Some books I’ve read (cont’d)

More books I’ve read recently! I was NotBlogging for so long I’ve built up a backlog, so here’s the rest of the list.

The Trans Space Octopus Congregation by Bogi Takács

This is a collection of Bogi’s fiction. I enjoyed it a lot! Which is hardly surprising–when I was editing GigaNotoSaurus, I bought one of eir stories. It’s collected here!

The Four Profound Weaves by RB Lemberg

Two transgender elders must learn to weave from Death in order to defeat an evil ruler–a tyrant who murders rebellious women and hoards their bones and souls–in the first novella set in the award-winning queer fantasy Birdverse universe

Wind: To match one’s body with one’s heart
Sand: To take the bearer where they wish
Song: In praise of the goddess Bird
Bone: To move unheard in the night

The Surun’ nomads do not speak of the master weaver, Benesret, who creates the cloth of bone for assassins in the Great Burri Desert. But aged Uiziya must find her aunt in order to learn the final weave, although the price for knowledge may be far too dear to pay.

Among the Khana in the springflower city of Iyar, women travel in caravans to trade, while men remain in the inner quarter, as scholars. A nameless man struggles to embody Khana masculinity, after many years of performing the life of a woman, trader, wife, and grandmother. As his past catches up, the man must choose between the life he dreamed of and Uiziya – while Uiziya must discover how to challenge the evil Ruler of Iyar, and to weave from deaths that matter.

In this breathtaking debut set in R. B. Lemberg’s beloved Birdverse, The Four Profound Weaves hearkens to Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, and offers a timeless chronicle of claiming one’s identity ina hostile world.

This is one of R’s Birdverse stories, which I’ve recommended before. Their writing is lovely, their worldbuilding wonderful, their characters real and resonant. If you haven’t acquainted yourself with Birdverse yet, by all means do, and then be ready for this novella to come out next year.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own. 

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

This is currently in hardbound, but the paperback will be out next February. This is an excellent book, and you should check it out, along with her other work, which is also excellent.

Floodtide, by Heather Rose Jones

The streets are a perilous place for a young laundry maid dismissed without a character for indecent acts. Roz knew the end of the path for a country girl alone in the city of Rotenek. A desperate escape in the night brings her to the doorstep of Dominique the dressmaker and the hope of a second chance beyond what she could have imagined. Roz’s apprenticeship with the needle, under the patronage of the royal thaumaturgist, wasn’t supposed to include learning magic, but Celeste, the dressmaker’s daughter, draws Roz into the mysterious world of the charm-wives. When floodwaters and fever sweep through the lower city, Celeste’s magical charms could bring hope and healing to the forgotten poor of Rotenek, but only if Roz can claim the help of some unlikely allies.

Set in the magical early 19th century world of Alpennia, Floodtide tells an independent tale that interweaves with the adventures.

This is, I think, the last volume of Jones’ Alpennia books. Which, if you haven’t started this series, I strongly recommend you head over to your favorite bookseller or library and get your hands on a copy of Daughter of Mystery. These books are super enjoyable.

Books I’ve Read Recently

Well, this post is way overdue, sorry! I’ve been reading things, some of which pleased me greatly, and I want to share those titles with you!

First off, just to make you all jealous, I’ve read Martha Wells’ Network Effect–you know, the Murderbot novel that’s not out till next May? Yeah, that one.

When Murderbot’s human associates (not friends, never friends) are captured and another not-friend from its past requires urgent assistance, Murderbot must choose between inertia and drastic action.

Drastic action it is, then.

Yeah, it’s just as awesome as you’re hoping it is.

I have also read:

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water, by Zen Cho

A bandit walks into a coffeehouse and it all goes downhill from there…

In this rollicking update on the classic Chinese bandit fantasy, Zen Cho tells the story of Guet Imm, a young votary of the Order of the Pure Moon who joins up with an eclectic group of bandits, whether they like it or not.

Great fun! If you’ve read anything by Zen Cho, you know you’re in for a treat with this one. Out next June.

