Sprint Sprint Sprint

September 30th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

I have an actual according-to-Hoyle vacation on deck, with no work on the docket.  Absurd luxury?  Yes!  Meanwhile, I’m sprinting around like a decapitated chicken trying to finish everything as needs finishing.  A preview!

  • Structural revisions for The Highway Kind.  For what feels like the first time, I’m experimenting with substantially additive revision.  Generally, no matter how much text I add to a book, wordcount for the n+1 draft will be the wordcount for draft n minus at least 10%, often closer to 20 or 30.  This time I’ve added 15k, and feel deliciously transgressive.  A lot of this book feels transgressive, actually—new rhetoric, new tools, new arguments.  Of course, I’m feeling all the hesitation one generally feels using new tools, but there’s a lot of freedom here, too.
  • (Unrelated: I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a tabletop game system that reflected growing *used* to a tool.  Learning a new blade takes me most of a night on the strip—and they make those to Olympic spec.  Someone who swaps out their old 10gp beater for a +3 sword might spend a whole adventure figuring out how to use it.  Granted, this is a bit simulationist for my current game preferences, but, hm.)
  • Reviewing copy edits for The City’s Thirst, which—I don’t know that I’ve actually mentioned this on the blog.  Have I?  The City’s Thirst is my second piece of Craft Sequence interactive fiction for Choice of Games.  You are a troubleshooter working for Red King Consolidated in the first decade or so after the God Wars.  Where’s the water coming from?  Forget it, Jake, it’s fantasyland.  It’s fun; weirder, too, darker, and probably a bit sexier, than CotD.  I hope you like it!
  • Finalizing my next Bookburners episode—speaking of which, Episode 4, by Mur Lafferty, goes live today!  It’s all about How to Serve Man, sort of.  And the perils of surgical equipment.  Give it a look—or a listen.
  • Undisclosed Labor for Seekret Projekt I’m working on with Cassie Clarke, Lindsay Smith, and Ian Tregellis, muahahahaha.
  •  Ancillary video stuff for Uncanny Magazine.

Speaking of videos, if you’re a board gamer and haven’t already seen Shut Up & Sit Down’s “Tips for the 5 Problem Players,” go do so.  The title aside, the video’s actually more about the ethics of gaming, and how to run a fun, inclusive night.  (I’ve made most of the mistakes they mention in the video myself.)  How to chill out and welcome people into a gaming space!  I admire SUSD’s vision of board gaming—what it is, what it can be.  Their team loves quality games, obviously, but they also care about the metanarrative of gaming, and I think that vision’s what makes them stand out.

On a not-entirely-related note, Amal El-Mohtar and Arkady Martine have great, deep thoughts about THE TRAITOR BARU CORMORANT.  Worth a read!

And in the “Max is excited to read this” line: Ilana Myer’s Last Song Before Night hit stands yesterday.  Definitely taking this one on the vacation. Poet magicians!

Okay, back to work for me.  Rock on, friends.

Covers are Love

September 23rd, 2015 § 1 comment § permalink



Um, sorry.  But—well.  Tor Books has a pleasant surprise to share with you over on their site.  I’ll post it here later this afternoon, but you should go over to their site for the surprise, along with a good deal of context for the surprise, and a video you should probably see.  Yes, it’s a video of me.  Yes, I am full clothed.  Get your mind out of the gutter.

And go check it out!

Also, this week, on the internet: my editor, Marco, posted an excellent and kind essay about the trouble he experienced getting a printable blurb for The Traitor Baru Cormorant out of me.  It’s a fantastic book—I’m scratching my head to think of an epic fantasy so well written.  As a result, I had a very hard time presenting my enthusiasm in, um, marketing-friendly terminology.

And, since it’s Wednesday—there’s a new Bookburners episode live on Serial Box!  Margaret Dunlap spins a tale of rare book sales, yacht management, the importance of proper archiving, mudslides, and the tour guide business.  Subscribe today!

Bookburners Episode 2 LIVES!

September 16th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

The second episode of BOOKBURNERS is live right now on the Serial Box website!  Brian Francis Slatterly’s written a skin-crawling tale of film management, household maintenance, and onboarding. Episode Two, Anywhere but Here, cemented Brian among our little group as the go-to guy for the deep weird.

