Annalee Newitz Recommends The Mount

Wed 20 Sep 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

The Mount cover - click to view full sizeToday on Bookriot’s Recommended podcast, Annalee Newitz (whose novel Autonomous drops this week!) recommends Carol Emshwiller’s Philip K. Dick Award winning novel The Mount.

We love this novel here at Small Beer. Every now and then I go back to it and realize again how weird and great it is. Our edition is in shortish supply at the moment so it’s back to the printer it’ll have to go — in the meantime, you can pick up the Penguin mass market edition or the ebook. (Will there ever be a movie edition? No recent news, but never say never!)



The Story Spilling Over

Thu 14 Sep 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

The River Bank cover - click to view full sizeOccasionally I read a review of a book we’ve published and it makes me want to pick up the book and read it all over again. I just had that experience reading Amal El-Mohtar’s review of The River Bank on the NPR website. Amal begins her review writing about fan fiction and reading that made me wonder if fan fiction was labelled something else, would it be more acceptable to those who don’t like it? Much of the time fan fiction can pass me by but then Kij sent us a book that Amal accurately labels fan fiction and I love it. I love a book in conversation with another but sometimes, ach, you know how it is. There’s no one rule that describes even one reader’s preferences. I know a good book when I see it! Right? Sure.

Enough of me, here’s a part of Amal’s review. I urge you to read the whole thing:

I was never less than delighted with this book. From beginning to end, it thoroughly charmed and engaged me, speaking the native literary language of my childhood. Like a river, it is in places languid and broad, in others narrow and rushing, the story spilling over sharp rocks of incident before pooling in afternoon sunshine, smelling of lilies and mud. I loved the sweetness of its pace, which spoke of a deep, abiding love not so much for the source material’s specific contents as their tone: a wistful, enchanted melancholy that walks hand in hand with summer’s end.

There are passages here that I treasure, that take up the timbre of Kenneth Grahame’s voice to speak of new things that feel timeless: the joys and pains of being an author at work; the changeability of a summer’s day from possibility to exhaustion; the quiet loneliness of a home half-dwelt in, a home asleep until woken by occupation, activity, presence. Sentences like “an animal lives in the long now of the world.” So much of this book dwells deeply in that long now.

In addition to its many native felicities, the text is embellished by Kathleen Jennings’ beautiful incidental illustrations, grace notes sounded in E. H. Shepard’s mode with a line reminiscent of Beatrix Potter and a sensibility all Jennings’ own.



Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet No. 36

Wed 13 Sep 2017 - Filed under: LCRW | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

56 pages. Ebook ISBN: 9781618731395

2 x 18. 3 x 12. 4 x 9. 6 x 6. There are many ways to look at or approach the number 36. It is a square and therefore seemingly as far from a prime number as it is possible to get. (37 is a prime: so the previous statement sounds interesting, but is wrong.) There are not 36 short short stories within. But there are at least 2 poems although they are not 18 pages each.

There is a cover from kAt Philbin.

There are stories of possibly eerie encounters; stories of regrettable encounters; stories that do not hold a single encounter, except the imminent encounter between you, the reader, and the writer who is somewhere other in space and now retreating further in time each day. And if the enchantment of fiction — and poetry and nonfiction — works as planned, that magic will take someone’s thought that has been encapsulated in words, those words that were encased by ink, that ink that was pinned to paper, and then maybe, just maybe, that magic will be enacted upon you by the act of reading and you will take into your synapses, the space between your synapses, something of what that far distant writer hoped to impart in these words.

Table of Contents

Fiction

Gabriela Santiago, “Children of Air”
Lily Davenport, “The Crane Alphabet”
T. L. Rodebaugh, “The Secret History of the Original Line”
Mollie Chandler, “Evidence of a Storm”
Todd Summar, “Watching You Without Me”
Laurel Lathrop, “Cunning”
Christi Nogle, “The Best of Our Past, the Worst of Our Future”
Zhao Haihong, “Windhorse”

Nonfiction

Nicole Kimberling, “How to Cook (Dis)Comfort Food”

Poetry

D M Gordon, Two Poems

About these Authors

Mollie Chandler is soon to complete her MFA in poetry at Lesley University, where she also concentrates in fantasy, fairy tale, and pedagogy. She works in Boston as an editorial assistant at an educational publishing company. Off the clock, she studies jazz vocals and acting, haunts thrift stores, and hunts for the best diners in New England. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, The Charles River Journal, Light: a Journal of Photography and Poetry, Paradise in Limbo, Poems2Go, and others.

L. M. Davenport is a first-year MFA candidate at the University of Alabama. She has read Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness a ridiculous number of times, and once knitted a five-and-a-half-foot-long giant squid. Her work has previously appeared at Hobart, Shimmer, and Luna Station Quarterly.

D M Gordon is the author of Fourth World and Nightly, at the Institute of the Possible, a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award and International Book Award. Gordon’s poems and stories have been published widely. Prizes include First Prize from Glimmer Train, and Editor’s Choice Awards from the Beacon Street Review and descant. An MCC Artist Fellow in fiction for a portion of her novel Geography, as well as a two time finalist in poetry, she’s a freelance editor in multiple genres, and the editor for Hedgerow Books.

Nicole Kimberling lives in Bellingham, Washington, with her wife, Dawn Kimberling. She is a professional cook and amateur life coach. Her first novel, Turnskin, won the Lambda Literary Award for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. She is also the author of the Bellingham Mystery Series.

Laurel Lathrop is studying fiction in the Creative Writing PhD program at Florida State University, where she has been awarded a Legacy Fellowship. She teaches composition and works as Assistant Nonfiction Editor of the Southeast Review.

Christi Nogle teaches college writing in Boise, Idaho. She has published in CDM recording studio’s Portable Story Series and the Pseudopod podcast and has a story forthcoming in C. M. Muller’s literary horror anthology Nightscript III.

T. L. Rodebaugh is a clinical psychologist and an Associate Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. He lives with his wife and two children. When not conducting psychological research or writing fiction, he enjoys being barely competent in playing the guitar and gardening. Although he has published widely in the field of psychology, this is his first published short story. You can find him on twitter.

Gabriela Santiago grew up in Illinois, Florida, Montana, and Yokosuka, Japan; these days she lives in St. Paul, where she spends her days professionally playing with kids at the Minnesota Children’s Museum. She is a graduate of Macalester College and the Clarion writing workshop, as well as a proud member of Team Tiny Bonesaw. Her fiction has appeared in People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction!, People of Colo(u)r Destroy Horror!, Betwixt, Black Candies—Surveillance: A Journal of Literary Horror, and States of Terror; her Black Candies story is also available in audio form on the GlitterShip podcast. You can find her online on Tumblr or Twitter.

Todd Summar writes fiction and essays, and serves as an editor for publishers and individuals. His work has appeared in Literary Hub, PANK, and Electric Literature, among others. He is the founding editor of Goreyesque and has an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago. You can learn more about him on toddsummar.com or ToddSummar.

About

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet No. 36 Early Autumn 2017. ISSN 1544-7782. Ebook ISBN: 9781618731395. Text: Bodoni Book. Titles: Imprint MT Shadow. LCRW is (usually) published in June and November by Small Beer Press, 150 Pleasant St., #306, Easthampton, MA 01027 · [email protected] · smallbeerpress.com/lcrw. twitter.com/smallbeerpress · Printed at Paradise Copies (paradisecopies.com), 21 Conz St., Northampton, MA 01060. 413-585-0414. Subscriptions: $20/4 issues. Please make checks to Small Beer Press. Library & institutional subscriptions are available through EBSCO. LCRW is available as a DRM-free ebook through weightlessbooks.com &c. Contents © 2017 the authors. Cover illustration “I Was Raised by the Forest” ©2017 by kAt Philbin (katphilbin.com). All rights reserved. Thank you, lovely authors and artists. Please send submissions (we are always especially seeking weird and interesting work from women and writers of color), guideline requests, playlists, &c. to the address above. Peace.

