In celebration of the release of NUCLEATION, which BOOKLIST recommends “for fans of Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon and Martha Wells’ Murderbot series,” Kimberly Unger engaged in a virtual tour.
On FACEBOOK LIVE, Unger sat down for a chat with the incomparable Cat Rambo.
My favorite bit of NUCLEATION is front and center from the very first page, in fact it’s the bit that got me to write the entire rest of everything.MY FAVORITE BIT
NUCLEATION is a story about a top-tier pilot who operates robots (waldos) by remote from a billion miles away via a quantum communication link. When the story opens Helen Vectorovich is at the top of her game. She and her partner Ted have been awarded the very first, very public shift on a multi year mission that will open up a whole new set of resources for the Earth colonies. It’s a big deal, a big honor and they… are… rocking it.
My name is Kimberly Unger and I am here to talk to you about one of the Big Ideas behind my debut novel, NUCLEATION.THE BIG IDEA
At some point, we stopped plunging headlong into the great unknown and did the smart thing, the safe thing. We let the robots go first. We send probes and satellites and rovers and landers, we peer through telescopes and send out radio signals. We bounce frikkin’ laser beams off everything in frikkin’ laser beam range. All of this, every signal, every nuclear-powered tin-can, gets out there before we do.
Because we don’t want anyone to die who doesn’t have to.
She, also, participated in a REDDIT AMA at r/books.
You write about virtual reality and work for a video game company. How does your day job inform your fiction?
Agiliste AMA Author
The biggest takeaway I have from my day job experience is really about where people and technology intersect. What happens when someone has a problem with a games interface or what kind of mindset do you develop when you are used to working with alpha or beta builds of software. Helen’s tendency to just “hack around” problems, rather than calling IT for a fix is definitely informed by my work experience, for example.
Wow, did not hear about NUCLEATION till now, but I am ordering right away. It looks fantastic.
Who was your favourite sci-fi author when growing up? And who is your hidden gem that not enough people read? Mine is John Wyndham.
Agiliste AMA Author
Fabulous! I hope you enjoy it.
I was (and still am) a card-carrying Asimov fan. He had an ability to extrapolate against existing technology that really came across as believable, I could see how to get to that future from here.
Ron Goulart would be my pick for hidden gem. It’s been a very long time since I read those books, but when I was younger I used to haunt my local used books stores looking for copies his work.
Paul Semel, on his eponymous site, interviews the author.
NUCLEATION sounds like it’s a cyberpunk sci-fi space opera story. Is that how you’d describe it?
I’ve always thought of it as a “nanotech space opera.” My team at Tachyon has been referring to it as a “vROP” (VR Opera) because that kind of telepresence is my key to everything when you’re piloting by wire. There was a challenge here, about how to get that fast-actiony feel while dealing with world-spaces that really are tiny. The “eenies” (this universe’s version of nano-bots) are the size of an orchid seed, so an all-out clash between two massive armies can fit on the palm of your hand. VR is a great medium for adjusting the perceptual sense of scale and giving a physically tiny (but critically important) event the gravitas it deserves.
Now, while NUCLEATION is your first novel, you’ve previously written some short stories and novellas. Are there any writers who had a big influence on Nucleation but not on anything else you’ve written?
There are a handful of writers who unknowingly contributed. Long before VR even became a thing, Eric Nylund’s Signal To Noise really cemented the idea for me of VR as a functional computing metaphor (much the way your Windows desktop is a metaphor) rather than a far out there concept. I also loved the shared virtual spaces of Diane Duane’s Omnitopia as a way of life, and Walter Jon Williams’ Aristoi and the idea that nanobots can go rogue figures in there as well.
TOR.COM shares an excerpt from the novel.
The Golfball was reaching the end of its line drive—the hole in one an orbit around an orphan star. No planets depended on that burning ball of resources for life. Nothing would suffer when it launched its payload and started consuming every asteroid within reach. The starship-sized jump-gate would take a year to complete, after which the job of stripping Otlyan23’s asteroid ring of every valuable asset could begin in earnest.
