Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Microreview [Book]: Latchkey by Nicole Kornher-Stace

Latchkey takes the genre-bending mythology of Archivist Wasp and grounds it in a bigger, busier world, creating a different but worthy reading experience.

First, a confession: I was never on the Archivist Wasp bandwagon when it first came out. While it was on my radar, it never quite bubbled up to the top of the list, and by last year it was just another title to sigh over when browsing the Small Beer Press catalogue. Maybe someday, I thought, once I've read all the other books, I can read that one... Anyway, it turns out the fastest way to push a book up your to-be-read pile is to win an ARC of its sequel, and thanks to the generosity of Mythic Delirium, Latchkey's publisher, I ended up doing just that. While I'll focus the rest of this review on talking about the book whose title is at the top of the page, let me just quickly note two things. First, my response to Archivist Wasp is that it's an objectively very accomplished and unusual book that was enjoyable but didn't quite hit me in the way it seems to have done for others. (It also needs noting that this is a rare female-led YA without any romance plot). Second, it's going to be hard for me to review Latchkey without comparing it to its predecessor, which means there will be mild spoilers for Archivist Wasp itself. If you haven't had the pleasure of the first volume yet, I recommend you do so before reading on.

Latchkey opens several years after the events of Archivist Wasp, in a post-apocalyptic world where the ghosts of the dead are a constant presence. Isabel, formerly known as Wasp, used to be the Archivist - a young woman chosen through ritual combat to be the ghost hunter for a religious sect dedicated to an entity named Catchkeep. Following her adventures in the Underworld with a nameless ghost, learning about a pre-apocalyptic child soldier project called "Latchkey", Isabel has overthrown the abusive systems governing her own life and that of the girls around her (who, side note, were all being trained up to murder her in ritual combat themselves), and built a tentative relationship with the neighbouring town of Sweetwater. But her upbringing and experiences in the underworld have left Isabel with serious trauma, and its hard for her to connect with communities of people who had previously seen her as a rival or a weapon. In Latchkey, an existential threat to the village collides with the (literal) return of ghosts from Isabel's past, as it becomes clear that the route to saving her people's future, and to helping undo some of the harm inflicted on the ghosts of the Latchkey Project, are inextricably linked and in Isabel's hands.

Despite being a continuation of the story told in Archivist Wasp, with many of the same characters and a similar tone, Latchkey ends up hitting quite different notes to its predecessor. Where the first book was a slim, focused narrative with strong notes of a mythological journey - Wasp is literally travelling through the underworld, after all - Latchkey feels in some ways like a more straightforward blend of mystery and action. That's not intended to be a criticism, as the space the book opens up is put to great use showing us how Isabel's world has changed and expanded since her journey with the ghost, bringing a strong sense of wider community and more in-depth worldbuilding to the series. One basic but obvious thing is the different use of names: in Archivist Wasp, almost nobody has a name except for Catherine Foster, the ghost Wasp and her companion are tracking down; Wasp herself only reveals her true name under serious pressure, as part of a pivotal scene for her character. In contrast, Latchkey has a "normal" level of background names for all the people in Isabel's orbit, which immediately throws the questions of identity in Archivist Wasp into much sharper focus by contrast. As Isabel uncovers information about more of the Latchkey children, their names obviously become an integral part of the process of reclaiming their identities, and it makes the lack of name for "the ghost" (i.e. the original spirit who took Isabel to the underworld, who is himself a product of the Latchkey project) even more poignant.

The stronger plot thread for Isabel's "present" also means that Latchkey is a much busier book than Archivist Wasp. Most of the time, this is handled well, although I felt some of the balls got dropped on occasion. For example, a lot is made about evacuation of Sweetwater's non-fighting population into the subterranean tunnels, which ultimately only seems to serve as a vehicle for getting Our Heroes underground for an adventure despite lots of signalling about the kids not having enough supplies or responsible adults which ultimately comes to nothing. Also, the last 15% of the book feels like it's transparently heading for a cliffhanger ending, which is frustrating: if these scenes are setting up your next book, dear author, is it possible to put them in that book so I will actually have the right, fresh emotional reaction to them by the time that books comes out? I can see the logic behind subverting expectations and ending Latchkey with some quieter scenes completing the arc about reclaiming identity, rather than the more traditionally climactic battle, but because there's so obviously too much to do to wrap it up in the remaining pages, the execution didn't work for me.

