Why I’m Marching in DC

I’m not a joiner and certainly not an activist, yet today I’ll drive myself and my daughter to Washington, D.C., to march in the Women’s March on Saturday. I don’t have a pink pussy hat or a T-shirt, but my presence will be my sign of protest against the new administration. Dozens of my friends are also going to DC or marching in their own cities. One of my friends, Debra Gordon, and healthcare writer and activist, was quoted in Salon about why women are marching this weekend. She gave her answer; here’s mine.

My daughter and I are going to add our small voices and two bodies and four hands and four feet to the tens or hundreds of thousands, to the millions of small voices and bodies and hands and feet that will be chanting, clapping, and marching in protest of a government that seems poised to lead our nation toward disaster. It’s not that the incoming Administration is a Republican one. Although I’m a proud liberal, I was raised in a Republican household and still believe that individuals are responsible for their own success in life. As I’ve grown older (and wiser), however, I’ve come to recognize that institutionalized bias against minorities and women exists, so while individuals are responsible for their own success, they aren’t necessarily responsible for their own failures. I learned this first-hand when a boss–a generally good boss–refused to raise my salary to the same level as an older male colleague. My male counterpart and I held the same title, and my boss acknowledged that his work was inferior to mine, but he would not give me a raise because the man “had a family.” I wasn’t asking for special treatment, I was asking for equal pay based on merit–you can’t get more Republican than that. Yet institutional bias not only kept me from getting my raise, it had me meekly accepting my boss’s refusal as “reasonable.”

I refuse to accept this paradigm now, which is why I’m marching tomorrow. We face a government that will likely undermine our universal education system, which is the foundation our country’s greatness. Education is already widely undervalued, contributing to widespread misunderstanding and under-appreciation for science. Hence, the mistrust of scientists which contributes to the rejection of climate change legislation. Reversing what little we’ve done to stall climate change, and doing nothing more to address it, will surely endanger my daughter’s generation and their descendants. There’s nothing reasonable about that.

I’m not a joiner and not an activist. I’ve never called a politician’s office, or stuffed an envelope during an election. To be honest, I’ve skipped voting in many, many off-year elections. But for me, Saturday’s March will be the first steps in a new paradigm of resistance to the current Administration as a means of restoring the principle, and hopefully the practice, of equal footing for all.

A Deep Dive into A Wizard’s Forge

Last week author Jane LaForge interviewed me about A Wizard’s Forge. Jane’s debut novel, The Unsuitable Princess, is a beautifully written blend of memoir and fantasy that speaks to the power of love and loyalty to bring redemption (you can read my review here).

Jane has worked as a journalist and a literature professor, and she posed deeply incisive questions that uncovered some things I, as the author of A Wizard’s Forge, didn’t know about it. That’s exciting, and I had a great time answering her questions.

Leaps of Faith: World Building, Religious Disquisition and Science Fiction

An Interview with A.M. Justice by Jane LaForge

A Wizard’s Forge by A.M. Justice is primarily an exercise in fantasy that presents challenges that might occupy literary purists. Aside from the nods to science fiction, fairytales and fantastical world building, this story of a young woman’s many transformations deals with what could be said to be a contemporary problem. The inhabitants of Knownearth are divided between two religions based on the same founding text. Heretical to each other, they are engaged in both a long war of attrition and a cultural battle that ensnares the protagonist. The mix makes for an  intriguing disquisition on the consequences of religious and irreligious practices, and a prescient discussion on the fear of the unknown, and what happens when that unknown accumulates too much power….

Read the interview here.

Goodnight 2016

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Mauna Kea Observatories, Hawaii

The following piece of flash fiction originally appeared as a writing lesson in point of view on Eat Sleep Write, and I wrote it as an exercise in the depiction of fear as an emotion. It seems emblematic of the feelings many have at the close of this year, especially as we peer toward the future and see dim prospects. Yet, despite what you might gather from the text of this story, I am an optimist. I do believe, short of a world-swallowing Shadow, humankind will be OK in the end.

