Author Query – Ann Leckie

annleckie-ancillarymercyAnn Leckie was already a well-known name in short fiction SFF circles when she burst upon the rest of the world with her debut novel Ancillary Justice. The book swept the 2014 SFF awards in an unprecedented way, while its sequel Ancillary Sword was published to perhaps not as many awards, but with many people opining that Sword was even better than Justice. Today is publication day for the highly anticipated conclusion of this trilogy, Ancillary Mercy. And trust me when I say Mercy continues the upward trend and is just an amazing ending to the series. I only came to read the series this summer despite getting Ancillary Justice for my birthday last year (bad blogger!), but the books gave me lots of thinky thoughts and I really wanted to ask Ann Leckie some questions and she was kind enough to answer them for me. I hope you enjoy the interview and check back for reviews for Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy later in the week.  Read More …


Ann Leckie – Ancillary Justice

annleckie-ancillaryjusticeOn a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.

Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was the Justice of Toren—a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.

An act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with only one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.

In some way writing a review of Ann Leckie’s debut novel Ancillary Justice feels somewhat redundant, as it seems as if everyone has read this book or has at least heard about it. In fact, it swept the SFF awards in 2014 in an unprecedented way. On the other hand, much of the conversation about Ancillary Justice has focussed on Leckie’s choice of gender pronouns and treatment of gender in the narrative. In my opinion this does a disservice to both the book and the author, because Ancillary Justice is far more than an experiment in gender approach. In fact, my attention was much more drawn by the narrative techniques Leckie uses to convey Breq’s dual nature as a ship and an ancillary, and by the question of what it means to be sentient if not autonomous.  Read More …


In the News: Announcing Eschacon

abclogoThis coming November I’ll be attending my first ever con in the Netherlands! I’ve been to cons in Britain, but never to one in the Netherlands, so I’m really excited about getting to go to one semi-locally. What con will I be attending you ask? Eschacon!

What is Eschacon? It is a con organised by Tiemen Zwaan and his colleagues at the American Book Center in Amsterdam. The programming looks awesome and features some fantastic writers.
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Guest Review: Kieran Shea – Koko the Mighty

Wiebe is back with another review today. This time it is book two in Kieran Shea’s series featuring his ex-mercenary heroine Koko Martstellar.

kieranshea-kokothemightyAfter narrowly escaping death, Koko Martstellar [ex-corporate mercenary] and Jedidah Flynn [depressed former skycop] are busy putting their lives back together, running a saloon/brothel on The Sixty Islands-the world’s most violent and decadent resort. But when bounty agent Jacky Wire comes to collect the outstanding price on Koko’s head, it’s time again for Koko and Flynn to make tracks. Fleeing pell-mell across the Pacific and shipwrecking along a thought-to-be uninhabitable coast, things only go from bad to worse for our heroes… But hey, that is the 26th century for you. Buckle up buttercup. Only the mighty survive.

I read Koko the Mighty directly after I read the first book in the series, Koko Takes a Holiday. There was very little backstory leading on from its predecessor in this instalment, which I liked, especially since this book was fresh in my memory. We continue the story exactly where book one left off— with the last bounty hunter standing about to make an entrance. Again we only get glimpses of this utopian resort of violence and sex called The Sixty islands, since Koko has to run again to avoid death. Taking the mortally wounded Jedidah with her in a submarine, they shipwreck after crossing the Pacific. They end up in a region that might have been Koko’s former work environment as a mercenary, if it hadn’t been for the environmental contamination and its lack of economic value. In this abandoned wasteland they find a strange commune.  Read More …


Recaps and Upfronts – September and October

RecapsSeptember was a tough month, which I am glad I survived. The blog went practically dormant as I wanted nothing so much as just do mindless, match-three games on the iPad, once I got home from work. I’ve been just shattered this month. There were some highlights, such as reading a number of fantastic books and meeting up with the lovely Sebastien de Castell for dinner, but otherwise it was mostly work and family that took my attention this month. So what exactly did I manage to put up on the blog?  Read More …


Author Query Redux – Christopher Fowler

christopherfowler-thesandmenLast year I reviewed Christopher Fowler’s Bryant & May and The Burning Man, which I enjoyed hugely. I loved the quirkiness of his Peculiar Crime Unit and I have a weak spot for police procedurals anyway. But his other books, speculative fiction with a wide horror streak running through them have consistently caught my eyes over the past few years, though I’ve never had the guts to read them—I guess my teaching myself to (dare to) horror is still a work in progress. His latest novel, The Sand Men, sounds fascinating and I’m pleased to be able to welcome Christopher back to A Fantastical Librarian for another Author Query and his answers to some questions about The Sand Men.


