Log in

No account? Create an account

Cool Stuff Friday

Friday is worried about pumas.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


This began with a pattern I saw of white people who’d been accused of racism asking for and getting reassurance from their white friends that they weren’t really racist. It’s not a new phenomenon, but I saw a lot of it earlier in the month, and talked about it on Facebook.

During the ensuing conversation, someone asked how I’d respond if someone accused me of being racist or sexist or bigoted or whatever. Another friend said they’d never seen anyone accuse me of such things, and that I was a feminist and a good person.

I genuinely appreciate this person’s faith in me, but … no. Whether or not they’ve seen such things, I can assure you that I’ve screwed up many times, and that in many of those instances, people called me on it.

  • One of the more memorable examples was a woman who came up to me after a panel to criticize my portrayal of a particular character in the Princess series. (She was right, and her comments led to a small addition in the final book.)
  • Another example that still makes me cringe is from almost twenty years ago, making a joke to my officemate that was so not okay. (I want to go back in time and smack younger Jim upside the head.)
  • Several people called me on a joke about mansplaining a few years back, because the joke erased transgender people.
  • I was asked to do an impromptu talk about men and rape at a Take Back the Night rally in college. A woman came up afterward to thank me, but also to point out that one of the phrases I’d used was sexist.

I could go on, but the point is, it happens. We grow up in a world steeped in systemic inequality, in racism and sexism and discrimination and bigotry. Do you really think it’s possible to grow up in such a world and not have these things affect you? That you’re somehow magically immune to these things?

None of us are perfect. The question is, what do we do about our imperfections? Do we work to be better, or do we lash out against anyone who dares suggest we might be flawed? That we might be … human?

It’s not pleasant. I still tense up when someone confronts me. I feel defensive. My mind runs through the whole, “But I’m a good person!” script.

The thing is, when someone confronts me on this stuff, they’re not saying I’m a horrible person. Those examples I gave earlier? For the most part, I’m friends with the people who called me out. (In one case, it’s so long ago I don’t even remember who it was that came up to me.) These people didn’t write me out of their lives or proclaim me Lord Evil McEvilson of Evil Manor.

And as unpleasant as it is to be confronted about this stuff? It’s usually hard for the person doing the confronting, too. They’re probably tense and anxious and bracing themselves for anger and defensiveness and mockery and attack.

“But I’m not racist/sexist/homophobic/etc!”

It’s not a binary thing. Humanity isn’t split into two groups, one of which is 100% pure and never says or does anything problematic, while the other is all-bigotry, all-the-time.

Foot-stepping is a useful metaphor here. If someone says you stepped on their foot, they’re not accusing you of being an Evil Foot-Stomper. They’re not saying you deliberately tried to break their metatarsals and phalanges and minotaurs and whatever other bones make up the foot. (I’m not a bone specialist.) They’re just pointing out that you stepped on their foot, and asking you to remove your foot and be a little more careful in the future.

It’s not an all-or-nothing thing. (See also, “Only a Sith thinks in absolutes.”)

“But I didn’t step on their foot!”

I hear this one a lot, in comments like, “People play the race card so often it’s lost all meaning!” Often, it’s because people are clinging to that binary all-or-nothing view. Racism has to be full-blown, intentional and deliberate, with KKK robes and nooses and burning crosses. Anything less is just people looking to be offended.

Yeah, no. Maybe I didn’t stomp on your foot while wearing cleats, causing compound fractures and the eventual amputation of your lower leg. Maybe it was just a small bruise, utterly unintentional. Maybe I didn’t even notice when I did it.

But it still hurt. Especially if that foot is tender from being stepped on so often.

That last part is key. People who are constantly being trod on are a lot more aware of when it happens. If someone tells me I stepped on them, I really need to listen.

“But what if they’re wrong?”

All right, sure. There are exceptions. There’s a troll in SF/F and comics who likes to claim everyone’s racist against him. Kicked out of Worldcon? It’s because he’s Hispanic. A big name author doesn’t like him? Accuse that BNA of being racist against Hispanics!  I’m pretty sure we can all recognize this kind of blatant and unimaginative trolling for what it is.

