the Little Red Reviewer

Hello!  Have I got a treat for you today!  I have the honor of showing you the gorgeous cover art for Julie Czerneda’s forthcoming fantasy novel The Gossamer Mage!    (Oh, you’ve read her Esen books? And her Species Imperative trilogy? And the Clan Chronicles?  Best surprise ever:  She writes fantasy too!)

Today is a trifecta of awesome:  A guest post from Julie about The Gossamer Mage‘s  journey, and an excerpt from the novel, and of course, the cover reveal!  and seriously, this is some freakin’ gorgeous cover art!  (Click here for pre-order info)

about the book:

Only in Tananen do people worship a single deity: the Deathless Goddess. Only in this small, forbidden realm are there those haunted by words of no language known to woman or man. The words are Her Gift, and they summon magic.

Mage scribes learn to write Her words as intentions: spells to make beasts or plants, designed to any purpose. If an intention is flawed, what the mage creates is a gossamer: a magical creature as wild and free as it is costly for the mage.

For Her Gift comes at a steep price. Each successful intention ages a mage until they dare no more. But her magic demands to be used; the Deathless Goddess will take her fee, and mages will die.

To end this terrible toll, the greatest mage in Tananen vows to find and destroy Her. He has yet to learn She is all that protects Tananen from what waits outside. And all that keeps magic alive.

 

photo credit: Roger Czerneda Photography

 

About the author:

For over twenty years, Canadian author/ former biologist Julie E. Czerneda has shared her curiosity about living things through her science fiction, published by DAW Books, NY. Julie’s written fantasy too, the first installments of her Night’s Edge series (DAW) A Turn of Light and A Play of Shadow, winning consecutive Aurora Awards (Canada’s Hugo) for Best English Novel. Completing her Clan Chronicles series with To Guard Against the Dark, Julie’s latest SF novel is Search Image, Book #1 of The Web Shifter’s Library, featuring her beloved character Esen the Dear Little Blob. Julie’s edited/co-edited numerous anthologies, including SFWA’s 2017 Nebula Award Showcase, but nothing prepared her for the sheer joy of opening her Clan Chronicles to fans of the series to produce Tales from Plexis, out this December. In 2019, Julie will be GOH at ConStellation, Lincoln, Nebraska. Meanwhile, Julie is hard at work on fantasy standalone The Gossamer Mage, out August 2019. Visit www.czerneda.com for more.

Magic?  Forgotten languages?  The high cost for doing magic correctly, and the higher costs for doing it wrong? Shut up and take my money! Good thing I’ve got an excerpt to share with you! (excerpt is images, may take a moment to load)

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Hello fellow #RRSciFiMonth readers! I wanted to share with you some of my favorite science fiction that I’ve read over the last year or so. If you’ve ever wondered to yourself “what kind of science fiction does Little Red Reviewer enjoy?” this list should answer that question. the links will take you to my review.

 

Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?

 

The Machineries of Empire trilogy by Yoon Ha Lee, which includes Ninefox Gambit, Raven Stratagem and Revenant Gun. I love everything about this trilogy, even though I am still recovering from that scene that made me cry hysterically for most of two days. Here’s a link to all three reviews, but read everything after the Ninefox Gambit review at your own risk because Spoilers!

The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells – A murderous cyborg who balances a heart of gold, an addiction to soap operas, and hating on humans. My fave entry so far is the 2nd one – Artificial Condition.

The Penultimate Truth by Philip K Dick – Fake news! First half of the book is excellent, second half isn’t so awesome, but this book is still worth the read.

Acadie by Dave Hutchinson – the best fun you’ll have in 100 pages

Borne by Jeff Vandermeer – weird, wonderful, post-apocalyptic. I hope one day Rachel feels safe enough that she can take her shoes off.

Nova by Samuel Delany – this story hasn’t aged a day! a compelling read that keeps you turning the pages. Excellent characters, fast paced plot.

 

I got chatting with author Chris Voss over twitter (@vossdross), and if you follow the #RRSciFiMonth tag, you’ve probably seen some of his tweets about his science fiction TBR, enjoying Doctor Who, his current  reads, and reminiscing about scifi paperbacks he enjoyed as a kid.