“Mark local time 24:48:16.” The NAV’s voice wasn’t in Helen’s ear, precisely. She didn’t have ears out here. Different bodies took time to get used to, and ears were a luxury item. The vibrations of sound shivered along the walls of the Golfball’s interior and filtered through receivers placed along her spine. “Station live. Station live. Station live.”
“Live and well, Ted. Operator Helen Vectorovich, personal identifier T4T4-957.” She responded automatically, rattling the words and numbers off without thinking. Helen was only the first shift on this year-long project and every shift started this way, every mission, every time. She refocused her vision as Ted worked to unlock the capsule controls from his station in the Fishbowl, a billion miles away. The lights around Helen brightened, moving from hibernation blue to heartbeat yellow. System after system came to life after two years of silent spinning through the black of deep space. From Helen’s perspective through the eyes of the waldo, the room opened up like a cathedral, lights and buckypanels rising around her to a point just over her head. In real-world terms, the whole space was the size of a basketball, but from inside the waldo it was oh, so much bigger than that.
Join Kimberly Unger at Reddit R/books and Facebook Live in celebration for the release of her superb, smart debut NUCLEATION
The NUCLEATION festivities start on Thursday, Nov 12 at 2PM ET in a REDDIT AMA at r/books.
Then things continue at 8:15 EST over on FACEBOOK LIVE as the incomparable Cat Rambo joins Unger in conversation.
Be sure to stop by with your questions for Unger. She’ll eagerly awaiting to hear from you.
VERDICT: Unger’s video game credits are well matched to this space adventure. Dialog among rivals, teammates, and machine interfaces keeps the story moving quickly. Recommended for fans of technothrillers and those who appreciate a strong lead character navigating readers through the technical bits.—Library Journal
The recently released THE MIDNIGHT CIRCUS by Jane Yolen continues to excite readers.
Several INSTAGRAM users expressed their love for the collection.
Similar thoughts were expressed (twice!) by user bananaslammock8 on REDDIT.
I love Jane Yolen (I’m a huge fan of folklore and fairytales) and this anthology of her darkest short stories didn’t disappoint. It’s a perfect quick read for a gloomy autumn evening or to get you in the mood for spooky season. They’re all standalone, unrelated stories – my favorites were Wilding, Inscription, and The Fisherman’s Wife.r/YALIT
This was a delightful collection of Yolen’s darkest stories. I love fairytales and I have loved everything by Yolen I’ve ever read. This is a perfect short, spooky read for fall/Halloween.r/books
Yolen participated in her first ever REDDIT AMA at r/books.
What are some of your favorite stories in The Midnight Circus, and what inspired you to write them? (Also, happy book birthday!)
Among my favorites: Inscription, Requiem Antarctica, (which I wrote with Robert J.Harris), Become A Warrior, and Little Red (written with Adam Stemple.)
Oh dear god, Jane Yolen is talking to us on the internet! I can’t cope. You shaped my childhood landscape and taught me that even in children’s fiction, themes can be difficult and language can be beautiful. Thank you.
Thank you. I used to fan girl over LeGuin till InHAD BREAKFAST WITH HER ONE CONFERENCE. AND she said, “Oh tosh!” and we became friends.
Oh my goodness! That is such a wonderful story. She was truly a special person.
I admit it. I like small pieces of writing. I was a poet first, even as a child. I sold poems to high school and college journals (“sold” when speaking of poetry usually means no money!) And then after college I began writing picture books (small, usually less than 1,000 words, now less than 500 words) and sold them. (“sold” here means getting paid actually money, sometimes about $1000, sometimes as much as $25,000). And then I began selling short stories—fairy tales, realistic, fantastic, and sf-inal. (Both for no money and some money.)The Big Idea
And sometimes magic happens. A poem turns into a picture book. A short story turns into a novel. A novel or a picture book turn into films or tv shows. The magic is not the turning, it is in the money! As my late agent said, “It can’t be reprinted unless it’s printed.” Which made me understand why sometimes you can sell an 8-line poem for a hundred dollars and someone pays $10,000 to reprint it. This actually happened to me. Once. But once is enough for a story and a moral lesson.
