Tag: servant of the underworld



OK, I’m back, and slowly digging my way out of the morass of emails and related stuff. The weather is grey, cold, and overcast, and we’re having massive strikes in France. Sometimes, I swear, I do wonder why I ever come back from holiday…

Books read: Liz Williams’ Bloodmind, which was great but with what I thought was way too much backstory, until I figured out it was a sequel to Darkland. Sigh. Will go procure original.

Coming up this week, a guest blog by Janice Hardy. And, er, the US release of Servant of the Underworld, next Wednesday (I will not hyperventilate I will not hyperventilate)

Meanwhile, for the Romanian speakers among you, the SRSFF version of my Asimov’s article “The View from the Other Side”, courtesy of Antuza Genescu for the translation (and many thanks to Cristian Tamas for the offer, as usual).

Announcing the results of the Great Honeymoon Competition


So, first off, my many thanks to everyone who entered–I didn’t imagine I’d have so many people showing up for this, and I’m delighted I get to pick the winner from so many guesses.

My thanks also to everyone who signal-boosted this over FB, twitter, or their own blogs, getting an absolutely gob-smacking amount of traffic my way.

Broadly speaking, the guesses fell in two geographical zones: Latin America and Asia. Which, er, is unfortunate, because I’m much, much closer to home: specificaly, in Malta (ex-home of the eponymous order).



So the winner is, by a rather large margin, Kulsuma, who suggested Algeria.

Runners-up: three people suggested Turkey, which is the nearest neighbour. I don’t have prizes for everyone, so my magic hat awards the prize to Shirley.

Khajidu and Benjamin DeHaan, you nevertheless get a surprise runner-up prize.

Congratulations to everyone!! I’ll be sending mails to everyone awaiting a prize, but if your name is on this list and you don’t get email from me, don’t hesitate to nag me.

Meanwhile, I’m back to lounging by the swimming pool…

PS: I do owe you guys an apology for the clues. I did say English was not an official language, and it turns out I was wrong. My bad. I was going in good faith from what the H told me, but I made one assumption too many, as it turns out English is an official language in Malta–just not the one most widely spoken (people speak Maltese. English seems to be mostly for gvt. business). People have varying mastery of it, especially in some of the more remote places…

Guest post at the Apex blog: On series and (lack of) planning


The wonderful M.G. Ellington has been kind enough to lend me some space on the Apex blog, where I ramble on what I should have done when writing Obsidian and Blood:

When I settled down to write my novel, the Aztec noir fantasy Servant of the Underworld, I had only the vaguest idea it might turn into a series. My first thought was to finish the darn thing, and not really to map out what might be happening to my characters after the plot was over.

That was 2007; now we’re in 2010. I’ve sold Servant and two more books in the Obsidian and Blood trilogy to Angry Robot; I’ve turned the sequel, Harbinger of the Storm, to my publisher; and I’ve just completed a tentative synopsis for the as-yet-untitled book 3. Looking back to how I wrote the series, there are a few things I did right, and a few things I should have paid more attention to.

Read more.

Go check it out!

In other linkage news, Mike Johnstone reviews the February 2010 issue of Asimov’s, which contains my alt-hist “The Wind-Blown Man”:

Her prose deftly taps into the atmosphere, rhythm, and thoughtfulness of Chinese tales (Buddhist, Taoist myths): it is measured, unhurried, soothing; it suggests a depth just tantalizingly out of reach.

That’s all for now. I’ll go back to RL stuff and programming (and %% implicit conversions).

Random notes for the day


I get profiled over at Stomping on Yeti as an author worth watching, along with Rachel Swirsky, John Langan, Leah Bobet and Greg Van Eekout (it’s part 4 of a 5-article feature that’s going to profile 25 authors worth keeping an eye on in 2010). Many thanks to Patrick for the awesome comments.

The details she weaves into her work are exotic and refreshing and the worlds she creates, be they past or present, beg for further exploration.

And Cara over at Speculative Book Review lists Servant of the Underworld as one of her top five books for the year.

On a random, aggrieved note after reading a hundred pages of The Cardinal’s Blades: I love the book. I love the mesh of Three Musketeers with dragons, and it’s been such a long time since I had any proper swashbuckling. But one thing makes me cringe at almost every page: the Spaniard, Anibal Antonio Almadès di Cardio. Because Spanish doesn’t have grave accents. Neither does it have a nobility with titles like “di Cardio”: the nobility mark is “de” just like French (I know I’ve seen the “di” elsewhere–my best guess is that Italians might have that, but I’m not sure). I do wish some Spanish-speaker had reread that bit and corrected it, because it continually jolts me out of the narration and makes me want to scream at things.

SH review


Er, wow.
Duncan Lawie reviews Servant of the Underworld for Strange Horizons. It’s pretty special, because SH is huge, and because it’s the one venue I regularly go to in order to read reviews–so to be reviewed there does make me feel like a star…

And, what’s more, it says things like:

(…)Servant of the Underworld is rounded and complete in itself, although the title page suggests this is the first volume of “Obsidian and Blood.” If Aliette de Bodard can continue as well as she has started, Acatl deserves to become as well known as that other priestly investigator, Cadfael.

*writer goes for a liedown*
(I know you’re meant to ignore reviews good and bad and focus on writing, but–wow. Just wow.)

French rights to Obsidian and Blood sold


Ok, this is the bit where I jump up and down (and possibly throw some squeeing, too). This was the news I was sitting on last week, which was killing me (I’ve known for a while, but the signed contracts arrived last week, which made it even harder to wait).

