My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Short version: richly-imagined world, historically important in modern fantasy, and mostly skilled prose, though mixed and sometimes hard to follow.
Black Sun Rising is a book I have looked forward to reading for years, as it’s often found on library shelves and lists of influential or favorite books. The tipping point came when I found the third book of a different trilogy at a local thrift store. C.S. Friedman’s skill was evident from the first word and I found myself stuck, ignoring my kids. Black Sun Rising, likewise, is engaging and drew me in with its inventive and original world. The author is not tentative about revealing the nature of the world: this is a future world colonized by spacefaring humans, and the relationship to earth is clear from the very beginning, in the prologue. You’re clearly dealing with earth cultures and remnants from Earth on a world that works differently, right on page 1. Continue reading “Black Sun Rising by C.S. Friedman (Goodreads Review)”
The rise of social media has given many readers new ways to cross authors off the list.
The internet is great, but it’s a double-edged sword, especially when it comes to authors. When I was a kid, authors lived in far off worlds whose locations were rarely hinted at by About The Author passages. If I passed Dan Simmons or C.J. Cherryh on the street when I was growing up in Boulder, Colorado, I never would have known it. Everyone knows Stephen King lived in Maine (and for a while he lived in Boulder, and set one of his books there), but King is not only a superstar, he’s a down-to-earth guy who most readers find accessible (even if his books aren’t; although sales suggest they are). One can believe he not only lives in a house, but he coaches Little League. The details of Arthur C. Clarke’s personal life came out pretty well in his later books, but for most authors, they might have been dead and I wouldn’t have known it.
In which I alienate fans of Labyrinth by arguing that an excellent codpiece by itself doesn’t create the reverence and dread of a real drama.
First the news: I had another hen eaten by a fox on Saturday, so I replaced her with four new birds that I know are female (backstory: a year-and-a-half ago when I got chicks, we accidentally got a Wyandotte rooster, who the kids named R.L. Stine). I have a sequel to Firesage outlined, tentatively called Watermark, and a rough idea for a third book in a trilogy. After some thorough beta reading I have almost got Firesage ready to send to my agent, and I think this one will sell. Despite his wariness that epic fantasy is a “cold genre” I think editors will relate to the primary question of what the main character will do to make a good life for her unborn child. I went to the bookstore the other day to look for comps (and I found some good books), but I always walk away with the feeling that my books are so unique people won’t know what to do with them. I don’t think I have ever read or even heard of a fantasy book that deals with the unique anxieties faced by pregnant women, so I’m hoping that will do it for me (if you have heard of one, please let me know in the comments, or on Twitter).
In which I alienate fans of lawyer books…
First the news: I am about a quarter of the way through editing Firesage. I don’t have much inclination to do anything else because editing is so rewarding. I thought about doing a blog post on my editing procedure, but actually editing is so much more fun, I thought I would share some thoughts on the age of protagonists. I got two more short stories rejected this week, and will post them here soon. If you haven’t read “Talons of the Sun” or “The Lapis Dragon-Tamer” yet, head over to my short fiction page, and stay tuned for more.
The subject came up on Facebook about why so many stories are about people of a particular age, and I have some quick thoughts on this.
In which I alienate all of you who’ve published short stories
On Wednesday I finished the 1100-page It by Stephen King, the longest thing I’ve read since Cliver Barker’s Imajica almost two years ago. I read it in about five weeks with a one-week break during my trip to Paris when I started Deborah A. Wolf’s The Dragon’s Legacy. It was interesting to read mainly because it was at the top of my list of books by King that I’ve wanted to read for a long time. I saw the ABC mini-series when I was a kid, taped it and watched it over and over, and always wanted to read the book. Twenty seven years later (no joke) I found a paperback of it for $1 at Boskone, and as is always the case with King, I couldn’t put it down.
Of all the excellent aspects of this book, one thing in particular stood out to me as a writer: every side-note, every piece of background, every seemingly insignificant fact, has a central character. There are passages throughout this book, told in an omniscient voice, as one would tell a ghost story around a campfire, where characters pop into existence only for telling the reader more about the history of Derry, or for the purpose of advancing the story, and nevertheless we learn a lot about that person even though he only lives for a few seconds. Which characters are central is very clear, never in doubt, but these characters who are not even side characters all have their own lives and histories and connections to different parts of the story. They are not functionaries, they are not useless page filler, and they are not the two-dimensional oddities of Gravity’s Rainbow. Continue reading “Long Novels, Short Stories, and The Seat of My Pants”
In which I alienate Robert Jordan fans and Harry Potter fans in one swell foop.
The other night in our writing group at the Fairlee Public Library I read a passage from my novel-in-progress Firesage. I spent a little time building up the world for my fellows, then read the passage. I explained that the sorcerers who are the main characters live in an academy, and a little bit about the scheming that is tearing it apart. I almost forgot to mention that the main character is pregnant. That wasn’t so important for the passage I read, but it’s most of the basis of the conflict in the novel. I didn’t stop and fill in the background as I went along, because the passage was a flashback to a time before the novel begins, when the main character was “discovered” in a different setting than the one I had just explained. Continue reading “Crunchy Complexity”