As promised, I'm going to write a brief spotlight on each of the writers on the list I compiled of 25 Authors Worth Watching. Each summary will give you a little background on the writer, where you can find early work to sample, and what you should watch for in the next year or two.
I was tempted to try and define them by subgenre but so many authors hop around that it's almost useless to group them, especially so early in their careers.
Blake Charlton - Blake Charlton has a very unique resume to accompany his much-hyped debut novel, Spellwright. While almost every aspiring novelist is a writer, very few are on track to become licensed medical doctors. Despite being diagnosed with dyslexia as a child, Charlton managed to get into Yale, Stanford Med, and sign a 3-book deal with Tor. Unfortunately, his current bibliography is only story long (it's a good one though) but luckily you won't have to wait long for more. Spellwright comes out March 2nd and from the early reviews its extremely intricate and unique magic system has impressed readers. From what I can tell, it's a book about and influenced by the magic of writing and one I'm very interested to delve into.
- Spellwright - Fantasy - Tor - 3/2/10 - To be followed by Spellbound and Disjunction.
Jack Skillingstead - Quite the opposite of Charlton, Skillingstead has dabbled in the short form for the majority of his writing career. Last year, he made the leap to the long form with his first novel, Harbinger after publishing short fiction for nearly a decade. Skillingstead's short fiction is well worth reading: In only a few short pages, Skillingstead manages to explore genre staples such as alien encounters or Lovecraftian horror and create complex characters that resonate with readers. Back at the beginning of his career, he won a fiction contest put on by Stephen King himself. If you ask Skillingstead, he will tell you that he strives for "tight prose delivered at minimum length" something King isn't exactly well known for. Tight prose is a severly undervalued virture in today's more equals better society and something this reviewer loves to read.
- Harbinger - Science Fiction - Fairwood Press - 9/1/09
- Are You There and Other Stories - Short Fiction Collection - Golden Gryphon Press - 10/1/09
- "Life On The Preservation" Asimovs, June 2006.
- Reprinted in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Fourth Annual Collection
- Reprinted in Science Fiction: The Best of the Year 2007
- "Dead Worlds" Asimovs, June 2003.
In the Future:
- A novel based on or in the same universe as "Life On The Preservation". Tenatively scheduled for 2011.
Lauren Beukes - Last year, Lauren Beukes's debut Moxyland (full review) suprised me with it's aggresive style and frightfully realistic futuristic setting. Drawing comparisons in my mind to Cory Doctorow or Stross's near-future SF work, Beukes manages to capture the technological and cultural changes of the future in a way few can. And despite the intricate advances she describes, Beukes is able to pair those with compelling, human characters too often lacking in SF writing. Hailing from South Africa, Beukes has a cultural education and worldview that sets her apart from traditional English genre writers. Her 2010 follow-up, Zoo City is one I am eagerly anticipating. Unfortunately, I have had a hard time tracking down her short fiction as most of it was published by South African imprints.
- Moxyland - Near Future SF - Angry Robot - 4/27/10 (US) / Out Now! (UK)
- Zoo City - Science Fiction - Angry Robot - 5/25/10 (US) / 4/29/10 (UK)
N.K. Jemisin - Nora Jemisin is most likely the first author I will be interviewing as part of this new series. That is, if she's not exhausted from all the other attention she's been getting from the blogosphere. Her first novel, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, actually came out yesterday and it appears everyone is reading it. And from what I read, not just reading it, loving it too. I have yet to see anything bad about her debut fantasy detailing the power struggle in a fantastical world of powerful gods and the beings that enslaved them. Evocative, imaginative, and enthralling are just a few of the words commonly repeated in early reviews. One of the most common themes in Jemisin's work is power: who has it, who doesn't, and the struggles it creates. Jemisin writes with a distinct voice and a definite purpose, creating multi-layered fiction that is both enjoyable to read and thought-provoking.
- “Cloud Dragon Skies” Strange Horizons, 2005. (Read Online or Listen Online at Escape Pod
- “The You Train”. Strange Horizons, 2007. (Read Online)
- “Non-Zero Probabilities”. Clarkesworld, 2009. (Read Online)
- The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms - Fantasy - Orbit - 2/1 - To be followed by The Broken Kingdoms and a third book tentatively titled Kingdom of Gods
Tina Connolly - Based on the early results of the poll I posted to see which of the 25 authors were the most underread, not many people are currently aware of Tina Connolly. Which is a shame because Connolly's fiction is lean and streamlined with a prose style best described as barb-like: it's sharp and pointed but once it's in your head it's stuck there. The few stories I sampled definitely leaned toward the science fiction side of the genre with The BitRunners, my personal favorite reading like a mix of Neuromancer and The Usual Suspects. Connolly has no problem creating immersive SF worlds with unique lexicons and based on the ammount of world building she works into her short fiction, I expect big things if and when she makes the leap to the big show. On the other hand, I'd be happy to "settle" for the same quality short fiction she's already producing.
- Turning the Apples. Strange Horizons, 2009. (Read Online or Listen Online at PseudoPod)
- The BitRunners. Helix #8, Summer 2008. (Read Online)
- On the Eyeball Floor. Strange Horizons, 2008. (Read Online or Listen Online at Escape Pod)
- "Silverfin Harbor". The End of an AEon. Forthcoming, 2010.
- "Zebedee the Giant Man". On Spec. Forthcoming, 2010.
That's it for the 1st set of 5 Authors Worth Watching. I'll give you some time to sample a little of their work and then back on Friday for the next spotlight.
Let me know if there are any other key pieces of info you would be interested in or if I somehow managed to get something incorrect.