Bowl Of Red

In some ways, this book has been in the planning stages for ten years.When Noah’s Boy ended, Tom’s dad requested Tomato Soup, i.e. Bowl of Red.

Then, as they say things happened. Mostly my health went South. Baen went in a direction that didn’t allow for this series to continue, not as I had planned it, at least and at the time — being sick — I didn’t have the mental flexibility to change course. (Changing course on a series is hard even if you are healthy.)

All my properties with Baen reverted at the end of 2020. I meant to re-publish everything and continue this and Darkships, but health was really bad and we were moving.

So… as I started improving — I won’t claim to be WELL mind you — and the writing thing came back on line, I fumbled at this series. For a while I thought the world was dead — that is when you are so much not the same writer that you can’t get back to it. (it happens. Sometimes you’ve changed in however long since you wrote that and simply can’t be that writer again. Sometimes in three years, sometimes in twenty. Depends on how close you are to who you were.)

Then I realized no. I’d just got addicted to bigger stories. And heck, a bigger story was teased out in Noah’s Boy.

So I wrote the book I sort of planned to (both start with Kyrie’s kidnapping and her stashing in the Goldport version of Garden of the Gods.) But then it changed. Honestly it required my structural editor to point out since this was Rafiel’s book (POOR RAFIEL) it needed restructuring at the beginning in order not to be a fractured mess. He was right, and even betas who read this twice unprompted told me how much better it read now.

If this works (meaning, if it sells well enough to justify it) there will be another in six months (All Hot) and one six months after that. Yes, I know that’s a long time for indie, but I’m starting another series, and continuing… counts…. six, so, you know.

This cycle can take up to five/ten books and is the beginning of a “we’re fighting for the world and all life on Earth” epic.

Oh, and yes, I’m putting up the paper versions. I had trouble with the covers (yes, probably user errors) probably because still getting over being sick.

Anyway, it’s up tomorrow. and the paper ones might be too. (I’m doing them right after this.)

So… without further ado:

Bowl of Red (The Shifter Series Book 4)

At the top of a tall mountain, there lives a dragon. And the dragon is the master of all animals.
Okay, let’s rewind that. Tom Ormson is a dragon shifter, the scion of a line that was created to rule both Chinese and Norse gods. But he doesn’t want the job. He co-owns a diner with his wife, Kyrie, who is about to deliver their first child.
In fact, they just got married, when the entire shifter-world, which centers on their diner goes insane.
You see, it is a time of Ragnarok, which means all of the shifter clans are in turmoil, with changing leadership. And the lion clan, to which Kyrie belongs has just lost its leader. Also, the Queen of the Norse dragons has woken, and wants a word with the Great Sky Dragon.
Hold on to your hats. A wild ride is about to begin, with Tom, Kyrie and their friends at the center of it.
When it ends, the world will never be the same again.

And how it begins:

1

It had been a dry winter in Colorado, following an exceptionally dry summer and fall. Now at the tail end of December, a dry but freezing wind, carrying particles of ice like an excoriating whip, flung through the streets of the town, making the Christmas decorations dance.

It was almost dark at three pm. Which was good, because in his room, in his parents’ house, in one of the old suburbs of the small mountain town of Goldport Colorado, Rafiel Trall, Officer of the Serious Crime Unit of the Goldport Police Department, lay in uneasy sleep.

It had been busy all through Christmas, mostly make-work as the new Police Chief insisted on “organizing” the force.

He needed a nap. Desperately. He was supposed to be Tom’s best man at Tom and Kyrie’s wedding. He had to be awake and alert.

The howling wind poured into his dreams, turning into baying in his darkly-dreamed night.

In the dark forest, Rafiel, in his lion form, stood in a dark clearing in an impenetrable forest, while around him the snow blew and bit, and thoughts not-his echoed in his mind.

He was vaguely aware of his human body, on his bed, in his cozy book-lined bedroom. But the lion in the dark forest didn’t know it. The lion was all alone, terrified. At any minute, a claw would come from the darkness and flail him. He could feel death and hatred in the darkness he couldn’t see through.