Last Day at the Observatory

Twenty minutes left to live. The icy wind cuts deep, but not as deep as the Shadow. Shadow of death–mine, everyone’s. When it was farther off, 6 hours away at the edge of the horizon, it reminded me of the shadow the earth casts on its own atmosphere at dusk, a gray wash arcing above the edge of all things. Now it’s as black as pitch, a wall stretching from sea to sky, north to south, limitless and inexorable, blotting out the stars.

Inside, my back presses against the door. Warm air blows down from the ceiling vents but can’t push the cold from my blood. I’ve spent my life studying celestial anomalies and in 20 minutes one is going to kill me. My heart is a trapped wren, flitting and flapping, held prisoner by ribs, stuck in the clutches of lungs that insist on doing their job. I’m still breathing, even if my ears hear those breaths as sobs. I came to the top of this mountain to see the beginning of time, not the end of it.

The Shadow is behind this door. It’s coming, 15 minutes away. Knees weak, chest tight, I slide to the floor, creep into the control room, anxious for a place to hide. Sam’s red high tops sprawl out from behind the second monitor. On one shoe, the shoelaces hang loose, snarled in a knot, aglets dangling. Sloppy dresser, Sam. Not a sloppy death, though: asphyxiation with a plastic bag. That was tidy. Leave it to Sam to MacGyver his way out of this.

The second monitor beeps with fresh data, like it’s been doing every 30 seconds since we lost Tonga 18 hours ago. Almost 18 hours. It must be aliens, we said in emails and phone calls that spider-webbed from observatories and military bases all over the world. It started at midnight on New Year’s Day at the International Dateline, for god’s sake. The Australians, the Japanese, the Chinese and Russians sent probes and then teams into the dark. They learned nothing, equipment and men swallowed by the void. There was that Aussie reporter who tried to stay ahead of the leading edge. Poor dumb woman didn’t realize how fast the world turns, but what a panic after her live feed blipped out. Riots in Hong Kong and Shanghai, Mumbai on fire, the crush of bodies seeking a last blessing in Mecca. Back on the Mainland people were loading up their semi automatics, some barricading themselves behind steel doors, others squealing through town in pickups, howling and shooting. More riots in New York and Atlanta, Chicago, Houston. Everyone without a gun rubbing shoulders with neighbors packed into every last church and temple and mosque in America. I wish I’d gotten through to Mom but never heard anything but that damn woman telling me the lines were busy and to try again later. An hour before sunset, the phone lady went silent. God, last time I talked to Mom was two months ago. I’d meant to call on Christmas. Damn the time difference.

Three minutes to midnight. My last three minutes hiding under my desk, whimpering. I could go outside and face the void. That would be heroic. My cheeks dry, my breath quiet, I’m shivering. It’s cold up on this mountain, but not inside. Power’s still on. I think the wren caged in my chest has hoarded all the blood for herself. Shit, the damn thing beeped again. Two and a half minutes. How’s that song go? “Daisy, daisy, dah dah dah dah da dum.” Crap, I could never remember that stupid song. What if Sam had stuck it out? Would I have–god no, last man on earth–uck, no. I hate being alone, though. I wish I’d gotten through to Mom.

There’s another beep. Down to 1 minute. If I’m wrong about God? Hell, if I end up in Hell, at least I’ll get to find out what the hell this thing is that’s going to kill me. A little snort flares my nostrils, and my lips curl up. Ears prick as the last beep sounds, and silence cuts it off.

 

 

Featured #SciFan Author:

Science fantasy is a genre that blends science fiction and fantasy, just like A Wizard’s Forge. And today I’m a featured author on SciFan.org.

