My Favorite Bit: Kelly Robson talks about GODS, MONSTERS, AND THE LUCKY PEACH

Favorite Bit iconKelly Robson is joining us today to talk about her novel Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach. Here is the publisher’s description:

Discover a shifting history of adventure as humanity clashes over whether to repair their ruined planet or luxuriate in a less tainted past.

In 2267, Earth has just begun to recover from worldwide ecological disasters. Minh is part of the generation that first moved back up to the surface of the Earth from the underground hells, to reclaim humanity’s ancestral habitat. She’s spent her entire life restoring river ecosystems, but lately the kind of long-term restoration projects Minh works on have been stalled due to the invention of time travel. When she gets the opportunity take a team to 2000 BC to survey the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, she jumps at the chance to uncover the secrets of the shadowy think tank that controls time travel technology.

What’s Kelly’s favorite bit?

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach cover


Everyone who writes about time travel designs their rules and mechanics to suit themselves. Connie Willis’ academic time travelers embed themselves in the past, and Kage Baker’s Company time travelers operate like cold war spies. We all apply time travel with restrictions that serve the stories we want to tell, highlighting the aspects of time travel that most intrigue us.

I’m not particularly interested in paradoxes or altering the future by changing the past. My time travel is designed to be consequence-free. This is because what I like best about time travel —  my favorite bit — is the ability to see how people really lived.

Like my characters Minh, Hamid, and Kiki, I would do anything to visit the past. But it wouldn’t be enough to just be able to visit just a few places. When I dream about time travelling, I want to be able to see it all. I want to see the past using the Google Earth of the future. And because I have no romantic ideas about danger being fun, I want to do it in perfect safety.

When Minh, Hamid, and Kiki land on a remote South Pacific island in 2024 BCE with Fabian, a professional historian, the first thing they do is launch satellites. Not only does this provide them with ambient power to run their tech, the satellites form a globe-spanning, high resolution remote sensing array that allows them to spy on people from a God’s eye view.

This is practical. Humans are dangerous, and they want to ensure that no past population members paddle up to the beach while they’re not looking. But the remote sensing is also part of their work. Minh, Hamid, and Kiki are ecological scientists running a past state assessment on the Mesopotamian trench. They’re spying for science.

Within a few hours of landing in the past, my time travelers can run population analyses, identify human settlements, and pinpoint agrarian and hunter-gatherer communities. For specific, pre-identified points of interest, the data from multiple satellites are combined to provide a tilt-shifted view of a ceremony atop the massive ziggurat of Ur, with an angle that allows them to see the faces of the participants. They gather data for climate analyses and scan the topography using LIDAR to build ecosystem models.

This is absolutely my favorite bit. The instant Minh hits the ground, she starts launching satellites. She’s got a project to run, and she’s fiercely competitive. She wants to show Fabian she’s in charge. She can’t start her work until the satellites are up and running, so she’s not going to waste any time. Before long, the satellites begin providing a global view, lighting up the continents with data. The whole world is at their fingertips, in a high resolution heads-up display, like Google Earth on steroids.

Now, if it were me, I’d stay on that nice, safe South Pacific island and revel in my god-like spy power. I’m a Google Street View junkie, and I can’t imagine anything better than a Street View of the remote past. But Minh, Hamid, and Kiki didn’t travel 4000 years in the past to sit around in safety. They take the first opportunity to get themselves into trouble.


Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach Universal Book Link

Book Page

Author website

Author Twitter

Publisher Twitter


Kelly Robson’s Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach is newly out from Publishing. Her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld,, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and multiple anthologies. In 2017, she was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Her novella “Waters of Versailles” won the 2016 Aurora Award and was a finalist for both the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. She has also been a finalist for the Sturgeon and Sunburst awards, and her stories have been included in numerous year’s best anthologies. She is a regular contributor to the Another Word column at Clarkesworld.

Kelly grew up in the foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains and competed in rodeos as a teenager. From 2008 to 2012, she was the wine columnist for Chatelaine, Canada’s largest women’s magazine. After many years in Vancouver, she and her wife, fellow SF writer A.M. Dellamonica, now live in Toronto.

My Favorite Bit: Tristan Palmgren talks about QUIETUS

Favorite Bit iconTristan Palmgren is joining us today with his novel Quietus. Here’s the publisher’s description:

A transdimensional anthropologist can’t keep herself from interfering with Earth’s darkest period of history in this brilliant science fiction debut

Niccoluccio, a young Florentine Carthusian monk, leads a devout life until the Black Death kills all of his brothers, leaving him alone and filled with doubt. Habidah, an anthropologist from another universe racked by plague, is overwhelmed by the suffering. Unable to maintain her observer neutrality, she saves Niccoluccio from the brink of death.

Habidah discovers that neither her home’s plague nor her assignment on Niccoluccio’s world are as she’s been led to believe. Suddenly the pair are drawn into a worlds-spanning conspiracy to topple an empire larger than the human imagination can contain.

What’s Tristan’s favorite bit?



Writing and reading history has always been difficult for me. It’s like reading prequels forever. I can’t erase what I know about the course of history. There’s not enough tension, and too much dramatic irony. As a reader, I have undeserved power over the read.

It’s not just knowing the events of history that spoil things for me, either. It’s our worldview: everything we know and think we know about things like the age of the Earth, astronomy, geology, religion, and more. I can pretend not to know these things, but that’s all it is: a pretense. It’s always there, and it’s always going to be a barrier to understanding a historical novel’s characters and their crises.

I wrote Quietus to foreground that problem. Dr Habidah Shen and her team of extradimensional anthropologists have come, for desperate reasons of their own, to Europe in the 1340s to witness the Black Death. Habidah knows her biases are a problem. She tries to, but can’t, surmount them.

Visual scanning didn’t reveal much besides a few flickering fires. Otherwise, Genoa was as solid black as the open wilderness. To Genoa’s inhabitants, the night must have seemed like a different world, cold and wild and dangerous. It was no wonder many of them believed that the plague spread most easily at night, carried on ill winds. Switching to infrared to pick a landing site felt like cheating.

The shuttle set down just inside the city walls, in an open square near a well. The moment she and Feliks set foot on soil, the ramp folded up. The shuttle vanished with a whisper and a suggestion of a shadow. A cold autumn breeze swept in.

Still thinking of the dark, Habidah turned her retinal infrared off. She wanted to see the world as the locals saw it. Her breath caught in her throat. She might as well have struck herself blind. She couldn’t even see Feliks. The world seemed so closed in around her. She only lasted a few seconds before she turned infrared on again.