Out of his fear, he decided he had to make a stand. He set all four feet firmly on the spongy, shifting ground. Throwing back his head, he opened his mouth and roared his defiance.

The thin cold air came in through his mouth. Particles of ice penetrated his flesh.

Round about things that weren’t lights, but more like light reflected upon unblinking eyes, ten, a dozen, a thousand, came on, and from the darkness around him, carried round and round by the whipping wind, came the sound of mocking laughter, and words, spoken in a high and thin singsong voice, as if by a deranged child, “Kitty, Kitty, Kitty. Come and be killed.”

The lion jumped and made a yelp-like sound. A claw reached for him– tearing, slicing–

Rafiel woke, up a strangled scream in his throat. He was covered in sweat, and his heart raced, as though he’d run a long time.

There was a knock at the door, and his fiancé, Bea, asked, “Raf? Are you all right?”

“I’m fine. Just a nightmare.” His eyes, adjusting to the scant light in the bedroom, fell on his tux over the chair in the corner. Tom’s wedding–

He looked at the alarm clock on the bedside. An hour. “I’ll shower and get dressed,” he shouted back.

But he felt slow, stupid, and as though that horrible dream meant something terrible would happen. On Tom’s wedding day.

Rafiel shook his head. No. Nothing bad would happen. Rafiel would not let it.

***

Atop one of the highest mountains of the world, there lived a dragon. And the dragon was the most powerful beast in the world, able to listen to – and control – all of the magical animals everywhere.

And the dragon looked nervous as he said to his bride, “Are you sure it will be all right? Closing the diner for a whole hour? The week between Christmas and New Year?”

Kyrie Smith, the dragon shifter’s bride, a panther shifter, and co-owner with the dragon – her very beloved and permanently worried fiancé, Tom Ormson – of The George Diner in downtown Goldport, Colorado smiled while shaking her head, and pulled back a strand of dark curls that had worked free from Tom’s ponytail. “It will be fine, love. It’s just an hour, after lunch hour and before the dinner rush.”

Tom still looked worried. Tom always looked somewhat worried. It was part of what was so endearing about him. But Kyrie had worked hard at blocking the time from three to four pm so that they could get married with a modicum of privacy. The right kind of privacy. Though every table was occupied, it was occupied by their friends – a lot of them from the police department, others, regulars at the diner – and people who mattered to them, not whatever rando might wander in from Fairfax Avenue.

Rafiel Trall, one of Goldport’s finest, and a lion shifter, patted Tom on the shoulder, “Come on. You’ll be fine.”

Rafiel wore a tux, which looked odd to anyone used to seeing him in Hawaiian shirts and white pants or jeans. He was nominally Tom’s best man, not that anyone was getting that formal about it. “It’s actually impossible for the diner to go under in the time it takes Anthony to pronounce you man and wife.”

Tom looked doubtful, and Rafiel smiled. Tom mumbled, “That’s what you say.”

Anthony, server extraordinaire – he’d taught both Kyrie and Tom the trade of table service – stood nervously between the salad station and the corner booth, wearing a dark suit. His wife, Cecily, carrying their son in her arms, periodically ran out to adjust the hang of his coat or dust imaginary hair from his shoulders. The bridal cake, four layers – created by Laura Miller, The George’s baker, who had waved away any attempts at payment – was topped with a plastic couple, created by another diner regular – by bashing gaming figures– and didn’t look particularly like Tom and Kyrie, except for hair color, but were both attired in aprons that read, “The George,” over their bridal clothes.

Kyrie thought that, all in all, it was a very fitting setup. And more than she could ever have hoped for growing up as an orphan without a family or a steady environment.

Conan Lung, dragon shifter, former enemy turned friend, sat at one of the small booths by the window, dressed in the western wear he’d adopted when his country and western singing career had started showing signs of life. He looked a little lost between the ten-gallon hat and the cowboy boots, but no one had the courage to tell him that, and at any rate, his fiancé Rya liked him that way, so what did it matter?

Kyrie herself had just switched her normal jeans, T-shirt, and apron for a short formal dress in ivory. This had been done because everyone else said she should have a wedding dress. It was just that wedding dresses rarely came in maternity sizes, and she was due in two months. Which meant her belly was huge, and sometimes you could see the imprint of a foot as the kid kicked out at the world.

