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C.S. Friedman

C.S. Friedman(1957- )
C.S. Friedman has always loved to read. At age 13 she wrote a vampire novel in her math notebook and began developing her science fiction worlds at age 14. Later she studied math, theater, and costume design at Brandeis University, Adelphi University and the University of Georgia. During that time she was involved with the Society for Creative Anachronism. She taught costume design until becoming a full time writer. Now she teaches creative writing part time. Learn more at C.S. Friedman’s website.
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A Chat with Celia S. Friedman

We're big fans of C.S. Friedman (see our reviews here) and are pleased to present this interview which was conducted for FanLit by our friend R.K. Charron. Thanks, RK! 

Celia S. Friedman was born in 1957. She is the author of the SF novels In Conquest Born, The Madness Season, and This Alien Shor... Read More

In Conquest Born: Impressive world building

In Conquest Born by C.S. Friedman

If you like epic space opera with imaginatively detailed world-building and a focus on characters rather than gadgets, try In Conquest Born, C.S. Friedman’s extremely impressive first novel. This complex, sprawling story begins with the births of two enemies-to-be from two different worlds that have been fighting each other for generations:

Zatar, a Braxin, is bred for beauty and aggression because those are the qualities his brutal, elitist, and misogynist culture admires. Ruthless, clever, and perfectly poised, he is preparing himself and his world for his ascendancy to a throne that does not yet exist in his oligarchic government. Part of making himself most qualified for this potential position involves manipulating, discrediting, or simply getting rid of any man who might stand in his way. (Women are no threat in Braxa... or are they?)

Anzha is an ou... Read More

The Wilding: Unnecessary sequel

The Wilding by C.S. Friedman

To have an enemy worthy of one's respect... that is a prize beyond measure. What is a lover's touch compared to such a thing? Love is but weakness shared, trials halved for being met in tandem. While a skilled enemy provides stimulation, challenge, and ultimately growth for all those who test their strength against his.

I didn’t think that C.S. Friedman’s wonderful space epic In Conquest Born needed a sequel, but here it is, nonetheless. The Wilding can stand alone, but In Conquest Born is a better book, so I’d suggest reading it first.

It’s a couple of generations after Zatar the Braxin and Anzha the Azean lived, but their legacies remain. The inbred Braxin society is still in danger of becoming extinct and they desperately need some new but acceptable genetic material. Their leader, the Pri'tiera, who... Read More

The Madness Season: Showcases Friedman’s admirable skills

The Madness Season by C.S. Friedman

I am quickly becoming a fan of C.S. Friedman. Audible Frontiers has recently produced all her novels in audio format, so I snatched them up and I’m happy I did. Her science fiction is original, imaginative, and super smart.

In The Madness Season, a man named Daetrin is old enough to have fought in the last battle when the Earth was conquered by the aliens of Tyr. That was three hundred years ago and the Tyrians want to know how Daetrin is still alive. So they’ve captured him, just like they’ve rounded up all the humans who they think they can learn something from. The Tyr have been genetically engineering the humans who are left on Earth — breeding out creativity, intelligence, and rebelliousness in the hopes of making them more biddable — but some humans have found ways to resist their captors’ plans. Daetrin is worried about what they inte... Read More

Black Sun Rising: Tarrant is the ultimate anti-hero

Black Sun Rising by C.S. Friedman

Refugees from Earth colonized the planet Erna some 1200 years ago. Excepting its extremely high seismic activity, Erna seemed a hospitable planet for mankind to call home. However, soon after our arrival a terrible threat was discovered. A natural force of energy called the fae animated the thoughts and emotions of all living things, so that our very nightmares could be brought to life. This almost destroyed us. Then, some humans figured out how to manipulate the fae to become sorcerers. A religion was created, too, based on the hope that faith would one day make mankind immune to fae manipulations. These two events kept the struggle against the fae at an uneasy stalemate for close to a millennium. But as human civilization has been developing, a dark force fed by the sorcerous uses of the fae has secretly grown in power to become a new and powerful threat.

