Monday, October 20, 2008


New Reviews

John Enzinas weighs in on Iron Jaw and Hummingbird for SF Site:
The Celestial Empire is an alternate world where Imperial China did not retreat within its borders in the 15th century but expanded until a thousand years later it had colonized and begun terraforming Mars. Iron Jaw and Hummingbird tells the tale of two young people who find themselves in a position to bring the corruption of the government to light and improve the fates the inhabitants of Fire Star.
As a work of young adult fiction I was delighted to see that the characters were given agency. They had opportunity to make the moral choices that drove their actions and they were not saved from the outcomes of bad choices. In what I think was the best part of the book they were even able to think about their actions and change their minds.

And in what I believe is the first review of the book, Publishers Weekly takes a (slightly spoilerish) look at End of the Century:
This ambitious fantasy combines three very British stories: an Arthurian fable, a Victorian murder mystery and a modern-day YA adventure tale. A strange visitation sends young father Galaad to Caer Llundain in the year 498. American teenager Alice Fell, who gets holy visions during epileptic seizures, makes a similar pilgrimage to London in 2000. In 1897, as Queen Victoria celebrates her jubilee, consulting detective Sandford Blank and his sidekick, Roxanne Bonaventure, investigate a series of brutal murders. The hinted interconnections between the three tales are complex and fascinating, but as the stories come together, the novel disintegrates into a confusing mélange of ancient computers from the future, overlapping characters and objects moving through time and space. Though it jumps the tracks at the end, Roberson (Paragaea) still makes this a rollicking ride.


I just finished "Iron Jaw..." and enjoyed it quite a bit...

I did have a concern...

spoiler space.....

You sort of built it around the Boxer rebellion, but the actual rebellion was focused against foreign influence. In your future history, you now have China as the only power (in the solar system?'s not clear yet), so you lose that part of the rebellion.

Not sure how you could have handled it differently...
I think that's a fair criticism, Howard. The political landscape of the Celestial Empire at that stage of history isn't quite as simple as the novel might suggest, but you're quite right that it isn't a close parallel with China in the 19th Century. The rebellions on Fire Star are more of a cultural conflict, an idea I first started toying with in "Red Hands, Black Hands." But while I usually name-check the Boxer Rebellion as the proximate inspiration for the story, there are bits and pieces of other Chinese uprisings in there as well--the White Lotus Rebellion, the Red Turban Rebellion, etc--so it ends resembling all of them a bit but none of them exactly.
ah...i wondered about the political landscape...from the novel, it appears that the chinese control the system pretty firmly

so you plan more works further into the future?
There's a couple of stories set further in the future that are forthcoming, one in the YA anthology Firebirds Soaring and one in the Daw anthology I Think, Therefore I Am, both due out early next year.
Darn...more stories in anthologies...

Eventually, there's going to have to be a Celestial Empire collection!
Sorry, Howard! But yeah, there'll definitely be a CE collection one of these days, hell or high water.
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