Next SFF Author: Sarah Kozloff
Previous SFF Author: Nathan Kotecki

SFF Author: Mary Robinette Kowal

Mary Robinette KowalMary Robinette Kowal was the 2008 recipient of the Campbell Award for Best New Writer and a Hugo nominee for her story “Evil Robot Monkey.” Her short fiction, including “Rampion” and “Bound Man,” has appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov’s, and many other markets. Mary, a professional puppeteer and voice actor, lives in Portland with her husband Rob and nine manual typewriters. Listen to some of her audio fiction at Mary Robinette Kowal’s website.



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Shades of Milk and Honey: A Regency romp with magic

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

Jane Ellsworth is resigned to spinsterhood. At twenty-eight, her chances of finding a husband are dwindling. Her long nose and sharp chin make her less than a beauty, and she can’t help but compare herself to her younger sister Melody who is a beauty. Jane’s proficiency in the art of glamour, manipulating etheric energies to enhance art, music or decoration, is above average, but in Jane’s mind, this is nothing special, because glamour is “no more a necessary than playing the piano.”

With Shades of Milk and Honey,


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Glamour in Glass: I would like to see more of Jane and Vincent

Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal

Glamour in Glass in a fast-paced magical adventure set in the Regency period, during the Peninsular Wars. This is Mary Robinette Kowal’s second book in her series that started with Shades of Milk and Honey.

Kowal captures the language and sensibility of Jane Austen’s era exactly. Jane and Vincent, both accomplished glamourists, have been married for three months. After Jane struggles to get through a nerve-wracking state dinner hosted by the Prince of Wales,


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Without a Summer: Cold magic in Regency England

Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal

Without a Summer is the third book in Mary Robinette Kowal’s GLAMOURIST fantasy series set in an alternative Regency-era England where magic, or “glamour,” is used as an art form to create intricate visual illusions. Jane and Vincent, both accomplished glamour artists, are visiting with Jane’s parents and younger sister Melody in the country.  It’s an unseasonably cold spring, giving rise to concerns about the harvest. Jane and Melody’s father is concerned that a poor harvest could affect his ability to provide Melody with a suitable dowry;


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Valour and Vanity: Pirates, Puppets and Lord Byron!

Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal

Valour and Vanity is the fourth book in Mary Robinette Kowal’s series THE GLAMOURISTS. This time our husband-and-wife team of heroes, David Vincent and Lady Jane Vincent, are stranded, penniless, in Murano, victims of a predatory swindler who hopes to sell their secret glamour process to the highest bidder. To stop this from happening, Vincent and Jane must out-swindle the swindler. Yes, that’s right; set during the British Regency, this book is a caper book.

So,


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Of Noble Family: A suspenseful, multi-layered finale to an imaginative series

Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal

Warning: May contain spoilers for previous books in the GLAMOURIST HISTORIES

With Of Noble Family, Mary Robinette Kowal brings to an end her GLAMOURIST HISTORIES series, set in a fantastical English Regency period. While the book resolves several issues in the lives of Jane and David Vincent, there is no feeling of “winding down.” The book is suspenseful, filled with surprises and real stakes for Jane and her beloved, troubled husband.


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The Lady Astronaut of Mars: Hugo winning novelette

The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Lady Astronaut of Mars, which won this year’s Hugo Award for best novelette, moved me. It was well-structured, all the ends tucked in and callbacks in the right places. It used symbolism and literary reference and pointed to issues of the human condition at large, like career versus family. All of this would usually add up to five stars from me, particularly since the author has as beautiful a voice on the page as she does when she speaks.


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Word Puppets: This entertaining collection shows the development of the writer

Word Puppets by Mary Robinette Kowal

Word Puppets is a collection of Mary Robinette Kowal’s short fictions. Fans of her GLAMOURISTS series will find not a single one in its pages, and many of these tales are science fiction, with several stories set on Mars. Patrick Rothfuss provides a humorous introduction, and tells us that these nineteen works are in chronological order. This gives the reader a chance to see Kowal’s development as a story-teller.

I am not going to review all nineteen.


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Ghost Talkers: Thought-provoking, action-packed paranormal spy drama

Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal

Mary Robinette Kowal leaves behind the British Regency period in Ghost Talkers (2016), setting this paranormal tale during World War I. The British have learned that spiritualism is real, and they are using a circle of mediums to interact with the spirits of recently killed British soldiers, who seek out the mediums to provide whatever information they can from the scene of their deaths. Ginger Stuyvesant is an American medium, engaged to a British intelligence officer, and the main character of this action-packed paranormal spy drama.


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Forest of Memory: Engaging if somewhat bewildering

Forest of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal

A story set in the future about an ‘authenticities’ dealer, Forest of Memory is set in a culture where everyone is connected by an omnipresent internet. The main character has a personal AI who is always listening and also recording and broadcasting the life of the protagonist. Mary Robinette Kowal then thrusts the main character into a situation where none of her technology works.