And since we’re all weirdoes, that’s saying a great deal.

I didn’t mention last time, since I’m not much of an audiobook listener myself, that the Bookburners episodes are all available as audio.  Groove to the story on your headphones!  Probably the easiest way to subscribe to Bookburners is through our website, but there’s also an iOS app—Android version coming soon.  You can buy episode-by-episode, or subscribe to the entire season for a discount.  (Of course, you can also acquire the ebooks through the retailer of your choice.)

And if you haven’t read, or listened to, the first episode, it’s free!

You’ll see the Bookburners writer team—Mur Lafferty, Margaret Dunlap, Brian Slatterly, et moi—all around the internet promoting the series in the next couple weeks.  I kicked it off with a Big Idea post on John Scalzi’s blog, talking about how the Bookburners concept makes me pretty deeply uncomfortable, and that’s not a bad thing.

Also: join me in congratulating Margaret Dunlap, who locked in her second Emmy last night!

Games People (Mostly My Friends and I) Play

September 9th, 2015 § 1 comment § permalink

Today I’m running around preparing for the Bookburners launch—the series run starts next Wednesday, so get ready to see me running around with my underwear on my head talking about how cool this thing we’ve all put together is!  Basically with Margaret, Mur, and Brian I feel like I’m on some kind of Magnificent Seven style team designed to inject Good Stuff into your readin’ nerves.  The pilot‘s just the beginning.

In the meantime, here are some games I’ve been playing on heavy rotation recently!


Vlaada Chvatil’s CODENAMES is the party game you should own.

The concept’s simple: there are two teams of spies, red and blue, and two spymasters, also red and blue.  All players see a grid of words on the table—the codenames of secret agents in the wild.  The spymasters know which codenames are red agents and which are blue, thanks to a handy key.  They have to communicate this information to their team, using only a clue, and the number of codenames that correspond to the clue.  First team to contact all its agents, wins!

The red spymaster looks at the table and sees that “STAR” and “MOONLIGHT” are both red codenames; the red spymaster says, “Space: Two,” indicating that two clues on the board correspond to the clue “Space.”  The red team looks at the board, hems and haws, and chooses the correct codenames.  This is how it is supposed to work!

How it often works instead: the red team looks at the board, hems and haws, decides “STAR” is certainly one of the clues in question, almost goes for moonlight, but then one of the team sees “STATION” over in the corner.  It has to be STATION, he says.  “Space station, right?  I mean, it’s so obvious.”

Meanwhile, red team spymaster is sitting there, doing her best to keep a poker face, thinking, goddammit, how did I not see Station?

So, the red team chooses STATION.  Maybe Codename STATION actually attaches to an innocent bystander, or an irrelevant asset!  Maybe Codename STATION is one of the opposing team‘s agents—by identifying them, you’ve just handed your opponents an advantage.  Or, just maybe, Codename STATION belongs to the dreaded Assassin—and you’ve just lost the game.

CODENAMES is great fun, takes fifteen minutes to play, explains in thirty seconds, and works for groups between two and $max_capacity_of_room.  I’ve seen it take parties from dissolute to total good-natured competitive focus in a single exchange of play.  It’s the kind of game that will make friends invite you over so you can bring it and play with them.

Give it a shot, is what I’m saying.

Also, it has my favorite mechanic ever: the jerk timer!  If anyone’s taking too long to move, just upend this little sand timer, and they have to move by the time it runs out.  I wish every game had one of these.

Forbidden Stars

If Codenames is minimalist competitive party fun, Forbidden Stars is the opposite: maximalist hyperaggro spacewar simulator!  Set in the Grim Darkness of the Warhammer 40,000 Future Where There is Only War etc, Forbidden Stars is a surprisingly elegant platform for you and up to three of your friends to spend a large number of hours bashing each others’ faces in with spaceships and giant robots.

Forbidden Stars pits Vicious Space Orcs (WAAAUGH!), Chaos Space Marines (BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!), Space Elves (*creepy silence*), and Myke Cole I mean the glorious upstanding and noble Space Ultramarines in a struggle for control of the galaxy.  So far, so 4x.  But!  There are some neat differences.

