Episode 153: Mark Morton – The Headmasters

A chat with author Mark Morton about his new young adult dystopian science fiction novel, The Headmasters, published by Shadowpaw Press.

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markmorton.ca

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About the Book

How do you learn from the past if there isn’t one? 

Sixty years ago, something awful happened. Something that killed everyone except the people at Blue Ring. Something that caused the Headmasters to appear. But Maple doesn’t know what it was. Because talking about the past is forbidden.

Everyone at Blue Ring has a Headmaster. They sink their sinewy coils into your skull and control you, using your body for backbreaking toil and your mind to communicate with each other.

When someone dies, their Headmaster transfers to someone new. But so do the dead person’s memories, and if one of those memories surfaces in the new host’s mind, their brain breaks. That’s why talking about the past is forbidden.

Maple hates this world where the past can’t exist and the future promises only more suffering. And she hates the Headmasters for making it that way. But she doesn’t know how to fight them – until memories start to surface in her mind from someone who long ago came close to defeating the Headmasters.

But whose memories are they? Why aren’t they harming her? And how can she use them to defeat the Headmasters? Maple has to find the answers herself, unable to tell anyone what she’s experiencing or planning—not even Thorn, the young man she’s falling in love with.

Thorn, who has some forbidden secrets of his own . . .

Praise for The Headmasters

“Mark Morton’s The Headmasters is a brilliant science-fiction debut from one of Canada’s best-loved nonfiction writers. This compelling YA novel is a spot-on updating of Robert A. Heinlein’s classic The Puppet Masters for the new millennium, with intricate world-building, a great science-fiction puzzle, and — ironic for a novel about suppressed memories — a main character you’ll never forget. I loved it.” — Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of The Downloaded

About Mark Morton

Mark Morton is the author of four non-fiction titles: Cupboard Love: A Dictionary of Culinary Curiosities (nominated for a Julia Child Award); The End: Closing Words for a Millennium (winner of the Alexander Isbister Award for nonfiction); The Lover’s Tongue: A Merry Romp Through the Language of Love and Sex (republished in the UK as Dirty Words), and Cooking with Shakespeare. He’s also written more than fiftycolumns for Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture (University of California Press) and has written and broadcast more than a hundred columns about language and culture for CBC Radio.

Mark has a PhD in sixteenth-century literature from the University of Toronto and has taught at several universities in France and Canada. He currently works at the University of Waterloo. He and his wife, Melanie Cameron, (also an author) have four children, three dogs, one rabbit, and no time.

The Headmasters is his debut novel.

Episode 152: Nir Yaniv – The Good Soldier

A long chat with author Nir Yaniv about his new humorous, satirical military science fiction novel, The Good Soldier: “M*A*S*H meets Starship Troopers in outer space,” published by Shadowpaw Press.

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niryaniv.com

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@TheNirYaniv

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@nyfiction

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About the Book

The Imperial Navy has long been at war. It is a well-oiled machine, a mighty galactic power in which nothing can go wrong.

Enter Pre-Private Joseph Fux, self-proclaimed Idiot, Second Class.

When Fux arrives on board the light frigate UPS Spitz, things immediately begin to go wrong. It’s not Fux’s fault. It never is. Accidents just happen when he’s around, despite the best intentions.

And as the always-cheerful Fux bungles his way through one job after another, he throws the whole ship and its orderly crew into chaos. No one is left unscathed: not the responsible and lonely Lt. Lipton, grieving for his lost love; not the mercilessly logical Doctor Nightingale, who may or may not be Lipton’s current romantic interest; not the overzealous Ensign Berseker, or the pompous political officer, Commander Kapust. Not even the hidden, monstrous Captain.

Knowingly or not, Fux is an agent of resistance, his blind stupidity the only sane response to the insanity of war. Something’s gotta give, and the tiny spanner-in-the-works that is Fux threatens at last to destroy the entire machinery of the Galactic Empire . . .

“In this amiable satire of the gung-ho heroics of military sci-fi, Yaniv (coauthor of The Tel Aviv Dossier) sets a seeming simpleton against an immense empire, and the contest is hardly fair . . . (A)n amusing alternative to the usual run of martial marvels and battle-tested warriors. Military SF fans will enjoy this gentle roasting.” – Publishers Weekly

“Drawing on a tradition of anti-war fiction and his own military experience, Nir Yaniv meshes together classical American gung-ho SF with the delightful absurdism of European literature to create an unforgettable far-future fable for our times. Think M.A.S.H. in space, and you’ll come closest to capturing the spirit of The Good Soldier, but you’ll have to enmesh yourself in the (mis)adventures of Idiot-First-Class Fux and company of the good ship Spitz to find out for yourself. This is one explosive novel you do not want to miss!” – Lavie Tidhar, award-winning author of Central Station and Neom

“A madcap dystopian satire that shoulders its way into the ranks of Bill the Galactic Hero and Catch-22, then stands sloppily at attention as it smirks in the face of an apoplectic political officer.” – Alex Shvartsman, Award-Winning Author of The Middling Affliction and Eridani’s Crown

