A Pebble in the Mountains

My short story “A Pebble in the Mountains” has been accepted to the anthology Myriad Lands, edited by David Stokes. I’m really excited about this book. It’s a collection of fantasy stories based in settings beyond medieval Europe.

The release date will be in mid-July, and I’ll keep everyone posted when there’s a web page for pre-orders. In the meantime, here’s a travel ad from the Republic of Georgia. The first half is very much of the same flavour as my story. It could almost be a book trailer.




Review: Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen

I dearly love Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series and I heard some rave reviews of this book from folks who read the ARC, but in the end it left me cold. At best, it’s a charming extended coda that ties up one of the Vorkosigan Saga’s loose threads.

I can see why many fans are happy to have a story about coming out. The much quieter, character-driven plot is also an interesting experiment, but not entirely a successful one, in my opinion. There’s a discombobulating revelation around pages 15 and 16 that makes you see certain parts of all the previous novels in a different light, which is fun, but that’s the only real highlight.

The problem for me is that the stakes are set very low. The plot is about adults in positions of great power and the life decisions they make, particularly regarding sex and relationships. Since these people are the most powerful leaders on their planet, nothing really impedes their romance. What little tension the plot has is supplied by such mundane questions as Will Admiral Jole Accept the Unappetizing-Sounding Promotion he Clearly Doesn’t Need? and How Will Cosmopolitan, Galactic-Raised Miles React to the Discovery that Consenting Adults Have Had Sex? The answers are never in doubt.

In recent Vorkosigan novels, the caper plot arcs have felt more and more forced, and in this book the author simply declines to put her characters in physical or emotional danger at all. Time and again, the merest hint of suspense is squelched within one or two sentences. Bujold writes well enough to make individual scenes moderately entertaining, but frankly the book felt more like self-indulgent fan fiction than a novel in its own right.

And that’s probably why my attention started to go sideways. I began asking myself questions like Do I respect these people as political leaders? and peering around corners, trying to see what this story looks like from other characters’ points of view. Continue reading