There’s another author who occasionally writes angry blog posts about how I’m a racist because I wouldn’t publish his essay in one of my Invisible anthologies. The fact is, that essay was a one-sided hit piece on an individual editor, and was inappropriate for the anthology. I definitely made mistakes in my handling of the situation. Was I racist in making those mistakes? I don’t believe so, no.

These are outliers. Exceptions.

They’re not an excuse to dismiss any and all accusations anyone might make in my direction.


None of us are perfect. We all screw up. It’s not the end of the world, and nobody’s asking or expecting you to be perfect. Just listen and try to be better.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Cool Stuff Friday

Friday would like this outline to finish writing itself, please and thank you.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


Stuff I Did or am Doing

Stuff #1: I’m the guest/interviewee person on Kevin Sonney’s latest Productivity Alchemy Podcast. We chat about the struggle to stay productive, useful tools like Habitica, and … I’ll be honest, I don’t remember exactly what else we chatted about. I guess you’ll just have to click and find out!

Stuff #2: Klud the goblin will be sending out my next author newsletter soon, probably by the end of this week. In addition to giving away a free signed book to one subscriber, he might give folks a sneak peak at Terminal Uprising and/or spill the beans about Secret Project K. Or maybe he’ll just grumble about the lack of goblins in The Good Place. Here’s where to subscribe, if you’re interested.

Stuff #3: On Saturday, September 8 at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time, I’ll be part of a Google hangout discussion about “Trashing The Rape Trope: Writing Violence Against Women in Fantasy.” I’ll be joining authors Martha Wells and Kate Elliott. We’ll also have a live Q&A portion. This is hosted by The Pixel Project as part of the Read for Pixels campaign to end violence against women.

Stuff #4: Only two months until Terminal Alliance comes out in paperwork, which should also bring down the price of the e-book. The publisher reworked the title font a bit for the cover, if you want to take a look.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.



I’ve been thinking about the phrase “pro-life” for a while, and what that would really look like in the U.S. The phrase is currently used almost exclusively to mean anti-abortion, but if someone truly cares about protecting and preserving life, shouldn’t they also believe the following?

Abolish the death penalty. I mean, this one is pretty self-explanatory, right? How can you be pro-life and pro-execution at the same time? And that’s before you even get into the research suggesting that as many as 1 in 25 people sentenced to death in the U.S. are actually innocent.

Provide universal health care. Lack of health insurance increases your odds of dying. People argue it’s not the lack of insurance, but other factors causing the different outcomes. But a 2009 study found, “After additional adjustment for race/ethnicity, income, education, self- and physician-rated health status, body mass index, leisure exercise, smoking, and regular alcohol use, the uninsured were more likely to die.” You want to reduce those deaths? Make health care available to everyone.

Improve mental health care. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. We’re talking about 45,000 people who take their own lives every year. How much could we reduce those numbers if we did a better job funding mental health services and providing support to those who need it? Not to mention destigmatizing mental illness to eliminate the shame of asking for help.

Gun regulation/control. According to the FBI, there were more than 11,000 gun-related homicides in 2016. The per-capita rate of gun-related deaths in the U.S. is eight times higher than in Canada, and 27 times higher than in Denmark. There are countries with higher gun violence rates too, of course. But looking at gun death rates in Canada and China and the UK and Germany makes it clear we could greatly reduce those deaths in our own country…if we wanted to.

Reduce poverty. A 2011 study found that 4.5% of U.S. deaths were attributable to poverty. How many lives could we save by increasing the minimum wage, or by focusing tax breaks on the poorest segments of our population instead of the wealthiest?

Diplomacy first. If you’re pro-life, shouldn’t it go without saying that military conflict has to be a last resort?

Maintain and improve environmental standards and regulations. A 2013 study from MIT found that air pollution, primarily from vehicle emissions, causes about 200,000 early deaths each year. The reversal of environmental regulations in the U.S. is projected to cause thousands of unnecessary deaths in the coming years.

