Thursday, October 31, 2013


Being as today is the first of November I thought this was the ideal time to make this post.

Following writers and members of sites and forums where writers hang out tends to make one aware of Nanowrimo, which for those who don't know stands for National Novel Writing Month.

This initiative started some years ago and the object of it is to write 50,000 words, a novel length work within a month. That month being November.

Nanowrimo started in the norther hemisphere and to hold the 'contest' in November makes perfect sense. It's the month before the Christmas rush of December and when the weather in the northern hemisphere starts to turn, so more time is likely to spent enjoying the great indoors.

It works a little differently in the southern hemisphere. November is when out weather begins to get good, and a lot of summer sports have either just started or about to. It's still possible to do it, though. You just have organise your schedule a little differently.

Nanowrimo has spawned a few best sellers. Both Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus began their lives as Nanowrimo projects.

I've never done the proper Nanowrimo as such and I probably won't do it this year, but I am going to attempt to hit the 50,000 word mark within a month.

I credit the idea of Nanowrimo as being what got me into the habit of writing daily and building a daily word count. I started off small, very small. I aimed to do at least 100 words a day and then increased it by 100 each month. I capped off at 1,000 per day.

To hit the Nanowrimo target you need to write 1666.6 recurring words a day. I'm not actually sure how you get .6 of a word, although some of the made up words I use in Realmspace may qualify, so you just kind of round it up and aim for 1,667 words per day.

Other people have said that one of the problems with this is when you lose a day or two and have to try and catch up. That could be an issue for me, although I'll do what I can to not let it happen. I tend to take weekends off, but that will go by the wayside for this month at least.

Why I said I won't be doing an actual Nanowrimo is that while I am aiming for 50,000 words in the month they won't all be in the one novel.

Realmspace came out at roughly 80,000 words and the sequel: Music and Mayhem, was 75,000 words. I'm now 47,000 words (did 1709 today on the first day of Nanowrimo) into the 3rd Realmspace book: Shattered Chaos, and that's probably going to come out near 80,000 words as well.

Wait! You haven't even got an agent for Realmspace and you're writing the 3rd book in the series? Isn't that a little risky? Possibly, and more probably a waste of time if I can't get Realmspace off the ground. However, yes there had to be a however in there, each book is self contained. There's no cliffhanger endings at the end of each book. No need to read on unless you really want to, and they have a main character, a concept and some settings in common.

I don't know that I ever intended to write more than one book, but once I started Realmspace and got a way into it I just knew there were way more ideas than I could ever fit into one book. So for me it was logical that once I completed the first one, I would start to write a second one and the third one was already writing itself once I got through the second one.

I could write a fourth, but I think after completing 3 of them is a good time to take a break. So when I finish that I'll work on some short stories. I have an incomplete one which serves as background for another concept the bunny bit me with some time ago and has managed to dredge up more recently. I can finish that and start the new idea, which is an urban fantasy concept that at this stage I call Foxwood, which Bronwen keeps whispering seductively in my ear about.

Posts may be a little sparse in November as I try to make my daily word count, but I will try and keep people updated on my progress as regards that score.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

Before I actually get into the review I need to say a few things.

Firstly this does not mean that the blog will morph into a review blog. I'll do the occasional review when I read something that I really like that I want to tell people about, but it's not going to be the focus of the blog.

Secondly I should explain about my relationship with Scott Lynch's Gentleman Bastards series. I am HUGE fan of these. The first book in the series (The Republic of Thieves is the third), The Lies of Locke Lamora is my favourite (I hesitate to use the word best as that is a very subjective term) book of any genre.

Thirdly this probably won't be a standard review. It as much about me and my experience reading the books as it is about the book itself.

The Lies of Locke Lamora came out in 2006. I wasn't an early adopter. It took me until 2008 to pick up a copy. Why? Especially considering that at the time I loved epic fantasy. I was probably falling a little bit out of love with the genre by then. I was also over the long waits between books, and The Lies of Locke Lamora was meant to be the first of seven books. I liked the alliterative title and the cover, so I did pick it up a few times, but the blurb I read on the back made it sound rather like lit fic and I wasn't in the mood for that, so back on the shelf it went.

Given all that why did I eventually read and love the book? Sometime in 2008 I saw the sequel Red Seas Under Red Skies appear, so thought that maybe Lynch was the real deal and wouldn't take forever and a day to produce new books in the series. I needed something to read and the hype about The Lies of Locke Lamora had not abated, if anything it had grown.