Tom had proposed months ago, but it had taken this long to organize the wedding. And for Kyrie to get over her jitters.

Which was silly, honestly. After all, she and Tom owned a business together and were having a baby together. At this point, marriage was an afterthought, and just a way to make sure everything was legal, should anything happen to one of them. It was just that Kyrie had been alone so long – basically her whole life before Tom – that much as she longed for a family, she was also used to having sole control over her life and hated the idea of relinquishing any of it.

But Bea, the dragon shifter who was dating Rafiel, had come to spend Christmas with his family. And the loose friend group who called the diner their home away from home had come together and told them to get married already.

So. Kyrie took a deep breath, smiling at the crowd around them. So. They were getting married.

Rya and Bea had pinned a short veil over her multicolor-dyed hair. She thought it looked slightly silly, to be honest, but it also seemed strangely formal and traditional. At that moment, she’d stopped being just Kyrie and was now that strange, symbolic creature, “the bride.”

Honestly, she should just have had Tom and his friends kidnap her and call it a wedding. And yes, that idea had been brought up by the trio – Tom, Rafiel, and Conan – and heartily endorsed by Cas, Nick, Jason, and all the other miscreants. They’d probably have done it, except that no one could figure out how to kidnap Kyrie from her home and bring her to Tom’s when they lived together.

Kyrie grinned, remembering the suggestion that they should kidnap her and run around the block three times before bringing her back. In her mind, they were a massed multitude of their shifted forms, dragons and lions and bears, running around carrying a very pregnant woman.

That would surely have given the various cryptozoologists and collectors of weird news something to write about.

Tom gave her an odd look, and she realized her smile must be very strange. She shook her head at him and smiled.

He gave her a dubious once-over as though wondering if she had some secret plan but never said anything because just then, Rafiel came up.

“Come on, bridegroom,” he told Tom. “I don’t want to have to marry your woman. Bea would burn my feet off.”

Tom laughed, and Rafiel pulled Tom towards the front, near Anthony.

Kyrie shook her head again. Bea – probably already dreaming of her own wedding – had choreographed this whole thing. According to the script, Kyrie moved way back to stand near the cash register. Tom’s dad, the only parent in attendance, came up from where he’d been waiting at the door to the annex and gave Kyrie his arm.

Kyrie swallowed a lump in her throat.

She didn’t know who her parents were. She’d been found, newborn, at the door to St. Anne’s Catholic Church, in Charlotte, NC, on Christmas Eve and been raised in the foster system. Tom’s dad had agreed to do the honors.

She couldn’t say Edward Ormson had matured much since the time when he’d been a lawyer working for the triads in New York City, but he’d … grown in different directions.

Tom said that his father was trying very hard to be a good father and prospective grandfather. It was just that he had never really learned how to be an adult, so he mostly got very excited about the idea of being a father or grandfather but really had no idea what that meant. He was already planning the grandkid’s first car but would be shocked if asked to change diapers.

Still, he was the best they had, and it was nice to have a parent with them. Weddings were things that called for family, and mostly their family was of choice, not of blood. Except for Edward. All told, Edward wore a very handsome tuxedo, and with streaks of silver on either side of his head, he looked the part.

Even better, Kyrie thought, he’d stopped showering them with the weirdest baby gifts ever, from little squeaky mouse toys to little nets, which he thought would be necessary since he was quite convinced that Kyrie and Tom’s babies would be born as “kitten-dragons” with wings. Kyrie hoped she had finally got it through his head that the ultrasounds showed a human baby, male variety.

But she’d rather not make any bets. He’d probably give them a sandbox to use as a baby potty. The best way to look at it was to be amused by the man’s insanity and touched by his joy in their relationship. Otherwise, she’d live angry. And he meant well, so it wouldn’t even be fair.

Conan, looking solemn and strangely nervous, struck up the bridal march on the acoustic guitar.

Edward offered her his arm, and she took it. At the last minute, someone – she thought Cas’s ditsy fiancé, ran up and put a bouquet in Kyrie’s free hand.

