Category: fiction

Book announcement: The House of Sundering Flames

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So very pleased to announce that book 3 of Dominion of the Fallen, The House of Sundering Flames, will be published by Gollancz on July 26th 2019.

Official information at the The Bookseller.

This is basically a book inspired by Rebecca Solnit’s A Paradise Built in Hell, about how the post apocalypse would involve fighting for survival but also extraordinary kindness. Featuring: hawks, explosions, queer families, Vietnamese dragons and murderbirds(*).

Focusing on House Harrier in Grenelle (15e arrondissement of Paris), though most of the cast of the prior two books will be making a comeback.

(*)not the hawks, but the deadly combination of a deadpan do-gooder bi dragon prince and his husband, best described as lawful evil with ground rules and no scruples. Given a run for their money by the tag-team of an insecure but ruthlessly protective leader and her idealistic partner, entirely resigned to the trouble that follows them around.

Court of Birth, Court of Strength up at Beneath Ceaseless Skies

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Just a quick note that my Dominion of the Fallen story “Court of Birth, Court of Strength” is now up at Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

In the ruins of a Gothic Paris, a city devastated in the wake of a magical war, a young and sheltered Fallen angel goes to an older one for help in finding a missing child.

The leader of House Hawthorn’s Court of Birth lived in a part of the House that Samariel had never been to: a wing of dusty, disused corridors where the wainscoting had rotted away and the wallpaper’s elegant asphodels were obscured by elongated smudges of grey fungus. The door was small and crooked. Samariel would have thought it the entrance to a garret, but it opened into a wide, airy space with barely a trace of mould or spells gone awry. A makeshift antechamber held two Louis XV armchairs with plump, curved mahogany legs, and behind it was the shape of a four-poster bed that had seen better days, its silk canopy patched so many times the patterns on it had all but disappeared under the seams of repairs.

 

Read online!

(for anyone who’s read the books: this happens before The House of Shattered Wings, and it’s the Asmodeus/Samariel courtship story!)

Announcing: The Church of Accelerated Redemption

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Announcing: The Church of Accelerated Redemption

Very quick announcement as I’m hard at work on a novel (book 3 of Dominion of the Fallen, about which I hope to have cool news soon!). Here’s a re-release of an old, hard-to-find story I wrote with Gareth L Powell when I was still a baby writer (feels so far away lol!). I still remember googling all the Paris locations because I needed clear visuals, and I may have visited them all but my visual memory isn’t that strong! Anyway, this is a story about two of my loves: Paris, and artificial intelligences and the future. You can get it at Amazon (for the moment it’s not available at other vendors. We’ll keep you updated if that changes).

Aliette de Bodard, winner of the Nebula, Locus and BSFA Awards, teams up with BSFA Award-winner Gareth L. Powell to present an uplifting short story of machines and humans, of intense emotions and cutting-age technology culled from tomorrow’s headlines.

Installing a network for the Church of Accelerated Redemption is just another crappy job in a series of crappy jobs for Lisa, an American engineer stuck doing menial work in Paris. That the Church uses artificial intelligences to power its never-ending prayer machines doesn’t interest her at all: they’re paying, and she needs enough money to survive in an increasingly crumbling world. Until a demonstration outside the Church’s headquarters, and the appearance of Stéphane, an enigmatic man Lisa finds herself powerfully drawn to. What lies beneath his headscarf, why is he so interested in the Church–and how far will she be willing to go in order to earn his trust?

“Full of character and wit” – Zone SF
“Wonderful and full of promise.” – SF Revu

Where to Buy

Amazon US

Buy Now

The Tea Master and the Detective, ebook edition (outside N America)

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The Tea Master and the Detective, ebook edition (outside N America)

Thrilled to reveal the cover of the ebook edition of the Tea Master and the Detective outside North America. Isn’t it gorgeous? Also yesss I got an áo dài on a cover!!! (the áo dài is a traditional Vietnamese female dress). Art and design is by Dirk Berger , with many many thanks to John Berlyne for his help, as well as Likhain, Kate Elliott, Vida Cruz, Sebb, Stephanie Burgis and Patrick Samphire.

The book will be out April 2nd from JABberwocky, but you can preorder it right now on Amazon, Kobo, and iBooks!

If you’re in North America, Subterranean is now shipping both the book and the ebook: it will become available at major retailers March 31st, 2018.