From this point on we're entering SPOILER territory for all three books. Before reading on, if you haven't already read them read The Lies of Locke Lamora, Red Seas Under Red Skies and The Republic of Thieves (why haven't you read them?) then come back. You have been warned.

I often used to give myself a little preview of a book when I bought it by reading the start on the tram while travelling back to work from the book shop. I did that with The Lies of Locke Lamora and by the end of the first the first paragraph I was hooked.

Once in a great while you read a book that just grabs you right from the start and won't let go until you finish it. The Lies of Locke Lamora was for me such a book. From the Renaissance Venice inspired city of Camorr to the straight out of Goodfellas language, every post was a winner.

It was packed with great characters with cool names. The Faginesque Thiefmaker. Locke's mentor Father Chains. His partners in crime, Calo and Galdo the fast talking, wise cracking Sanza's, best friend Jean Tannen and his young protege Bug. There was the Duke's shadowy master of spies; The Spider (and the identity of that person was a great reveal). The boss of the Camorr underworld: Capa Barsavi. The villain of the piece: the Gray King and his pet bondsmage The Falconer.

Another bonus character in The Lies of Locke Lamora was the city of Camorr itself. It wasn't just a setting. It lived and breathed. It gave the book added depth and it made you understand why Locke loved the place that had nurtured him and made him what he was.

The Lies of Locke Lamora packed more into it than any single book had a right to, and it really was two books in the one. One story was the long con, the Salvara Game that Locke and his gang of Gentleman Bastards were trying to pull on one of the city's nobles, as well as how the Gray King inserted himself into that game and forced Locke to save the city of Camorr and himself at great personal cost. Then there were the Interludes, stories that told the reader how Locke got to where he was and filled in some of the history of Camorr itself, which explained why the people were the way they were.

In fact I liked The Lies of Locke Lamora so much that I did something I hadn't done since I was a kid, and that was reread it immediately afterwards. I've actually read it thirteen times and I still find something fresh and new about it every time I do so.

Red Seas Under Red Skies picked up two years after the end of The Lies of Locke Lamora, with Locke and his loyal best friend Jean trying to pull off an audacious heist on Tal Verrar's Sinspire. A gaming house that was reputable to impossible to rob. For Locke a claim like that is like a red rag to a bull. If you say it can't be done, then Locke is damn sure to try and prove that it can.

The Interludes in Red Seas Under Red Skies mostly served to explain what Locke and Jean had been doing in between leaving Camorr and putting their plan for the Sinspire into place and how they had done it.

As with it's predecessor Red Seas Under Red Skies had more than one story happening. This one concerned pirates. Now who doesn't love pirates? (unless of course they're robbing you, which would be a downer) Pirates do tend to improve things on the whole and while the pirate story was a lot of fun and had a nice love story for Jean as part of it, it felt a little out of place and the book as a whole wasn't as focussed as The Lies of Locke Lamora had been.

Like with The Lies of Locke Lamora, things didn't turn out as Locke had hoped and he and Jean were lucky to escape Tal Verrar with their lives and enough money to live for a while. Locke had been poisoned and would die a slow and painful death if a cure could not be found. As the concocter of the poison had been killed this was going to prove rather difficult.

I didn't anticipate a huge wait between books. In fact by the time I read Red Seas Under Red Skies, the third book: The Republic of Thieves was due out sometime in 2009.

The author's life got in the way and the end result was that The Republic of Thieves was published in October 2013.

I preordered The Republic of Thieves from Amazon, because I wasn't taking a chance on missing out and because it was a good deal cheaper for me to do so. Unfortunately that also meant I was at the mercy of their schedule. The result of that was that a bunch of people read ARCs (Netgalley was generous there) and got copies well before I did.

Just the other day I heard a knock on the door followed by a thump of something hitting the step. I opened the door and saw the delivery guy driving away, then looked down and my breath caught in my throat. There was a package there, it had roughly the dimensions of a good sized hardback book and it was from Amazon. Could it be? Yes, it could! I'm not ashamed to say I squeed. I then picked it up and did a quick victory lap around the house. Then I opened it and gazed at it lovingly for a moment or two before starting to read.

Yes, that is how into these books I am. During the wait I'd actually read nearly fifty pages of the book with the material that was posted on the author's website and various other places online, although they do appear to have been altered in the editing process and they're just as enjoyable this time round, probably more, because they're part of the whole book rather than just disconnected excerpts.

Was it worth the wait? I don't know if anything is worth obsessing over, but yes it's damn good and I loved every single line of it.

