C Lee Brant is the webmaster and founder of Galleywampus. He’s the fellow to contact if you want to set up a giveaway, blog tour, interview or request to review your work. He reads all sorts of books, but his focus lies in epic, military, literary and urban fantasy, children's and YA fiction, and sci-fi. He has an MLIS from SJSU.
In Light of the Blood Giant
By A. D. Fosse
Genre: Animal Fantasy; Science Fiction; Dystopian; Apocalyptic
Publication Date: November 13, 2015
A. D. Fosse delivers a darkly different futurist fantasy. Offbeat, subversive, and richly grotesque. The apocalypse just got weird…
Long after the death of humankind came the Hive. Then rose the Blood Giant bringing chaos and the end. Now the Earth is done and all that remains are the discontinued: those the Hive deemed unworthy of evacuation.
Dusk is addled and abandoned. His only concern now is deciding how best to die. The only thing he knows for certain: he aint gonna be sober when extinction finally takes him. Yet hope hides in the strangest of places. And soon Dusk finds himself responsible for more than simply his own destiny.
Great. Another thing to love and lose.
This is an odd one. I mean that in a good way. Mostly.
After humans abandon the earth completely, escaping the impending expansion of the sun from a yellow dwarf into a red giant, shuttling off into space to find a way to live, the swarm of rats came up, out of the depths of the earth and started their own civilization. Then, even the rats, evolved and intelligent and now with useful stomach pouches, realize that the earth isn’t habitable for much longer, and most of them–the ones who are pure or worthy, anyway–leave the earth as well.
This is where the tale begins–with a drug-fiend rat named Dusk, left behind by his betters to die. One of the strengths of Fosse’s tale is that his lead character is not human. This allows for some dark events–for example, a lead human character whose first “onscreen” acts are shooting drugs and eating some infants wouldn’t be likable. For a rat, we’re left remembering that rats aren’t people. They have their own societal norms, acceptable practices, and biological drives. Dusk isn’t especially likable to begin with, even aside from the drug dependency and the “ratricide.” But after his drug-aided consumption of several young rats and subsequent loss of consciousness, he awakens to discover that one of the tiny-tails is still alive. Having been abandoned to the earth’s destruction, Dusk doesn’t see much reason to try to save the infant. But he does feel that the little rodent deserves a better death. His feelings alter and change, we eventually see more of his past, and we see a different future than he imagined. The protagonist isn’t static by any means.
In some ways, this book is a bit like The Road meets The Rats of NIMH as told by a British version of a beat-generation author–William S. Burroughs, maybe. We meet some other interesting characters along the way: a sociopath called only “the Snowy,” a pure white rat who hasn’t dropped his job from before the establishment left; Astral, a black rat who is in dire straits when we meet her; some mysterious rats wearing masks, other rats that shave their heads and have a bone to pick. The setting seems to be (if I parsed it correctly) continental Europe and England, each owning about half of the book.
This book is non-traditional in every sense of the word. We even shift to several other third-person semi-limited points of view toward the end of the book, leaving Dusk behind for a brief time when the action is thickest.
On the critical side, this book could use another run of edits. There are several missed spelling errors, some areas that need clarification, and some metaphors that don’t fit the time, setting, or characters . Another set of eyes could bring this book from a flawed mid-draft of an intriguing concept to a hell of a book. I’d love to see the book get a deep combing through by a professional editor. In the meantime, I worry that this is a clever work that might be passed over by readers who don’t want to work so hard to get to the dark (but hopeful) story and characters underneath.
About the Author
A. D. Fosse is a physicist and science communicator from the East Midlands of England. His brain is rarely elevated more than five feet and eight inches from terra firma, though his thoughts are wafting somewhere in the clouds.
He is younger than some and older than others.
His first novel In Light of the Blood Giant, continues to be elusive to read whilst driving.
Secrets beget secrets. The curse that befell the Hollows clan has left them incapable of producing male offspring. To extend their bloodline, they have formed a covenant with the serpentine Ophidians, who give them children. In return, the Hollows must keep these monstrous creatures well fed, though the details of the procurement are so abominable that the truth is never revealed to the other clans. In their homeland of Matikki, they live like outcasts.
