arabella-the-traitor-of-marsHere we are at #4 of my gift suggestions for readers, all books by veterans of Taos Toolbox, the master class for writers of science fiction and fantasy.

Arabella the Traitor of Mars is the third in a series by Hugo-winning author David D. Levine, beginning with 2016’s Andre Norton Award-winning Arabella of Mars.

The series features an alternative Napoleonic Wars, in which the sailing navies of Europe navigate between planets, Napoleon has set up an empire on Venus, and Britain has established a thriving colony on Mars.

Here’s the flap copy:

From David D. Levine comes Arabella the Traitor of Mars, the newest book in the Adventures of Arabella Ashby series.

Hail the conquering heroes!

The tyrant, Napoleon, has been defeated with Arabella and the crew of the Diana leading the final charge. But, victory has come at a tremendous cost. Britain’s savior, Lord Nelson, has not survived the final battle and the good people of the Diana must now return to London as both heroes and pallbearers.

At last husband and wife, Arabella and Captain Singh seem to have earned the attention of great men, ones who have new uses in mind for the Mars Company captain and his young wife. Both Company and Crown have decided that it is time to bring Mars into the folds of Empire, and they think Singh is the perfect man to do it.

Now, Arabella must decide between staying loyal to the man she loves and the country of her father or betraying all that she has known to fight alongside the Martians in a hopeless resistance against the Galaxy’s last remaining superpower.

Find the book at your friendly local bookstore, or at:


Barnes & Noble






Tall and Narrow

by wjw on December 13, 2018

IMG_4173Here’s another photo from our 2019 calendar.  This is an interior view of something called the Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood— lighthearted name, that— in St.  Petersburg, Russia.  It is built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was mortally wounded by a nihilist bomb in 1881.

Alexander was progressive as autocrats go, and reformed the government and freed the serfs.  This, alas, was not progressive enough for the nihilists.  At the dying tsar’s bedside were his son and grandson, Alexander III and Nicholas II, who turned into reactionaries and brought the process of reform to a shuddering halt.  Irony abounds.

The church was built by the two heirs and is, as you can see, very tall and somewhat narrow. (Descriptions that also fit Alexander III and Nicholas.)  The architecture is medieval revival— there was a lot of that going on in the 19th Century (see the Houses of Parliament),  The exterior features brightly-colored onion domes.  Every so often as you wander through the interior, you look up and see an oculus through through which the Virgin Mary or Christ Pantocrator peer at you.  As seems normal for big Russian churches, the whole place is slathered in gold.

The walls have more mosaics than anyplace in the world, apparently, and it’s a shame I didn’t like them more.  They’re an uneasy mix of traditional and modern styles, a combination of bombast and treacle.  (Another apt description of the last two tsars.)

The church was decommissioned after the Bolsheviks took over in 1917.  In World War II it was used to store corpses just arrived from the front, then potatoes.  Though the church has been restored, it hasn’t been resanctified, and only a few memorial services are held there.

Incidentally, I have yet to handle a copy of the calendar.  I ordered a bunch of them on November 27, and by December 4 they were printed and shipped.  According to Federal Express, they were shipped from Chicopee, Massachusetts, and from thence went successively to Middletown, Connecticut, back to Massachusetts at West Springfield, then to Byron NY, Hammond IN, Chicago IL Burbank IL, Brady NE, and Henderson CO.  (I have not even heard of most of these towns.)  They are now en route to Albuquerque, NM, which means they may arrive on my doorstep sometime in the next week.


Gifts for Readers #3: The Moons of Barsk

by wjw on December 11, 2018

the-moons-of-barsk-1Looking for something to read over the holidays?  Or something to give a reader friend?

Here’s the third recommendation I’m making of a book written by a Taos Toolbox veteran.

(And by now I suspect that, if your ambition is to write, attending Taos Toolbox might be a smart thing to do.  We really do produce writers.)

Lawrence M. Schoen has a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology, is a world-renowned authority in the Klingon language, and has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and Campbell awards.

The first novel in his Barsk series, Barsk: the Elephants’ Graveyard (Tor Books) won the Coyotl Award for Best Novel of 2015, and was nominated for a Nebula Award for novel.

Barsk is a planet inhabited by uplifted arboreal elephants, but Lawrence makes the idea of uplifted arboreal elephants plausible.  Here’s the cover blurb for the sequel, The Moons of Barsk.