Most 4xen (that being a genre of game that relies on the four x’s of conquest: exploration, expansion, exploitation, and extermination) end up being about territorial control.  All your space people want to become the largest space empire.  Games divide neatly into an early expansionist stage, a later defensive stage in which you ponder your and your enemies’ fortifications in prep for the final assault, and then a final SUPERNOVA DOOM EXPLOSION.

In Forbidden Stars, you win not by holding territory, or building the strongest economy, but by acquiring all your faction’s objective tokens (which your opponents have seeded around the galaxy in hard-to-reach-for-you places) first.  Strategic strikes are the name of the game: figure out how to bash in, seize your objective, and leave.  It’s an enormous game of capture the flag, only with spaceships and killer robots, which obviates what I’ve heard Django Wexler, who’s better at this stuff than I am, call the SHOGUN problem: in 4x games, often the player with the strongest military loses, because people gang up on her.

Forbidden Stars also offers the most elegant order-issuing system I’ve ever seen: players take turns placing order tokens facedown to various star systems.  You’ve issued an order to the Golbez Expanse, or whatever—is that an order to invade?  Do you plan to build a factory there?  Are you just engaged in some sort of internal reorganization?  Your opponents don’t know—all they see is, you’re preparing to do something.  But that information might be intended to bait them into a trap: they think you’re trying to occupy a system, so they try to occupy it first by placing an “advance” order on top of what they think is your “advance” order.  Only for you to place an actual “advance” order on top of that.  Since orders are resolved Last-in-first-out, you’ve just pre-empted their invasion with your own.  SCHEMING!

Also combat is a joy, but this post is already too long for me to explain why.

That said and speaking of length—OH MY GOD THIS IS A LONG GAME.  Especially—especially—if your friends are the sort of people who spend a lot of time thinking through their moves.  There are lots of micro-choices, which means a lot of time waiting for a, shall we say, contemplative player to drop their order.  If everyone knows what they’re doing, I can see it moving at a clip—there are fewer fiddly bits than in most 4x games.  But my last game was a four-player run with two first-timers, and we called it after eight hours, with a turn left on the turn counter.  I was hoping this would be more lightweight than Eclipse, which tends to run about an hour per player for our group, counting rules explanation; no such luck.

That said—while we were all guttering by the end of that run, we had fun the whole time, moving our space armies around the map and cackling about Blood for the Blood God, so and were able to call it with good feelings and laughter all around.  This one’s been good for three or four days of fun space warfare so far, which more than justifies its expense in my opinion.

Books You Should Read in September if You Care what I Think

September 2nd, 2015 § 1 comment § permalink

As R.E.M. would remind you, September is coming soon—so soon, in fact, that it’s already here.  And, in a sort of head-spinning coincidence, a lot of books are hitting shelves that I had the privilege of reading early.  Many of these come out with a quote of mine somewhere on the cover, but since blurbs are an imperfect critical mechanism, I’ll tell you why you might find this particular month hard on your wallet.

But first, an order of business!  If you want signed copies of any of my books, the fine folks at Porter Square Books, my local bookshop, can hook you up.  They just set up a clickthrough signed copy order system—you order through them, I drop by and sign your book, and it’s shipped out to you with all due haste.

You can visit my author page on their site, which seems to think I wrote The Dante Club for some reason but I’m sure we’ll get that cleared up presently—for direct links, though, check out Three Parts Dead in Hardcover and Paperback, Two Serpents Rise in Hardcover and Paperback, Full Fathom Five in Hardcover and Paperback, and Last First Snow in Hardcover!

And with that out of the way: BOOKS.

Out this week

Updraft, by Fran Wilde – A story about a young woman coming of age in a society where people live in bone towers growing out of a bank of impenetrable clouds far, far below.  Folk use artificial wings to fly from tower to tower!  The wings would actually work!  (There’s a lot of wonderful observation here about wind-reading and -riding; if you’re an SF reader and the high concept sounds too much like fantasy to you, don’t make the mistake of giving this one a miss.  You’ll regret it.)  Eyeball kicks, they are here, in the Mieville-esque bone towers and societal weirdnesses and the giant invisible sky squid. (Did I mention the giant invisible sky squid?  No?  Sorry.  Sky squid, we have them.)  I love how Wilde plays with the initiation story tropes—and how she addresses their often-underlooked underbellies, like how initiation ceremonies reinforce complicity in society’s Faustian bargains.  (Every initiation has an Omelas in it somewhere.)  Also people have knife fights in midair.  And there’s a bright bloom of language over the whole work—definitely read it.