One character that has overshadowed Locke's life and the stories before is Sabetha Belacoros. Sabetha is the love of Locke's life. Readers have heard stories of her and we know about the indelible mark she's left on Locke's heart but The Republic of Thieves was her introduction.

There are two stories in The Republic of Thieves. One concerns Locke and Jean as they are forced into an alliance with a Bondsmage in order to save Locke's life, and once they take the deal find that their opponent will be Sabetha.

The other is told in the Interludes, and it is the story of Locke and Sabetha. How they met. How they fell in love and why they can't coexist.

Exotic new locales appear. The status obessed Lashain and the forbidding home of the feared Bondsmages; Karthain. The Interludes take readers from Camorr to Espara. Espara reminded me of Milan and Naples. A dangerous city that loves it's culture and entertainment.

To be honest I thought Lynch did something extraordinary with the Interludes. Chains sends his gang of delinquents off to Espara to learn how to act. They will spend the season as players in the Espara based troupe of Jasmer Moncraine. The chosen play is by the legendary Lucarno and is called aptly enough The Republic of Thieves.

Jean has been shown in the books to be a lover of the works of Lucarno and can easily quote from them. It was one of the things over which he and Ezri bonded in Red Seas Under Red Skies. Locke makes mention that they once trod the boards. I had always assumed Jean was the better actor when it came to acting, as opposed to 'false facing' as part of a job. This shows where his love affair with Lucarno began, but he is no actor. From the way it's written it appears that Sabetha is the best of the Gentlemen Bastards at acting. Jean is however at heart a romantic and this may be why the works of Lucarno affect him the way they do, it may also be because a Lucarno play is really where and how the fires of Locke and Sabetha's relationship was kindled.

Lynch shows quite a way with words in writing large parts of The Republic of Thieves in a rather Shakespearean style (the large slabs of the work that the characters quote probably could have been edited out, but I do have ti admire the author's skill), borrowing from Elizabethan theatre, Greek theatre and the Commedia Dell'Arte to concoct his own fictional acting style and tradition. In fact the pompous drunken lead actor has been used many times before. I suspect a viewing of My Favourite Year may have taken place before writing the character. He matches the fictional play up with a series of events in Espara that could only take place and be believable in one of Shakespeare's broadest farces.

The 'current' story in Karthain which centres around the efforts of Locke and Jean to fix an election in favour of the Deep Roots party and Sabetha's attempts to stymie them for the opposing Black Irises, is highly entertaining with cross and double cross as Locke and Sabetha duel and try to come to terms with their feelings for each other. I didn't see Locke and Jean's final gambit coming and that was a thing of beauty. It also reinforces my long held vow to not piss off the Gentleman Bastards ever.

The big revelation in this is Locke's real name and what it means for the characters and the series going forward. I enjoyed this and it explains a lot about the character and why he is what he is. I've seen someone else disappointed by this and complaining that it detracts from Locke's commonality. I beg to differ there. Locke comes from humble beginnings; the son of a seamstress and an unknown father, orphaned at a young age and turned to a life of crime, but he is not ordinary or common. In fact something I've wondered up until the revelation in The Republic of Thieves was exactly why Locke is extraordinary. This is why.

The ominous ending is a killer. Creepy and atmospheric. It sets the scene beautifully for book four: The Thorn of Emberlain.

Do I have criticisms or complaints? I do. Not many, but I have some. While I appreciated the skill of the faux Shakespearean play, as much of it as was included in the final product was a little self indulgent and could have been edited out without affecting the book overall.

At times Sabetha and Locke's relationship doesn't actually ring true. There are some clumsy scenes with them as teens and later on they do occasionally act out of character. Like many characters in books smart people are sometimes very dumb as the plot requires and there was some of that in this.

Karthain, while it is well drawn, does not have the impact or depth that Camorr did (I don't know that any new setting will) and that makes the events of the end have less impact than maybe they should.

It's less standalone than the other two, although it ends on less of a cliff than Red Seas Under Red Skies did.

I felt the battle between Locke and Sabetha for their two political factions was a little tame for the series. With something involving the Bondsmages I thought things could have gotten a good deal nastier. While I don't necessarily hold to the more bodies the better the story, this one could have used some more down and dirty.

There's not enough Jean in this. Because it's all about Locke and Sabetha I felt Jean got pushed to the side sometimes and he deserves better than that, both as a character and a person.

To be honest with the references and the story at the heart of it, this one is one for the fans, and maybe after the wait we deserve it.