As for abortion… Personally, I don’t think it’s my place to tell women what they can and can’t do with their bodies. But if you really want to reduce abortion rates? Provide free birth control. A 2012 study found that no-cost birth control for women dropped abortion rates between 62 and 78%. Provide comprehensive (not abstinence-only) sex education, which significantly lowers unwanted teen pregnancies. And hey, universal health care can also lower abortion rates.


There are a lot more “pro-life” issues and positions I could have listed, but hopefully this is enough to make the point. Shouldn’t pro-life mean actually trying to, you know, preserve and protect people’s lives?

Yet, in my experience, most people who claim to be pro-life aren’t terribly interested in most of these issues. Often, their positions are diametrically opposed. It’s almost like the pro-life label, as it’s commonly used, isn’t about being pro-life at all.


Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Blogging Thoughts

I’ve been blogging in one form or another for about 20 years ago. Back in the late 90s/early 2000s, it was LiveJournal and hand-coded a Geocities website, mostly to post my daily wordcount and talk about progress on the novel with a handful of other newbie and wannabe writers. (I even remember my old Geocities website address!)

That’s a lot of blogging. I vented over legal struggles (behind a tight friends-lock) back in the early 2000s. I bemoaned my rejections and celebrated the occasional short fiction sale. I talked about diabetes and depression. As I developed an audience, I also became more aware of fandom and of the larger SF/F scene, and wrote more about that. I argued and vented at folks — often justifiably, but not always. I celebrated stories I enjoyed. I talked about harassment and discrimination and inclusion and the ongoing struggle to make my genre more welcoming to those who have been historically excluded. I posted cat pictures and made memes of book covers.

I haven’t been blogging as frequently this year. Partly, that’s because I’ve had to focus more on the fiction writing — first revising Terminal Uprising, then writing ProjectK in three months before trying to get started on the third Janitors book. I have a few smaller contracts and deadlines coming up as well.

But I also find myself hesitating sometimes because I feel like I’ve already talked about a given topic. Sure, I could write about the underlying racism and hypocrisy of Robert Silverberg’s criticism of N. K. Jemisin’s Hugo win and speech, but do I have anything new to say that I haven’t said a dozen times before? Or I could talk about the frustration that even after 13 published novels, I still get stuck trying to plot out the next one, but I’ve written about my writing and process so many times, aren’t we all tired of it?

And I’m realizing I’m wrong about that. Just because I’ve written about something before doesn’t mean everyone’s read it. (How arrogant would it be to assume everyone’s read the entire archives of my blog?) Hell, some of you people weren’t even alive when I wrote my first LiveJournal post!

I wrote something on Twitter last night about how I wrote and published a lot of books before I even considered quitting my day job. This got a number of responses, which surprised me at first — it’s hardly the first time I’ve talked about that.

Our audience, our community, is constantly changing. And it’s not about always having something new and unique to say. Sometimes it’s about participating in the conversation. Sometimes it’s about trying to offer counterpoints and balance to the nastiness.

I’m still struggling with the planning for book three, so I can’t guarantee a flood of new blog posts. But I’m going to try to stop chucking possible posts and topics just because I might have talked about them before.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Cool Stuff Friday

Ray, when someone asks if it’s Friday, you say yes!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


“It wasn’t their words, it’s that I started to believe them…”

Actress Kelly Marie Tran — the first woman of color to have a leading role in a “Star Wars” movie — wrote a personal essay for the New York Times: “Kelly Marie Tran: I Won’t Be Marginalized by Online Harassment.”

“Because the same society that taught some people they were heroes, saviors, inheritors of the Manifest Destiny ideal, taught me I existed only in the background of their stories, doing their nails, diagnosing their illnesses, supporting their love interests — and perhaps the most damaging — waiting for them to rescue me.”

After The Last Jedi came out, Tran was harassed off of social media by toxic “fans.”

“And that feeling, I realize now, was, and is, shame, a shame for the things that made me different, a shame for the culture from which I came from.”

