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Today Memory from Stella Matutina is sharing the story of how she became a fantasy fan!  Stella Matutina is another one of my favorite blogs to visit for all things bookish. You know how once in a while you find a reviewer whose taste really matches yours? You both love the same books, and you both tend to not like the same books even if it seems like you’re the ONLY ONES in the ENTIRE WORLD who didn’t enjoy this one book? Memory is that reviewer whose taste seems eerily similar to mine – so if you have found you also have taste that is similar to mine, you should definitely be reading her blog! In addition to having excellent taste, she writes some really interesting and fun reviews, especially when she’s so excited about a book that she just can’t be constrained by things like punctuation and grammar.

Please welcome Memory!

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I’m a fantasy fan because of two women: Lisa Boles, my grade seven Language Arts teacher, and Jean Mabee, my junior high librarian.

That’s not to say I was a total fantasy neophyte before I met them. I’d read a decent amount of children’s fantasy–C.S. Lewis and Lloyd Alexander and the like. Trouble was, my twelve-year-old self wanted to explore work aimed at an older audience, and I thought that meant abandoning all hope of anything magical. My parents spoke of having read fantasy in their younger years, but both had since moved on to other genres. Their example showed me that adult literature was primarily composed of category romance, mystery, and submarine novels.

All of which sounded pretty damned dull. I figured I was doomed.

It wasn’t until I perused Ms Boles’s classroom library that I realized fantasy existed outside the realm of children’s literature. She had a fair few adult fantasy novels in the mix, and my classmates and I were welcome to borrow them. I chose a Forgotten Realms title more or less at random and dove right in.

The next thing I knew, I was obsessed with the genre.

When Ms Boles realized what had happened, she pushed me to read several of her own favourites, including Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. They were the first properly epic books I’d ever encountered. I loved them so much that I started getting up an hour earlier every morning, just so I’d have more time to read.

I’m not sure whether Ms Boles mentioned my newly-minted fantasy-fan status to Mrs Mabee, or whether she noticed it herself. Either way, I soon made her acquaintance–and she proved to be an even bigger fantasy fan than Ms Boles. She and her co-librarian (whose name, I fear, escapes me) had stocked the school library with both fantasy and science fiction. Mrs Mabee ensured I knew exactly where to find the best of the lot. She introduced me to authors like Mercedes Lackey, whose work I loved, and Anne McCaffrey, who proved hit-or-miss but ultimately enjoyable.

Mrs Mabee also lent me several of her own books–presumably titles her library’s budget (or, perhaps, the school board’s content restrictions) didn’t allow her to purchase for students. Ms Boles, too, made sure I entered the rotation for her copy of A CROWN OF SWORDS, the seventh Wheel of Time novel.

Ms Boles and Mrs Mabee loomed large in my world. Through them, I met a couple of female teachers’ aides who also loved fantasy. My habit of openly carrying my current read everywhere I went also introduced me to some fantastically-inclined women outside the school’s walls.

For a long time, almost every fantasy fan of my acquaintance was female.

The books they recommended to me changed my world.

And I’ve just realized that very few of those books were by women.

When I look back at that period, I can point to many favoured male authors. But other than Mercedes Lackey (who, to be fair, published enough books for any three writers), Anne McCaffrey and Leigh Eddings (David’s often-uncredited coauthor), I’m drawing a blank on female writers. I’m sure I did encounter others, but I read so many more books by men that the female-authored texts have been drowned out.

Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey Belgarath the Sorcerer by David and Leigh Eddings

I honestly don’t believe I read so few books by women because there were none available. Neither do I think my male-oriented reading list had much to do with the fact that epic fantasy and fantasy adventure were my preferred subgenres.

It was a matter of visibility. I mostly read books people recommended. People recommended books they’d heard of, and subsequently read, themselves.

Most of those books were by men, because our culture privileges men’s writing over women’s.

Sometimes, this privileging is unconscious. Other times, it’s deliberate. It’s always a disservice to both female writers and readers of all genders.

