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Ian Tregillis

Ian TregillisIan Tregillis received a doctorate in physics from the University of Minnesota in 2002 for research on radio galaxies and quasars. He is an alumnus of the 2005 Clarion Writers’ Workshop. Nowadays he lives in New Mexico, where he consorts with writers, scientists, and other disreputable types. Learn more at Ian Tregillis’s website.

The Milkweed Triptych

The Milkweed Triptych — (2010-2013) Publisher: It’s 1939. The Nazis have supermen, the British have demons, and one perfectly normal man gets caught in between. Raybould Marsh is a British secret agent in the early days of the Second World War, haunted by something strange he saw on a mission during the Spanish Civil War: a German woman with wires going into her head who looked at him as if she knew him. When the Nazis start running missions with people who have unnatural abilities — a woman who can turn invisible, a man who can walk through walls, and the woman Marsh saw in Spain who can use her knowledge of the future to twist the present — Marsh is the man who has to face them. He rallies the secret warlocks of Britain to hold the impending invasion at bay. But magic always exacts a price. Eventually, the sacrifice necessary to defeat the enemy will be as terrible as outright loss would be. Alan Furst meets Alan Moore in the opening of an epic of supernatural alternate history, the tale of a twentieth century like ours and also profoundly different.

Ian Tregillis Milkweed Triptych 1. Bitter SeedsIan Tregillis Milkweed Triptych 1. Bitter Seeds 2. The Coldest WarIan Tregillis Milkweed Triptych 1. Bitter Seeds 2. The Coldest War 3. Necessary Evil

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Bitter Seeds: A dark story of a dark time in human history

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Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis

Ian Tregillis takes the notion of an alternate history of World War II to new heights in his first novel, Bitter Seeds. The weapons Germany and England bring to bear on the conflict include not just men and guns, but also magical forces. Germany has developed psychic powers in certain individuals, powered by batteries wired into their brains; the powers vary from individual to individual, but include the ability to become invisible and impervious to weapons; the ability to see the future; and the ability to make external objects explode. On the other hand, the English have an ancient route to the inexplicable: a sort of magic that is really access to an alien race that will perform services in exchange for blood. Neither country really understands the forces with which it is reckoning, but neither cares in their desperate effort t... Read More

The Coldest War: An alternate look at the Cold War

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The Coldest War by Ian Tregillis

I loved Bitter Seeds, the first volume of THE MILKWEED TRIPTYCH. Ian Tregillis is executing a brilliant spin on twentieth-century world history with this series. The Coldest War begins roughly twenty years after the events of Bitter Seeds, and the name is fitting. Not only is this the Cold War, but it’s also a very cold part of the lives of the protagonists. In fact, the first half of the book is downright depressing as characters realize what an unfortunate life March lives, and while Will seems very lucky, his life takes a negative spin as well. Then, you insert Gretel (who makes my skin crawl) and her brother Klaus, and you have a simmering pot of dark tension just waiting to boil... Read More

The Alchemy Wars

The Alchemy Wars — (2015- ) Publisher: The Clakker: a mechanical man, endowed with great strength and boundless stamina — but beholden to the wishes of its human masters. Soon after the Dutch scientist and clockmaker Christiaan Huygens invented the very first Clakker in the 17th Century, the Netherlands built a whole mechanical army. It wasn’t long before a legion of clockwork fusiliers marched on Westminster, and the Netherlands became the world’s sole superpower. Three centuries later, it still is. Only the French still fiercely defend their belief in universal human rights for all men — flesh and brass alike. After decades of warfare, the Dutch and French have reached a tenuous cease-fire in a conflict that has ravaged North America. But one audacious Clakker, Jax, can no longer bear the bonds of his slavery. He will make a bid for freedom, and the consequences of his escape will shake the very foundations of the Brasswork Throne.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

The Mechanical: Strong characters, intriguing world, big questions

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The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis

I’m a sucker for early natural philosophers, so I admit the pre-publication description of The Mechanical, Ian Tregillis’ new novel, pretty much had me at, “Soon after the Dutch scientist and clockmaker Christiaan Huygens…” The rest of the blurb, about a “mechanical army” of “Clakkers” allowing the Netherlands to become the world’s sole superpower, the French trying to make a last stand in North America, and an “audacious Clakker, Jax” making “a bid for freedom”? Icing on the cake. And a sweet, rich cake it is, too.

The Mechanical begins two centuries after Huygens’ discoveries paved the way for the Netherlands’ creation of the Clakkers — clockwork servitors/soldiers. The Brasswork... Read More

The Rising: Strong book two of an excellent series

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The Rising by Ian Tregillis

I thoroughly enjoyed Ian Tregillis The Mechanical, the first book in his THE ALCHEMY WARS series, and I’m happy to say that book two, The Rising, continues the story in strong fashion, showing not a whit of sophomore slump.

The series is set in an alternative history world where Christiaan Huygens’ discoveries led to the Netherlands dominating the world via a mechanical army of “Clakkers.” The sole resistance is led by the French in North America’s “New France,” (old France has already been conquered) whose capital, Marseilles-in-the-West (Montreal) is under siege.