It’s a powerful essay. I strongly recommend it.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


Aftermath, by Chuck Wendig

Aftermath: CoverAftermath [Amazon | B&N | IndieBound] is the first book of Chuck Wendig‘s Star Wars trilogy that connects the period between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. The book has generated some strong and at times vicious reactions.

Here’s the official publisher’s description:

As the Empire reels from its critical defeats at the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance—now a fledgling New Republic—presses its advantage by hunting down the enemy’s scattered forces before they can regroup and retaliate. But above the remote planet Akiva, an ominous show of the enemy’s strength is unfolding. Out on a lone reconnaissance mission, pilot Wedge Antilles watches Imperial Star Destroyers gather like birds of prey circling for a kill, but he’s taken captive before he can report back to the New Republic leaders.

Meanwhile, on the planet’s surface, former rebel fighter Norra Wexley has returned to her native world—war weary, ready to reunite with her estranged son, and eager to build a new life in some distant place. But when Norra intercepts Wedge Antilles’s urgent distress call, she realizes her time as a freedom fighter is not yet over. What she doesn’t know is just how close the enemy is—or how decisive and dangerous her new mission will be.

Determined to preserve the Empire’s power, the surviving Imperial elite are converging on Akiva for a top-secret emergency summit—to consolidate their forces and rally for a counterstrike. But they haven’t reckoned on Norra and her newfound allies—her technical-genius son, a Zabrak bounty hunter, and a reprobate Imperial defector—who are prepared to do whatever they must to end the Empire’s oppressive reign once and for all.

Now, no book is going to appeal to everyone. I enjoyed this one, but I can see two valid reasons why it might not work for some readers:

1. Wendig’s writing style doesn’t match that of most Star Wars books I’ve read. Wendig wrote this one in present tense, and he tends to use shorter, choppier sentences:

A voice. Her voice. The Zabrak’s.
“The nose,” she says.
Then thrusts the heel of her hand forward.
Smashing it right into the Herglic’s nose.

The style took me a few pages to get used to, but I thought it worked. It creates a faster-paced flow to the prose, which worked for all of the Star Warsy action.

That said, if you prefer an invisible writing style, this book might not work for you.

2. Aftermath is almost entirely about original characters. Han and Chewie get a very brief cameo. Admiral Ackbar pops up a few times. Wedge Antilles has a more significant part in the story. But the book mostly focuses on new characters, like a pilot from the attack on the second Death Star who’s suffering from PTSD and trying to reconnect with her son after being gone for so long; an ex-Imperial loyalty officer; a bounty hunter; and a small group of Imperial officers trying to figure out what the heck to do now.

I liked the characters. But if you’re hoping for Luke Skywalker lightsabering stormtroopers or Han and Leia flirting and arguing and blasting bad guys or maybe a glimpse of baby Rey or baby Ben/Kylo or baby Finn, you’re going to be disappointed.


But then you have the anti-SJW brigade and their one-star campaign, posting reviews like, “It seems that Star Wars has become a feminist movement. All main characters in this book are females. Oh wait, except for one of the main bad guys – of course a white male. Which is right in line with the new movie…”

All main characters are females. Except Wedge Antilles. And Sinjir. And Temmin. And Mr. Bones. And…yeah.

There were complaints about the inclusion of gay and lesbian characters. I guess magic space wizards and giant asteroid snakes are fine, but loving someone of the same gender is just too much to believe.

A lot of the reviews attacked the writing style as well. Like I said, the style might not work for everyone, and that’s fine. But complaining that the author uses sentence fragments and therefore doesn’t know how to write? Um…y’all know authors sometimes break elementary school writing rules for various reasons, right? Or folks saying they could have written a better book when they were 13? Go ahead and try it. We’ll wait.

Basically, Wendig and his book got flooded by a lot of negativity. Some of the reviews were valid — like I said, no book works for everyone. But an awful lot of the nastiness was just assholes being assholes…


Me? Like I said above, I liked it. I appreciated seeing some of the costs of the war, and the ethical issues Wendig delves into. The interludes were a nice addition, showing the aftermath of the Battle of Endor throughout the galaxy. The story itself was self-contained, but at the same time lays the groundwork for the rest of the trilogy. There’s plenty of action. And of course, Mr. Bones is fun (and disturbing) to watch.

