Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis

This has been out for a few weeks but I've put off posting about it until I felt coherent (or more coherent, at least). So far it sounds like sales are strong - by which I mean it got rushed back to press once already!

A little history on this book that you perhaps won't find elsewhere. Ian joined Critical Mass a few years ago when he was fresh out of Clarion West (much like I had years before that) with this insane, wild talent for writing stories that defy category. There was the one about the Madwoman on the Moon who was on some kind of personal jihad that indirectly caused spontaneous terraforming, and there was the one about the con artist who had a computer that contained the personalities of all the Catholic Popes, and there was another one about the asteroid miner with a computer named Coleridge who helps her discover a matrioshka computer built by aliens. Thing is, as random as these ideas sound, the stories were all incredible. Like, as in disgustingly incredible. Ian's one of those people I'd hate if I didn't like him so much.

He had this idea for a novel that kinda sorta had to do with Nietzsche's ubermensch, British supernaturalism and World War II that would play on the themes of Cincinnatus. Critical Mass got together to break the plot of this thing. This was the sort of project that could go well, or so terribly badly that we left poor Ian blubbering in the corner - oh, no wait. I promised Ian not to talk about his tendency to do that. Anyway, that doesn't matter, because the plotbreak session was phenomenal. At least, that's how it looked where I sat. The group broke the plots of a three book series, and book number one is the one you see here, Bitter Seeds. After the plotbreak he got writing, and within a year he'd landed an agent and a three book deal with Tor.

Well deserved. I don't say this about many books, but you've got to read this one, and the two that follow. This one will introduce you to the mad genius that is Ian's muse - I think the thing's got a weird obsessive compulsive disorder paired with a penchant for beat poetry - and is an alternate history account of World War II that includes cyborg superhumans and upper class Britons who commune with evil spirits. The viewpoint character is one Raybould Marsh, a working class British boy whose intelligence and potential win him a patron and champion who puts him through school. He becomes one of the founding members of Milkweed, a wartime top secret project that gathers information on Nazi cyborgs and counters with magic cast by warlocks. It's nowhere near as campy as it sounds.

And as exciting and epic as the plot of this novel is (I'm not giving any spoilers) - it's only the beginning...

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