Monday, May 20, 2013

Review of "Singularity Sky" by Charles Stross

Having recently finished and enjoyed my first Iain Banks novel ("Consider Phlebas") , I felt further entitled to read a slipstream space opera by one of my favorite authors, Charles Stross. I note on Stross's blog that he has produced a "crib sheet" about "Singularity Sky." He says he had to kill off this series after only two novels. I wanted to find out why, but not before I finished reading the book.

"Singularity Sky" is one of Stross's earlier works, set in the post-Singularity universe 400 years in the future. (So, in a way it is a Culture prequel.) The prolog begins with the arrival of "The Festival," superior visitors from afar promising the backward human inhabitants on Rochard's World anything they desire in return for some entertaining stories. The ensuing economic bedlam of course leads to war.

Humanity has grown accustomed to oversight by a shadowy AI called the Eschaton, but even this superior entity doesn't quite know what to do about the Festival. It does dispatch an agent when it suspects that the totalitarian New Republican government wants to illegally send a fleet of warships jumping back in time to ambush the Festival. Stross is a master at explaining current understandings of space and time travel, so we happily go along for the ride.

I was quite fond of the character Burya Rubenstein, a Soviet-style revolutionary who hopes to lead his world to throw off the shackles of the Republic. Unfortunately, the Festival's arrival renders him instantly obsolete. And the Festival easily sees the naive naval war fleet's ruse and dispatches some "Bouncers" to send them home tae think again.

A blurb on the book's dust jacket says, "Information demands to be free." I think it's more that the Festival demands it. And it's all just a little too much for a stable, backward planet to swallow all at once. All hell literally breaks loose. The chapter, "Diplomatic Behavior" caused my eyes to pop out of my head in horror, sort of like the first time I read "Jeffty Is Five" by Harlan Ellison. Mimes--robopookas--shudder.

Soon the Festival moves on, leaving Rochard's World to pick up the pieces, some of which are not what they used to be. I'd particularly miss the trees.

Now, off to the crib sheet.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Playing with Fire - The Lineup

I'm excited to have a great lineup of authors for Third Flatiron's
Summer 2013 "Playing with Fire" anthology, appearing online everywhere
after June 1. Where there's smoke there's fire. . .


One Step at a Time by Gunnar De Winter
In the Garden by Adele Gardner
Again and Again by G. Miki Hayden
Stone Cold by L. L. Hill
The Match Story by James S. Dorr
Fire Dogs by Ian O'Reilly
Godrock by H. L. Pauff
Knock by Marian Powell
The Poison Pawn by Nicholas M. Bugden
Hephaestus and the God Particle by J. M. Scott
Fate's Finger by Jonathan Shipley
The Carnival by Michael Fedo - Reprint of a famous classic!
Meteor Story by Marissa James

It will be fun to have a third entry from the ever-entertaining James
S. Dorr, as well as pieces by both new and established writers.

A Classic from Michael Fedo

Also notable in this anthology is a reprint of a classic story, "The
Carnival," by Michael Fedo. This story was published back in 1968 in
several Scholastic Magazines. Since then, it has become something of
an iconic story with middle school and high school students around the
country. The story has its own Wikipedia page, and each year the
author receives numerous queries from students and teachers about the
story, though it has long been out of print. We agree that it
merits republication, and we feel that this anthology as a whole
treats a literary theme that will be interesting to teachers,
students, and SF/Fantasy fans alike.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Western Fantasy: Mountain Ma'am

As another spring snowstorm hits Colorado, I'm reminded that's how my new western fantasy story, "Mountain Ma'am," starts out.

The beautiful art deco cover is by Keely Rew, former Coloradan and current Glaswegian bride. Main character Callie Dawson is a post-Civil War orphan who finds herself in charge of the Laramide Nation, an ancient alliance of humans and animals in mountainous regions.

I've finished a number of other Mountain Ma'am stories, and will be following this up with a collection, "The Further Adventures of Mountain Ma'am."

"Mountain Ma'am" is available on Smashwords (free) or Amazon (99 cents for Kindle readers).