My favorite bits of Quietus are those moments that twist the connection between the reader and the read. Habidah is able to do what so many of us history readers dream about: touch the past. When she comes across a dying monk, she cannot stop herself from helping him. Lying on a medical table, he grabs for her hand.

Gradually, Habidah let go. She told him, “I’m going to step out for just a moment and let your friends know where you are. I’ll be back.”

The monk, still holding up his hand, said nothing. Habidah wasn’t sure he’d heard her.

As she stepped through the doors, the monk told her, “Niccoluccio Caracciola.”

She halted on the other side, and looked back. Somehow he’d found the strength to crane his head. He was staring at her with quiet, taut desperation.

“Habidah Shen,” she managed to say before the doors shut.

Habidah is a reader. She studies this world in the same way that we readers try to get into the heads of characters in historical fiction. She uses empathy as a tool. She tries to understand Niccoluccio by placing herself in his position, trying to feel what he does.

But empathy is dangerous. Empathy is not objective.

In Quietus, that’s all right.

He started to step forward, and was stopped by the tug of Habidah’s arm. Only then did he seem to realize that he was still holding Habidah’s hand, and that Habidah wasn’t coming with him.

She said, “This is your home, not mine. I have another assignment in Marseilles.” She should have been there weeks ago. The plague’s late arrival in Genoa had delayed her. “My superiors don’t want me to get more involved. I’ve done too much already.”

“I can’t bring myself to pass the gates alone. I would rather wander the wilderness again.”

“You won’t be alone once you find your family. I don’t want to interfere.”

“You don’t need to interfere.”

The moon shone bright enough that Habidah didn’t need infrared to take stock of the fear in his eyes. “All right.” Only then did they let each others’ hands go.

She’s taken on a responsibility she’s not ready for. Through Niccoluccio, Habidah starts to see herself in ways she would rather not. While recovering from an injury with the aid of Habidah’s technology, Niccoluccio tells her:

“I feel fine now.”

“Only because our medicine has tricked you into feeling that way.”

His eyes flicked over himself, to the bruise creeping down his shoulder and the hollow curve of his stomach. If he hadn’t felt alienated from his body before, he would now. “Oh.”

Sometimes, she didn’t think he was sufficiently afraid of her and her people. There was certainly a lot to fear. More than she’d known.

She was more than an angel or agent of God, she realized. She’d become his confessor. When she’d taken him in, the last thing she had ever expected of him was unremitting trust.

There’s a lot of things I love about Quietus, but Habidah and Niccoluccio are the reason why I wrote it. They are by far my favorite part. Their relationship only gets more complicated, and fraught, from here.


Quietus Universal Book Link




Tristan Palmgren has been a clerk, a factory technician, a university lecturer, a cashier, a secretary, a retail manager, a rural coroner’s assistant. In his lives on parallel Earths, he has been an ant farm tycoon, funeral home enthusiast, professional con-artist impersonator, laser pointer chaser, and that guy who somehow landed a trademark for the word “Avuncular.” Jealous. He lives with his wife Teresa in Columbia, Missouri.

Looking for Taiwanese actor to record sample dialog

In the Calculating Stars, one of the characters is a Taiwanese woman*. I’ve described her as having a light Taiwanese accent and, being the 1950s, imagine that it would be British inflected. I am looking for a woman who is a native speaker to record some lines of dialogue for me that I can try to match for the audiobook.

While I have accent tapes to help, these are producing a generic accent.

I am happy to pay for the time required to record these. I don’t need clean recordings because these won’t air. They are purely for my use in locking down this voice for narration. I estimate it will take fifteen minutes to record them and I’m offering $40 for the recording.

In an ideal world, I’m looking for:

  • Taiwanese woman** with British inflected English
  • Soprano (because I tend to match tone when I’m mimicking)
  • Actor

Here are some sample lines. There are 8 pages like this. You would only be recording the lines in bold.

Helen read the numbers from my page, her faint Taiwanese accent coming out with her excitement. “Velocity: 2,350 meters per second. Angle of elevation: four minutes of arc. Altitude: 101.98 kilometers.” Her voice was shockingly high amid the tenors and baritones of Mission Control.

Helen wiped her eyes and looked over my shoulder. “Hello, Dr. York.”

“Slide rules.” Helen folded her hands demurely in her lap. “And their uses.”

“Speak for yourself.” Helen ran her hands down her flight suit, which accentuated her boyish figure.

“How?” Helen leaned forward in her seat

Helen raised her hand, as if to remind us that she was from Taiwan. “He’ll counter with international cooperation.”
I nodded. “We’ve got people at the IAC from Taiwan, Algeria, Spain, Brazil, France, Germany, Serbia, Haiti, the Congo . . .”
Helen chimed in, “Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom . . .”

*If this were the main character, I would have turned the book down, even though I wrote it.

**I had mistakenly thought that I needed British inflected English, because I conflated language patterns. This is exactly why I want a native speaker.

My Favorite Bit: Nancy Kress talks about IF TOMORROW COMES

My Favorite BitNancy Kress is joining us today to discuss her novel If Tomorrow Comes: Book 2 of the Yesterday’s Kin Trilogy. Here is the publisher’s description:

Ten years after the Aliens left Earth, humanity succeeds in building a ship, Friendship, to follow them home to Kindred. Aboard are a crew of scientists, diplomats, and a squad of Rangers to protect them. But when the Friendship arrives, they find nothing they expected. No interplanetary culture, no industrial base―and no cure for the spore disease.

A timeslip in the apparently instantaneous travel between worlds has occurred and far more than ten years have passed.

Once again scientists find themselves in a race against time to save humanity and their kind from a deadly virus while a clock of a different sort runs down on a military solution no less deadly to all. Amid devastation and plague come stories of heroism and sacrifice and of genetic destiny and free choice, with its implicit promise of conscious change.

What’s Nancy’s favorite bit?

Cover image for If Tomorrow Comes


Adulthood is hard. Getting there can be even harder.

My new novel, If Tomorrow Comes, is the sequel to last year’s Tomorrow’s Kin. Both books have large casts and multiple points of view (and I’m going to stop doing that because it’s so complicated. Stop it soon. With the very next book. Maybe.) If Tomorrow Comes includes several U.S. Rangers, a middle-aged female geneticist, a physician who doesn’t understand his own life, a worldful of humans brought to an alien planet 170,000 years ago whose social evolution took a much different path from Earth, and nine humans who have lived on World for a decade. Among those is thirteen-year-old Austin.
To write Austin, I drew on my own memories of being thirteen. Memory was aided by a diary I kept then, an incredibly embarrassing artifact that no one is ever going to see.

