Tag Archives: Daniel José Older

Daniel José Older — Bone Street Rumba series and Shadowshaper

Daniel José Older debuted earlier this year with the first full-out novel in his contemporary fantasy Bone Street Rumba series, Half-Resurrection Blues. (Although he’s been of course editing and publishing short fiction, including some novellas set in the universe of Bone Street Rumba.)

Half-Resurrection Blues is about Carlos Delacruz, an in-betweener — a man who has died and been partially resurrected — who can’t remember his past identity, and who has found himself working for the NYC Council of the Dead as an investigator and hunter of ghosts and supernatural beings who are causing trouble between the realms of the living and the dead. (Think kind of Men in Black with ghosts instead of aliens.)

The complication is when the Council mysteriously sends him after a sorcerer trying to open the portal to the deadlands, and that man turns out to be another in-betweener, who may hold a link to Delacruz’s living past. The ripples from that encounter lead to an invasion of supernatural creatures who threaten Delacruz’s friends and to rip the veil between realms. And while he’s dealing with that, Delacruz has got to figure out the puzzle of his violent first death.

Older has a grand time setting up an interesting, cross-cultural supernatural system in the rapidly changing neighborhood of Brooklyn. His characters are sharp and fun, his dialogue really good and he does action scenes well. A lot of urban fantasy series fall back on the snarky. But while there’s a strong thread of humor running through the novel, like a strain of sugar in something tart, Half-Resurrection Blues is more meditative and bluesy, with tragic notes and elements that are horrific even when they are a bit funny. (Carlos also gets beaten up a lot, leaving him less time for zingers.) Carlos is truly a lost soul who has been treading water since his half-resurrection, and his discovery that he’s not the only in-betweener around wakes him up and makes him start figuring out who he wants to be in the half-life he’s caught in. Plus, he has to save the world and as many as he can, of course.

The main quibble I have is a common one for first novels in mystery thriller fantasy series like this. Namely, that the book has to focus on Carlos dealing with personal stuff in the main crisis and building his team of helpers for future stories. That means a bit less time than I would like on the details of the ghost aspects/system and the Council, and on the Brooklyn neighborhoods. Older does spend some time on the latter, but I used to live in that area, long before its many changes today, so that was a factor I enjoyed.

But I suspect that this is a series that is going to do well as people discover it. Older also launched a separate YA novel this year, called Shadowshaper:

That looks really interesting too. I’m very behind on reading YA titles, but I may check it out. Older is beloved by the cover gods, as you can also see by the cover of the second novel in the Bone Street Rumba series, coming out in January, Midnight Taxi Tango:

That’s a book that’s going to feature young Kia, who is basically going to be one of the favorite characters in the series of everybody, so I’m probably going to be checking that one out too.

You can check out Older’s website here. He’s also the co-editor, with Rose Fox, of the anthology Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, which has been getting a lot of raves and features yet another wonderful cover:

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Links to Articles About Writing and Publishing (I Told You I Had Links. So Many Links.)

Here are links to articles on writing and publishing that I found interesting. (Writing neepery, in other words. Much more pleasant than Hugo neepery, really.)

 

The Internet is full of words, you see. We raised the young people on them.

Kameron Hurley talks about her writing life in the past and the present. Lot of straight financial stuff there.

Chuck Wendig offers helpful suggestions about dealing with reviews to writers.

However, Foz Meadows, who just got a two book deal, does take Chuck to task on there being no rules for writing fiction. (This one’s for you, Andrew! She writes better than I do, but given it’s her blog it was on, she has more curse words.) This is a regular problem — Chuck is a terrific fiction writer, just did the new tie-in novel for Star Wars — but writers, when asked for advice or proferring it, often fall into the form of ordering it to give it a more authoritative bounce. It does more harm than they realize, so I appreciate Foz addressing this.

Chris Brecheen wrote to a woman writer who wanted, get this, J.K. Rowling to retire because she believed it would give other writers a better chance. Brecheen explained how fiction publishing actually works, and that it’s not a competition, which is actually helpful for a wider pool of authors than you might think.

Daniel Jose´ Older offers advice that is also very helpful to a lot of writers dealing with the endless time crunch of life.

 

Food for thought! Hope all your evenings are warm and safe and welcoming, folks.

 

 

 

 

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Diversity and Discrimination Thoughts (Dumping Days)

It’s time again for articles concerning diversity and discrimination that I found interesting last year.

Vikram Chandra wrote an interesting article for Wired about sexism factors in Silicon Valley, U.S. versus sexism factors in India’s tech industry. It shows how notions of gender are cultural and can create different forms of discrimination and inequality.

Amanda Marcotte at Raw Story looks at the ludicrous freakout by some over California’s policy change to a standard of sexual consent at its state universities and colleges. It again looks at how hard it is for people to wrap their heads around the idea that human beings own their own bodies and therefore get to give permission for who touches them sexually and how, especially when it comes to women. When there is progress made on this and other basic civil rights in law and society, the immediate claim is that the people whose rights are being supported will be vindictive, threatening destructors who will rend the very nature of society, democracy, free speech, take your pick. So put that discrimination back right this minute! As always, the fact that some people might have to alter their behavior a little bit to give others equal rights is considered way more important a problem than the actual equal rights.

McSweeney’s offers up a satiric bit called “The Open Letter to the Tiny White Man the Republican Party Has Sent to Live in My Pants.” Which also touches on the topic of women actually owning their own bodies, and getting to decide what is done to it sexually and medically and how they will live their lives.

Attorney Mary Adkins at Slate.com looks at the sexual harassment and assault of naked photos of women and girls being posted on Twitter (and elsewhere on the Net,) without their consent, and the problem with Twitter’s inability to properly enact policy on its large and contentious network.

And speaking of Twitter, Miri Mogilevsky at The Daily Dot did a nice piece talking about how This Week in Blackness‘ Elon James White created a very funny Twitter hashtag called #DudesGreetingDudes. The hashtag campaign is to point out the hypocrisy of those whining over complaints about catcalling and sexual harassment on the street. It proposes that if guys just want to say hi to others and be friendly, that they greet guys on the street the same way they are greeting women on the street. There’s also a nice videotape made re the hashtag, showing this in action:

Chris Sims at Comics Alliance looked at the problem with giant San Diego Comic Con’s attempt to hide on the issue of con harassment, in the belief that this will keep people from thinking that harassment ever happens there, versus cons that deal with the issue realistically. SDCC is so big now that it is in many ways insulated from worrying about audience desertion, as long as Hollywood still loves it. But one serious mishap and lawsuits is an ever present threat at that sort of pretense. With other big cons like New York Comic Con stepping up to have a workable, prominent and advocated harassment policy to its betterment, San Diego is going to have to change its stance soon. But this article shows h0w hard it is to root out institutionalized discrimination at these events so that practical policies can be enacted and enforced.

Also regarding conventions, author K. Tempest Bradford talked about some of the not-fun discriminations that came up at Readercon last year and at other cons for non-white, straight, etc. authors. It shows how this stuff crops up all the time in many different ways that create discrimination.

And further on that theme, Hannah Giorgis at The Soapbox talks about the #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag campaign and why diversity issues are so critical in children’s publishing.

And last for now, a podcast at Latino USA in which authors N.K. Jemisin, Daniel José Older, and Nalo Hopkinson discuss diversity in geekdom and diversity issues in fiction publishing.

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