The premise of the tale interested me. In few words, Kowal has built a culture that is both rooted in today and wholly futuristic.


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The Calculating Stars: A fight for the right to go into space

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

Elma York has a PhD in physics, and her husband has one in engineering. They are enjoying a much-deserved weekend getaway in the Poconos in 1952 when a huge meteorite destroys Washington DC and much of the North American eastern seaboard. Experts fear the aftermath will create an extinction-level event, and this accelerates the race to the stars. Elma has a front row seat, but she wants more; she wants to go into space.

2018’s The Calculating Stars is the first novel of Mary Robinette Kowal’s LADY ASTRONAUT series.


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The Fated Sky: A thrilling adventure

The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Fated Sky (2018) continues Mary Robinette Kowal’s LADY ASTRONAUT series, covering the ground from the first peopled space flight ever to a peopled mission to Mars. Kowal has created an intriguing and exciting alternate history and there is nothing to stop her from writing more stories and books in it (more will be coming), but The Fated Sky completes Dr. Elma York’s pursuit of her dream.


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The Relentless Moon: A tense spy thriller set on the Moon

The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal

With a new protagonist and definite resistance to expanded space colonization coming from Earth, The Relentless Moon (2020) provides increasing tension, drama and action, giving us, in part, a spy thriller set on a lunar colony.

The third book in Mary Robinette Kowal’s THE LADY ASTRONAUT series follows Nicole Wargin, one of the original six women astronauts and wife of the politically ambitious Kansas governor. Nicole has been tapped for a trip to the nascent lunar colony with a group of civilian colonists,


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The Original: A short SF thriller

The Original by Brandon Sanderson & Mary Robinette Kowal

Holly wakes up in the hospital. Her last memory is being at a party with Jonathan, her husband. The party was for a potter and she remembers being thrilled to actually be able to touch the clay – something real to feel and even deconstruct. She has no idea how she ended up in the hospital, and it takes a while to get some answers, but finally she learns that she has been cloned as a Provisional Replica because her real self (her Original) murdered her husband.


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The Spare Man: Nick and Nora Charles in space

The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal

Uber-wealthy inventor and heiress Tesla Crane and her husband, retired detective Shalmaneser Steward, plan to enjoy their honeymoon on the interplanetary luxury liner Lindgren as it travels from Earth to Mars. Horribly, the trip is interrupted when a person is stabbed to death right outside their luxury suite, and to make matters worse, Shal is arrested for the crime. As the evidence against him mounts, will Tesla be able to prove he’s innocent? Will she and her gallant Westfield terrier service dog Gimlet discover the true killer?


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Magazine Monday: Hoorays for Valente as Editor, Kessel as Writer

Apex Magazine is an online journal published on the first Monday of every month, edited by Catherynne M. Valente. Valente’s submission guidelines give you a clear idea of what to expect to read within Apex’s pixels: “What we want is sheer, unvarnished awesomeness.… We want stories full of marrow and passion, stories that are twisted, strange, and beautiful.” The January issue definitely meets those requirements.

“The Itaewon Eschatology Show” by Douglas F. Warrick is a story that cries out to be labeled “New Weird.” It’s about an American in Korea – though why he is there is a complete mystery – who is a “night clown.” This means that every night he,


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Magazine Monday: Asimov’s June 2011

The June 2011 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction has a beautiful cover of a woman who is partly constructed of a gold metallic weave. The artist, Jacques Barbey, poses her at the shore of a river or lake golden with the sunset, wearing a headdress that appears to be functional in some way, apparently as a weapon. It doesn’t seem to match up to any of the stories in this issue, but it is a lovely image all on its own. And who says fantastic paintings need to refer to anything but the artist’s own imagination,


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Magazine Monday: 2012 Nebula-Nominated Novellas

I do not envy the awards panel for the Nebula Awards this year. There are two excellent novellas equally deserving of the award in that category.

The first of the novellas I refer to is “The Man Who Ended History:  A Documentary” by Ken Liu.  This story concerns the Pingfang District in China and the infamous Unit 731 maintained there by the Japanese for biological and chemical weapons research before and during World War II. I had never heard of Unit 731 before reading this novella, and was shocked to learn of its existence and the role of the United States in hushing it up after the war in order to profit from the research.


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SHORTS: Ronald, Vernon, Tregillis, Kowal, Hartley, Deeds

There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we’ve read recently that we wanted you to know about.

“And Then, One Day, the Air was Full of Voices” by Margaret Ronald (June 2016, free at Clarkesworld or paperback magazine issue)

Dr. Kostia is a keynote speaker and panel participant in an academic conference. Her specialty is extra-terrestrial intelligence ― specifically, the analysis of some radio-like transmissions from an alien race called the Coronals.


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SHORTS: Liu, Bisson, Kowal, Landis

There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. In honor of the just-ended MidAmeriCon II and the awarding of the 2016 Hugos, this week’s reviews are all past Hugo award winners that are available to read free online.