I was eighteen and fresh off an historical fiction kick before I began to read substantially more fantasy by women. I no longer knew many fantasy fans, female or otherwise, so I couldn’t rely on recommendations. I found most of my books by browsing the library’s shelves at random. Somehow, I gravitated towards female fantasists.

Which was all fine and dandy for me, but as Elizabeth Bear said earlier this month, the best way to support female writers is to buy their books, read them, and talk about them. I did very little of the latter until I joined LibraryThing. Sharing my thoughts with other avid readers proved so much fun that I later began my blog, where I do my best to be vocal about the authors I’ve read and enjoyed. More than half of them are women.

In return, I’ve received scads of recommendations for fantasy by women. I discovered Sarah Monette, Naomi Novik, Anne Bishop, Connie Willis, Lisa Shearin, Jacqueline Carey, Elizabeth Knox, Diana Wynne Jones, and a whole host of others because I knew fans–most of them women–who had read their work, loved it, and told the world.

His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop

We’ve got a long way to go before female authors are as visible as their male counterparts, but whenever we spread the word about a book we’ve enjoyed, whenever we encourage another girl or woman to read some SFF, we’re moving in the right direction.

Fifteen years back, two enthusiastic, supportive female fans did just that for me, and it’s made my life so much richer. I’ll always be grateful to them.

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Today is about Blackout by Mira Grant! It’s the conclusion to Newsflesh, a science fiction/horror trilogy about blogging and the zombie apocalypse. Even though I’m not normally a zombie fan, I really enjoyed the first book, Feed. It was dark with a great sense of humor and it had one of the most memorable endings I’ve ever read. To learn more about Mira Grant and her series, you can visit her website.

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you probably know I am also a HUGE fan of Mira Grant’s other identity as her actual self – urban fantasy writer Seanan McGuire.  Her blog is pretty stellar too, particularly when she writes posts like this one about the digital divide. I don’t seem to be the only one who thinks pretty highly of her, either. Seanan McGuire won the 2010 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and both of the first two Newsflesh books (Feed and Deadline) have been nominated for the Hugo Awards. In fact, Seanan was nominated for a total of 4 Hugo Awards this year, making her the first woman to receive that many Hugo nominations in one year.

Now that you understand why Mira Grant is awesome incarnate, I have some super secret information for you regarding Blackout and a chance to win the entire trilogy!

Yesterday, io9 published an excerpt of Mira Grant’s Blackout, the final book in her Newsflesh trilogy. Today, an intrepid Newsie hacked into the CDC computer system and liberated another file. For this one, though, you’ll have to do a little digging…

Below is a puzzle whose answer reveals one of the five codes you’ll need to access the second, top-secret document. (Click to enlarge.)

Rumor has it that you should be hanging around these other blogs to gather the other four:

Rose-Owls and Pumpkin Girls (The Journal of Seanan McGuire)
Sword & Laser

The Mary Sue

SF Signal

Once you’ve gathered all five codes, you can access the encrypted document at the Orbit Books site. WARNING: Massive spoilers for Feed and Deadline ahead!

Blackout will be available May 22nd.

Feed by Mira Grant Deadline by Mira Grant Blackout by Mira Grant

…or, if you’re a little bit more patient and a little bit less willing to track down clues, you can take a shot a winning Feed, Deadline, and Blackout!  You may have noticed that, unlike the first two weeks of Women in SF&F Month, I didn’t have a giveaway last weekend.  Instead, I figured I’d wait until the Blackout event to announce this one!

Giveaway Rules: To be entered in the giveaway, fill out the form below. One entry per person and a winner will be randomly selected. This giveaway is open in the US, Canada, and the UK, and will be open until the end of the day on Wednesday, May 16. The winner has 24 hours to respond once contacted via email, and if I don’t hear from them by then a new winner will be chosen (who will also have 24 hours to respond until someone gets back to me with a place to send the book).  The winner will be sent all three books following Blackout‘s release on May 22.

Please note email addresses will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winner. Once the giveaway is over all the emails will be deleted.