Friedman’s plot is or... Read More

When True Night Falls: Compelling, but too long

When True Night Falls by C.S. Friedman

When True Night Falls is the second book in C.S. Friedman’s COLDFIRE trilogy. You’ll want to read the first book, Black Sun Rising, first. This review may spoil some of that first book’s plot.

At the end of Black Sun Rising, Reverend Damien Vryce, the devout warrior priest, discovered the source of the evil that is infecting his country — it lies across the ocean where there exists another continent that humans are aware of but know nothing about. In the past, several expeditions have been sent to explore it, but none has returned. Damien knows he should report to his church’s patriarch, but he’s afraid the patriarch will forbid him to go, so Damien ignores the man and instead boards a ship to cross the ocean. He is again reluctantly teaming up with Gerald Tarrant, the evil undead sorcer... Read More

Crown of Shadows: But wait! There’s more!

Crown of Shadows by C.S. Friedman

Crown of Shadows brings C.S. Friedman’s COLDFIRE trilogy to a close. (This review may contain spoilers for the previous books, which you really must read before beginning Crown of Shadows.)

In the previous book, When True Night Falls, the unlikely allies Reverend Damien Vryce and undead vampire Gerald Tarrant battled their way across hostile foreign countries to combat the evil force that was threatening humanity. Just when they thought they were finished, they were essentially told: “But wait! There’s more!” Now they’re on their way back home where they will — they hope — finally really combat the actual final real ultimate source of evil ... which turns out to be Calesta the demon.

Damien and Gerald will... Read More

Dominion: A Coldfire prequel

Dominion: A Coldfire Saga by C.S. Friedman

Ever since I read a few novels by C.S. Friedman last year (In Conquest Born, The Wilding, The Madness Season and This Alien Shore) I’ve been practically desperate to begin her more famous COLDFIRE SAGA. Friedman’s stories are smart and creative and I can’t wait to see what else she has to offer. The only thing that’s so far kept me from picking up Black Sun Rising, the first COLDFIRE novel, is that I already have a huge stack (I mean hundreds) of audiobooks purchased and ready to read at Audible and on my bookshelves at home. Mostly I collect these when they’re on sale or when publishers send me review copies, so I hoard my precious Audible credits and spend them like a miser.

But I just don’t know how much longer I can hold out on COLDFIRE. I actually have Black Sun Rising in my Audib... Read More

This Alien Shore: Another outstanding novel by Friedman

This Alien Shore by C.S. Friedman

This Alien Shore is another outstanding science fiction novel by an author who I’ve come to respect immensely for her extraordinarily creative worlds, fascinating ideas, complex characters, and elegant prose. If there’s one flaw (from my perspective) with Friedman’s work, it’s a difficulty in actually liking many of her characters, but even if you find that it’s hard to sympathize with them, it’s also hard not to admire them, or at least to see them as superb creations.

I think many readers will, however, sympathize with Jamisia, the protagonist of This Alien Shore. She’s on the run from unknown enemies who want the bioware that’s in her brain. She can’t feel safe anywhere because she has no idea why her brain is so valuable, or to whom. Is it the Guerran guild that oversees all intergalactic traffic? An Earth corporati... Read More

This Virtual Night: An entertaining SF thriller

This Virtual Night by C.S. Friedman

C.S. Friedman’s This Virtual Night (2020) is billed as book two in her OUTWORLDS/ALIEN SHORES series but these novels are, so far, stand-alone stories set in the same universe. Thus, you don’t need to have read the first book, This Alien Shore (1998), though I’d recommend doing so anyway because it was fabulous. All you need to know about Friedman’s world is that, long ago, the humans who left Earth to colonize other galaxies evolved in ways that their fellow humans who remained on Earth find repulsive. There is little communication or cooperation between Earth and the outworld “Variants,” though some people on earth are trying to reconcile the two groups.

