Rose Hill's Writing Grove

A Fantasy author in the Twin Cities

Book Review – God’s War

God’s War by Kameron Hurley is one of the best books I’ve read in a while.  A friend recommended it to me years ago, and now I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner.

This book is sort of Science Fantasy bugtech, which is exactly as weird and fascinating as it sounds.  It’s set in a desert warzone with a fantasy version of Islam all around.  It’s a wonderful change from the pseudo-Christianity and pseudo-Europe we usually see in Fantasy.  Our protagonist is a bisexual bounty hunter in a country dominated by women.

The writing itself is very short and to the point.  It was fairly “tell-y” at times, but that seemed to work for the style of the writing.  Keeping the sentences short and to the point is absolutely in-keeping with the narrative voice of Nyx, the protagonist.

I will say this is not a happy book.  This is not a book you read to pick yourself up, though it might be one you read for some catharsis.  This is graphically violent and doesn’t shy away from any of it.  In the same way that some of my previous reviews have said “this is not my style”?  Well, this book IS my style, but it might not be yours.

I will admit that I was already a fan of Hurley’s writing after reading The Geek Feminist, but now I’m going to have to seek out her other fiction as well.

 

Recommended for: fans of dark fantasy, feminist fantasy, people looking for POC protagonists, people looking for WOC protagonists, fans of Atomic Blonde, fans of bounty hunters and other low-life characters, people looking for queer protagonists

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Book Review: A Wizard of Earthsea

This book is considered one of the classics of Sci-Fi/Fantasy as a genre.  It was originally published by Ursula K. Le Guin, one of the legends of Fantasy, in 1968.  For as long as I’ve been working on my novel, people have been telling me I need to read this book for two reasons: a similar setting, and non-white protagonists.

And this book certainly has that, so if you’re tired of pseudo-European fantasy or were frustrated with the thinly veiled racism of the Lord of the Rings, this is definitely a classic you’d want to check out.

As to whether I actually enjoyed reading it…  No.  This is not my style of book.  I like high-action stories with engaging characters I can get behind.  This is not that.  I kept putting it down for long stretches, and finished it more out of obligation than any real desire to.

Ged reminds me a lot of Draco from Harry Potter, and despite my fondness for shipping, that’s not actually a fun protagonist to follow.  He spends the early part of his life with everyone talking about how powerful and important he is, and it goes to his head fast.  His arrogance gets kicked hard at one point, and then he spends the rest of the book trying to fix his mistake.  At no point did I actually like him as a character.  There was no sympathy there.  His proactivity felt more like a magical compulsion than any choice of his own.  And I felt like his competence was more told than shown.

…which is actually a problem I had with the entire book.  A Wizard of Earthsea has the same mythopoetic feel that Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia have.  I can easily see why they are compared.  It feels like someone is telling you a story, rather than letting you experience it through the character.  That sort of distance is not as popular as it once was, and it’s not something I enjoy.

I would like to clarify that this is not a bad book, it’s just not my style.  If this is your type of book, don’t let my review of it scare you away.

 

Recommended for: Fans of LOTR, fans of Narnia, people looking for fantasy classics written by women, people looking for non-white protagonists

Anthology Submissions

A random collection of anthology submissions I think look interesting.

WELCOME TO MISKATONIC UNIVERSITY

Theme: Lovecraftian universe
Deadline: June 30, 2017
Payment: $0.08 per word
Word Count: 3K-6K

STRANGE BEASTIES

Theme: Weird creatures
Deadline: July 15, 2017
Payment: $0.06 per word
Word Count: 1.5K – 3K

CHTHONIC

Theme: Underground and underworlds
Deadline: July 31, 2017
Payment:  3 cents per word Canadian
Word Count: 1.5K – 7K

SHARP & SUGAR TOOTH

Theme: The dark side of culinary life (female-identified characters)
Deadline: July 31, 2017
Payment: $0.06 per word
Word Count: Up to 5K

THE DELICIOUS WOUND

Theme: Mythical romance
Deadline: November 1, 2017
Payment: PDF contributor’s copy, coupon code for three physical copies at cost
Word Count: Up to 10K

TOUCH ME, HEAL ME

Theme: Sexual healing (sci-fi/fantasy context)
Deadline: June 15, 2017
Payment: $25 flat rate
Word Count: 3.5K – 7.5K

GOLDEN AGE EROTICA

Theme: as the title
Deadline: July 1, 2017
Payment: $25 flat rate
Word Count: 3K – 7K

TROUBLE THE WATERS

Theme: water in spec fic, mythology focus
Deadline:November 1, 2017
Payment: $0.06 per word
Word Count: 2.5K – 7K

Book Review: If I Were An Evil Overlord

I don’t know if I have previously mentioned my love of anthologies (I’m reasonably certain I have), but in case I haven’t, let me state it again.  Anthologies are a great way to discover how a bunch of different authors tackle the same sort of theme.

If I Were An Evil Overlord is, as might be guessed, an anthology about evil overlords and dictators.  Being an anthology, there were some stories that I liked better than others.  This time around, I decided to do a quick recap of each story, and my general thoughts on it.  Keep in mind, this is based exclusively on my personal taste, which yours probably won’t match up with.