2: Actually re-reading the stories in order to choose the ones for the book. For the first book, the theme was fantasy authors and stories about them or their creations. Book two’s theme was looking at the many fractured fairy tales I had written over the years. Both as short strides and as picture books and as easy readers for children.My Favorite Bit
But this time the theme was dark stories. As I never consider myself a “horror” writer (even though I have written three Holocaust novels), I was shocked to find so many of these stories on my backlist. I am more interested in the frisson of terror than the bloody stumps. I will kill people quietly on the page, more bloodily out of sight. But there they were: Dark story after dark story. I had to read them myself in order to choose the ones for the collection. Some of them made me shudder. (None of them made me throw up.) And then I found myself remembering– that this one or that one had been in the Year’s Best Horror anthologies. That was a surprise! And a favorite bit of a memory jog. And tipped for (but didn’t get) an award.
Join Jane Yolen for her very first REDDIT AMA while simultaneously wishing a happy book birthday to her new collection THE MIDNIGHT CIRCUS
The legendary Jane Yolen discusses her new collection THE MIDNIGHT CIRCUS in a REDDIT AMA at r/books on Thursday, Oct 1 at 1PM EST.
THE BOOK LOVER’S BOUDOIR enjoys the collection.
I was looking forward to getting lost in this new collection of dark tales. These stories all touch on the supernatural in some way, some darker than others. I liked the fact the stories were all quite different despite dealing with similar themes / same genre. No two stories were alike. In most story collections I’ve read there tends to be one or two stories that don’t quite fit or work. That’s not the case with The Midnight Circus. Every story is excellent. I didn’t want to stop reading.
YA LIT RAMBLINGS felt much the same.
This is a three ring circus like no other. It is the dark side of THE EMERALD CIRCUS. I loved those stories and thought I might not like Yolen’s dark side. I should not have worried, for these stories chilled me to the bone, and I loved every minute!
PALADIN JANE REVIEWS finds the book worthy.
[Y]olen is a master of her craft and this is a collection worth reading if you’re a fan of dark fantasy and horror.
LISA LOVES LITERATURE agrees.
Overall a great short story collection, I could see for upper middle grades for sure, possibly into the lower grades at high school level.
Rick Klaw blog ama, buzzfeed news, interview, karla strand, margaret kingsbury, ms., nerds of a feather flock together, quick sip reviews, r.b. lemberg, r/books, reddit, review, the clipped nightingale, the four profound weaves
Praise for R. B. Lemberg’s recently released lyrical and complex debut THE FOUR PROFOUND WEAVES explodes all over the Internet.
At MS. MAGAZINE, Karla Strand showcases the book among their September 2020 Reads for the Rest of Us.
What a treat: the full-length debut set in R.B. Lemberg’s super-queer Birdverse universe! It’s a wonder of identity, evolution and bravery in a time when we need it most.
Margaret Kingsbury for BUZZFEED NEWS expresses similar sentiments in 18 Excellent Fantasy Books Coming Out This Fall.
THE FOUR PROFOUND WEAVES is a lyrical and complex novella set in Lemberg’s Birdverse Universe. Lemberg has previously written short stories set in this world, but this is their first longer work.
NERDS OF A FEATHER, FLOCK TOGETHER wholeheartedly recommends the novella.
If you’ve not experienced Lemberg’s prose before, you’re in for a treat with this, as the style brings the meditative story of nen sasaïr and Uiziya to life in a way that’s readable and yet really makes the most of the rich fable-like qualities of the story being told. I can wholeheartedly recommend this novella and this series as one that’s well worth spending time in, packing fascinating, complex worldbuilding and a thoughtful engagement with queer identities into a deceptively short package. I look forward to further adventures in the Birdverse soon!