 

Chris’s debut novel, Genesis, came out earlier this year,  and boy did I have a ton of question for him about it!  I wanted to know everything – what was his favorite scene to write? what inspired the book? why go the self publishing route?  you know. . . everything!  Sorry Chris, I didn’t mean to freak you out with so many questions! I’m just curious about everything, and i might be an introvert but that doesn’t stop me from e-mailing someone a million questions.    This is a pretty cool interview, if I do say so myself!

 

About the book:

In a world ravaged by climate change, social inequality and dwindling natural resources there’s only one solution: abandon ship and terraform a new home.

Operation Genesis is beset by problems from the start – sabotage, covert infiltration, planning by committee – but Dylan Lomax, an emotionally disconnected empath, soon discovers there are worse things than organisational incompetence. The mission to bring life to a new planet has a terrible secret, one which threatens to take humanity to the brink of extinction.

About Chris Voss:

C.A. Voss was raised in Walsall, a small industrial town in the UK famous for its close proximity to the M6, Jerome K. Jerome and a concrete hippo (Google it). He moved to Leicester to study at De Montfort University and has been resident there ever since. He writes in his spare time and would love nothing more than to earn a living by telling stories.

He loves the writing of Edgar Allan Poe, Philip K. Dick and Hunter S. Thompson, to name but a few, and believes the greatest novel ever written was the first, Don Quixote by Cervantes. He also draws inspiration from the thousands of movies and TV shows consumed during a misspent youth; and hopes that his work contains a fraction of the wit, intelligence and excitement displayed by creatives like Joss Whedon, Aaron Sorkin and Steven Spielberg.

 

Let’s get to the interview!

 

Little Red Reviewer: Hi Chris! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Chris Voss: I find writing a little about myself way more difficult than writing a 100,000 word novel!

The initials in my pen name, C.A. Voss, stand for Chris(topher) Adam. I live in Leicester, in the UK, with my girlfriend Jen. A few years ago we both quit our jobs to go travel the world on a shoe-string budget and had the most amazing adventure. We barely scratched the surface of all the sights and experiences the world has to offer and can’t wait to get out and do it again someday.

I’m a master of procrastination; binge-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, reading books off my TBR list and playing Red Dead Redemption II when I should be writing my next novel. I have three great ideas I’m working on at the moment, including a spiritual sequel to my debut novel Genesis.

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I love buying books.  If I read an author and fall in love with their work, I try to buy more of their books.  I can’t seem to leave a bookstore without purchasing a cookbook.

 

I’ve been waiting for Seth Dickinson’s next Baru Cormorant book since, oh, I dunno, about 5 seconds after finishing the first book in the series, The Traitor Baru Cormorant. I was so excited for the next book in the series, The Monster Baru Cormorant, that I reread the first one, managed to purchase a copy of the new book the day it came out, and started reading it that night. It’s super dense, I’m madly in love with all the economics talk (but wait, i thought I hated economics?),  and I really miss Tain Hu. Might have to reread the first book just to be able to spend some more time with her. I’m about half way through The Monster Baru Cormorant, and am pretty sure I’ll need to read it twice if I’m gonna write a coherent review.

About five minutes after I finished Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee,  I ordered a copy of Lee’s short story collection, Conservation of Shadows.    And I finally, finally, after everyone I know has said how amazing this series is, bought a copy of Vicious by V.E. Schwab.  the problem is going to be deciding which one of these to read first!!!   The Lee looks enjoyable because it’s short stories, i can read one or two before bed or in the morning before I leave for work.   If Vicious turns out to be an emotional roller coaster, I might need to wait a few weeks to read it,  as I’m still recovering from Revenant Gun, and a little voice is telling me that Baru is going to take me on another emotional roller coaster!

 

Even if I don’t get to either of these books any time soon, I like that they are in my house.

 

 

And because I apparently can’t leave a bookstore without buying a cookbook, lets make some Gyudon.   and there’s a whole chapter on Japanese Curry!  Curry Rice FTW!

