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Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The Alchemist & The Executioness

 I love novellas. I think they're my favourite length to read; longer than a short story but not so long that they get clogged up with subplots and needless characters. I love a good novel, but something about novellas resonates with me. I also like the fact that it's a lot easier to read them in one sitting than a novel.

I was pretty excited when Subterranean Press announced a pair of novellas by Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias Buckell; I hadn't read any of their work at the time (though I knew I should; Bacigalupi won the Hugo and Nebula awards, and Buckell is a NYT Bestseller) but I love the idea of two writers playing in the same world and the concept sounded cool. That, and Subterranean produce gorgeous books.

Here's what Subterranean say about them;

"Every time a spell is cast, a bit of bramble sprouts, sending up tangling vines, bloody thorns, and threatening a poisonous sleep. It sprouts in tilled fields and in neighbors’ roof beams, thrusts up from between street cobbles, and bursts forth from sacks of powdered spice. A bit of magic, and bramble follows. A little at first, and then more— until whole cities are dragged down under tangling vines and empires lie dead, ruins choked by bramble forest. Monuments to people who loved magic too much.

In paired novellas, award-winning authors Tobias Buckell and Paolo Bacigalupi explore a shared world where magic is forbidden and its use is rewarded with the axe. A world of glittering memories and a desperate present, where everyone uses a little magic, and someone else always pays the price."

Sounds cool, right?

I got them today and I've read them already. They are, indeed, very cool. I preferred Bacigalupi's The Alchemist to The Executioness; Buckell's story felt a little rushed and glossed over in places, like it was a novel-length idea squeezed into a novella, whereas Bacigalupi's worked brilliantly. I couldn't really get into The Windup Girl when I started it last week, but I'll have to give it another go. His writing here is great. The world-building the two of them have done is awesome as well; I really hope they write more about this place, because I'm intrigued and I really like the idea of the bramble.

So yeah. Buy them. Read them. Well worth it.

Now I just have to wait for the second Gunpowder novella by Joe Hill and I'll be happy.

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