Shattered Pillars by Elizabeth Bear
Remember when I made a bit of a stink that Range of Ghosts wasn’t nominated for a Hugo? I am even more vindicated by the exceptional quality of the sequel, Shattered Pillars. The new novel picks up right where Range of Ghosts left off with a disgraced horse lord and his wizard lover fighting against a fundamental religious megalomaniac.
There are times when Bear is a little unclear with her intent, or the inherent fuzziness of the magic raises an eyebrow, but couched in Bear’s gorgeous prose and confident voice everything comes off pitch perfect. I really can’t emphasize the point enough. Even when Shattered Pillars stumbles a bit with its pace or flow, there’s nothing that can derail my enjoyment because it’s just so well written. I’m a huge fan of Elizabeth Bear’s, and I’ll be reading the next book in the series the second I get it.… Read the rest
I’m going to keep this short.
Peter Brett’s two novellas, published by Subterranean Press, fill in some of the time gaps in his first novel The Warded Man. Where Brett’s novels are decidedly epic fantasy, both of his shorts ignore scope and grandiose machinations in favor of the here and now. Sword and sorcery is often described as a self-interested protagonist who does what needs doing while killing monsters. In this case it fits, but I would argue that the difference is much more about narrative pace and structure than any particular story element. In both senses, The Great Bazaar and Brayan’s Gold are decidedly sword and sorcery.
Great Bazaar, the first of the two novellas, fills in a gap of time that was left unexplained in Warded Man. It provides the method by which Arlen gains the financial backing for his later trips into the desert. The tale is essentially a quest to find a deserted city destroyed by demons decades previous and return with the beautiful pottery it was once famed for.… Read the rest
After my weekend piece on the Hugo Short Lists, I decide to jump right into a category I’m not as well versed in — Best Short Story. I read shorts from time to time, but rarely is it part of my weekly reading. This year’s list for best short story includes: stalwart Mike Resnick with The Homecoming, short fiction superstar Ken Liu with The Paper Menagerie, former Jim Baen’s Universe editor Nancy Fulda with Movement, and Princeton student E. Lily Yu with The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees.
I only mention four stories because, despite John Scalzi’s popularity with the Hugo voters, I can’t take his story, Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue, seriously. It’s occasionally clever, but doesn’t really possess a narrative thread. Even Scalzi calls it a fake-prologue to a fake-novel about a fake-dragon who isn’t as fake as everyone thought it was replete with run on sentences and incoherent names that riff on the time honored tradition of fantasy that does the same without ever actually making a new observation that hasn’t been made a hundred times before.… Read the rest