Over at Barnes and Noble, an interesting post by Martha Wells: 8 Books That Blend Science and Magic, Minus the Fantasy Tropes
Martha Wells was already an award-nominated fantasy writer when she found herself unable to sell her latest book—because publishers didn’t know how to market it…
Yes, anything that strikes a publisher as hard to market is liable to fall through the cracks, no matter how much it might appeal to readers. Why, I too have had books rejected on the grounds that “This is beautifully written and we really like it but we don’t know how we would market it.”
Such a bummer.
Of course the Raksura series falls into this category:
[The Cloud Roads] offered an engaging world readers had never seen before—non-human protagonists, complex alien cultures, genre-mixing plotting—but the lack of tropes made it difficult to pigeonhole.
To me this series does read almost like SF rather than like fantasy, despite the prevalence of magic in the world. Because, yes, of the lack of typical fantasy tropes. I would have difficulty finding seven other books or series that offer anything like the same feel, and in fact I’m not sure any of these that Martha Wells has selected do have the same feel. But these are interesting selections and I see how the ones I’m more familiar with do blend science with magic.
Starting with Sharon Shinn’s Elemental Blessings series. The feel is completely different because of course it is; Shinn writes very different books than Wells. But it’s a good choice for this column, because the Elemental Blessings series takes place in a fantasy world that is currently undergoing a kinder, gentler industrial revolution. Also sort of flirting with the idea of more democratic forms of government, though they’re not there yet. It’s a unique fantasy setting, and a pleasant world in which to spend some time.
Here’s one that Wells doesn’t mention that seems to me to possibly fall sort of in the same category: The Order of the Air series by Melissa Scott and Jo Graham. There is so much about the early aircraft, and definitely a blending of magic and science.
Here’s one that doesn’t fit this category, but kind of does, but really doesn’t: The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein, one of my all time favorite fantasy series . . . um, science fiction series. It falls in the even tinier subgenre of “science fiction that totally looks like fantasy and uses fantasy tropes but it’s really science fiction all the way.” In fact, that particular subgenre is so tiny I’m not sure any other books fall into it.
Anyway, interesting post; if you have time, click through and see what other titles Martha Wells has included.
Also, you do know that the last of the Raksura novels just came out, right?
It is quite wonderful and gave me an excuse to re-read much of the earlier series in anticipation. High points: the relationship between Pearl and Malachite — did you expect them to kind of hit it off? Because wow, what a team. Also, the half-fell flight. Love them! If Wells goes on with this world from a different pov, I totally vote for the half-fell queen. Or the kethel. Or probably anybody associated with this wonderful group of new characters.