Revenant Gun, by Yoon Ha Lee (Machineries of Empire, #3)

published June 2018

Where I got it: purchased new

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One of the reasons I write reviews is to help myself process how a book makes me feel. I’m not super good at expressing myself verbally (or at all, actually), but somehow writing a book review helps me express myself and process my thoughts.  Somehow, with words, I am making a picture of the journey a book took me on. A picture of a journey, made of words? Magic!

 

Anyway.

 

I finished Revenant Gun nearly a week ago.  I’d been reading this book very slowly, savoring every page.  Like Ninefox Gambit and Raven Stratagem, Revenant Gun is fucking smart. I can’t tell if this trilogy is the decade’s smartest science fiction epic, a treatise on management and communication, step by step instructions for how to take down a government, or if all of those things are actually in a way the same thing.  Among other things,  The Machineries of Empire trilogy is the story of what happens when choice is removed, and then many generations later, it is given back. If you’ve never had something before, how do you know what you’re supposed to do with it? I’ve grossly oversimplified the plot, of course. Sort of like saying Star Wars is about a guy who goes on an adventure, meets his dad, and then decides to kill his dad’s boss because of a political disagreement. I skipped over all the good parts, didn’t I?

 

I finished reading Revenant Gun nearly a week ago. That day, and the next day, I was no shape to write a review. Nearly in tears, I’d emailed my best friend and tried to explain to her (hey, remember that e-mail I sent you? And I said I wasn’t going to tell you the name of the book I was talking about? Well, it’s this book!)  that a particular scene had taken place, and that I felt rather positive about that scene. That I’d liked that scene.  And then later in the book, I found out that what I thought was happening that scene wasn’t actually what was happening at all.  And now that I knew what was really going on, what kind of fucking monster was I for liking that scene??   You guys, this was beyond #Allthefeels.

 

After I was done crying (I still didn’t feel any better, I’d just cried myself out), I ordered a copy of Yoon Ha Lee’s short story collection.

 

But enough about me and my mushy feelings,  you want to know what this book is about, right?  I don’t know what’s better – the overarching theme and plot of the trilogy or that these books are so damn smart and perfectly written that maybe the overarching plot doesn’t matter.

 

I was hoping for another Cheris book, and while she does make an appearance in Revenant Gun, this final volume is Jedao’s time to shine.  He’s awake, has only himself in his mind, doesn’t seem to have an anchor, and he thinks he’s 17 years old. His body is 40 something years old, and the soldiers expect him to order them around. Makes sense, since he’s been hired to win a war.  The soldiers are also terrified of him, and he doesn’t know why. Jedao is functioning without an understanding of what happened between him and Khiaz. He’s functioning without any understanding of his place in history. Even worse, he’s the only person who had no idea who Cheris is.

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Rogue Protocol (Murderbot Diaries) by Martha Wells

published 2018

where I got it: purchased new

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Murderbot needs to stop hanging out with humans.  You hang out with humans too much, and they start to rub off on you, and you start to think that maybe not all humans are awful, that maybe it is possible for a bot to be treated kindly.  You start getting spoiled, you start getting used to sleeping on soft beds and having access to niceties.

 

You hang out with humans long enough, and even their gross feelings and emotions start to rub off on you. Feelings like  anger. Loyalty. Envy.

 

Plot-wise, Rogue Protocol doesn’t offer much we haven’t seen before.  Murderbot is going somewhere to get more information about GrayCris, and will have to pass as human (or at least pass as anything other than a SecUnit) to be successful, all while keeping dumb humans from getting killed by their own stupidity. There is interaction with another bot, whereby Murderbot learns that not all bots have the same experience with humans, and not all humans are awful.  I didn’t feel the connection with the characters as much in this book as I did in previous installments, making Rogue Protocol feel like it suffered from “middle book syndrome”.

 

When I say that so far this is my least favorite Murderbot book, what I’m saying is that Rogue Protocol is better than 75% of the books I’ve read this year. And the way this book ends? I know I am in for some spectacular Murderbot-ness in the next installment!

