The Lampworks Lamplighter
SF & Fantasy News & Reviews
In this issue
- Buying locally
- Musings on history and science fiction
- Reviews of books by Zelazny, Gibson, Kingfisher, and Sanderson
- Featured promotions to help you find new authors to follow
See that logo? It means you can buy a selection from Bookshop.org, an online shop that supports independent bookstores. If you buy from them, your local bookstore will get the profit as if they sold it directly to you. (And, as always, click on the book cover to visit the Amazon Kindle page.) You can find all of our recommendations this month on our Bookshop Store.
Connecting Science Fiction and Historical Fiction
The wind softly moans through the chinks in the drystone walls. The 2,000-year-old broch tower entrance is half sunk in the ground, and I bend low to scramble inside. Centuries of use as a resource for building stones have reduced it to a shadow of its former self. Still, as I emerge onto the rubble pile inside the old ruin, lit by the fickle sunlight of a Scottish afternoon, a familiar feeling begins to grow. Looking out across the water lies the island of Mousa, with its archaeological treasure clearly visible against the sky - another broch tower, dramatically different than the one in which I stand, for it is the only one in existence that is largely undamaged, standing over 40' tall. Not a single other person, or indeed any hint of the 21st century at all, can be seen in any direction from this low promontory by the sea. There is a sense that comes in places like this for me, an almost palpable feeling of a connection to another time. Mixing passions for archaeology and science fiction together, my mind turns to wonder (again) about the idea that all of time might, in fact, be happening at once. Our limited ability to process time causes it to play sequentially in our heads like a movie. If true, they could still be here, these iron age people, still living their lives, and if I could peer around the right extra-dimensional corner at just the right moment, I might catch a fleeting glimpse of someone from another age drifting past, catch the scent of their smoky peat fire and hear the murmuring of speech in a language long lost.
Chuck asked recently why I think we both enjoy historical fiction. I confess to being an incurable archaeology enthusiast, but archaeology only gets me partway to where I want to go (which is probably why I'm not an archaeologist!) I like the context and framework that history and archaeology provide, but I also feel a need to fill in missing pieces and detail with imagination. Historical fiction adds the meat onto the bones (sometimes literally!) It also helps paint a more detailed picture of time periods that relate to the stories we write.
The Sellenria book takes place over a year or so, but Sellenria's history stretches over many thousands of years, and Stenn Gremm's tale is only a small part of an immensely broader continuum. Sellenria's history is the bones upon which to build the characters and plots of the books. The human period of Sellenria's history, devoid of the technology that cannot exist there, bears no small resemblance to the late Medieval or early Renaissance times, and even occasionally to the late Roman Empire. Reading books set in these periods helps gain a better understanding of how Sellenrians might handle different situations.
What reviewers have said:
Knots is a compelling story filled with unexpected characters, plot twists, literal location twists, mystery and redemption.
It's rare to find a story that defies convention/formulae and confidently goes where it needs to go.
Loved the book and the writing style such as the excerpts from the archives that connects back to the story (or maybe even to real world events).
It came as a shock to archaeologist Stenn Gremm to find that his ancestor had been a warlock.
What reviewers have said:
This book delighted on so many levels. It's smart, insightful, and wise. The many passages I highlighted are to remind myself how to be a better person.
... this story bolstered my faith that someone can still write decent sci-fi.
This story contains all you expect from SciFi: alien creatures, epic battles, and strange worlds; but even more it's a story about the best in people, whether human or otherwise.
What we're reading
- William Gibson
This is what you read Gibson for: cyberpunk, post-singularity, augmented humans, AI, up-to-the-minute world events, seasoned with an eye for characters who are at least two standard deviations away from average. As expected, he pays attention to the role that information, branding, media, form and function play with our perceptions of the world. This continues from his novel The Peripheral.
- Brandon Sanderson
Spensa's father was the best pilot of his time, but everyone knew that he ended his career in an act of cowardice. Spensa is determined to be an even better pilot and clear the family name, but no one wants to give her a chance. As she doggedly pursues her goal, she starts to find out that not everyone is her enemy, and that stories that everyone knows may not be true. A coming-of-age tale with lots of humor, and one of the quirkier mascots in a long time.
- T. Kingfisher
Oliver was 12 and knew three spells. But as the village wizard it was his job to go find the cloud herders and ask them to send rain to his drought-stricken village. He sets out with his sarcastic familiar and a big heart to do the job that needs to be done, learning that in a pinch, just two spells are enough. Clever, funny dialog keeps it lively, and the ending is satisfying.
- Roger Zelazny
They call him Kallikanzaros, Karaghiosis, and Konstantin. He calls himself Conrad. His wife is Cassandra and his dog is Bortan. The legends of ancient Greece have resurfaced in the radioactive ruins of earth, or perhaps they never left. The current owners of the planet are Vegans (their origin, not their diet). Conrad is charged with conducting a high-ranking Vegan and a motley crew on a dangerous tour. Conrad takes his duty to protect the alien seriously, but begins to suspect that his loyalties to Earth may require him to kill him instead.
You may also enjoy...
The Green Boy
- Sherif Guirguis
The fate of two worlds rests on the shoulders of a few unsuspecting souls, and it all begins with the journey of a boy who wants to find the truth behind his own existence.
Book 1 of The Chronicles of Agartha Series: an Epic Fantasy of Inner Earth
Yokai Calling Series
- Erynn Lehtonen
An engineer craving to become a warrior. A majyu with his future bound in filial piety... and a dark sorcerer who steals women into the night. An epic adventure set in a land inspired by Japanese folklore.
- Tyler J. Yates
A father loses his mind. A son will pay the price. An urban fantasy series about Jungian psychology, mental illness and the parallel universe seeking to take what is ours.
- Sahara Foley
On mining Colony 52, it's just another Christmas Eve. Or is it?
Deak is counting down the seconds until Christmas, the day he lost everything, when he's interrupted by a soft knock on his door, and a cry for help. Will he answer the plea, or end his unbearable grief?
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