Through a series of chance discoveries, the secrets of the ancient curse unfold before a warrior named Writhren Hollow. Is her purely female clan the result of a lapse of divine providence, or are the Hollows themselves victims of an enslavement scheme?
If Writhren frees her clan from the covenant, she risks the wrath of the Ophidians and the future of her bloodline. If she keeps the truth of the curse to herself, she is a traitor to her own kind. Either way, she will suffer for what she must do.
This is not a story of redemption, but regret. This is Writhren’s story.
There is an intriguing, unique concept moving through this book. I enjoyed the remarkably alien world, the largely female cast of characters, the god-like, reptilian Ophidians who bring such terror with them, the story of mothers and daughters and terrible choices that must be made for survival. The poetic mnemonics are well written and provide some ideas about the background of the Ophidians.
The sorrowful start of the tale, with the exchange between Mother and the Ophidians, is interesting.
I found Writhren to be a different sort of heroine. She’s strong, but she is also living a lie. Her story is serious, difficult, moving.
The tale is short, which is both a strength and a weakness. As a strength, we are given a lot of concepts in a short number of pages. However, the level of detail is lacking from what I expect in a novel, but there is enough for a novella or short story. This book’s length leaves it in a sort of limbo. We jump forward at times very quickly. In some ways, this creates a less typical narrative. I find myself having a difficult time talking about the work when there is so much that should be kept for the reader. This is, essentially, a prequel for the eventual series. For me, overall, this was an imperfect, but worthy lead-in to what will be the full series.
I am curious about what happens in the full series, and in some ways, wish I had read that series first. It sounds like I’ll probably have to wait for the author to write them first, though.
About the Author
Annie K. Wong was born in Hong Kong and lives in Canada, in the west coast city of Vancouver, BC.
She has a BA in Business Administration and Creative Writing from Houghton College as well as a Diploma in Film Studies from the University of British Columbia. Although she explored careers in advertising, television and office administration, the desire to write overtook her at the turn of the new millennium. In 2003 she earned a Post-Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Humber College and has been crafting stories ever since.
Her current project is a fantasy series, the prequel of which is Children of Lightning.
A Highside girl. Beaten. Murdered. Her body found on a Lowside dock. A magistrate comes looking for answers. For justice.
Alys trades and sells secrets among the gangs and factions of Lowside. She is a daughter of the underworld. Bold. Cunning. Free. When an old lover asks for help, she agrees. For a price.
Together, they travel into the dark heart of the underworld in search of a killer.
This is the third novella from Gelineau and King. In their ongoing, over-arching series, Echoes of the Ascended, there are four distinct series under the Echoes of the Ascended banner, all taking place in the same world. Each has a different feel. The first three series, those featuring Elinor, Ferran, and Alys take place somewhat around the same time. The fourth, which is a YA series that begins in December, jumps us back five years and follows Roan and Kay, along with the protagonists from the other three series.
It’s an unorthodox approach, but I applaud the audacity of the creators. And there is no reason that books with different influences shouldn’t take place in the same world. I would be interested in reading a grim, monster-hunting novel in the Harry Potterworld, or the hard-boiled detective novel lurking in the streets of a city in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series.
We reviewed the second novella, Rend the Dark, HERE. It’s a monster-hunter driven book. It fits along the basic concept and feel of works like the movie Van Helsing, or Rick Yancey’s YA title The Monstrumologist, or heck, the video game Bloodborne.
The first novella, Reaper of Stone, which we reviewed HERE, had a high-fantasy face, and followed Elinor as she became a Reaper.
This third novella, Best Left in the Shadows, is an interesting fantasy noir title; in some ways, it feels like a police procedural. Castle in Riften, maybe. It is, at heart, a detective novella. But it owns the setting and trappings of your typical urban city fantasy work. Don’t confuse that with “urban fantasy” because this is not UF. The setting shifts from the docks at night, to narrow alleyways, sewerscapes and waterways, and a seedy brothel.