Welcome back to A Fantastical Librarian! Tell us about The Sand Men, your latest release from Solaris. What inspired this near-future thriller?

Partly my love for JG Ballard’s ideas. We used to correspond and I’ve read everything he wrote. I felt that if he had lived longer he would have been fascinated by the Middle East’s determination to hurtle into the future.  Read More …


Author Query – Michael R. Underwood

mikeunderwood-hexomancyMichael R. Underwood is someone it is hard to miss if you are part of the online SFF community. You’re bound to run into him in any number of capacities, whether as the North American Sales & Marketing Manager for Angry Robot, as one of the voices on the Skiffy and Fanty podcast, or as an author of fine books. But most importantly, Mike is a lovely guy. With him being on the verge of publishing not one, but two books in the coming months, I thought it was high time to invite him for an Author Query.


Let’s start with the basics. Who is Michael R. Underwood? 

I’m a writer, podcaster, and geek. Most folks will know me as the author of the Ree Reyes urban fantasy novels, where love of SF/F is its own magic system. Some might also know me as the Sales & Marketing Manager for Angry Robot Books, or as a co-host of the Skiffy & Fanty Show. Or they might just know me as “that guy who talks a bunch about comics and books and TV and movies on Twitter.” All of these are me, and if you put it all together, you get a pretty good sense of what my life is like.  Read More …


C.J. Daugherty & Carina Rozenfeld – The Secret Fire

daughertyrozenfeld-thesecretfireFrench teen Sacha Winters can’t die. He can throw himself off a roof, be stabbed, even shot, and he will always survive. Until the day when history and ancient enmities dictate that he must die. Worse still, his death will trigger something awful. Something deadly. And that day is closing in.

Taylor Montclair is a normal English girl, hanging out with her friends and studying for exams, until she starts shorting out the lights with her brain. She’s also the only person on earth who can save Sacha.

There’s only one problem: the two of them have never met. They live hundreds of miles apart and powerful forces will stop at nothing to keep them apart.

They have eight weeks to find each other.

Will they survive long enough to save the world?

The Secret Fire came as a bit of a surprise to me. When I was offered a review copy I hadn’t really registered that the book would be out and while I’d heard of C.J. Daugherty before, her writing partner Carina Rozenfeld was unknown to me. Yet when looking at the synopsis and reading about how the book came about, I was intrigued enough to say yes and I’m glad I did. The Secret Fire was an engrossing adventure, which I tore through only taking a break to sleep.  Read More …


Author Query – Tom Becker

tombecker-darkroomThis morning I posted my review for Tom Becker’s latest novel Dark Room. While I had a big problem with one element of the book, overall I had a great time reading this creepy murder mystery. I was really pleased to be able to ask Tom some questions about the book, its setting and its take on social media. I hope you enjoy Tom’s answer as much as I did.


Let’s start with the basics. Who is Tom Becker?

Tom Becker is the pen name of Tom Beckerlegge, who is the same person except with a slightly sillier surname. I grew up in a Lancashire market town and now live in London, which makes me sound more like Dick Whittington than I actually am. I used to be young but now there is grey in my hair and I don’t recognize the songs I hear on the radio. I’ve been writing children’s books since 2007 – Dark Room is my first YA book, but hopefully not my last.  Read More …


Tom Becker – Dark Room

tombecker-darkroomWhen Darla and her feckless dad, Hopper, move to Saffron Hills, Darla hopes it’ll be a new start for the both of them. But she stands no chance of fitting in with the image-obsessed in-crowd at her new school. Then one of her classmates is brutally killed when taking a photo of herself. A murder Darla herself predicted in a bloody vision. When more teens die in a similar fashion it appears that a serial killer is on the loose – the ‘Selfie Slayer’. Darla alone is convinced that the murderer might not be flesh and blood…  

Stripes Publishing took on YA horror this year with their new series Red Eye, which has resulted in four very entertaining books so far this year. Tom Becker’s Dark Room is the fifth, and last for this year, and it adds to the series with a great murder mystery, which I enjoyed very much, though I did have a big problem with its villain. As a warning, I won’t be able to discuss what made the antagonist so problematic for me without giving away their identity. So I will warn you now there will be a massive spoiler and before I head into my discussion of the murderer, I will give another spoiler warning. So if you don’t want to know, you’ll know when to stop reading.  Read More …