High-concept science fiction, deeply human characters, and a weirdly wonderful story drive The Moons of Barsk, the sequel to the award-winning Lawrence M. Schoen’s Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard

Pizlo, the lonely young outcast and physically-challenged Fant, is now a teenager. He still believes he hears voices from the planet’s moons, imparting secret knowledge to him alone. And so embarks on a dangerous voyage to learn the truth behind the messages. His quest will catapult him offworld for second time in his short life, and reveal things the galaxy isn’t yet ready to know.

Elsewhere, Barsk’s Senator Jorl, who can speak with the dead, navigates galactic politics as Barsk’s unwelcome representative, and digs even deeper into the past than ever before to discover new truths of his own.

I have not been provided with links, but since Moons of Barsk was published by Tor, I’m going to assume it’s available wherever fine books are sold.

UPDATE: The author has helpfully provided Amazon links:


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The Scare

by wjw on December 10, 2018

I write about my Wild Cards story “Witness,” touching on the Red Scare, agent of Moscow Christopher Marlowe, and other UnAmerican Activities.

(Try not to look at the photo at the top of the page, it might scald your retinas.)


Gifts for Readers 2: Walking Through Fire

by wjw on December 6, 2018

cover-revealHere’s another fine gift for the reader in your life.  Or for yourself.

Sherri Cook Woosley is another Taos Toolbox veteran whose book appeared in the same week as my previous recommendation, Lauren Teffeau’s Implanted.

Walking Through Fire, from Talos Press, wasn’t workshopped at Toolbox, but we workshopped the sequel, and it was a nonstop rocket ride through a contemporary landscape that has had, basically, the entire content and architecture of myth and fantasy dropped in its lap, with horrific and unpredictable results.

Here’s the blurb from Walking Through Fire:

For fans of American Gods, a dark, humorous, and richly written, dystopian fantasy about the unbreakable bonds of family and the undying strength of a mother’s love.

The end of the world begins as literal fire rains down from the heavens. Ancient gods are released from their prison, eager to reestablish their long-lost power. But Rachel Deneuve has bigger, more contemporary concerns than a divine war.

Her son Adam is in the middle of a fight against leukemia, and Rachel is determined to keep focused on that battle. But when humans begin picking sides and the fighting escalates, their home in Baltimore becomes a war zone, one she can’t ignore.

Desperate to stay away from the carnage—as well as the germ-ridden refugee center—Rachel and Adam flee to their remote mountain cottage, only to find their refuge marred by mutated, grotesque plants and animals. Eventually, the cancerous cells in Adam’s body begin evolving as well, threatening his life and forcing Rachel to venture back into the eye of the storm. Left with no other choice but to sacrifice her own freedom for her son’s safety, she must become an unwilling warrior in a battle unlike anything seen in millennia, or lose everything she holds dear.

One reason to like this is because it’s about a mom fighting for her kid, and you don’t see a lot of that in genre fiction.  Another is that it features both a Jewish motorcycle gang and a dragon.

You can find Walking Through Fire in paperback, ebook, and audio at the following locations.  (I’m adding the one for Kobo myself, and my guess is that you can find it at all the usual places.  I really must tell the Toolboxers that, insofar as they actually have a web page, they should put thereon links for everyplace where someone might find their book.)


Barnes and Noble

Talos Press



Take Over, Skipper

December 6, 2018

Some days, you’ve just got to take charge and get behind the wheel yourself. (I should also like to state, apropos taking charge, that I’ve lost something like forty pounds since this photo was taken.)

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Gifts for Readers 1: Implanted

December 4, 2018

Now that we’re in the season for gift-giving, I’m going to start a new series of gift suggestions, all of them books by veterans of Taos Toolbox. You can’t have too much reading, right? First up is Implanted by Lauren C. Teffeau, available as a paperback, ebook, or audio book from Angry Robot. From the flap […]

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December 2, 2018

I’ve been deep-diving into history here at Rancho Malario, first with the Amazon Prime series Las Aventuras del Capitán Alastriste, based on the novels by Arturo Perez Reverte.    I’ve been a fan of Perez’ fiction for a long while, ever since The Flanders Panel and The Club Dumas.  The Alastriste novels are a very good introduction to his […]

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A Modest Reminder

December 2, 2018

My 99-cent sale on the Brig of War ebook will end in just a few days.  If you don’t have a copy and want one, find it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo, and Google Play.

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November 29, 2018

Once again, I’ve published a journal of our adventures in the form of a calendar.  This one covers 2019, and features major international holidays such as Alberta Family Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, Toussaint, Cinco de Mayo, Kamehameha Day, and my birthday. I don’t make money off this, it’s just something I do to share experiences with […]

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