I’ll be picking up the sequel, Aftermath: Life Debt.

Read an excerpt.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Cool Stuff Friday

Friday is really hoping to finish this revision by the end of the weekend…

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


I was making decent progress on the book tonight, when I made the mistake of checking social media. I quickly got caught up reading a complaint by a self-identified older white male author, talking about how his demographic is discriminated against in the genre.

Some of his comments were anecdotal, and not statistically meaningful. I pointed out the 2017 #BlackSpecFic Report from Fireside Magazine, which showed that black authors are still underrepresented in SF/F — though there’s been some improvement over the past several years.

One claim was that white men can’t even get on the Hugo ballot anymore, let alone win. So I pointed out that 2/6 authors on the Best Novel ballot this year are, in fact, white men.

But while it’s demonstrably false to say white men can’t get on the ballot, it’s true that last year’s winners were almost entirely women. I mean, with the exception of Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, and Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form, and several winners who identify as genderqueer. But if you limit it to just the prose categories, then yes — not one man among the winners.

This is pointed to as proof of discrimination. Voters are deciding not based on the quality of the story, but the identity of the author. Because Statistics!

Now, nobody I’ve spoken to has talked about voting for someone because of their race or gender or sexuality. They’re voting for books and stories they love. Maybe you don’t love the stories that won, but I’ve seen people squeeing about the books when they come out. I see how excitedly they’re talking about these stories and sharing them and telling everyone to go read them. That love is real — even if you don’t personally share it.

“But if people aren’t discriminating, why aren’t we seeing the same love for stories written by white men?”

I mean, the current NYT #1 bestsellers are all by men, most-or-all of them white. But let’s stick with just the Hugo awards. Doesn’t the lack of men prove discrimination against us?

Stand back, everyone — I’m going to try metaphor!


Imagine you like ice cream. But for your whole life, all you’ve been able to get is vanilla.

Don’t get me wrong — I like vanilla ice cream. There’s nothing wrong with it. I love it in root beer floats or ice cream sundaes or with apple pie or whatever. It’s good stuff.

Then one day, the shops finally start putting out other flavors. Strawberry! Mint chocolate chip! Mackinaw fudge ripple!

After a lifetime of vanilla, what are you going to get?


SF/F has been dominated by white male authors for so long. In many ways, it still is. Is it any wonder people have gotten a little tired of the vanilla? That they’re excited about stories written from other perspectives, other cultural backgrounds, with other characters and settings and worldbuilding and default assumptions?

“But authors aren’t ice cream, and white men can write other perspectives and backgrounds and characters too!”

First of all, you’re wrong. I know for a fact that Pat Rothfuss is actually twelve pints of Rocky Road held together with hard-shell chocolate.

And you’re right, white men can write other perspectives, backgrounds, characters, etc. But a lot of the time, they choose not to. And a lot of the time when they do, it’s done…poorly. You get men writing women thinking about how their breasts boob boobily, bosoming in zero gravity.

Even when authors take the time to listen and do the research, there’s a difference between writing based on research and writing based on real, lived experience.


It’s not that people hate vanilla ice cream. It’s that we’re finally seeing some push for other flavors, and people are excited about it. Their homes are stuffed with vanilla, and they’re trying to get some variety in their freezers.

Can you blame them?

Don’t worry, the grocery stores still stock plenty of vanilla. Lots of people still enjoy it. But it’s not the only option on the shelf anymore. We have 32 flavors and then some.

As for older white men no longer being wanted or welcomed in the genre? Well, it’s only a single anecdata point, but this 44-year-old white dude has felt nothing but welcome here. I’m all for working to make the genre more broadly welcoming to all.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

A Study in Honor, by Claire O’Dell

Cover Art: A Study in HonorA Study in Honor, [Amazon | B&N | IndieBound] by Claire O’Dell, is a near-future twist on Sherlock Holmes.

