“Every book I have written is a book of my heart, but WANT is especially dear to me. A near-future thriller set in Taipei, it is an ode to my birth city, the vibrancy of which is deeply rooted in me.” —Cindy Pon, the story behind WANT cover reveal.
I'm loving An Accident of Stars! I was drawn in by the review from Trudi Canavan and astonished by the plot and writing. I know this book came out recently but I noticed it says Book 1 of Manifold worlds, are there plans for a sequel?
Thank you so much, and yes, there is! The second book, A Tyranny of Queens, is due out in May 2017 - in fact, the cover art was just released this week:
Saffron Coulter has returned from the fantasy kingdom of Kena. Threatened with a stay in psychiatric care, Saffron has to make a choice: to forget about Kena and fit back into the life she’s outgrown, or pit herself against everything she’s ever known and everyone she loves.
Meanwhile in Kena, Gwen is increasingly troubled by the absence of Leoden, cruel ruler of the kingdom, and his plans for the captive worldwalkers, while Yena, still in Veksh, must confront the deposed Kadeja. What is their endgame? Who can they trust? And what will happen when Leoden returns?
Books coming out in 2016 that involve women (cis or trans) who end up in happily-ever-afters with each other, either in outer space, the future, castles, pirate ships, wherever. Fantasy and sci-fi lesbians and bi/pan/otherwise multisexual women of the year!
It occurs to me that failure to properly worldbuild an SFFnal story is - sometimes, though not always - less reflective of a writer’s creative ability than it is a consequence of their real-world privilege. The concept of culture as something with multiple facets, that can be experienced from different perspectives and which - crucially - has consequences beyond the obvious is learned rather than innate, and if, in your own life, you’ve never stopped to consider (for instance) how class differences impact access to basic necessities, or the problem of social mobility, then that’s going to influence how you craft, or fail to craft, those elements in your narratives. Because while, in stories set in the present day, you can either compensate with research or write wholly within familiar contexts, in an invented setting, it’s going to be harder to hide the gaps in your knowledge.
And so we get stories whose cultures are founded on stereotypes: Noble Elves vs the Barbarian Orcs, an endless parade of faux-medieval Europes, and dystopias built around a single, reductive premise with no effort made to explore its wider consequences. This last seems especially troublesome to me, given that dystopias are, generally speaking, meant to be the sort of stories that understand class and subversion - but when written by someone who’s never considered that their own society operates on more than one level, that nuance may well be lost. The point of worldbuilding is to create new worlds, but they’re always going to be influenced by how we view our own.
The Angel of Narrative Cliche (S12E01 episode coda)
There are some things that just offend Gabriel’s sense of good writing. Torturing Sam once, three times, maybe fifty or so, fine, but by now? That’s just old hat. Also, he was far more creative than this. Just for the record.
It’s a great pleasure working on the cover of Lawrence M. Schoen’s new novel Barsk The Elephant’s Graveyard for Tor. This mesmerizing story set in a distant future, in which humanity is gone and forgotten, while their artificially engineered genius-animals uplifted into walking, talking, sentient beings.
The Fant are one such species: anthropomorphic elephants ostracized by other races, and long ago exiled to the rainy ghetto world of Barsk. There, they develop medicines upon which all species now depend. The most coveted of these drugs is koph, which allows a small number of users to interact with the recently deceased and learn their secrets.
To break the Fant’s control of koph, an offworld shadow group attempts to force the Fant to surrender their knowledge. Jorl, a Fant Speaker with the dead, is compelled to question his deceased best friend, who years ago mysteriously committed suicide. In so doing, Jorl unearths a secret the powers that be would prefer to keep buried forever. Meanwhile, his dead friend’s son, a physically challenged young Fant named Pizlo, is driven by disturbing visions to take his first unsteady steps toward an uncertain future.
just finished the first ep of emerald city and like
the tip/tim/tin (what’s their name even, i couldn’t hear) thing could end up being The Worst or interesting take on character representation? i don’t know how to feel, honestly, because it was the final scene and we don’t know enough.
i hate treating sexuality/gender identity as a spoiler, but i don’t want to elaborate too much in case other people do.
au for @everythingelsegoesherethen: dean winchester owns the marauders’ map and uses it to make sure he and castiel always ‘accidentally’ meet at strange times.
