events, Writing

Tick Tock Anthology Release


I am thrilled to announce the release on December 15th, 2020 of Time Travel anthology Tick Tock (Five Hundred Fiction, #1) published by Black Hare Press.

Tick Tock features 500 word flash fiction including my story “Second Chances” a desperate escape from World War II ravaged Europe into the Neolithic through a standing stone circle. You can read about writing “Second Chances” here.

Interested in purchasing an ebook or paperback of Tick Tock? More details here.

reads, Recent Reads

Harrow the Ninth

From the Blurb:

“She answered the Emperor’s call.

She arrived with her arts, her wits, and her only friend.

In victory, her world has turned to ash.

After rocking the cosmos with her deathly debut, Tamsyn Muir continues the story of the penumbral Ninth House in Harrow the Ninth, a mind-twisting puzzle box of mystery, murder, magic, and mayhem. Nothing is as it seems in the halls of the Emperor, and the fate of the galaxy rests on one woman’s shoulders. Harrowhark Nonagesimus, last necromancer of the Ninth House, has been drafted by her Emperor to fight an unwinnable war. Side-by-side with a detested rival, Harrow must perfect her skills and become an angel of undeath — but her health is failing, her sword makes her nauseous, and even her mind is threatening to betray her. Sealed in the gothic gloom of the Emperor’s Mithraeum with three unfriendly teachers, hunted by the mad ghost of a murdered planet, Harrow must confront two unwelcome questions: is somebody trying to kill her? And if they succeeded, would the universe be better off?”

Review:

I admit to possessing a strong bias when I started reading Harrow the Ninth by New Zealand author Tamsyn Muir. I adored Gideon the Ninth, the first instalment in The Locked Tomb Trilogy and after such an extraordinary and unique beginning, I expected great things from Harrow the Ninth. I was not disappointed and the second instalment in The Locked Tomb Trilogy was surprising, complex and at times- perplexing. The highly-charged atmosphere of Gideon the Ninth could not be recreated and to avoid a pale replica, Harrow the Ninth makes its own impact.

Harrow the Ninth continues from events that concluded Gideon the Ninth. There are substantial time lapses, jumps both forward and backward as Harrowhark, the protagonist of this novel, battles the truth of her own madness and tries to master the powers of a lyctor before the Emperor Undying is hunted down by the vengeful ghosts of organisms, entire planets murdered during the first Resurrection. The reality for Harrowhark is that unreality is bleeding through into her daily existence and her teachers are either intent on her demise or indifferent about her survival. Harrowhark needs all of her wits and strength to survive the coming battle and as madness descends, she needs Gideon more than ever.

My Thoughts?

Harrow the Ninth is not a recreation of the concepts or style familiar in Gideon the Ninth. If looking for more of the same, it’s not found here. Instead, Harrow the Ninth is distinctly its own and refreshing for it.

Conclusions:

Highly recommended. Brilliant characters, complexity and world-building continuing The Locked Tomb Trilogy. A great read!

Short Stories, stories, Writing

Forthcoming: Time-Travel Anthology

Tick Tock (Five Hundred Fiction, #1) from Black Hare Press is a new collection of flash fiction with each story inspired by the theme of time travel and exactly 500 words.

My flash fiction piece “Second Chances” is about a desperate escape from a battle-ruined future into an ancient past. Time-travel is not restricted to science-fiction with my flash fiction drawing on the folklore and mystery of standing stones and stone circles to transport people to other worlds or times.

Keep an eye out for more updates on release dates for Tick Tock and where to buy ebooks and paperbacks.