The Year of the Fruit Cake by Gillian Polack

Humankind is in danger. The Year of the Fruitcake tells of the Earth-based life of a mostly-mindwiped alien anthropologist inhabiting a human perimenopausal body instead of her own more rational body with its capacity to change gender. This alien has definitely shaken a great intergalactic empire by sitting in cafés with her new best friends. Chocolate may or may not have played a part. Will humanity survive? Polack describes her novel as, “Bleak. It’s political. It’s angry. It’s also sarcastic, cynical and funny.”

It is indeed sarcastic, cynical, and funny. Give it a go.

Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Thousands of years ago, Earth’s terraforming program took to the stars. On the world they called Nod, scientists discovered alien life – but it was their mission to overwrite it with the memory of Earth. Then humanity’s great empire fell, and the program’s decisions were lost to time.
Aeons later, humanity and its new spider allies detected fragmentary radio signals between the stars. They dispatched an exploration vessel, hoping to find cousins from old Earth.
But those ancient terraformers woke something on Nod better left undisturbed.
And it’s been waiting for them.
Y’all have read Children of Time, right? No? Put it on your tbr! This is a sequel to that, and I enjoyed it immensely.

More next week! Yes, I have a backlog.

Purity: or Will No One Think of the Children

So, this has been going on a while in various places, but it’s recently raised its head on Twitter. Sadly, more than once in the last few days, but for Reasons I’m even more pissed off than usual this time.

So, antis. I am not here for antis. Not because I’m blase about the sexual abuse of children, but precisely the contrary.

And in particular I am not here for antis harassing folks, or trying to round up people to help them harass. Which is what folks have been doing for several years now.

So, not infrequently antis will claim that they’re just against the kind of fic that is meant to normalize pedophilia, and/or groom victims. Or the sort that’s just meant to provide gratification for pedophiles or make them feel better about themselves. And I mean, sure, that sounds reasonable until you actually think about it for five minutes.

Tell me, friends, how do you know the difference between horrible pedophile-encouraging work, and the work of survivors working through their trauma? How do you know the bad kind of fic from stories meant to help other survivors deal with their histories?

Yeah, I know, you know it when you see it. It’s just obvious, right?

Hah. No. Let me tell you, you don’t. I mean, just on the most basic level, we all tend to read or view things from within our own context. Your context may very well not be the same as the context of any given writer, and your assumptions about why they did a thing or what they were thinking? Probably wrong. I mean, seriously–I’ve seen some amazingly assured assertions about what I meant or intended with various things in the Ancillary books, for instance, and 99% of them are so off base it’s difficult for me not to laugh when I see them. Most people just aren’t as good at divining the intent of a writer through their fiction as they think they are.

Now, this is not to say that there are no artists (or people influencing the production of art) who are pedophiles, or that no art at all bears the traces of such influence. I’m just saying–how do you know which is which? You’re digging through AO3, or you’ve picked up some other work, you know nothing about the artist except that they’ve included a ship you think is immoral, or if you squint hard enough someone in a scene is maybe underage (according to whose laws? But that’s a whole other can of worms isn’t it). Tell me, how can you be so sure that harassing the author–or going around telling everyone you know the author is a pedophile–is warranted?

Well, you just know. It’s obvious. So you harass the author–you splat triggering, out of context shit up on Twitter, or you go into DMs with horrible, triggering stuff on purpose, to get some outrage going, and you’re so proud of yourself, you’re working against those horrible child rapists! But it’s funny, isn’t it, how great it feels to be that avenging arm of righteousness, swinging that sword, hurting the bad guys. What’s less great is the fact that you’re hurting the very people you claim to be fighting for–survivors of sexual abuse.

You claim you only want to erase the bad stuff, only go after the bad people, but in the end you go after anyone who even mentions the bad stuff, and guess what, a lot of survivors write about the bad stuff, and antis have definitely gone after survivors talking about their trauma. So now survivors can’t even talk about their experiences.

It’s almost like that’s exactly what you want. It’s almost like you’d prefer the abused stop talking about their experiences. Surely it’s entirely, sadly coincidental that when the abused can’t talk about their abuse, abusers can keep on abusing with impunity.

I’ve lived through too many purity crusades to have any patience with this one: crusades against “bad” language, mentions of sex, mentions of same-sex desire– every single one of them did more harm than good, and every single one of them wasn’t actually about the thing they were supposedly about. They were all, in the end, the short edge of a wedge going after way more social control–control of women, control of children, control of families the crusaders didn’t like. This one is no different, for all it wraps itself up in the flag of Saving The Children.

You want to criticize a text? Go ahead. You disapprove of an author’s work? Sure, say so. Is there a problem with the sexualization of children in our culture? Sure is. Is swarming someone on Twitter or Tumblr going to help? Not one fucking bit. In fact, it’s entirely possible you’re hurting actual victims of pedophilia. But, you know, go off, I guess.

Just don’t expect any sympathy from me. Cause you’re having way too much fun trying to hurt people, and maybe you should step back and think about that.

New Website!

Well, so, it’s been quiet over here, except a couple of weeks ago folks may have noticed some phantom “new post” tweets and Tumblr posts, which linked back either to a page that couldn’t be found, or some placeholder Lorem Ipsum sort of text. That was because the inestimable Jeremiah Tolbert, of the fabulous Clockpunk Studios, was redoing my website, and I forgot to warn him about my crossposter plugin, which, it turns out, is different from whatever any of his other clients use. So, sorry about that! But now the new site is live and beautiful!

I’ve been doing Stuff, most of it wonderful. I had lovely visits to Left Bank Books, and to the University City Public Library. Just the other evening I was out at the Washington, MO Public Library, thanks to local bookstore Neighborhood Reads. I had a great time, and met lots of lovely people!

Oh, and I taught a week of Clarion West! It was a great week, and I had a lovely time. I’m looking forward to you all being able to read the work of the wonderful writers I worked with there.

I’ve also been learning (kind of) how to draw and paint. For folks who are inexplicably interested in seeing my messy daily sketches, I’ve started a sideblog over on Tumblr where I post photos of my practice. HEADS UP: I’m taking a figure-drawing class (and also practicing at home using Youtube videos of people posing for figure-drawing practice, did you know there were videos for that?) so there are a fair number of pictures of naked people.

If you missed it, the anthology The Mythic Dream (edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe) came out recently, with stories by lots of wonderful people, and even a story by me!

And speaking of short stories. This coming summer The Book of Dragons comes out from Harper Voyager. It’s edited by Jonathan Strahan, and contains lots of stories and some poetry–about dragons! One of those stories is by me and Rachel Swirsky. I can’t wait for you all to be able to read it.

I’ve also been reading some books–I’ll give details in another blog post, hopefully soon, because I’m behind in recommending things I really liked. I will say, though, that it’s entirely possible that I’ve read the Murderbot novel already, even though it doesn’t come out till next year, and more than possible that it’s just as fun as you hope it is.

Where I’ll be next week (and a bit beyond)

I haven’t been updating much, even by my own standards, sorry!

Anyway, The Raven Tower is coming out in paperback, and if you’re in St Louis or St Charles next week, you can come see me! I’ll be at

Left Bank Books, Tuesday October 1 at 7pm
399 N. Euclid Ave.
Saint Louis, MO 63108

and

St Charles City-County Library, Kisker Road Branch, Wednesday October 2 at 7pm
1000 Kisker Rd
St Charles, MO 63304

If you’re near either of those places on those dates, stop in and say hi!

And if you miss me, I’ll also be at the University City Library on Monday, October 28 at 7pm.

I hope to see you there!

Some Books I’ve Read

For various reasons, which I won’t go into here, I haven’t been blogging much, or tweeting much, or tumbling much. Sorry! I have been doing things, though. I’ve read some books! And I recommend these particular ones to your attention.

Finder by Suzanne Palmer

Fergus Ferguson has been called a lot of names: thief, con artist, repo man. He prefers the term finder.

His latest job should be simple. Find the spacecraft Venetia’s Sword and steal it back from Arum Gilger, ex-nobleman turned power-hungry trade boss. He’ll slip in, decode the ship’s compromised AI security, and get out of town, Sword in hand.

Fergus locates both Gilger and the ship in the farthest corner of human-inhabited space, a backwater deep space colony called Cernee. But Fergus’ arrival at the colony is anything but simple. A cable car explosion launches Cernee into civil war, and Fergus must ally with Gilger’s enemies to navigate a field of space mines and a small army of hostile mercenaries. What was supposed to be a routine job evolves into negotiating a power struggle between factions. Even worse, Fergus has become increasingly—and inconveniently—invested in the lives of the locals.

It doesn’t help that a dangerous alien species Fergus thought mythical prove unsettlingly real, and their ominous triangle ships keep following him around.

Foolhardy. Eccentric. Reckless. Whatever he’s called, Fergus will need all the help he can get to take back the Sword and maybe save Cernee from destruction in the process.

This book is some good old-school adventure fun–lots of fights and explosions and suspense. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I gather it’s the first of a trilogy, so there’s more to look forward to!

The Border Keeper by Kerstin Hall

She lived where the railway tracks met the saltpan, on the Ahri side of the shadowline. In the old days, when people still talked about her, she was known as the end-of-the-line woman.

In The Border Keeper, debut author Kerstin Hall unfolds a lyrical underworld narrative about loss and renewal.

Vasethe, a man with a troubled past, comes to seek a favor from a woman who is not what she seems, and must enter the nine hundred and ninety-nine realms of Mkalis, the world of spirits, where gods and demons wage endless war.

The Border Keeper spins wonders both epic—the Byzantine bureaucracy of hundreds of demon realms, impossible oceans, hidden fortresses—and devastatingly personal—a spear flung straight, the profound terror and power of motherhood. What Vasethe discovers in Mkalis threatens to bring his own secrets into light and throw both worlds into chaos.

This is lovely! In fact, I blurbed it. I said it was “”Beautifully and vividly imagined. Eerie, lovely, and surreal.”

Terminal Uprising by Jim Hines

Human civilization didn’t just fall. It was pushed.

The Krakau came to Earth in the year 2104. By 2105, humanity had been reduced to shambling, feral monsters. In the Krakau’s defense, it was an accident, and a century later, they did come back and try to fix us. Sort of.

It’s been four months since Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos learned the truth of that accident. Four months since she and her team of hygiene and sanitation specialists stole the EMCS Pufferfish and stopped a bioterrorism attack against the Krakau homeworld. Four months since she set out to find proof of what really happened on Earth all those years ago.

Between trying to protect their secrets and fighting the xenocidal Prodryans, who’ve been escalating their war against everyone who isn’t Prodryan, the Krakau have their tentacles full.

Mops’ mission changes when she learns of a secret Krakau laboratory on Earth. A small group under command of Fleet Admiral Belle-Bonne Sage is working to create a new weapon, one that could bring victory over the Prodryans … or drown the galaxy in chaos.

To discover the truth, Mops and her rogue cleaning crew will have to do the one thing she fears most: return to Earth, a world overrun by feral apes, wild dogs, savage humans, and worse. (After all, the planet hasn’t been cleaned in a century and a half!) What Mops finds in the filthy ruins of humanity could change everything, assuming she survives long enough to share it.

Perhaps humanity isn’t as dead as the galaxy thought.

This is the second book of Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse, and you want to start with Book 1, which is Terminal Alliance. Both books are great fun, and I’m looking forward to Book 3.

The True Queen by Zen Cho

When sisters Muna and Sakti wake up on the peaceful beach of the island of Janda Baik, they can’t remember anything, except that they are bound as only sisters can be. They have been cursed by an unknown enchanter, and slowly Sakti starts to fade away. The only hope of saving her is to go to distant Britain, where the Sorceress Royal has established an academy to train women in magic.

If Muna is to save her sister, she must learn to navigate high society, and trick the English magicians into believing she is a magical prodigy. As she’s drawn into their intrigues, she must uncover the secrets of her past, and journey into a world with more magic than she had ever dreamed.

This is a delightful follow-up to the equally delightful Sorcerer to the Crown. I highly, highly recommend both.

Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water by Vylar Kaftan

All Bee has ever known is darkness.

She doesn’t remember the crime she committed that landed her in the cold, twisting caverns of the prison planet Colel-Cab with only fellow prisoner Chela for company. Chela says that they’re telepaths and mass-murderers; that they belong here, too dangerous to ever be free. Bee has no reason to doubt her—until she hears the voice of another telepath, one who has answers, and can open her eyes to an entirely different truth.