  • If Looks Could Kill: The story was a delightful LOTR spoof, then ended on a transphobic joke.  Disappointing.
  • The Man Who Would Be Overlord: Eh.  I don’t know whether it was a stupid character or plot holes, but there were too many big gaps in this story to find it truly enjoyable.
  • Ensuring the Succession: I liked this one.  There is something satisfying about competent evil characters.  Plus, a successful succession is the main problem most empires face–this handled it well.
  • The Life and Death of the Fortune Cookie Tyrant: Not bad.  The premise is a bit silly and incompletely explored, but it is still entertaining and ended in a satisfying fashion.
  • Daddy’s Little Girl: I have a deep love for creepy children, so this was perfect.  Just perfect.
  • Gordie Culligan vs Dr. Longbeach and the HVAC of Doom: This story made me laugh out loud on multiple occasions.  Plus, I enjoyed the conversational tone and the look at ordinary people using totally practical skills to save the day.  Probably my favorite story in the anthology.
  • The Sins of the Sons: Intriguing, especially the family dynamics.  Not bad, but also not memorable.
  • Loser Takes All: This has a particularly satisfying ending.  The actions in-game reflect in reality and reach their expected bitter consequences.
  • The Next Level: Eh, I feel like the planned rape at the end was gratuitous to establish the character as an evil overlord.  It left a bad taste over what was otherwise an entertaining story.
  • Advisers at Naptime: I’m tickled by this simply for the direct reference to the Evil Overlord List about five-year-olds.
  • A Woman’s Work: I love smart villains.  Especially ones smart enough to make themselves beloved of their people.  This was perfect.
  • To Sit in Darkness Here, Hatching Vain Empires: Okay, this was actually one of the more chilling ones.  The villain won.  Completely.  And he has the resources and skills to do it again, world after world.
  • Stronger Than Fate: A delightful story with an excellent closing line.  Pay attention to the details.
  • Art Therapy: This story felt almost disappointing.  I liked the voice of the villain, but he went all soft at the end.

 

Overall, I liked the blend of stories that let the villains win and those that didn’t.  Definitely an entertaining read.

Recommended for: Fans of fantasy anthologies, fans of villain protagonists

Anthology Submissions

A periodic call for short story submissions that I think look interesting.

APPETITES
Theme: What do your characters hunger for?
Deadline: February 28, 2017
Payment: $0.02 per word
Word Count: 6K max, 3K preferred

LOST WORLDS / SUPERNATURAL HORROR / TIME TRAVEL / HEROIC FANTASY
Theme: As the title of each would suggest
Deadline: February 28, 2017
Payment: $0.06 per word (SFWA qualifying market)
Word Count: 2K-4K, not firm

A FOOL FOR YOU
Theme: Queer romance with a trickster of some sort
Deadline: March 31, 2017
Payment: $200 flat payment
Word Count: 10K – 20K

PROBLEM DAUGHTERS
Theme: Intersectional feminism in speculative fiction
Deadline: March 31, 2017
Payment: $0.06 per word
Word Count: Up to 7.5K

SNAFU JUDGEMENT DAY
Theme: Post-apocalyptic military horror
Deadline: April 31, 2017
Payment: 4 cents per word, AUD
Word Count: 2K-10K

LIGHTSPEED MAGAZINE
Theme: Fantasy and Sci-fi
Submissions Period: April 1 – April 30, 2017
Payment: $0.08 per word (SFWA qualifying market)
Word Count: 1.5K – 10K, 5K or less preferred

SWORD & SORCERESS 32
Theme: Sword and sorcery with a female protagonist
Submissions Period: April 24 – May 14, 2017
Payment: $0.06 per word
Word Count: Up to 9K, shorter preferred

Science for Sci-Fi Writers

Hey all,

Looking to firm up the science behind your space opera?  Check out Launch Pad Astronomy and get a chance to pick up some real space science.

I am not affiliated with this program in any way.  I heard about it through one of my publishers, but since I write Fantasy rather than Sci-Fi it’s less useful for me.  If it’s something that could help you, check it out.  The deadline for applications is March 1st.

FANTASTICALLY HORNY Out Now!

Hello all!

I know this is a little delayed, but you can now purchase another of my short stories.  Check out “The Fourth Husband” in FANTASTICALLY HORNY.

Check it out here in paperback, or here in Kindle.

Check me out in Sword & Sorceress 31!

Check out the link below to buy it in your preferred format.  Get it for yourself or your friends for the holidays.

http://www.mzbworks.com/s31.htm

 

New Circlet Book!

Hey all,

This is not an anthology that I’m published in, but one that is coming out from Circlet Press, who should theoretically be publishing one of my shorts in an anthology eventually.  🙂  Also, it looks cool.

 

Check it out!

Anthology Submissions

A periodic post of random calls for submission that I think look interesting.

 

Anthology trio!

SUBMERGED, ALL HAIL OUR ROBOT CONQUERERS!, and THE DEATH OF ALL THINGS

Theme: SUBMERGED – water; ROBOT – classic robots; DEATH – Death as a person
Deadline: December 31, 2016
Payment: $0.06 per word
Word Count: 7.5K max

 

IF MOM’S HAPPY

Theme: mother erotica
Deadline: December 31, 2016
Payment: $50 plus two copies
Word Count: 1.5K – 4.5K

 

HUMANS WANTED

Theme: Humans being badass in space (sci-fi only)
Deadline: December 31, 2016
Payment: $250, flat rate
Word Count: 3K-6K

 

GODS AND MONSTERS

Theme: gods and/or monsters
Deadline: December 31, 2016
Payment: $0.06 per word, up to $500
Word Count: 1.5K – 17.5K

 

A SCANDAL IN GOMORRAH

Theme: More queer Sherlock!
Deadline: December 31, 2016
Payment: $0.03 per word
Word Count: 2K – 6K