Ghosts in the Cracks

Brown Lady of Raynham Hall by Captain Hubert C. Provand. First published in Countrylife magazine, 1936.

Lives twist through keyboard cracks

emptiness defined in empty pages,

howling wolves, the wide eyes

like saucer-pools drinking all

the hidden truth of prophecy

self-actualized, self-realized

to breathless fraying

of emotional rope by which

one and all, we hang

another fabric, another hope

before the grasping cry for voice

in the unseen void—

heat-sleeved arms reach

like ghosts from the computer screen.

Book Review: A Fire Upon the Deep

The problem with hype is something like the line the Joker met Batman’s first steps at interrogation with: it leads with the head, leaving reaction somewhat fuzzy. Don’t get me wrong, though—this isn’t going to be “one of THOSE reviews.”

For years, I’ve heard this book (and at least its immediate sequel, in all honesty) referenced as classics of not only the Space Opera genre, but the Hard SF genre at large. Big ideas. Big space. Lots of text to lose yourself in. Yet the fact is: I did not love it. Not nearly as much as everyone around me seems to think I should, at any rate. Rather than spend the time pondering why I’m running one way when the rest of the pack (there’s dogs afoot in here, you know) is running the other, I’m just going to lay things out as I would for any other.

The book is solidly written, intelligent, with a broad concept of world-building that encompasses, naturally, a whole universe—and a uniquely structured one at that. Detail, detail, detail—that is what lies at the core of this book, which becomes even more apparent if one takes the time to read the author’s own notes on the work.

It is also dense. It is not riveting, or thrilling, or terribly gripping—this is not sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat fiction, but rather, lean back, read, and read again fiction to try and keep the whole scope of its creativity straight. It takes us to a galaxy where aliens with pack minds, malevolent “powers” and zones of thought—I.E. stratifications within the galaxy each with its own different levels of potential technology and capabilities—abound.

Yet I am a man that loves character, makes it his bread and butter. Nothing connects you to a universe like a strong character—and they were lacking here. The Tines—the pack-minded inhabitants of the book’s main setting—are a fascinating study in the possibilities of other life, managing to find ground between the oft touted sci-fi extremes of mankind’s individualism and outright FOR THE SWARM mentalities. Other characters, above and beyond the confines of the Tines, however, were not similarly fleshed out—there was an underlying shallowness to the depth that disappointed me. For that matter, many a heavy or dense notion could have been better fleshed out through some of these characters, rather than lengthy explanation.

For that matter, the villain—the Blight—is…well, not much of an evil presence. Day to day struggle on Tines feels more ominous than that entity—beyond the prologue, it scarcely seems a clear and present threat; instead, it feels like a removed opportunity, a binding thread that is, nevertheless, a little loose.

In short? I wanted more character growth. I wanted more plot. I loved the world-building, but there is building a universe and giving that universe life, and I feel that’s the line Vinge tripped on here.

An Interview with Lorna Suzuki

I’m honored today to have been invited to speak with Lorna Suzuki, author of the fantasy series The Imago Chronicles and The Dream Merchant Saga–a real heavyweight in the community (She even has a major motion picture optioned and in development!). She invited me to interview on her blog, All Kinds of Writing, and it was my pleasure to set to scribbling out some answers for her.

Therein, we discuss my books, The Hollow March and At Faith’s End, as well as the state of modern publishing, my inspirations, and even my literary ambitions for the future. Really, it’s a wealth of goodies that includes some history and future alike – including the finale to The Haunted Shadows series. Family, Vengeance, and a bit of magic-laced gunpowder–it’s all there, goodly people.

Head on over to All Kinds of Writing to read the interview.

You can also find Lorna:

Going Literary: The Imago Books Fantasy Realm Website
Blogging: All Kinds of Writing Blog
On Twitter: @LornaSuzuki

The Great Database of Female Fantasy Authors!

Sometimes you happen across something that seems so utterly simple, so utterly necessary, that you can’t help but wonder how it has gone this long without being developed previously. In this case, it’s literary, and as both a writer and reader I’m very much appreciative of it.

Familiar with r/fantasy? No? Well, let’s say it can be confusing and muddled at times–such horded forums have that tendency. Yet from the mass, one can sometimes pluck gems. The gem in question is a MASSIVE SPREADSHEET…which, alright, Excel and Google Docs might not be the most exciting thing in the world to you, but this is a spreadsheet of ALL THE FEMALE FANTASY AUTHORS. Such shininess has no price tag, particularly because those authors are broken down into the specifics of…

  1. Sub-genre
  2. Strong Female Characters
  3. Similarity to other authors
  4. And even their presence on some of the hefty listings out there.

Crisp, to the point, with an eye on making people not only easy to find, but to find other authors based on what you like. This is how it’s done, Internet. Talk about fighting for SUPERWOMEN!

Now to do some reading.

(Looking to help the list’s growth by adding more to the compilation? Get exposure for female authors out there? Then feel free to hop onto reddit and make your suggestions here:

Perseus Kneels to the Crowd

As by the grace of a lifetime’s narrowed sight

Perseus knelt upon the blooming sphere

with the regularity of urbanity’s fuzzy light

unbroken by the drum of earthly years


He froze the night by medusa’s head

that the meteoric arrow rain

might stand upon its mirror’s bed

mutely dancing through its clouded grain—


Rising, ever rising, amidst its dying garden

a thousand years to whither, but never yet the mystery

of what should grant his writers’ pardon

for a thousand years of repetitious history.

Book Review: Hawkspar

In a world where names are against the law…

But seriously; Hawkspar is a novel focused on a young acolyte who has long since forgotten their name—a trait apparently commonly held in the convent to which he is a part. While this might seem a burden, it actually does come with some perks. Power, for one. This Ossalene Order, as it is known, replaces most of its acolytes’ eyes with stone, in turn imparting them tremendous abilities.

Ruling the Order are the Oracle Eyes—pairs of eyes with the ability to sense the currents of time themselves (which I have to say is a rather neat trick). This is where the titularname comes in—Hawkspar is the first among this “council,” functioning as the Eyes of War. Unfortunately, there are of course divisions within the order, mostly revolving around the fact that some people are not so much putting identity behind them.

Oracle-based intrigue? Alright, that gets some creativity points!

But wait—the intrigue isn’t the focus of the novel? Oh, well, at least—*Enter the nameless, faceless evil*–Oh, hell. Cue some deus ex machina, a sudden influx of the cliché, a plotline that begins to wander rather than hone and focus, and a resolution that falls flat on its face, and what begins with a bit of unique promise stumbles, trips, and quickly takes a face plant.

Sloppy editing only exacerbates the problems, and that we cannot even end with a sense of satisfaction leaves this one in desperate need of some air; it’s suffocating. It’s just not one I can recommend, no matter how many quality reviews its prequel received.