Here’s the summary:

Once, the mindship known as The Shadow’s Child was a military transport. Once, she leapt effortlessly between stars and planets, carrying troops and crew for a war that tore the Empire apart. Until an ambush killed her crew and left her wounded and broken.

Now the war is over, and The Shadow’s Child, surviving against all odds, has run away. Discharged and struggling to make a living, she has no plans to go back into space. Until the abrasive and arrogant scholar Long Chau comes to see her. Long Chau wants to retrieve a corpse for her scientific studies: a simple enough, well-paid assignment.

But when the corpse they find turns out to have been murdered, the simple assignment becomes a vast and tangled investigation, inexorably leading back to the past–and, once again, to that unbearable void where The Shadow’s Child almost lost both sanity and life…

Where to Buy

UK hardback

Amazon UK

Ebook (outside North America)

Amazon UK Kobo (EPUB) iBooks

Buy Now

And here are a few reviews if you’re still undecided:

What people are saying:

The Tea Master and the Detective is the Sherlock Holmes retelling I always wanted and now I have it. And I want so much more of it.

Ana Grilo, Kirkus

A terrific piece of writing, taking the sentient community of ships from Ian Bank’s Culture series, the glittering belt of space habitats from Alastair Reynolds’ Prefect novels, and adding in a compelling pair as the title characters.

Ernest Lilley, SFRevu

“This slim volume packs a visceral punch. Absorbing prose takes the reader in the dark, frigid space between the stars, where ships can fail, physically and emotionally, as well as people. (…) an imaginative read.

Library Journal (starred review)

De Bodard constructs a convincingly gritty setting and a pair of unique characters with provocative histories and compelling motivations. The story works as well as both science fiction and murder mystery, exploring a future where pride, guilt, and mercy are not solely the province of humans.

Publishers’ Weekly

Ingenious… As a classical blend of far-future SF and traditional murder mystery, The Tea Master and the Detective should satisfy readers unfamiliar with the Xuya universe, but at the same time it’s an intriguing introduction to that universe, much of which seems to lie just outside the borders of this entertaining tale.

Gary K Wolfe, Locus

This book shows sharp, intelligent dialogue with wildly peculiar worlds and spaces. The elegant weaving of narrative is what we’ve come to expect from de Bodard’s unique style. This is the opposite of a closed-room mystery, an open-space mystery which pushes the boundaries of A.I-as-person and genius-as-misanthropic-detective. Deeply affecting and always entertaining, The Tea Master and the Detective should be your next read.

Tade Thompson

Where to Buy

UK hardback

Amazon UK

Ebook (outside North America)

Amazon UK Kobo (EPUB) iBooks

Buy Now

“A Burning Sword for Her Cradle” to Ellen Datlow’s Echoes

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Thrilled to announce I’ve sold “A Burning Sword for her Cradle” to Ellen Datlow for Echoes: the Saga Book of Ghost Stories, out Fall 2018.

It’s, er. A story about war, immigration, hauntings passed down the blood, and the cost of the future. Basically “Aliette does horror”, which means food, strong-willed aunties and families. Also creepy ghosts because obviously!

Snippet:

Now

Bao Ngoc has set her appointment with the witch at dawn–because it would make her leave the house in the dark, at a time when neither her sister nor her brother-in-law would be awake.

Things, however, never work the way they’re supposed to.

She’s made her morning worship at her ancestral altar, leaving oranges and apples for her parents’ spirits, mouthing the familiar litany beseeching them for good fortune, gritting her teeth against the agony in her chest. Now she’s rummaging in the kitchen for coconut water, opening the cupboard in the darkness. In the background, the familiar buzz of the fridge, a warbling Bao Ngoc keeps–with effort, with pain–from turning into the angry remonstrances of ghosts.

New Xuya novella forthcoming from Subterranean: The Tea Master and the Detective

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New Xuya novella forthcoming from Subterranean: The Tea Master and the Detective

I’ve been sitting on this forever but am super happy to report that my novella The Tea Master and the Detective will be coming out from Subterranean Press in March 2018, with lovely art by Maurizio Manzieri.

This is my “Xuya meets Sherlock Holmes” book: in a galactic empire infused by Vietnamese culture, a detective and a mindship must team up to solve a mystery. Very loosely inspired by A Study in Scarlet, if Holmes were an eccentric scholar, and Watson a grumpy decommissioned war mindship. I had lots of fun writing this: it’s full of digs and references to classic Sherlock Holmes, plus all the detective stories ever. It turns out that grumpy mindship is best mindship when it comes to writing! Also, gender swapping everyone made for rather fun situations (the ending had me tearing out my hair but I’m so happy it all worked out).