In t... Read More

Feast of Souls: Impeccably plotted

Feast of Souls by C.S. Friedman

There is only one way to do magic, and that is to expend life force to power it. Witches spend their own life force, and die young. Magisters have discovered how to spend the life force of another, and are nearly immortal, burning through consort after consort, while keeping the source of their magic a tightly guarded secret. No woman has ever become a Magister because they are unwilling to sacrifice others. No woman until Kamala, steeled by a life of child prostitution, secretly becomes a Magister.

In Feast of Souls, C.S. Friedman has created an incredibly interesting system of magic, and logically depicts the consequences of using power. She manages to explore this system of magic without sacrificing character development or world building. The plot unfolds slowly, largely because of the number of different stories that are being told, but without unnecessary obfuscation... Read More

Wings of Wrath: Emotional, dark, excellent

Wings of Wrath by C.S. Friedman

C.S. Friedman’s Wings of Wrath is the second book in her Magister Trilogy. It focuses on the story of a god-blessed race, the lyr, who have spent the last 1000 years preparing for the return of the Souleaters. At the end of the previous war with the Souleaters, the gods sent a magical wall, known as the Wrath, to bar them from ever being able to cross back into human lands again. Ever since, the lyr have been guarding the Wrath and watching for the Souleaters to reappear. But now the Wrath is weakening, and Souleaters have been seen again.

What would have been a standard band-of-heroes-on-a-quest-to-save-civilization-from-the-evil-monsters story in the hands of a lesser author shines here with Friedman’s writing. Her prose is lush, and she uses incredible imagery to create a world that lives. She elicits a... Read More

Dreamwalker: Friedman’s first Young Adult offering

Dreamwalker by C.S. Friedman

I’m a big fan of C.S. Friedman, so I was eager to get my hands on her latest novel, Dreamwalker. This is Friedman’s first Young Adult offering and while it doesn’t match the level of elegance, intelligence, inventiveness, and beauty of her adult novels, it’s better than most of what’s available on the YA shelves.

Jesse Drake is a high school student who stands out only because of the fractal-like art she produces. Her art is inspired by her dreams in which she visits other worlds. Nobody knows this except her little brother Tommy who sometimes uses Jesse’s dreams as inspiration for his gaming. Neither Jesse nor Tommy are aware that her dreams may have some earth-shattering significance until her estranged father asks for a paternity test and Jesse notices that someone is stalking her. She’s alarmed, of course, and when she begins to investigate she discovers that there are other strange... Read More

Magazine Monday: Fantasy & Science Fiction, March/April 2012

The March/April issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction is worth its cover price for the new Peter S. Beagle novelet all by itself. In “Olfert Dapper’s Day,” Beagle demonstrates that there are still new tales to tell about unicorns if you’re a master of the short fantasy tale. Dr. Olfert Dapper was a seventeenth century conman who wrote books about the strange creatures to be found all over the world, even though he never left Holland – that is, the actual historical figure never left Holland. In Beagle’s imagination, though, Dapper flees Utrecht just in time to avoid arrest, taking flight for the New World. He winds up in in No Popery, in the “vaguely delineated colony” of Maine. There, he is more or less forced to become the medical doctor he has purported to be, without much justific... Read More

Speculative Horizons: Feel good about buying this anthology!

Speculative Horizons edited by Patrick St. Denis

Speculative Horizons is a lovely little anthology edited by book blogger Patrick St. Denis (of Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist fame). When the good people at Subterranean Press asked him whether he’d be interested in editing a short story collection, he understandably jumped on the idea (who wouldn’t?!), but asked that a portion of the proceeds be donated to breast cancer research. Not only is this an absolutely wonderful initiative, but it also means that you now have an excellent chance to buy a book and actually feel good about it.

This 128 page anthology contains five short stories by authors whose names many people who are interested in speculative fiction will instantly re... Read More