THE CLIPPED NIGHTINGALE agrees.
It amazes me how the author takes the reader on a roller coaster ride of the emotional, physical and intellectual journey of the two protagonists. The magic, spells, musings, dark powers and magical carpets.. everything felt so real and authentic. A must read. The book is out now.
QUICK SIP REVIEWS interviews Lemberg.
QSR: I love the way that art works into THE FOUR PROFOUND WEAVES, especially because, well, the story is a piece of art itself! How do you feel art and the act of creating it fits into these moments of resistance, revolution, and recovery?
RBL: I often think that making art is the most resilient human impulse. It’s not that art is indestructible – far from it – but the need to make art, to share it, to find meaning and joy and hope in it, is universal. Even the villain of my story loves art – just not the artists that produce it. And that, for me, is what separates the villains from the rest of us. I do not believe that art can have a separate existence from the artist, I do not believe that art can or should be “sanitized” for elite consumption by forgetting or hiding where it comes from – from people, from communities, from relationships, from emotions, from lifetimes of learning and striving. In moments of great turmoil we turn to art – both to the art that exists already, to the memory of art, and, perhaps most importantly, to the making of new art – to carry us through, to tell the stories that shape our lives, to make meaning out of suffering, grief, and joy. In my book, the maker – who is in her sixties, but who only now is coming to the true mastery of her craft – makes meaning from long-silenced voices. She does not create the voices, but her art helps them to be heard. Art can continue to exist long after the artists themselves become anonymous, but its makers continue to speak to us.
Lemberg participated in a REDDIT r/Books AMA.
Can you talk some about the geography of Birdverse? Have you drawn a map of it that you reference? How many deserts are there, and which is your favorite? 😛 I’ve noticed characters talk about “the landmass,” which I found interesting!
rblemberg AMA Author
Great question! Yes, there’s a large “landmass” where most of the events of my stories take place. I actually love fantasy maps, and have drawn a few in my day. When I just started envisioning Birdverse, I drew a crude map of what I now know as “the countries of the central north” to orient myself. Then I began to write a story about a siltway person (first Birdverse story, unpublished and that’s mostly good, it was not ready). In any case, the siltway people do not view geography the same way nameway and dreamway people do – they do not orient the same way in space, travel by the means of “flickering” and do not have any verbs in their language. Envisioning this person’s journey into the more familiar parts of Birdverse, I found out that I did not want to imagine a more precise geography – rather, it would be an imagined geography, which is an academic concept talking about how space is constructed and imagined through narratives, images, songs and the like. I do wonder if a time will come for a more standard fantasy map, but not yet.
I enjoyed DRIFTWOOD so much that I definitely want to share the love and give you the opportunity to win a copy of this book. The publisher will give out:
1 physical copy (U.S. only)
1 eBook copy in the format of your choice (open internationally!)
To enter the giveaway, you just have to comment under this post, include where I can reach you (Twitter handle or email address) and if you are applying for the U.S. or international giveaway. I will pick a winner at random on August 20th and privately reach out to the winners! For the U.S. giveaway, you have to be comfortable with giving me your address that I will send out to the publisher.
They also reviewed the novel.
I didn’t expect to love DRIFTWOOD as much as I did, I knew nothing about it before picking it up except that it was written by the author of the well-known Memoirs of Lady Trent, a series that I haven’t read. However, after reading the first few pages, my curiosity quickly morphed into enthusiasm. Brennan’s writing style is engaging and managed to pull me into the chaotic world of Driftwood in a couple of paragraphs. I read this book twice and, each time, in less than a day. I first read it in May and I wanted to refresh my memory before writing this review by reading it again more slowly but… I couldn’t stop turning the pages! Guess I’ll have to read it a third time.
