Tachyon tidbits featuring Nancy Kress, Nalo Hopkinson, Brandon Sanderson, Jacob Weisman, Tim Powers, and Nina Kiriki Hoffman

The latest reviews and mentions of Tachyon titles and authors from around the web.

At NEW SCIENTIST, Simon Ings’ 11 of the best sci-fi books that transport you to another world includes selections from Nancy Kress and Nalo Hopkinson.

Beggars in Spain
by Nancy Kress

Where science fiction leads, reality follows. Consider the mutation in a gene called ADRB1, which allows some people to get by on just 4 hours’ sleep a night. I would leap at the chance of a gene therapy that freed up my nights – but what would happen if everyone else followed suit?

In 1993, and blissfully unaware that any such mutation would ever make the headlines, Nancy Kress asked herself what would happen if a group of humans were born not needing to sleep. The result was a novella called “Beggars in Spain”. Expanded into a novel, it cemented her reputation as one of the toughest thinkers and slickest writers in science fiction.

Kress’s community of sleepless superheroes are of a very ordinary, picked-upon sort, desperately defending themselves against a world that sees them as a threat to their way of life. They don’t get to compete in the Olympics (the extra hours they put into their training are unfair on others) and some cities have banned them from running 24-hour convenience stores. That the sleepless are congenitally a bit brighter and a lot happier than the rest of us doesn’t promote their integration into society one bit.

It is quite a step from such petty prejudices to looming conflicts in outer space, but that is where we end up, as Kress follows her idea rigorously across the years to its almost-utopian conclusion.

Brown Girl in the Ring
by Nalo Hopkinson

In a decrepit near-future Toronto, teenage single mother Ti-Jeanne must juggle care for her newborn infant with looking after her grandmother, a tiresome traditionalist, always droning on about the old country, an apothecary and spiritualist beset by voodoo visions. But what if the wild powers she claims to control are real?

Ti-Jeanne’s estranged boyfriend Tony, an addict who runs with a powerful criminal posse, is of no help to her whatsoever, and is anyway caught up in the search for a human heart for the Premier of Ontario (no mere Porcine Organ Harvest Program heart for him). Ti-Jeanne is still hopelessly in love with Tony – but she will learn.

Hopkinson’s linguistically dazzling mash-up of Jamaican and Canadian patois and speech rhythms adds grit to her cyberpunk tale of street-smart folk pulling together in the face of City Hall inertia and political collapse. It is a future in which folk tales vie for public credence with far-out technologies, and who is to say, in this most post-factual of all post-factual futures, which things work and which don’t?

Hopkinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring (1998) is riddled with stories, fantasies, ghosts, odd beliefs. It consequently has the most lived-in feel of all the futures gathered here. It is a rattling good tale, too.

Laura Steven for PUBLISHERS WEEKLY interviews Brandon Sanderson about his new novel Rhythm of War.

Sitting in his home office in Utah, Brandon Sanderson is backed by a stunning piece of original artwork commissioned for a leather-bound edition of his Mistborn trilogy. Designed and painted by Steve Argyle, the artwork is painted onto metal—an homage to the metal-based magic system in the series. Sanderson calls Argyle “a good friend who lives just down the street.” They frequently get together to play the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering, which Argyle worked on and Sanderson adores.

Sanderson’s deep love of all things fantasy was spawned at the age of 14, when a teacher handed him a copy of Barbara Hambly’s Dragonsbane. After devouring everything he could find within the genre, he started writing stories of his own. “The very first book idea I came up with when I was 16 was the story of the brother of an assassinated king,” he says. That concept would serve as the foundation for the Stormlight Archive series, whose fourth book, Rhythm of War (Tor), publishes in November.


Dean Wesley Smith on his eponymous site shares a 20 year old group pic which includes a Jacob Weisman, Tim Powers, and Nina Kirki Hoffman.

This is a picture taken by photographer Beth Gwinn of a large group of writers and editors at Westercon in 2000 or 2001. Not sure. About twenty years ago. Looks like some sort of Locus Award ceremony.

Sadly, a lot of the people in this picture are now no longer with us.

And I suck at names, so I am going to miss a few. Very sorry about that.

Starting on the right and going left is Kristine Rusch, Gardner Dozois, Connie Willis, Lucus Shephard, Ursula LeGuin, Tim Powers, Mark Kelly, Steve Barnes, Jacob Weisman, Beth Meachem, Tom Dohorety, Charles Brown, Nina Hoffman, and Janice Gelb.