Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois
Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance is the best anthology I’ve ever read. These stories will be enjoyed by any SFF reader, but they’ll be ten times more fun if you’ve read Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth, because they are all written in honor of that fantastic work. Each tale is written in the style of Vance, which is quite amusing in itself, and each takes place on the Dying Earth, that far-future wasteland in which natural selection means survival of the cleverest, nastiest, sneakiest, and most self-serving.
Songs of the Dying Earth was written by “many high-echelon, top-drawer writers” (as Mr. Vance says in the preface):... Read More
Liz Williams(1965- )
Liz Williams is the daughter of a conjuror and a Gothic novelist, and currently lives in Brighton, England. She has a Ph.D. in philosophy of science from Cambridge. She has had short fiction published in Asimov’s, Interzone, The Third Alternative and Realms of Fantasy, among others. She is also the current secretary of the Milford UK SF Writers’ Workshop. Learn more at Liz Williams’ website.
Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois
The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
I haven’t actually read every page of The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, yet I’m giving it my highest recommendation. Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, Master and Mistress of Weird, The Weird is 1126 pages long and should really be considered a textbook of weird fiction. It contains 110 carefully chosen stories spanning more than 100 years of weird fiction. Here’s what you can expect to find in this massive volume:
A “Forweird” by Michael Moorcock gives us a brief history of the weird tale, discusses how it has defied publishers’ attempts to categorize it into neatly-bordered genres, and gives examples of writers who are revered by modern readers but whose weird fiction caused them to be... Read More
Detective Inspector Chen — (2005-2011) Publisher: You were supposed to go to Heaven, but ended up in one of the many Chinese hells instead. Who you gonna call? Nobody, you’re dead. Luckily, in future Singapore, Detective Chen is on the case. Specializing in supernatural crimes, Chen finds himself in hell teaming up with a demon cop to solve the mystery, return a lost soul to its rightful reward, and restore harmony between Heaven and Earth.
Darkland — (2006-2007) Publisher: In the far-distant future Vali Hallsdottir, assassin of an organisation known as the Skald, is sent on a mission to the world of Nhem. Her assignment is to eliminate the destructive patriarchal regime of the Hierolath. But shortly after her arrival, Vali finds herself betrayed by her mission partner, who is not the man he seems. Frey, once Vali’s lover, has undergone a genetic transformation and has his own agenda for travelling to Nhem. After Vali’s escape from the clutches of the Hierolath’s militia she goes in search of Frey in order to discover the reasons for his betrayal. Her journey takes Vali to Darkland, where sinister forces known as the vitki wreak havoc…
Novels and Collections:
The Ghost Sister — (2001) Publisher: The fate of a planet lies with an outcast woman and a mysterious visitor…. In this richly imagined and thought-provoking novel, Liz Williams tells the story of a world engineered to preserve the precarious balance between animal and human. To this world comes an emissary from a distant planet who will walk the razor-thin line between consciousness and instinct, freedom and conformity, life and death. On Monde D’Isle a rugged people live in union with their world. They migrate with the tides of the moon, sense the meridians of the planet, and slip into a Dreamtime that grants them access to — and escape from — the darker urges of their animal nature. Mevennen ai Mordha is out of tune with her people’s “bloodmind.” She is protected by her devoted brother Eleres, who refuses to listen to those who say that Mevennen is not fit to live. Still, Mevennen fears that even her brother will give in to his instincts during the time of the hunt, when the Mondhaith seek out the weakest as their prey. Taking her on an expedition in hope of a cure, Eleres has brought Mevennen deep into the wilderness. There they are visited by a strange woman who they are certain is a ghost, but who is really a Gaian anthropologist charged with bringing utopia to their world. She promises to heal Mevennen — but it is a promise that comes with a terrible price….
Empire of Bones — (2002) Publisher: From Liz Williams comes a bold and provocative novel of the future in which the vast Indian subcontinent, home to thousands of gods, is visited by all-powerful alien beings from a distant world of controlled, sterile perfection. But what is their purpose: to free humanity — or to enslave it? EMPIRE OF BONES. Millions of years ago alien beings seeded Earth with their genetic strands to create a new outpost of intelligent life. Now their descendants have returned to Earth’s skies, drawn by their detection of a Receiver, a human with the genetic ability to tap into alien communications. It is the signal that Earth is ready to be absorbed into a vast galactic empire. Jaya Nihalani has been a prophet, a crusader, and a terrorist, fighting for the rights of her despised Untouchable caste. Now she lies in an Indian hospital, dying of a hideous disease. Her head is filled with voices and visions; her body is aging rapidly, inexplicably. But the voices and visions are no disease. Jaya is the Receiver whom the aliens intend to heal, enlighten… and use. Soon the subcontinent erupts in riots and chaos as powerful forces attempt to co-opt the enigmatic alien emissaries, and a shocked world awaits its fate. Jaya must somehow discover the plans of her perfect and powerful “friends.” Have they come to end human suffering, or to make it worse? Should she help them — or lead the impossible fight against them?