reads, Recent Reads

Gideon the Ninth


I read Gideon the Ninth by New Zealand author Tamsyn Muir after hearing many great reviews for this magic-induced, science-fiction adventure.
Gideon the Ninth focuses on the central character of Gideon from the Ninth House, an orphan raised alongside the ruling heir, the extraordinary necromancer, Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House. Harrowhark is a powerful necromancer but like all those in the ruling Houses, the talent wield such magic has a physical cost. The necromancers are protected by their swordweilding cavaliers.
The Ninth House is the last of the great ruling Houses and when the Emperor Undying calls the representatives forth, Harrowhark Nonagesimus seizes the oppurtunjty to rescue her crumbling House, it’s future bleaker than the skeletons that keep the illusion of a prosperous House alive. But Harrowhark finds herself with a problem. The Ninth have no cavalier and the only swordsman capable of defending Harrowhark is the military trained Gideon. For her own part, Gideon has tried to escape the Ninth House countless times and being indebted to serve Harrowhark and protect her is less than appealing. In the end, to survive, both Harrowhark and Gideon must unite forces and mascquerade before the challenge the Emperor sets forth. The necromancer among the Nine Houses who succeeds and defeats the challenges put before them and their cavalier, becomes an immortal necromancer, capable of wielding the combined powers of necromancer and cavalier, able to stand alongside the Emperor in battle.
It is not unsurprising that Harrowhark and Gideon discover many secrets best left buried and learn the darkest truth about the Empire, each other and themselves. To succeed, both must work together and the uneasy alliance soon becomes a firmer friendship built on the decades in each other’s vicinity. The truth of Harrowhark’s true power remains unknown and the true parentage of Gideon is another mystery which will aid them both in the dangerous battles of wits and lies to outmanoeuvre the necromancers and cavaliers of the other Houses.
I throughly enjoyed the fast-pace of Gideon the Ninth and the witty, refreshing characters. The world-building is solid and intriguing. I can’t wait for the next instalment. A highly recommended read!

Recent Reads, Writing

Zodiac Themed Anthology Series

I’m currently reading the second volume in a 12 part series, a Zodiac themed anthology produced by Aussie Speculative Fiction. Each month, a new anthology featuring that month’s zodiac sign will be released. This January-February, I’m reading Aquarius and because it’s also my own star sign. The Aquarius anthology features many unique interpretations of the water-carrier star sign by Australian and New Zealand speculative fiction writers. You can read more about the Aquarius volume here.

I have also contributed a short story to the Taurus Anthology which will be released in a few months. I also wrote a brief post on my inspiration and research behind the short story.

If you’re interested in reading the Aussie Speculative Fiction Zodiac Anthologies, you can find copies the Aquarius and Capricorn Anthologies through Books2Read with direct links to your preferred bookstore.

Recent Reads

Muse of Nightmares

One of the best recent reads was the Muse of Nightmares by US author Laini Taylor. Following the events that brought the prequel Strange the Dreamer (read review here) to a dramatic conclusion, Lazlo Strange has transformed into one of the godspawn, awakening his dormant power to mould the magical blue metal Mesarthim. In a final desperate challenge against the vengeful Minya, Sarai was lost to the living, tethered to the world only by Minya’s power over the souls of the dead. Now Lazlo is caught between his need to save Weep and Sarai from Minya’s dark plans of a vengeful reckoning of those who slaughtered the gods and left Minya to care for the only children she could save.
Lazlo must negotiate the new tension of a strained hostage situation, Minya keeping Sarai’s ghost tethered as a bargaining piece to use against Lazlo and the godslayer, a tool to manipulate them both. But even as a ghost Sarai finds she is not entirely powerless and with Lazlo and her siblings help, she tries to understand the damage done to Minya through her dreams, discovering the girl has been caught in a traumatic loop of the day the Citadel fell to the godslayer and the handful of children she could save amid in the carnage as the citizens of Weep took vengeance against their oppressors. In uncovering the dark past that holds Minya fixed in place, her mind fractured into moments of that fateful day, Sarai and Lazlo begin to learn what the gods who visited Weep truly were, the history of metalsmiths wielding Mesarthim and the truth of the elusive white bird and an overlapping echo of another pair of siblings, moulded and wrought anew by Mesarthim, two sisters who would refused to be parted.
Muse of Nightmares is a complex narrative of many dark and disturbing tales where the characters are as vibrant as the magical city of Weep. Although the story is a much darker theme than the prequel, there is a constant sense of hope that infiltrated the story, offering a glimpse of what might be if Lazlo and Sarai are allowed to succeed in their dreams. I look forward to the next instalment!