As with The Mechanical Read More

The Liberation: A thrilling, thoughtful close to a great series

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The Liberation by Ian Tregillis

The Liberation (2016)is the concluding novel to Ian Tregillis’ fantastic ALCHEMY WARS trilogy, and he wraps it all up with a book as strong in action and deep in thought as its predecessors, making this series one of my favorites of recent years and one I highly recommend. If you haven’t read the first two (and you absolutely should fix that error), you’ll probably want to stop here as there will be a few unavoidable spoilers for both The Mechanical and The Rising. And since I’m assuming, therefore, that you’ve read those books, I won’t bother with recapping basic p... Read More

The Witch Who Came in from the Cold: Spy vs. Spy in the city of a hundred spires

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The Witch Who Came in from the Cold by Lindsay Smith, Max Gladstone, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Ian Tregillis & Michael Swanwick

The Witch Who Came in from the Cold (2017) is a study in contradictions. It’s a collaborative novel that feels seamless despite the five contributing authors: Lindsay Smith, Max Gladstone, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Ian Tregillis, and Michael Swanwick. It was originally published in serialized form by Read More

Magazine Monday: Subterranean Magazine, Fall 2013

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The Fall 2013 issue of Subterranean Magazine is a delight to read. The stories are challenging and imaginative, full of discovery, provocation and excellent writing.

The issue opens with “Doctor Helios,” a long novella by Lewis Shiner. It’s a Cold War espionage novel, reminiscent more of Ian Fleming than of John le Carré, set in Egypt in 1963 as the Aswan Dam is being built. Our hero is John York, apparently a member of the CIA, who has been tasked with ensuring that the dam does not succeed. President Kennedy may want to develop a new relationship with President Nasser of Egypt after years of tension following Nasser’s overthrow of the monarchy and nationalization of the Suez Canal Company, but the CIA thinks he’s a communist and wants his grandest project to fail. York has the same touch with the... Read More

SFM: Ronald, Vernon, Tregillis, Kowal, Hartley, Deeds

Short Fiction Monday: There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we've read recently that we wanted you to know about.



“And Then, One Day, the Air was Full of Voices” by Margaret Ronald (June 2016, free at Clarkesworld or paperback magazine issue)


Dr. Kostia is a keynote speaker and panel participant in an academic conference. Her specialty is extra-terrestrial intelligence ― specifically, the analysis of some radio-like transmissions from an alien race called the Coronals. About thirty years before, Earth scientists received a signal from the Corona Borealis that rewrote an entire computing cent... Read More

Inside Straight: A WILD CARDS reboot

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Inside Straight edited by George R.R. Martin

The year 2008 saw the (second?) rebirth of the WILD CARDS series edited and co-written by George R.R. Martin. These are ‘mosaic’ novels — stories written by several authors and set in a shared universe. The first book, Wild Cards, appeared in 1987. Inside Straight (2008) is book 18. To make this 18th book a good entry point, Martin and his companions created something of a Wild Cards: the Next Generation to reboot the series.

What do you need to know about the back story of the Wild Cards? Not a lot really. In 1946 an alien virus hit earth. It killed ninety percent of those infected, disfigured nine percent and left a lucky one percent with su... Read More

Busted Flush: Not very satisfying

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Busted Flush edited by George R.R. Martin

Busted Flush is the nineteenth entry in the Wild Cards series of mosaic novels edited by George R.R. Martin. The previous book, Inside Straight is something of a new beginning for the series, a new trilogy with new characters and a couple of new writers. It's a good point to get started. Unfortunately Busted Flush falls a bit short of the standard set in the first book of the Committee trilogy.

The story picks up some time after the events in Inside Straight. The UN secretary-general has snapped up the new American heroes after their dramatic performance in Egypt and formed the Committee — a group of Aces dealing with everything from genocide to natural disasters.There is plenty of work; our heroes are spread thin. In fact, the cracks in their organis... Read More

Suicide Kings: Surprising depth

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Suicide Kings edited by George R.R. Martin

Suicide Kings is the third part in the latest reincarnation of the long-running WILD CARDS series. Together with Inside Straight and Busted Flush it forms the Committee trilogy. I guess you could consider this trilogy WILD CARDS the next generation. These books are meant to be an entry point for new readers. Like most of the previous novels, Suicide Kings is a collaborative effort. This volume is written by six authors — Daniel Abraham, S.L. Farrell, Victor Milán, Read More

FanLit Asks: August 28, 2012

Some of your favorite authors take some time to answer our questions:
Got any personal news to share?
Ian Tregillis: This is shaping up to be a busy summer for me. In June, I submitted my fourth novel (Something More Than Night) to Tor.  In July, my first novel (Bitter Seeds) debuted in the UK, and a week later my second novel (The Coldest War) came out here in the US. And I just finished reviewing the copyedits for my third novel (Necessary Evil). I'm attending two conventions in August. Bubonicon in Albuquerque (yes, New Mexico's local convention is named after the bubonic plague!) and Worldcon in Chicago.



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FanLit Asks: September 11, 2012

Five of your favorite authors take some time to answer our questions:
Got any personal news to share?
Sarah Beth DurstMy next YA novel, Vessel, comes out from Simon & Schuster/McElderry today. It's about a girl who lives in a harsh desert land and is destined to sacrifice herself so her clan's goddess can inhabit her body... but her goddess never comes. It recently received a starred review in Kirkus. (Yay!) Also, I sold three new books! They're my first books for adults: The Lost, The Missing, and The Found, and I'm really excited about them. Also recently, a bunch people in California parked a car on Mars, took some photos, and send them back, which I'm claiming as personal news because I stayed up late to watch it. Actually, I think Curiosity on Mars counts a... Read More

FanLit Asks: October 2, 2012

Some of your favorite authors take some time to answer our questions:
Got any news to share?
Steven R. Boyett: I'm excited that I will be reading at the opening weekend of San Francisco's massive Litquake festival, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2-3 PM. I usually record these things, so it will be on the media page of my blog soon afterward. In my mortal guise I'm also a semi-famous DJ, and I'm also hugely stoked that I'll be DJing the Litquake/Litcrawl closing party at  Read More