Tag Archives: fantasy

Misfits Character Art

I’ve put some of the character concept artwork I did for the Misfits books up on ArtStation. Later today I should be doing a post about the setting (yet another attempt to provide useful information for readers) and the book itself should appear either late tonight or early tomorrow. I’m going through it one last time to check some dates I had to alter at the last minute.

You can find the pictures here.

But here’s one as a preview.



Celestia Help Me! I’m a Brony

Weird things happen when you watch YouTube’s recommended videos. And I blame Weird Al. Back when I used to play World of Warcraft I found this WoW video animation of his ‘Hardware Store’ song. (If you’re unaware of this ditty, go look it up on YouTube: it’s worth it just for the verbal gymnastics.) Recently, for whatever reason, the YouTube algorithm threw me a different Hardware Store animation, built out of clips for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Now, I’m old enough to remember when the MLP franchise started and it was very girly, but the clips made it look amusing and buck it if Netflix don’t have the first five seasons on stream…

So, I ended up binge-watching six seasons of MLP:FIM (I found the sixth to stream on Amazon), and four Equestria Girls films, and I’ve been smirking at the fandom-produced stuff on YouTube, DeviantArt, and a fanfic site… I’d hang my head in shame, but bronies are supposed to stand up proud. Whatever, I’m hooked. For a while anyway.

Now, the reason for this admission is that all this uplifting pony stuff percolating through my somewhat aberrant brain provoked an idea. The idea became a plot. The plot has become a book. I think I posted something saying I had a weird idea and I wasn’t sure it would work. Well, this is it and it’ll be out sometime next week. For those worried I’ve gone totally off the rails, there will be no ponies (in fact, the world in question doesn’t have any equines due to divergent evolution), but it does have dragons. A lot of dragons, though they aren’t exactly big scaled lizards most of the time… I should just let you read about it.

The new book is called Misfit Magic. It’s fantasy, obviously, set in a world with a weird mix of technologies and a fair bit of magic. It’s more traditional fantasy than urban fantasy, and I have no idea what categories I’m going to stuff it into for retail purposes, but Teen Fiction will not be one of them. And I have a cover which is quite bright for once…cover-book1-amazon

Oh, yeah, and it’s set in a girls’ school for magic. Oh… I have to write cover blurb for this… What was I thinking?!

Anyway, I’m looking at releasing this on the 5th or 6th of May, depending upon when I can get through the final edits, and when I can come up with a reasonable cover blurb. And I repeat: no ponies.

Continuity of Reality

Someone mentioned the idea of crossover-style stories in a comment and this is not exactly about that, but it’s related: how connected are the universes my novels take place in?

First off, what universes are we talking about:

  • Thaumatology: This world came first, so it’s first in the list. A fantasy reality with a modern, alternate history setting. Magic exists, and demons and fae, and there are at least three connected dimensions with travel between them. The setting does take a view that magic can be explained through science: humans (the protagonist for example) have created a branch of physics called thaumatology to study it. However, the Thaumatology Earth was fairly magic-free before 1945.
  • Aneka Jansen: Starting out with a relatively hard science basis, Aneka’s universe has progressed to more and more “magic science.” I could do an entire article on what I consider “magic science” to be, but when Aneka kicked off the only real super-science elements were FTL (travel and comms) and gravity manipulation. Over the course of time we’ve had force fields and wormholes work their way in.
  • Ultrahumans: A superhero reality where a mysterious “cosmic power” gives some people the ability to do amazing things.
  • Unobtainium: A steam/retropunk world where the “Miracle Metal” Unobtainium has been discovered and has forged a surge in technological development which did not happen in our world. In the 1920s they have near-indestructible warships, super airships, powered exoskeletons, and nuclear reactors.
  • Reality Hack: You haven’t seen this one yet and I won’t spoil too much yet, but this is an urban fantasy setting with a twist, and a system of magic which involves, well, hacking reality.
  • Fox Hunt: (You heard it here first folks!) The book to follow Reality Hack is currently called Fox Hunt and the setting for it is a near-future, hard-science one. It’s bright cyberpunk: the world has its cruddy, dark side, to be sure, but it’s not a typical near-future dystopia either. So, science, no magic, and that’s all you’re getting for now.

So, do I put all my worlds in one, overarching cosmos? Could Ceri Brent take a step sideways and visit Aneka? Well, let’s put that one to bed first: no because there’s one thing I don’t like and that’s time travel, and Aneka’s world is a thousand years after Ceri’s as well as being a dimension away. Aside from the possibility of comedy short stories, Ceri and Aneka are not going to meet. (And can you imagine it? Ella and Lily would vanish into a bedroom and never be heard from again. No. Just no.)

On the other hand, there is a little hint in Steel Beneath the Skin that Aneka’s world is part of the same cosmology as the Thaumatology books. It’s subtle and I always wondered whether anyone ever noticed it, but it is there. (And no, I won’t say what it is, because I’m evil.) In truth I’ve never really come to a solid decision about whether the Ultrahumans cosmic power and Unobtainium are explained via the same processes as Thaumatology’s magic, but I could certainly make an argument for it.

Reality Hack is a very special case and is definitely not governed by the same rules as the other worlds. You’ll get more on the reason for that (assuming you haven’t guessed) in the next few days as I ramp up to its release. Fox Hunt’s setting is the same, but for different reasons: it’s a hard-science setting so you are not going to see the kind of fantastic stuff which exists in the other books. Fox Hunt is about technology as it might progress in our world, plus the usual kickass heroine, no need for magic.

So, a lot of my stuff probably exists within the same cosmological reality with the same fundamental laws of physics modified by conditions within a particular universe. (If you want to know how the magic works, you need to go read some of Ceri and Cheryl’s papers on thauminos and the Super-Magic Field. They’re a bit heavy on the maths though.) It’s theoretically possible to have some of the characters wander from one storyline to the other. Outside of non-canonical short stories done mainly for comedy, however, don’t expect to see it from me. The worlds I make are separate for a reason and they’ll be staying that way.

Fantasy and Sci-Fi – The Problem

I’d like you to meet Ysayn…YsaynYsayn stepped out of a sleepless night a couple of days ago, and the rather dazed day which followed. Ysayn is a sorceress/magician/witch sort of character who lives in a fairly epic fantasy world with a bit of the Game of Thrones about it as far as life is concerned (though this is me so expect the characters to have a genuine good time at least some of the time). I feel like writing Ysayn’s story once I’ve wrapped the current book I’m working on, which happens in the next few days. here’s the problem…

My sci-fi sells more than my fantasy. Steel beneath the Skin was the book which exploded (and I kind of mean that) and gave me the chance to view writing as more than a hobby. The Aneka books consistently outsell all the other releases. I’m writing another sci-fi character at the moment and it’ll be interesting to see how she does when she appears on the electronic shelves. Whatever, science fiction seems to be a far more economic target for me to write than fantasy. I would love to know why.

My initial thought on why Steel took off the way it did was that there is simply less sci-fi being written than fantasy. I suspect that a lot of sci-fi is also less accessible, focusing heavily on esoteric physics and high-minded comments on modern society so a good, old fashioned space romp caught people’s attention. (Hell, Thaumatology 101 has more physics in it than Steel.) Then again, maybe it’s the urban fantasy bent of the Thaumatology books. Ysayn is more high/epic fantasy. Would Ysayn be more popular?

I would really like to hear people’s thoughts on this stuff. Sci-fi fans, tell me why you jumped on Steel. Fantasy fans, this is your chance to persuade me to do more fantasy. People who like both… uh… good! But why?