Highly recommended to any fantasy lovers!
BETWIXT THE SHEETS felt much the same.
DRIFTWOOD by Marie Brennan is one of those rare stories you don’t quite see coming. I don’t mean in the sense that the twists of the tale itself are unpredictable, though at times.. that too is true, but rather in the way that it is so much bigger, so much more impactful and moving than one might ever suspect.
Actually, this is easily one of my favorite reads this year and I had no idea it would be. I thought it a quaint sounding story with an interesting premise, but my hopes could not have readied me for what it really was.. an absolutely stellar tale.. and I desperately hope there will be more.
ELITIST BOOK REVIEWS enjoys the book.
DRIFTWOOD is a collection of these stories and how Last made life more livable in Driftwood. How he helps people come to grips with post-apocalypse–and preserve some of their culture and dignity in the process. They are stories of a strange place that no one quite understands. Of a mixture of people who were never meant to be neighbors. And they are stories of coping with loss.
Marie Brennan never disappoints.
WORDS LIKE STARS continues the praise.
The entire structure of Driftwood and its workings is not only well drafted and detailed, but I felt the sadness, hopelessness and sorrow that so many of these people feel at the fact that places eventually come to their end, and so do the people that belonged to them. It puts one in the place of Last while reading, thinking of what it must be like to exist as he has—to see so many that he cared for lost and gone, but remain, eventually alone and needing to start again.
Brennan participated in an REDDIT AMA for r/fantasy. As a bonus, she provided a link to a photo of hers along with her answer to each question!
Do you see Driftwood as part of a series? And, if so, do you see it as a series of short stories or will there be Driftwood novels?
MarieBrennanAuthor Marie Brennan
In a sense Driftwood has always been a series, because it started out as short stories, which then got linked together into the book. I doubt I’ll ever write a full-blown novel there, in part because I feel like that’s antithetical to the setting: Driftwood is a place of fragments, not coherent wholes, and a novel is a big coherent whole. But I may very well write more short stories, plus I have a half-baked notion for a novella in the setting, so there may indeed be more in the future, even if it isn’t a conventional novel.
Photo: the old waterfront in Gdańsk, Poland: https://www.swantower.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Gdansk-Zuraw-night-1-1024×726.jpg
Tachyon tidbits featuring Nancy Kress, John Joseph Adams, Jaymee Goh, Kate Elliott, Tad Williams, and Andrew Fox
Rick Klaw blog ama, anak sungai, andrew fox, barry n malzberg, best american science fiction and fantasy 2020, curious fictions, deborah j ross, empire of grass, essay, interview, jaymee G, jaymee goh, John Joseph Adams, jonathan strahan, judaism, kate elliott, Nancy Kress, r/fantasy, reddit, review, short story, tablet, Tad Williams, the coode street podcast, the witchwood crown, unconquerable sun 0
The latest reviews and mentions of Tachyon titles and authors from around the web.
Dramatic, full of wonderful details and characters, all in all a satisfying and thoughtful read. But I would expect no less from Kress.
Series editor John Joseph Adams announced the contents for Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2020 (edited by Diana Gabaldon). The volume includes several Tachyon contributors: Charlie Jane Anders (SIX MONTHS, THREE DAYS), Elizabeth Bear (DIGITAL RAPTURE, REWIRED), Ken Liu (THE VERY BEST OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, VOLUME 2), Deji Bryce Olukotun (INVADERS), Rebecca Roanhorse (THE NEW VOICES OF SCIENCE FICTION), Adam Troy-Castro (THE MONSTROUS), E. Lily Yu (THE NEW VOICES OF FANTASY, THE NEW VOICES OF SCIENCE FICTION), and Tachyon editor Jaymee Goh (contributor to STEAMPUNK III).
Speaking of Jaymee Goh, her story “Anak Sungai” appears on CURIOUS FICTIONS.