“I really enjoyed this: a rattling, SFnal updating of The Good Soldier Švejk via Starship Troopers (as it might be: Švejkship Troopers): funny, pointed, readable, a subversive depiction of the futility of war and a satire on the perennial logic of the military mind and the structures of the army. Fux is a wonderful anti-hero: a buffoon and an idiot (‘second class’) but also an everyman. Highly recommended.” – Adam Roberts, award-winning author of Jack Glass

About Nir Yaniv

Nir Yaniv, author of The Good Soldier, is an Israeli-born multidisciplinary artist living in Los Angeles. He’s an author, a musician, an illustrator, and a filmmaker. He founded Israel’s first online science fiction magazine and served as its chief editor for ten years, after which he moved on to editing a printed genre magazine. He collaborated with World Fantasy Award-winning author Lavie Tidhar on two novels, including the “deranged sci-fi extravaganza” (per The Jewish QuarterlyThe Tel Aviv Dossier, and his English- language collection The Love Machine & Other Contraptions was published by Infinity Plus in 2012. His most recent Hebrew novel, King of Jerusalem, was published in Israel in 2019. His short stories have appeared in Weird TalesApex, and ChiZine, among others.

Nir’s musical career includes soundtracks for film, dance shows, and theater. His most recent work is the voice-and-drums animated album The Voice Remains (LifeArt Music, 2021). Nir has also directed several short films and music videos, both live-action and animated.

Episode 151: Robert J. Sawyer – The Downloaded

A chat with Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer about his latest novel, The Downloaded, now available as an Audible original audiobook and coming in print from Shadowpaw Press on May 7, 2024.

Website
sfwriter.com

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Robert J. Sawyer’s Amazon Page

About the Book

The new novel by Canada’s top Science Fiction writer

In 2059 two very different groups have their minds uploaded into a quantum computer in Waterloo, Ontario.

One group consists of astronauts preparing for Earth’s first interstellar voyage. The other? Convicted murderers, serving their sentences in a virtual-reality prison.

But when disaster strikes, the astronauts and the prisoners must download back into physical reality and find a way to work together to save Earth from destruction.

The Downloaded debuted in a six-month exclusive window as an Audible Original narrated by Academy Award-winner Brendan Fraser promoted by national TV and radio ad campaigns. This print edition is coming out immediately after Audible’s exclusivity ends and is being supported by a six-city cross-Canada author book tour.

“The Downloaded absolutely sizzles with fascinating ideas. You want space travel, a ruined Earth, virtual worlds, a cast of relatable characters, and a glimpse into the labyrinth of human destiny? Look no further: this book has all that and more.” —Robert Charles Wilson, Hugo Award-winning author of Spin

“The Downloaded is a wonderful demonstration of Sawyer’s deep understanding of — and compassion for — people, regardless who or what they are, or even what they have done. It’s a rare and potent humanity that elevates his work high above the rest.” —Julie E. Czerneda, Aurora Award-winning author of To Each This World

“In The Downloaded, Sawyer proves he’s not just a master at using science fiction to address social issues but also a master at portraying diverse characters.” —James Alan Gardner, Theodore Sturgeon Award-winning author of Commitment Hour

“The Downloaded is a wicked-smart thrill ride from start to finish. I loved it.” —Sylvain Neuvel, bestselling author of A History of What Comes Next

“One of the best SF novels I’ve read in years.” —Allen Steele, Hugo Award-winning author of Coyote

About Robert J. Sawyer

Photo by Carolyn Clink

Robert J. Sawyer–“the dean of Canadian science fiction,” according to the CBC, and a Globe and Mail and Maclean’sbestseller–is the only Canadian to have won all three of the world’s top awards for best science-fiction novel of the year: the Hugo, the Nebula, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. A member of both The Order of Canada and The Order of Ontario, Rob has won more Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards (“Auroras”) than anyone else in history. The ABC TV series FlashForward was based on his novel of the same name; The Downloaded is his twenty-fifth novel.

A popular TEDx and keynote speaker with over 700 radio and TV interviews under his belt, Rob physically lives in Mississauga, and in cyberspace, he’s at sfwriter.com.

Episode 150: Richard Sparks

An hour-long chat with Richard Sparks, English-born comedy writer, lyricist, librettist, author and director, author of the new gaming-meets-epic fantasy novel New Rock, New Role.

Website
richardsparks.com

Richard Sparks’s Amazon Page

The Introduction

Richard Sparks is an English-born comedy writer, lyricist, librettist, author and director now living in Los Angeles. His writing credentials span the gamut of the entertainment world, from film and TV and books through lyrics for operas.

His TV writing includes iconic shows like Not the Nine O’clock News (BBC TV) and The Secret Policeman’s Ball (BBC TV, performed by Rowen Atkinson and directed by John Cleese).

He has written several books, including the biography of the music producer Milt Okun, Along the Cherry Lane. (Oku discovered and launched John Denver and mentored him throughout his career. He created arrangements for Peter, Paul and Mary that the trio performed for half a century. He brought Placido Domingo a crossover career that made him an international star beyond the world of opera.)

Richard’s latest book, New Rock, New Role blends the gaming world and epic fantasy.