Update: The form has been removed now that the giveaway is closed.

About Blackout (SPOILERS for Feed and Deadline in below description):

Blackout by Mira Grant

Rise up while you can. -Georgia Mason

The year was 2014. The year we cured cancer. The year we cured the common cold. And the year the dead started to walk. The year of the Rising.

The year was 2039. The world didn’t end when the zombies came, it just got worse. Georgia and Shaun Mason set out on the biggest story of their generation. The uncovered the biggest conspiracy since the Rising and realized that to tell the truth, sacrifices have to be made.

Now, the year is 2041, and the investigation that began with the election of President Ryman is much bigger than anyone had assumed. With too much left to do and not much time left to do it in, the surviving staff of After the End Times must face mad scientists, zombie bears, rogue government agencies-and if there’s one thing they know is true in post-zombie America, it’s this:

Things can always get worse.

BLACKOUT is the conclusion to the epic trilogy that began in the Hugo-nominated FEED and the sequel, DEADLINE.

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Today’s guest is Ian Sales, who runs the wonderful site SF Mistressworks! This site is a great resource for learning more about science fiction books written by women so I asked Ian if he’d be willing to tell us about the site and why he started it.

SF Mistressworks contains reviews of science fiction books written by women anytime before the end of the twentieth century. Here’s the basic premise from the site’s FAQ page:


This blog aims to be a resource providing reviews of science fiction books by women writers. It will demonstrate that:

a) women have been writing science fiction since the genre’s beginnings,

b) many of their books should qualify as classics, and

c) many of their books are, in fact, better than “classics” by their male counterparts, and have at least aged better.

You can submit reviews of books that fit the site’s criteria, and that same page will give you more information if interested in doing so. I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t been there before!

Back in October 2010, there was a discussion on Torque Control, the blog of the editors of Vector (the critical journal of the British Science Fiction Association), on the lack of women writers who had won or been shortlisted for the Arthur C Clarke Award. It was triggered by a question posed to Tricia Sullivan in an interview at Geek Syndicate. Niall Harrison then asked for people to email him “top ten sf novels by women from the last ten years (2001–2010)”. That inspired me to choose women sf writers for my 2011 reading challenge – each month I’d read a qualifying book and then blog about it. I’ve been doing these “reading challenges” for several years, and choose a new theme each time.

Sometime during March 2011, the imbalance of genders in Gollancz’s SF Masterworks became topic among a group of us on Twitter. I decided to blog about this, and received so many responses I turned the list into a “meme” of ninety-one titles. This proved extremely popular.

In early June 2011, a poll on the Guardian newspaper’s website for “people’s favourite science fiction novels” resulted in a list of over 500 titles overwhelmingly by male writers. Nicola Griffith and Cheryl Morgan both commented on this. The Guardian followed up their comments with an article, “The incredible shrinking presence of women sf writers”. This prompted Nicola to come up with the Russ Pledge: “to make a considerable and consistent effort to mention women’s work which, consciously or unconsciously, has been suppressed”.

I was already doing my women sf writers reading challenge, and I’d generated the SF Mistressworks meme list, but I felt there was still more which could be done. I had partly selfish motives: my favourite science fiction writer is Gwyneth Jones; and there are a number of fairly obscure women sf writers whose works I like and admire and wanted to tell people about – Sydney J Van Scyoc, Shariann Lewitt, Jay D Blakeney, Susan R Matthews… And it seemed to me the best way to do this was to put together a review blog.

Bold As Love by Gwyneth Jones Darkchild by Sydney J. Van Scyoc Interface Masque by Shariann Lewitt

I put out a call for reviews – I didn’t mind if the reviews had appeared elsewhere, nor if I had multiple reviews of a single title. Lots of people responded. In the first month – June 2011 – I posted thirty-eight reviews by various people. By 6 April 2012, SF Mistressworks has posted ninety-one reviews of eighty-three books by sixty women sf writers, provided by twenty-three reviewers. The site now posts two reviews a week, and I hope to maintain that schedule until, well, untill we run out of books to review.