The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, by Kai Ashante Wilson – My blurb for this namechecked Gene Wolfe, Samuel R Delany, and Fritz Leiber, and I think I was entirely justified.  That will be enough for some of you.  To expand: in shockingly few pages Wilson constructs a dense layered science fantasy combining the allusive hidden pipe blink-and-you’ll-miss-it worldbuilding I love in Wolfe’s work with Delany’s personal and social and erotic vision & verbal pyrotechnics.  The Leiber—well, it’s a Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser story, sort of, a kind of sword-and-sorcery (or sword-and-planet? I have my theories…) tale about hard folk traveling through a hard cosmopolitan world that takes many cultural cues from a range of African societies.  Wilson’s prose keeps sharp rhythm, twists, goes for the hamstrings and throat.  There aren’t many women in this book—it’s a book about men traveling together, and it seemed to me that women were intentionally present in their absence, if that makes any sense, which sets it apart from, say, The Lord of the Rings, where no characters ever seem to notice how few women are around, and few think about women much at all.  The absence feels more like a decision and less like an oversight, is what I’m saying.  Still, you may disagree with me on this score, or you might not care, depending on your goals.  Regardless, I think this is an important book, and a great book, and you should get it now so you can say you read it before it was cool.

Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho – I have not read this book yet!  But Cho’s novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo was the best surprise of 2013 for me, and I’ve been waiting for her to publish a novel ever since, and this is that novel.  Cho has a fantastic vision and a crisp, joyful prose style, funny and sharp, like a good Riesling.  She cares.  Advance praise for this book has been swelling.  I have no doubt it’s deserved.  Check it out.

Out September 15

The Traitor Baru Cormorant, by Seth Dickinson – The Traitor Baru Cormorant is a sharp-edged brilliant revenge drama in which the injustice to be avenged is the murder of a way of life.  We see the murder take place—our hero Baru is a young girl when she watches her island home colonized the modernist way, through trade agreements, education, and managed disasters rather than raw force of arms.  (Though of course force of arms is deployed, when needed, to “protect trade.”  Sound familiar?)  Baru, a genius, decides to destroy the colonizing empire from the inside—to join their system, climb its ranks, and break it from the heart.  I’m scratching my head to remember a book I’ve read in genre that more aptly displays the vicious process and logic of modern hegemonic colonialism.  (Should-be-obvious disclaimer: I have not read all books in genre.)  This is a well-written, passionate, fast-paced, burning book.  It says in pages stuff I feel like I’ve taken books to try to say.  It points fingers.  Most of the fingers it points are pointed at us.  (I mean here technocratic hegemonic high modernist kyriarchy, AKA The Song of My People.)

TBC also engages, obliquely and sneakily, with the often-ignored central challenge of “destroy the system from within” books (I’m thinking especially of Pierce Brown’s Red Rising here)—often the secret revolutionary ends up replicating the system’s practices and values in their attempt to destroy it.  (In RR Darrow fights the Golds, rulers of his far-future Neitzsche-esque caste system, by becoming better than the Golds at being a Gold, which means that according to Red Risingthe Golds’ value structure is correct.  To beat the Masquerade in TBC, Baru must become better than them at Masquerading, literally, which means… eek!).  Audre Lorde’s on point—the master’s tools cannot dismantle the master’s house.  (A point on which Lorde and Tolkien agree—huh, there’s a Lorde of the Rings essay to be written somewhere in here.  For future work.  Unless someone’s done it already?  Please tell me someone’s done it already.)  But—the master’s most vicious trick is to convince you those tools can.  Baru’s out-Masquerading the Masquerade, but out-Masquerading the Masquerade may only replicate the Masquerade, and many of her moves actively further Masquerade goals.  The ending is the conceit, and the ending is viciously ambivalent.  But I think that’s Dickinson’s entire project, and I’m eager to see where he takes it in the promised sequel.