SciFan™ (Science Fantasy)

P1010396.smaller.jpegSciFan author A.M. Justice dabbles in Tango, star gazing, and scuba diving… but first and foremost, she’s a traveler. She loves to explore: whether it’s the park near her home, a unique neighborhood, a new country, or the frontiers of the mind. She’s been imagining strange worlds and the people in them since high school, and she’s particularly loved Science Fantasy since reading Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series and discovering that a world where people ride dragons and use medieval tech could have a scientific explanation for all its wonders.
In A Wizard’s Forge, the first book of The Woern Saga, Justice follows in McCaffrey’s footsteps by setting a classic fantasy hero’s journey on a lost space colony called Knownearth. The humans of this world descended from the marooned crew of a spacefaring mining vessel.a_wizards_forge_cover_smallerfilesize Time and lack of resources have eroded advanced technology, and after thousands of years human society…

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Spoiler Alert! The Unpublished Epilogue to A Wizard’s Forge

13020595_10153816100656144_131136232_nI read all my reviews. I cringe at the bad ones (I’ve received some doozies!) and rejoice in the good ones. I also occasionally respond to issues reviewers bring up, such as questions about the worldbuilding in Knownearth or about Vic’s difficulties overcoming past trauma.

Today I’m responding to another frequently mentioned topic: the so-called cliffhanger ending of A Wizard’s Forge. Every time a reviewer refers to the end as a cliffhanger, I think, “Huh? It’s not a cliffhanger!” In fact, I meant for AWF to stand on its own, and when I wrote the end, I thought the outcome was pretty clear. Nevertheless, as writers we’re taught that if a lot of people make the same comment about your work, maybe you didn’t achieve your vision the way you thought. And after thinking about it, I can see how people might think Vic’s immediate fate is in question.

So, as a thank you to the many book bloggers and readers who have taken the time to review AWF, I’m posting the book’s epilogue here. My editor and I decided to cut this denouement because we wanted to end the novel with that kickass last line. But for those of you hungry to know what happens next, here’s a tidbit.

 

SPOILER ALERT. IF YOU HAVEN’T READ A WIZARD’S FORGE AND DON’T LIKE KNOWING THE END OF THINGS, STOP READING THIS NOW AND READ THE BOOK INSTEAD (here’s where you can buy it). THEN COME BACK HERE AND READ THIS IF YOU WANT MORE

 

 

Unpublished Epilogue to A Wizard’s Forge

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Bethniel watched the darkened entrance to Lordhome, her fists clenched at her sides, her heart fluttering unevenly in her chest. Everyone had fled when Vic shot through the ceiling, triumph and defeat forgotten in the shower of stone. After that, terror and need imposed a truce among the people pouring out of Lordhome. Drak’s and Carl’s squads repelled out of high windows, then stood below, catching children cast to safety by their parents. Bethniel ordered a team back into the kitchen to find tablecloths or tarps, and soon Relman and Lathan hands stretched catch-cloths taut between them.

The earth shook for long minutes while fugitives tumbled out of Vic’s fury and onlookers ran up from the lower valley. As newcomers gaped and survivors wailed, Relman officials conferred, splitting gestures between Bethniel and the road leading out of Lordhome. Drak and a knot of Lathan troopers surrounded her while the Relmans talked. “Keep your weapons sheathed,” she said, “until they start a fight or Vic comes out.” Drak nodded. A moment later, a pair of Relman officers broke away from their conference and pelted down the road.

They waited. Fathers hugged children; mothers comforted babies; friends wept in each other’s arms, mourning the missing, shivering in the night. Bethniel’s heart staggered through each beat. She had little hope that Ashel lived, but she would not grieve, not yet. Please let Vic find him, she prayed. Let my sister find my brother, and let them both be well.

At last the tremors stopped. Everyone froze, eyes fixed on the gaping hole in their mountain home. A child’s whimper broke the silence, and another’s scream echoed off the courtyard walls. As parents hushed the children, a new party arrived at the gate. The Relman officials flocked round a ragged young man, bowing and kneeling. Ignoring them, he looked straight at Bethniel and inclined his head. Trepidation seized her bowels, but she straightened her shoulders and dipped her chin in return.