It was white roses, in a tight, circular arrangement, with a wrapping of lace. Looked homemade but very lovely, and Kyrie felt tears come to her eyes. Heaven only knew where Dyce had found white roses in December. She walked on Edward Ormson’s arm, slowly and solemnly up to the salad station.

Tom turned. He still looked slightly worried but beamed at Kyrie, his blue eyes filling with appreciation.

A ray of sun came out and gleamed off the polished surface of the very expensive fryer that they were still paying for, and which Tom was perpetually worried would explode.

It was going to be all right, Kyrie thought.

She realized her mistake immediately afterward when there was a bang behind her, and a flash of light reflected from the polished metal surface of the salad station.

***

Tom had just thought that Kyrie was the most beautiful bride in the world.

His throat tightened when looking at her, and he wasn’t sure how he’d gotten this lucky. If someone had told the confused youth he used to be that someday he’d own a diner, be the center of a group of devoted friends and marry a gorgeous woman, he’d have thought they were nuts. He was still nervous about the whole baby thing and unsure how to be a father, but as long as he had Kyrie at his side, he would be fine.

And then, as he was looking at his amazing bride making her way from the register to the salad station, something exploded at the door to the diner.

There was a loud bang, a flash of light in his peripheral vision, and, looking up and at the door, a cloud of smoke.

And Tom said words he never thought he’d say on his wedding day. The words were perhaps shocking to the people around them, or at least to those who didn’t know that Tom was a dragon shifter and not the only one in the world, but part of a complex hierarchy of dragon-kind.

The words that reluctantly tore from Tom’s lips were: “Oh, no! Enter the dragon.”

AND for you maniacs who have been waiting for this, from, I THINK chapt three:

The queen screamed, but before she could react, an alligator tail, seemingly coming out of nowhere, hit her midsection.

The Queen of the North stepped back, lost her footing, and went tumbling into the snake cave.

And the alligator tail closed the door.

Kyrie blinked. There was an alligator, wearing the remnants of plastic armor, a plastic Viking helmet, and a fright wig.

“Old Joe?” she said weakly. “But you’re dead.”

Y’all have fun now. I have some publishing to do 😉

85 thoughts on “Bowl Of Red

  1. I’ll buy a copy tomorrow.

    I may review it, but I can’t guarantee I will. This month’s F&SF at Ricochet was Cat’s Paw and I need to give the Hoyt family a rest there, and Epoch Times printed my review of Odd Magics in July. (My new editor there probably won’t go for a review of two books by the same author’s so close together.

    If you really are going to come out with new additions to the series maybe I can catch the next one.

    1. THANK YOU anyway. I need to link your review of Cat’s Paw.

      I ALSO will send you an ebook of this momentarily, but no guarantee of a review needed.
      As soon as I’m done fighting Amazon on the hard back 😉

      1. Not really. I review books for several venues (NSS, Ricochet, Epoch Times/American Essence and Nautical Research Journal. Ricochet is weekly, with one F&SF every month. Epoch Times is monthly, with an SF title every 9 months or so. I have reviewed books by members of the Hoyt family the last two months running on Ricochet, and on Epoch Times in July. So those need to rest for a minimum of six months. NSS runs reviews of hard SF (especially centered around the Solar System, but not fantasy. And the NRJ is exclusively ship-related.

        I don’t think Sarah minds.

  2. NOTE: Sarah has said she has ‘abused’ me in this. Perhaps from her perspective. From mine? I’ve been granted a Strange Power (after a fashion… or was it after several Old Fashioneds?) So I do not consider it abused, though it might be a bit of weirdness…. however Sarah cannot out-weird the Universe (try as she might at times) and this is… if not tame, at least pretty cool.

    Now as for All Hot? I suspect I am, what is the phrase? Oh, yeah… “In for it.” Uh oh.

        1. We had 17 degrees this morning at Casa del RC. Could somebody send Algore home? Please?

          BOR pre-ordered and will start reading as soon as practical. I’ll skip the snippet and dive in. [Ponders Norse god jokes. Nope. Nothing on tap. Still, Yngvi is a louse!]