Alys trades in information and favors. Due to a shared, complicated past, she assists a magistrate in the investigation of a murder on her local turf. She’s not usually the sort to help the authorities, and it isn’t good for her reputation. This provides some good conflict between the protagonists.
I do wish that the work was longer. Novellas fall into an interesting space between short stories and novels. Short stories, the good ones, make every word count. Novels have the ability to stretch out scenes, build atmosphere and tone, give us foils and time enough to live there. Novellas don’t provide the length to feel lived in, nor staccato precision. I want to live in these works long enough to fully understand the characters, setting, magic system, monsters and creatures and politics. I suppose that’s why it is good that these novellas continue on.
This is one of those stories that left me thinking, “I want to play this video game.” I enjoyed the overall tone, setting and character sketches. Conceptually, this is the best fit for me as a reader. Ultimately, though, I think I’ve enjoyed Reaper of Stone the most of the first three entries. But the first three novellas have combined into an intriguing patchwork quilt of story. And I’m excited to finish the short edge of the quilt with book four in December.
Mark and Joe have been writing and telling stories together for the last 25 years. They share a love for the classic fantasy tales of their childhood. Their Echoes of the Ascended series brings those old epic characters and worlds to new life.
We’re pleased to be a part of Sci-Fi Month (Put on by Rinn Reads).
We’ve taken on the enjoyable task of hosting Week 2 of The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. We are discussing the chapters “Port Coriol” through the end of “Cricket.” If you haven’t started the book yet, HERE BE SPOILERS.
I’ve never been a Firefly fanatic. Heresy, I know. I enjoyed it. I especially liked the concept, the quirky characters, and the sheer fun a sort of “working-class” crew brought to space. The actors pulled off their roles perfectly. Firefly was about both the laughs and the feels.
For me, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet has been a fun experience, and the book fills the hole (at least for me) left by Firefly’s early demise. The characters are quirky and interesting, the book is funny, the science is “sciency” enough to satisfy most of us. The book asks some important questions, but it is always fun. So fun! Really fun.
1. There has been significant conversation about AI, what it means to be alive, whether or not AI should have rights, whether or not a person can fall in love with a specific instance of AI, etc. This is a bit of a sticky situation. After the discussion between Pepper and Jenks, how do you feel about Lovey’s and Jenks’ relationship? Should they move forward with their plan?
I tend to be pro-rights. Bringing AI into the whole thing is interesting. But I lean toward letting individuals live their lives so long as it doesn’t harm the lives of others. This is complicated here by the fact that, potentially, AI could be dangerous. But so could every other being. With all of the inter-species relationships in this book (different alien species, I mean) I have to say that Jenks and Lovey should do what makes them happy. I do worry that it will create an issue with the captain. We’ll see!
2. In the chapter “Intro to Harmagian Colonial History,” we see Dr. Chef’s perspective of having been a mother, though he is currently male, and Sissix’s perspective that children aren’t people yet. Ohan is referred to as they/them. The Akarak are referred to as xyr/xe. These perspectives and preferences are perspectives actually held by different groups of humans in our own world. Do you think assigning these perspectives to aliens rather than humans make them easier or harder to sympathize with?
This is one of the things I like most about this book. It is hilarious, sure. It has me laughing out loud at night, almost waking my wife. But science fiction that asks questions about what it means to be human…science fiction that attempts to see from different sets of eyes, that’s what really gets my heart going.
Many of the characters are willing to treat others with respect. I like the idea that humans from different places will have different perspectives, and that aliens would come in all sorts of shapes, types and have all sorts of different perspectives and preferences, too.
3. How might the ship robbery have been different if the Wayfarer were armed?
This is a question that really comes up because of events in the chapter “Intro to Harmagian Colonial History,” but the in-book discussion occurs early on in the chapter “Cricket.” Sissix and Kizzy are noted as advocating for guns on board the ship. Ashby specifies that he doesn’t want any, and notes that anecdotally, he has never had this happen before and that it wasn’t likely to happen again. In thinking back on the events, we get inside Ashby’s mind in a third-person thought-bubble of sorts:
He touched his jaw. The bruises from the Akarak’s rifle were still fading. he revisited those horrible moments in the cargo bay, remembered how it felt to have strangers rip their way into his home. He recreated the incident, imagining a gun in his hand. Would he have fired? He couldn’t say. But imagining the addition of a weapon in that scenario made him feel safer. He no longer felt helplessness. He felt powerful. And that was what scared him. “I’m not comprimising my principles over this. That’s that.”