The young man started across the courtyard, officials in tow. Lathan hands seized weapons, ready to draw, but the Relman party halted as the young man offered a shallow bow. Dungeon stench flared Bethniel’s nostrils. “Your Highness,” he said, “I am Earnk Korng. These officers believe my father dead or captured.” He chortled grimly. “They they want my head before theirs in the line to the chopping block, so they’ve decided I should speak for Relm.”

Bethniel returned a cold gaze. “Do you surrender, my lord?”

He split a glance between several warleaders. “Olmlablaire is yours.”

Bethniel nodded curtly then turned toward the ruined stronghold, her fists beating against her thigh. Long minutes ticked by while the Relmans wept. At last four people stumbled out, covered in gray dust, pale as ghosts. A body floated behind them.

An anguished scream wailed up the rockface; gasps and warnings rippled through the crowd. The Relmans scrambled out of Vic’s path as she guided Geram through the rubble. Ashel followed, slumped over Wineyll’s shoulder. A blood-stained cloth covered his hand. Her breath stuck, Bethniel’s knees began to buckle, but she locked her legs straight and fought the swoon that had kept her from Latha’s throne. When Vic’s party reached her, her spine was stiff enough to slide under her brother’s arm and kiss his cheek.

He laughed softly, tugging her closer. “Sis. You cut your hair.”

“It’s all the rage in Direiellene.”

Vic dropped the Relmlord’s body face down in the snow.

“Is he dead?” Bethniel asked.

“No.” Vic’s gaze landed on Earnk, and they exchanged nods.  “Lornk Korng’s crimes extend beyond me, or Ashel, or anyone standing here. He’ll answer for them in Latha.” Anguish welling in her eyes, she sagged into Geram.

The war with Relm had lasted Bethniel’s lifetime. Now Lornk Korng lay at her feet, but she saw this triumph drown beneath the defeat writ on Vic’s face. Yet, her foster sister had lived up to her name—Victory was theirs. She pressed her cheek against Ashel’s shoulder, hugged him tight around the waist. Her brother lived; the war was won. “Well done,” Bethniel assured Vic. The war was won, but not yet the peace. “Now it’s my turn.”

The Wisdom of Opposites: a Review of The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin

lohdcoverIn 1970, Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness won the Hugo Award, the first book written by a woman to do so. LeGuin is my literary idol, and every few years I reread at least one her novels. I had last read Darkness as a teenager in the 1980s. I didn’t understand it then, and before the reread I couldn’t remember what happens except that it features a hermaphroditic race of humans. I also vaguely knew (or assumed) that Darkness inspired “The Outcast,” an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation that aired in 1992 that features a similar nongendered species. So I began my reread as if I’d never looked at anything more detailed than the Cliff’s Notes summaries that appear in every LeGuin biography. This time around, I found Darkness to be a compelling masterpiece that examines how binary opposites create unity within and between individuals and societies. It’s also a resonant read that, nearly 50 years after it was written, remains highly relevant today.

Darkness takes place on the planet Gethen, which is populated by people who exist in a nongendered state except during “kemmer,” a period lasting about a week out of each month, when they develop either male or female reproductive organs so they can mate. A Gethenian might be female during one kemmer and male in another, and any given individual might have sired some children and borne others. The novel’s primary protagonist, Genly Ai, a cis-gendered male visitor from Earth, observes that because all individuals can experience childbirth, everyone is sensitive to the risks and rigors of child bearing. Birth control and sexual promiscuity are well accepted in society, but life-long monogamy is equally common. Finally, because there are no permanent genders, there is no gendered division of labor.

