All posts by Shannon McMaster

Alpha and Omega: Harry Turtledove

9781980039334_400I just finished listening to the audio book edition of Alpha and Omega by Harry Turtledove. A tight, unrelenting book, masterfully handling multiple points of view. Turtledove eases you into the world of the book. This is a thriller set in Jerusalem, all right. Then, with a couple of explosive events–one literal, one archealogical–he begins bending the character’s reality, while keeping the reader believably grounded in early 21st Century realities. Turtledove succeeds in his story by fully committing to the miraculous nature of the events of the narrative, and by fully committing to the humanity of all the characters–be they secular journalists, the mashiach, Christian televangelist, or Muslim leader, among many others.

The audiobook reader, George Guidall, keeps things moving, alternating smoothly between the many POV characters, men and women, old and young, and a variety of accents while never being show-offy.

Order the audiobook or print edition from The Bookman.

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Tiffany Blues

The sparkling novel from M.J. Rose is sure to be a big hit with reading groups. Jenny Bell (not her real name…) is a struggling artist in Roaring Twenties New York City.

Her talent brings her to the attention of teachers, patrons, journalists, The Law, and–at the heart of this glittering tale–the Tiffany family.

Betrayals, heartbreak, and love abound in this new novel from the author of The Library of Light and Shadow.

Longer by Michael Blumlein

A tough, chewy look at longing, limits, and love. When a medical development allows for extended, though limited, lifespans, the struggles for discovering, and even preserving, what is now normal in human relationships play out on a very small stage. In a lab. On a space station. Staffed by a highly competent married couple in the employ of a powerful company. Michael Blumlein has crafted a gem of a story which shows more than it pretends to, placing the reader in the hearts and minds of the characters, and chooses none of the answers it offers.

The Witch Who Came in from the Cold

Wow. This is a really enjoyable book, written by five authors–Lindsay Smith, Max Gladstone, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Ian Tregillis, and MIchael Swanwick. It was originally released on Serial Box (not currently available there), and this is a novelization.

The story so far… Prague, 1969-1970. The height of the Cold War. The CIA is working on extracting a defector, the KGB is keeping a close eye on what the CIA is up to… into the mix we get and ancient magical war which is beginning to heat up again.

Ice & Fire, East & West, compelling characters, people in the spy life who are unaffiliated, people in the magical life who are unaffiliated. Cross-cutting agendas, mixed loyalties, just enough spycraft, and a really interesting magical world…

It’s a novel with everything you could want from a premise like this, but also not enough since the world is deep, and the characters worth caring about.

He Wore A Hat

And he said things that made people uncomfortable.

I have not listened to the above recordings in, probably, ever. It is possibly full of NSFW words.

Kirk Wilson was a guy I knew in days when it seemed like outrageous was a good way to go about things. In those days, a friend and I created something which we intended to be a good thing for outrageousness to grow alongside, in the protective lee of our plans.

Kirk ran around in that protective lee like a demon. He was short because of some named condition. He had a limp. He had buggy eyes. He had a casual distain for how you felt about his appearance, and used that disregard to his advantage. He wore a hat, and called himself Hatter. He was on my writing staff for a couple of months as an artist before I knew it, and for a couple of more months before I knew his proper name.

He moved to Chicago, and learned that being outrage is a lifestyle choice with consequences. Eventually, like Bartleby, had Bartleby gotten all up in your grill about everything you did, and he did, and that guy on the El did, and the way the wind blew his black canvas trenchcoat around, he died. My life is better because he was in it, and it would be better still if he could still be in it. Here’s some of his art.

Kirk Wilson art