Austin is confused without knowing it. He yearns to do something splendid, something that will make the adults he admires stand in awe of him. He has no judgment about which adults to admire, and often picks the wrong ones. He believes some of what he’s told, but not all of it-and because he chooses what to believe on the basis of whether he likes the speaker, he ends up with ideas that don’t always match reality. Girls attract and terrify him, and he gets inappropriate crushes. He struggles with grand ideas, trying to comprehend the universe, as in this passage:

Austin Rhinehart sat under a makfruit tree in the back garden and tried to imagine himself dead.

Everything would disappear, all of World. But then he would disappear, too, so how would he know he was dead? He wouldn’t. Unless Old Mother Kee^la’s tales of another world after death were true and Austin would join his ancestors in endless dancing and feasting. But Austin wasn’t fond of dancing, and he didn’t have any ancestors on World for his lahk, because everyone in it had come from Earth, a place Austin didn’t remember. He’d been only three. Anyway, he didn’t believe Old Mother Kee^la’s tales. She wasn’t even his old Mother, only Graa^lok’s; Austin’s lahk was also missing old mothers.

And he wasn’t going to be dead. He was Terran, and thus immune to spore disease. But everyone else was going to be dead: his best friend Graa^lok and Old Mother Kee^la’ and the teachers at school and Tiklal, whom Austin was supposed to apprentice to when he turned fourteen in two months. Only by that time, Tiklal would be dead, along with nearly everyone else on World.

Steven-kal came down the curving steps from the house, mounted a bicycle, and glimpsed Austin. He said in English, “I greet you, Austin. Aren’t you supposed to be in school?”

“I greet you, Steven-kal. I was just going.”

Steven-kal looked pointedly at his watch. “You are supposed to be there.”

“I’m just going now.”

“See that you do.” He mounted his bicycle and pedaled off.

Fuck! Austin thought, borrowing a forbidden word from his mother’s vocabulary…. Austin hated all of them-not because they were unkind to him but because they had responsibility for him for another three years and nobody recognized that he, Austin, was already an adult and able to make his own decisions.

Well, they would learn that soon enough!

He smacked one fist into the opposite palm, which felt good so he did it again.

Austin is a mass of contradictions: prickly, smart, disdainful, heroic, childish one minute and mature the next. In short, he is like a lot of us were at thirteen.

In short, he is like a lot of us are now.

But unlike most of us, Austin’s choices and actions affect the fate of an entire planet, which is a lot to ask of a thirteen-year-old. World is about to encounter the spore cloud that, drifting through the galaxy, menaced Earth in Tomorrow’s Kin. The adults around him are working frantically, often at cross purposes, to prepare for that disaster. Austin, teaming up with the wrong people, has his own agenda to “help,” which puts him at cross-purposes with the cross-purposes.

Growing up isn’t usually this hard. However, both Austin’s situation and his personality made him a lot of fun to write. And when I finished the book, I actually missed him.


If Tomorrow Comes Universal Book Link

Excerpt of If Tomorrow Comes




Nancy Kress is the author of thirty-three books, including twenty-six novels, four collections of short stories, and three books on writing.  Her work has won six Nebulas, two Hugos, a Sturgeon, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.  Most recent works are Tomorrow’s Kin (Tor, 2017) and its sequel, If Tomorrow Comes (Tor, 2018).  Kress’s work has been translated into Swedish, Danish, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Polish, Croatian, Chinese, Lithuanian, Romanian, Japanese, Korean, Hebrew, Russian, and Klingon, none of which she can read.  In addition to writing, Kress often teaches at various venues around the country and abroad, including a semester as guest lecturer at the University of Leipzig, an intensive workshop in Beijing, and the annual two-week workshop Taos Toolbox, which she teaches with Walter Jon Williams.  Kress lives in Seattle with her husband, writer Jack Skillingstead, and Cosette, the world’s most spoiled toy poodle.

My Favorite Bit: Paolo Bacigalupi talks about TANGLED LANDS

Favorite Bit iconPaolo Bacigalupi is here today to talk about his novel with Tobias Buckell, Tangled Lands. Here’s the publisher’s description:

From award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias Buckell comes a fantasy novel told in four parts about a land crippled by the use of magic, and a tyrant who is trying to rebuild an empire—unless the people find a way to resist.

Khaim, The Blue City, is the last remaining city in a crumbled empire that overly relied upon magic until it became toxic. It is run by a tyrant known as The Jolly Mayor and his devious right hand, the last archmage in the world. Together they try to collect all the magic for themselves so they can control the citizens of the city. But when their decadence reaches new heights and begins to destroy the environment, the people stage an uprising to stop them.

In four interrelated parts, The Tangled Lands is an evocative and epic story of resistance and heroic sacrifice in the twisted remains surrounding the last great city of Khaim. Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias Buckell have created a fantasy for our times about a decadent and rotting empire facing environmental collapse from within—and yet hope emerges from unlikely places with women warriors and alchemical solutions.

What’s Paolo’s favorite bit?

The Tangled Lands cover image


My favorite bits of stories tend to be discovered objects, excavated mid-sentence, as much a surprise to me as (hopefully) to the reader.  With THE TANGLED LANDS, Tobias Buckell and I created a world where magic has a price, but not a price the spellcaster pays personally.  Whenever a person casts magic, a bit of bramble grows, fertilized by the release of magic into the world. Bramble, a thorny-vined menace that sprouts from roof beams and in farmer’s fields, is everywhere by the time THE TANGLED LANDS takes place—whole empires have been entombed under thickets of the stuff, and if someone touches it, they are stung quickly into an unending slumber, never to awaken again.

This initial idea of magic, it’s price, and the looming, ever-present bramble was fun for us to work with, to create this world where magic has a terrible price and yet there was *always* a good reason to use just a little more magic. It made for ethical conundrums and complicated moral moments. So of course we’re pleased with the general premise of the story, and the many people who live in the city of Khaim, trying to find a way to survive.

But for me, a story comes to life when the general premise becomes specific—personal.  If bramble is everywhere, and people are always being stung by it, and always falling into unending slumber, well, what happens to them then? What happens to all those bodies? Do we keep them close and protect them? Do we toss them in the river, even though they’re only sleeping forever, and not actually dead? Do we sell them off to the soft-eyed men? (Ew.) Who has the money and time and attention to protect these bramble-kissed bodies from rats and roaches and dogs? Do we keep them in our homes or dump them on the streets?

These questions that arise end up forming the life of the story, and become my favorite bits.  One of those, for me, takes place at a dinner party, where a wealthy merchant has been kissed by bramble, and yet everyone carries on, pretending that he has not been paralyzed into unending sleep. They dress him, they wash him, they wheel him out for dinner…

Mop remembered the patriarch presiding, artfully tied to his chair so the old man didn’t flop face first into each course as it was set before him.