The Poison Master — (2002) Publisher: Alivet, a professional alchemiston the run for murder, is sequestered in Ghairen’s fortress laboratory, where she must find the one drug that can harm the Lords of the planet and topple their hierarchy. She is driven relentlessly to hone her skills in time — even though time itself is running out.
Nine Layers of Sky — (2003) Publisher: A former Soviet rocket scientist, Elena Irinovna now cleans office buildings — until she crosses paths with Ilya Muromyets. A remnant of Russia’s glorious and fabled past, Ilya is an eight-hundred-year-old hero turned heroin addict, dreaming of a death that never comes. They are brought together by a strange artifact Elena has found, which offers a glimpse into another dimension, creating a dangerous breach in a world Elena only thought she knew… Ilya is no stranger to the unexplained. He’s been hired by a mysterious organization to track down the artifact. But nothing prepares him for what it offers — or for a woman like Elena. Fighting their own inner demons as well as those from across the breach, Ilya and Elena embark on a harrowing trip between nations and worlds. And for the first time the man of myth and the woman of science discover that they have a dream to defend — and even die for…
Banner of Souls — (2004) Publisher: One of Spectra’s most imaginative and talented authors now takes us on a phantasmagoric journey into a strange future fueled by haunt-tech: a technology which works by harnessing energy from of the realm of the dead. But who are the mysterious race known as the Kami who brought haunt-tech to earth? Saviors from another world, or something else entirely? And how does the child named Lunae who can manipulate time with a thought fit into the puzzle? It is up to the Martian warrior Dreams-of-War to answer these questions before life as she knows it comes to an end.
Banquet of the Lords of Night — (2004) Publisher: The stories featured in The Banquet of the Lords of Night have appeared in Asimov’s, Interzone, Realms of Fantasy, and The Third Alternative, among others. The stories within the covers of The Banquet of the Lords of Night are varied in style and subject matter, but they are all powerfully written. From the breathtaking title story, “Banquet of the Lords of Night” about an Earth plunged into a world of darkness where light is against the law to the stunning “The Man from the Ministry” in which we learn the how far a mother will go where her family is concerned; Williams displays an astonishing breadth and variety of writing styles. Williams is equally at home writing galaxy-spanning science fiction like “Quantum Anthropology” as she is weaving a tale like “Adventures in the Ghost Trade” which incorporates demons, magic, the afterlife, and private detectives.
Winterstrike — (2008) Publisher: Winterstrike spy, Hestia Mar has been sent to Caud to recover details of an ancient weapon. During her stay in the Martian city, she encounters the ghost of a warrior, who turns out to be the encoded representation of the city’s bombed library. She downloads the data contained here, and the details of the weapon are among them. But Hestia Mar realises too late what she has done: by accessing the data, she has virtually guaranteed the use of the weapon against Caud by her own government. Desperate to rescue the situation she makes her way back home across the dangers of the Crater Plain. Meanwhile, in Winterstrike itself, the festival of Ombre has been taking place upon the eve of war. Shorn, a woman imprisoned by her family for accidentally consorting with a male – manages to escape. Her sister Essgui follows Shorn and sets out across the Crater Plain where she meets Hestia Mar. Their journey — to recover lost sister and missing weapon — takes them into the dangerous mountains of Mars, and the discovery of a group of outcast male creatures who hold the secrets to the Martian past, and to its future…
A Glass of Shadow — (2011) Publisher: A collection of 19 stories personally selected by the author, including two original to the collection, tales that draw aside the veils of mundane reality to reveal the hidden truths of this world and beyond. Stories that transport the reader from the icy Mars of Winterstrike to the searing deserts of Kazakhstan; from the exotic streets of Inspector Chen’s Singapore Three to the forgotten waterways and hidden courtyards of Venice. Liz Williams writes science fiction with the rich textures of the very best fantasy, and fantasy with the sensibilities of high-end science fiction. She reveals the world around us in subtly different shades and portrays other realms with a vividness that defies doubt.
Worldsoul — (2012) Publisher: What if being a librarian was the most dangerous job in the world? Worldsoul, a great city that forms a nexus point between Earth and the many dimensions known as the Liminality, is a place where old stories gather, where forgotten legends come to fade and die — or to flourish and rise again. Until recently, Worldsoul has been governed by the Skein, but they have gone missing and no one knows why. The city is also being attacked with lethal flower-bombs from an unknown enemy. Mercy Fane and her fellow Librarians are doing their best to maintain the Library, but… things… keep breaking out of ancient texts and legends are escaping into the city. Mercy must pursue one such dangerous creature. She turns to Shadow, an alchemist, for aid, but Shadow — inadvertently possessed by an ifrit — has a perilous quest of her own to undertake.
Lightspeed Magazine is edited by the formidable John Joseph Adams, who has produced a long series of wonderful anthologies and is soon to launch a new horror magazine. One might be concerned that such a busy schedule would mean that something would get short shrift, but if that is the case, it certainly isn’t Issue 26 of Lightspeed.
About half of the content of this magazine, which is produced in electronic format only, consists of interviews, novel excerpts, an artist gallery and spotlight, and author spotlights. In addition, roughly half of the fiction offered is original; the r... Read More