In the end, I'm left personally very happy with where Latchkey took the story, but with some questions about execution and a sense that for some, the tonal direction this sequel takes might undermine the unique, detached feeling of the first volume. Archivist Wasp was so self-contained that this doesn't feel like a necessary continuation, but it's certainly one that makes the most of its foundations and delivers a strong, intriguing new facet to Isabel's world. I'm still not sure this is a series I'm ever going to love, but it's one that continues to interest me, and Kornher-Stace is doing a lot of very thoughtful, interesting things with Isabel's story that are sure to appeal to those who enjoy well-crafted genre-bending YA.

The Math

Baseline Assessment: 7/10

Bonuses: +1 Caused me to write a review where "gosh, most of the characters have names" seems like an insightful comment.

Penalties: -1 Could fall flat for long-time fans depending on what you liked about the original.

Nerd Coefficient: 7/10 "an enjoyable experience, but not without its flaws"

POSTED BY: Adri is a semi-aquatic migratory mammal most often found in the UK. She has many opinions about SFF books, and is also partial to gaming, baking, interacting with dogs, and Asian-style karaoke. Find her on Twitter at @adrijjy.

References: Kornher-Stace, Nicole. Archivist Wasp [Big Mouth Press, 2015]
                    Kornher-Stace, Nicole. Latchkey [Mythic Delirium, 2018]

Monday, August 13, 2018

Nanoreviews: Rock Manning Goes for Broke, Impostor Syndrome, Half-Off Ragnarok

Anders, Charlie Jane. Rock Manning Goes for Broke [Subterranean Press]

The opening chapters of Rock Manning Goes for Broke seemed awfully familiar and it wasn't until a bit later that I realized Anders was expanding her stories from the John Joseph Adams / Hugh Howey apocalyptic anthologies The End is Nigh / Now / Has Come. That is only to say that parts of this short novel may well feel familiar to other readers as well.

Rock Manning Goes for Broke is a gonzo over the top novel of guerilla film making that mixes up with some deadly serious militia and propaganda. Anders is one heck of a storyteller and as different as this is from All the Birds in the Sky, it's just about as good. It's short but packs a real punch.
Score: 7/10

Baker, Mishell. Impostor Syndrome [Saga]

Baker closes off her Arcadia Project trilogy with Impostor Syndrome and she swings for the fences. We get the internecine war within the Project itself, the seelie and unseelie fae are edging closer and closer to their own war if Millie Roper and her peers at the Los Angeles branch of the Project can’t get their own house in order, and Millie’s partner is wanted by the police for a murder he probably didn’t commit. Oh, and Millie’s borderline personality disorder seems to be deteriorating to the point that she’s barely holding on (compared to my memory of the first and second books – it was always there, but the stressors in Millie’s life are escalating – like the war).

I’m not sure Impostor Syndrome fully lived up to the promise and expectations set in Borderline and Phantom Pains. I want to say that she doesn’t quite stick the landing, but the landing is fine. It’s the wobbly part when all the balls in the air that somewhat exceed her grasp. This metaphor doesn’t exactly work. Something about Impostor Syndrome just didn’t work for me as much as the previous two books. It could be the pervasive and occasionally overwhelming destructive pain Millie is persevering through. It could be that Baker attempted to do just a little bit too much with this final book, but if that’s the case – it’s more impressive that she reached and strove to do more than to settle into something that might have been stronger but not as challenging to pull off. If you’ve come this far and read the first two, The Arcadia Project is worth finishing up. It’s just perhaps not as strong of a third novel as one might have hoped for.
Score: 6/10

McGuire, Seanan. Half-Off Ragnarok [DAW]

When I realized early on that Half-Off Ragnarok would not feature Verity Price, the protagonist of the first two Incryptid novels, I was skeptical. Alex was a new viewpoint character and I was very comfortable with Verity. I needn't have worried. It took a few chapters for Alex (or for me) to find the groove, but once the truth about a secondary character was revealed - the story took off in high gear and never looked back. In spite of my initial skepticism, Half-Off Ragnarok is now my favorite of the first three Incryptid novels.
Score: 7/10

POSTED BY: Joe Sherry - Co-editor of Nerds of a Feather, 2017 & 2018 Hugo Award Finalist for Best Fanzine. Minnesotan.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Six Books with Sam Hawke

Sam Hawke has wanted to write books since realising as a child that they didn’t just breed between themselves in libraries. Having contemplated careers as varied as engineer, tax accountant and zookeeper Sam eventually settled on the law. After marrying her jujitsu training partner and travelling to as many countries as possible, Sam now resides in Canberra, Australia raising two small ninjas and two idiot dogs. City of Lies is her debut novel.

