World Fantasy Con 2015 Wrap-up

Last week, I attended World Fantasy Convention for the first time. Long story short: I had a blast!

Before the convention, I was concerned that as an author of mostly science fiction and media tie-ins I might feel out of place. For some reason I also was worried I might not know many people at WFC. I was incorrect on both counts.

I drove up to Saratoga Springs, NY, the day before the con with fellow Tor authors Ilana C. Myer and Seth Dickinson (both of whom have written works acquired for Tor by senior editor Marco Palmieri). There the three of us joined many other authors, editors, and readers at Northshire Bookstore for the Tor Books 35th Anniversary event, at which I mingled with longtime friends like Dr. Lawrence Schoen and editor extraordinaire Ellen Datlow, met in-person people I had previously known only online (among them Charlie Jane Anders) and made new acquaintances, including new Tor editor Jennifer Gunnels.

My sole panel at the convention, “What is ‘Epic’ About Epic Fantasy?” was well attended, and my fellow panelists—Robert Redick, Mary Soon Lee, Susan Forest, and moderator David Hartwell—all were fonts of wisdom. I was genuinely impressed by the depths of their experience and knowledge of the genre.

On Thursday, I enjoyed two very pleasant surprises. The first was the realization that my friends Amy Sisson and her husband Paul Abell were also at WFC, and in fact have been regular attendees for many years. The second was the discovery in the dealers’ room of ARCs (advance reader copies) of 2113: Stories Inspired by the Music of Rush, a new short fiction anthology published by ECW Press and edited by Kevin J. Anderson and John McFetridge, and in which I (along with many other friends and colleagues) have a new original short story, “Our Possible Pasts.”

Thursday evening, after a nice dinner out with my esteemed agent (and dear friend) Lucienne Diver, as well as Steve Saffel and his wife, Dana Hayward, among others, I drifted up to an unofficial Tor room party, where I caught up briefly with Max Gladstone, Alyssa Wong, Lara Donnelly, John Chu, Diana Pho, Sarah Mack (no relation), and lots of other amazing authors and editors and agents whose names have escaped me).

On Friday night, after a great dinner out with David Caron and Samantha Dobson of ECW Press, I took part in the mass autographing session sponsored by the convention. I actually signed about a dozen copies of my various books, and I enjoyed long chats with my friend and fellow former SciFi.com alumnus Scott Edelman.

Post-signing, I made my way upstairs to the Analog/Asimov’s party. At first, I didn’t recognize anyone, but I soon found Lucienne—who introduced me to her friend, acclaimed bestselling author F. Paul Wilson, a man whose work I’ve admired for many years (especially his series of Repairman Jack novels). It was a delight to finally make his acquaintance and spend time comparing notes with him about our pet peeves in prose styling.

At this party I also met the Seton Hill gang—a group of up-and-coming fiction writers who have studied the craft together at SH’s renowned creative-writing workshop. Among them were charming Jennifer Della Zanna, whipsmart Tom Connair, and charismatic force of nature Troy Bucher. I have no doubt they’ll all be household names someday soon.

Saturday at WFC was a laid-back day for me. I had a non-business lunch with Lucienne, then attended Ilana Myer’s reading from her debut novel, Last Song Before Night. Later, while enjoying drinks in the hotel bar with my friend Esther Friesner, I was introduced by Troy Bucher to famed short fiction author Ted Chiang — who, it turns out, went to high school with my best friend, Glenn Hauman. I haunted the “Violence in the Epic” panel before venturing out alone to scare up dinner in downtown Saratoga Springs before making my way to Ellen Kushner’s fabulous party celebrating the new SerialBox project Tremontaine.

For various reasons, I chose not to stay around for the banquet on Sunday. Ilana, Seth, and I all were eager to get home, so we made an early start southward, back to New York City.

In summary, I had such a great time at WFC that I’ve already bought my membership for next year. See y’all in Columbus, Ohio, in 2016!

My World Fantasy Convention Schedule

Here is my tentative schedule for World Fantasy Convention 2015:

Thursday, November 5

2:00pm–3:00pm | CC2A
What is ‘Epic’ about Epic Fantasy?
We all know what we mean by Epic Fantasy, but definitions are slippery things. Scale, length, story type, setting and more figure in the various definitions. Our panel of experts will discuss the quintessential elements of Epic Fantasy in a quest to settle the matter once and for all.
David G. Hartwell (mod.), Susan Forest, Mary Soon Lee, David Mack, Robert Redick


Friday, November 6

8:00pm–9:00pm | CC2A & CC2B
Autographing
Come meet the authors and other professionals of WFC 2015 at the mass autographing session.


And that’s it. The rest of the weekend I am free to wander, dine, drink, and socialize in between haunting other people’s panels and readings.