SF Mistressworks was shortlisted for the BSFA Award for Non-Fiction, which was fantastic. It lost to the SF Encyclopedia. However, that same weekend – during Olympus 2012, the annual UK Eastercon – two volunteers stepped forward and set up sister sites. Michaela Staton is now running Daughters of Prometheus, which reviews twenty-first century science fiction by women writers; and Amanda Rutter is responsible for Fantasy Mistressworks, which reviews fantasy by women writers published before 2000.

I’d like to say my cunning plan is finally coming together but I can’t really take responsibility for any of this. Ultimately it lies with the women who write science fiction – and have been writing it since 1818! That their contribution to the genre should be ignored is criminal; that it continues to be ignored is far far worse. When I set up SF Mistressworks one of my objectives was to show how easy it is redress the balance – in your own reading, in the conversation about science fiction in which you partake. A number of people have answered the call – either changing their reading habits to include more women writers, or writing about sf books by women writers.

It’s not been plain sailing all the way, however. A number of men have vocally resisted the Russ Pledge. A Mind Meld on it, posted on SF Signal shortly after I set up SF Mistressworks, generated a number of heated comments. Even now, lists of “classic” or “best” science fiction continue to appear with very few women writers on them. Back in 2011, Strange Horizons posted statistics of reviewed books by men and women by various genre magazines in 2010. The results were not encouraging. Recently, they posted the results for 2011, and they are marginally better. But there is still much to be done.

At the aforementioned Eastercon, I hunted through the dealers’ room for sf novels by women writers, ones I could review for SF Mistressworks or Daughters of Prometheus, and they were harder to find than I had expected. The situation in US publishing, past and present, is better than it is in the UK, but it is still bad. It is my hope that by bringing the women writers men don’t see out into the light we can make science fiction a better genre and so affect what is currently being discussed and reviewed and published.

Ian Sales reads, writes and reviews science fiction. He’s had short stories published in several magazines and small press anthologies, and recently edited Rocket Science for Mutation Press. He also runs Whippleshield Books, which published his novella Adrift on the Sea of Rains. He is represented by the John Jarrold Literary Agency, reviews books for Interzone, reviews DVDs for The Zone SF, and curates the SF Mistressworks website.

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Today’s guest is Teresa Frohock, author of my favorite debut novel from last year! Miserere: An Autumn Tale is a character-driven dark fantasy that I thought was very unique. I loved that the characters Lucian and Rachael were mature adults, and I was also fascinated by the world.

The more I hear about Teresa’s next book, The Garden, the more excited I am about that one as well. We talked about how it is a twist on “Beauty and the Beast” in an interview last year, and recently Teresa wrote a fantastic blog post on writing gay characters in her novel. She discussed the importance of discussions of issues like race and gender in literature since one such discussion had a huge impact on the way she wrote this character. I really enjoy her thoughtful blog posts such as this one in addition to her writing, so I was very glad when she accepted my invitation to write a post this month. Today she is talking about writing dark fantasy and strong female characters – including female villains!

I want to thank Kristen for asking me to be a part of her women in SFF month here on Fantasy Café. I have said this before and I will reiterate it here: people should read the books they enjoy reading, to do otherwise is a chore. Likewise, authors should write the stories they tell best; I write dark fantasy to honor my demons and give them voice.

Colin Nissan recently took a rather cheeky approach to this serious subject in his post, The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better than You Normally Do, when he advises authors to keep it together:


A writer’s brain is full of little gifts, like a piñata at a birthday party. It’s also full of demons, like a piñata at a birthday party in a mental hospital. The truth is, it’s demons that keep a tortured writer’s spirit alive, not Tootsie Rolls. Sure they’ll give you a tiny burst of energy, but they won’t do squat for your writing. So treat your demons with the respect they deserve, and with enough prescriptions to keep you wearing pants.

Treat your demons with respect.

I like that.

Gillian Flynn says it best when she tells us that “dark sides are important.” Federico García Lorca calls it duende, that strange dark spirit that seizes the souls of artist and audience alike to convey all the passions of grief and love and loss.

