Friday, December 1, 2017

Julie E. Czerneda

For twenty years, Canadian author/ former biologist Julie E. Czerneda has shared her curiosity about living things through her science fiction. She’s also written fantasy, the first installments of her Night’s Edge series A Turn of Light and A Play of Shadow, winning consecutive Aurora Awards (Canada’s Hugo) for Best English Novel. Czerneda has edited/co-edited sixteen anthologies of SF/F, two Aurora winners. Her latest is SFWA’s 2017 Nebula Award Showcase, and her next will be an anthology set in her Clan Chronicles series: Tales from Plexis. Her new SF novel, finale to that series, is To Guard Against the Dark.

Recently I asked Czerneda about what she was reading. Her reply:
In 2008, I bought a story for my anthology, Misspelled. The story was by a friend, someone I knew would write something remarkable. Editors will tell you. We know a great storyteller when we hear one; the wordcraft shines even when they’re just telling you about their day. The harder part, the discipline to put that craft in action, to put it out there, to write yet another story and another?

That’s the difference-maker.

The story I bought? Brilliant indeed, and I’ve been a devoted fan of Lesley D. Livingston’s work ever since. My reward has been that she’s gone on, doing the hard things, and is publishing novel after novel after novel. Check out her list—or my bookcase. From time travel to realms of the fae—in New York City--to saving a drive-in theatre from aliens* (*co-authored with the talented Jonathan Llyr)--every one has her signature voice and bright spirit.

And each? Better than the last. That’s the other thing. Lesley keeps upping her game, to readers’ delight, especially mine. When her latest arrived on my shelf, The Valiant, I plunged in, to be blown away yet again.

Lesley has two significant strengths as a writer, in my opinion. Her characters live and breathe—they’re unforgettable. Real. So are her worlds. Much of her work is set in historical times and she does her research. The Valiant begins a series where a Celtic princess, in training to be a warrior for her people, is captured and sold into slavery to become a female gladiator for Julius Caesar.

In the hands of another writer, I wouldn’t have been interested. My taste runs to science fiction and fantasy, with a side order of science, and I’ve little time to read outside. Such is my trust in Lesley’s work, I leapt in without hesitation. And yes, it is her best book yet. It reminds me of one of my favourites from high school, The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff, the first I read where an unknown past came so vividly to life and made me care, deeply. Yet The Valiant is more. The perspective of a woman—women--in this culture, the attention to detail bringing all aspects to life, the heart-pounding battle scenes—did I mention an upcoming TV series--

Oh, go get your copy. Start your Livingston collection. Let discovering this wonderful author be my gift, to you.
Visit Julie E. Czerneda's website.

The Page 69 Test: To Guard Against the Dark.

--Marshal Zeringue