Saturday, August 25, 2012

_Swordspoint_ and "The Death of the Duke", by Ellen Kushner

I put the novel Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner on hold after reading her short story "The Death of the Duke" on Strange Horizons, and reading the introduction to it. It's not a recent book -- it's from 1987. By the time the book arrived, the only thing I remembered about it was that it was a no-magic fantasy.

It's a great book with strong characters and a believable setting. I was skeptical of the no-magic fantasy at first, but I'm very happy to read about a place with cultural differences -- mainly, the use of dueling-by-proxy to settle disputes between noble houses.

It's a short book and a pretty spare setting -- all the action takes place in a nameless city, the capitol of a realm that somehow kicked out its king years ago and has been getting along fine via a council of nobles.

Perhaps the oddest thing about it the society is that some characters are bisexual and no one makes a big deal of it. There's no angst associated with it and it's never used as a plot point.

Some of those bisexuals manage to get it on a number of times, but it's handled adroitly -- the book is pretty romantic while being less racy than a lot of recent romance novels. Probably if the thing was filmed, I'd find it uncomfortable to sit through. But this isn't a film, it's a story with characters who make you feel strongly, and I can't ask for better than that.

Also, cool swordfights.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I got an Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future contest!

I've been waiting to announce this ... waiting for the contest people to post this on their own blog. Which they've now done here:

This was for a story called "Dragon Hunter."

Saturday, August 18, 2012

_The Poison Eaters_ by Holly Black

I read somewhere that Holly Black was good. The Poison Eaters is a collection of fantasy stories. I liked all of them. This is rare in the extreme.

Her viewpoint characters are kids and teens on the edge of society, mostly, which is unusual, and handled well by her. Read it. You won't regret it.