Topaz jeweled straps had circled the patriarch’s forehead. More clasped his wrists. Another strap, barely glimpsed, around his chest and under his arms, threading through carefully tailored holes in the back of his dinner jacket where the servants could secure him to the chair. And all around him, Falizi guests ate and drank and toasted the patriarch, everyone pretending that he was one of the living.

Mop remembered the Falizi family’s embarrassment when a butterfly emerged, fluttering, from his ear.

I love this moment for how it underlines how badly the people of Khaim are adapting to their situation. That they go on, trying to pretend that everything isn’t wrong, even as things get worse and worse for them. And then a butterfly takes wing, and their artful pantomime of normalcy is shattered.

In any given story if you’re lucky, a number of these sorts of bits will emerge—unbidden, wild, strange—and they make the fabric of the story richer for their emergence. Sometimes bizarre, sometimes embarrassing, but if they’re good, they’re always a surprise, much like a butterfly popping out of a sleeping merchant’s ear to spice up an otherwise boring dinner party.


The Tangled Lands Universal Book Link




Paolo Bacigalupi is the New York Times bestselling author of The Windup GirlShip BreakerThe Drowned CitiesZombie Baseball BeatdownThe Doubt Factory, The Water KnifePlump Six and Other Stories, and The Tangled Lands. His writing has appeared in WIRED, High Country NewsSalon, OnEarth MagazineThe Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. He has won the Michael L. Printz, Locus, Hugo, Nebula, Compton Crook, and John W. Campbell awards.

My Favorite Bit: Sean Grigsby talks about SMOKE EATERS

My Favorite BitSean Grigsby is joining us today with his novel Smoke Eaters. Here’s the publisher’s description:

When dragons rise from the earth, firefighters are humanity’s last line of defense, in this wild near-future fantasy.

Firefighter Cole Brannigan is on the verge of retirement after 30 years on the job, and a decade fighting dragons. But during his final fire call, he discovers he’s immune to dragon smoke. It’s such a rare power that he’s immediately conscripted into the elite dragon-fighting force known as the Smoke Eaters.  Retirement cancelled, Brannigan is re-assigned as a lowly rookie, chafing under his superiors. So when he discovers a plot to take over the city’s government, he takes matters into his own hands. With hundreds of innocent civilians in the crosshairs, it’s up to Brannigan and his fellow Smoke Eaters to repel the dragon menace.

What’s Sean’s favorite bit?

Smoke Eaters cover image


I loved Ghostbusters as a kid.

Granted, I didn’t understand the adult humor and innuendos as a five-year-old, and seeing Dan Akroyd have his pants unzipped by an invisible specter was very confusing and likely subconsciously damaging to my young mind.

But the proton packs and laser traps! The different kinds of ghosts and seeing the boys in brown sliding down the pole before they jumped into Ecto-1 and sped down the streets of New York as their tangy sirens filled the air!

It’s probably what influenced me to become a firefighter. Yeah, that sounds weird to some of you, but look at it: the Ghostbusters live in a firehouse, they respond in a light-flashing, siren-wailing rig whenever they’re called, they wear heavy packs, and they fix problems by shooting streams at them.

A little Freudian, too, I guess.

It’s also what might have inspired me down the path of a speculative fiction writer. And this brings us to my favorite bit in my debut novel, Smoke Eaters. There are so many to choose from.

Sure, in a book that’s described as firefighters vs. dragons, you might expect me to talk about all the cool fire breathers or even the volatile corporate robots, but I want to talk about an aspect of the book you might not know at first glance.

In the book, wraiths are the ghosts of people killed by dragons, and they serve a very important purpose to their murderers.

When I first set out to write the book, I had an image of a wraith—much like the angry library ghost in the aforementioned film—floating across a barren, ash-covered landscape. I had no idea at the time what ghosts would have to do with dragons, but my creative philosophy is: go with it. And so I did.

My favorite bit in SMOKE EATERS is a scene where Cole Brannigan watches an instructional video out of Canada, starring the fictional mad scientist, Professor Poltergeist. The professor explains that wraiths serve as a way to protect the eggs dragons have laid in enormous ash piles.

The smoke eaters may be getting a good handle on how to dispatch a dragon, but when it comes to wraiths, their current standard operating procedure is: run!

But, without giving too much away, the wraiths are being used for a sinister purpose in drawing dragons to certain areas, effectively burning down the neighborhood. Brannigan knows something is up, and he doesn’t have long to find out who’s behind the ghostly arson.

Writing this book was a blast, and I’m happy I got to mix my career fire knowledge with the imagination of that five-year-old kid, whose parents had to reassure him no ghost would disrobe him in the middle of the night.

They had better things to do.


Smoke Eaters Universal Book Link




Sean Grigsby is a professional firefighter in central Arkansas, where he writes about lasers, aliens, and guitar battles with the Devil when he’s not fighting dragons.

My Favorite Bit: Tina LeCount Myers talks about THE SONG OF ALL

My Favorite BitTina LeCount Myers is joining us today with her novel The Song of All. Here’s the publisher’s description:

On the forbidding fringes of the tundra, where years are marked by seasons of snow, humans war with immortals in the name of their shared gods. Irjan, a human warrior, is ruthless and lethal, a legend among the Brethren of Hunters. But even legends grow tired and disillusioned.

Scarred and weary of bloodshed, Irjan turns his back on his oath and his calling to hide away and live a peaceful life as a farmer, husband, and father. But his past is not so easily left behind. When an ambitious village priest conspires with the vengeful comrades Irjan has forsaken, the fragile peace in the Northlands of Davvieana is at stake.

His bloody past revealed, Irjan’s present unravels as he faces an ultimatum: return to hunt the immortals or lose his child. But with his son’s life hanging in the balance, as Irjan follows the tracks through the dark and desolate snow-covered forests, it is not death he searches for, but life.

What’s Tina’s favorite bit?

The Song of All Cover image


One of my favorite parts of my fantasy novel is the science behind it. In fact, I started writing The Song of All after a debate with my husband about what distinguishes science fiction from fantasy. Let’s just say it was a robust discussion in which my husband made the point that science fiction presents what is possible based on science, while fantasy presents magic and the supernatural and is not based on science, a distinction I took umbrage with.

“What about quantum physics?” I asked. “What about dark matter and dark energy? Couldn’t they explain magic and metaphysical elements?”

“Fine,” he conceded, knowing I had watched more TedX and Neil deGrasse Tyson talks on YouTube than he had. “But there are no such things as elves.”

“But there could be,” I said.

Human evolution, even starting as late as Homo erectus, reflects substantial differences in morphology. Comparing Homo sapiens to the Neanderthals, Homo sapiens have keener eyesight, hearing, and sense of smell. Through natural selection, any number of potential phenotypes might evolve if those individuals are successful at surviving and passing on their genetics. Nothing precludes the evolution of an “elf.”