That said, this is a book about the full court press of modern kyriarchy—the Masquerade are viciously exploitative, racist, sexist, and homophobic to the foundations of their thought; doublethink and desire suppression and false consciousness and bordering infinities are tools in their arsenal.  People who do what they want pay horrible prices here, if what they want doesn’t align precisely with the Masquerade’s exploitative, racist, sexist, homophobic worldview, and to succeed at her quest, Baru must appear to conform to those standards.  (Which often means actually conforming, outwardly—see previous graf.)  It made me feel the costs and sorrow of living under such pressure, in such a system, in my gut, but then, while I was joking a few grafs ago when I said technocratic hegemonic high modernist kyriarchy was The Song of My People, I wasn’t wrong.  As someone who’s about as privileged as I can be without being me and also rich (as I’ve mentioned before), such oppression isn’t my day-to-day lived experience—I can be struck and harrowed by Invisible Man, for example, it can (and does) inform my life and politics and art, but I don’t live Invisible Man, which, hard to deny that changes my experience of the text, is all I’m saying.   Someone on the day-to-day receiving end of the kinds of oppression this book depicts and damns might have a different experience of it than mine.  This is vicious and complicated stuff.

(I’m reminded here of a great scene in early Family Guy: Peter’s in prison, and a huge inmate has threatened to shiv him at midnight.  Peter’s freed a few minutes before the hour.  The inmate arrives at the promised time, with his knife, and finds the cell empty.  Sits on the bed.  Stares at his knife.  Gets a sort of wondering expression on his face.  “Hmmm….”  Stabs himself, shallowly, in the gut.  “OW!”  Stares in horror at the blood, the knife.  “Is that what I’ve been doing to people all this time?  I belong here.”)

Dickinson and I had a great conversation on Tor.com a while back about all these questions, which you should go read if you haven’t already!  My blurb compares his book to DUNE; there’s not much higher praise you’re gonna get from me.

Out September 29

Last Song Before Night, by Ilana C Myer – I’ve not read this book either!  Myer and I share an editor, and I keep hinting, but I still haven’t read this book! *Glares at editor with great glares.*  But she and I have talked about her project—a fantasy about art and music and creation and growth—and I’m so looking forward to taking a nice long late September evening with this novel and a very large cup of tea.  Join me.  Join me in tea and late September and Last Song Before Night.

Weekends and Might Have Beens

August 26th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Hello all! I’m fresh returned from a fantastic weekend at a friend’s wedding, full of joy in life, abuzz with reconfirmed friendships, new connections, and a bit sore from dancing and alcohol.  People are wonderful, and so’s the physical world.  They have sunsets and rivers there, and you’ll never find human beings like this anywhere else.  They’re fantastic.

Also the Hugos happened this weekend!  There have been full roundups of the event—I’m a particular fan of Chuck Wendig‘s for reasons that transcend but include the fact that he curses more freely than I tend to online.  Tobias Buckell figured out what the Hugo ballot would have looked like had a small angry cabal not organized a voting bloc in an attempt to drown out the broader conversation of fandom.  It’s a cool list, with good writers on it.

One of those writers is me!  (Sort of, maybe, depending on the 5% rule.)  Which, it’s really flattering that people liked my short story A Kiss with Teeth, but I’m not at all bent out of shape, save that it would have been an honor to be on that all-star list—Aliette de Bodard, Amal El-Mohtar, Ursula Vernon, and Eugie Foster!  Foster’s not being nominated is a special tragedy, since she passed away this last year.

I feel particularly wistful for the Campbell shortlist that might have been—Wes Chu ended up on the final ballot in spite of the slate, but the rest of the nominees would have been Andy Weir, Alyssa Wong, Carmen Machado, and Django Wexler, which, god, what a group!  All these people have fantastic careers already, not to mention ahead of them.  Wong’s fiction has been burning up the award shortlists this year, as has Machado’s—not to mention her New Yorker by-lines—Wexler’s writing not one but two fantastic fantasy series, bro do you even sleep, and Weir has, in case you hadn’t heard, a movie starring Matt Damon due out in a few weeks (not to mention a great, long-defunct webcomic).  An award nomination would have confirmed what’s already obvious—that they’re the future of SFF.