Since he became a Prefect at the beginning of his fifth year, Castiel Novak has dealt with a lot of troublemakers who clearly just haven’t read the Hogwarts rulebook.
Dean Winchester is not one of these.
Dean Winchester is clever. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s read the handbook and
And he never, ever gets caught.
Which is why Castiel is confused when he apprehends Dean for the third time in a month, trying unsuccessfully to get into a secret passage out of the school that Cas /knows he knows exactly how to access. And yet he’s tapping all over the one-eyes witch with his wand, cluelessly trying every combination of “Let me in!” that he can, acting for all the world as though he’s under some kind of Confundus charm.
He turns the light of his wand on Dean, and Dean turns around, doing a very good job of pretending to be startled.
“Yeah, that’s me,” the boy grins, blushing and looking down at the floor but not seeming at all upset that he’s just been caught breaking five school rules at once.
“Yes, well, you’re out of bed after lights out, you’re messing with school property and you’re using magic in the corridors.” Cas is a little flustered and he can’t even explain why, but he still manages to tick at least some of the offenses off on his fingers.
“I /am? Oh, man, Cas, I’m so sorry. And I promise you it won’t happen again.” Dean is all mock-apologetic as he claps Cas on the shoulder and starts to walk away down the corridor.
“F-five points from Gryffindor!” Cas calls after him in a shaky voice.
This becomes a recurring problem. The following week, Cas runs into Dean in the restricted section of the library without a note giving him permission to be there. A few days later, he catches Dean in the act when he’s just about to set off a whole box of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes fireworks. Another time, he finds Dean on the Quidditch pitch after dark when it’s supposed to be locked up, flying loops just to show off. Sometime after that, Cas goes to take a bath in the Prefects’ bathroom at the end of a long day, and he finds the tub already overflowing with bubbles, Dean in a pair of red swimming shorts lazily swimming laps.
And for some reason it’s always harder for Cas to keep his cool around Dean that it is around anyone else. Usually he’ll dole out detentions without even blinking;the whole school respecting his authority, but something about this kid has him barely remembering the name of the red and gold house that he’s supposed to be taking points from. It /irks him, because he was given the Prefect position for a /reason, and he’s supposed to be unbiased and impartial and above such things.
After all this has been going on for a good few months, and Cas is no closer to figuring out what exactly is going on in Dean Winchester’s unfairly pretty head, he finds a piece of parchment on the floor. It’s on his normal patrol route, but not on a main corridor - it’s on one of the back routes that only Cas is responsible for walking down on his shift after lights out. It’s placed right in the middle of the corridor where Cas is guaranteed to see it. Almost as though it was left especially for him.
He picks it up. It looks blank at first, but when he unfolds it, he sees that it’s a map - an incredibly detailed map of the whole of Hogwarts castle, every room drawn, Cas believes, perfectly to scale, labelled in calligraphy, every secret passage and hidden entryway marked. Not only that, but the map is enchanted, constantly moving, staircases twisting their way through the halls in what Cas suspects is real time, and most importantly of all, tiny sets of footprints making their way through the castle halls, each with a name attached to them. Cas spots his own name next to his own footprints, which are still in the exact spot that he’s in.
He takes a step forward, and the footprints move with him.
Most of the spots are clustered in the common rooms and dormitories at this time of night; just a few Prefects and professors wandering up and down the corridors. But Cas has a sneaking suspicion he knows who this map belongs to, and the person doesn’t seem to be in the Gryffindor boys’ dormitories where he should be. Against his will, Cas finds his eyes skating over the map, looking for the potential offender.
Dean Winchester’s spot is pacing the Tallest Astronomy Tower.
Of course, none of this necessarily means that the map /actually corresponds to where people actually are. It could just be an example. Could be everyone is placed randomly and doesn’t move, no matter where they really are.
