It turns out . . .

. . . that when my orthopedist tells me that for my own medical good I should embrace the Way of the Ankle Boot for the rest of my life, and I go on a thirteen-day trip in August, and then six days later I go on a five-day trip . . .

. . . then when I get home and take my boots off, choirs of angels burst into song.

If anybody needs me, I’ll be at home, not wearing boots.

New Worlds Theory Post: Emic and Etic

It seems we can’t go three months this year without tripping over a fifth Friday. But that’s okay, because it gives me a chance to work through more of the “theory posts” that are one of the bonus funding goals for the New Worlds Patreon. This time around I’m discussing the concepts of emic and etic frameworks from anthropology and folklore, and how to apply them to worldbuilding.

This is your periodic reminder that the New Worlds series is supported by my excellent patrons. If you get value out of these essays, please consider joining their ranks — you get a photo every week, and at higher levels of support, things like ebooks, opportunities to vote on upcoming topics, and behind-the-scenes glimpses at my own projects! Or recommend this series to friends; I always welcome new readers and patrons.

Where to find me at DragonCon!

This upcoming weekend, I’ll be at my very first DragonCon. I’ve got quite a full schedule, but fortunately everything has enough of a gap between it that I should be able to surf the crowds to my destination?

  • Friday, 1-2 p.m., Regency VI-VII Hyatt — The Heroes of High Fantasy (with Brandon Sanderson, Jim Butcher, Aleron Kong, and Jennifer Liang (M))
  • Friday, 3-4 p.m., AmericasMart, The Missing Volume booth #1201,1203,1300,1302 — signing
  • Friday, 10-11 p.m., Chastain 1-2 Westin — Magic Systems 101: Diverse Approaches in UF (with Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Melissa F Olson, R.R. Virdi, Tim Powers, and Carol Malcolm(M))
  • Saturday, 1-2 p.m., Chastain 1-2 Westin — Back in Time: Historical Urban Fantasy (with Leanna Renee Hieber, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Walter H. Hunt, Tina Glasneck, and Laura Mathews(M))
  • Saturday, 2:30-3:30 p.m., Macon Sheraton — Stand and Deliver: The History of Highwaymen and Bandits (with Tamsin L. Silver, John Floyd Rice, David Boop, and Darin Bush(M))
  • Saturday, 5:30-6:30 p.m., International Hall South 4-5 Marriott — signing
  • Sunday, 10-11 a.m., Roswell Hyatt — reading
  • Sunday, 2:30-3:30 p.m., Chastain 1-2 Westin — Powers of the Mind: Psychics in UF (with Cecilia Dominic, Alledria Hurt, E.J. Stevens, Leanna Renee Hieber, and Jennifer Morris(M))
  • Sunday, 10-11 p.m., Chastain 1-2 Westin — Wreaking Havoc: The Fae in Urban Fantasy (with Patricia Briggs, Eric R. Asher, E.J. Stevens, John G. Hartness, Ted Naifeh, and Carol Malcolm(M))
  • Monday, 11 a.m.-12 p.m., AmericasMart, The Missing Volume booth #1201,1203,1300,1302 — signing

Sekrit Projekt R&R is sekrit no more!

You may remember that last year Alyc Helms and I fell headfirst down a hole and emerged a few months later with a novel we’d written together, which I blogged about here as “Sekrit Project R&R.”

R&R, my friends, stands for Rook and Rose: the name of the trilogy Orbit Books has just bought from us.

What is it? Epic fantasy. But that sells it short. It has fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, and miracles, and I’m only sorry we didn’t manage to get a giant in there; maybe we can make somebody really tall during editorial revisions? Also the kind of worldbuilding that happens when you let two anthropologists off their leashes. It has a con artist, a vigilante, and capers as flirtation. It has weird dream shit because we love that stuff, yo. It has noble politics and street gangs and deception layered so deep I literally made a color-coded chart at one point about who knew what, which persona of theirs knew it, and whether other people knew they knew it.

It also — and this is important, so remember — has a new name on the cover. Rather than publishing under two names (which is often unwieldy), we are putting this out as M.A. Carrick. If you want to follow us on Twitter, you can do so @ma_carrick, and we also have a placeholder website that we’ll be expanding into something very shiny just as soon as we’re not both about to get on planes to Ireland.

Later I will tell you all the story of why that pen name. (Appropriately enough, it involves Ireland!) In the meanwhile, I need to go squee some more. I’ll just leave you with this song, which we posted last year as a teaser for the flavor of the thing we were working on . . .

(Oh, and also? We’ve already started writing book two.)

Books read lately

I’ve fallen out of not only posting about my reading here, but (for a while) even logging it. So this is what I’ve read in the last three or so months, minus whatever I’ve forgotten.