Many thanks to Fran Wilde, Genevieve Cogman, Tade Thompson, Liz Bourke, Lynn O’Connacht, Ava Jarvis, Stephanie Burgis, Seth Gorden, Samantha Henderson, Fran Wilde, Likhain, and Kate Elliott. As well as to John Berlyne, Yanni Kuznia, Geralyn Lance, and everyone involved with the book (I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone!).

And special thanks to Vida Cruz, Victor Fernando R Ocampo and Tade Thompson for helping me with cover copy!

Here’s the summary:

A new novella set in the award-winning, critically-acclaimed Xuya universe…

Welcome to the Scattered Pearls Belt, a collection of ring habitats and orbitals ruled by exiled human scholars and powerful families, and held together by living mindships who carry people and freight between the stars. In this fluid society, human and mindship avatars mingle in corridors and in function rooms, and physical and virtual realities overlap, the appareance of environments easily modified and adapted to interlocutors or current mood.

A transport ship discharged from military service after a traumatic injury, The Shadow’s Child now ekes out a precarious living as a brewer of mind-altering drugs for the comfort of space-travellers. Meanwhile, abrasive and eccentric scholar Long Chau wants to find a corpse for a scientific study. When Long Chau walks into her office, The Shadow’s Child expects an unpleasant but easy assignment. When the corpse turns out to have been murdered, Long Chau feels compelled to investigate, dragging The Shadow’s Child with her.

As they dig deep into the victim’s past, The Shadow’s Child realises that the investigation points to Long Chau’s own murky past–and, ultimately, to the dark and unbearable void that lies between the stars…

Available for pre-order now as a lovely signed hardbound edition, coming out March 2018: it’s a limited print run so I don’t know how long it’ll last (my last limited edition chapbook sold out rather fast!). You can hop on to the Subterranean website to check it out and get your very own copy!

Where to Buy

UK hardback

Amazon UK

Ebook (outside North America)

Amazon UK Kobo (EPUB) iBooks

Buy Now

Cover reveal for “A Thousand Beginnings and Endings”

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Cover reveal for “A Thousand Beginnings and Endings”

Happy to reveal the cover for Elsie Chapman and Ellen Oh’s A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, in which my story “The Counting of Vermillion Beads” will appear. It’s a retelling of Tấm Cám, except set in a science fantasy palace where girls compete to become high-ranking officials of the Everlasting Emperor–and it’s about sisterhood and families and the threads that never really can be snapped.

And best of all, it’s only one of a stellar lineup that includes Shveta Thakar, EC Myers, Cindy Pon. Eeeeeeeeeeeee!

The wonderful cover is by Feifei Ruan.

The book is not out till June 2018, but you can preorder it now!

Where to Buy

Amazon US
Buy Now

New story: Children of Thorns, Children of Water at Uncanny Magazine

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New story: Children of Thorns, Children of Water at Uncanny Magazine

My story “Children of Thorns, Children of Water” has now been published at Uncanny Magazine. You can read it here.

This is set in the Dominion of the Fallen, my Gothic ruined Paris with Fallen angels, dragons, alchemists and magicians (aka my love letter to 19th Century Gothic fiction and manga and anime like Fullmetal Alchemist and Black Butler, which includes novels The House of Shattered Wings and The House of Binding Thorns ). It’s a standalone: an excellent introduction to the universe, and a good return to it if you’re already familiar with it!

What you get: dragons, creepy magic, cooking (!).

In a Paris that never was, a city of magicians, alchemists and Fallen angels struggling to recover from a devastating magical war…

Once each year, the House of Hawthorn tests the Houseless: for those chosen, success means the difference between a safe life and the devastation of the streets. However, for Thuan and his friend Kim Cuc, — dragons in human shapes and envoys from the dying underwater kingdom of the Seine — the stakes are entirely different. Charged with infiltrating a House that keeps encroaching on the Seine, if they are caught, they face a painful death.

Worse, mysterious children of thorns stalk the candidates through Hawthorn’s corridors. Will Thuan and Kim Cuc survive and succeed?

Read Online!