Later, as I rehashed the argument, I thought about how many cultures have elves as part of their mythology. I recalled the Finnish folktales my own grandparents told me as a child about spirits that lived in the far north, in Saamiland. I began to imagine just how these magical creatures might have evolved. And what started as research to prove my point unexpectedly ended up as a fantasy novel.

In The Song of All, the Jápmemeahttun (pronounced yahp.meh.mehah.toon) are my “elves.” They are distinct from the human Olmmoš (pronounced, having evolved over millennia of prehistory in isolation. While the two species have similar morphology, the Jápmemeahttun have developed some distinctive characteristics due to environmental and social pressures. One such characteristic is their unusual reproductive system. The Jápmemeahttun are protogyny sequential hermaphrodites, meaning they change sexes, in this case from female to male, a model that I borrowed from real life biological sciences.

Researchers suggest that sequential hermaphroditism occurs in nature when an individual animal reproduces most efficiently as one sex when younger, but as the other sex when older. Among invertebrates and vertebrates, there are many examples of sequential hermaphroditism, both protogyny (female to male) and protandry (male to female). The Clownfish switches from male to female. The Blackfin Goby fish can go both ways depending on need. The European common brown frog sometimes switches from female to male when the females are older, prolonging their lifetime reproductive success. But my favorite example is the wrasse because of the impassioned lecture my college biology professor gave on this fish.

After weeks of stunningly dry lectures, my introductory biology course had finally evolved from the cellular level to the topic of reproduction. My professor, who for those proceeding weeks had shown little enthusiasm for the material, began to explain with surprising animation the mating rituals of this small fish-the wrasse. With gusto, she described how when the dominant male of a school dies or as she put it “goes out for a cup of coffee”, the largest female will begin seducing the other females and develop male organs to become dominant in the school. She concluded with a cackle that, “There’s a reason why they’re called Sneaky Suckers.” Only she did not say Suckers.

Struck by my professor’s unexpected liveliness, I stopped taking notes and saw for the first time just how mind-blowing biological adaptations can be. Two decades later, when I started to write The Song of All, I remembered that moment of wonder and saw in evolution the possibility to write about magical creatures, using not only imagination, but also science to shape them.

As a species, the Jápmemeahttun are far more honorable in their courtship than the wrasse. They do not rely on duplicity to ensure that dominant genes are passed on. But like the wrasse, the Jápmemeahttun, as I envisioned them, are the result of natural selection. They adapted in response to their imagined world, just as species have on this planet. Evolution has created some pretty magical creatures in the Earth’s 4.5 billion years of existence: Pterodactyls, Duck-billed Platypuses, Human Beings. And numerous cultures acknowledge the existence of unseen supernatural beings. So, while I am willing to concede to the point that there is no scientific evidence of elves, I add the caveat, “Not yet.”


The Song of All Universal Book Link




Tina LeCount Myers is a writer, artist, independent historian, and surfer. Born in Mexico to expat-bohemian parents, she grew up on Southern California tennis courts with a prophecy hanging over her head; her parents hoped she’d one day be an author. The Song of All is her debut novel.

My Favorite Bit: Rachel A. Marks talks about FIRE AND BONE

Favorite Bit iconRachel A. Marks is joining us today with her novel Fire and Bone. Here is the publisher’s description:

In Hollywood’s underworld of demigods, druids, and ancient bonds, one girl has a dangerous future.

Sage is eighteen, down on her luck, and struggling to survive on the streets of Los Angeles. Everything changes the night she’s invited to a party—one that turns out to be a trap.

Thrust into a magical world hidden within the City of Angels, Sage discovers that she’s the daughter of a Celtic goddess, with powers that are only in their infancy. Now that she is of age, she’s asked to pledge her service to one of the five deities, all keen on winning her favor by any means possible. She has to admit that she’s tempted—especially when this new life comes with spells, Hollywood glam, and a bodyguard with secrets of his own. Not to mention a prince whose proposal could boost her rank in the Otherworld.

As loyalties shift, and as the two men vie for her attention, Sage tries to figure out whom to trust in a realm she doesn’t understand. One thing is for sure: the trap she’s in has bigger claws than she thought. And it’s going to take a lot more than magic for this Celtic demigoddess to make it out alive.

What’s Rachel’s favorite bit?

Fire and Bone cover image


So much of creating Fire and Bone was one big ball of fun; the lore research, the world-building, the character dynamics. But my favorite bit to write was most definitely the banter. I admit, I love writing banter. But something about the way these characters bounced off of each other, the oddity of ancient gods meshing with the shallow nature of Hollywood glam, six-hundred-year-old demigods competing for power in the ancient order, as teen druids, with a weakness for label-wear, consider who to invite to the next gala.

All the while a dark legend is stirring beneath the surface.

As I wrote, the banter bubbled to the surface easily. Whenever the character views conflicted, or the irony of a situation presented itself, it turned into a crash of sass. Like Sage, our snarky heroine, who uses her wit to protect herself as she’s confronted for the first time with the truth of her goddess heritage by Faelan (whose POV we’re in).

“I’m going to take you to a safe place where there’s a man who wants to help you,” I say. “He’s rich, very powerful. Under his protection, you’ll learn where you come from and discover where you belong. The dark prince won’t be able to control you and—”

She barks out a laugh, interrupting me.

“What’s so funny?” I ask.

“Dark prince? Seriously?” She laughs again. “Can you even hear yourself?”

I study her and wonder if the potion that Star gave her was too strong. That pixie is so flighty.

The demi stands from the bed and folds her arms across her chest, looking guarded but determined. “Look, muscleman, I can buy this whole you’re-not-who-you-think-you-are thing, since my life has basically sucked ass from the start and I’d love to believe that it was all some huge cosmic error. But you’re trying to tell me I’m going to meet Daddy Warbucks, who will explain to me that I’m a weird alien or something? And he’ll protect me from a dark prince? Pardon me if I don’t leap to join your cult so I can get a chance at cushy digs. That’s not my style.”

“You’re not an alien.”

Sage has a way of taking everything that comes at her with a grain of salt, always keeping others at arms’ length, and using the bite of her unaffected words to take people by surprise. And so, when she finally meets with the “dark prince” and his terrifying wraiths it’s pretty well established that a little fear isn’t going to knock her off her game right away.

“You shouldn’t fear me,” he says, way too close now. “I can give you your heart’s desire.”

“Right now I’d like a one-way ticket to Tahiti.”

Confusion fills his features. “We don’t rule in the south.”

“Sounds perfect.”