          1. Well, there’s a typo in the description, it’s supposed to be DRAGONS. I’ll fix tomorrow.
            BUT it’s not false advertising. THERE ARE NORSE GODS.
            Giggles at Loki.

              1. If cows are hungry enough, they will just stomp things enough so that they can eat off them. Or drink it. Mush is mush, I guess.

                I don’t think they can really digest meat, per se, but horses can.

                1. I think most critters can digest meat; after all, they’re made out of meat. It’s fibrous plants that require an elaborate digestive system and bacterial assistance. And gas, they produce lots of gas.

          1. Eeeewww! Woman have you no imagination? No one wants to be anywhere in the vicinity of Orvan with indigestion!

  3. Reblogged this on Head Noises and commented:

    Nu book, who dis?

    (…alright no the joke doesn’t really carry, but I’m half asleep with the baby finally asleep on my lap, gimme a break!)

  4. I’d read this even if I weren’t in it. And seeing that Dyce was there? Yay!

    Maybe I just need to re-read all of the Goldport books. And buy some of them in dead tree. I’m sure I have room for another bookshelf somewhere…

    1. In the draft I read, Dyce got a mention…. if more, I must have been pre-occupied (which is QUITE POSSIBLE!). ‘course, I am also looking forward to Dyce’s next (mis)adventure, too.

    2. Didn’t Dyce get married in the last book? Then again, the chronology between the two series tends to be a little odd. Will she finally see something that will make her question the shape of the world, or will her being there suppress the oddness to the point of it being explainable?

  5. ::About To Get Some People Mad At Me::

    Couldn’t you wait until Nov 3rd to publish it? I can’t “Throw Money At You” until then! [Very Very Very Big Crazy Grin]

    Oh well, I can get it via KU tomorrow. 😀

  6. I want to tell you a story, I’m good at that, about an Indie Author, who wrote the Blade and Rose series, and had to tell her fans twice, her books would be delayed due to health reasons.
    Why am I telling you this?
    Because when fans are told things, they handle things better, than when you don’t tell them. So if it takes you six months, then your fans can wait.

      1. Yep, but fans knowing it’s 6 months to the sequel sets expectations nicely. Not that it’ll stop some from reading it in 24 hours and posting “When’s the next?”

      2. I was commenting more on the six months, for possible new works, and the fact you are still, if I understand things correctly, not quite up to snuff in the health area.

        Now, given your comment on the ready to upload comment, I need to try and figure what I’m missing.

        1. I uploaded the current book. I thought you’d misunderstood and thought it was delayed.
          I am still under the weather, and there’s always unforeseens. But I think I can do that.

  7. Old Joe! We missed you!

    (Heh, heh; my charming bride had a bowl of tomato soup and a sandwich on our first date, which was in the month of October, a few, umm, ago.)

  8. The other day I tried to preorder and lo, already ordered. hmm i guess I prepreordered . . . oh look, another Bob and Nikki! so there’s that to read waiting for this to pop in.

  9. Off topic. Any Amazon haters here can rejoice that the Beezer is joining Zuck the schmuck in the largest loss of wealth in history contest. Not that they’re hurting but ..,, wow. Just wow

    1. And the CEO, CFO and legal officer are all out at Twitterl
      I wish them no ill, but the image that came to me when I read that was Vir Cotto, looking up, smiling and waving.

  10. Yippie! So I just got the first three books in the series (about a quarter into number one) and got them as a Kindle bundle. I’ll get Bowl once I’ve finished what I have on hand.

    As a point of information – I’m just a schmuck consumer so by getting a Kindle copy am I doing the author a dis-service? Should I hold out for actual paper and get it that way? I wish to support those I read so please let me know what the best way to do that is. Thanks!

    1. Why not Both the Kindle version and the Dead-Tree version? 😉

      Seriously, I don’t know “how much” Sarah would get from the DT version as compared to getting from the Kindle version.

      But if you only purchased one version, IMO you should get the version that you’d like most.

      Due to limited book storage space, I prefer getting the e-version rather than the DT version.

      1. Thanks for the insight – I’ve got “room for books and stuff” issues so I tend to get my reading material electronically.