I don't generally give stars and I'm not going to start here, but if you need a recommendation this one gets 5 out of 5.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


I've been thinking about being different (don't you just love that pic? I do) for the past few days really.

It was sparked by listening to an interview the lovely Emma Newman did on her podcast Tea and Jeopardy with her agent. I heartily recommend the podcast, by the way, it's a hoot. Hosted from a different villainous lair each week, Emma talks to people in the industry, generally writers. She's ably 'assisted' by her loyal and somewhat untrustworthy butler Latimer.

During the interview Emma asked her agent what she was looking for in terms of submissions/queries. The answer was YA and particularly with a different world. Now that is right up my alley. This may sound vain, but Realmspace is most definitely different. That difference is what drew me to the concept in the first place and why I keep going back there.

I thought I'd look up the agent and maybe query her. However when I did so I found that she worked for an agency that I had already queried and been rejected by. It is not recommended to query multiple agents from the one agency with the same concept. If the one you've contacted doesn't think your idea/novel is right for them, but may suit another agent they'll pass it on. If they don't do this you can accept that for whatever reason they've decided that you're not for them.

This made me think that not only agents, but publishers and those who make TV shows and films often say they want something different, but what they really want is something safe.

Like it or not in this world of corporatised entertainment different is a hard sell. They're in it to make money and they won't accept anything they don't think will make money.

Sequels are so popular because they're a guaranteed sale. If someone read a book and liked it, then they're going to buy the sequel.

I have immense respect for A. Lee Martinez, because to date he has not yet done a sequel to any of his 10 books. Shame really because his debut Gil's All-Fright Diner is crying out for one. Tad Williams was the same early on in his career. Going from Tailchaser's Song to Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, then Otherland, followed by The War of the Flowers, is pretty brave.

On the other hand you have people like Raymond Feist. Feist was more than capable of writing outside his Midkemia concept. His one foray outside of it Faerie Tale was a highly accomplished dark fantasy. It didn't sell at the time so he got railroaded into doing more Midkemia books and never went back to something outside of that. Faerie Tale is these days very well regarded.

While I love Joe Abercrombie's 'grimdark' stories to death I'd love to see him do something outside of that dark, gritty, low magic stuff peopled with cynical, macabrely amusing, morally ambiguous anti heroes. I assume he doesn't because everyone is concerned that readers may not react well to it.

Mercedes Lackey despite having a strong sales record and being very prolific stopped writing her Diana Tregarde series because at the time (before the UF boom) they didn't sell. There were other reasons behind that decision, but low sales were also a driver. In today's market that is almost over flooded with supernatural heroes in this world they would have been a huge hit.

That's why many authors seem to be get locked into the one genre or path.

It's the same with films. You can almost start counting the profits by sticking the word or number 2 on a title.

This of course makes it very hard for someone who has no track record to enter with an idea that is different and get someone to take a chance on it.

Not being different is why we try and pigeonhole authors and books into an ever increasing amount of subgenres, whether or not they actually fit in those.

I suspect part of what is killing my queries stone dead is four words contained in my opening line: young adult fantasy adventure. That's what it is though.

I read a lot, i spend a great deal of time perusing book shelves (I'm almost physically incapable of walking past a bookstore without going in and having a look) and I also interact with fans on a daily basis. I come across a number of words: different, fresh, new, unique, original.

Nearly every new release seems to have one, some or all of those words on their cover from a reviewer, author or blogger (I rarely used the words when describing a book, which is maybe one of the many reasons I wasn't a particularly successful book blogger). Unfortunately a fairly quick look inside many of those books makes one realise that the reviewers have a different meaning of the words to the one I go by. Many of these books are the same old stuff presented in a slightly skewed way, some don't even do that.

I regularly see fans asking for something different that doesn't tread the same old ground. It's getting harder and harder to make recommendations to fit that request, because no one wants to publish anything that veers too far from the tried and tested road for fear that the public will turn away in droves.

Maybe what I have really isn't very good and I'm kidding myself in thinking that it is, but it is different. It just needs a chance and someone willing to take a risk.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

C is for Casino

A short note before I get into the actual post. I do apologise for the lack of posts this week. Time kind of got away from me and before you know it, it's Thursday and you haven't posted for 4 days!

If anyone has been reading this and they've read up a bit about Realmspace they could be a bit confused. I call the book a fantasy and it is, but there's a casino? A Las Vegas style casino with bright neon lights and everything. How does that work?

So glad you asked.

The Realm that my main character of Dancer/Darren spends most of his time on is called Intellida. It's a strange mixture of magic and technology. The two collide on Intellida.