 



Return to the River Bank

Tue 12 Sep 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

The River Bank cover - click to view full sizeToday, five years or so after we published Kij Johnson’s collection At the Mouth of the River of Bees we are delighted to be publishing her new novel The River Bank.

The River Bank is a sequel to Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows and, given Kij’s recent stories such as “Ponies” and “Spar”) you would not be the only one surprised that Kij had chosen this as one of her next projects. For us, the first illustrator who came to mind was Kathleen Jennings. Her detailed lines and light sense of whimsy combined with her deep knowledge of illustration made her the perfect choice and we were quite enchanted when she started sending pencil sketches for chapter and incidental illustrations.

So today the book comes out in a lovely paper-over-boards hardcover — we’ve never done that before, what fun! — and ebook editions. People seem to love it as much as we do and as much as we’d hoped, especially once they have it in their hands. It’s very different from Kij’s other work but as ever her love of the natural world and for animals shines through.

If you’re in the Kansas City environs, Kij is launching the book at the Raven Book Store tonight (so you can order a signed copy if you’d like) and she has a few more readings planned:

Sept. 12, 7 p.m. Raven Book Store, 6 East Seventh St., Lawrence, KS
10/14, 1 p.m., Uncle Hugo’s Bookstore, Minneapolis, MN
11/2-5, World Fantasy Convention, San Antonio, TX
11/20, 7 p.m., Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing, 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton, OR
11/21, 7 p.m., Elliot Bay Book Co., 1521 Tenth Ave., Seattle, WA



The River Bank

Tue 12 Sep 2017 - Filed under: Books | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

paper over boards · 208 pages · 9781618731302 | ebook · 9781618731319

Washington Post Notable Books
“A charming and funny sequel to Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows.

In this delightful dive into the bygone world of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows staunch Mole, sociable Water Rat, severe Badger, and troublesome and ebullient Toad of Toad Hall are joined by a young mole lady, Beryl, and her dear friend, Rabbit. There are adventures, a double kidnapping, lost letters, a series of sensational novels, two (threatened) marriages, and family secrets.

The River Bank has color endpapers, chapter illustrations, and more than 40 incidental illustrations by award-winning artist Kathleen Jennings.

Events

1/5/18, 3 p.m. Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX

New

Kij Johnson in the Guardian: Writing women into The Wind in the Willows revitalises the canon

The University of Kansas: A creative critical response to absence of women in classics

Table of Contents

New Arrivals
Tea at Toad Hall
Arcadia
A Regrettable Consequence
The Dustley Turismo X
Water Lilies
Flight
A Den of Thieves
Mole and Beryl
Cribbed, Cabined, and Confined
Escape!
Return to the River Bank
Author’s Note

Reviews

“If you’re going to write a sequel to one of the most beloved children’s books of all time, you’ll need to be pitch perfect, hit all the right notes and, at its end, leave your reader shouting ‘Bravo!’ Or in this case, ‘Brava!’ and ‘Encore!’ Kij Johnson has brought out an absolutely delightful book, as charming and funny and rereadable as Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows itself.”
— Michael Dirda, Washington Post

“I was never less than delighted with this book. From beginning to end, it thoroughly charmed and engaged me, speaking the native literary language of my childhood. Like a river, it is in places languid and broad, in others narrow and rushing, the story spilling over sharp rocks of incident before pooling in afternoon sunshine, smelling of lilies and mud. I loved the sweetness of its pace, which spoke of a deep, abiding love not so much for the source material’s specific contents as their tone: a wistful, enchanted melancholy that walks hand in hand with summer’s end.
There are passages here that I treasure, that take up the timbre of Kenneth Grahame’s voice to speak of new things that feel timeless: the joys and pains of being an author at work; the changeability of a summer’s day from possibility to exhaustion; the quiet loneliness of a home half-dwelt in, a home asleep until woken by occupation, activity, presence. Sentences like “an animal lives in the long now of the world.” So much of this book dwells deeply in that long now.
In addition to its many native felicities, the text is embellished by Kathleen Jennings’ beautiful incidental illustrations, grace notes sounded in E. H. Shepard’s mode with a line reminiscent of Beatrix Potter and a sensibility all Jennings’ own.”
— Amal El-Mohtar, NPR

“The prose is delightful, matching Grahame’s as it does but with Johnson’s own unique sense of humor and scenery—and, given that Beryl is herself a writer, it often has a clever self-referential quality that I found charming. The illustrations scattered throughout also add to the sense of place and time Johnson has constructed with this return/revision. It’s a different kind of project than I expected but I can’t say I’m at all disappointed. I wouldn’t have thought I needed a sequel to The Wind in the Willows, but Johnson has done a fine job here by making me realize I wanted one and delivering it all at the same time.”
— Brit Mandelo, Tor.com

“The familiar figures of Mole, Water Rat, Badger, Mouse, and of course Toad are here, but the story opens with two new figures, a young mole lady named Beryl and her companion the Rabbit, an impressionable young woman described by Mouse as ‘‘right flighty,’’ moving into Sunflower Cottage on the River Bank. Beryl is a successful ‘‘Authoress’’ of potboiling adventure novels, and while Johnson has a good time giving us hints of these novels and of Beryl’s own writing process, her real significance is that she is not only one of the first female characters to move into the village, but one of the first who actually has a clear occupation. Both she and Rabbit are welcomed by the locals, although Mole himself seems oddly reticent to have any dealings with her, for reasons that become clear much later. Most of these residents are familiar in their dispositions, although Toad may if anything be a bit darker and more reckless and impulsive than in Grahame. One of the more intriguing aspects of The Wind in the Willows, maybe especially for SF readers, was the satirical manner in which it introduced technology into the world of the animal fable, and Toad’s famous passion for motorcars is here supplanted by an equally voracious and hilarious lust for the new motorcycles, after he sees a messenger riding one. That, of course, leads to the series of disasters – and attempted interventions on the part of Toad’s friends – that make up Johnson’s fast-moving plot. . . . The delicate balance of challenging the assumptions of a beloved classic while retaining the oracular charm of that classic seems almost effortless in Johnson’s hands, but it’s more of an achievement than it might at first seem.”
— Gary K. Wolfe, Locus

“Anthropomorphized friends Mole, Water Rat, Badger, and the notorious Toad of Toad Hall are back in Johnson’s sequel to Kenneth Grahame’s 1908 children’s novel set in Edwardian England, The Wind in the Willows. When a young lady-mole named Beryl and her companion, Rabbit, move to the River Bank, they spark a series of comical misunderstandings and adventures. Johnson neatly captures the quaint whimsy of Grahame’s original book, complete with asides from the omniscient narrator (“The Mole took the kettle off and banked the fire—for he knew that one should never leave a fire unattended, and so ought you.”) She also does an excellent job of addressing issues of gender and class in Grahame’s original novel; Beryl, an “authoress” of successful murder mysteries, and her friend Rabbit, whose spirit of recklessness could put the Toad himself to shame, incite a flurry of anxieties. “I am sure they are very nice animals,” says the Mole, “but—females, you know. You know what they are like…. I don’t see why we need anyone else. We went along admirably enough without them.” The Mole may come to eat his words, and the adventures that expose the root of his assumptions are sparkling and witty without sacrificing narrative tension. This is a sequel that will hit the spot for Grahame fans, but isn’t afraid to build on his characters and fill in some gaps for a modern readership.”
Publishers Weekly

“Johnson’s attention to world-building and characterization create an engaging read with modern appeal while maintaining the aesthetic of the original. It also works as a stand-alone for new readers, though references to events covered in the first book are sprinkled throughout. Black-and-white line spot art and full-page spreads add to the nostalgic feel.”
School Library Journal

Praise for Kij Johnson’s writing:

“Johnson’s language is beautiful, her descriptions of setting visceral, and her characters compellingly drawn. These 18 tales, most collected from Johnson’s magazine publications, are sometimes off-putting, sometimes funny, and always thought provoking.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Ursula K. Le Guin comes immediately to mind when you turn the pages of Kij Johnson’s first book of short stories, her debut collection is that impressive. The title piece has that wonderful power we hope for in all fiction we read, the surprising imaginative leap that takes us to recognize the marvelous in the everyday.” —Alan Cheuse, NPR

“Kij Johnson has a singular vision and I’m going to be borrowing (stealing) from her.” —Sherman Alexie

The Fox Woman immediately sets the author in the front rank of today’s novelists.” —Lloyd Alexander

“When she’s at her best, the small emotional moments are as likely to linger in your memory as the fantastic imagery. Johnson would fit quite comfortably on a shelf with Karen Russell, Erin Morgenstern and others who hover in the simultaneous state of being both “literary” and “fantasy” writers.” —Shelf Awareness

Previously

9/12, Raven Bookstore, Lawrence, KS
10/14, 1 p.m., Uncle Hugo’s Bookstore, Minneapolis, MN
11/20, 7 p.m., Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing, 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton, OR
11/21, 7 p.m., Elliot Bay Book Co., 1521 Tenth Ave., Seattle, WA

About the Author

Kij Johnson has won the Sturgeon, World Fantasy, Hugo, and Nebula awards for her stories which were collected in At the Mouth of the River of Bees. She is the author of three previous novels and has taught writing and has worked at Tor, Dark Horse, Microsoft, and Real Networks. She has run bookstores, worked as a radio announcer and engineer, edited cryptic crosswords, and waitressed in a strip bar. She is an Assistant Professor in the English department at the University Kansas.

About the Illustrator

Kathleen Jennings (@tanaudel) was raised on fairytales in western Queensland. She trained as a lawyer and filled the margins of her notes with pen and ink illustrations. She has been nominated for the World Fantasy award and has received several Ditmar Awards. She lives in Brisbane, Australia.



Tomorrow the green grass

Mon 11 Sep 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Tomorrow there will be some amount of fuss over the new iPhone (does it come with a toaster?! Find our tomorrow!) meanwhile there will a much more relaxed portion of the populace who will be reading Kij Johnson’s new book The River Bank.



Sarah Rees Brennan & Maureen Johnson Chat on EW

Thu 7 Sep 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin


I’m delighted to say that Entertainment Weekly just posted a chat between these two friends and New York Times bestselling authors today. They chat about In Other Lands “and Johnson’s forthcoming Truly Devious series, out in January 2018, which centers on a haunted boarding school. Oh — and since Brennan is editing a murder mystery and Johnson is writing a murder mystery, they talk about that grisly but endlessly fascinating subject, too.”

Check out their conversation here:

Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson chat about writing and murder



The River Bank Goodreads Giveaway

Tue 5 Sep 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Quick: there are only 2 days left to win one of 8 advance copies of Kij Johnson’s forthcoming sequel to The Wind in the Willows, The River Bank.



Seanan McGuire says:

Wed 30 Aug 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

A couple of weeks ago I read this thread on twitter and it has cheered me up ever since:



LCRW 36 Table of Contents

Mon 28 Aug 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal. | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Coming out next month, the latest compendium of wonder:

Fiction

Gabriela Santiago, “Children of Air”
Lily Davenport, “The Crane Alphabet”
T. L. Rodebaugh, “The Secret History of the Original Line”
Mollie Chandler, “Evidence of a Storm”
Todd Summar, Watching You Without Me”
Laurel Lathrop, “Cunning”
Christi Nogle, “The Best of Our Past, the Worst of Our Future”
Zhao Haihong, “Windhorse”

Nonfiction

Nicole Kimberling, “How to Cook (Dis)Comfort Food”

Poetry

D M Gordon, Two Poems

Cover

kAt Philbin



Kij Johnson on Tour

Mon 21 Aug 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

The River Bank coverNext month we’ll publish Kij Johnson’s new novel, The River Bank. It is quite the treat, a much-needed break from the contemporary world, with chapter and spot illustrations throughout by Kathleen Jennings. Should you be in one of these places, why not go see her read for yourself!

Sept. 12, 7 p.m. Raven Book Store, 6 East Seventh St., Lawrence, KS
10/14, 1 p.m., Uncle Hugo’s Bookstore, Minneapolis, MN
11/20, 7 p.m., Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing, 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton, OR
11/21, Elliot Bay Bookshop, 1521 Tenth Ave., Seattle, WA

And more dates may yet be added so keep an eye on this page.

Meanwhile School Library Journal gave it a lovely review culminating thusly:

“Johnson’s attention to world-building and characterization create an engaging read with modern appeal while maintaining the aesthetic of the original. It also works as a stand-alone for new readers, though references to events covered in the first book are sprinkled throughout. Black-and-white line spot art and full-page spreads add to the nostalgic feel.”



Welcome to In Other Lands

Tue 15 Aug 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

In Other Lands coverFive years ago Sarah Rees Brennan emailed Kelly her story, “Wings in the Morning,” for our anthology Monstrous Affections. It was long: 17,000+ words in that early draft — although Sarah told us the actual first draft had been 30,000 words. . . . The final published version was about 2,500 words shorter than the first version we saw after a number of rounds of editing between Kelly and our fab Candlewick editor Deb Noyes.

At some point before the anthology was published Sarah decided to write a prequel short story to “Wings in the Morning” to post on her website for free. Said prequel grew like Topsy and before long the short story was 100,000 words . . .  in other words the short story prequel had morphed into a whole novel titled Turn of the Story. (You can read more about it here.)

Fastforward to today, zip!, and a newly edited, rewritten version of that book-of-Sarah’s-heart, now titled In Other Lands, and with a fancy shiny cover with cover and lovely interior illustrations by Carolyn Nowak is being published.

We like it, so do other people:

Deconstructs children’s portal fantasy, but without ever being mean-spirited about it. . . . this is more of a character book, slyly but charmingly and generously and affectionately examining and often turning inside-out all those familiar portal fantasy tropes, while the central focus is firmly on character. It’s funny, and wise, and sometimes heart-breaking, definitely LGBTQ friendly as the three main characters grow into their teens and discover sex and its attendant emotional landmines. Love-starved Elliott is the main POV, but the narrator dips into others’ POVs when necessary, and expertly presents Elliott with hilarious grace notes of free indirect discourse, adding to my delight. . . . There were moments I laughed so hard my nose hurt.
— Sherwood Smith

The novel has received two starred reviews (Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews) and is a Junior Library Guild pick. I really like that PW called it a “glittering contemporary fantasy” — not because of the shiny cover, but rather because of the fantastic characters on the inside: annoying Elliot, badass Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle, and the golden boy, Luke Sunborn. Each of them is not what might be expected and over the course of the novel they grow up and as they grow they take the reader with them into the pains and joys of friendship and love and the hard truths of learning to live in the world.

And I hope Colleen Mondor’s review of the book in this month’s Locus goes up online as it is amazing.

You can read Chapter One of In Other Lands on Tor.com as well as read Sarah Rees Brennan’s connected essay: Our Winged Brains: The Appeal of Winged Creatures in Genre Fiction.

If you’d like, you can enter to win one of 10 free signed copies at Shelf Awareness (ends Aug. 26).

Continuing with the irregular events surrounding this book it’s beginning to look like Sarah may be over here in the USA to do some reading in bookstores in January 2018  — some by herself, some accompanied by other writer. We’ll keep you up to date on that. In the meantime, Welcome to  In Other Lands.



In Other Lands

Tue 15 Aug 2017 - Filed under: Books | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

trade cloth · 441 pages · $19.95 · 9781618731203 | ebook · 9781618731357

Elliot doesn’t want to fight, keeps saying the wrong thing, and is definitely the grouchiest human in fantasyland.

New: now shipping signed copies.

