Jul 27, 2010

Authors Worth Watching, Spotlight 4 of 5

After nearly 4 months on the back burner (mostly as a result of life), I'm back with the 4th set of spotlight authors from list of 25 Authors Worth Watching. If you haven't read (or don't remember) the first few installments (Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3) 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.

Aliette de Bodard As technology makes the world smaller, English-language SF is expanding into oft-ignored cultural realms. Frequently focusing on Asian or Middle Eastern cultures, writers are examining the future and what it could possibly hold for non-Western cultures. While most of the Northern Hemisphere has been featured at one stage or another of this science fiction movement, comparatively few authors have visited the African and South American continents. That's where Aliette de Bodard comes in. Focusing on South and Central America, de Bodard examines the past in her fantasy work and the future and possible alternate presents in her science fiction. The details she weaves into her work are exotic and refreshing and the worlds she creates, be they past or present, beg for further exploration. But de Bodard is not a one-trick pony; her work outside of the unexplored continent is just as strong.

Early Work:
In the Future:
  • Servant of the Underworld - Obsidian and Blood Trilogy, Book 1 - Angry Robot - January 2010 (UK) / September 2010 (US) - To be followed by Harbinger of the Storm and Untitled Book 3
  • The Jaguar House, in Shadow” - Asimov’s - July 2010
  • Desaparecidos” - Realms of Fantasy - June 2010
Website / Blog / Twitter

Greg Van Eekhout - A regular genre journeyman, Greg Van Eekhout refuses to fit nicely into a singular subgenre or category. He's written Ragnarocking Urban Fantasy in 2009's Norse Code. He's saved the people of Atlantis from serving as carnie folk in the outstanding middle grade novel Kid vs. Squid. He's assured me that I exist only because Santa Claus believes in me. Eekhout tackles the entire Superman mythos in fewer pages than a standard comic book and gives the character a much needed conclusion. If you can't tell from those four brief examples, each of his stories is about something remarkably different. At the same time, they all share the same playful tone and demonstrate a fondness for human mythology. If Van Eekhout continues his current writing trends, the only thing you can expect for sure is quality fiction.
Early Work:
In the Future:
  • Kid Vs. Squid - Middle Grade Fantasy - Bloomsbury Children's Book -  May 11, 2010
  • Last - Middle Grade Science Fiction - A futuristic adventure about the last boy on Earth, a young mammoth, and a broken robot. - Bloomsbury - Spring 2011
  • The Osteomancer’s Son  - Adult Fantasy Novel -  The first of three novels for grownups based on my short story about an alternate version of Los Angeles founded on the magical bones of extinct creatures - Tor - TBD.
Website / Blog / Twitter

John Langan - Horror as a subgenre demands powerful prose and fiction dripping with sensory detail. As such, there are only a few authors who can write horror and manage to make it enjoyable without being campy or off-puttingly gory. John Langan is capable of maintaining that balance and one of the few developing horror writers to make this list. In addition to his focus on tone and character, Langan often imbues his work with a self-referential aspect, often criticizing the literary establishment or simply toying with the concept of story in general. Like so many of the authors on this list, Langan hasn't settled into a particular voice quite yet but he has demonstrated a talent for atmospheric horror well beyond his relatively short writing career.

Early Work:
In the Future:
Website / Blog

Leah Bobet - With the rapid growth of online publications over the past decade, it was only a matter of time before they gained respect as legitimate channels for genre fiction. Likewise, it was only a matter of time before new writers started to see the majority of their early sales go to electronic rather than print outlets. One of these writers is Leah Bobet, a author that should be familiar to anyone who follows Strange Horizons. Bobet likes to play with expectations in her fiction, often taking known quantities and using them to disguise the true purpose behind her work. The stories I sampled ranged from impressive social science fiction to deceptively simple fairy tale fantasy and for some reason or another reminded me of the diverse fiction of Jay Lake. A lot of Bobet's work has debuted online but I won't be surprised when it finds its way into the printed Best Of anthologies before long.
Early Work:
In the Future:
  • "Stay" - Chilling Tales: From the Great White North (Mike Kelly ed) - EDGE - March 2011 2011.
  • "A Thousand" in On Spec - Spring 2010.
  • "Mister Oak" - Realms of Fantasy - Feb 2010.
  • Above - An Unconventional Urban Fantasy - Unsold Novel
  • Saturnalia - A Clockwork Gothic - Unsold Novel  
Website / Blog / Twitter

Rachel Swirsky - Having earned Nebula and Hugo nominations for her short fiction this past year, Swirsky is an author poised to graduate from this list of up-and-comers into the ranks of the genre giants. Swirsky's fiction is full of beautiful, evocative prose, capturing often tragic stories with seemingly little effort. Her work reminds me of fellow Author Worth Watching Mary Robinette Kowal. Like Kowal, Swirsky is able to craft heartbreaking stories in a surprisingly small number of pages. The stories I've read suggest Swirsky tends toward the fantasy side of the genre spectrum with a touch of magical realism on the side. Be on the lookout for her, she's going to be taking home one of those trophies sooner or later.

Early Work:
In the Future:
  • Through the Drowsy Dark - Short Fiction & Poetry Collection - Aqueduct Press - May 2010
    • Features original stories "Through the Drowsy Dark", "The Black Angel's Kiss", and "Defiled Imagination" 
  • "The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen's Window" - Subterranean Magazine - Summer 2010
  • "The Stable Master's Tale" - Fantasy Magazine - July 2010
  • "Again and Again and Again" - Interzone 226 - January/February 2010
Website / Blog / Twitter

5 left. Then the interviews. And the reviews. Can I stop yet? When I did my first interview series last year, I didn't delve into the authors nearly as much as I am this time around. It's taking a lot of work but I think the resulting interviews are going to be worth it.

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 hope to have the final piece ready in the next week or two but part four took me several months so please keep bugging me on Twitter.

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