I remember reading Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon and marveling at how Ms. Bradley never sugarcoated the harsher aspects of a woman’s life. Childbirth began and ended in blood, death and sorrow were elements of life, not to be ignored but to be embraced as part of a great cycle. What I loved the most was watching Morgaine adapt herself to each new challenge. Bradley didn’t shape the world to fit Morgaine; instead Morgaine was forced to shape herself to the world around her while holding firm to her own convictions of right and wrong.

She was a woman who embraced the darkness of her nature, nurtured it carefully, and when the time came for difficult decisions, Morgaine reached down into the coldest, darkest part of herself and she acted from the core of her convictions. That is strength.

Gillian Flynn bemoans the loss of female villains, and she’s right—women lose an important aspect our nature when we refuse to acknowledge the darkness within ourselves. Rather than honor our dark sides, we have shielded ourselves behind paroxysms of girl-power, swinging swords like pom-poms, and we justify these flimsy female characters by calling them strong—because they can fight, because they can fuck, because they can curse.

Tootsie Rolls, you see.

Back in the 80s, when I was young and really smart, I spoke to a friend and told her that I wanted to write a novel with a female villain. She hit the roof. She told me that I couldn’t do that, because to write a female villain would project a negative image of a woman, and sexists would seize that portrayal as an example of female evil.

Obviously, a lot of women felt like my friend did. Female villains didn’t die out of the genre, but they became scarce. Even now when female villains show up on the scene, authors find a way to justify their evil. The woman was abused, or the authors fall back on the ever popular rape scenario, or she suffers from a mental illness, which had it been diagnosed in time, none of these horrible things would have happened. Anything, anything, ANYTHING to turn our faces away from the fact that some women (like some men) are born without a conscience.

We gobble up Tootsie Rolls and stuff our demons deep within our psyches, never to see the light of day. We forget that we must vanquish the evil within before we can truly recognize and destroy the external demons that haunt our lives. We cannot defeat that which we will not acknowledge.

We skewer our own darkness and sacrifice it on the altar of popular opinion, because in spite of our brave words, we are afraid of how others perceive us, of how we shall be judged. We hide Hecate, Tanit, and Kali behind the frivolous maiden; we scream that patriarchal propaganda smeared their holy names. The archaeological evidence states otherwise: they were goddesses of death, of the hidden places and the crossroads where hard choices must be made. To deny our darkness is to deny a portion of our true nature, leaving us incomplete, ethereal as the shades of death we try so hard to deny.

I tell stories with black sounds, the sounds of the duende, and not in words to validate the reader’s egalitarian ideals of what the world should be like. To do so would be a betrayal of my craft. I want my readers to be uncomfortable, to think a little more deeply about themselves and how they treat others, but I can’t show them these things in the light. First we must descend, without fear, into the dark places, because it is in our greatest darkness that we find our truest light.

But only if we’re brave enough to look.

People should read what they want to read, but don’t be afraid to experiment— to step outside the comfort zone and see the world in shades of black. Honor those demons, give them back their voices, and let them make us whole again.

Walk with me and I will take you into the dark places. I will show you the truest light. I write dark fantasy; there are no pretty stories here.

Raised in a small town in North Carolina, Teresa Frohock learned to escape to other worlds through the fiction collection of her local library. Teresa is the author of the dark fantasy, Miserere: An Autumn Tale. She has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying.

You can find out more by visiting her at www.teresafrohock.com.

Miserere: An Autumn Tale by Teresa Frohock

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Today’s guest is Angie from Angieville! Angie reviews all kinds of genres including SF&F, and one of her favorite genres is fantasy. She is one of my favorite bloggers because her enthusiasm for books is contagious and she gives amazing recommendations. I’ve also gained a much greater appreciation for young adult books from reading her blog and have learned not to judge books by that category largely because of her. With great recommendations like Kristin Cashore and Megan Whalen Turner, I discovered young adult does not mean there can’t be subtlety or darkness in a story – and I am grateful to her for helping me discover some fantastic young adult fantasy! Another reason I love Angie’s blog is that she also gives plenty of attention to older books with her Retro Fridays feature for talking about books that were not recently released that she loves like Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana and Robin McKinley’s Sunshine.