Episode 149: Aurora Ascher

An hour-long chat with paranormal and fantasy romance writer Aurora Ascher, author of the new novel Sanctuary of the Shadow, Book 1 of the Elemental Races series.

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auroraascher.com

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The Introduction

Photo by Sergio Veranes

Paranormal and fantasy romance author Aurora Ascher loves misunderstood mythical monsters, redeemable anti-heroes, and epic happily-ever-afters.

A woman of many creative pursuits, Aurora is also a professional musician and visual artist. She currently resides in Montreal with her trusty espresso machine and her endlessly patient husband, whom she sometimes doesn’t see for hours until she emerges from her writing cave like a bear in springtime.

Episode 148: Christopher Rowe

An hour-long chat with Christopher Rowe, Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy (and others) shortlisted author of the critically acclaimed novellas The Navigating Fox and These Prisoning Hills, as well as the story collection Telling the Map.

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christopherrowe.net

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@cvrowe1234

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@christopherrowe

Christopher Rowe’s Amazon Page

The Introduction

Christopher Rowe is the author of the critically acclaimed novellas The Navigating Fox and These Prisoning Hills, as well as a story collection regarded as one of best of recent years, Telling the Map. He has been a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Neukom, and Theodore Sturgeon Awards, as well as others. He lives in Kentucky.

Episode 147: Kerstin Stanford

An hour-long chat with Kerstin Stanford, author of the middle-grade fantasy novel Escape from Portaliege: A Sam Harte Adventure.

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kerstinstanford.com

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@kerstin.stanforddorren

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@StanfordDorren

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@stanforddorren

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@kerstinstanford

Kerstin Stanford’s Amazon page

The Introduction

Kerstin Stanford is a California-based author, marketing professional, and event construction enthusiast. Her debut novel, Escape From Portaliege: A Sam Harte Adventure, follows 12-year-old Sam Harte as she navigates a summer camp filled with strange creatures and peculiar counsellors.

Before Kerstin became an author, she worked in promotions and marketing for twenty years, with experience in writing blogs, newsletters, brochures, website, social media content, and more.

Kerstin currently lives with her family in Huntington Beach, where she is working on the second book in the Sam Harte Adventure series.

Episode 146: L. Jagi Lamplighter

An hour-long chat with L. Jagi Lamplighter, author of the YA fantasy series The Books of Unexpected Enlightenment and the Prospero’s Children series.

Website
ljagilamplighter.com

SuperversiveSF Blog

Fantastic Schools and Where to Find Them

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L. Jagi Lamplighter’s Amazon Page

The Introduction

L. Jagi Lamplighter is the author of the young-adult fantasy series The Books of Unexpected Enlightenment, the third book of which was nominated for the YA Dragon Award in 2017, the fourth book of which won the first YA Ribbit Award, and the fifth book of which also won two small literary awards. She is also the author of the Prospero’s Children series: Prospero LostProspero In Hell, and Prospero Regained, and has published numerous articles and short stories as well as an anthology of her own works, In the Lamplight. She also edits for Superversive Press and teaches The Art and Craft of Writing.

When not writing, she switches to her secret identity as wife and stay-home mom in Centreville, VA, where she lives with her dashing husband, author John C. Wright, and their four children, Orville, Ping-Ping Eve, Roland Wilbur, and Justinian Oberon.

Episode 145: Omari Richards

An hour-long chat with Omari Richards, “lifetime blerd” and author of the new The Kimoni Legacy fantasy series, as well as the Tales of Nahawalla short stories.

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omari-richards.com

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@omari_a_richards

Omari Richards’s Amazon Page

Omari Richards was born to Dominican immigrants in America and grew up in a household filled with laughter, music, fellowship, and tales of the homeland. From shape-shifting witches to monsters hatched from chicken eggs, these stories enriched and invigorated his imagination. This was strengthened once he found the written word in the adventures of Jim Hawkins, King Arthur, Ivanhoe, and Robin Hood, to name a few.

Omari hopes to capture and enrich the imagination of his readers in a similar way with his new series, The Kimoni Legacy and Tales of Nahwalla short stories.

You can find Omari, a lifetime “blerd” and West African history/ folklore buff, lost in a book, immersed in the nearest bookstore, or catching up on One Piece and My Hero Academia in his Northern Virginia home.

Episode 144: Nick Stitle

A 45-minute chat with Nick Stitle, the 17-year-old author of the epic fantasy Stormless.

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nickstitle.com

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@nickstitleauthor

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@nickstitle_author

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@nickstitle

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The Introduction

Injuries forced Nicklas Stitle to stop playing tennis after his freshman year of high school, and he realized that was an opportunity to begin working on the story he had been carefully putting together in his head. Stitle began writing Stormless at the age of fifteen and woke up early every day to work on the story before school, creating a new fantasy world and crafting characters he could relate to. Incorporating valuable advice from industry experts wanting to help a young author, Stitle completed Stormless at the age of seventeen. 

Stitle has nearly finished The Fire King, book two in what he intends to be a four-book series, and is currently planning books three and four. He hopes to inspire other young writers to chase after their dreams.

Stitle lives in Indiana with his mom, dad, older brother, and two dogs.