Cover Reveal for The Veiled Throne, and Other News...

Happy November, everyone.

I’m getting this month’s note out early because … well, we all know why. My fellow Americans, go vote if you haven’t done so already.

Lots to share. So let’s get to it.

Cover Reveal for The Veiled Throne and Time Magazine Mention

We have a lovely cover for the third book in the Dandelion Dynasty series, courtesy of Sam Weber (artist) and Michael McCartney (art design).

Isn’t this gorgeous? I love how the design reflects the series so perfectly. The dandelion and chrysanthemum motifs are obvious, but I also want to draw your attention to the little bird skulls and kunikin decorations at the top of the crown, as well as the dangling claws that have been added to the strands in the coral-and-pearl veil whose purpose Kuni explained to his daughter Théra with great care. (Not spoilers for where the saga is going, but a hint as to the direction of events in Dara.)

Saga’s description of the book:

Princess Théra, once known as Empress Üna of Dara, entrusted the throne to her younger brother in order to journey to Ukyu-Gondé to war with the Lyucu. She has crossed the fabled Wall of Storms with a fleet of advanced warships and ten thousand people. Beset by adversity, Théra and her most trusted companions attempt to overcome every challenge by doing the most interesting thing. But is not letting the past dictate the present always possible or even desirable?

In Dara, the Lyucu leadership as well as the surviving Dandelion Court bristle with rivalries as currents of power surge and ebb and perspectives spin and shift. Here, parents and children, teachers and students, Empress and Pékyu, all nurture the seeds of plans that will take years to bloom. Will tradition yield to new justifications for power?

Everywhere, the spirit of innovation dances like dandelion seeds on the wind, and the commoners, the forgotten, the ignored begin to engineer new solutions for a new age.

Coming June 29, 2021 (Preorder at your favorite retailer).

I’m eyeballs-deep in copyedits for this book right now. (My copyeditor is amazing, by the way. Her suggestions are just so spot-on, and she catches all these continuity issues I missed. Sometimes I think she knows my book better than I do, haha). It’s so exciting to see the book inching step by step toward publication and finally getting into your hands.

(What about Speaking Bones? you ask. Cover is being worked on. More news soon … soon!)

Oh, one last thing about the Dandelion Dynasty. The Grace of Kings and The Wall of Storms made it onto Time magazine’s “The 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time.” To be in the company of amazing authors like Jin Yong, David Mitchell, N.K. Jemisin, Tochi Onyebuchi, Charlie Jane Anders and so many others is an incredible honor. Absolutely thrilled.

“The Cleaners”

There was an announcement a few weeks ago about Amazon working with Dominic Orlando and Orland Bloom to develop a magic realism story from me as a TV series.

The Cleaners tells how … inanimate objects carry the memories of people’s experiences, and a certain number of the population have the ability to relive those memories by touch. Cleaners are specialists hired to sanitize the objects and relieve emotional burdens these memories may hold. At the center of this story is a young man who inherits his family’s cleaning business, and takes on a mysterious new commission.

The story, which is loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Princess and The Pea, is part of Faraway, a collection of retold fairy tales that is set to be published on December 15 from Amazon Original Stories.

Now I can tell you more about the story itself.

As you probably know from my previous work, I don’t much care about genre boundaries. In my fiction, I enjoy taking some aspect of reality that we normally speak of metaphorically and making it literally true. I never consciously aim at any genre. Sometimes the result of what I write is called “science fiction,” sometimes “fantasy,” and sometimes there is applicable no label at all. I don’t care what you call it as long as you get the story.

This particular story is probably closest to “State Change” in The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories. The fantastical element—that memories form deposits on objects and thus can be interpreted, shared, manipulated, stolen, and most importantly: cleansed—all by other people—is simply accepted as a given, and the characters try to live as mundanely as possible in such a world. It’s a story about Boston, about modernity, about families that become strangers and strangers that seem like family, about the difficulty of telling our own stories and the even more difficult task of accepting love with grace.

I really enjoyed working with Heidi Pitlor as my editor on this story. The team at Amazon Original Stories has been amazing as well. Definitely one of the best publishing experiences I’ve had.

You can find out more about the Faraway collection, which includes stories by Rainbow Rowell, Nic Stone, Soman Chainani, and Gayle Forman (in addition to “The Cleaners”) here on The Nerd Daily.

The collection will be available free to Prime members, as well as Kindle Unlimited subscribers on December 15, 2020. Readers can download each story individually, or get the whole collection with just one click. Stories are also available for non-members for $1.99, with the option to add digital audio for free.

“50 Things Every AI Working with Humans Should Know”

I have a new story coming out with the November issue of Uncanny, one of my favorite magazines. This story is my collaboration with robo_ken and should be available online starting November 3. In the same issue is an interview about the process of writing with robo_ken, conducted by the always-insightful Caroline Yoachim.

I won’t spoil the story for you, but I can recommend two pieces of writing that go along with it.

The first is “Two Hundred Fifty Things an Architect Should Know,” the direct inspiration for the story. I don’t know how to describe this wondrous work by Michael Sorkin, the great architectural critic and designer, so I won’t. Just go read it.

The second is You Look Like a Thing and I Love You, by AI expert, research scientist, and author Janelle Shane. If you don’t know much about the state of contemporary AI, this is an accessible, informative introduction that is also very funny. (Shane also writes extensively about the intersection of AI and creativity, a topic of great interest to me, as you know.) You should follow her AI Weirdness blog.

The Hidden Girl and Other Stories in the Goodreads Choice Awards

My collection is a nominee in the Goodreads Choice Awards this year!

Just the fact that readers thought enough of my book to mention it in this context fills me with joy. Should you want to participate in the voting, here’s the schedule:

Opening Round: October 27 - November 8
Semifinal Round: November 10 - November 15
Final Round: November 17 - November 30
WINNERS ANNOUNCED: December 8

Make your voice heard and go vote!

Events, Interviews, etc.

  • Vanity Fair has a little project to which I contributed:

    • “For four years, together and alone, we’ve quietly authored our own endings to the Trumpian roller coaster, whether in a week or another 100 years. Here, in part one of two, writers, poets, and politicos—from Adam McKay to Alexander Chee to Eileen Myles—weigh in with ideas of their own.”

  • “Making Our Home in a Story”: I had a great time as a guest on Andy Cahill’s “The Wonder Dome” podcast. Andy is an author, musician, life coach, and a fantastic interviewer. In this interview we talked about my philosophy on storytelling as an essential part of our journey as human beings.

  • I was part of 5G Things at Ericsson D-15, “a new cross-industry meeting forum for all things using 5G as the fabric for innovation.” I really enjoyed my session with Mo Katibeh, Chief Product & Platform Officer, AT&T Business. I was in my futurism mode and we chatted about the potential for 5G to make our lives meaningfully better. These moments of hope are so necessary. All the presentations at the conference are available to watch on-demand.

  • “Thoughts and Prayers” was reprinted in the Cyberpunk in 2020 issue of The London Reader. I’ve already gotten my copy and it looks fantastic (with stories by Lauren Beukes, Cat Rambo, Gwyneth Jones, and many others). Please check it out.

  • “Byzantine Empathy” was reprinted in Lightspeed. Though written a while ago, this story feels even more true now than it did before the pandemic.

  • I’ll be in conversation with R.F. Kuang in support of Rebecca's new book, The Burning God (the conclusion of the Poppy War series) on November 17, 2020. The event is sponsored by Brookline Booksmith (thank you!). Please sign up to get a copy of her fantastic book and to see her talk about the book and share advice on craft.

That’s it. Take care everyone!

Ken