Today she shares her 6 books with us...

Echoes of Understorey
1. What book are you currently reading?

Technically I’m on a fun hiatus because I’m behind on submitting my MS so I’m not allowed to read til I’m done writing – which means that I haven’t read any books for a few months (terribly depressing, I know). I just have a teetering pile of books I want to read. I’ll give you my couple from the top of the pile:
- Echoes of Understorey, by Thoraiya Dyer, which I hear is even better than the first Titan’s Forest book. Her worldbuilding and prose are always top notch!
- We Ride the Storm, by Devin Mason, which I picked up after I met and was utterly charmed by its excellent author at Continuum this year (the opening line is pretty spectacular, also!)
- Witchsign by Den Patrick, the Traitor God by Cameron Johnston, and From Unseen Fire by Cass Morris are all getting great reviews and are by cool people, so would like to get on top of those, too.

 2. What upcoming book you are really excited about?

Probably Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett is the one I’m looking forward to the most. He wrote one of my favourite fantasy trilogies of recent years (the Divine Cities) and Foundryside has the thieves and heists in city state, Locke Lamora kind of vibe that I dig. Special mention to The Monster Baru Cormorant (because the Traitor was amaaaaazing) though I am scared of how much it is going to hurt me.

  3. Is there a book you're currently itching to re-read?

I don’t know when I could possibly justify re-reading with my TBR pile but I have a very strong temptation to go back and do the entirety of the Realm of the Elderlings now that it’s complete. Robin Hobb did such an incredible job of bringing together threads from all the previous novels into the final book that I am really looking forward to rereading to pick up on all the subtleties I inevitably missed.

                                  4. How about a book you've changed your mind about over time--either                                              positively or negatively?

                                   There are books that definitely don’t hold up to an adult re-read and some I                                           suspect don’t but am too enamoured of my memories to try. I won’t name                                             names! :)

 5. What's one book, which you read as a child or young adult, that has had a lasting influence on your writing?

Oh, that’s a tough one, isn’t it? We’re such sponges at that age, learning so much from writing without necessarily recognising what we’re learning. I do remember reading Catch 22 as a teenager and that being one of the first times I’d seen a scrambled narrative and such an effective combination of desolation and absurdist humour. It blew my mind.

6. And speaking of that, what's *your* latest book, and why is it awesome?

My debut, City of Lies just came out. It’s about a brother and sister whose family is responsible for protecting the ruling Chancellor, chiefly by poison testing, and who are forced to take on their roles earlier than expected when their uncle and the Chancellor are murdered with an unknown poison. The city is besieged and the siblings have to work together with their odd skillsets to find the traitor targeting the new Chancellor – their best childhood friend – and stop the city falling to aggrieved rebels. You might think it’s awesome if you like mystery/thriller/escalating tension in your fantasy, complicated family relationships, mysterious lore, non-patriarchal societies, and decent people trying to do the right thing in trying circumstances.


POSTED BY: Paul Weimer. Ubiquitous in Shadow, but I’m just this guy, you know? @princejvstin.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Thursday Morning Superhero

It was rough watching Gen Con from afar, but from what I gathered on social media there were a lot of amazing games to be had, big announcements, and some sweet exclusive promos. I am hoping to write up another Gen Con from afar post and will attempt to return next year. At least I still have my comics!

Pick of the Week:
The Sandman Universe #1 - This week we are welcomed back into the world of The Dreaming with a debut issue brought to us from Neil Gaiman, not written by Gaiman. I was introduced to this series after picking up the first trade paperback many years ago prior to my first trip to SDCC. In the current world, Morpheus is dead and his successor, Matthew, is missing. This does not bode well as there are changes in The Dreaming that need to be addressed. A raven is able to escape The Dreaming and learns that Matthew embarked on a quest of his own and may not be able to respond to the call for help. I love the way this series juxtaposes real life horror with the main arc in The Dreaming. It provides a human element that makes this series all the more horrifying. While it would have been great to have Gaiman penning this series, his impact is felt and the first issue reminds me why this series drew me in so many years ago.