“Stay away from Sang Kancil,” Sang Buaya would warn me. I did not care to argue with my guardians. “He is clever and tricky, and will waste no time taking advantage of your goodness.”
Through groundwater paths, through streams and trickles between hills and mountains, I stretched my being as far and wide as possible, exploring the world through its breathing earth. Where I wandered, I listened to the warbling of Tiong and Merpati, the nighttime shrieks of Keluang and Kelawar high above my head as I passed through the roots of trees.
“Ya Si Jernih!” they would cry, “and where do you go today?”
What a question! Wherever I go, of course. Who stops a river’s inexorable course? But there are times I stepped out of my element to wander inland, whispering myself into the morning mists, or the humidity between trees. I espied Sang Sawa on a tree waiting for prey.
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY offers some of the first praise for Carrie Vaughn’s forthcoming KITTY’S MIX TAPE (not due until October but currently available for pre-order from your favorite bookseller or direct from Tachyon).
Though the uninitiated won’t want to start with this, the insights into Kitty’s supporting cast and illumination of previously unseen moments from the series will delight longtime readers. For those devoted fans, this will be a delicious final taste of Kitty’s complicated life.
It was an absolutely fascinating read.
It’s a must read for fans of Kitty Norville, but even if you haven’t read the series yet, this book stands alone just fine.
At REDDIT, Vaughn participated in a r/books AMA.
I know Kitty’s story is over but I miss her. Any chance on returning to her someday?
CarrieVaughn AMA Author
Thank you for reading! While I don’t have any more novels about Kitty planned, I’ve been writing a lot of shorter works set in the same world — last year I released a pair of novellas about Cormac and Amelia (“Dark Divide” and “Badlands Witch”), and this year I had a collection starring stories about Rick (THE IMMORTAL CONQUISTADOR).
This fall I have a new collection, KITTY’S MIX TAPE, that’s mostly reprints but also has a few totally new stories starring Kitty. I know it’s not a novel but I hope these will satisfy! I have a lot of fun dipping into her world now and then.
Seems like everyone loves Joe R. Lansdale’s OF MICE AND MINESTRONE – HAP AND LEONARD: THE EARLY YEARS.
For NEW YORK JOURNAL OF BOOKS, Sam Millar praises the collection.
OF MICE AND MINESTRONE is classic Lansdale at his legendary best. For his legions of fans, the much-anticipated stories will fill some of the gaps in their collections. For new readers, they will soon come to appreciate why Lansdale is regarded as one of America’s finest living writers. Compelling. Hilarious. Poignant. Readers have waited a long time for this collection to finally appear. It was well worth that wait. Roll on the next sequels and prequels.
Wes Lukowsky in BOOKLIST feels much the same.
He’s a master storyteller, and this short collection sets the stage for his most compelling characters.
SCI-FI AND FANTASY REVIEWS concurs.
Hap and Leonard are the stars, of course, and you can’t fault them for it. The chemistry between the two leads is intense enough to crackle in moments of stress, but comfortable enough that even in this early stage of their lives, they clearly know each other as well as best friends can. They’re just fun, are Hap and Leonard – starting bar fights, taking no crap from small town racists, sitting around having a big bowl of chili. They’re a comfort to all of us, a certainty in uncertain times, that good, or at least goo-ish, can triumph, and that one small corner of the world is the better off for having them in it. These are stories for people who’ve already absorbed the small-town charm of the series, already know that blend of comfortable friendship, refusal to back down to bullies, and the occasional kinetic arse-kicking. But you could dip in as a new reader too, and find them just as entertaining, these tales. Give them a whirl – they’ll make you smile, and take you to a different place, a different time, and show you some of what was terrible and beautiful about it.
(Also, there’s recipes for so much Texan home cooking on here, and it all, yes all, tastes delicious; a great resource on lockdown).
Overall, a fantastic collection, for old hands, and new readers of the series alike. Go out and give it a try, you won’t regret it.