Which, of course, explains why Cas is already walking purposefully towards the Astronomy tower, taking each set of stairs two at a time, checking the map every few seconds to make sure Dean is still in the same place.
He reaches the door to the tower, and he’s not even completely conscious of why he’s doing it, but he runs a hand through his hair to fluff it up and he straightens his blue and bronze tie before he walks inside.
Dean’s there, as predicted, no longer pacing but standing in the center of the room - waiting for him? The tower is open to the heavens - not like the Great Hall, not like an enchanted version of the sky, but actually open, the summer night stars glinting down and reflecting off of magical lights that have been conjured and left to hover all around the edge of the circular tower room, a light breeze ruffling Cas’ robes as he steps towards Dean, noticing that the usually bare wooden floor is scattered with large, puffy gold and bronze cushions.
Cas holds out the map. “I think this is yours.”
Dean takes it from him, not at all surprised to see Cas there. “Don’t think it’s really anyone’s. Thing kind of has a mind of its own. But yes, I’ve been using it for a while.”
“Tell me something?” Cas asks. “You just admitted this is yours. With this you can see anyone coming at any time, you can always stay one step ahead of any professor or prefect, you never have to get found out by anyone. But you keep letting me catch you. Why?“
"That depends,” Dean says with a smirk. “Why’d you bring the map back instead of handing it into a professor? Seems like it’s a contraband object. Seems like I /should get in trouble.”
Cas opened his mouth to retort to that, but realized he didn’t have anything to say. Why /had he come here? Dean was right, after all. His first instinct, as a Prefect with designs on Head Boy at some point in the future, should have been to turn the object over to a member of staff. His mind shouldn’t even necessarily have jumped to Dean. But it had, and now he was here.
“Alright. That aside, why’d you wait for me? Why’d you pick a specific place, here, that you have /no reason to be and just pace around hoping I’d show up to find you?”
Dean spluttered, but quickly recovered. “Why’d you look for me on the map? Why’d you stare at it for so long that you saw where I was in the first place?”
“Why’d you decorate? The stars, the lights, the cushions? Why’d you set this all up for a special occasion?”
They stared at each other for a while, breathing heavily, waiting for the other one to be the first to break.
Cas cracked, and Dean gave up at the same moment, and then he both of them were lunging towards each other, Dean grabbing Cas by the tie he’d just straightened, pulling it askew, Cas fisting both of his hands in Dean’s robes, both yanking the other towards them, crashing their lips together so hard that it was almost painful when they met, their bodies falling into each other, their teeth clashing and their noses bumping and when they pull apart, they both tumble down onto the pile of cushions they’ve set up and /now Cas understands why they’re there, /now it makes sense because their landing is soft and they can reach for each other again immediately, both of them lying on their sides in the heap of fluffy pillows, kissing each other over and over and over again, each one making their lips tingle. Over time, as they grow used to the feeling, the kisses become slower, softer, more languid, and the hooded eyes when they pull away from each other are less from desire and more from tiredness, and they’re both sure they’d be happy to sleep here.
"So, what? You’ve been risking detention and house points for Gryffindor and your reputation as someone who never gets caught just to… just to get my attention?” Cas asks finally, propping himself up on one elbow.
Dean tugs him back down and kisses him again. “Well, you’re risking your Prefect position right now. But I feel like you always have to risk a little something to get the best things in life.”
And between holding hands on long walks by the lake, between screaming themselves hoarse together at Quidditch matches, between feeding each other Bertie Botts’ Every Flavour Beans while studying in the library, and between many, many more long nights in the Astronomy tower, Cas learns that as frustrating and complicated as he is; Dean is definitely one of the best things in his life.
Tonight I thought of a compelling idea, and wrote a short story about a lesbian romance between an AI and her hacker.
Inspirations include the various scary female AIs of pop culture like GLaDOS, SHODAN, porp’s Cyberqueen, and also I guess like the plot is pretty similar to old cyberpunk like Neuromancer, Ghost in the Shell, etc. It’s not really as grimdark as most cyberpunk, though.
Above is a version formatted as a story. Shortly I’ll post a click-through version presented in Twine.