Genly is an emissary of the Ekumen, a loose federation of planets that forms the backdrop of most of LeGuin’s science fiction novels, and his mission is to convince Gethen’s rulers to join the federation. Prior to Genly’s arrival, Gethenians thought themselves alone in the universe, and because Terrans (aka, Earthlings) and Gethenians superficially resemble each other, many Gethenians think Genly is a fraud. Others believe in Genly’s off-world origin but view the Ekumenical invitation as a threat rather than an opportunity. One exception is Therem, the prime minister of the nation of Karhide and the novel’s secondary protagonist. Therem’s support for Genly’s mission turns the political winds against him, and he flees under threat of death to Orgoreyn, a rival country. Meanwhile, Karhide’s ruler rebuffs Genly’s proposed alliance with the Ekumen. Believing this diplomatic failure is the result of Therem’s machinations, Genly travels to Orgoreyn to try his luck there. At first, he is warmly received but then imprisoned. Therem undertakes a daring rescue, and the pair escape back to Karhide, traveling across a vast frozen wasteland on foot. Along the way, Genly learns to trust Therem, and the two develop a strong bond of friendship and love.

Like all LeGuin’s fiction, Left Hand of Darkness is beautifully written and offers a deeply sympathetic portrait of its protagonists. The plot is a slow burn, and the story didn’t really grab me until I was about a quarter of the way in. The storytelling, however, is brilliant, and the theme of duality is explored on every level. The backdrop involves a pair of rival nations with diametrically opposed systems of government: Karhide is a monarchy with titled nobility (Therem goes by the title “Estraven” and is a sort of baron), and Orgoreyn is an authoritarian collective. Karhide’s monarch and nobility make all public policy decisions, while the common people live beneath them in a free-wheeling society. In contrast, Orgoreyn was founded upon egalitarian ideals, but a vast bureaucracy and secret police keep iron control over people’s day-to-day lives. The landscape is a portrait of opposites as well. Gethen is in the midst of an ice age, and there is a constant opposition of cold and warmth in the novel. In their flight from Orgoreyn, Genly and Therem pass through an area of heavy volcanic activity at the edge of a glacier, where the clash between ice and fire almost derails their escape.

The opposing narratives of Genly and Therem form the core of the story. Each tells his tale in first person, although Therem’s narrative consists of diary entries while Genly’s story is a traditional, first-person point of view, as if he were recounting it later (in other words, there’s an opposition between written and oral forms of storytelling). Genly is young, peaceable, and guileless, but also arrogant, impatient, and physically larger and stronger than the Gethenians. Therem is middle aged and wily, but also wise, disciplined, and graceful. During the pair’s long journey across a continent-wide glacier, Therem enters a sexual cycle and manifests as female, highlighting his status as Genly’s “opposite” as well as his partner.

Some critics have faulted LeGuin for presenting a binary view of human sexuality rather than a broader framework that leaves room for trans individuals. However, Therem’s manifestation of female traits is integral to the book’s theme and Genly’s character growth. Genly is a courageous and sympathetic protagonist, but he is also a misogynist who dislikes working with women and believes they are conniving and weak, and who expresses fear about seeing and acknowledging “female” traits in the Gethenians. LeGuin consistently uses male pronouns (he, him, his) and referents (e.g., all offspring are “sons”), solidifying Genly’s worldview, where males represent the norm and females the “other.” As a reader, I found the book’s misogyny shocking and off-putting, but after thinking about it, I realized that the viewpoint is not LeGuin’s, but Genly’s. In fact, the novel turns on Genly’s misogyny. It is the reason his mission initially fails, and overcoming it will be the key to his success.

As a writer, I’m in awe of LeGuin’s technical mastery in how she worked the binary theme into every layer of the novel. The lynchpin comes when overcast skies and a smooth glacial plain create an area of diffuse light without shadows. Traveling through this white void, Genly struggles against despair caused by an inability to gauge progress without a reference point. In response, Therem quotes a Gethenian poem:

Light is the left hand of darkness

And darkness the right hand of light

Two are one, life and death, lying

Together like lovers in kemmer

Like hands joined together

Like the end and the way

Through the journey, as Genly learns to trust, like, and (platonically) love Therem, he not only overcomes his fear and dislike of the “female,” but recognizes how male and female represent two equally necessary halves of a whole. The coin has two sides, and doesn’t exist without both. His worldview expands, and as a result he becomes a better person and diplomat when he resumes his mission for the Ekumen in Karhide.