But my favorite points really come to the surface once Sage and Faelan have developed their rhythm. They’ve had a lot of tense moments with frustration and danger, and it’s bonded them in a short time, allowing for an unlikely friendship.

“Wow, some warrior you are. Can’t even stand up to a tiny teen girl.”

“Aelia?” he asks. “That wee thing is terrifying.”

“I bet you don’t call her wee to her face.”

“Gods, no.”

When a book is full of looming danger and dark story threads, it’s that much more refreshing when a little humor breaks through, letting us smile. The stark contrast of fear and wit in one space allow us to feel each emotion that much more. It’s my favorite bit to read. And, most definitely, my favorite bit to write.


Fire and Bone






Rachel A. Marks is an author, a professional artist, keeper of faerie secrets, and a cancer survivor. If her love of the ocean is any indication, she may have been a selkie in another life. But now she’s a boring human and the author of the Dark Cycle series, which includes Darkness BrutalDarkness Fair, and Darkness Savage. Her art can be found on the covers of several New York Times and USA Today bestselling novels. She lives in Southern California with her husband, four teens, three chickens, two precocious pups, two rats, and a kitty.

RIP Buster

Buster, a yellow lab-bulldog mixIn 2006, we were staying with my parents in Chattanooga for a couple of months. My husband went for a walk to the library and when he came back, Buster had followed him home.

We tried to find his owners. He had a collar, but the d-ring was open and no tags. He hadn’t been chipped. We put notices in the paper, at shelters and vets. And then we noticed that if we picked up a newspaper or a stick to throw it, he would shy away.

We stopped looking for whoever had had him before us.

The plan was that my parents would keep him while we were in Iceland and then we’d take him back to Portland. That’s not what happened. My parents fell in love with him.

Buster was named after Buster Keaton, because he always looked a little worried. He loved catching squirrels. He loved belly rubs. When we had writing retreats he was the Muse Dog and he took his job very seriously.

Our guess is that he was somewhere between one and two years old when he found us. So he lived to be about fourteen years old, which is a venerable age for a dog of his stature. He was loving and kept us protected from squirrels.

My Favorite Bit: Gwendolyn Clare talks about INK, IRON, AND GLASS

My Favorite BitGwendolyn Clare is joining us today with her novel Ink, Iron, and Glass. Here is the publisher’s description:

Can she write a world gone wrong?

A certain pen, a certain book, and a certain person can craft entirely new worlds through a branch of science called scriptology. Elsa comes from one such world that was written into creation by her mother―a noted scriptologist.

But when her home is attacked and her mother kidnapped, Elsa is forced to cross into the real world and use her own scriptology gifts to find her. In an alternative Victorian Italy, Elsa finds a secret society of pazzerellones―young people with a gift for mechanics, alchemy, or scriptology―and meets Leo, a gorgeous mechanist with a smart mouth and tragic past. She recruits the help of these fellow geniuses just as an assassin arrives on their doorstep.

In this thrilling debut, worlds collide as Elsa unveils a deep political conspiracy seeking to unlock the most dangerous weapon ever created―and only she can stop it.

What’s Gwendolyn’s favorite bit?

Ink, Iron, and Glass cover image


My favorite bit was breaking history.

I have an abiding love for 19th-century mad science that can probably be traced back to my teenage obsession with Shelley’s Frankenstein. So I knew my take on steampunk — Ink, Iron, and Glass — would have to put the mad scientists on center stage. But the question remained, which stage?

I was tired of London. Not that Victorian London didn’t have a lot to recommend it: industrial smog so thick it no longer mattered if the weather was overcast, the Thames functioning more as an open-air sewer than as a river, and the ramrod-straight social mores, of course. What’s not to love?

Despite these alluring features, I wanted to explore a somewhat less-well-trod setting in Ink, Iron, and Glass. Elsewhere in the world, interesting things were afoot in the latter half of the 1800’s. While the British were still basking comfortably in the tail-end of their imperial era, the Continent was already struggling to redefine itself politically and socially. Italy, trapped between France and the Austrian Empire, was literally in pieces. Cultural identity was still deeply tied to the old city-states of the Renaissance, and the idea of a unifying Italian identity was nothing but a philosophical concept.

Enter Giuseppe Garibaldi. A general for the King of Sardinia, Garibaldi combined battle prowess and tactical knowledge with a passion for the idea of a unified Italy. He personally conducted key military operations during the period of Italian unification, and is best known for taking Sicily in 1860 with an eclectic army composed of local rebels and his own troops combined. Effectively, Garibaldi served as a revolutionary, even though he was technically an outside invader. To this day he’s considered a forefather of the country.

Here was one of those curious places in history where the actions of a single man changed the future for millions. So, naturally, Garibaldi had to go. I set fire to his tall ships in 1860 with Archimedes mirrors, putting a halt to the Italian Resurgence before it ever really began. Ink, Iron, and Glass takes place thirty years later, in a divided Italy that still yearns for freedom.

My protagonist, Elsa, is a young genius from a foreign land, stranded in Europe and seeking refuge with the mad scientists of Pisa. To protect the integrity of their work, the mad scientists’ society has one rule: you never get involved in politics. But Elsa’s mother is missing, and as she investigates her mother’s abduction, the signs point to a political motivation. Certain revolutionaries are still determined to unify the Italian states — at any cost.

Scientists can’t get involved. Or can they?

Ink, Iron, and Glass is an exploration of what happens to history when you add a bit of mad science.


Ink, Iron, and Glass Universal Book Link





Gwendolyn Clare teaches college biology in central Pennsylvania, where she lives with too many cats and never enough books. Her short stories can be found in Fantasy & Science FictionAsimov’sAnalogClarkesworld, and Beneath Ceaseless SkiesInk, Iron, and Glass is her debut novel.


My Favorite Bit: John Kessel talks about PRIDE AND PROMETHEUS

Favorite Bit iconJohn Kessel is joining us today with his novel Pride and Prometheus. Here’s the publisher’s description:

Pride and Prejudice meets Frankenstein as Mary Bennet falls for the enigmatic Victor Frankenstein and befriends his monstrous Creature in this clever fusion of two popular classics.

Threatened with destruction unless he fashions a wife for his Creature, Victor Frankenstein travels to England where he meets Mary and Kitty Bennet, the remaining unmarried sisters of the Bennet family from Pride and Prejudice. As Mary and Victor become increasingly attracted to each other, the Creature looks on impatiently, waiting for his bride. But where will Victor find a female body from which to create the monster’s mate?

Meanwhile, the awkward Mary hopes that Victor will save her from approaching spinsterhood while wondering what dark secret he is keeping from her.

