The Seers’ Table November 2020
The Seers Table!
October 30, 2020 by HWAWeb
Kate Maruyama, member of the Diverse Works Inclusion Committee
So many of our local bookstores are hurting during these times. If you give books at Christmas, might I suggest spreading out your purchases over time (I do this so our budget in December doesn’t get crushed) and over local bookstores. Most ship or have curbside pickup. Or, to support indie bookstores at large from your home, Bookshop.org functions like Amazon, but works through indie bookstores.
Here are some awesome titles to start with!
Theresa Derwin recommends:
Nikki Woolfolk. I first found out about Nikki from Gail Carriger’s newsletter. I follow her for recommendations of LGBTQ authors.
Nikki, a professional chocolatier and author, has penned multiple steampunk, new adult romcom, and dieselpunk noir novellas and book-length fiction. A proud Blerd, Nikki spends her time reading about Aviation, Nanotechnology, praising the creation of Hello Kitty, and is an expert practitioner of the side-eye.
I’ve cribbed from Gail’s blog here as it gives you more of an idea about who Nikki is.
“She also has a queer cozy mystery series (start with Mise en Death) featuring, you guessed it, FOOD! I mean come on, what is not to love? She knows what she’s talking about too, she is ALSO the genius behind Belle Monde Chocolates. These are, without question, my favorite chocolates in the world. No seriously. They are amazing. If you don’t want to read, at least EAT. NOM.”
You had me at chocolates …
I’ve attached the original cover and an update here for Mise en Death: A LeBeau Chocolates Adventure.
Summer Solstice eve,
If it had not been for the ice cream, Alex LeBeau would not have found herself in jail.
On the last leg of their journey from up north, Alex’s young son, Pierre, drove them along the outer road of her childhood parish of Honfleur in their steam-powered automobile. The brass and steel bonnet of the contraption gleamed in the June morning sunlight and caught stares from the many town patrons enjoying their mid-afternoon constitutional.
In the passenger’s seat, with a hand firmly grasped on her almond wafer cone, Alex used her free hand to adjust her goggle strap against the back of her humidity dampened Eembuvi-style auburn plaits.”
You can follow Nikki on Twitter at @NikkiWoolfolk
Her Web site: http://www.nikkiwoolfolk.com
** Add your E-mail to our BOOKS & CHOCOLATE monthly newsletter NikkiWoolfolk.com. Get answers. Get chocolate. Get hooked! **
Tish Jackson Recommends:
Leland Pitts-Gonzalez writes about monsters, but not the kind you’re used to reading about.
He has been published in several fiction literary journals, but his debut novel, The Blood Poetry (2012, Raw Dog Screaming Press), eclipsed them all in notoriety. Leland discovered the wonder of poetry while studying at San Francisco State and has never looked back. I have a penchant for things that don’t fit in nicely labeled boxes, and this author’s work fits the bill. The Blood Poetry is a read that does not follow convention, in either its tone or description. Visually, the words may leap out at you in their insistence to be read, and other times shrink into themselves so the letters appear afraid to voice their identity. Although it may seem the book is all over the place, it matches humanity’s erratic behavior perfectly. His academic background is evident in the prose, but that is the only resemblance to academia. Pitt-Gonzalez commands the pages with human emotions that describe murder, bloodlust, and lost innocence disguised as a vampire tale.
The protagonist Epstein is a father and former husband who runs back and forth between trying to be the hero and succumbing to his darker nature. His wife is missing and his main thought is to protect their daughter from the world and the horrors he knows are coming—because they stem from him. A vampire novel that has a decidedly human side, Pitts-Gonzalez’s work was a delight to read because of its uniqueness. The first chapter quickly imparts a sense of the otherworldly, and the reader is caught up in deciphering who is who. The beauty of this story is how the reader is thrown back and forth between the highs and lows of the plot and liking then hating the characters. The author makes a point to show the angst of trying to be a good person is the same for a vampire; the struggle to live life can be difficult whether it’s only been 12 years or 120 years.
Leland’s second offering is a collection of his fiction titled Savage Anesthesia. Although it may look more like a standard collection, it examines the sense of struggle to find purpose in the midst of horrible experiences. The stories are gritty and raw with perceived horror masking the real tragedies that occur in real life. The writing is even better in this work. Be prepared for a wild ride that will have you wondering which part of the story is actually horror.
Excerpt from “Extinguish the Light” from Savage Anesthesia published in 2017 by Carrion Blue 555:
The guy next to me wiggles in his restraints. His beard reaches the floor. I don’t imagine he’s colorless, but I can’t tell where he’s from. “It smells like armpits and chimneys in here,” he says.
“Smells like ass,” I say. “Are they really going to burn us up?”
He cackles. “If you ask too many questions, they’ll fire you and you won’t get your paycheck.”
“Do I work here?” I have faint memories of assembling animals and watching them come alive.
“There you go again.” The man yips and I’m reminded of my grandpa chipping away at trees with a butter knife so he could eat the sap.
“I keep thinking of flour,” I say.
“Because flour is edible snow?”
“No. Because my mother made such wonderful things with flour. Breads, etc.” I had forgotten that I was tied down. How could they lull me into submission? I don’t need arms. I don’t need legs. Boil them, for Christ’s sake. “It was harmonious back then. It was as if nothing existed except hunger.”
