The inimitable Jaye Wells joins us as she releases the fourth book in her Prospero’s War series, Volatile Bonds. We chat with her about going indie, writing and teaching (check out Jaye’s Office Hours!), her grad school experience, Sabina Kane, and what’s in store for the future.
We won’t call it Pick of the Week, since it’s been months and months since the last round. Nevertheless, we offer a few recommendations from our current pile of distractions, including Mjolnir, Black Sails, Your Name, Lakeview Cabin, Pantheon, Finding Florida, Popplet, Stardew Valley and more. So much more.
The author was kind enough to send me an early review ARC, which I appreciate a great deal. I have read all of Hines’s books, and the reason this book gets five stars from me is it is the author’s most ambitious project to date.
Don’t get me wrong. Hines is one of the most versatile authors working in speculative fiction today, and I love that he ranges far and wide in his take on the speculative. Terminal Alliance has so many moving parts. It makes the philosophical statements he makes in his Goblin series (you missed this? Go look again!), has the strong moral characteristics of his princesses, and is full of the kind of self-examination we get in the Libriomancer series.
AND in and of its own self, this is easily the most interesting group of extraterrestrials I’ve seen in SF in a long time. In a publishing world of Roddenberry style humanoid aliens with facial appendages, Hines gives us aliens that are patterned on other life forms of earth–octopi, bugs, muppets–but he gives them excellent personalities and distinctive traits for each alien and alien culture. No Mr. Spock Vulcan monoliths here. Different planets have different factions that don’t get along. Hmmm…that’s kind of refreshing.
Additionally, Hines’s humor wends into satire in this book. To get these jokes, you have to understand our current culture and see how the future warps and distorts it. We get the jokes the characters in the book can’t get. There’s plenty in there that’s funny for its own sake, but man, the social commentary on current times. It’s pretty good.
I liked Jim Hines as an author before. I am more impressed now than I have ever been, and I’m the academic that called Goblin Quest the current equivalent to Pilgrim’s Progress. Step back and just let Hines write. I’m looking forward to whatever comes next.
It’s September 12th, and I’m celebrating the release of my first novel, The Vessel of Ra! With exclamation marks!
Perhaps YOU would like an eBook of The Vessel of Ra? I can do that for you. I’m giving away THREE copies. If you want one, just comment here by the end of September, and I will draw three winners at random. Don’t forget to give me an email address to reach you at, so I can ask you what format you would like.
And now, I’m off to grin like an idiot for the rest of the day. Again, I want to thank my fellow Unreliables for the interview here, as well as all the wonderful friends and writers who have made this day possible.
Congrats to author Lois McMaster Bujold and her Vorkosigan Saga for winning the first Best Series Hugo. (We totally planned the timing.) Lois requires no introduction from us, and we were thrilled to chat with her about the pleasures and challenges of writing extended series, changes in the industry and within fandom, and what’s in the pipeline for her beloved characters.
Like Wendy Nikel herself, I am a sucker for almost any time travel story, so Continuum was a good fit for me as a reader. Time travel as vacation meets the problem solving of Quantum Leap in a satisifying package.
The story begins in the past when Elise Morley retrieves a client who has forgotten herself and almost takes a voyage on the Titanic with her fiancee. Elise saves the client, but the rather inelegant Extraction causes fallout which ripples through the book. Meanwhile, it turns out that the travel agency where Elise works is not the only entity to have access to this technology, and a government agency has been sending people to the future. Elise is sent to retrieve a rogue agent.
While I wish we could have spent more time in the heads of a couple of the characters who were relevant to the past, I found the story that focused on the future well-paced and interesting I wanted just a bit more to explain what Allen was doing and why, although his ultimate motivation was a solid payoff. Chandler charmed me a great deal. And while Elise strikes me as world weary at first, she has a noble turn of character and a surprise plot twist which work pretty well.
Nikel is a solid writer with vivid description, an imaginative future, and a command of accurate historical speech. Check out that purse snatcher in 1912. Her characters manifest their time stream’s habits and inflections brilliantly, which is a real value add for this reader.
Nikel creates a rich world in which she could easily weave a tapestry of other time travel adventures. While Elise seems like she ends up in a place from which she cannot return, well, it is time travel after all, and whose to say continuity has to be linear?