Downtown in the entertainment sector there are a number of establishments, including casinos. Dancer, once he made some money out of shifting, which basically required him to ferry customers and/or things in and out of Realms, invested what he'd made.

Some of it went on property (his house), but he also looked at diversifying his investments into other areas. One of those was the casino Fame and Fortune. On the surface of it Fame and Fortune looks like any casino. It has gaming tables, in a concession to the otherworldliness of it and to illustrate that appearances to the contrary it is not the same sort of casino that we on this Realm are used to, one of the games that patrons can bet on is Snakes and Ladders.

One other thing that sets Fame and Fortune apart from other casinos, even those on Intellida, is the owner. Dancer has an interest, but the casino's owner and runner is a dragon named Sigurd. Sigurd looks like a businessman in a sharp suit most of the time, but get him angry and he'll turn into a large, fire breathing magical reptile with a fondness for money.

Casinos on Intellida also employ luck faeries to ensure that patrons don't cheat. In hindsight I could have called this entry C for Cherie. Cherie is Fame and Fortune's resident luck faery. A luck faery is your basic garden variety faery, complete with the butterfly wings and lack of size. They differ from their more mundane cousins in two respects. One is the wings, which change colour depending on their owner's mood. Blue is calm, yellow is happy, red is angry, etc... and the other is what gives them their name. Luck faeries are just that lucky. They can direct luck to ensure that things work out their way. They are incapable of losing at games of chance, which is why the casinos employ them. If a patron can beat the luck faery then they have to be cheating.

Cherie is a feisty little thing and one of Dancer's closest friends and associates. She's far more than just an employee.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Fluffy Green Plot Bunny

Something people who write are often asked is: 'Where do your ideas come from?' I believe it's the most asked and most hated question that published authors hear.

I have a very simple answer. A fluffy green bunny.

Her name is Bronwen and she's a plot bunny. She doesn't look precisely like the one in the picture above, but it is a close likeness. I don't really know why she's green, she just always has been.

To be honest Bronwen isn't really my plot bunny. I share custody with her. She was originally my wife's, but she also adopted me. My wife tells me that she's all mine, but that doesn't stop her from giving both of us ideas.

That's what plot bunnies do. They have an idea then pass it onto their 'owner'. They keep at it until you give in and write some of it down. Bronwen will often give up if she can get you to at least write the first line or paragraph. In some ways that's a blessing, in others it's a curse.

I mean what is the good of having a vague idea partly written down if she won't give you any more? Bronwen finds this highly amusing. I can hear her giggling in the back of my head when she does this. Being abandoned mid idea is annoying, but what is worse is when she does that and then almost immediately moves onto another idea, because something else has taken her fancy.

The first thing Bronwen ever 'bit' me about was something that was about her. Naturally. Plot bunnies are very vain and love nothing better than for you to write about them.

Bronwen finds interest in all sorts of things. Locations, TV shows, song lyrics, other books, you name it, she can find something to bother you with.

For all my complaints about her, I do love Bronwen and I'm sure my fictional life would be poorer for her absence if she ever decided to move her burrow elsewhere.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Rejection is something every writer has to deal with at some stage. It really doesn't matter if you're agented, published or unpublished, at some point you will experience rejection. It may came from an agent, a publisher or even a reader.

I told myself I was ready for it. In some ways I may have actually been. I'm going through the whole query agent thing with Realmspace at present. I don't mind rejection, I expect it. I actually expect a lot of it. I don't see that as being underconfident, it's more like being realistic.

I haven't gotten past the query stage yet, and maybe I won't. I don't know.

So far I've only received the 'this isn't for us' kind of response. I think that may be code for 'your work isn't good enough'. I would like a little more explanation as to why, because then I could possibly make some changes, but I know that's not the agent's job and that they're actually doing me a favour by even responding to my queries.

I will keep you posted if I get anything beyond the 'this isn't for us' response. Hopefully one day I'll get a foot in the door and receive some encouraging news.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

B is for Brownies

If the picture above doesn't give it away when I say brownies I don't mean the tasty baked goods.

Brownies are mythological creatures. They're a type of hob or hobgoblin or house sprite. Traditionally in stories they do housework as long as no one sees them or tries to 'pay' them, it's okay if the householder gifts them food as a sign of appreciation for their efforts.

I use a number of mythological creatures in Realmspace. My brownie character Molly is Dancer's housekeeper and she comes from the Realm of Erin.