I’m mostly sad for that counterfactual world because meeting my fellow Campbell nominees was such a huge part of WorldCons 2013 and 2014.  We came from all over the genre spectrum, with wildly divergent backgrounds, we wrote very different stuff, and in the years since we’ve taken different paths—but we brought a strong bond away from WorldCon, and it’s a shame the alt nominees didn’t get that chance.  So, at the risk of advice-giving, because I guess that’s what this is, um, Django, Alyssa, Wes, Carmen, Andy—say hi to one another next time you’re at the same con, okay?

Introducing Bookburners & Serial Box!

August 19th, 2015 § 1 comment § permalink

Hi, friends! Let me share something cool with you.  Come into my secret lair.

Yep. A little further back. Around the iron maiden.  Just be careful about the—

… trap door.  Sorry, I really should get better lighting in here, hold on, let me lower you a rope.  Just chill for a second.  The gators are drawn to movement.


While you glare at me in silent rage, let me tell you about this Cool New Thing!

People-are-awesome pitch: Bookburners is Margaret Dunlap (The Middleman, Lizzie Bennet Diaries), Mur Lafferty (Shambling Guide to New York, Ghost Train to New Orleans), Brian Francis Slatterly (The Family Hightower, Lost Everything, The Slick Six), and yours truly writing an episodic supernatural procedural series for your reading pleasure.

Worlds-are-awesome pitch: Bookburners is about cop working with a team of Vatican secret agents who hunt down magic and demons and stuff from around the world, stick them in a box, and then never open the box, because that always works so very very well.  (This is the bit where I nod my head and mouth “no” in an exaggerated fashion.)  Miss The X-Files or Warehouse 13?  Like The Librarians?  This is a bit like that, only with significantly more Cronenberg.  (If you read Shadow Unit, odds are you’ll also like this!)

Formal-innovation-is-awesome pitch: Bookburners is a series of sixteen episodes of monster hunting, magic, intrigue, and team shenanigans, each of which takes about fifty minutes to read.  Each episode’s a complete story from start to finish, but they tie together in sequence.  I wrote the pilot!  And you can read it for free here, right now.  The rest of the series will be available episode by episode, or as a subscription, in ebook and audio and on the Serial Box website, once a week, starting with the series’ formal launch in September.  Here’s a page with all those details.

Formal-innovation-is-awesome corollary because this is the internet and internetters gonna net-pick: Yes, serial fiction has been around for a long time—but our main historical comps aren’t actually Dickens or Tolstoy, who published successive chapters of larger works rarely designed to stand alone.  Dickens et. al. wrote serialized novels.  IANA literary historian but I doubt one would think of what we’re doing as a novel; it’s much closer to older serial works like The Tale of Genji or Journey to the West, which are… tricky to claim as novels.  (Not impossible!  But that’s another dissertation.)  In the modern era, author-publishers have been building serialized stories for a while, but the writer’s room model gives us more flexibility—Bookburners draws off every writer’s strengths, and lets us challenge one another.  Shadow Unit is the closest thing out there to what we’re doing, as far as I can tell.  

Don’t-believe-me-trust-the-internet pitch: Here’s io9 on Serial Box!  And here’s SF Signal!  And also, it brings my fannish heart glee to report that some really cool people like the series.

Assuaging-your-fears pitch: If you’re worried about my writing schedule, you’re too kind, but don’t sweat it.  Really.  I turned in next year’s Craft Sequence book back in December, and in the next couple months I’ll turn in *another* novel, then focus on my planned Craft book for 2017.  And The City’s Thirst, another Choice of Game in the Craft Universe, will launch this fall.  I’ve been writing like a crazy person, yes, and I probably will scale back my project pace next year, but fingers crossed, knock on wood, I’ll be fine.

Now: go forth! Read!

And sorry about the gators.


Author Duels and AMAs and Kickstarters Oh My

August 12th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Hello friends!

I’m recovering from the Odinsleep here, but here are some fun things to share!  If you want the full Tor Tour experience, it turns out that our entire Author Duel at Phoenix Books in Burlington, VT was filmed and has made it onto the web.  Check out Elizabeth Bear, Brian Staveley, Jim Cambias, and I in full high-def and well-miked glory!