Recent Reads

The Paper Menagerie & Other Stories

I read The Paper Menagerie and other stories by American author Ken Liu after having the great pleasure to listen to several panel sessions and meet him at Continuum in Melbourne. I was unfamiliar with his writing until hearing an excerpt from the first story in The Paper Menagerie, “The bookmaking habits of select species”. I immediately loved the detailed and provoking fiction that combined philosophy with history to create an imagined future or alternate past that was immensely enjoyable to read. A unique and diverse collection of stories, The Paper Menagerie is a must-read for anyone interested in speculative fiction.

events, Writing

Continuum 15, 2019

I attended Continuum15/NatCon 58 convention in Melbourne from June 7-10, 2019. The convention is an annual event for the Australian speculative fiction community. This was my first Continuum convention and I was looking forward to the many expert panels, workshops, Markets, the Maskbalao, Ditmar Awards, Shadows Awards & Norma K Hemming Awards. 

Ticket pricing was very generous with special rates for First Time attendees and Friday evening. More information available  here


I spoke on two panels:


Magical Medicine: The Physiology of Fantasy  – Friday 7pm

What options does a twenty-foot dragon have for actually getting airborne? What ailments could trouble a angel? How would you handle a chimera with a cold, and just how *does* a centaur’s digestive system work? 

Speakers: 
ZFreya MarskeAlannah K. PearsonPrema

June 7, 2019, 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Hall: Pluto


Illness in SFF  – Saturday 10 am

Future sci fi seems to always have “Medical technology has wiped out disease” or “A plague is wiping out humanity”, why do we not hear about common ailments and the oddities of medical care in space and across multiple species?

Speakers: 
ZAlannah K. PearsonAndi BuchananMargaret Morgan

June 8, 2019, 10:00 am to 11:00 am
Hall: Pluto


There are also some wonderful workshops & talks by the guests of honour. Come join me in the audience!


Workshop: Writing Fight Scenes For Women – Sunday 10 am

Speaker: 
Aiki Flinthart

June 9, 2019, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm
Hall: Barrayar Track: Workshops


Kate Elliott: Reading and Signing – Sunday 2 pm

Join Kate Elliott for a reading, followed by Q&A and book signing.

Speaker: 
Kate Elliott

June 9, 2019, 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Hall: Magrathea Track: Guest of Honour


Ken Liu: Reading and Signing – Sunday 3 pm

Join Ken Liu for a reading, followed by Q&A and book signing.

Speaker: 
Ken Liu

June 9, 2019, 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Hall: Magrathea Track: Guest of Honour


Recent Reads

Strange the Dreamer

Strange the Dreamer is the first novel in the new series, of the same title by American author Laini Taylor. The previous bestselling trilogy Daughter of Smoke and Bone enchanted younger and older adult readers alike. ​Strange the Dreamer follows a new protagonist in a mythic world sharing some elements with the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. Lazlo Strange is a war orphan, a boy grown up as a librarian and servant to the more powerful and wealthy scholars of his city. Lazlo seems to escape the tedium of his daily life by daydreaming and fueling his obsession with the lost city of Weep.  For Lazlo holds some faded memory of the name the city once possessed before it vanished from memory, leaving behind the new mournful name, “Weep”. Nero, a boy of Lazlo’s age, the youngest scholar and alchemist related to the queen, is unhappily indebted to Lazlo. For while Nero is learned and wealthy, Lazlo is penniless but imaginative. When emissaries arrive from Weep, the legendary Godslayer and his troop of warriors, Nero is invited to join an expedition of natural theorists, engineers and philosophers to solve the mysteries of Weep. Lazlo joins the expedition, qualified only as a storyteller. The mysteries of Weep are far more than Lazlo could have imagined. ​Once in Weep, the impossibly vivid dreams that lend Lazlo his name, “Strange, the Dreamer”, manifest a very real seeming blue-skinned goddess. Lazlo soon discovers that this goddess was supposedly slain in the Citadel by the Godslayer and his troops. Soon Lazlo must reconcile what is dream and what is reality as the goddess that once traumatised Weep turns her attention toward him, unlocking  Lazlo’s past.
Strange the Dreamer is a fascinating adventure and mystery, the complex setting and convincing characters provide rich detail to a dark story hopeful for a brighter future.