So if you’re wondering what I think about the strange new genre we’re all calling Urban Fantasy, your friends and mine at Pocket are saying the first one is, if not strictly free, at least seriously discounted.
Seriously, there’s a special offer on between now and November 14th that lets you pick up the ebook version of Unclean Spirits (and actually a metric assload of other fine titles) for $3.99. Take a look.
And if you’d like to take a look at some of MLN’s short fiction, you’ve got some options too. The most recent is the newly minted “The Difference Between a Puzzle and a Mystery” in the Down These Strange Streets anthology. My personal favorite — Hurt Me — just came out in a couple of places. The new mass market paperback of Songs of Love and Death and also The Year’s Best Dark fantasy & Horror 2011.
All of which makes it a great lead-up to the fourth — and IMHO best — of the Black Sun’s Daughter. Killing Rites will be coming out in about a month.
Helen: Do you agree that it’s fair to describe The Dagger’s Path as classic epic fantasy, with elements such as a medieval world, the legacy of a long ago past reawakening, a journey—the title reference to dragons even! What drew you to this very traditional, storytelling form?
Daniel: The first epic fantasy series I wrote – The Long Price Quartet – was built to be unlike anything else I’d seen in the genre. A different setting, an unfamiliar structure, and a story that wasn’t the usual at all. I’m very pleased with how those books came out. And having been there, I wanted to come back to the things that are the core strengths of epic fantasy and see how the lessons I learned out there on the borders of the genre could apply to those issues and concerns. That sounds a little pretentious now that I say it out loud. I was drawn to it because it’s what made me fall in love with the genre as a reader, and I wanted to come home to that.
A new short story in the Expanse universe dropped today, “The Butcher of Anderson Station.” For those what wants more Fred Johnson or Anderson Dawes backstory. Or for them what likes military Sci Fi. Or for those with a new e-reader and not enough stuff stored on it.
Reading this story is guaranteed to change your life forever.*
*Warning: this does not constitute a legal guarantee
I’m about to break a rule.
So yesterday, I spent part of my day working up a draft press release for something called Help Rachel Breathe. I don’t know Rachel or Steven Phillips. They’re religious, I’m not. She’s a former professional ballerina, I’m essentially dance-blind. There are a lot of people in the world who are in trouble. But much as I chose not to care about Charlie Sheen, I’ve chosen to care about Rachel.
I don’t talk about my family on this blog. I don’t talk about my personal life. It’s a boundaries thing, and it’s a rule I feel comfortable with most of the time. I’m making an exception here. The thing that’s killing Rachel is called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. It’s a problem with how her body builds connective tissue, and because of the way it’s expressing in her, her trachea’s collapsing. There are a bunch of other ways that Ehlers-Danlos can present. Some folks, their joints spontaneously dislocate. Some folks scar badly from even very minor injuries. Some people, their heart valves blow out.
For my wife, it presented as a particularly vicious gastric problem. Basically, the bits of her esophagus that keep the food and acid in your gut didn’t work so well. If she got a bad cough, it forced stomach acid out onto her vocal cords, which made her cough, and before long we were in the ER. After the Darling Child showed up, things got worse. For about a year and a half, my wife couldn’t eat without feeling profoundly ill. She couldn’t eat breakfast or lunch because she’d be too sick to work, so she made it through the day on a witch’s brew of Ensure, esspresso, chocolate syrup and ice, then came home for a small, healthy meal and sat on the couch in misery until bedtime. She dropped almost 40 pounds that she didn’t have to lose. The gastroenterologists at the hospital where she works misdiagnosed what was going on — we didn’t know then that Ehlers-Danlos runs in her family. We wound up at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where a doctor named Michael Camilleri essentially saved her. But for about a year, I was watching my three-year-old daughter watch her mother starve to death, and I couldn’t stop it. It’s possible that my kid has it too. If she does, we don’t have any way to know how it’ll present in her.
Ehlers-Danlos and things like it aren’t fatal. That’s a fiction. Rachel isn’t dying of Ehlers-Danlos, she’s dying of a collapsed trachea. My wife wouldn’t have died of Ehlers-Danlos. She’d have died of some other thing brought on by malnutrition. But we got lucky.
Honestly, I don’t make Rachel’s chances as great. The surgery she’s looking at has been done 11 times before, with ten successes and one that died from complications. That’s actually pretty good odds. But she can’t get it done in the US because it involves harvesting her own stem cells, and we don’t do that here. Insurance also won’t help with it. Getting her to Sweden and getting the money to cover it look bad to me unless someone with really deep pockets is moved to write a really big check or thousands of people decide it’s a better use of $10 than the morning latte and muffin. I’m doing what I can. A lot of other folks are taking on the burden. We’re trying. There’s not a lot of time, and it is a lot of money.
But she may get lucky too. I hope she does.
If you feel the urge, go read about what Rachel’s up against. Throw a couple bucks her way if you’ve got ‘em to spare. Tell your friends about it. Tweet, post, talk about it over coffee at the office. Whatever.
If you don’t, I get that too. There’s a lot of tragedy in the world, and we could all bankrupt ourselves trying to fix it. We all have to pick our battles, and if this isn’t yours, it isn’t yours.
It is mine, though. Doomed or not.
If you’re into it, I have an article about Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale up at io9.com Check it out.
Oh, many, many cool things going on, several of which I should be doing instead of blogging, but you know how it goes, right?
The new Balfour and Meriwether short story is up at Subterranean magazine along with a very nice review of Leviathan Wakes. I’ve just gotten the go-ahead on an article for io9 about Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale that I’ve wanted to write since I first read the book decades ago. There are book contract conversations mulling and roiling about which I can give no information yet, but it will come, it will come. There are strange and unsubstantiated rumors about which I cannot yet comment involving strange purchases of certain volumes. I’ve just finished an interview by my old friend Emily Mah for Black Gate which should be up sometime in the next month or so. And I’ve been invited to be the weekend speaker at this year’s Taos Toolbox. And my Darling Wife is testing for her next belt tomorrow.
And how’s the world been treating you?
Well if you’ve read A Shadow in Summer and want to talk about what I got right and wrong in it, or if you’ve wanted to read it and talk about it with someone, or if you just really enjoy spoiler and would like to get a good understanding of the book without actually reading it, October is your lucky month. Your friends and mine at Fantasy-Faction are looking to start up a conversation about the book.
Looking back at A Shadow in Summer, I have to admit I would do one thing differently. Specifically, I would add one simple, declarative sentence on page 231 of the hardback that would clarify and dispel the one persistent criticism people have of the book. But as my old teacher, Fred Saberhagen said, if it’s not on the page, it’s not on the page. The joy of being a writer is living forever with our petty failures.
So anyway, if you’re up for it, by all means go talk the book over.