Tag Archives: Martha Wells

The Raksura Return

Stories of the RaksuraStories of the Raksura, Volume 1
Martha Wells
Night Shade Books
trade paper, $15.99
ebook Kindle $9.99 Nook $7.49

Have you ever had one of those books that took you forever to read?  Not because the book isn’t interesting, but every single time you try to read it, you can’t get more than a few pages further along before something interrupts you.

That was my experience with this book.  It seemed the Fates were conspiring to thwart me every time I picked the book up.  But I persevered.

And I can say it was nice to revisit this world.  I would also like to thank Lauren Burstein of Night Shade Books for the review copy.  There are two novellas and two short stories here plus a couple of appendices.  Here’s what you get. Continue reading

When October Goes

Layout 1Now that Halloween is over, I’m going to shift gears a bit.  Time to return to more sword and sorcery here at Adventures Fantastic.  Or at least solid adventure fantasy.  I’ve already started reading Shattered Shields, edited by Jennifer Brozek and Bryan Thomas Schmidt, which hits shelves on Tuesday.  I don’t know if I’ll have the review up by the release date, but I’ll do my best.

Pyr and Solaris have both sent me copies of some cool titles since the first of the summer that I never got a chance to work into the schedule.  I really want to go back and pick read some of them.  They’re mostly fantasy, but there’s some science fiction mixed in.  Also, Night Shade has sent me some titles, and one of the first I’ll read is Stories of the Raksura, vol.1, by Martha Wells.  I’ll probably start that one by the end of the week.

Speaking of science fiction, there are some titles sitting around I want to read.  Some of them will be popping up at Futures Past and Present as I work them in.  I’ll also be reading some mystery/noir titles and reviewing them at Gumshoes, Gats, and Gams.

Plus there are some titles from various other publishers I want to read.  I’ll be mixing them in at random.  I’m going to try to strike a balance between titles that someone has sent me and stuff I just want to read for fun.  So you never know what’s going to pop up next.

Strange Chemistry and Exhibit A Cease Publication

Angry Robot Books announced earlier today that their YA imprint Strange Chemistry and their mystery imprint Exhibit A will both be ceasing publication immediately.  The announcement is here.  There was no word on what would happen to ebooks.  Hopefully they won’t disappear from your ereader.

Angry Robot also announced that they will increase their output from 2 books a month to 3.  This may be a cost saving measure in which the company moves assets from poorer performing units to strengthen its core business.  I hope it works out for them.

My sympathy is for those who have lost their jobs, especially the authors with books under contract.  If there’s a title from either Strange Chemistry or Exhibit A  you’ve had your eye on, now would be the time to pick it up.  I especially recommend the Emilie series by Martha Wells.  My review of Emilie and the Hollow World is hereEmilie and the Sky World is in the TBR pile.

2013: An Assessment – Individual Authors and Titles

This is the second part of my assessment of 2013.  The first looked at publishers.  Here I’ll feature some authors and/or individual titles that I thought were standouts.  Links for books will be to my reviews (the reviews will have links to buy if you’re interested.)  Since I’ve been doing a weekly post at Amazing Stories, with only one week missed, I’ll be including some of the titles I reviewed there in this list.

As with the publishers, these are in alphabetical order.  I’m probably overlooking someone or a particular book.  I apologize in advance.  This list consists of titles and authors I read in 2013 and isn’t intended to be inclusive.  Feel free to share your suggestions in the comments.  Again, I’m including mystery, crime, and science fiction as well as fantasy. Continue reading

Worldcon Report, Part 1

This is going to be the written report, mostly without pictures because I haven’t had time to sort through the ones I took and see what I want to post.  It’s been one of those weeks at work and it started on the way down to San Antonio.  I spent more time than I would have liked dealing with a couple of problems that waited until I was on the road to arise.  I post some pictures in the next few days.


James Gunn at his reception.

I had to teach class Thursday morning, so by the time I got to San Antonio, checked into the hotel and hoofed it over to the convention center to register, I just made it before registration closed.  I wandered the dealer’s room and familiarized myself with the layout before grabbing a bite.  At least I intended to.  I ran into Adrian Simmons, editor of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, and ended up accompanying him to a private, invitation-only reception for James Gunn.  Adrian had been invited, and I went along as his guest.  It was a great event, and I took advantage of the opportunity to speak with him.  He’s 90, and critics are calling his new novel his best.  I picked up a signed copy before the weekend was over.  There’ll be a review going up at Futures Past and Present sometime in the next few months.  Learning of Fred Poh’s death made me extra glad I grabbed a signed copy, in spite of being a little overbudget.


What would you eat for a book?

Later I attended the Bookswarm party, which was packed.  I got a chance to talk to Martha Wells for a few minutes, and I walked away with two free books.  The theme of the party was Eat a Bug, Get a Book.  The bugs were sanitized and freeze dried.  (I ate a mole circket and a dung beetle and got The Other Half of the Sky edited by Athena Andreadis and Exile by Betsy Dornbush.)  The highlight of the party was getting to meet Brad Beaulieu, Douglas Hulett, Courtney Schafer, and Zachary Jernigan.  If you haven’t read them, you should.  Other than a glimpse of Jernigan from across the street, the only one of that group that I saw after that night was Courtney Schafer.

The next day was one of those where there was about twelve hours of programming I wanted to attend, all of it in a three hour block.  I went to most of the Robert E. Howard panels, of which there were many.  Most of the hanging out I did with friends was with members of the Robert E. Howard Foundation or chatting with folks at parties.  Saturday was much the same, but Sunday was a little more relaxed.  Among the non-Howard panels I attended were a discussion of C. L. Moore’s “Vintage Season”, the history of firearms in the 1800s, a discussion on writing that included Michael Swanwick and James Patrick Kelly, a panel of Texas writers who have passed on, and readings by Jack McDevitt and Howard Waldrop.  I only caught part of the panel on sword and sorcery since it was up against one of the more interesting Robert E. Howard panels.  The autographing lines were either nonexistent or ridiculously long, so I only got a few signatures.


Sword and Sorcery Panel: (l. to r.) Stina Leitch, Lou Anders, Sam Sykes, Saladin Ahmed, Chris Willrich

I went to the Alamo Saturday morning with Bill Cavalier, editor of REHupa.  He hadn’t seen it, and it had been a while since I had paid my respects.  Next to the Alamo is the Menger Hotel.  Teddy Roosevelt recruited the Rough Riders in the bar, and it’s something of a mini-museum.  I’ll do a write-up of it on Dispatches From the Lone Star Front over the weekend.

I didn’t try to attend the Hugos.  I wasn’t impressed with the slate of nominees for the most part.  But it’s a popularity contest, and currently my tastes and those of the field are in a state of moderate divergence.  The Legacy Circle of the REH Foundation went to dinner Saturday night.

There were some free books, including NESFA’s three volume Chad Oliver set.  I found the first two of the Heinlein juveniles I was missing, and picked up an extra copy of Glory Road.  This year marks the 50th anniversary of that novel.  I read it when I was about 14, and it’s about time for a reread.


It’s good to be the king.

Some overall thoughts.  First, this was the first time I’ve been able to attend a Worldcon.  It wasn’t quite what I expected.  I’ve attended World Fantasy twice, and the density of pros in that venue is high, but then that’s a convention that’s aimed at pros.  Worldcon is more geared for fans.  I never saw some of the bigger names, although I know they were there.  Most of the ones I did see, I only saw once or twice.  The convention center is a bit too spread out for this sort of event.

I was surprised at crowded it wasn’t.  I was also a little surprised with how old the average attendee seemed to be.  While people seemed to be having a good time, I didn’t detect a great deal of excitement.  Maybe that’s because I’m getting older, but everything seemed more laid back than I was expecting.

I’d certainly attend another Worldcon, but only if it wasn’t at the same time classes started.  And only if it wasn’t too far away.  While I enjoyed it and am glad I went, I wouldn’t travel halfway around the world, or even the country, to repeat the experience.

I’ll post some more photos later in the week.

Long Looks at Short Fiction: The Forest Boy by Martha Wells

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of the Long Looks at Short Fiction posts.  Far too long a while.  A few weeks ago I reviewed The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells and griped a little bit about having to wait on the order of a year before the sequel is published.I really enjoyed the world Wells created and have wanted to see more of it since before I finished the last page and closed the book.  Fortunately, I have.  On her webpage, Martha Wells has made available a selection of novel excepts and short stories.  You should really check some of them out.  One of them is entitled “The Forest Boy“, and it’s a prequel to The Cloud Roads.  In that book we learned that the protagonist, Moon, had been orphaned as a young boy.  Because of his ability to shape shift, he was never able to settle down and find a home, instead continually being forced to leave because of the fear his other form caused the people around him.

In “The Forest Boy” we get to see an episode from Moon’s early life, one of the attempts he made to find a home and acceptance, and how jealousy drove him from it.

Instead of making Moon the viewpoint character, Wells has chosen instead to tell the story from the point of view of Tren.  Tren is one of six foster children adopted by Kaleb and his wife Ari.  The settlement where they live is along a trading route called the Long Road, and the children are primarily those abandoned along the road.

Tren and his foster sister Lua are searching the settlement’s midden when they discover Moon caught in a trap.  They get Kaleb, who frees Moon, takes him home, and oversees his recovery.  Moon is accepted into the family without question.

During the course of his recovery, Moon and Lua become quite close.  Since Tren had assumed he and Lua would one day be married, Lua’s growing relationship with Moon naturally causes problems.

That’s all I’ll say about the plot.  The story is a character driven one, not an action tale, although there is one fight scene near the end that was well done.  The choice to use Tren rather than Moon as the viewpoint character was a wise one.  If the story had been told by Moon, it would have simply rehashed things told in The Cloud Roads.  Instead, by focusing on a character who isn’t seen in the novel, and probably won’t ever be again, Wells breaks new ground by giving us a detailed look at the impact Moon has on the lives of the people he encounters.

Adolescence can be a turbulent time in the life of a person, and Wells shows in a few thousand words just how difficult and unsettling such a time is.  Tren’s feelings are complex, and even as he knows many of his feelings are unfounded and irrational, that doesn’t stop him from having them.  Or of despising the jealousy he feels even as it grows.  The ultimate lesson Tren learns, that things aren’t always what they seem, and that the people we envy often envy us for the things in our lives we take for granted, is a bitter lesson.  It’s one of life’s most powerful lessons, though.

Not only is Tren a fully developed character, but so is Lua, even though her character is revealed indirectly, through her words and actions, and not her thoughts.  Kaleb and Ari are shown to be loving, caring parents, even though they don’t get much stage time.

Finally, I found the descriptions of the round-trees and the brief mentions of the forest fauna lent an air of exoticism to the story reminiscent of the best ecology building of James H. Schmitz or Alan Dean Foster.  With only a few lines, I was transported to another world, different yet at the same time familiar enough that I could relate to it.

I still haven’t figured out if this series is ultimately going to turn out to be fantasy or science fiction, and at this point, I really don’t care.  I see elements of both, but that could be my training as a scientist imposing an order that may not be there.  It’s a fascinating world no matter how the stories are classified.  I’m looking forward to seeing more of it.