It’s very nonfiction-heavy. I went on a kick of that recently, in part because I realized . . . when I was in college and graduate school, my classes regularly exposed me to a motley assortment of cultures and time periods, based either on what sounded interesting to me when I was picking my schedule, or what happened to be the professor’s area of specialty in the case of the more generalized requirements. But as I finished up my coursework, I began writing the Onyx Court books — my home Ph.D. in English history — followed by the Memoirs, which weren’t as narrowly focused, but were still purpose-driven. Isabella’s going to Polynesia; I’m going to read about Polynesia. Now she’s going to the Middle East; I’m going to read about the Middle East. I only read about things I needed to know, not things I didn’t need but might unexpectedly make use of four years from now when an idea pops into my head.

I need the grab-bag approach. It’s a necessary part of building the mental compost heap from which new stories sprout. So lately I’ve been pulling random books off the shelf, deliberately ricocheting around just to get some fresh material into my brain.


Where to find me at WorldCon!

I have my schedule for Dublin WorldCon! If you’re going to be there, do try to catch me at some point and say hi.

What has science ever done for art?

Format: Panel
15 Aug 2019, Thursday 18:00 – 18:50, Liffey Room-1 (CCD)

From the making of art materials to the understanding of anatomy, what scientific discoveries have helped to make art what it is today?

Grzegorz Aleksander Biały (Atelier Improwizacji), Tom Toner (Gollancz), Marie Brennan

The above panel was unfortunately canceled.

Stories from other media turned into games

Format: Panel
16 Aug 2019, Friday 12:00 – 12:50, ECOCEM Room (CCD)

From the transition of ‘select-your own adventure’ books to Douglas Adams’ first computer game version of ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, storytellers have been happy to entice their audience to play in their worlds through games. What are the different ways they done this? Which stories have transitioned well? Which have not?

Michael Cule (M), Rebecca Slitt (Choice of Games LLC), William C. Tracy (Space Wizard Science Fantasy), Marie Brennan, Keith Byrne (Tantalus)

Autographs: Friday at 14:00

Format: Autographing
16 Aug 2019, Friday 14:00 – 14:50, Level 4 Foyer (CCD)

Victoria “V.E.” Schwab (Tor Books, Titan, HarperCollins, Scholastic), Marie Brennan, Sarah Pinsker (SFWA), Taiyo Fujii (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of Japan), Sam Hawke, Mary Turzillo

Reading: Marie Brennan

Format: Reading
17 Aug 2019, Saturday 13:30 – 13:50, Liffey Room-3 (Readings) (CCD)

The bare bones of worldbuilding: archaeology in SFF

Format: Panel
18 Aug 2019, Sunday 10:00 – 10:50, Wicklow Hall 2B (CCD)

Whether it’s an actual archaeological dig looking for evidence of alien civilisations or fantasy characters camping in the ruins of their ancestors, archaeological evidence and research can be used to help develop a world beyond the here and now and add complex layers to a story without the need for exposition. The panel will discuss the ways in which archaeology has been used to deepen SFF worldbuilding and storytelling.

Ehud Maimon (M), Dr Katrin Kania (pallia – Mittelalter hautnah), Alyc Helms, Marie Brennan

Kaffeeklatsch: Marie Brennan

Format: Kaffeeklatsch
18 Aug 2019, Sunday 11:00 – 11:50, Level 3 Foyer (KK/LB) (CCD)

Invented Mythologies in SF

Format: Panel
19 Aug 2019, Sunday 19:00 – 19:50, Wicklow Hall 2B (CCD)

Whether it’s creation myths for sentient AIs or a pantheon of alien gods, invented mythologies can add depth and weight to SF storytelling. How have myths from our own past informed the creation of fictitious mythologies in SF? Where do you start when inventing mythology? What makes a mythos convincing, and how do you subtly weave your mythology into the narrative?

Fonda Lee (M), Marina J. Lostetter, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Marie Brennan

Dragons, wyrms, and serpents: why the myth endures

Format: Panel
19 Aug 2019, Monday 12:00 – 12:50, Wicklow Hall 2A (Dances) (CCD)

There are a lot of mythical beasts that can and do feature in fantasy, but the dragon/wyrm/serpent seems to be one of the most popular. What are the reasons for this enduring popularity? What roles does it perform? What mythic properties does it embody and why do these continue to resonate (if they do)?

Marie Brennan, Karen Simpson Nikakis (SOV Consulting LLC -SOV Media) (M), Aliette de Bodard, Naomi Novik, Joey Yu (Kino Eye Ltd. / Freelance)

It’s going to be a busy few days . . .