I’m pretty excited by this—it’s not often that I hear my own voice on a recording without flinching.

I’ve embedded the video above, but embeds don’t seem to transfer very well to the RSS feed or to Goodreads—if you don’t see a video, try watching on Youtube via this link!

Also last week I did an epic four hour long AMA on the fantasy subreddit.  I’ve done one of these for each release so far, and it’s been enormously entertaining each time.  This round the questions (and answers) were off the wall, and included some excellent speculation on skeleton sex.  Tor.com did a roundup here, and you can read the full AMA here.

Outside of that I’ve been catching up on the many, many balls I dropped while on tour, and starting edits on The Highway Kind, which feels pretty great.  I enjoy travel, meeting readers, catching up with friends—but there’s no feeling quite like getting back to The Real Work.

Speaking of The Real Work: Uncanny Magazine is Kickstarting its second year!  Lynn and Michael Thomas and their team put together a really fantastic first year of the magazine—I mean, yes, they published a short story by me, so they have that flaw in their judgment, but otherwise Uncanny’s first year collected a great, expansive cast of fantastic writers and poets and artists, and I’m proud to be supporting their second year’s run.  I can’t wait to see their plans for Year Two.  Check out the Kickstarter! I’m part of two backer rewards: I’m offering a 5,000 word manuscript critique—warning: I ain’t gentle—and a dinner sort of thing—check it out!  Uncanny feels to me like a bright vision of where SF is going.  Scan their first year if you’re interested, and do consider backing the Kickstarter.

A Triumphant Return!

August 5th, 2015 § 4 comments § permalink

I’m back!

Sorry, everyone, for my absence the last few weeks.  I’ve been on the road—throughout the Northeast, and then to GenCon in Indianapolis!  It’s been an amazing run, but without the time I’d needed to keep up with blog posting.  I’m back now, though, just dealing with an enormous pile of work and email and the like.

Tomorrow evening I’ll be dropping by Reddit’s Fantasy community for an Ask Me Anything Q&A session—visit r/fantasy tomorrow and you’ll see my post at the page.  Come!  Ask questions!  Chat!  I’ll be there at 8pm, beverage in hand, to answer.

Some stuff that happened while I was away:

Animator and fan artist par excellence Glinda Chen produced this amazing trailer for Two Serpents Rise!  I have no words for how amazingly cool this is.  If you like it, be sure to check out her tumblr, which is full of great Craft Sequence fan art.

(Two Serpents Rise from Glinda Chen on Vimeo.)

Seriously, I think I’ve watched this trailer about forty or fifty times by now.

Other video! Google NYC was kind enough to host us Tor Books Summer Road Trip folks for a Talk at Google, which you can see here and now thanks to the marvel of modern technology:

While I was on the road, I stopped by Bryant Park to talk about Hamlet!  I had a great time, and Tor.com wrote up the event.

Also relevant: the SFF Readalongs group over on Goodreads is hosting a readalong of Full Fathom Five.  If you’re interested, drop by—there’s been some great discussion over the last couple weeks.

Speaking, also, of the last couple weeks—LAST FIRST SNOW has been doing very well.  Thanks to all of your support we had a great first two weeks.  Brilliant reviews, too!  If you haven’t grabbed the book yet, on tour I took to describing it as “a novel about zoning politics and human sacrifice,” which about sums it up.

If you have read the book, and liked it, please do take a minute to write a review at the online bookseller or review board of your personal preference.  Some libraries also have review boards the days!

Also! If you’re interested in signed copies, contact Porter Square Books or Pandemonium and they’ll be able to hook you up.

That’s all for this week—I’ll have a more sensible post next week, promise.  Peace, y’all!

Last First Reviews & Updates

July 15th, 2015 § 4 comments § permalink

Hi friends!  The book launch went really well!  We had an amazing crowd at Harvard Book Store last night—and we didn’t even boil anyone for their skin!

Yesterday was pretty wild: four excellent reviews of Last First Snow hit at once, all glowing—and that’s not even counting Seth Dickinson’s Goodreads review, posted earlier (and if you don’t know Seth’s work yet, go forth and preorder a copy of his debut novel The Traitor Baru Cormorant—it’s an awesome book).