Learn more at the con’s website: http://www.wfc2015.org/

A Time to Look Back

timetokillTwelve years ago, in the summer of 2003, several months after my Star Trek: S.C.E. ebook novel Wildfire had been released to critical acclaim and strong sales, I was contacted by Star Trek novel editor John J. Ordover. He invited me to write a pair of back-to-back paperback novels that would constitute the penultimate story in a nine-book Star Trek: The Next Generation miniseries he was planning. I agreed.

A Time to Kill and A Time to Heal were published roughly one year later, in August and September of 2004. The latter title went on to become a USA Today bestseller, and the two books’ favorable critical reception and strong sales took my writing career to the next level.

Much has been said and written about the A Time to… miniseries, which chronicled the year of time in the lives of the Enterprise-E’s crew immediately preceding the events of Star Trek Nemesis. timetohealIn 2014, however, I and the other writers who contributed to this nine-book event—John Vornholt, Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore, Robert Greenberger, and Keith R.A. DeCandido—were contacted by fan journalist Jens Defner of Unreality-SF.net, to look back on this unique project and consider the impact it has had on Star Trek‘s shared literary continuity in the decade since.

That in-depth think piece has now been published on Unreality-SF.net at long last, in three parts:

A Time to Reminisce, Part 1: How It Began

A Time to Reminisce, Part 2: The 9 Books

A Time to Reminisce, Part 3: The Legacy

It’s a very well-written look at a miniseries that changed the nature of 24th-century Star Trek fiction (TNG, DS9, Voyager, and literary-original series in that era) and continues to be enjoyed by readers of Star Trek fiction. Go give it a look!

#SFWApro

Where to find me at NYCC 2015

If you’re coming to New York Comic Con this week and are hoping to find me for autographs, chatter, etc., here is where and when to do so:

New York Comic Con

Oct 08, 2015 to Oct 11, 2015

Location: The Javits Center, New York, NY (get directions)

Thursday, October 8

2PM–3PM
Signing: Tor Books, Booth #2223

Swing by to pick up a copy of my new Jack Bauer thriller, 24: Rogue — free autograph with every purchase.


Friday, October 9

4:30PM–5:30PM
Signing: Simon & Schuster, Booth #1828
Visit me at the S&S pavilion to snag your copy of my latest Star Trek adventure, Seekers #3: Long Shot. I’ll sign as many as you want to buy.


A note about both signings: If you want to bring in copies of my books that you already own to have them signed, I am more than happy to do that for you.

For more information about the convention, visit its official site: http://www.newyorkcomiccon.com/

Running my mouth on The G&T Show

seekers3_largeA few days ago I was persuaded to once again call into and be interviewed by the folks at The G&T Show. This time my interrogators were hosts Nick Minecci and Michael Madeiros.

We talked about a wide range of topics, including the ups and downs of the writing life, my recently published works (Star Trek: Seekers #3 – Long Shot and 24: Rogue), and my upcoming projects (book two of the Star Trek: Legacies trilogy and Dark Arts, my own historical fantasy trilogy for Tor Books).

Listen to the entire interview here.

Review: Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. Myer

This summer, I had the privilege of reading an uncorrected advance proof of Last Song Before Night, the debut fantasy novel by Ilana C. Myer.

(Full disclosure: Ilana and I have been friends for several years, and she and I are both writing novels for the same editor at Tor Books. That said, please note that I almost never review works by my friends. I am doing so in this case of my own volition; my review was not solicited. I have been offered nothing in exchange for this review, nor have I asked for anything. Furthermore, I have no financial or creative stake in this novel.)

Updated-Last-Song-CoverLast Song is a fantasy adventure about artists struggling against oppression, and it’s a tale of a once-great society poisoned by corruption and censorship run amok. Its theme is one that never goes out of style: the need to fight back against oppression in all its forms, to sing truth to power and hold one’s government accountable to the people. Its narrative is propelled by the mystery behind a series of grisly murders in the glittering, jasmine-scented, romantically Mediterranean-style capital city of Tamryllin, but its most compelling element is its vividly drawn characters:

Kimbralin “Lin” Amaristoth, a highborn woman plagued by a cruel brother who refuses to let her escape his tyrannical control, is a musician and lyricist of uncommon ability in a culture where women are barred (by custom if not by law) from the noble calling of the poets. Her partner-in-song, a poet named Leander Keyen, knows next to nothing of her past.

Darien Aldemoor and Marlen Humbreleigh are esteemed, nobly born poets, graduates of the revered Academy, and best friends. Unfortunately, ambition and temptation threaten to pit these two boon companions against each other in a bitter rivalry.