 

I appreciated that Murderbot has no idea how to feel about Miki, the other bot.  Miki is privileged, and maybe a little spoiled by her humans. Should Murderbot feel envy? Miki also isn’t very smart, her programming isn’t very complicated. Should Murderbot feel pity? She’s too dumb to really understand what’s happening (although she has got the 3 laws of robotics down pat), so maybe ignorance is bliss.  Her programming keeps her rather childlike, almost the way you and I keep our pet cats and dogs in a state of permanent pre-adolescence so they can stay tame, cute, and domesticated. Hmmm… maybe that’s the trick to humans treating their bots with kindness – in your mind, the bot is a pet cat. Some cats are very smart, but I’ve known some pretty dumb indoor cats who would have died without a human to care for them and protect them.  There are plenty of dogs out there with jobs, but also plenty of really cute and dumb dogs.  it’s surprisingly easy to keep a pet cat dumb, or pet dog dumb.

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Dear book bloggers of the world:  I’m worried about you.

 

Yes you, the blogger who said on their “about me” page that they’d being posting 3 book reviews a week, and a month in you’re already starting to get burned out because you’ve been reading 26 hours a day and have  barely slept or walked your dog or done your homework or texted your mom or spent any time with your best friend.

 

And you, the book blogger who clicked on so much shiny cover art that now you have 50 NetGalley eARCs you need to read, like, right now because you need to make sure NetGalley always loves you.

 

And you, the book blogger who decided ten  reading challenges look fun, and you thought reading 100 books this year was a worthy goal (and don’t forget the bingo card!), and then college started up again, you got diagnosed with a chronic illness, you moved cross country, you had to give your cat away, and now you are wondering how are you ever going to meet your goal of reading 100 books this year?

 

And you, the book blogger who feels like you’re doing it wrong because you think someone else’s book blog is shinier or sleeker, or longer, or shorter, or whatever-er than yours.

 

Dear book bloggers of the world:  I’m worried about you. Please be kinder to yourselves.

 

Book blogging is not and was never meant to be something you are required to do every day or three times a week or on any arbitrarily defined schedule.

Book blogging is not and should not be about keeping up with other bloggers. There isn’t some prize for reading the most books, or downloading the most eARCs from Netgalley or getting the most ARCs in the mail.

Book blogging should not be something that comes before selfcare, or before your family, or before the big things in your life. Some days watching TV should come before book blogging, because we all do #selfcare differently.

Book blogging should not be something that causes you stress or strife or causes you to be judgemental about yourself.

Netgalley will understand. They know we love clicking on beautiful cover art.

 

Book bloggers of the world, please be kinder to yourselves.

 

Please, be take some time to be selfish.  Take some time to realize that you have taken your passion for reading, the spark you carry inside you, and allowed it to blossom on a website that is all your own.  With a little bit of clicking, and a little bit of html, you have literally created something out of nothing. You have created something that is completely unique to you – someone else, if given the same exact recipe, could never have made what you have made. Because of you, someone discovered a new-to-them book. Your passion, your spark, it rubs off on everyone who visits your site!

 

Still looking for the magic bullet of how win at blogging? Ok, here you go:

 

Being the bloggeriest blogger who ever blogged is not winning. Winning is showing up. Winning is being your authentic self. Winning is talking about books you care about, books that make you think, or cry, or laugh, or grow. Winning is coming to the bloggish community as you,  not as who you think we want to meet. Winning is recognizing burn-out for what it is, taking a break when you need to, and keeping it fun.

 

Blog when you feel like it. Blog on a schedule that works for you. If you have a schedule that was working, and it isn’t working anymore, change it. Blogs are not made of stone and neither are  you. Your blog works for you, not the other way around.

 

#selfcare comes first. Your health and your family come first.  Take a break if that’s what life calls for. Your blog will still be here waiting for you when you come back. The blogging community will still be here waiting for you when you’re ready to return. We’re patient and we want you to take care of yourself.  If you decide there isn’t room in your life for the commitment of blogging right now? That’s OK too. Really, it is!

 

Please do not think you are failing as a blogger because your blog isn’t as sparkly or as polka-dotty or as whatever-y as someone else’s.

 

The only failed blogger is the blogger who never started a blog in the first place.

 

Book bloggers of the world, please be kinder to yourselves.  If the spark inside you burns out, the blogosphere will be all the poorer without you.

 

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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