Monsters of the Earth by David Drake (broadcast 9-2-2013) This is third in the series Books of the Elements, four fantasy novels set in a city and empire named Carce, which is very similar to that of Rome in 30 ad. This is a splendid introduction to Drake’s work for those unfamiliar with it and a welcome addition for those who have been enjoying his wonderful storytelling for many years. Here is a setting in which the myths and magic of the classical world are real, and in which classical myths interact with those of other portions of the ancient world.
The elements of the series are Fire, Water, Earth and Air. Each element is paired with a cardinal direction. Thus the first novel, The Legions of Fire, mixes Norse myths with classical myths about the far north. The second novel, Out of the Waters (July 2011), involves both Native American myths and classical myths about the Western Ocean. The third novel in the series is titled Monsters of the Earth (September 2013) and relates to African myths. The fourth book, currently being written, Air and Darkness, will involve the element Air and myths of the Indian Subcontinent.
Here in Monsters, the reader is swept up in a maelstrom of magic-a struggle between two powerful sorcerers, both mentored by the deceased poet and mage Vergil: one wants to destroy the world: the other wants to stop him. Finding out which is which in this fast paced traveling through the worlds of spells and counterspells is part of the fun. Find out more at david-drake.com
The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord (broadcast 8-5-2013) Karen Lord’s debut novel, the multiple-award-winning Redemption in Indigo, announced the appearance of a major new talent—a strong, brilliantly innovative voice fusing Caribbean storytelling traditions and speculative fiction with subversive wit and incisive intellect. Compared by critics to such heavyweights as Nalo Hopkinson, China Miéville, and Ursula K. Le Guin, Lord does indeed belong in such select company—yet, like them, she boldly blazes her own trail.
Now Lord returns with a second novel that exceeds the promise of her first. The Best of All Possible Worlds is a stunning science fiction epic that is also a beautifully wrought, deeply moving love story.
A proud and reserved alien society finds its homeland destroyed in an unprovoked act of aggression, and the survivors have no choice but to reach out to the indigenous humanoids of their adopted world, to whom they are distantly related. They wish to preserve their cherished way of life but come to discover that in order to preserve their culture, they may have to change it forever.
Now a man and a woman from these two clashing societies must work together to save this vanishing race—and end up uncovering ancient mysteries with far-reaching ramifications. As their mission hangs in the balance, this unlikely team—one cool and cerebral, the other fiery and impulsive—just may find in each other their own destinies . . . and a force that transcends all. Find out more at http://merumsal.wordpress.com/the-best-of-all-possible-worlds/
The Postmortal by Drew Magary (broadcast 2-6-2012) Imagine a situation where a simple medical procedure would halt the process of natural aging. A person receiving a particular injection would remain at the physical age they had attained when when it was performed. It wouldn’t prevent other causes of death, from disease or accident for example, but under favorable circumstance someone could live for hundreds of years. This is the scenario into which Magary puts his characters thus taking the reader into an intriguing tale of the future where relationships and ethics, politics, society and everything else is turned upside down, leaving us to wonder…would we do it? Listen in to hear what the author would choose. Find out more at Drew Magary.
Bull Spec publisher Samuel Montgomery-Blinn (broadcast 1-2-2012) Sam talks about the importance of fantasy and science fiction in the world of literature and about the why and how of his involvement in the world of publishing. Bull Spec is a magazine of speculative fiction devoted largely but not absolutely entirely to local Carolina writers. published quarterly from Durham, North Carolina. A very attractively put together magazine featuring some great reading. Explore a little at http://www.bullspec.com/
Here is a link, Fired Up, to Lev Grossman’s picks for the “best of….” for 2011. Looks like some good reading to me. What do you think?
He modestly didn’t put his own book, The Magician King, on the list but you can find out more about that by going to the Fantasy heading on this blog’s podcast and listening in to the interview we did with him.