“Harmony is rationed now.” He strains to lift his head and scopes out the room. “You’re back at home,” he whispers.
“But I’m not ready to be a child again.”
“You know what I heard? I heard they create blackouts in the worst parts of the city to entice people to steal television sets and stab their grandmothers. It used to work. But now the people have organized into an army. And if you’re not ready to be a child, they’ll molest you first.” He chuckles. “You should be careful,” he says.
“Why?” I ask.
“Don’t imitate my friends.” He has the eyes of a social worker.
“Who are your friends?”
“l don’t have any.” I can see through his blanket that he has an erection.
“Then how am I imitating them?”
“By being you.”
I look up into the weak, yellowish light of the arena. There are animals there and trees without feelings.
There is a man.
Leland Pitts-Gonzalez can be found on Twitter @LPGonzalez72.
Theresa Derwin recommends:
Eugen M. Bacon, MA, MSc, PhD, is African Australian. A computer graduate mentally re-engineered into creative writing, she studied at Maritime Campus, less than two minutes’ walk from The Royal Observatory of the Greenwich Meridian. Her work has won, been shortlisted, longlisted or commended in national and international awards, including the Bridport Prize, Copyright Agency Prize, Australian Shadows Awards, Ditmar Awards, and Nommo Award for Speculative Fiction by Africans. Out now: Writing Speculative Fiction, Red Globe Press (Macmillan). Claiming T-Mo, Meerkat Press. Chapter, multi-authored book: Creative Writing with Critical Theory: Inhabitation, Gylphi. In 2020: Her Bitch Dress, Ginninderra Press. It’s Folking Political, Ginninderra Press. The Road to Woop Woop & Other Stories, Meerkat Press. Hadithi, IFWG. Ivory’s Story, Newcon Press. In 2021: Speculate, Meerkat Press. Black Moon, IFWG. She is also a professional editor; check out Writerly – editing services.
Eugen’s work seems to be bursting through the seams of genre fiction right now, with her co-written critical book, The State of Black Speculative Fiction, just out from Luna Press in early October and her forthcoming collection, The Road to Woop Woop, in December.
Also on the list is a limited edition graphic illustrated chapbook of her fiction on pre-order and a novella, Ivory’s Story, from Newcon Press. Her work encompasses many genres and she’s literally a phoenix on fire right now.
From Eugen’s debut novel, Claiming T-Mo, a generational space opera saga:
“If Salem thought to speak, to ask, ‘Who are you? How long have you been standing there, watching me, and why?’ the mighty keenness of the woman’s good telescopic eye, the one that filtered, turned inward, then came back at her without translation, threw it right out of Salem’s mind.
Thunder like the hammering of a thousand hooves did it. Salem ran without a scream, all the way through all that night, never minding the night bus when it whooshed past. All she minded was the gobbling eye, and the unwarned sound of deep belly laughter that chased behind.”
You can follow Eugen on Twitter at @EugenBacon and find out more from her Web site.
Kate Maruyama recommends:
Phenderson Djéli Clark is the Nebula, Locus, and Alex award-winning and Hugo, Sturgeon, and World Fantasy-nominated author of the novellas The Black God’s Drums and The Haunting of Tram Car 015. His stories have appeared in online venues such as Tor.com, Daily Science Fiction, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Apex, Lightspeed, Fireside Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and in print anthologies, including Griots, Hidden Youth, and Clockwork Cairo. He is a founding member of FIYAH Literary Magazine and an infrequent reviewer at Strange Horizons.
Born in New York and raised mostly in Houston, Texas, he spent the early formative years of his life in the homeland of his parents, Trinidad and Tobago. When not writing speculative fiction, P. Djèlí Clark works as an academic historian whose research spans comparative slavery and emancipation in the Atlantic World. He melds this interest in history and the social world with speculative fiction, and has written articles on issues ranging from racism and H.P. Lovecraft to critiques of George Schuyler’s Black Empire, and has been a panelist and lecturer at conventions, workshops, and other genre events.
Currently, he resides in a small Edwardian castle in New England with his wife, infant daughters, and pet dragon (who suspiciously resembles a Boston Terrier). When so inclined he rambles on issues of speculative fiction, politics, and diversity at his aptly named blog The Disgruntled Haradrim.
About his new novel, Ring Shout:
Nebula, Locus, and Alex Award-winner P. Djèlí Clark returns with Ring Shout, a dark fantasy historical novella that gives a supernatural twist to the Ku Klux Klan’s reign of terror.
D.W. Griffith is a sorcerer, and THE BIRTH OF A NATION is a spell that drew upon the darkest thoughts and wishes from the heart of America. Now, rising in power and prominence, the Klan has a plot to unleash Hell on Earth.
Luckily, Maryse Boudreaux has a magic sword and a head full of tales. When she’s not running bootleg whiskey through Prohibition Georgia, she’s fighting monsters she calls “Ku Kluxes.” She’s damn good at it, too. But to confront this ongoing evil, she must journey between worlds to face otherworldly nightmares—and her own demons. Together with a foul-mouthed sharpshooter and a Harlem Hellfighter, Maryse sets out to save a world from the hate that would consume it.
You can follow him on Twitter @pdjeliclark.