The Rest:
Darth Vader #19 - The start to a new arc called Fortress Vader is off to a shocking and satisfying start. Vader and his Inquisitors are attempting to wipe out the Jedi. This book opens with an attack on an old Jedi and his family. This Jedi has left the order and his wife literally just gave birth to a baby boy. Enter Vader and the Inquisitors and we have the most amazing child abduction that I have ever seen in a comic, television show, or movie.  I won't spoil it, but it was chilling and horrifying and sets the scene for what is likely an extremely dark chapter in the Vader playbook. I have chills just thinking about it. 

Daredevil #606 - To bring everyone up to speed, Matt Murdock just left his job as deputy Mayor in order to prove that Fisk rigged the election to become the current Mayor of New York City. He is enlisting the help of other heroes, but it is no easy task to prove a case of corruption of this magnitude. It is an oddly familiar tale. Meanwhile he still has a city to protect and has to deal with a bad guy of the week. This week it was the classic Hammerhead in a relatively generic bank heist/social media stunt. The twist at the end of the issue has me scratching my head and I'm curious where Charles Soule is taking us with this reveal. I won't spoil it, but I don't trust it.

POSTED BY MIKE N. aka Victor Domashev -- comic guy, proudly raising nerdy kids, and Nerds of a Feather contributor since 2012.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Hugo Awards 2018: My Final Ballot

Now that the deadline has passed and I have done all the Hugo reading and consuming that I am going to do this year, the final ballot I submitted is below.  The full list of nominees can be found here. I have provided links to my articles covering each category where available.

For reasons which should be fairly obvious, I declined to write about the finalists for Fanzine. Speaking specifically for myself, I am very happy that Nerds of a Feather was able to share a ballot with some really excellent and awesome fanzines who are showing off the breadth of what a fanzine can be and are doing so at a remarkably high level of quality. We continue to be over the moon about being a finalist for the Hugo Award for the second time. It's been a dream of ours for a long time and I'd like to refer everyone back to the initial Thank You note we shared when all of the finalists were announced. 

Novel (my thoughts)
1. The Stone Sky
2. Raven Strategem
3. Six Wakes
4. New York 2140
5. The Collapsing Empire
6. Provenance

Novella (my thoughts)
1. The Black Tides of Heaven
2. Down Among the Sticks and Bones
3. “And Then There Were (N-One)
4. All Systems Red
5. Binti: Home
6. River of Teeth

Novelette (my thoughts)
1. "Wind Will Rove"
2. "Extracurricular Activities"
3. "A Series of Steaks"
4. "The Secret Life of Bots"
5. "Children of Thorns, Children of Water"
6. "Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time"

Short Story (my thoughts)
1. "The Marian Obelisk"
2. "Sun, Moon, Dust"
3. "Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience"
4. "Fandom for Robots"
5. "Carnival Nine"
6. "Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand"

Series (my thoughts)
1. The Divine Cities
2. World of the Five Gods
3. The Memoirs of Lady Trent
4. The Stormlight Archive
5. Incryptid
6. The Books of the Raksura

Related Work (my thoughts)
1. Iain M. Banks (Modern Masters of Science Fiction)
2. Crash Override
3. Sleeps with Monsters
4. No Time to Spare
5. A Lit Fuse
6. Luminescent Threads

Graphic Story (my thoughts)
1. Bitch Planet
2. Saga
3. Paper Girls
4. Black Bolt
5. Monstress
6. My Favorite Thing Is Monsters

Dramatic Presentation, Long Form (my thoughts)
1. Wonder Woman
2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
3. Thor: Ragnarok
4. The Shape of Water

Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
1 "The Deep"

Editor, Short Form
1. Lee Harris
2. Neil Clarke
3. Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas
4. Jonathan Strahan
5. John Joseph Adams
6. Sheila Williams

Editor, Long Form
1. Joe Monti
2. Miriam Weinberg
3. Navah Wolfe
4. Diana M. Pho
5. Devi Pillai
6. Sheila E. Gilbert

Best Professional Artist (my thoughts)
1. Galen Dara
2. Victo Ngai
3. John Picacio
4. Bastien Lecouffe Deharme
5. Sana Takeda
6. Kathleen Jennings

-No Vote

1. Nerds of a Feather
2. SF Bluestocking
3. File 770
4. Galactic Journey
5. Journey Planet
6. No Award

Fancast (my thoughts)
1. The Coode Street Podcast
2. Sword and Laser
3. Ditch Diggers
4. Fangirl Happy Hour
5. Verity
6. Galactic Suburbia