Rianna Gelvan, the daughter of a wealthy and powerful merchant, is betrothed to the nebbishy but well-meaning (and utterly smitten) young nobleman Ned Alterra, who is unaware that Rianna has fallen for the poet Darien.

Rounding out the ensemble are the treacherous court poet, Nickon Gerrard; his old rival, the venerable but mysterious seer-poet Valanir Ocune, recently returned from a decades-long journey through distant exotic lands; Rayen Amaristoth, Lin’s complexly vicious older brother; Marilla, a woman who excels at manipulating men and extracting secrets, and for whom pain and pleasure are intertwined; and troupes of troubadors, legions of political power players, and a host of common folk, every one of whom feels as fully realized as Myer’s main cast.

Murders and betrayals force our characters onto a perilous journey, one that entails unraveling centuries-old mysteries and unearthing the lost secrets of magic that once informed the music of the poets, a power that was stripped from them by a paranoid and power-hungry political class. Lin-and-ValanirAt the same time, a deadly plague known as the Red Death—an affliction whose origins are linked to the practice of forbidden “blood magic”—has many people of Eivar fearing for their lives and turning against the poets who represent the only hope for their salvation.

One of the richest pleasures of Last Song is seeing how Myer subverts readers’ expectations of the epic fantasy genre. It evinces all the hallmarks of a typical quest tale—then it becomes something deeper, more intimate, and ultimately unflinching in its examination of its characters’ ugliest qualities and darkest secrets.

Plotwise, this book shines. Its pacing is excellent; every scene crackles with conflict and urgency, pushing the story and its dramatis personae deeper into peril with every page. Myer does a fine job of foreshadowing, and of setting up pieces early to be knocked down later when the reader least expects it. She also displays a deft touch for nonlinear narrative, moving the reader forward and backward within her tale with grace and skill, so that one is never confused as to the true sequence of events.

The dramatic choices Myer makes concerning her characters’ private lives and tragic backstories are impressive for how fearlessly she depicts them. Where a less confident author might have pulled punches or softened the rough edges of the characters’ lives, Myer plumbs them for their maximum dramatic value. In particular, the exquisite details of Marilla’s relationships and Kimbralin’s motivations for fleeing her old life are brilliant in their ruthless honesty.

Pulling all of these elements together is Myer’s lush, lyrical prose. On nearly every page of this book I found sentences to make my reader’s heart swoon and my writer’s ego quail in admiration. Allow me to present a few of my favorite lines, excerpted for your pleasure:


“It was while occupied with this particular thought, this melancholy satisfaction, that Dane heard a new strain of music break the silence. But this was not music such as he had ever heard before. Dissonant, it ripped across the night. Across his soul. And then blackness before his eyes, and then nothing at all.”


“Jasmine and honeysuckle twined in starry abundance on walls that sealed the mansions of Tamryllin from the streets.”


“Roses greeted them in a profusion that appeared white by moonlight, islands in a dark sea of thorns and leaves. … Stone benches were scattered under the trees with deliberate artlessness.”


“Valanir, eyes alight, had begun to speak.

‘It is good to be home.’ Each word, shaped with the precision of a rock carving, falling into breathless silence.”


“He was still in the old district, where ancient marble gave art to each slope, every winding passageway and soaring arch.”


 

The lines above are all from the first half of the book; there are many more of equal or greater beauty, subtlety, and power throughout the novel. Individual lines divorced from context fail to convey the flowing precision of Myer’s prose, which is imbued with the kind of lasting music to which her story’s poets aspire.

Last Song is an elegantly executed, masterfully conceived tale filled with memorable characters—some base, some noble, all steeped in real human complexity and eminently plausible in their motivations and actions. The wider world of Myer’s fantasy milieu, the lands beyond Eivar, are only hinted at in this first book, which gives the future volumes of this trilogy-to-be room in which to grow and explore new octaves of Myer’s opus.

If you love fantasy novels, I recommend you get yourself a copy of Ilana C. Myer’s debut, Last Song Before Night, at your earliest opportunity. It’s one of the most impressive debut novels I’ve ever read; I am in awe of what Myer has accomplished here.

The book’s official publication date is Tuesday, September 29, 2015. Let me humbly encourage you to pre-order a copy in hardcover or eBook format today.

Last Song Before Night on Amazon

Last Song Before Night on Barnes and Noble

Last Song Before Night on Macmillan/Tor

Ilana C. Myer – Official Website

Talking tie-ins

Last month, during my whirlwind weekend at Shore Leave 37, I carved out a few minutes to talk with the fine folks from the Baltimore County Public Library about a number of topics, including my current and upcoming work.

A short video of my and fellow tie-in scribe Robert Greenberger‘s thoughts on the craft of writing licensed fiction, aka media tie-in novels, has been posted by the BCPL to YouTube for your viewing pleasure. Give it a watch!