Pride and Prometheus fuses the gothic horror of Mary Shelley with the Regency romance of Jane Austen in an exciting novel that combines two age-old stories in a fresh and startling way.

What’s John Kessel’s favorite bit?

Pride and Prometheus cover image


I have a couple of moments in Pride and Prometheus that I like a lot. One of them I think I will leave for you to experience when you read the book, but my other favorite is chapter five. This was one of the last chapters I finished in the twenty-one-chapter novel, mostly because it was a pain in the neck to write.

Pride and Prometheus is an expansion of my novelette from 2008, which won the Nebula Award and the Shirley Jackson Award. That story is told from the point of view of Mary Bennet, the sententious, bookish, unattractive middle sister of the Bennet sisters of Pride and Prejudice, who in my tale meets Victor Frankenstein, and ultimately his Creature. Victor is in England on his way to Scotland to create a bride for the monster, who threatens to kill all those Victor loves unless he makes him a companion.

I did not plan to make a novel out of the story and spent ten years resisting the idea until I realized that there was indeed a novel to be told. I did not want simply to tack on an unrelated sequel or pad out a narrative that already existed. The way I solved this problem was to start earlier and end later. The first four chapters introduce the viewpoint characters—Mary, Victor and the Creature—establish their motivations and set their stories in motion. Chapters six through ten cover the events that originally appeared in the novelette, and then eleven through twenty-one carry on from there.

Chapter five was my transition from the new beginning to the events of the old story.

It started life as a brief grab bag of a chapter in which I needed to move characters from one place to someplace else to prepare for the more dramatic events to come. In any novel, I think, a writer runs into these moments that can’t be avoided but which seem at best like carpentry and at worst drudgery. As such, I had trouble making chapter five work. I rewrote it many times.

Mary and Kitty are at home and chafing under the attentions of their difficult mother Mrs. Bennet. Not a lot happens here besides Kitty getting permission to visit Elizabeth and Darcy at Darcy’s estate Pemberley, and, to everyone’s surprise, Mary asking to go with her. After a lot of thinking and rewriting it ended up being like so many chapters in Austen novels, essentially two conversations: the first between Mary and her sister Kitty and the second between Mary and her father.

The scene between Kitty and Mary used a classic Austen setting: a sunny afternoon when the two sisters walk home from church, talking privately, away from their parents. Mary and Kitty are very different people, thirteen years older than they were in Pride and Prejudice. They have both been struggling with the notion of ending up spinsters; Kitty is not happy at the prospect and is desperate to find a husband. Mary has until recently resigned herself to being alone, but now she has two prospects, one realistic and dull, and the other Victor Frankenstein.

This is the most intimate scene between the sisters, where they talk about their hopes and fears, and despite their differences of temperament, show a real bond. One purpose here was to make Kitty, who earlier might have seemed shallow, sympathetic, another to show the sisters’ love for each other. I managed to get out of this scene alive; I’m sure my sigh of relief must have been audible from Derbyshire.

Then I had to write the scene between Mary and Mr. Bennet. Its purpose was to have Mary (who heretofore has spent most of her time stuck at home entertaining her mother) ask for permission to visit Pemberley with Kitty. Besides this I had no idea what else they might discuss. Once I got them talking, they fell into a conversation about Mary’s prospects, about marriage in general, and about why Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, two people who could not be more incompatible in temperament, ended up together—a question that readers of Pride and Prejudice have been asking for 200 years. It’s a moment of intimacy, an extrapolation that I expect many Austen readers or critics must have made about the Bennets, but that I had not seen written about anywhere. I was genuinely surprised at Mary’s forcefulness in demanding what she wants here, and even more so at how Mr. Bennet reacts, and how he confides in her.

My mental conception of the novel was “A Jane Austen heroine falls into a gothic novel.” For the most part my novel follows Frankenstein in all its melodrama—murder, animated corpses, body snatching. But chapter five is all Austen, and that’s why I like it so much. I can’t claim to match Jane in her wit and subtle delineation of character, her deconstruction of the manners and morals of well bred English families, but here is where I enter the most fully into her world.

No action, just two people sitting in a room talking. No faustian over-reaching, no histrionics. But the glimpse it gives of Mr. Bennet as more than a sardonic critic of other family members, and of Mrs. Bennet as more than an exasperating trial for everyone around her, and of Mary as more than a figure of fun, makes me happy that I wrote it.


Pride and Prometheus Universal Book Link




Born in Buffalo, New York, John Kessel’s most recent book is the new novel Pride and Prometheus.  He is the author of the earlier novels The Moon and the Other, Good News from Outer Space and Corrupting Dr. Nice and in collaboration with James Patrick Kelly, Freedom Beach. His short story collections are Meeting in Infinity (a New York Times Notable Book), The Pure Product, and The Baum Plan for Financial Independence.
Kessel’s stories have twice received the Nebula Award given by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, in addition to the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, the Locus Poll, and the James Tiptree Jr. Award. His play “Faustfeathers’” won the Paul Green Playwright’s Prize, and his story “A Clean Escape” was adapted as an episode of the ABC TV series Masters of Science Fiction. In 2009 his story “Pride and Prometheus” received both the Nebula Award and the Shirley Jackson Award. With Jim Kelly, he has edited five anthologies of stories re-visioning contemporary short sf, most recently Digital Rapture: The Singularity Anthology.
Kessel holds a B.A. in Physics and English and a Ph.D. in American Literature. He helped found and served as the first director of the MFA program in creative writing at North Carolina State University, where he has taught since 1982. He and his wife, the novelist Therese Anne Fowler, live and work in Raleigh, NC.

My Favorite Bit: Dan Koboldt talks about THE WORLD AWAKENING

My Favorite BitDan Koboldt is joining us today with his novel The World Awakening. Here’s the publisher’s description:

Quinn Bradley has learned to use the magic of another world. And that world is in danger. Having decided to betray CASE Global, he can finally reveal his origins to the Enclave and warn them about the company’s imminent invasion. Even if it means alienating Jillaine…and allying with someone he’s always considered his adversary.

But war makes for strange bedfellows, and uniting Alissians against such a powerful enemy will require ancient enmities-as well as more recent antagonisms-to be set aside. The future of their pristine world depends on it. As Quinn searches for a way to turn the tide, his former CASE Global squad-mates face difficult decisions of their own. For some, it’s a matter of what they’re willing to do to get home. For others, it’s deciding whether they want to go home at all.

Continuing the exciting adventures from The Rogue Retrieval and The Island Deception, The World Awakening is the spellbinding conclusion to the Gateways to Alissia fantasy series from Dan Koboldt.

What’s Dan’s favorite bit?