I reread Left Hand of Darkness in September and October, but didn’t feel an urgency to review it until after the US election. For the past week, I’ve been sad, fearful, and furious, and searching for some way to channel my feelings into something positive. Writing this, I am struck by the message that opposition creates unity, and that to move forward, we have to listen and learn from those not like us. We also have to look for the shadows, because it will be the darkness that will guide us forward.

A Wizard’s Forge Review

Wow! Thanks Meagan Ashley for this lovely review of A Wizard’s Forge..

Echoes of a Firebird

13020595_10153816100656144_131136232_nWhere has this book been all of my life??

I have never read anything like it before. So this book is about a girl named Victoria (Vic) and it takes place in the future of our own real world (takes a good while to figure this out). They are existing on some world far away from ours. Some don’t even believe the stories of a space ship of humans landing on their world after leaving their own, and think the people that do believe it (Vic) are heretics and loons. Anyways, Vic is living her life, minding her own business and she is kidnapped along with other younger adults like herself to be sold into slavery: Miners, workers and in her case, a Trainer Mistress. This means she wakes up with jewel encrusted bands around her arms, ankles and a belt around her waist and that’s it. The man who…

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Review: A Wizard’s Forge by A.M. Justice (no spoilers)

Thank you Joana Duarte for this wonderful review of A Wizard’s Forge, and giving me another review to add to my favorite reviews page on my website.

Bookneeders

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A Wizard’s Forge by A.M. Justice

Published by Wise Ink Creative Publishing

Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Fiction

Pages: 326

Format: Ebook

My Rating: 1464306995_star_full1464306995_star_full1464306995_star_full1464306995_star_full1464306995_star_full

Scholar. Slave. Warrior. Wizard.

On a planet far from Earth, descendants of marooned space travelers fight a decades-long war. Shy scholar Victoria knows nothing of this conflict until pirates kidnap and sell her to the sadistic tyrant behind it. He keeps her naked and locked in a tower, subjecting her to months of psychological torture. After seizing an opportunity to escape, Vic joins the fight against her former captor and begins walking a bloody path toward revenge.

As the Blade, Vic gains glory raiding her enemy’s forces, but the ordeal in his tower haunts her. Bitter memories keep her from returning the love of the kindhearted Prince Ashel, whose family has fended off the tyrant’s invading army for a generation. When enemy soldiers capture Ashel, Vic embarks on…

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Knownearth vs Earth: Another Look at the World of A Wizard’s Forge

wizard's forgePeople seem to have a lot of questions about the world where A Wizard’s Forge takes place, so I’ve been hitting this topic a lot lately. A few weeks ago, I traced Vic’s path through her world, and last week I wrote a post on AutumnWriting about Knownearth’s native inhabitants (humans are the aliens on that planet). Lots of additional details about  Vic’s world can always be found on the Explore and FAQ pages of my website. But you may still wonder, what are some of the similarities and differences between the earth we know and Knownearth, Vic’s home.

Most of these details are mentioned, or at least hinted at, in A Wizard’s Forge, but in case readers missed them, here we go:

1. How are Earth and Knownearth alike?

Knownearth and our earth are pretty similar in atmosphere, climate, and ecology. I designed the planet this way because human survival in a marginal environment was not a story I was interested in telling. I wanted to write a revenge narrative involving a young woman, her tormentor, and a long-standing feud between her nemesis and her adoptive family, and I wanted to keep the focus there, without the distraction of a daily battle for food, water, or breathable air. Some readers have asked, why not make the ocean yellow or give the planet a couple of moons or something to make it seem “different” from earth?  To live well, humans need lots of liquid potable water, an oxygen-rich atmosphere that doesn’t have a lot of toxic gases, and arable soil. Knownearth has these things in abundance, and life there has evolved along an evolutionary path similar to life on earth. Hence, the skies are blue (and so is the ocean, since large bodies of water reflect the color of the sky); most organisms get their energy through the Krebs Cycle,  and plants use chlorophyll for respiration, and so tend to be green or blue or red, just like here on earth.