New York Times Book Review:
In Other Lands is at once a classic school story, a coming-of-age tale and a parody of Harry Potter. It’s hilarious and sneakily moving. Elliot Schafer is Harry Potter if Harry had been abandoned instead of merely orphaned. Convinced of his unlovability, he wields sarcasm and braininess as weapons. . . . Brennan subverts the familiar Y.A. love triangle in uproarious, touching, unexpected ways, and her commentaries on gender roles, sexual identity and toxic masculinity are very witty. Elven culture, for instance, views men as the weaker sex. “A true gentleman’s heart is as sacred as a temple, and as easily crushed as a flower,” Serene informs Elliot. When another elf tells him, “I was saddened to hear Serene had launched a successful attack on the citadel of your virtue,” Elliot assures her, “The citadel was totally into surrendering.” Best of all, over four years in the otherlands, Elliot grows from a defensive, furious, grieving child into a diplomatic, kind, menschy hero.”

Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson chat about writing and murder

Read: Sarah Rees Brennan on Our Winged Brains: The Appeal of Winged Creatures in Genre Fiction for Tor.com.

Read: Chapter One

Events

Feb. 5, 7 p.m. Brookline Booksmith — with Kelly Link and Cassandra Clare

A Junior Library Guild selection.
ABC Best Books for Young Readers.

The Borderlands aren’t like anywhere else. Don’t try to smuggle a phone or any other piece of technology over the wall that marks the Border — unless you enjoy a fireworks display in your backpack. (Ballpoint pens are okay.) There are elves, harpies, and — best of all as far as Elliot is concerned — mermaids.

“What’s your name?”
Serene.”
Serena?” Elliot asked.
Serene,” said Serene. “My full name is Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle.”
Elliot’s mouth fell open. “That is badass.”

Elliot? Who’s Elliot? Elliot is thirteen years old. He’s smart and just a tiny bit obnoxious. Sometimes more than a tiny bit. When his class goes on a field trip and he can see a wall that no one else can see, he is given the chance to go to school in the Borderlands.

It turns out that on the other side of the wall, classes involve a lot more weaponry and fitness training from sites like https://healthyusa.co/ and fewer mermaids than he expected. On the other hand, there’s Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle, an elven warrior who is more beautiful than anyone Elliot has ever seen, and then there’s her human friend Luke: sunny, blond, and annoyingly likeable. There are lots of interesting books. There’s even the chance Elliot might be able to change the world.

“The beauty of men is a sweet soft thing that passes all too soon, like a bird across the sky.”

In Other Lands is the exhilarating new book from beloved and bestselling author Sarah Rees Brennan. It’s a novel about surviving four years in the most unusual of schools, about friendship, falling in love, diplomacy, and finding your own place in the world — even if it means giving up your phone.

Cover and chapter illustrations by Carolyn C. Nowak.

Interview: Binge on Books (with bonus favorite author photo)

Reviews & Early Reader Reaction

“This brilliant novel becomes more and more intense and funny and engaging with each page and is so utterly enjoyable that it was the easiest thing in the world for me to fall in love with it. This is what we need more of in YA fantasy, this is what we need more of in YA fiction. Buy the book, read the book, recommend the book. In Other Lands is the real deal and by far what everyone needs to be reading this year. I loved it. I loved every damn minute of this book and I’m so glad it is out in the world.”
— Colleen Mondor, Guys Lit Wire

“Sarah Rees Brennan’s brand-new novel, In Other Lands, was first published in serial installments on the author’s blog, where the story became so popular she decided to make a book out of it. It’s easy to see why: The young adult fantasy author is known for her delightful characters, and In Other Lands’ hero, Elliott, is a precocious, snarky wunderkind who’s whisked away to wizarding school, where he’s given his choice of becoming a warrior or a diplomat. But Elliott has his two best friends at his side — one a matriarchal elf princess, the other a quiet jock with a secret — and he isn’t about to play by the rules. If you enjoy stories about magical boarding schools, In Other Lands is a treat. It’s full of romance in all directions, plenty of fantasy trope subversions, Brennan’s typical insouciant wit.
Vox (“8 essential pieces of pop culture to catch up on this weekend”)

“This book. Good god, I have never read such a beautiful and hilarious deconstruction of popular fantasy. I honestly don’t know what the best part is. There’s Elliot’s narration, which makes you shake with laughter with his wit and then brings you to tears as he struggles to find love and family, two things he never truly had. There’s Serene’s brutal honesty and her clashes with human culture (and there’s Elvish culture itself, which honestly needs a book of its own). And of course there’s Luke’s struggle between his innate desire to protect his friends and dealing with the fact that his friends are maniacs with a penchant for insane plots. Their chemistry is the focus of the story around which everything revolves, and I honestly wish we had an entire series more of them.”
–Assaf T., 17, likes his books very interesting and very heavy, because exercise isn’t as fun but is still important
B&N: Teen Readers Share the Last Book They Loved: Devil’s Deals, Resourceful Girls, and Cracked Fantasy Lands

“The four sections of the novel each follow a year in Elliot’s life, from when he comes to the Borderlands to when he, Serene, and Luke graduate the training camp. The reader follows conflicts both political and personal, watching Elliot grow into himself and his skills as he turns the politics of the world around him on their head one small maneuver at a time. He isn’t, of course, a savior figure; he also isn’t magically gifted. He’s just dedicated, smart, and willing to risk himself to better the world around him. It’s a delightful look at how personal and how influential politics can be: Brennan isn’t saying that one person can change the world, but she’s showing how one person can push it in the right direction if they try hard enough.”
— Brit Mandelo, Tor.com

“Above all, In Other Lands is a novel about growing up and growing into oneself, a task that is ultimately more difficult than dealing with unicorns or negotiating treaties with harpies.”
—Electra Pritchett, Strange Horizons

“Four years in the life of an unloved English schoolboy who’s invited to a secret magical school and learns that even in fantasyland, real life is messier than books. . . . But over the course of four years training among child soldiers, Elliot, unsurprisingly, grows up. His slow development into a genuinely kind person is entirely satisfying, as is his awakening to his own bisexuality and to the colonialism, sexism, and racism of Borderlands society. . . . A stellar . . . wholly rewarding journey.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Elliot Schafer is a small-for-his-age 13-year-old who is prone to being bullied—largely due to his personality, which slots somewhere between insufferable know-it-all and sarcastic jackass. When Elliot’s class travels to a ‘random field in Devon, England’ for a supposed scholarship test, he instead winds up in a strange world known as the Borderlands, which are filled with elves, mermaids, and other creatures. So begins Brennan’s hilarious, irreverent, and multilayered coming-of-age fantasy, set over several years. Elliot quickly befriends (and falls for) Serene, a fierce elven warrior, and arranges a reluctant truce with Luke Sunborn, the son of one of the Borderland’s founding families. All three—along with every young person there—are training in war or as councilors, charged with protecting the fragile barrier with the human world. Amid shifting relationships, the threat of war, and substantial growth among the characters, Elliot’s razor-edged wit and general inability to keep his mouth shut make for blissfully entertaining reading. Smart explorations of gender stereotypes, fluid sexuality, and awkward romance only add to the depth and delight of this glittering contemporary fantasy.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“I have rewritten the first paragraph of this review a half-dozen times, trying to find some way to make clear that Sarah Rees Brennan has created a nearly perfect YA fantasy without gushing. I can’t do it. In Other Lands is brilliantly subversive, assuredly smart, and often laugh-out-loud funny. It combines a magic-world school setting with heaps of snark about everything from teen romance to gender roles, educational systems and serious world diplomacy.”
— Colleen Mondor, Locus

“Brennan brilliantly turns the very genre she occupies on its head with this YA fantasy. In her latest, the human who falls into a magic world isn’t a strong, beautiful, charismatic hero. It is Elliot, a hero who might annoy, but who is also the most intensely relatable character to emerge from fantasy lately. For anyone who has ever wondered how they would fare in the fantasy worlds they enjoy reading about, In Other Lands is a novel that might answer that question. Even though Elliot is never painted as a prodigy at any of the new things he encounters, Brennan allows him to be heroic, and in the end, all the happiness he may receive feels earned.”
RT Book Reviews (4 stars)