The World Awakening


When I started writing this series, I asked a simple question: if you sent a modern illusionist into a medieval world, how well could he pass himself off as a real magician? I imagined that he could probably pull it off, especially if he leveraged modern technologies and materials that a pre-industrial society has never seen.

When I started the story, I figured that arming my character with geeky modern tech – LEDs, lasers, and maybe a small flamethrower – would be the most fun. But I was wrong. My magician’s favorite thing about entering a pristine medieval world isn’t his technological advantage: it’s access to a naïve audience.

This not only helps with his tricks, but puts all of our world’s history and pop culture at his disposal. It came in handy in the first book, when he had to talk his way past a security checkpoint:

Then the lyric just popped into his head. “So now we’ve come to you, with open arms. Nothing to hide.” He held out his arms, palms open, imploring him. “Believe what I say.”

That’s from a Journey song, which the natives in the other world have obviously never heard. Later, in book two, he finds himself turning down a job offer with a little help from Robert Frost:

The captain gave him a serious look. “Somethin’ tells me you’re destined for bigger things. But if they don’t pan out, I’d be happy to take you on.”

“I appreciate that,” Quinn said. “But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.”

Knowledge of our pop culture also provides a wealth of ideas for handling sticky situations. Like this one in The World Awakening, when Quinn and Jillaine need to approach a dangerous man about a ransom:

“Well, what do you want to do?” she asked.

“I’m thinking we go with the fake bounty hunter routine,” Quinn said.

“Never heard of it.”

“Oh, it’s a classic. And you get to be the bounty hunter, which will be more fun.”

She cringed a little. “I’m not sure I can pull that off. What do I even do?”

“And there’s costumes, too,” he said, pretending not to hear. He leaned back and gave her the up-and-down survey. “For you, I’m thinking leathers. Maybe a little chain mail to really sell it.”

“What about you?” she asked.

“I’m the prisoner, so I don’t need much. Just for you to tie me up.”

Her eyebrows shot up, and she put on a pensive expression. “This begins to offer some appeal.”

Of course she’s never heard of the fake bounty hunter routine. She hasn’t seen Return of the Jedi.

When I began this series, I thought that my magician would rely on his hard-won skills and state-of-the-art technology to get by in the other world. But his knowledge of pop culture proved surprisingly valuable as well, and that’s what makes it my favorite bit.


The World Awakening Universal Book Link

The Rogue Retrieval (book 1) Universal Book Link

The Island Deception (book 2) Universal Book Link




Dan Koboldt is a genetics researcher and fantasy/science fiction author from the Midwest. He is the author of the Gateway to Alissia series (Harper Voyager) about a Las Vegas magician who infiltrates a medieval world. He is currently editing Putting the Science in Fiction, (Writers Digest), a reference for writers slated for release in Fall 2018.

By day, Dan is a genetics researcher at a major children’s hospital. He has co-authored more than 70 publications in NatureScience, The New England Journal of Medicine, and other scientific journals. He lives with his wife, daughter, and twin boys in Ohio


Mary at Boskone this weekend

Mary will be GOHing with aplomb at Boskone this weekend, Feb 16-18. Will she see you there?

Boskone logo

Here’s where to find Mary:

Friday, February 16

Star Wars Mad Libs
Harbor III

Who doesn’t love a good session of Mad Libs, Boskone style? Join us for a special edition of Star Wars Mad Libs — in which the audience provides the nouns, adverbs, and adjectives for a raucous reading performed by our panel of program participants.

Boskone’s Regency Dance with Guest of Honor Mary Robinette Kowal
Harbor II

Calling all dancers! Join our Guest of Honor, Mary Robinette Kowal, as we travel back in time to Britain’s Regency period, when dancing was all the craze. Antonia Pugliese from Commonwealth Vintage Dancers, a Boston-area nonprofit that reconstructs, performs, and teaches dances of the 19th and early 20th century, will lead us through Boskone’s special set of Regency dances. So put on your 19th Century duds or keep your modern wardrobe to represent your favorite era — as we genre-happy gentlefolk join together to dance, Regency-style!

Opening Ceremony: Meet the Guests
Galleria – Stage

Welcome to Boskone, New England’s longest-running convention for science fiction, fantasy, and horror! Whether you are attending for the first time or the fifty-fifth, we invite you to join us in the Galleria to meet this year’s guests.

Boskone 55 Reception
Galleria – Art Show

Connoisseurs and philistines alike: welcome to the Boskone Art Show! Join us in the Galleria for an upscale social mixer. Meet our program participants while enjoying refreshments, stimulating conversation, and exceptional art that’s a feast for the eyes. Experience the music and the festivities as Boskone celebrates another year of science fiction, fantasy, and horror in Boston.


Saturday, February 17

Boskone Book Club: Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal
Marina 3

The Boskone Book Club continues! Join us for a conversation that brings con-goers together to consider one noteworthy work at length. This year we are reading Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal (our Guest of Honor). Boskone’s own Bob Kuhn will lead the discussion; Mary Robinette Kowal will join the group halfway through for a Q&A. To participate, please read the book and come ready with your thoughts and questions.

Galleria – Autographing

Guest of Honor Interview Featuring Mary Robinette Kowal
Harbor III

Professional puppeteer; costumer; voice actor — Mary Robinette Kowal is a multitalented marvel. But she’s here mostly as a Hugo-Award-winning SF/F author with a delightful gift for storytelling. Join us for Boskone’s Guest of Honor hour, conducted by Mary’s good friend (and former astronaut!) Cady Coleman.

The Magic of Historical Fantasies
Harbor III

Fantasies set in the past are growing ever more popular. Why do we love stepping back in time and sprinkling a little magic into the past? Could these same stories be told in modern times, or would some of that magic be lost? And when changing the workings of the known world by adding magic, is it still important to keep historical details correct?

Clothing That Create Character
Marina 3

Characters don’t wear costumes; they wear clothing. What’s the right raiment for the right person? Think about the style statements made by James Bond, Brienne, Doctor Manhattan, Gandalf, Kip Russell, Josephus Miller, Offred, Diana Prince, Alexia Tarabotti, or Jane Vincent. Our fashionistas discuss some of spec fic’s fashion faux pas, as well as some truly ingenious choices of garments for our favorite fictional characters.


Sunday, February 18

Life In Space
Harbor II

What does it take to become an astronaut? What’s it like to live in space? These questions and more are just a few of the queries that will get answered by astronaut Cady Coleman as she sits with science fiction authors Mary Robinette Kowal and Stacey Berg who ask her everything you ever wanted to know about life in space.

Reading by Mary Robinette Kowal

Tea with Mary
Galleria – Con Suite

Join Boskone’s Guest of Honor for tea in the Con Suite. (Requires Kaffeeklatsch sign-up at Program Ops in the Harbor Foyer.)