I hope you enjoy Angie’s post and recommended reading list as much as I did! As for me, I’m going to add every one of these books I haven’t read already to my wish list right now.

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I have always loved that quote by the wonderful playwright Tom Stoppard,

I’m going to be dead before I read the books I’m going to read.

It may be a bit perverse, but I find this conviction oddly comforting. For me it encompasses one of the driving forces of my life–the need to read–along with the knowledge that the duration of my single life will never stretch long enough to read all the books I want to. Yet somehow my acceptance of that truth never conflicts with my determination to do it anyway. To read them all. At the same time, I believe life’s too short to read bad books. It’s too short to read only the books you think you’re supposed to. It’s too short to be ashamed of the books you love and choose to read. And it is far too short to operate under silly misconceptions such as the notion that science fiction and fantasy (both book and blogwise) are male-dominated arenas. On the contrary, I’ve been reading both for a donkey’s age. I’ve been blogging about a wide range of speculative fiction for going on seven years now. And I can tell you one thing–I am not alone. The vast majority of speculative fiction books and blogs I read are written by women. Why? Because they’re me. In all their wondrous variety and diversity, they reflect back to me pieces of myself, and they show me a dizzying array of lives and possibilities. I marvel at their audacity, their bravery, their humor, and their endless, endless imaginations. And seeing them, immersing myself in their beautiful visions of this world and so many others, I am reminded that I am one of many, that I am not alone.

I spend a fair bit of time on my blog talking about under-the-radar books, little gems I’ve run across and want to share with other like minded readers. So today I figured I’d share a few of my very favorite, lesser-known SF&F books written by women.

Old School SF&F

The Crystal Gryphon The Wind Witch The Novels of Tiger and Del

The Warhorse of Esdragon trilogy by Susan Dexter

I am continually amazed that Susan Dexter’s books remain out of print. And so glad I bought my copies when I had the chance. This trilogy features three separate heroines and one fascinating warhorse. If pressed, I choose The Wind-Witch as my favorite, but they are each excellent and do not have to be read in order.

The Crystal Gryphon series by Andre Norton

Part of the famous Witch World series, these three are part of Norton’s High Hallack cycle, and they are my favorites of her long backlist. There’s a fair bit of gender role reversal here, and an eerie world full of cold magic and danger.This was also my first introduction to the notion of marriage by proxy. These three should be read in order.

The Tiger & Del series by Jennifer Roberson

Roberson has an impressively long resume, and I have read most of her books. This is the series I saved for last, and I was not disappointed. It is the story of a northern sword-singer named Del and a southern sword-dancer named Tiger. The two supremely unlikely companions are forced to journey together on various quests. Six books in the series and they only get better and better as they go.


Girl in the Arena A Certain Slant of Light Song of the Sparrow

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

Part urban fantasy, part ghost story, part love letter to Emily Dickinson, this shockingly good debut novel makes for an excellent crossover, in my opinion. I return to it again and again for the beautiful writing, the themes of redemption, and the sweet love story.

Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines

This one flew much further under the radar than I would have liked. Having suffered from an inescapable, but unfair comparison to The Hunger Games, I think it deserve to be read entirely on its own merits. I could not put this dystopian gladiator novel down. Bleak and disturbing, the novel and its protagonist Lyn manage to capture your attention and keep it.

Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell

I’ve talked a lot about this one and recently. So I’ll leave it at this: revisionist retelling of the Lady of Shallott in verse.

Recent SF&F

Heroes Adrift by Moira J. Moore Song of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasy Clockwork Heart

The Hero series by Moira Moore

Fun, character-driven fantasy with extremely thoughtful undertones and a world free of gender stereotypes. I’m basically of the opinion that too much praise cannot be lavished upon this series. I adore Lee and Taro, and I am always up for another adventure in their esteemed company. For the curious, be sure to read Moira’s contribution to SF&F month.

Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti

A steampunk fantasy set in the world of Ondinium and featuring a metal-winged icarus as main character. This world is built on the carefully delineated contrast between humanity and technology, privilege and humility. I was utterly engrossed and cannot wait to read the sequel.

The Scarabaeus Duology by Sara Creasy

This duology is one of my favorite discoveries of the past year. True science fiction with an enticing hint of romance, these two books reminded me why I fell in love with the genre. The strong characters reeled me in, but I stayed for the detailed look at the ethics of exploration and the treatment of humankind on the grand scale as well as the organic worldbuilding.

On the Horizon

For Darkness Shows the Stars Nightshifted

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

In a world of series, here is a standalone to sate your appetite. This beautiful, beautiful book is a post-apocalyptic retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I know! The best part is, it kills it on every level. I am in deep smit with this book and am so looking forward to it hitting the shelves round about June 12th.

Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander

This debut urban fantasy lands on the raw side of the genre, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. Nurse Edie is all human. On the paranormal ward of the county hospital, this makes her fairly fragile. But she makes up for it with scrap and nerve. I suspect she may be hiding something, and I’m eager to find out what. Kudos to Ms. Alexander for providing me with my first zombie crush. Due out May 22nd.

And that’s it from me. Thanks for having me, Kristen!

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Week three of Women in SF&F Month is now over, and what a great week it was! Today I just want to put up links to last week’s posts in case you missed any and link to a couple of related articles. Of course, I also want to announce next week’s guests.

There was a giveaway last week, and if you entered to win a copy of Parable of the Sower, check your email since I notified the winner earlier.

Week In Review

Here’s what happened during week 3:

Thanks to everyone who stopped by this week for giving us lots to think about and keeping us from ever running out of books we want to read ever again. (My wish list has exploded this month.)

There were a few posts around the Internet I came across this week related to the topic of gender/women in SFF that I wanted to point out.

Helen Lowe, author of The Heir of Night, wrote a guest post at I Should Be Writing on writing strong women. It’s a great article, and I particularly liked this part:


I believe the key to writing women characters who are truly strong, regardless of whether they are warriors, mages, or accountants like Daniel Abraham’s Amat Kyaan, lies in the word “character.” As authors, if we want our stories to work we must focus on writing characters who are credible and live for the reader on the page. Female or male, we are primarily writing personalities (i.e. also recognizing that not all Fantasy characters are human) and to “work” these personalities must be believable emotionally and in terms of their motivations. Also, when it comes to writing personalities, whether strong or weak, venal or honorable, each character’s development will be shaped by a combination of factors, including disposition, events, and the mores and values of the societies within the world.

Justin at Staffer’s Musings has invited some guests to his blog to discuss agency. He’s asked a few authors to talk about the following:

  • What is agency?
  • Why is it important? 
  • Why do we find more male characters with agency in fantasy novels than females? 
  • Is it OK if a character doesn’t have it?
  • Can a character still be interesting if it lacks it? 
  • Can a book be good if none of the characters have it?

Guests so far have been Elizabeth Bear, Michael J. Sullivan, Mazarkis Williams, Kameron Hurley, Myke Cole, and Anne Lyle.

Shaun at The World in the Satin Bag wrote about some of his own thoughts about N. K. Jemisin’s article this week called “I Would Ride a Unicorn (Maybe Even in a Dress)” or “Hey, Gender Paradigms in SF/F!” He talks more about the assumptions of gendered identity and how foolish some of these assumptions are, and relates some of his personal experience. It’s a great article.

Week Four Guests

Guests for the fourth week are:

Angie from Angieville
Kate Elliott (Spiritwalker, Crown of Stars, Jaran, Crossroads)
Teresa Frohock (Miserere: An Autumn Tale)
Memory from Stella Matutina
Pamela from The Discriminating Fangirl
Ian Sales from  SF Mistressworks