I don’t bring this concept up in a political sense. I am looking at it more as a cultural perspective. Sissix then ribs Ashby in a good-natured way, noting that his perspective was particularly Exodan. We see that Sissix has been influenced by cultural perspectives, by his own formative knowledge.
This particular situation worked out very well for the crew because Rosemary shared a language with the robbers. They lost items, stuff, but all lives were accounted for. Things could have gone differently. Sissix and Kizzy are both nervous about a repeat possibility, and Ashby is more afraid of what he’ll become if he kills than he is afraid of dying.
I love that the book is willing to take us through the thought processes of several characters who went through a similar experience, but came to different conclusions. This is one of the things that makes the story realistic. People internalize experiences in many different ways.
This particular situation would likely have had a much more violent ending if both crews were strapped with weapons. I do not make the specific argument that there are no situations in which guns would have been helpful or effective.
4. As I finished the fourth chapter in my section, “Cricket,” I thought it might be a good place to stop and talk about some of our favorite humorous moments so far. What scenes really tickled your funny bone? Who makes you laugh the most and why?
I don’t know if it is possible for me to pick a favorite character. I don’t know if it is possible to share a funniest scene. But I’ll choose one of each, as I asked the question, and it is only fair.
This is one of those questions that reminds me of the movie “Orange County.” When the English teacher, Mr. Burke, asks the students who their favorite Friends character is, Shaun is called upon and he says something like, “I don’t know, Ross, I guess.” And the teacher tells him no, that is the wrong answer. He accepts every other answer given. I feel like Corbin is the Ross of this question. I think every other character has funny moments, but Corbin…oh, man, that guy.
I am a little in love with Kizzy’s exuberant joy. Her scene from the chapter “Technical Details,” in which she sang “I ate a har – monica! These socks — match — my hat!” and “Step on –some– sweet–toast! Socks!” had me rolling. I can easily identify with singing the wrong lyrics of songs (Taylor Swift’s “Starbucks lovers,” anybody?)
One of my favorite lines from my four chapters was Kizzy’s: “But I am now starving. What sounds good? Noodles? Skewers? Ice cream? We’re grownups, we can have ice cream for lunch if we want.”
I also found Sissix’s molting angst humorous in “Intro to Harmagian Colonial History.” She is so cranky. Understandably so, but she just can’t catch a break. Then we find out that humans smell terrible to some species, but the humans didn’t even notice that Dr. Chef has been spiking their soap with anti-odor powder.
Kendro, King of the Aonise, can do nothing to prevent their sun from collapsing, consuming their home planet Letháo in a single fiery blast. Running out of time and options, he evacuates the entire population, setting off into the unknown galaxy in four crowded ships. Under constant danger from their ancient enemy, the Zefron, treasonous dissent seeps into his inner circle. Threatened inside and out, Kendro struggles with who to trust, until a mysterious vision finally brings hope to the distraught King. A new home awaits the Aonise, if Kendro can only unite them long enough to survive the journey.
About the Author
Dawn Chapman has been creating sci fi and fantasy stories for thirty years. Until 2005 when her life and attention turned to scripts, and she started work on The Secret King, a 13 episode Sci Fi TV series, with great passion for this medium. In 2010, Dawn returned to her first love of prose. She’s been working with coach EJ Runyon who’s encouraged her away from fast paced script writing, to revel in the world of TSK and Letháo as an epic prose space journey. She’s had success with a web series, co-written with ‘Melvin Johnson’, produced by Nandar Entertainment. This year her experience of working with Producers/Dir
Julie Czerneda has graciously allowed Galleywampus to host a stop on her blog tour for This Gulf of Time and Stars. We also have a giveaway listed way down below.