My brownies don't really look like the ones above. I just used them because I thought they were cute. They look rather like a cross between Jiminy Cricket and a sepia leprechaun, which seeing as Molly is from Erin is kind of apt, really.

Molly is short and round and she flies about the place on two insect type wings. She's a peripheral character who guards her kitchen fiercely and likes to mother Dancer. She's also got a budding relationship with Anton, another type of hob,  known as a hodekin, the head chef at Fame and Fortune, the Intellidan casino that Dancer has a financial stake in.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Good for a laugh

Humour is an important element of a book for me. That goes whether it's something I read or something I write. If I can find something i can laugh about in a book it can sometimes override other elements that I may not like as much. It can even make up for some of a book's failings as I see them.

I'm not just talking about humour in things like many of Terry Pratchett's books, which are written with the sole intent of being amusing, although the humour can range from broad farce to subtle satire or amusing social commentary.

I've spoken before of the current interest in what is most commonly referred to as 'grimdark' fiction. I've grown tired of a lot of that, because to be totally honest I found it was depressing, the books I was reading were devoid of anything approaching humour.

The books in that subgenre that I do still enjoy tend to be those that manage to mix some humour in amongst the blood and guts and their rather cynical outlook. While there is graphic violence in The Lies of Locke Lamora and a lot of profanity and it was set in a 'sad crapsack' world I found myself often laughing at the banter between Locke and his gang of Gentleman Bastards. Their 'bastard/liar' schtick never fails to raise a smile. What I find often rises Joe Abercrombie above many others who write in his subgenre is the somewhat dark humour he throws in. While I would go a long way out of my intended route to avoid crossing paths with his Northmen I do find their dark and dry humour laugh out loud funny. George R.R Martin also leavens his epic A Song of Ice and Fire with comedy, generally in the form of Tyrion Lannister. That to me is part of why Tyrion is many people's favourite character from both the books and HBO's Game of Thrones TV adaptation.

I find even non straight out comedy books have to have humour or a comedy relief to properly work. Those moments or characters for me, can make a book, or make me like it more and often become my favourites.

On the other hand if the humour or 'funny' character isn't done well or falls flat it can drag the book down. If I read it and I can see in my mind's eye the author chortling over their keyboard because they think something is funny I can be turned off very quickly.

You do get others that aren't at all funny and they work as well, if it's done well enough. Ian Tregillis' Milkweed triptych comes to mind. There's not much funny in that, in fact unrelenting misery is a better term and it doesn't have what could be called a happy ending, but I still rate the three books (Bitter Seeds, The Coldest War and Necessary Evil) as one of the best things I've read in a very long time and they stayed with me ages after I finished the final page of Necessary Evil.

Don't be afraid to be funny. Many of us out there read for the laughs. Laughter can make you remember a book fondly.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Something Mad

I won't do this often, but after something I read last night I have to come on here and rave about something that was for me like a shot of nitro glycerine to the brain.

I generally have at least two books on the go at any one time. I have one I read during the day and one I read a bit of before I turn out the light and go to sleep. My current bedside book is an anthology: The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination edited by John Joseph Adams.

I'm not big on short fiction or anthologies. I can just never get into it. The large reason that this particular one became part of our ever expanding book collection (I swear it's going to take over the house one day and kick us both out) because it contains a story by Seanan McGuire, who is one my and my wife's favourite authors.

The Seanan story was good as they always are, but nothing really stood out in this collection for me, although I did like Instead of a Loving Heart by Jeremiah Tolbert, that was until I read The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Theodora Goss last night. I still have about 9 stories to go in the collection, so something else may capture my mind like The Mad Scientist's Daughter did, but I doubt it.

The premise was fairly simple. The daughters of 6 famous literary mad scientists live together in a house in Victorian London and form a sort of sisterhood, bonded by their shared experience of having had infamous fathers. It was brilliantly and beautifully done. The 6 ladies had very distinct personalities and voices and all struck a perfect note for me. This particular story was written by Catherine Moreau, who was the writer of the group, but it would have been interesting to see how the other ladies viewed the group and their lives from their point of view.

Theodora Goss.

I hadn't read anything by this author before, but I will have to seek her out as I think she mainly writes short work. I'd love to see The Mad Scientist's Daughter expanded into a novel. I don't think it will happen, but damn it would be good.

It's also fired my imagination. There's a thread over at Fantasy Faction entitled Books That Make You Stop Writing, which asks the question do you ever read something that is so damn good it makes you assess your own work in comparison and cry because you know you're never going to be that good. The Mad Scientist's Daughter is one of those stories that makes you want to write.