From Liz Bourke on Tor.com: “In his Craft sequence, Gladstone is writing a fantasy of modernity, deeply engaged with the issues of our time: the power of capital, the potential tyranny of corporations, the value of the individual, the tension between romanticised pasts and lived-in presents, and the aftermaths of conflict. Last First Snow epitomises his approach. It’s the kind of book that inclines me to use phrases like tour de force.

Max Gladstone just keeps getting better. It doesn’t quite seem fair. If you’re not reading his Craft sequence? Start.

Read Last First Snow. Seriously. Read it.”

From Paul Weimer on SF Signal: “The Craft Sequence novels are ultimately about people and how they strive for change in their world, but the actual plot and themes of the novel, which revolve around the redevelopment project, are a twisting labyrinth of ideas and concepts. We see the consequences of power, the stirring of old ideas and resistance to new ones, and how class distinctions can lead to disproportionate effects of change. All of these come through clearly in the Gladstone’s writing, which is the best in the series so far. It shows multiple sides and viewpoints of the characters and lets readers judge them by their beliefs and actions.”



From Reading Reality: “The Craft Sequence is an urban fantasy series that is guaranteed to leave readers with a terrible book hangover. Each volume immerses you further into this world, and makes it that much more difficult to let go.”

From Rob Bedford at SFFWorld.com: “If Max Gladstone gave readers a story whose strength was the nuanced characters he created and developed, Last First Snow would be a perfectly acceptable novel. If he simply did half of the world-building in the Craft Sequence and featured it as the backdrop for those aforementioned nuanced characters, then Last First Snow would be more than that, an excellent novel. Those elements, combined with the twisty plot and balanced tension make Last First Snow a gem of a novel. If you’ve read previous novels in the Craft Sequence and can’t wait for the next one, then you should be very satisfied with Last First Snow as it features Max’s strengths and provides some added depth to both the world and characters who are familiar. If you haven’t read anything by Max Gladstone, then Last First Snow is a great place to jump into his fictional world and discover a smart, engaging, captivating, and imaginative storyteller.”

Oh, and I wrote a Guest Post for SF Signal, which went live yesterday as well!: “But the public story isn’t always the true one. Memories distort and spin. What seems a grim inevitability twenty years later, at the time, looked anything but. The layers of myth painted over the actual events of the Skittersill Rising tell a story the people who were there, then, would recognize as a distortion. The original protests of the Rising protected their homes, their jobs, their families; religion was involved involved but was not a central issue. Cultures clashed. Negotiations succeeded and failed. People tried, desperately, to hold their lives together.”

[EDIT OF AWESOMENESS AT FRAN’S SUGGESTION] If y’all didn’t see it when I posted it previously—plenty of reasons you might not have—check out this interview Fran Wilde did of me for SF Signal!  I had an immensely fun time talking with Fran, and some of this stuff even sounds kind of smart, like:

“FW: Elayne (who we saw in Three Parts Dead) is wrapped up in her job, in the middle of a book that speaks much about the importance of family and home, and what people are willing to fight for. Still, she’s one of my favorite characters. How much has she given up for her Craft skills?

MG: A lot—not always willingly. She was a young Craftswoman in the God Wars when practitioners of the Craft were hunted and killed before they could grow strong; she had to run to escape her own people. She threw herself into the study of the Craft out of a desire first for protection, and then for naked power. To become a Craftswoman you have to learn to think the way Craftsfolk think—recasting the world in terms of trades, exchanges, obligations. That opens up huge possibilities, but it also places an immense amount of strain on normal human relationships. She survived the Wars, and she’s become a Craftswoman of immense power, but she’s not precisely mortal any more.”


I’m sprinting around like the proverbial headless chicken for the next twenty-four hours until the FURY ROAD adventure starts in earnest, but I wanted to check in to wave and thank you all for your support and help and good wishes in this very exciting time.  If you read the book and like it, please do drop a review on Goodreads, Amazon, or one of the related sites—and if you don’t have a copy, the hardcover discount’s almost 50% on some e-retailers!

That order of business aside, though—thank you.

Rock on, people.  You’re excellent.