2. How does Knownearth differ from Earth?

There is no moon. The only notable night sky object is Elesendar, which looks like a very bright star but is the empty hulk of the spacecraft that brought human settlers to the planet three thousand years before the events depicted in A Wizard’s Forge. As noted in the book, Elesendar passes overhead two to three times per night.

The planet rotates in the opposite direction from earth. The book contains numerous references to Knownearth’s sun rising in the west or setting in the east.

The diurnal cycle is roughly 40 earth hours, which readers can deduce from Vic’s thoughts about how long she has for her night missions. The original settlers kept the earth hour as their main unit of time measurement, and redesigned their clocks to accommodate a  40-hour day. By the time A Wizard’s Forge takes place, the human circadian cycle has adapted to this long day, but readers may notice reference to “morning tea” and other meals beside breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The people of Knownearth can easily stay awake for 35 hours straight and sleep for 15, but they still like to eat every four or five hours.

Metal is relatively rare. Iron and copper are particularly uncommon, and a bronze belt-cum-dagger has totemic significance in the book’s plot.

There are no indigenous mammals, but there are reptilian and insectoid creatures on land, and fishlike creatures in the sea, so it’s as if Knownearth never left its equivalent of the Permian period. Humans call the aquatic animals fish and the indigenous flying reptiles birds, but humans brought all the feathered fowl as well as cats, cows, and horses with them. There were dogs too, but the entire canine population had died off long before A Wizard’s Forge takes place.

3. Is A Wizard’s Forge science fiction or is it fantasy?

I’d say it’s both (you might even call it science fantasy), but readers will need to decide this question for themselves. Hardcore scifi readers may miss the tech–faster than light (FTL) space travel is alluded to, but in the 3000 years that have passed since Vic’s ancestors were marooned on Knownearth, postindustrial technology has all but disappeared, at least among the humans. Thus, people live in a vaguely medieval society without electricity or, in Knownearth’s poorer regions, indoor plumbing.

Fantasy readers, on the other hand, may miss a magic system that is the highlight of the book. Nevertheless, the cerrenils, Latha’s sacred trees, appear to have magical characteristics, and the power Vic gains at the end of the book is similar to a Jedi’s or an Aes Sedai’s in some respects. She’ll learn all about the source of her power, and how it connects to Knownearth’s sentient plants, in the next book, A Wizard’s Sacrifice. But that book won’t be all fantasy either–scifi lovers will get more intel on Vic’s ancestors as well as a glimpse of the technological revolution Knownearth will undergo before the third book in the series (A Wizard’s Legacy) begins.

Guest Post: Author A.M. Justice Reflects On Her Literary Idol

Today the Genre Minx hosted my thoughts on my literary idol, Ursula K. LeGuin. Read on to find out why I love this author so much.

The Genre Minx Book Reviews

Author Ursula K. Le Guin, Copyright © by Marian Wood Kolisch Author Ursula K. Le Guin, Photo Credit: Copyright © by Marian Wood Kolisch

Every author has their literary idol; Ursula Kroeber Le Guin is mine. I discovered her work in high school, when I would prowl the science fiction/fantasy shelves at the mall bookstore. I still have the paperback edition of The Wizard of Earthsea that I bought because I liked the cover featuring a dragon curled around the ruins of an island city. I can’t remember if I bought only Wizard that day and went back later to get The Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore, or if I went all in and purchased the whole trilogy at once. I do know I fell in love with Ged, the titular wizard, as soon as I began reading. So began a lifelong admiration for Le Guin’s work.

Le Guin’s first novel, Rocannon’s World, appeared in 1966. When…

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