Fan Writer (my thoughts)
1. Charles Payseur
2. Foz Meadows
3. Sarah Gailey
4. Camestros Felapton
5. Bogi Takacs
6. No Award
7. Mike Glyer

Fan Artist (my thoughts)
1. Geneva Benton
2. Likhain
3. Maya Hahto
4. Grace P. Fong
5. Spring Schoenhuth
6. No Award

Award for Best Young Adult Book
1. The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (my thoughts)
1. Rivers Solomon
2. Sarah Kuhn
3. Katherine Arden
4. Vina Jie-Min Prasad
5. Rebecca Roanhorse
6. Jeannette Ng

POSTED BY: Joe Sherry - Co-editor of Nerds of a Feather, 2017 & 2018 Hugo Award Finalist for Best Fanzine. Minnesotan.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Reading the Hugos: Graphic Story

Welcome to the final edition of Reading the Hugos: 2018 Edition! Today we'll be looking at the six finalists for Graphic Story.  By the time this goes live we'll be a full week past the close of voting and while I've thoroughly enjoyed covering as many categories as I have, I'm ready for the reading and voting stage to be done. It's a lot, even when it's something I love to do.

Two works on my nominating ballot are here on the final ballot (Bitch Planet and Paper Girls), but the category as a whole is soli and filled with interesting and strong works. Like the novella category, though, Graphic Story is fairly dominated by one publisher: Image Comics. With four of the six slots, Image has a fair lock on the category. As great as Image is and how fantastic the comics, the category will be stronger if a wider variety of publishers are represented in future years (though, three of the works on my nomination ballot were also from Image - so there's that)

On to the finalists.

Bitch Planet, Volume 2: President Bitch, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, illustrated by Valentine De Landro and Taki Soma, colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick, lettered by Clayton Cowles (Image Comics)
Black Bolt, Volume 1: Hard Time, written by Saladin Ahmed, illustrated by Christian Ward, lettered by Clayton Cowles (Marvel)
Monstress, Volume 2: The Blood, written by Marjorie M. Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda (Image Comics)
My Favorite Thing is Monsters, written and illustrated by Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics)
Paper Girls, Volume 3, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matthew Wilson, lettered by Jared Fletcher (Image Comics)
Saga, Volume 7, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)

My Favorite Thing is Monsters: I almost read this earlier in the year when it was on the longlist for The Tournament of Books and had it made the short list, I would have read this in February and I would have unfortunately discovered that it really isn't for me. I'm uncertain how to talk about the book or even how I responded to it. For the first half or so of the book I was trying to piece together what story Ferris was telling. It's ambitious and multi-layered. I mostly understand why it has left a mark - but the combination of the storytelling and art style is just opaque enough that I struggled to engage with My Favorite Thing is Monsters as a story.

Monstress: Sana Takeda's art remains top notch, but something about this book has me somewhat less interested this time around than after the first book. I rated this one 4 stars on Goodreads, but the farther away I get from reading it the less of an impact that it has for me.

Black Bolt: Being a reasonable comic book nerd, I was moderately familiar with the Black Bolt character, but he was always at most a side character in someone else's story. Not being a reader of any of the books he was semi-featured in, I didn't have much of interest in picking up this one until it made the Hugo shortlist. This was a perfect way to step into Black Bolt's story. It pulls back his powers, gives him a voice (for a moment) and gets him away from the rest of the Marvel Universe. Saladin Ahmed's writing is spot on, it hooked me from the start. There is smart writing and smart storytelling all over Marvel comics, and Saladin Ahmed's is among the best.

Saga: Hazel is back with her parents and, surprise, nothing goes as planned. To be fair, I'm not sure any of the characters here have a plan beyond survival, rescue, and escape. Saga is a lovely story, filled with horrifying weirdness, humor, violence, affection, and terror. We're seven volumes in, but I'm not sure there is an endgame in sight. There are, however, ends in this collection involving one of my favorite characters. This isn't the best of the Saga collections, but saying that is only a faint damn because less Saga is still quite good.

Paper Girls: In the least original take I can offer, Paper Girls is hitting so many of my nostalgic buttons in the same way that Stranger Things is doing so - and like Stranger Things, it's doing so with strong storytelling and originality (while tied with that nostalgia). I loved the time travel back in time to a much more prehistoric era, the interactions with the people from that time. I've loved the interplay between the four friends the entire series so far and it's just as strong here in the third volume. Paper Girls is a charming delight to read, though this may also speak a bit to what I find charming.