If you’ve already read and enjoyed it, why not try The House of Binding Thorns in which you get to meet again Thuan (aka, the queer, bookish dragon prince with amazing talent for getting himself into trouble), as well as a host of other characters?

(or you can also pick up the full issue of Uncanny Magazine, which has fiction by Seanan McGuire, Mary Robinette Kowal, Cassandra Khaw and other fine folk)

The Dominion of the Fallen Reading Order (Novels Only)

Book 1. The House of Shattered Wings | Book 2. The House of Binding Thorns

Excerpt

With thanks to Stephanie Burgis, Kate Elliott and Fran Wilde

It was a large, magnificent room with intricate patterns of ivy branches on the tiles, and a large mirror above a marble fireplace, the mantlepiece crammed with curios from delicate silver bowls to Chinese blue-and-white porcelain figures: a clear statement of casual power, to leave so many riches where everyone could grab them.

Or rather, it would have been, if the porcelain hadn’t been cut-rate–the same bad quality the Chinese had foisted on the Indochinese court in Annam–the mirror tarnished, with mould growing in one corner, spread down far enough that it blurred features, and the tiling cracked and chipped in numerous places–repaired, but not well enough that Thuan couldn’t feel the imperfections under his feet, each one of them a little spike in the khi currents of magic around the room.

Not that Thuan was likely to be much impressed by the mansions of Fallen angels, no matter how much of Paris they might claim to rule. He snorted disdainfully, an expression cut short when Kim Cuc elbowed him in the ribs. “Behave,” she said.

“You’re not my mother.” She was his ex-lover, as a matter of fact; and older than him, and never let him forget that.

“Next best thing,” Kim Cuc said, cheerfully. “I can always elbow further down, if you insist.”

Thuan bit down the angry retort. The third person in the room–a dusky-skinned, young girl of Maghrebi descent, who’d introduced herself as Leila–was looking at them with fear in her eyes. “We’re serious,” he said, composing his face again. “We’re not going to ruin your chances to enter House Hawthorn, promise.”

They were a team: that was what they’d been told, as the House dependents separated the crowd before the House in small groups; that their performance would be viewed as a whole, and their chance to enter the House weighed accordingly. Though no rules had been given, and nothing more said, either, as dependents led them to this room and locked them in. At least he was still with Kim Cuc, or he’d have been hopelessly lost.

For people like Leila–for the Houseless, the desperate–it was their one chance to escape the streets, to receive food and shelter and the other tangible benefits of a House’s protection.

For Thuan and Kim Cuc, though… the problem was rather different. Their fate, too, would be rather different, if anyone found out who they really were. No House in Paris liked spies, and Hawthorn was not known for its leniency.

Harbinger of the Storm Kobo deal

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Harbinger of the Storm, my Mexica imperial succession novel with star-demons and priestly intrigues, is available on Kobo for $1.99 for today only!

The year is Two House, and the Emperor of the Mexica has just died. The protections he afforded the Empire are crumbling, and the way lies wide open to the flesh-eating star-demons–and to the return of their creator, a malevolent goddess only held in check by the War God’s power.
The council should convene to choose a new Emperor, but they are too busy plotting against each other. And then someone starts summoning star-demons within the palace, to kill councilmen…
Acatl, High Priest of the Dead, must find the culprit before everything is torn apart.

Want a copy? Go here (offer should also be valid at other Kobo websites!).

Read for Pixels fundraiser and Google Hangout

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I’m delighted to be taking part in this year’s Read for Pixels’ fundraiser, which aims to fight violence against women. The fundraiser just went up, and I’m offering a Parisian Bundle, which will let you curl up with The House of Shattered Wings, good food, and a print of gorgeous artwork by Likhain, featuring Françoise and Berith, two characters from The House of Binding Thorns (a Fallen and her mortal lover). You can also get a Skype call with me if you’re so inclined. And there are plenty of goodies from the likes of Laini Taylor, Mary Robinette Kowal, Michelle Sagara…

This weekend only, author Karen Rose is matching all donations up to $4000, so now’s the time for donating if you want to!

To support the fundraiser, I’ll be taking part in Read for Pixels’ Google Hangout on Sunday March 19th, 4pm Paris Time. I’ll be reading from my forthcoming The House of Binding Thorns: ruined and decadent Paris, magical intrigues, dragons in human shape, and kissing and stabbing (not necessarily in that order :p), and taking questions about my writing.

More info here, and access details to the livestream channel here.