About the Author
Since 1997, Canadian author/editor Julie E. Czerneda has shared her love and curiosity about living things through her science fiction, writing about shapechanging semi-immortals, terraformed worlds, salmon researchers, and the perils of power. Her fourteenth novel from DAW Books was her debut fantasy, A Turn of Light, winner of the 2014 Aurora Award for Best English Novel, and now Book One of her Night`s Edge series. Her most recent publications: a special omnibus edition of her acclaimed near-future SF Species Imperative, as well as Book Two of Night`s Edge, A Play of Shadow, a finalist for this year’s Aurora.
Julie’s presently back in science fiction, writing the finale to her Clan Chronicles series. Book #1 of Reunification, This Gulf of Time and Stars, will be released by DAW November 2015. For more about her work, visit www.czerneda.com or visit her on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.
About the Books
The Clan Chronicles is set in a far future with interstellar travel where the Trade Pact encourages peaceful commerce among a multitude of alien and Human worlds. The alien Clan, humanoid in appearance, have been living in secrecy and wealth on Human worlds, relying on their innate ability to move through the M’hir and bypass normal space. The Clan bred to increase that power, only to learn its terrible price: females who can’t help but kill prospective mates. Sira di Sarc is the first female of her kind facing that reality. With the help of a Human starship captain, Jason Morgan, Sira must find a morally acceptable solution before it’s too late. But with the Clan exposed, her time is running out. The Stratification trilogy follows Sira’s ancestor, Aryl Sarc, and shows how their power first came to be as well as how the Clan came to live in the Trade Pact. The Trade Pact trilogy is the story of Sira and Morgan, and the trouble facing the Clan. Reunification will conclude the series and answer, at last, #whoaretheclan.
Galleywampus: You first started writing about Sira almost twenty years ago. Now that it has been over a decade since the Trade Pact Universe series concluded, what was the most challenging part of writing about Sira again? Did you know what she was up to all these years? Are you finding that Sira had changed for you in that time?
Julie: More like thirty, to be honest. It took me ten years to sell my first book, after all. Time does fly! There were a few challenges, that’s for sure. Mostly because I’d written so much else, and differently, in the interim. I talk about trying to regain my early “voice” in my post in “Writing Like I Used To”, but that was only one aspect. The details within the previous six books was another; fortunately, I had betareaders to help me (who joined me to talk about that at Publishing Crawl ). The plot, that was the thing. Glad you asked.
The story—Sira and Morgan—didn’t go away and come back. I find everything I’m working on, or thinking of working on, is in my head some place. Ideas pop out at the least convenient time. I dash from the tub. Write in the dark. Most often, the best of these occur to me when I’m supposed to be focused on what I’m writing right now, the stuff with a deadline. I’ve learned to give in, write the note, and put it some place safe. For Reunification? I’d years of jots and hints, most in a journal but an appalling number stuffed in file folders. I needed to organize. Somewhere BIG.
Like my office wall, the one without bookshelves. The one we’d freshly painted, having filled in the myriad tack holes that somehow had accumulated. (Innocent humming.)
My husband, being vastly clever, spotted the signs. You see, an author about to nest a new book acts much like a pregnant bird or dog. A certain glassy stare. A tendency to pick up random bits of paper and stick them in unpredictable places. Turning in place. Before I could pick up my first thumbtack, he’d obtained nice flat metal thingies meant for curtains and screwed them along the wall, handing me a box of magnets. (He took the tacks.)
I was off. First up were large sheets of paper; next came Post-its. Each had a separate plot point garnered from my journal and folders and I worked until they were all there, roughly organized by where in the three book arc of Reunification they’d matter most.
I’ll tell you a secret. The act of writing down plot points, then choosing—finding–where they belonged on the wall, is what locks them in my head. The whole mass is still up on the wall, but I haven’t so much as glanced at it since I stuck the last note in place. I like having it there; I don’t have to have it there. Please don’t tell Roger.