And according to O’Dell’s Big Idea post over on John Scalzi’s blog? It’s my fault. As she explains,

“Back in 2014, Jim wrote a blog post about his experience writing fanfic. I’d never felt the tug of fanfic before, but after reading about how satisfying and involving it was for him, I decided to take a stab at writing some myself. After all, fiction is a conversation with itself, and what else is fanfic but a very intimate conversation?”

Now, the book sounds really interesting. Watson and Holmes as two black queer women in a future Washington D.C. still reeling from the New Civil War? Here’s an excerpt, if you’d like to start reading the first few chapters now.

I haven’t read the book yet, so I’m not in a position to talk much about it. But I’m still reeling a bit over that first line in O’Dell’s blog post.

A Study in Honor is all Jim Hines’s fault.”

Now, I’d argue this point. O’Dell did all the work of actually writing the book, after all. But the fact that it started with a random blog post I did four years ago, talking about my silly Frosty the Snowman vs. Rudolph fanfiction? That’s … that’s a metaphorical boot to my head right there.

I struggle sometimes, as I imagine many of us do, with the question of whether any of this stuff makes a difference. The blog posts, the social media, and so on. Is it really worth the time and energy it takes to keep posting? How many people actually read and remember any of it?

I don’t want to overinflate my own importance here. O’Dell/Bernobich is a good writer with a solid publication history behind her. Her new book is getting some good buzz, and that’s all her.

But in some small way, I was a part of that. A thing I wrote sparked something new for someone else.

What more could a writer hope for?

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Cool Stuff Friday

Friday is back from a quick U.P. trip!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


Over on Twitter, I started a Very Important Linguistics thread about how to ask to pet someone’s dog in other languages.

I took several years of French in high school, and yet when I went to a French book fest/convention last year, I lacked this vital knowledge!

Here are the results so far, sorted by language. Pronunciation is included where provided. I can’t vouch that these are 100% accurate, and for most languages there are multiple ways of asking. Hopefully these should at least be good enough to get your point across so you can get on to the more important task of petting the dog.

Feel free to add additional languages or refinements in the comments, and I’ll update as things come in. I’m particularly interested in feedback/suggestions from native speakers. Pronunciation guidelines and assistance are also welcome.

Thanks to everyone who contributed!


ممكن ألمس كلبك؟ (Moomkin almas kalbek?)

يمكنني أن داعب كلبك؟ (“Yumkinuni an da’aeb kelbik?” Or “kelbak” if asking a man.)

Chinese – Simplified



Må jeg gerne klappe din hund?


Informal: Mag ik je hond aaien?

Formal: Mag ik Uw hond aaien?


Pwede ko ba siyang hawakan?


Saanko silittää koiraasi? And to thank if the answer is yes, Kiitos.


Puis-je caresser votre chien? (Or “votre chiot” if it’s a puppy)

Alternate version: “Pardon?” *Indicate dog.* “Je peux?” *mime petting* “Il-est gentille?”


Darf ich bitte deinen hund streicheln?

Beißt er? (“Does he bite?”)


Pwede ko siya matandog?


Posso per favore coccolare il tuo cane?

Posso accarrezzare il suo cane?


Inu o sawate mo ii desu ka? (Vowels follow the same phonetics as Spanish.)

Inu wo nadete yoroshii desu ka?


(개를) 쓰다듬어도 될까요?

(The (개를) part means dog, but since that part would be obvious from context you don’t actually need to say it.)


Licetne mihi, quaeso, canem tuum mulcere?


Czy mogę pogłaskać pana/pani pieska? (Che (very short e sound) moga po-gwa-ska-ch pani (female)/panna (male) pye-ska?)

To say thank you: Dziękuję bardzo. (dyjen-koo-yuh.)

Portugese (Brazilian)

Posso fazer carinho no seu cachorro?


Tinno mbodo yidi tuche rawandumaa.


Могу ли я погладить вашу собаку, пожалуйста? (Mogu li ya pogladeet vashu sobaku, pahzhaloosta?)

Можно погладить вашу собаку? (Mozhno pogladit’ vashu sobaku?)