“Brennan is a consummate storyteller. I can’t recall the last time I laughed so much while reading, or fell so utterly in love with an entire cast of characters.”
— Shana DuBois, B&N SF&F Blog

“Brennan delivers witty, nervy, romantic adventure that fizzes with feeling and giddy imagination.”
— Leigh Bardugo, bestselling author of Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom

“A subversive, sneaky, glorious tale of magic, longing, and growing into your wings.”
— Holly Black, author of The Darkest Part of the Forest

“Irritable and annoying, 13-year-old Elliot Schafer becomes the unlikely protagonist of Brennan’s novel after receiving an invitation to attend a unique school in the magical realm, which is protected from the real world by an invisible wall that few can see. There he spends the next four years learning about elves, mermaids, trolls, treaties, and falling in love. This is a school story for older youth, with freewheeling (but not explicit) sexuality, a dedicated pacifist as a main character, and slightly cynical humor that masks great heart. . . . Brennan turns stereotypes upside down: elves view men as the delicate flowers, and the shining blond hero is a shy, half-breed boy conflicted since birth.”
Booklist Online

In Other Lands is a stunning example of Sarah Rees Brennan’s style; her characters are hysterically funny with complex and nuanced inner lives that could break a reader’s heart. Elliot, cranky and obnoxious teen that he is, desperately longs to be loved best by someone, but covers with immense sarcasm and general unkindness. Luke and Serene, both exceptionally talented and good-looking, also struggle with feeling displaced. The depiction of misandry in Elf culture is one of the funniest concepts that Rees Brennan has come up, and even that she turns into a deeper lesson for Serene, Elliot, and Luke. In Other Lands can come off as a parody of fantasy, but it delves deep into issues of race, gender, sexuality, and war, and absolutely nails the struggles and triumphs of growing up.”
— Sami Thomason, Square Books

Praise for Sarah Rees Brennan’s books:

“Breathtaking—a compulsive, rocketing read.”
—Tamora Pierce, New York Times bestselling author

“Writing with fine control and wit, Sarah Rees Brennan pits an underworld society against privileged overlords. The young golden-haired heroine sparring with her rich boyfriend and his dark-souled shadow-twin lends wry and sexy human interest to the depiction of political struggle. I suspect that word of this magical thriller will pass through the populace with the energy of wind, of fire.”
— Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked and Egg and Spoon

“From the pitch-perfect opening paragraph, to the heartbreaking final pages . . . delicious.” —Kirkus (starred review)

“A sparkling fantasy that will make you laugh and break your heart.”
— Cassandra Clare, New York Times bestselling author

“A darkly funny, deliciously thrilling Gothic.”
— Kelley Armstrong, New York Times bestselling author

“Readers will laugh, shiver, and maybe even swoon over this modern Gothic novel.”
— Melissa Marr, New York Times bestselling author

“Brennan takes the genres of young adult, fantasy, and romance, and through her own writerly, alchemical process converts them into something new and strange and lovely.” — Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble

“A laugh-out-loud delight.” — Publishers Weekly

“. . . a charming protagonist — full of vinegar and spice. Fans of romantic fantasy will devour it.” — VOYA

“Punctuated throughout with keen humor and heartbreaking emotional resonance, it’s a stunner.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)

“This dark-fantasy-meets-romance will have readers hooked.” — The Horn Book

Cover illustrations by Carolyn Nowak. Title lettering by Jeffrey Rowland.

Author photo by Mark Griffin Photo.

Sarah Rees Brennan (@sarahreesbrenna) was born and raised in Ireland and now lives in New York City. She is the New York Times bestselling author of Tell the Wind and Fire and the Lynburn Legacy series among others.



Locus Says:

Mon 14 Aug 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Locus August 2017 (#679) coverThis month’s Locus includes reviews of a four-fingered handful of our books! As well as all the usual good stuff: interviews with John Scalzi and Justina Ireland; reviews by Faren Miller, Gardner Dozois, & more; the Locus Survey results, an SF in Finland report, Kameron Hurley’s column [“Did ‘Being a Writer’ Ever Mean. . . Just Writing?”], reports from the Locus Awards and Readercon; & obits (boo!). [Locus is available from Weightless and they’re having a subscription drive this month and there is a Patreon.]

Four-fingered handful? Hmm. Three books are reviewed by the one and only Gary K. Wolfe. The first is Christopher Rowe’s new collection Telling the Map:

“. . . it is no accident that Christopher Rowe dedicates his first story collection Telling the Map to fellow Kentuckians Terry Bisson and Jack Womack. It’s also no accident that Rowe, on the basis of no more than a couple of dozen stories over nearly 20 years (of which 10 are collected here), managed to gain a reputation as one of the most distinctive voices to emerge from this period. This is not only because he writes with lyricism and great precision of style, but because of his firm geographical grounding, which is reflected in all the stories here (as well as in his title), but is a key factor in several (‘Another Word for Map is Faith’, ‘The Voluntary State’, ‘The Border State’). This isn’t the geography of fake world-building, with all those Forbidden Zones and Misty Mountains, but rather the geography of locals who measure distances between towns in hours rather than miles, and who know which bridges you’ll need to cross to get there. It’s also a world in which agriculture and religion are daily behaviors rather than monolithic institutions. As weird as Tennessee gets in Rowe’s most famous story, ‘The Voluntary State’ (and that is very weird) it’s a Tennessee we can map onto the trails and highways that are there now.
“‘The Voluntary State’ and its longer prequel novella ‘The Border State’ (the latter original to this volume), take up well over half of Telling the Map, and together they portray a nanotech-driven non-urban future unlike any other in contemporary SF.”

Gary goes on to write of Sofia Samatar’s debut collection:

Tender: Stories includes two excellent new pieces together with 18 reprints, and one of them, “Fallow”, is not only the longest story in the collection, but also her most complex and accomplished SF story to date. On the basis of her award-winning debut novel A Stranger in Olondria and its sequel The Winged Histories, Samatar’s reputation has been mostly that of a fantasist, and her most famous story, ‘‘Selkie Stories Are For Losers’’ (the lead selection here) seemed to confirm that reputation – although once Samatar establishes the parameters of her fantastic worlds, she works out both her plot details and cultural observations with the discipline of a seasoned SF writer and the psychological insight of a poet.”

and Kij Johnson’s forthcoming The River Bank:

“The familiar figures of Mole, Water Rat, Badger, Mouse, and of course Toad are here, but the story opens with two new figures, a young mole lady named Beryl and her companion the Rabbit, an impressionable young woman described by Mouse as ‘‘right flighty,’’ moving into Sunflower Cottage on the River Bank. Beryl is a successful ‘‘Authoress’’ of potboiling adventure novels, and while Johnson has a good time giving us hints of these novels and of Beryl’s own writing process, her real significance is that she is not only one of the first female characters to move into the village, but one of the first who actually has a clear occupation. Both she and Rabbit are welcomed by the locals, although Mole himself seems oddly reticent to have any dealings with her, for reasons that become clear much later. Most of these residents are familiar in their dispositions, although Toad may if anything be a bit darker and more reckless and impulsive than in Grahame. One of the more intriguing aspects of The Wind in the Willows, maybe especially for SF readers, was the satirical manner in which it introduced technology into the world of the animal fable, and Toad’s famous passion for motorcars is here supplanted by an equally voracious and hilarious lust for the new motorcycles, after he sees a messenger riding one. That, of course, leads to the series of disasters – and attempted interventions on the part of Toad’s friends – that make up Johnson’s fast-moving plot. . . . The delicate balance of challenging the assumptions of a beloved classic while retaining the oracular charm of that classic seems almost effortless in Johnson’s hands, but it’s more of an achievement than it might at first seem.”

And then, turning the page, there is Colleen Mondor’s amazing review of Sarah Rees Brennan’s YA novel, In Other Lands — which comes out this Tuesday! The review begins thusly:

“I have rewritten the first paragraph of this review a half-dozen times, trying to find some way to make clear that Sarah Rees Brennan has created a nearly perfect YA fantasy without gushing. I can’t do it. In Other Lands is brilliantly subversive, assuredly smart, and often laugh-out-loud funny. It combines a magic-world school setting with heaps of snark about everything from teen romance to gender roles, educational systems and serious world diplomacy.”

It is pretty great when a book finds its reader!



Words Are My Matter wins a Hugo!

Sat 12 Aug 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Words Are My Matter cover - click to view full sizeWe are delighted to hear that Ursula K. Le Guin’s nonfiction collection Words Are My Matter won the “Best Related Work” Hugo Award last night at the Worldcon in Finland!

This year’s Hugo sits “on a base designed and produced for Worldcon 75 by local Helsinki artist and Science Fiction fan, Eeva Jokinen” and we will post a picture of it if we can at some point later. In the meantime, congratulations to the fabulous list of winners and nominees!



“If Eudora Welty wrote SF”

Thu 20 Jul 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Telling the Map by Christopher RoweI really liked Craig Laurance Gidney’s short take on Christopher Rowe’s new collection, Telling the Map, “If Eudora Welty wrote SF, it might look like this. . . .”

The first reviews have been strong, including Gary K. Wolfe in the Chicago Tribune (“Rowe is endlessly inventive in presenting us worlds that are often dystopian, sometimes funny, but always original — and completely his own.”) and Nisi Shawl in the Seattle Review of Books (“Delightfully strange, these ten stories transport readers to futures full of sentient cars pining for their owners, automated horses, and tomatoes grown to give blood transfusions — an odd and interesting and deceptively bucolic setting for the narration of some astonishing events.”).

But the most enjoyable, perhaps because the take on it was so unanticipated, was Brit Mandelo’s in Tor.com. Of course I knew Brit had a Kentucky connection but this is where that ever-new chestnut, representation, rears its head. White, middle-aged college professors are maybe the only demographic (ok, and cops) used to seeing themselves or their lives regularly represented in fiction. For the rest of us it’s catch as catch can. Brit writes about this moment of wonder: where they saw the place they had lived picked up and looked at from unexpected angles, from a full and generous local perspective, where familiar locations and events were there on the page, but made new. All of which made the review a gift to me the reader, to see someone find a version of themselves or their life on the page.

I was recently reading an obituary in the local paper — it was someone I didn’t know — and it is so hard to try and capture what makes a person the love of someone’s life, what they loved, why they did the things they did. Fiction at least gives us the idea that we might be able to understand people far from us — and next door — and why they are living the lives they’ve chosen (or been thrust into). Anyway, here’s a chunk of Brit’s review, but I recommend you read the whole thing at the mighty tor.com:

“[T]here is one other consistent thread running through the entirety of the collection, and that is setting. In Telling the Map, Rowe has rendered Kentucky over and over again with a lush, loving, bone-deep accuracy—one that startled and thrilled me so thoroughly, as a fellow native son, that I had to read the book through twice to begin to form a critical opinion. . . . Across these stories, the drive to achieve and to exceed is a common factor. . . . Overall, though, this was a stellar set of stories that mesh well together. . . . Truly, Rowe’s skill at shifting the weirdness of the Appalachian South—the odd border state that Kentucky is—to a magic realist or scientifically fantastical future is singular and impressive. The result for a native reader is a feeling akin to awe, or perhaps just homecoming, but I suspect the result wouldn’t differ much for an unfamiliar audience either. If anything, the depth and breadth of comfort with a not-often-accessed culture and setting makes these stories fresh and engaging. It’s home for me; it might be a provocative unexplored landscape for someone else—but regardless, Rowe’s facility with language, description, and emotional arcs makes for a solid, intentional, and satisfying collection of short fiction.”


If you live in the southeastern part of the US you may see our above ad on your local bookseller’s website, see North Carolina’s Park Road Books or Malaprop’s for example. Indies are us! B&N, Books a Million, & other chains: also ok! Online behemoths who want to relentlessly squish all other businesses, feh!



Here Is a Map

Tue 11 Jul 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Today is the publication day of a book I have been waiting for many years to read and for the world to read. There were years when I thought this book would never be. There were years I supposed that someone else would publish it — and that would be ok, because what I wanted above all was to read the book. That we are publishing Christopher Rowe’s Telling the Map: Stories is icing on the cake for me as a reader and publisher. The cover is by occasional genius-in-residence Kathleen Jennings — you can read more about her design here.

Many years ago, (ok, 14), we published a chapbook of five of Christopher’s stories, Bittersweet Creek and Other Stories (out of print but still findable — I still love the cover illustration by Shelley Jackson and the title but not the type design for his name, oh well), and from talking with Christopher at the time I could see that part of publishing it for him was clearly a stepping away from one style of story into a new set of styles that he went on to explore over the next few years.

When “The Voluntary State” was published by Ellen Datlow on SciFiction in 2004, it opened reader’s eyes (and heads) to a writer who had taken the measure of science fiction and then rebooted it using a landscape and culturally based personal mythology. It is a “deep and rich and tangled” story that surged through readers like electricity and over the next few years Christopher sometimes tapped into the same vein and published more stories that came from a similar — although completely different, of course — place: “Gather,” The Contrary Gardener, “Another Word For Map is Faith,” and now (is it wrong to sigh at last? No. Because although there is never a responsibility of a writer to return to a story, the wishes of Christopher’s readership were strong), at last, we have a follow up to “The Voluntary State,” “The Border State.”

Telling the Map coverToday in Lexington, Kentucky, Christopher Rowe and family and friends and readers will celebrate the publication of Telling the Map at the mighty Joseph-Beth Books. All over the country readers will be picking up the book to be swept away for a brief moment into these ten fabulous and unique stories where precision of language is Christopher’s “watchword and his sacrament.”

The book has been well reviewed in the trades

Publishers Weekly: “In his inventive debut collection, Rowe bends the world we know…”
Kirkus Reviews: “A clutch of complex, persuasive visions of an alternative South…”

and has popped up in many recommended reading lists

io9.com: Must Read SF&F for July
Chicago Review of Books: 12 Books You Should Definitely Read This July
Vol 1 Brooklyn: “volleys out questions of place, of borders, and of family along the way…”

and now it goes out to you, Dear Reader. I’m looking forward to hearing what you think and then of course, while we are all alive and breathing and the world renews itself each day even as we stand horrified to see what the future has wrought, to seeing what Christopher does next.



Telling the Map

Tue 11 Jul 2017 - Filed under: Books | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

trade paper · 264 pages · $16 · 9781618731326 | ebook · 9781618731333

Stories that sometimes begin in the hills of Kentucky and head out into complicated and sometimes hopeful futures.

“Precision was his watchword and his sacrament.”

There are ten stories here including one readers have waited ten long years for: in new novella “The Border State” Rowe revisits the world of his much-lauded story “The Voluntary State.” Competitive cyclists twins Michael and Maggie have trained all their lives to race internationally. One thing holds them back: their mother who years before crossed the border . . . into Tennessee.

Read an excerpt from “The Border State.”

Reviews & Previews

“Christopher Rowe’s new book of stories, “Telling the Map,” (Small Beer Press, $16), features Kentucky and Tennessee — just not the way you know them. They’re the Kentucky and Tennessee you know, geographically speaking — but they’re also places of strange occurrences, bizarre histories and technology that seems to permeate the very air molecules.”
Lexington Herald-Leader

It is no accident that Christopher Rowe dedicates his first story collection Telling the Map to fellow Kentuckians Terry Bisson and Jack Womack. It’s also no accident that Rowe, on the basis of no more than a couple of dozen stories over nearly 20 years (of which 10 are collected here), managed to gain a reputation as one of the most distinctive voices to emerge from this period. This is not only because he writes with lyricism and great precision of style, but because of his firm geographical grounding, which is reflected in all the stories here (as well as in his title), but is a key factor in several (‘Another Word for Map is Faith,’ ‘The Voluntary State,’ ‘The Border State’). This isn’t the geography of fake world-building, with all those Forbidden Zones and Misty Mountains, but rather the geography of locals who measure distances between towns in hours rather than miles, and who know which bridges you’ll need to cross to get there. It’s also a world in which agriculture and religion are daily behaviors rather than monolithic institutions. As weird as Tennessee gets in Rowe’s most famous story, ‘‘The Voluntary State’’ (and that is very weird) it’s a Tennessee we can map onto the trails and highways that are there now.”
— Gary K. Wolfe, Locus

“[T]here is one other consistent thread running through the entirety of the collection, and that is setting. In Telling the Map, Rowe has rendered Kentucky over and over again with a lush, loving, bone-deep accuracy—one that startled and thrilled me so thoroughly, as a fellow native son, that I had to read the book through twice to begin to form a critical opinion. . . . Across these stories, the drive to achieve and to exceed is a common factor. . . . Overall, though, this was a stellar set of stories that mesh well together. . . . Truly, Rowe’s skill at shifting the weirdness of the Appalachian South—the odd border state that Kentucky is—to a magic realist or scientifically fantastical future is singular and impressive. The result for a native reader is a feeling akin to awe, or perhaps just homecoming, but I suspect the result wouldn’t differ much for an unfamiliar audience either. If anything, the depth and breadth of comfort with a not-often-accessed culture and setting makes these stories fresh and engaging. It’s home for me; it might be a provocative unexplored landscape for someone else—but regardless, Rowe’s facility with language, description, and emotional arcs makes for a solid, intentional, and satisfying collection of short fiction.”
— Brit Mandelo, Tor.com

“Though most of the stories in Christopher Rowe’s new collection Telling the Map are SF, its cover is reminiscent of Edward Gorey’s weirdly off-kilter illustrations for disturbingly dark children’s books. That cognitive dissonance is a perfect replication of Rowe’s style: in “The Border State,” long-awaited sequel to his acclaimed 2004 story “The Voluntary State,” Rowe pits hymn-singing, bicycle-racing teens against a nanotech-wielding rogue AI; in “Another Word for Map Is Faith,” earnest Christians remake the world in the image of holy maps — with deadly consequences. Delightfully strange, these ten stories transport readers to futures full of sentient cars pining for their owners, automated horses, and tomatoes grown to give blood transfusions — an odd and interesting and deceptively bucolic setting for the narration of some astonishing events.”
— Nisi Shawl, Seattle Review of Books

“Science fiction isn’t always about futuristic cities, as Christopher Rowe reminds us in the complex and inventive stories that make up Telling the Map, his first collection, which often take place in rural Kentucky or Tennessee. But there’s nothing rustic about Rowe’s most famous story, ‘The Voluntary State,’ set in a Tennessee ruled by an artificial intelligence that has radically altered the environment through nanotechology. Police robots appear on flying bicycles, cars have personalities and try to repair themselves, not to mention the very cheap car insurance they use which gives them full coverage, and telephones literally chase you. A story new to the collection, ‘The Border State,’ explains something of how this world came about. It’s more traditional in form, concerning a brother and sister entering a Tour de France-style bicycle race through this transformed landscape.
“One of the best stories, ‘The Contrary Gardener,’ involves the Kentucky Derby. When the title character, a girl skilled at growing vegetables, gets a ticket from her father, she soon finds herself caught up in corporate conspiracies and emerging artificial intelligences. Another story, ‘The Force Acting on the Displaced Body,’ recalls the tall-tale traditions of the mid-South, describing a wine enthusiast who saves up enough corks to build a boat for a journey from his local creek all the way to Paris. Rowe is endlessly inventive in presenting us worlds that are often dystopian, sometimes funny, but always original — and completely his own.”
— Gary K. Wolfe, Chicago Tribune

io9.com: Must Read SF&F for July · Chicago Review of Books: 12 Books You Should Definitely Read This July

“Christopher Rowe’s new collection of short fiction contains ten explorations of the surreal and the fantastical. Rowe also adds a regional dimension into his work, and volleys out questions of place, of borders, and of family along the way–a thematically rich approach to storytelling.”
Vol 1 Brooklyn

“In his inventive debut collection, Rowe bends the world we know, remaking regions of the southern United States. Appalachian settings, recurring characters, and dystopian themes of societal degradation link the stories. . . . Wild creativity, haunting imagery, and lyricism—as displayed in “Two Figures in a Landscape Between Storms”—urge readers forward . . . an immersive and original reading experience.”
Publishers Weekly

“A clutch of complex, persuasive visions of an alternative South.”
Kirkus Reviews

“A visionary writer known for writing haunting prose about people and societies with haunting problems.”
— Elizabeth Bear, author of Karen Memory

“Christopher Rowe is among my favorite authors. He writes a wild story, but his particular brand of weird is shot through with warmth and humor. His voice is addictive, his worlds astonishing. His tales lift your spirit, always needed but now in particular.”
— Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

“Extraordinary and subtle stories rooted in landscapes — real and imagined — that Christopher Rowe has charted with a telling eye and a sure hand.”
— Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble

Table of Contents

The Contrary Gardener
Another Word For Map is Faith [listen]
Jack of Coins
The Unveiling
Nowhere Fast
Two Figures in a Landscape Between Storms
Gather
The Force Acting On the Displaced Body
The Border State [excerpt]
The Voluntary State

Reviews of Christopher Rowe’s stories

“Rowe’s vision of an American South, hauntingly different from the one we know, begins with an artist sketching what appear to be children floating in a body of water. But as the inhabitants of this alternate reality know, the convincing cherubs that kick and struggle in the surf are not really children at all, but highly sophisticated decoys used by submerged predators. They are ‘nothing but extremities, nothing but lures growing from the snouts of alligators crouching on the sandy bottoms.’
Rowe intends this scene, and its suggestion of swimmers enticed to their deaths by a Spielbergian impulse to save youth at all costs, to be taken literally. But as a metaphor, it is an extremely potent representation of the science-fiction and fantasy community’s complicated relationship with the idea of nostalgia — a dynamic simultaneously defined by an inextinguishable yearning to search for lost time, and by an eternal vigilance for the dangers that even a quick glance in the rearview mirror can pose to forward-looking genres.”
— Dave Itzkoff, New York Times Book Review

“Imagery, actually, is Rowe’s great talent, and he keeps refining it — witness ‘The Force Acting on the Displaced Body’, which is a model of what an imaginative writer can accomplish.” — Matt Cheney, The Mumpsimus

“Wonderfully weird and challenging; always a half-step ahead of my complete understanding of what was really going on…. Fascinating imagery (like the flying Tennessee Highway Patrolmen) and high-concept ideas (like mind-control and sentient cars) made this story seem fresh and filled with a sense of wonder.” — SF Signal

“Rowe’s stories are the kind of thing you want on a cold, winter’s night when the fire starts burning low. Terrific.”
— Justina Robson, author of Glorious Angels

“As good as he is now, he’ll keep getting better. Read these excellent stories, and see what I mean.”
— Jack Womack, author of Going, Going, Gone

“If you’ve read and enjoyed any speculative fiction, then you probably come across Rowe’s great short stories.”
Guyslitwire

“… an archetypically Southern viewpoint on life’s mysteries, a worldview that admits marvels in the most common of circumstances and narrates those unreal intrusions in a kind of downhome manner that belies real sophistication.”
Asimov’s

“As smooth and heady as good Kentucky bourbon.” — Locus

Events

July 11, 2017: Launch Party, Joseph Beth Booksellers, Lexington, KY
Nov. 2-5: World Fantasy Convention, San Antonio, TX

Christopher Rowe  (@ChristopherRowe) has published a couple of dozen short stories, and been a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, and Theodore Sturgeon Awards. His work has been frequently reprinted, translated into a half-dozen languages around the world, praised by the New York Times Book Review, and long listed in the Best American Short Stories. He holds an MFA from the Bluegrass Writer’s Studio and works at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. Rowe and his wife Gwenda Bond co-write the Supernormal Sleuthing Series for children, and reside in a hundred-year-old house in Lexington, Kentucky.



The Rumpus Interviews Juan Martinez

Mon 10 Jul 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

The Rumpus published a lovely, wide-ranging interview with Juan Martinez (Best Worst American) by James Tadd Adcox today. I loved this part about walking the tightrope of writing in another language and the way he speaks about English:

“. . . never lost the sense that I was playing with someone else’s toys. That the language wasn’t quite mine. Not owning the tools of your trade can be freeing, I suppose. And enjoying the freedom of being in-between—from not fully being comfortable—that’s a lot freeing, because it short-circuits the fear, the freak-outs we all have when writing. The Oh-God-I’m-getting-this-wrong-I’m-not-doing-a-very-good-job jitters. Because I trick myself into writing through, and fixing it later, and it was a relief to learn that everyone feels this way, and that we all have to trick ourselves into navigating the unnavigable. I love English. I love what it can do. It’s insanely pliable, and it’s capable of swift shifts in register, and it accommodates so much. I’ll never speak it without an accent. And I’ll never quite lose the sense that English doesn’t love me as much as I love it, but, like I said, I’m pretty sure that’s a universal constant with all writers in all languages, the whole Flaubert and music-on-cracked-kettles-for-bears thing.”



Need Worldcon Memberships?

Fri 7 Jul 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal. | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

I am sorry to say we will not be able to attend the Worldcon, therefore we have 2 adult and 1 child memberships available for sale & transfer. The adult memberships are 95€ and the child membership is 55€. Please email me at [email protected], thank you!

Updated: we now have one adult membership and one child membership available.



Vandana Singh Defies Expectations

Mon 3 Jul 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Ambiguity Machines coverSays multiple award-winner Ken Liu, one of the first readers of Vandana’s forthcoming collection Ambiguity Machines and Other Machines:

“Singh defies expectation with every exquisite turn of phrase. She gives you strange, powerful visions that move the heart and challenge the mind.”
– Ken Liu, author of The Grace of Kings and The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories



OtherLife’s first reviews

Thu 22 Jun 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

OtherLife, the movie based on Kelley Eskridge’s novel Solitaire has debuted at the Sydney Film Festival and has picked up some great reviews. As Kelley says, “You can find OtherLife on Facebook and on Twitter. Read about the wild ride of indie filmmaking at the OtherLife Journals.”

I hope it gets released in the US as it sounds — from the Hollywood Reporter review — like a film that would be fun to see on a movie screen.

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5331081de4b02aa0f34b5ee9/t/563bf01fe4b0826bf0b8b20d/1446768671752/OTHERLIFE.png“As OtherLife progresses and the pacing warms up, you can sense the shit about to hit a virtually rendered, glitch-prone fan. . . . The near-future setting, combined with Helen O’Loan’s resourceful, interior-heavy production design, protect the film from extending its sci-fi inclinations beyond the point that can be reasonably achieved within its modest budget. The atmosphere is big but the settings are contained, like Shane Abbess’ Infini.
And like last year’s horror indie Observance (another innovative Australian genre film, constructed on an even smaller budget), OtherLife’s score and sound design is so striking it is practically a character in the film. All credit to Jed Palmer, who also worked on 2014’s delightful The Infinite Man.”
The Guardian

“A stylish piece of sci-fi pulp fiction. . . . OtherLife likewise boasts a non-linear structure that is just explicable enough until one too many late reversals, though its puzzles could prove catnip to genre fans who thrill to fare such as FX’s Legion that blurs the line between real worlds and virtual ones.”
The Hollywood Reporter

Read more about the film here and check in here later for who knows what?



The Committee Picks . . . The Chemical Wedding

Tue 20 Jun 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

New England Book Show 2I never got round to posting some lovely news about one of our books last month but today in among all the copyright registrations, LCRW submissions, and the ubiquitous printer bills, there was a certificate from the Bookbuilders of Boston for The Chemical Wedding which was a Committee Pick for the 60th Annual New England Book Show.

Back on May 9th, I went with The Chemical Wedding illustrator Theo Fadel and her partner to Symphony Hall in Boston for the award show. It was great fun seeing all the winners and we had that lovely extra frisson of enjoyment since our book was one of them. The food was tasty, the chat was good, and the show catalog (the blue hardcover with New England in silver in the photo below) is a thing of beauty, which is still out on the table at home because at the moment it is too pretty to put away.

I haven’t entered books for the awards before because while I think we make beautiful books, so do Candlewick and Beacon and David R. Godine and so on and on but The Chemical Wedding was such an unusual book I hoped it might catch the jury’s attention. Yay for trying! And when you read the committee citation the award is obviously for designer Jacob McMurray and illustrator Theo Fadel, to whom I am still very grateful that we actually pulled this book off.

And now I will go find a place on the wall to hang our certificate — which I had fun photographing on top of an unbound copy of the book. New England Book Show 3

New England Book Show 5



Skillfully Reinventing Familiar Narratives

Fri 16 Jun 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Telling the Map coverIt’s what Christopher Rowe has been doing for lo these some years now and soon enough there in every bookstore in the nation will be his collection of stories and those familiar but reinvented narratives will be spreading like wildfire. The week of publication will be celebrated throughout Kentucky but specifically in the author’s hometown of Lexington with these events:

Tuesday July 11th, 7 p.m.: Launch Party at Joseph-Beth Booksellers with drinks and snacks. Richard Butner will interview the author followed by a Q&A and a signing.

Friday July 14th: This, as Christopher pointed out, is Bastille Day. It is also Alumni Day at Bluegrass Writers Studio at Eastern Kentucky University MFA program’s summer residency in Richmond, KY, so Christopher Rowe will be reading for the students on campus in the afternoon and at 5 p.m. Rowe plus a number of alums with will do a reading. New Lexington pop-up bookseller Brier Books will sell books.

Saturday, July 15th, 8 a.m. til 1 p.m.: Lexington Farmer’s Market Homegrown Authors. Rowe will be there from  manning a table, talking to people, hopefully selling some books. Note that one scene in “Nowhere Fast” is set at this very farmer’s market, in this very spot. Again, books provided by Brier Books.

What’s the book about? Lemme let the professionals at Publishers Weekly cover that:

“In his inventive debut collection, Rowe bends the world we know, remaking regions of the southern United States. Appalachian settings, recurring characters, and dystopian themes of societal degradation link the stories. In “The Voluntary State,” a band of marauders from Kentucky attack a painter named Soma’s car and kidnap him. Japheth Sapp, the leader of the captors, recruits Soma in a plan to sneak into Nashville and kill Athena Parthenus, the governor of Tennessee. Meanwhile, Jenny, a mechanic, reunites Soma with his repaired (and sentient) vehicle. All paths converge in an explosive conclusion. In “The Border State,” twin cyclists Maggie and Michael Hammersmith set off on a bike race across Kentucky. Their ride takes them along a river and the Girding Wall, which isolates Athena’s Tennessee. The race evolves into a search for their missing father, and a hunt for answers to mysterious messages from their mother, who drowned in a flash flood 20 years earlier. Rowe skillfully reinvents familiar narratives and widens common story lines into a world where anything seems possible. Wild creativity, haunting imagery, and lyricism—as displayed in “Two Figures in a Landscape Between Storms”—urge readers forward even as the pacing slows to provide needed exposition. While at times the poetic syntax of the sentences hampers comprehension, the book offers an immersive and original reading experience.

 



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