Remembering Ursula K. Le Guin

Did you all hear the news that legendary SF author Ursula K. Le Guin passed away recently? Her death leaves a great disturbance in the Force, to cross a few genre threads. She was one of the giants of science fiction and fantasy. And, thankfully, she was acknowledged for it during her lifetime — she won all the major genre awards (Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and the World Fantasy Award) and was only the second woman to be named a Grand Master of Science Fiction (after Andre Norton).

I was always awed by her mastery of storytelling at any length, whether short story or novella or full-length novel. And storytelling for all ages, from picture books to YA to adult — very few writers can do that! Her writing was both precise and poetic, crystalline and immediately recognizable. She was interested in ethnography and sociology, how peoples relate to each other, what cultural assumptions we make without knowing. (For example, The Left Hand of Darkness is, famously, all about deconstructing gender.) But she was brilliant at character, too, and worldbuilding. How can one person be so good at so many aspects of writing? Yet she was.

Personally, I’ve read about 10 or 15 of her books. Earthsea (a trilogy at the time) was my first exposure, as it was for many. Later I went on to The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness, her later Earthsea books and her collections of shorter works. I never got as far as her poetry …

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What Are Your Holiday Reading Traditions?

The end-of-year holidays are almost upon us! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, Kwanzaa, or something else entirely, chances are pretty good that you’re looking forward to some days off work or school at the end of this month. (And if not, you’re probably doing a very important job, like working in a hospital, so my hat goes off to you.) If you’re in a part of the world where it’s cold, you’re probably looking forward to some cozy hibernating time. And that means…reading!

(Okay, who are we kidding? My fellow Turtleduckers and I were readers before we became writers. Everything leads back to reading.)

Last year, the word of the year seemed to be hygge, the Danish term for a feeling of cozy togetherness. This year, what I’m seeing everywhere is jólabókaflóðan Icelandic word meaning “Christmas book flood”. (Jola-boka-flod is how it breaks down.) It’s an Icelandic tradition where everyone gives each other books on Christmas Eve and then stays up all night reading them. (Note: All gifts are exchanged on Christmas Eve, not just books, so there’s no danger of wakeful children spotting Santa overnight.) Which means most books are published in the months leading up to Christmas, but I digress. Like Neil Gaiman’s All Hallows Read, this is a tradition I can wholeheartedly endorse.

For me as a child, it was always exciting to spot a book-shaped package under the tree. And I look back with fondness at the Christmas books that only appeared …

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Unwritten

Unwritten

By Kit Campbell

 

When his break started, Coren tucked his hard hat under his arm and left the site. Sure, they were encouraged to eat there, but it wasn’t required, and Coren hadn’t been here long enough to deny himself the right to explore, when he could. This site was downtown, the skyscrapers towering overhead, blocking sun and sky from view. He could head in any direction, and there would be new people, new things, new experiences.

Yet he was not surprised when he found himself in front of the bookstore again, its exterior painted a deep green, its interior dark and coated with books in varying states of disuse. Of all the places he’d found in this strange city, it felt the most like home.

Despite that, he never set foot inside.

 

#

 

His own book he kept at home. It was large, leather-bound, with gold filigree along the edges. There was no title on the cover, and if there had been one inside, it had disappeared. Coren had come to understand that books were supposed to have text on each page, from start to finish, but this one was missing large swaths where the words seemed to have faded away into nothingness. At first he had assumed it was his parts that had vanished, but it was seemingly random, as occasionally his own name stared back at him from the page, along with those compatriots with whom he had shared …

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The Night Forest

The Night Forest

by Kit Campbell

 

She looked through the window though there was nothing to see on the other side; the depths of night hid what lay within her view.

She could sense him behind her, close enough to touch, but not.

“What is it you see out there?” That weird tightness to his voice that had been present lately.

“Nothing,” she said. “I see nothing.”

“Then why do you look?”

She shook her head and turned to look at him, this man who would one day be her husband, though now he drew subtly away from her. Why did she look, when she knew the small window and the black of night would show her nothing?

“It is past midnight,” she said instead. “Why are you not abed?”

“While you wander the halls, so shall I.” A light remark, one that could have been sweet, had she not seen the tension in his shoulders, had he not held himself so far away from her. He was watching her, like she might turn at any moment.

Turn into what, she had not decided.

~*~*~*~*~

The first change had been her difficulty sleeping. She’d taken to wandering the halls at night, though all slept except the guards on the walls. Still, despite her nightly excursions, she was not tired, not drained. But then, when she did sleep, the dream had come.

She was somewhere deep and dark, with trees towering overhead. She could …

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City of Hope and Ruin: Cover Reveal!

Kit and Siri are thrilled to unveil…the cover of City of Hope and Ruin.

 

 

Ready?

 

 

No, are you really ready?

 

 

Okay, here goes…

 

 

City of Hope and Ruin ebook cover

 

Isn’t it gorgeous? We couldn’t be more thrilled.

Here’s the book description again:

Every night the monsters hunt.

A city that is the whole world: Theosophy and her companions in the City militia do their best to protect the civilians from the monsters, but they keep crawling from the Rift and there’s nowhere to run. Theosophy knows she’ll die fighting. It’s the best kind of death she’s seen, and at least she can save lives in the meantime.

They say the Scarred carve you up while you’re still alive.

A village in the shadow of a forest: Refugees from the border whisper about the oncoming Scarred, but Briony can’t convince her brother to relocate his children to safety. Briony will do anything to protect them. She owes them that much, even if it means turning to forbidden magic.

When Theosophy and Briony accidentally make contact across the boundaries of their worlds, they realize that solutions might finally be within reach. A world beyond the City would give Theosophy’s people an escape, and the City’s warriors could …

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