Bitch Planet: One of the most vital, immediate, and (dare I say) important comic books that I've read in recent years is Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine de Landro's Bitch Planet. It's a dystopia where "non compliant" women are sent to a prison planet and are also set to fight each other to the death. There is a bit of over the top absurdity with Bitch Planet, but it is also biting commentary on American society. Bitch Planet is all of that, and it is also a fucking excellent book with exceptional storytelling and characterization and the only criticism I am willing to level at it is that I don't already have volume 3 in my hand right now.

My Vote:
1. Bitch Planet
2. Paper Girls
3. Saga
4. Black Bolt
5. Monstress
6. My Favorite Thing is Monsters

Our Previous Coverage
Short Story
Related Work
Professional Artist
Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
Fan Artist
Fan Writer
John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

POSTED BY: Joe Sherry - Co-editor of Nerds of a Feather, 2017 & 2018 Hugo Award Finalist for Best Fanzine. Minnesotan.  

Monday, August 6, 2018

6 Books with Martha Wells

Martha Wells has written many fantasy novels, including The Books of the Raksura series (beginning with The Cloud Roads), the Ile-Rien series (including The Death of the Necromancer) as well as YA fantasy novels, short stories, media tie-ins (for Star Wars and Stargate: Atlantis), and non-fiction. Her most recent fantasy novel is The Harbors of the Sun in 2017, the final novel in The Books of the Raksura series. She has a new series of SF novellas, The Murderbot Diaries, published by Tor.com in 2017 and 2018. She was also the lead writer for the story team of Magic: the Gathering's Dominaria expansion in 2018. She has won a Nebula Award, an ALA/YALSA Alex Award, a Locus Award, and her work has appeared on the Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick Award ballots, the USA Today Bestseller List, and the New York Times Bestseller List. Her books have been published in eleven languages.

Today she shares her 6 books with us...

1. What book are you currently reading?

Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee - I hadn’t read his work before Ninefox Gambit, and I was immediately drawn in. I’ve always like space opera, and I love the originality of this world, where everything is mutable except mathematics, and I love how relatable all the characters are against that kaleidoscope background.

2. What upcoming book you are really excited about?

I was excited about The Phoenix Empress by K. Arsenault Rivera, which comes out this fall, and I just got to read an ARC of it. The first book, The Tiger’s Daughter, was probably my favorite epic fantasy of last year. It’s an original, rich, fully realized fantasy world, with an epic story told from an unusual angle. The second book goes more into the threat looming over this world, and what the characters are actually fighting. I can’t wait for the next book.

3. Is there a book you're currently itching to re-read?

There’s a new Rivers of London book, Lies Sleeping, by Ben Aaronovitch, coming out this fall, and I usually try to re-read the previous few books in the series before the new one comes out. It’s series that rewards re-reading. I’ve always loved British mysteries and for me these books combine the feel of shows like Shetland, Lewis, and Luther with a great take on contemporary fantasy and the supernatural. Plus I love the sense of humor and the descriptions of London.

4. How about a book you've changed your mind about over time--either positively or negatively?

I can’t think of one in particular, but I read a lot as a kid, especially books that were over my head, and I’m sure there are a lot of books I remember liking that I wouldn’t want to read now.

5. What's one book, which you read as a child or young adult, that has had a lasting influence on your writing?

There was an anthology called Amazons, edited by Jessica Amanda Salmonson, that came out in 1979 where I was around 15. It hit me at a time when I needed to see women characters who were the protagonists of their own stories, who weren’t the load or the babysitter or the love interest. It had stories by authors like Tanith Lee, Elizabeth A. Lynn, C.J. Cherryh, and Charles R. Saunders, with his first story about Dossouye. It was my first exposure to a lot of those authors, and they wrote themselves onto my writing DNA.

6. And speaking of that, what's *your* latest book, and why is it awesome?

My latest book is Artificial Condition, the second novella in The Murderbot Diaries series which came out in May, and my next one will be Rogue Protocol, the third book in the series which will be out in the first week of August. I think it’s awesome because you get to see more of Murderbot’s world, and how it navigates it as a rogue SecUnit/legal non-person, and what it does with its new freedom.

POSTED BY: Joe Sherry - Co-editor of Nerds of a Feather, 2017 & 2018 Hugo Award Finalist for Best Fanzine. Minnesotan.