May 14, 2017

As full of spirit as the month of May…

by Inci German

How spectacularly May 2017 has begun in Berlin!
No, I’m not talking about the revolutionary May 1 rally nor the inevitable catastrophe that was the Eurovision Song Contest for Germany – These were lousy compared to the spring program of the Otherland bookstore! Two top-class double features (Caitlin Sweet/Peter Watts and Ty Franck/Peter Orullian) in one week, followed by the RPG-evening and one of the most fierce book club discussions ever and yet there’s so much to come! I’m talking Anne Leckie (July 26th), Marko Kloos (July 28th) and Roadside Picnic (at the Gatherland) here! It’s all so exciting!

Let’s first take a look at the riotous time that lies behind us though: Peter Watts and Caitlin Sweet! It was such a pleasure to have them here, chat with them and listen to them read!

Anyone who knows me knows I have a problem with fantasy. I like the concept of it and try to give it a shot every now and then but every time I end up frustrated and go back reading science fiction or the few fantasy writers I like reading. I could and maybe sometime should write an article on the reasons why, but not here and now, because I actually want to talk about Caitlin Sweet, who now is one of those fantasy authors I like to read. I was enthused when I read The Pattern Scars – I admit it was in preparation of the event, since I hadn’t heard about her before. What a pity! (This grim, insanely well-written and well imagined novel should be read by every dark fantasy/fantasy fan and deserves its own review that I’m already working on – and that’s exactly why I’ll stop gushing about it here. Stay tuned for my review or just buy The Pattern Scars at the bookshop, highly recommended!) So I was really excited when she read a passage from it at the Otherland! Later in the evening Caitlin also read an excerpt of her 2014 novel The Door in the Mountain where she puts her own twist into the myth of the Minotaur and depicts a rather bitchy Ariadne. Yeah, that’s the way we like it! She also announced that she’s working on a new book that I’m already waiting for eagerly!

Peter Watts & Caitlin Sweet
Being one of the best (some might even argue THE best) hard science fiction writers of our age, Peter Watts surely doesn’t need an introduction here. Considering the long queue of fans wanting to grab an autograph from him, he was the star of the evening and has a very well established fanbase here in Berlin. And that fanbase was thrilled to belong to the few chosen ones who were given the chance to listen to him read about his military zombies (more about that: and an additional piece of UNPUBLISHED writing set in the “Sunflowers” universe (“The Freeze-Frame Revolution”), which is about a spaceship travelling at relativistic speeds to set up wormhole gateways in remote star systems and facing a mutiny (Thank you Marc for reminding me!). You can find Watts’ own account of their journey (I mean Watts and Sweet’s journey, not the spaceship's) and the lasting impression the Otherland toilet has made on Peter on his blog:

Only two days later we got to meet two most pleasant, entertaining and interesting authors: Ty Franck and Peter Orullian. They decided to skip the reading part altogether and did a fun Q&A with the fans who were mostly out for “The Expanse” and the writing/making of the series. And they weren’t disappointed: Franck told everything, and I mean everything; the story of his life in a nut shell, the beginnings of the Expanse-Universe, back when he developed it as the setting for a role playing game, challenges of embracing diversity on a Hollywood-set and much more!

Peter Orullian & Ty Franck
Fantasy author (The Vault of Heaven) and musician Peter Orullian on the other hand focused on music, the process of writing, introduced us to an ingenious magic system based on music and chatted about fantasy in general. I was very intrigued by his ideas by all means and have included The Unremembered in my tbr pile! Any book of Orullian, Franck, Watts and Sweet is of course available at the bookshop! By the way this combination of science fiction vs. fantasy author worked really well in both cases so that readers of both genres could benefit. It was a wonderful week with awesome writers!

As to the wild discussion we had at the book club meeting - that one will be subject of the next OBC article about Scott Hawkins’ ferociously controversial fantasy novel Library at Mount Char! Boy, what a book!

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