I was very sorry to hear this morning that Sheri S. Tepper had passed away. She started writing later in life, or at least publishing later in life, as a number of fine writers have, and ended up being extremely prolific through the 1980s and into the 1990s.
I first encountered Tepper’s work through her early novels in the ‘True Game‘ trilogy of trilogies and the ‘Marianne’ series, all books that read like fantasy but mixed science fiction and fantasy in a way that now seems prophetic. She wrote horror and mystery just as effectively, but probably hit her peak with Grass, a Hugo nominee (it lost to Dan Simmons’ Hyperion) and first in the ‘Arbai’ trilogy. I think it’s a masterwork that far outstrips her later work from the 1990s and 2000s.
A number of her more than 30 novels remain in print, but sadly, despite being awarded the World Fantasy Life Achievement, I don’t think she ever achieved the level of recognition she deserved. I could speculate on why (her gender, her politics, her somewhat more frank and even heavy-handed approach in her later novels), but I can only hope that will change. She was remarkable.
So I’ve been working away. In amongst editing anthologies, pitching new ones, working for Locus, recording podcasts, and such, I’ve been working with the team at Tor.com to bring you some pretty exciting novellas and short fiction. The latest one, Impersonations, is a fantastic novel-length adventure by Walter Jon Williams set in his Praxis series. I love Walter’s work and I love this story, which features his longtime hero Caro Sula.
While the book is not coming out till later this year, I’m really excited to see the cover by Jaime Jones revealed by Irene, Lee and the Tor.com team.
Impersonations, A Tale of the Praxis
Having made the unforgivable mistake of winning a war without the proper permission, Captain Caroline Sula has been exiled to Earth, a distant backwater far from the heart of Empire, the sort of place where careers go to die. Sula sees her posting as a chance for an extended vacation amid the rubble of Earth’s long history, but there are parts of her own past she doesn’t want known.
When an old acquaintance shows up on Earth Sula is faced with possible exposure. Then a mysterious warship turns up in her dockyard. Someone is forging evidence that could send her to prison, while another group is rummaging around in her past. And there is an assassin on her trail. Sula has to put all the pieces together before she ends up dead, disgraced, or exposed.
With this novel-length adventure featuring one of his most popular characters, Nebula winner Walter Jon Williams returns to the universe the Praxis in fine style!
(coming from Tor.com, 2016)
James Patrick Kelly said of it:
One of the great space opera series of all time continues with Impersonations. Know however, that this book easily stands on its own with a tight focus on Captain the Lady Sula and her new assignment on Earth. And what a great future Earth this is, at once familiar and deliciously transformed by centuries of domination by the alien Shaa. Mysteries and secrets, murders and natural disasters and above all politics played as a blood sport are all on offer by this masterful writer. Walter Jon Williams owns this genre!
You can order it soon. Below are the other novellas I’ve been working on for Tor.com of late.
And now my nominees for Best Novelette. There were some other terrific novelettes, but these ended up on my ballot. Looking at them, they’re all from anthologies, which is unusual for me, and there’s a real gender issue. That tended to balance over my ballot, but not here. Although there were a lot of great novelettes published in 2015, I don’t think you’d regret reading any of these.
“Another Word for World,” Ann Leckie (Future Visions)
“Capitalism in the 22nd Century,” Geoff Ryman (Stories for Chip)
“Black Dog,” Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warnings and Other Disturbances)
“My Last Bringback,” John Barnes (Meeting Infinity)
“Botanica Veneris: Thirteen Papercuts by Ida Countess Rathangan,” Ian McDonald (Old Venus)
If 2015 was a good year for novels, it was an even better for year for novellas. With Tor, Subterranean, PS Publishing and a whole range of other publishers committing to novellas, there’s more interesting long SF/F being published than in a long, long time.
There were a number of long stories, like Kai Ashante Wilson’s Sorcerer of the Wildeeps and Elizabeth Hand’s Wylding Hall which sit on the cusp of being novels, but belong on any list of the year’s best fiction.
I could have named another handful of stories, but I loved all of these. Any would have made a terrific winner, and I’m delighted Al Reynolds’ story actually made the final ballot. You should see all of these out, if you haven’t already done so.
The Four Thousand, the Eight Hundred, Greg Egan (Asimov’s)