My awesome agents at Zeno Agency have sold French rights to all three Obsidian and Blood books to Mathieu Saintout of Bibliothèque Interdite (the aptly named “Forbidden Library”). Bibliothèque Interdite is currently publishing Games Workshop books, but is planning to launch their new imprint at the end of the year.

I’m going to be translated in French. For French bookshops. This is going to be so weird. But so great.

This clearly calls for leaping Bubble Bobble dinosaurs:

Angry Robot joins Osprey


So, the big news here: Angry Robot has left HarperCollins and is setting up shop with the backing of Osprey Publishing. An interesting move, more towards a publishing niche (as Osprey is known for military history books and wargaming stuff). Will obviously have to see how that works out, but I have every confidence those AR overlords know what they’re doing and that they’ll successfully take over the SF world–away a big group that might not have the flexibility and enthusiasm needed for a venture like this. Wishing Marc and Lee and Chris a hefty helping of good luck with the change.

Other assorted consequences: the US release date for Servant of the Underworld has now been pushed back to November 2010 (Harbinger of the Storm is still up for a January 2011 release in the UK, and February 2011 in the US). Also, SoU is going to quietly go out of print before (hopefully) being relaunched at the same time as the Harbinger of the Storm debut (to be confirmed, as AR is still reviewing their options at the moment). So hurry up if you want a HarperCollins edition of SoU 🙂

Next post up should be (finally) a review of my Bebook Mini, the ereader I bought a couple of months ago.

Monday Review Medley


-James Maxey reviews Servant of the Underworld in IGMS’s latest “Lit Geek” column:

Perhaps it’s true that there are no new ideas in literature, but every so often you run into two old ideas smashed together to create something you’ve never witnessed before. This is definitely the case with Aliette De Bodard’s Servant of the Underworld.

-Dave Gullen does the same in the latest issue of Hub Magazine:

Contemporary fantasy writing has a substantial number of problems with originality, writing quality and sheer story-telling passion. You’ll find little of those faults here, de Bodard’s style is clean and focused, the narration vivid and as the story builds to the climax, exciting and urgent. You don’t have to read the glossary or the historical and writing notes at the end of the book to know that this was a work of dedication, one that consumed the author during the months it took to research and write this book. The energy comes off the page in both the writing and the story.

-And here’s madscientistnz’s take:

The mystery was interestingly complicated (but then I can never guess who’s done what, so all mysteries intrigue me) and I really liked that the stakes started out high and kept getting higher. I loved the Aztec setting, so exotic and different, and I’m always interested in characters whose culture and mindset is different to mine.

The happy writer will now proceed to edit more Harbinger chapters (and to add a pronunciation guide at the beginning, just in case)

Review roundup

- One comment

-Cheryl Morgan reviews Servant of the Underworld. I’m flattered by the comparison to Liz Williams’ Detective Inspector Chen series, which were a major inspiration (and as to the in-depth study of the society: I would love to write such a book, but it would probably require ten more years, a heck of a lot more research, and some very careful thought in order not to completely lose the reader before I even felt ready to do justice to this. The only book I’ve read which makes an attempt at such a scope is Gary Jennings’ Aztec, but I have a number of issues with it, most particularly its negative attitude towards Aztec religion and human sacrifice, which is annoying when your main character is supposed to have been steeped in said religion since birth)
quippe at Livejournal, who’s looking forward to the sequel.
-Blushworthy one from jen-qoe on livejournal.
SFX review, pretty positive altogether.
Falcata Times likes a lot of things, but hates Acatl’s guts.

I remain fascinated by the range of reactions to Acatl–if he had one fault, I would have said it was his lustreless, wallflower side, but that doesn’t really seem to be the case: he ended up a lot more polarising than I thought. Interesting… (in a useless kind of way)

More reviews


-Elizabeth Bear at Ideomancer (which, BTW, has an awesome new look):

In Servant of the Underworld, Aliette de Bodard has created a rather good debut novel, replete with magic, blood, and complex worldbuilding. There was a great deal to enjoy in this book, not all of it the immediately obvious.

-Josh Vogt at Examiner:

(…)for those who enjoy mythology, subtle horror, and even “detective” stories, Servant of the Underworld blends these elements into a unique story. Fortunately, it’s labeled the first book in the Obsidian and Blood series, so hopefully we’ll be seeing Bodard’s next release soon. Looks like book 2 is called Harbinger of the Storm. Sounds…peaceful.

-And Hereward L.M. Proops at Booksquawk (who didn’t like it so much, alas, but you can’t win every time):

(…)those looking for something truly different could do much worse than check out this novel. Whilst not perfect, Aliette de Bodard’s debut shows a great deal of potential which could be better realised in the inevitable sequels.

-The book also gets mentioned over at SF Signal as part of the “What Book Have You Recently Read That’s Good Enough To Recommend To a Friend?” discussion.

-Still at SF Signal, my short story “Golden Lilies” is identified as one of several “Nebula-worthy” short stories by Eugie Foster

-Finally, BestSF reviews “The Wind-Blown Man”, in the February 2010 issue of Asimov’s

Aliette de Bodard looks to China to create an alien society, alien cultures and technology – a world in which China is on a par, or better, with Western Christian society. For my money, I’d rather see Earth cultures used as inspiration to create truly alien societies, as that is true SF – but failing this, I’d much rather see the creative efforts as put in by de Bodard.