Scots Gaelic

Tha mi airson do chù a’ shlìobadh? (Ha me air-son doh hyu ah shleeohpehk?)

Am faod mi an cù agaibh a sliobadh?


¿Puedo acariciar al perrito?


Får jag klappa din hund? And “Tack,” if the answer is yes.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Writing Staytreat

Last week was supposed to be a writing retreat. I was gonna finish up those final revisions on Terminal Uprising, then (hopefully) get through the first draft of Project K.

And then on Friday we had a medical issue arise. Nothing life-threatening, but I ended up staying home to help out. They’re mostly healed up by now, which is good. But it threw a fire-spider into the writing work. While I did get the revisions done and turned in, that was the entirety of last week’s wordcount.

C’est la vie. We’ve got several chronic medical conditions in this family, and that means sometimes stuff happens. I’m disappointed not to have gotten the chance to spend time with some cool writer people, and I’d love to have a finished draft of Project K, but I’ll get there.

Now that the hurt party is mostly better, I’m going to try and make this week my writing retreat week. Even though I’m not retreating anywhere. I’d love to get that draft done by this coming Saturday, if possible.

Only 800 words so far today, but it takes a little time to regain that momentum, and there are plenty of hours left in the day!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Markswoman, by Rati Mehrotra

Markswoman Cover ArtAt ConFusion earlier this year, I picked up a copy of Rati Mehrotra‘s debut YA fantasy, Markswoman [Amazon | B&N | IndieBound]. Like everything else lately, it took me a little while to get to it. But once I started reading, I raced through the book.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Kyra is the youngest Markswoman in the Order of Kali, one of a handful of sisterhoods of highly trained elite warriors. Armed with blades whose metal is imbued with magic and guided by a strict code of conduct, the Orders are sworn to keep the peace and protect the people of Asiana. Kyra has pledged to do so—yet she secretly harbors a fierce desire to avenge her murdered family.

When Tamsyn, the powerful and dangerous Mistress of Mental Arts, assumes control of the Order, Kyra is forced on the run. She is certain that Tamsyn committed murder in a twisted bid for power, but she has no proof.

Kyra escapes through one of the strange Transport Hubs that are the remnants of Asiana’s long-lost past and finds herself in the unforgiving wilderness of a desert that is home to the Order of Khur, the only Order composed of men. Among them is Rustan, a disillusioned Marksman whose skill with a blade is unmatched. He understands the desperation of Kyra’s quest to prove Tamsyn’s guilt, and as the two grow closer, training daily on the windswept dunes of Khur, both begin to question their commitment to their Orders. But what they don’t yet realize is that the line between justice and vengeance is thin … as thin as the blade of a knife.

I called the book fantasy, but it feels more like a blend of fantasy and science fiction. The book is set in an alternate Asia in the distant future, and includes everything from transport hubs to telepathic weapons to words of power. Those weapons are made from metal brought to Earth long ago by The Ones — it’s unclear exactly who or what they are. You also get scenes where you glimpse the futuristic cities of (I think) the past.

None of it is fully explained, but there’s obviously a lot of depth to the world, and Mehrotra gives the reader enough to draw them in, leaving us eager for the next piece.

There’s a love triangle that pops up in the second half of the book. Honestly, I could have done without that. But props to the author for how she handled the overly aggressive/stalkery guy. Behavior that in another book might have been rewarded is in this book called out and met with real consequences.

I enjoyed both protagonists (Kyra and Rustan) and many of the secondary characters — particularly some of the elders of the Marksmen and Markswomen. Tamsyn is pretty much flat-out evil, but it works for the story.

The ending felt abrupt. Not a cliffhanger, exactly, but there’s no real denouement. And the next book, Mahimata, doesn’t come out until March of next year.

All in all, I think it’s a strong debut. I’d have liked to see a little more of the larger world and story Mehrotra is setting up, but I definitely enjoyed the book.

You can read the first part online, if you’d like to check it out.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


Jim C. Hines



RSS Atom

Latest Month

November 2018
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow