Mar 3, 2010

Authors Worth Watching, Spotlight 3 of 5


Although I'm quickly running out of way to say, "this author is a good writer and you should read their work", I'm back with the 3rd set of spotlight authors from list of 25 Authors Worth Watching. If you haven't read the first two installments (Part 1 / Part 2) the basic format is as follows: I'll 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.

This week's group features a pair of genre-aware fantasy writers, a hard SF prodigy, an Australian rising star, and a puppeteer responsible for some of the best short fiction I've ever read.

Update: Some of the information provided for Ari Marmell and Kaaron Warren was slightly incorrect out of date. I've updated accordingly.



Ari Marmell - In my experience, some of the best fantasy authors are the ones who have successfully emerged from early work with role playing games. RPGs are essentially disassembled stories: interesting characters, exotic locales, powerful items, monstrous creatures, and incredible potentialities detailed in the pages of guidebooks and manuals but ultimately left unconnected. When you get an author like Marmell who possesses both the creativity to imagine intricate fantasy worlds beyond the scope of a single novel and the skill to forge those elements into a well-structured, professional narrative, chances are you're going to get a story worth reading. Marmell appears poised to take the genre staples he's worked with for years and turn them inside out. His first two novels, The Conqueror's Shadow and The Warlord's Legacy are set in a fantasy world where a former dark lord must come out of retirement to save the day. His third non-shared universe release, The Goblin Corps, is written from the perspective of minions facing the final days of the evil empire they served. Both worlds sound tremendously genre-aware and I predict I'll be reviewing The Conqueror's Shadow in the near future. 

Early Work:
In the Future:
  • The Conqueror's Shadow -  Epic Fantasy - Spectra - 2/23/2010 - To be followed by The Warlord's Legacy in early 2011
  • The Goblin Corp - Pyr - Mid-to-Late 2011
Website / Blog / Twitter



Hannu Rajaniemi - A mathematician and physicist, Hannu Rajaniemi seems like he was born to be a Hard SF writer. From the stories I've been able to read so far, it appears he's well on his way to fulfilling that destiny. Rajaniemi is the type of writer who can fit into a single sentence the type of idea that others would write entire books about. "His Master's Voice," a story about two post-pet characters, is a great example of this, detailing the miniaturization of humanity for resource conservation in nothing more than a throwaway line. When I was browsing various lists of "anticipated novels" Rajaniemi's debut The Quantum Thief seemed to pop up again and again. Labeled as Neuromancer meets Ocean's Eleven, Rajaniemi sold a three book deal on a total of 24 pages. If that doesn't suggest he's capable of writing something special, you can always take Charles Stross's word for it. Stross ( one of the premiere Hard SF writers today) predicted Hannu would become "the biggest thing to hit hard SF in the next decade." The Quantum Thief makes its UK debut this September and I'll be violating my waiting-for-US-edition policy shortly thereafter.

Early Work:
In the Future:
  • The Quantum Thief - Far-future Hard SF - Gollancz (UK only) - 9/16/10
Website / Blog / Twitter



Kaaron Warren - Over the past several years, Kaaron (don't call her Karen) Warren has made a name for herself over in Australian publishing circles. Wherever she is now (it's no longer Fiji), she is well on her way to repeating that accomplishment on a global stage. Her debut novel, Slights, impressed both critics and horror fans alike, at the same time earning a Publisher's Weekly Starred Review and the honor of being selected as Pick of the Week. Although most of her work has at least a tinge of horror, Warren is actually a genre nomad, fluctuating between horror, fantasy, and SF depending on the story. She's also the perfect author for the eclectic reader having written 3 novels to date (and is working on at least 2 more), none of which are written in the same world. In a publishing landscape in which every book seems to be part of a series, Warren propensity for standalones is much appreciated and a sign that she has in mind many different stories to tell.

Early Work:
In the Future:
  • Walking the Tree- Fantasy - Angry Robot - July 2009 (UK) / June 2010 (US)
  • Mistification - Horror Novel - Angry Robot - June 2010 (UK) / TBD (US)
  • Untitled - 2nd Short Story Collection - Ticonderoga Publications - Before Sept 2010
  • "The Gaze Dogs of Nine Waterfall" - Exotic Gothic 3 (Danel Olson, ed) - Ash-Tree Press - Q1 2010
Website / Blog / Twitter


Mary Robinette Kowal - Mary Robinette Kowal won the 2008 Campbell Award. After reading her debut collection, Scenting the Dark (full review here), it was easy to see why. Several of her stories are ten pages or less, but they pack an emotional punch disproportionate to their word count. Kowal can do in 5 pages what some authors can’t do in 50. I highly, highly recommend Scenting the Dark and Other Stories. One of the most interesting things about Kowal is that she actually works as a puppeteer for her day job. I've seen it suggested that her experience with puppets and stage performance contributes to her exceptional grasp on dialogue and her ability to do more with fewer words. After reading her work, it's hard to disagree. Her debut novel, a historical fantasy entitled Shades of Milk and Honey, comes out from Tor this August and I've already requested an ARC.

Early Work:
In the Future:
  • Shades of Milk and Honey - Historical Fantasy - Tor - August 3, 2010 - To be followed by Glamour in Glass
  • "The Bride Replete" - Apex Online  -March 2010 (Read Online)
  • "Beyond the Garden to Close" - Apex Online - March 2010 (Read Online)
  • "Horizontal Rain" - Apex Online - March 2010 (Read Online)
  • "Changed Itinerary" - L├ęgendes - March 2010
  • "Ring Road" - Dark Faith Anthology - May 2010
Website / Blog / Twitter



Sam Sykes - Sam Sykes is crazy. While I'm tempted to stop there, it's also worth nothing that he's both fiendishly creative and the author of Tome of the Undergates, one of the "hot" fantasy titles of 2010. From following his twitter feed and reading his blog, it's clear that Sykes has an effortless way with words. His writing has a razor sharp edge and while a blog isn't equivalent to a novel, I'm going to be very interested to see the prose style that emerges from that same mind. I've also seen comparisons to Abercrombie and Lynch, two of my favorite fantasy authors of the last 5 years. Sykes is one of the few authors I haven't sampled yet, and one of the authors I'm most interested to read

In the Future:
  • Tome of the Undergates - Epic Fantasy - Gollancz (UK) / Pyr (US) - April 2010 (UK) / TBD 2010 (US) - To be followed by Unnamed Books 2 and 3 in the trilogy
Website / Blog / Twitter



15 down, 10 to go. Although its hard to find enough time to sample so many authors in a relatively short period and keep up with normal blogging activities, these authors are all putting out material worth reading.
As always, 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. I'll probably have the next piece ready next week unless I suddenly stop working 10 or 12 hour days.

3 comments:

  1. Just fyi, Kaaron Warren is back from Fiji.
    Also, I've taken two of her stories for best of the year horror anthologies: "Dead Sea Fruit" inf YBFH #20 (2006) and "The Gaze Dogs of Nine Waterfall" in Best Horror of the Year, volume 2 (2010)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Ellen, I've updated her profile with the latest.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It's really more a classical madness than anything else, sort of akin to the Mad Hatter if he were to occasionally threaten to punch Alice in the ovaries.

    Thank you for the pleasantries, Patrick! I hope TOME lives up to all you dreamed of!

    ReplyDelete

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