma of Immigrant Languages” (a phenomenon I would hazard is not limited to the US).

Linky linky


Of the selfish variety…

-Ian Mond reviews the Nebula-nominated novellas, which includes On a Red Station, Drifting

More then just being an insight into a culture and tradition that I know bugger all about, Red Station is written with a delicate intensity. It’s not an easy read, because the novella doesn’t provide us with a set of sympathetic characters that we can cheer on. Rather, through some gorgeous writing and the complexity of the world building, each character earns our respect. And that makes the ending all the more powerful.

MJ Starling on On a Red Station, Drifting

(…) a great, harsh, messy, human book that deserves every vote it gets.

Linky linky


-Strange Horizons (Luc Reid) interviews Ken Liu

Many of my stories deal with the invisible bounds imposed on us by the legacy of history: colonialism, war, mass killings, power imbalances between different parts of the world and between different populations sharing the same space. These bounds infuse everything we experience and affect the fates of nations, peoples, families, and individuals. History is not just vast armies clashing on dark plains at night, but lived through by real men and women related to us. It is deeply personal.

In the West, I have detected a tendency to dismiss or minimize the effects of history on the present, as if history can be made irrelevant by a simple act of individual will. Such views, it seems to me, are signs of a perspective colored by the very privileges conferred on those who have been dealt a lucky hand by history.

-Sophia McDougall on Twenty-One tips to make your book better for new writers

-Glen Mehn reviews On a Red Station, Drifting

this novella would stand out in any crowded field: Complicated, layered, internal and external conflict work, here, and de Bodard delivers. As usual. Not that I’m jealous.

On loss of language, colonisation and migration


Two great articles, courtesy of automathic:
-Juliana Qian writes about being of Chinese descent in Australia. A lot of it is either uncomfortably familiar experience and/or strikes home quite accurately:

Our cultures are exotic, fashionable, fascinating and valuable when contained within or filtered through a white Western lens – then our cultures are glittering mines. But drawing from your own background is backward and predictable if you’re a person of colour. Sometimes white people try to sell me back my culture and I have to buy it. My China is as much the BBC version as it is the PRC one. There are things I want to eat but cannot cook.

-Rahel Aima on vernacular English:

Embedded within non-western English lies a parallel tension. The vernacular promises all the seductive freshness of exoticised difference, as well as the inherited anger of the Postcolonial Clever—the comfortably removed expat with a knowing gaze. There’s a certain expectation of kitsch, discernible authenticity and legitimacy, or at the very least, something to appropriate, please yaar? Or—something to awkwardly skirt out of respect to cultural relativism and because we are ostensibly beyond the myth of native English. Except then there’s also the orientalised yet unacknowledged elephant in the room: that the diasporic writer just might be the new bedfellow of cultural imperialism.

Links on Worldbuilding and patchworks


-Tricia Sullivan on “Some Thoughts on SFF and Reality Checks”. As Tricia says: what if authors, through shiny worldbuilding, erase someone else’s reality? What if the Vietnam War becomes replaced by a stream of good American soldiers fighting the evil communists? (or the reverse. Not really saying one is better than the other)
-On the same subject, Marie Brennan has a series of posts on Information Density and whether it is possible to educate the reader away from what they know while keeping a narrative going at full clip: here and here

I guess that, for me, it all boils down to: worldbuilding doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You have obligations not only to produce something cool and shiny to keep your reader entertained–but since your narration will affect other people who read it and shape their idea of the world/the history, you also have an obligation not to distort what you take from, as much as is humanely possible (and “not distorting” can get tricky).

Current mood: thoughtful.

ETA: have edited the post following some hard thinking

Brief update, links


OK, now that I’m almost over the line with the proposal (improvised 2 sequels yesterday, lol), time to lift the blogging hiatus! First off, some shameless plugging links:
-Lovely story by Tori Truslow, “A Catalogue of Unreadable Things”. All I’m going to say is that it takes place in a library of sunken books and mixes sailors and librarians. Doesn’t get much cooler than this!
-You can find me over at the Founding Fields blogging on writing non-Western fantasy, cultural appropriation and the Obsidian and Blood books–many thanks to Abhinav Jain for the invitation (and for the rather awesome review).
-Also, I’m at Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog for “My Favourite Bit”, in which I talk about the monsters in Obsidian and Blood
-Reviews of “Immersion” at too many places to mention (and, hum, I haven’t been keeping track of all of them while I was fighting with my synopsis), but can I jump up and down at having been mentioned by io9 as worthy of Dangerous Visions? Also this one by Bogi Takács, basically thinking it award-worthy. Wow wow wow. Also, lively discussion on imperialism, cultural oppression and standards of beauty happening in the story comments if you’re so inclined.