Did I know what Sira was up to? Interesting question. I knew Gulf would pick up her story mere weeks in character-time after To Trade the Stars, so as far as I was concerned, she and Morgan were still in the afterglow of Happy Ending. What I had to know was the momentum to conflict was building in the background, and powerful forces were about to collide.
Galleywampus: Love plays an important part in your books involving Sira. Why does this subject resonate with you?
Julie: Oh, it plays an important part in all of my books. Not only romantic love, although I’m a fan where it’s right, but the love of family, love between friends. To me it’s the thread that works through our lives and society as a whole, holding us together, giving life meaning.
In Sira’s case, I needed her to evolve into a sympathetic character and to represent what any Clan was capable of, given the opportunity. The powerful self-serving alien bent on human seduction has not only been done to death, it doesn’t interest me. Yes, the Clan have subverted their own reproduction into something cold and pragmatic, but they are a passionate race and this wasn’t always their way. The Clan are also xenophobic. Sira may have reasoned what her Human, Morgan, might be able to help her accomplish—to the good of her kind—but to any Clan, intimacy with something so alien as a Human is unimaginably repugnant. Without spoiling the story, if Sira hadn’t been capable of love and compassion, of growth into those feelings not only for Morgan, but others, I wouldn’t have a believable plot.
Morgan himself is her model. He’s deeply compassionate, with a strong moral centre developed from experience as well as personal inclination. He represents, in that sense, the best of us.
One of my favourite scenes is where Morgan confronts Sira, who’s developed a full-on adolescent crush on him (much to her confusion). He tells her she doesn’t know what love is and manages a decent job of muddling through sexual attraction versus true caring for another. Later, once she’s come to understand the difference, she does her utmost to shield him, from her Clan instincts and her kind.
Among my joys in their relationship is the interplay when they work together, which doesn’t always go smoothly. While Sira has immense abilities and power, Morgan has practically rebuilt his starship and treasures it. To work alongside as crew, she’s trying to learn and almost too enthused, especially when he knows a mistake in space happens only once.
Galleywampus: How does your background in biology fit into your science fiction writing?
Julie: I’ve mentioned in an earlier interview (it’s a tour, after all) on Fantasy Book Café that I create my aliens and their worlds using that background, along with my fascination with the odder aspects of living things. Spider sex, for one. Birds seeing in ultraviolet. Parasites. Nature offers a buffet of wonderful details I couldn’t make it up!
That’s world-building. My biology background is the source of my story ideas too. The Clan Chronicles came about from my wondering what would happen if an intelligent species bred for a costly trait. How far would they go? Species Imperative is my take on how an innate biological drive, in this case migration, could impact on a peaceful, well-tuned galactic civilization. Beholder’s Eye? Oh, there I’m playing with all things biological, but at the core is my speculation on what an almost immortal species would be like—and how might one come about. In the Company of Others features space exploration and settlement, but it started with my own dismay at species that seem harmless being released where they become horrendous pests to the local wildlife.
It’s fair to say there’s nothing about my biology background that isn’t in my science fiction. (And sneaks quietly into my fantasy as well.)
Galleywampus: You are a DIY fan. What has been your favorite recent DIY project?
Julie: When I’d finished Stratification, the prequel trilogy within the Clan Chronicles, I’d planned a break to try my hand at my first fantasy novel. (I talk about my reasons at Fantasy Book Critic I was determined not to sound like a science fiction author trying their first fantasy novel. I started by changing everything possible about my writing process, from my office décor to where I’d start. I wanted to have an intimate setting, Marrowdell, where everything took place within a single valley and village. I wouldn’t write a word, I vowed, until I could “see” the place for myself. Being a thorough sort, I researched pioneer settlements, including pacing one out, and came up with the rough size of my valley. From then, it was a process of determining scale, and I was off.
Once finished, I put it where I could refer to it while I wrote. It gave me everything from line-of-sight to how long it’d take someone to walk from point A to B, shadows and light by time of day, and, most importantly, where “magic” had clawed the ridges to either side.
Thanks for such great questions!
Galleywampus: Thank you, Julie! And enjoy the rest of your tour!