“Mono No Aware” by Ken Liu (2012, originally published in The Future is Japanese anthology, reprinted 2013 and free online at Lightspeed, $3.99 Kindle magazine issue). 2013 Hugo award (short story)

Hiroto Shimizu is a twenty-five year old man living on a generation spaceship that left Earth when Hiroto was eight years old,


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SHORTS: Tambour, Vaughn, Kowal, Larson, Balder

Our weekly exploration of free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. Here are a few stories we’ve read that we wanted you to know about.

“The Walking-Stick Forest” by Anna Tambour (2014, free on Tor.com, 99c Kindle version)

This is an excellent dark and fantastical short story, set in 1924 in Scotland. Athol Farquar is a veteran of World War I who now lives a solitary life as a carver ― or, more accurately, a shaper ― of wooden walking sticks. He has a deep affinity for blackthorn wood and the forests around his home,


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Celebrating #FearlessWomen with TOR, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Sam Hawke

At Fantasy Literature, we love fearless women!

Women are shining in every genre of speculative fiction, and it is no longer enough to say “Women are here.” Instead, #FearlessWomen everywhere are taking a stand to say “Women will thrive here.”

Highlighting major titles from bestselling authors V.E. Schwab, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jacqueline Carey as well as titles from acclaimed and debut authors such as Mary Robinette Kowal, Tessa Gratton, Sam Hawke, and Robyn Bennis,


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SHORTS: Harrow, Kemper, Kowal, Lawrence

“Do Not Look Back, My Lion” by Alix E. Harrow (2019, free in Beyond Ceaseless Skies, Issue #270, Jan. 31, 2019; 99c Kindle magazine issue)

“Do Not Look Back, My Lion,” begins and ends with Eefa leaving home — she cannot bear to see her daughters and wife march to war any longer, is tired of her wife’s promises that this child (and this child and that child) will be the last marked at birth for service in the Emperor’s endless armies, is tired of being the only worshipper in the lonely Temple of Life while the Temple of Death’s “floor is gummed with the blood of hens and calves and the air is heavy with char.” Eefa,


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Epic: Legends of Fantasy: Lives up to its title

Epic: Legends of Fantasy by John Joseph Adams (editor)

Epic: Legends of Fantasy, edited by John Joseph Adams, is an anthology of stories written by some of the biggest names in epic fantasy. The book clocks in at over 600 pages not just because it’s very difficult to tell short epic stories (though some of these authors do manage to pull it off) but because here the authors are not just telling epic legends, they are legends in and of themselves. George R.R.


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The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination: For a dose of crazy genius

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination edited by John Joseph Adams

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination is the latest themed anthology edited by John Joseph Adams — and it’s another good one. This time, Adams has collected a set of short stories featuring the hero’s (or often superhero’s) traditional antagonist: the mad genius, the super-villain, the brilliant sociopath who wants to remold the world in his own image — or occasionally, maybe, just be left alone in his secret lair to conduct spine-tingling experiments that,


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Twenty-First Century Science Fiction: Packed full of excellent SF stories

Twenty-First Century Science Fiction edited by David G. Hartwell

Twenty-First Century Science Fiction is packed full of excellent science fiction stories. I’ve been reading anthologies lately, partly to improve my own short story writing, and this is the best I’ve found so far. It contains stories by authors such as Paolo Bacigalupi, Cory Doctorow, Catherynne M. ValenteJohn Scalzi, Jo Walton, Charles Stross, Elizabeth Bear, Mary Robinette Kowal,


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Marie Brennan and Mary Robinette Kowal on the Brave New Worlds Tour

I had the chance to see Marie Brennan and Mary Robinette Kowal at Copperfield’s Books in Petaluma California on May 7. I have a signed copy of Kowal’s Of Noble Family and a signed copy of Brennan’s Voyage of the Basilisk to give away to one lucky random commenter with a U.S. address.

“We dress like this all the time,” Mary Robinette Kowal said in response to a casual question, as she and Marie Brennan sat down at the table in Copperfield’s Books. “Mine’s really comfortable.


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Celebrating #FearlessWomen with TOR and Mary Robinette Kowal

At Fantasy Literature, we love fearless women!

Women are shining in every genre of speculative fiction, and it is no longer enough to say “Women are here.” Instead, #FearlessWomen everywhere are taking a stand to say “Women will thrive here.”

Highlighting major titles from bestselling authors V.E. Schwab, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jacqueline Carey as well as titles from acclaimed and debut authors such as Mary Robinette Kowal, Tessa Gratton, Sam Hawke, and Robyn Bennis,


Read More



Next SFF Author: Sarah Kozloff
Previous SFF Author: Nathan Kotecki

We have reviewed 8308 fantasy, science fiction, and horror books, audiobooks, magazines, comics, and films.

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