I loved this novella. Vy’s written a lot of great short fiction, and if you’re not familiar with her work this would be a good time to remedy that.

Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein

If you ask, she must answer. A steerswoman’s knowledge is shared with any who request it; no steerswoman may refuse a question, and no steerswoman may answer with anything but the truth.

And if she asks, you must answer. It is the other side of tradition’s contract — and if you refuse the question, or lie, no steerswoman will ever again answer even your most casual question.

And so, the steerswomen — always seeking, always investigating — have gathered more and more knowledge about the world they traveled, and they share that knowledge freely.

Until the day that the steerswoman Rowan begins asking innocent questions about one small, lovely, inexplicable object…

Her discoveries grow stranger and deeper, and more dangerous, until suddenly she finds she must flee or fight for her life. Or worse — lie.

Because one kind of knowledge has always been denied to the steerswomen:

Magic.

Actually I didn’t just read The Steerswoman, I read all four books (currently) in the series. These were first published starting in the late eighties, but Kirstein has recovered the rights and reissued them. In the back of the last one it said she was working on book 5, which I hope is the case? I enjoyed these a lot.

Raven Tower Giveaways!

The Raven Tower is out next week!

And Orbit is running some cool giveaways! Copies of The Raven Tower, and some cool swag!

There’s an Orbit Loot giveaway here, that runs until the 28th, and a Goodreads giveaway that runs till the 25th! And keep an eye on Orbit’s Instagram for another chance to win!

In the meantime, if you haven’t already, check out this excerpt, and this sample from the audiobook read by the always awesome Adjoa Andoh!

And if you’re into the fanworks thing, check out the various days in this Raven Tower release event! I’m looking forward to seeing what cool stuff the participants come up with! My readers are awesome.

The Raven Tower Tour–Not

So, one of the things I’ve really been looking forward to is touring for the release of The Raven Tower. I love to visit the bookstores and meet the people who keep us all in great books to read, and I love getting to meet my readers, who in my experience so far are a delightful bunch of folks.

Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, I can’t do that this time. I was all set to, dates were finalized and announced, we were ready to go, but…some things have happened that make it impossible for me right now.

I’m not going to go into specifics, but so no one is unduly concerned–no one has died, no one is dying. I and my family are safe and sound.

I can’t tell you how unhappy I was when I realized I had to cancel my appearances. I will miss meeting you all so much. But there was just no way to make it work.

In the meantime, I can’t wait for you all to be able to read The Raven Tower, and I do hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Raven Tower Giveaway (US and UK only)

Wanna win this stuff? (The stuff in the picture is a black tote bag with a white silhouette of a raven and the words “There Will Be A Reckoning” on it, a Raven Tower bookmark, a lapel pin, and a copy of the book itself.)

If you’re in the US or the UK you can enter a giveaway to win this loot! Here’s the US link and here’s where you go if you’re in the UK.

I just got a big box of finished copies, and boy are they beautiful! I can’t wait for you all to read it.

Also, I will be touring, not all the dates are finalized, but as soon as I know my schedule I’ll post it here.

Coming Soon: The Raven Tower

I’ve been quiet lately, not just here, but my other social media hangouts. Sorry about that! Things are a bit chaotic at Casa Leckie just now.

But! My novel The Raven Tower will be out February 26! In fact, if you’re in St Louis you’ll be able to find me at Left Bank Books! It’s part of their SF STL series, which honestly you should be checking out, if you’re in the area and into SFF. In February alone they’ll be having the fabulous Charlie Jane Anders, and Jasper Fforde!

Anyway. The Raven Tower! Advance copies have been going around, and there have been some very flattering reviews.

And as if all that isn’t exciting enough, the audiobook is narrated by the amazing Adjoa Andoh. And you can hear a sample of the first five minutes right here. She’s a wonderful reader and I can’t tell you how happy I was to hear she’d agreed to do The Raven Tower.

Anyway, there you go. It’s getting to be Book Countdown time. I seriously can’t wait for you all to be able to read this, and I hope you enjoy it.