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Ian Tregillis

Ian TregillisIan Tregillis received a doctorate in physics from the University of Minnesota in 2002 for research on radio galaxies and quasars. He is an alumnus of the 2005 Clarion Writers’ Workshop. Nowadays he lives in New Mexico, where he consorts with writers, scientists, and other disreputable types. Learn more at Ian Tregillis’s website.

Bitter Seeds: A dark story of a dark time in human history

Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis

Ian Tregillis takes the notion of an alternate history of World War II to new heights in his first novel, Bitter Seeds. The weapons Germany and England bring to bear on the conflict include not just men and guns, but also magical forces. Germany has developed psychic powers in certain individuals, powered by batteries wired into their brains; the powers vary from individual to individual, but include the ability to become invisible and impervious to weapons; the ability to see the future; and the ability to make external objects explode. On the other hand, the English have an ancient route to the inexplicable: a sort of magic that is really access to an alien race that will perform services in exchange for blood. Neither country really understands the forces with which it is reckoning, but neither cares in their desperate effort to win this all-out war.

There... Read More

The Coldest War: An alternate look at the Cold War

The Coldest War by Ian Tregillis

I loved Bitter Seeds, the first volume of THE MILKWEED TRIPTYCH. Ian Tregillis is executing a brilliant spin on twentieth-century world history with this series. The Coldest War begins roughly twenty years after the events of Bitter Seeds, and the name is fitting. Not only is this the Cold War, but it’s also a very cold part of the lives of the protagonists. In fact, the first half of the book is downright depressing as characters realize what an unfortunate life March lives, and while Will seems very lucky, his life takes a negative spin as well. Then, you insert Gretel (who makes my skin crawl) and her brother Klaus, and you have a simmering pot of dark tension just waiting to boil over.

Gretel is, perhaps, one o... Read More

The Mechanical: Strong characters, intriguing world, big questions

The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis

I’m a sucker for early natural philosophers, so I admit the pre-publication description of The Mechanical, Ian Tregillis’ new novel, pretty much had me at, “Soon after the Dutch scientist and clockmaker Christiaan Huygens…” The rest of the blurb, about a “mechanical army” of “Clakkers” allowing the Netherlands to become the world’s sole superpower, the French trying to make a last stand in North America, and an “audacious Clakker, Jax” making “a bid for freedom”? Icing on the cake. And a sweet, rich cake it is, too.

The Mechanical begins two centuries after Huygens’ discoveries paved the way for the Netherlands’ creation of the Clakkers — clockwork servitors/soldiers. The Brasswork Throne dominates the world, and has just concl... Read More

The Rising: Strong book two of an excellent series

The Rising by Ian Tregillis

I thoroughly enjoyed Ian Tregillis The Mechanical, the first book in his THE ALCHEMY WARS series, and I’m happy to say that book two, The Rising, continues the story in strong fashion, showing not a whit of sophomore slump.

The series is set in an alternative history world where Christiaan Huygens’ discoveries led to the Netherlands dominating the world via a mechanical army of “Clakkers.” The sole resistance is led by the French in North America’s “New France,” (old France has already been conquered) whose capital, Marseilles-in-the-West (Montreal) is under siege.

As with The Mechanical, Tregillis splits the story of Read More

The Liberation: A thrilling, thoughtful close to a great series

The Liberation by Ian Tregillis

The Liberation (2016)is the concluding novel to Ian Tregillis’ fantastic ALCHEMY WARS trilogy, and he wraps it all up with a book as strong in action and deep in thought as its predecessors, making this series one of my favorites of recent years and one I highly recommend. If you haven’t read the first two (and you absolutely should fix that error), you’ll probably want to stop here as there will be a few unavoidable spoilers for both The Mechanical and The Rising. And since I’m assuming, therefore, that you’ve read those books, I won’t bother with recapping basic plot points

The Liberation... Read More

Magazine Monday: Subterranean Magazine, Fall 2013

The Fall 2013 issue of Subterranean Magazine is a delight to read. The stories are challenging and imaginative, full of discovery, provocation and excellent writing.

The issue opens with “Doctor Helios,” a long novella by Lewis Shiner. It’s a Cold War espionage novel, reminiscent more of Ian Fleming than of John le Carré, set in Egypt in 1963 as the Aswan Dam is being built. Our hero is John York, apparently a member of the CIA, who has been tasked with ensuring that the dam does not succeed. President Kennedy may want to develop a new relationship with President Nasser of Egypt after years of tension following Nasser’s overthrow of the monarchy and nationalization of the Suez Canal Company, but the CIA thinks he’s a communist and wants his grandest project to fail. York has the same touch with the ladies as James Bond, and his foe, the titl... Read More

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. About thirty years before, Earth scientists received a signal from the Corona Borealis that re... Read More

Inside Straight: A WILD CARDS reboot

Inside Straight edited by George R.R. Martin

The year 2008 saw the (second?) rebirth of the WILD CARDS series edited and co-written by George R.R. Martin. These are ‘mosaic’ novels — stories written by several authors and set in a shared universe. The first book, Wild Cards, appeared in 1987. Inside Straight (2008) is book 18. To make this 18th book a good entry point, Martin and his companions created something of a Wild Cards: the Next Generation to reboot the series.

What do you need to know about the back story of the Wild Cards? Not a lot really. In 1946 an alien virus hit earth. It killed ninety percent of those infected, disfigured nine percent and left a lucky one percent with superhuman powers. The unlucky nine percent are ... Read More

Busted Flush: Not very satisfying

Busted Flush edited by George R.R. Martin

Busted Flush is the nineteenth entry in the Wild Cards series of mosaic novels edited by George R.R. Martin. The previous book, Inside Straight is something of a new beginning for the series, a new trilogy with new characters and a couple of new writers. It's a good point to get started. Unfortunately Busted Flush falls a bit short of the standard set in the first book of the Committee trilogy.

The story picks up some time after the events in Inside Straight. The UN secretary-general has snapped up the new American heroes after their dramatic performance in Egypt and formed the Committee — a group of Aces dealing with everything from genocide to natural disasters.There is plenty of work; our heroes are spread thin. In fact, the cracks in their organisation are clearly beginning to show. There ... Read More

Suicide Kings: Surprising depth

Suicide Kings edited by George R.R. Martin

Suicide Kings is the third part in the latest reincarnation of the long-running WILD CARDS series. Together with Inside Straight and Busted Flush it forms the Committee trilogy. I guess you could consider this trilogy WILD CARDS the next generation. These books are meant to be an entry point for new readers. Like most of the previous novels, Suicide Kings is a collaborative effort. This volume is written by six authors — Daniel Abraham, S.L. Farrell, Victor Milán, Melinda M. Snodgr... Read More

The Witch Who Came in from the Cold: Spy vs. Spy in the city of a hundred spires

The Witch Who Came in from the Cold by Lindsay Smith, Max Gladstone, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Ian Tregillis & Michael Swanwick

The Witch Who Came in from the Cold (2017) is a study in contradictions. It’s a collaborative novel that feels seamless despite the five contributing authors: Lindsay Smith, Max Gladstone, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Ian Tregillis, and Michael Swanwick. It was originally published in serialized form by Serial Box — Season One comprising the con... Read More