        1. If I had my Kindle library in paper, I’d be in a world of trouble, and trying to install bookshelves in the shop/barn. Electrons are compact, and that’s A Good Thing.

        2. Same here, most people that enter our house soon realize our decorating style is books. We ran out of shelf space years ago. Kindle sort of fixed that. And honestly a kindle is far more readble to my aged eyes than my beloved paperbacks.

  11. Giving kids a choice of stickers this year for Halloween at the store. I got shallow mjcrowave lunch containers, cut up the stickers, and put them in various containers by likely demographic. The kids can pick one they like, pretty easily.

    Seems to be going okay, but this is only Thursday.

    Cheered up a teenager, though. Everybody likes stickers.

    Also had kids put them on their faces as “facepaint.” Um. Well, the adhesive is not that strong, I guess….

    1. Almost every tween/young teenage girl grabbed the black and gold stickers with gold stars, and then put the gold stars on their cheeks or foreheads.

      Obviously I have missed a fashion memo…..

  12. Huzzah!!! Pre-ordered via the link here. It is next in the reading queue. Also working on addicting Wife and daughters to Shifters, it is their kind of scifi/fantasy.

    1. Heck, in less than half time time Winds of Winter has taken, to date. Also, this book isn’t all nasty characters doing nasty things to each other, with no good in sight.

      1. GRRM and Patrick Rothfus may end up in teh same category as the historian Frederick Jackson Turner. Turner published ONE book, which even for a Victorian academic was pretty weak. His editor wanted his tombstone inscribed “I got a book from Frederick Jackson Turner.”

        (Turner was addicted to research, and never wrote the next book because he kept finding things to add to the book. Sort of the Winchester Mansion of academic writing.)

  13. Looked homemade but very lovely, and Kyrie felt tears come to her eyes. Heaven only knew where Dyce had found white roses in December.

    This has got to be one of the goofier crossovers I’ve encountered. I’ve only read the first of her books though so I don’t know if Dyce has finally noticed something… odd.. about her dearest.

  14. The Reader has been waiting patiently for this. His addiction had him preordering it quite some time ago. Thank you, Sarah!

  15. My abject apologies for what has to have been years now of my constantly nagging you to finish the damn book.
    Promise it will never happen again.
    For Bowl of Red, other books, well we’ll just have to see now won’t we.
    Good job my lovely niece, Uncle Lar is quite proud of you.
    And it truly is a damn fine read.

  16. Yay!

    Can’t wait to read it!
    (But may have to reread the earlier ones again; the problem with reading series before they’re finished. 😊)

  17. Today my travels took me to Muncie, IN. I dropped off my family at the Muncie Children’s Museum and went to a nearby Citgo gas station to get gas. On the way back, the Google Maps directions routed me through the intersection of Hoyt Ave and Liberty St. I’m not making this up; here’s the address:

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/S+Hoyt+Ave+%26+S+Liberty+St,+Muncie,+IN+47302/@40.1871634,-85.3921415,17z/

    I stopped and took a picture of the street sign at the intersection. Once I can figure out the best way to upload pictures to a WordPress comment, I’ll post the picture.

  18. I think I will like Bowl of Red very much; but I need something for the weekend.

    Can some of you summarize (like a sentence each for good/bad) the following authors? Please add a book of theirs to start reading, if you like them.

    Clifford Simak
    Andre Norton
    Fred Saberhagen
    Robert Silverberg
    John Campbell
    Spider Robinson
    Roger Zelazny
    Lin Carter
    CJ Cherryh

    You can add your own name to the list if you like.

    1. I would add:

      Fred Saberhagen — Empire Of The East, the Books Of Swords, and the Dracula series starting with An Old Friend Of The Family

      Spider Robinson — Stardance, and the Callahan’s Bar stories

      Roger Zelazny — wow, where do I start? Isle Of The Dead and To Die In Italbar, Doorways In The Sand, Creatures Of Light And Darkness, Lord Of Light, Today We Choose Faces, Bridge Of Ashes, The Changing Land, and Dilvish, The Damned. The Changeling series, and his story collections: The Last Defender Of Camelot, Frost & Fire, Unicorn Variations, and The Doors Of His Face, The Lamps Of His Mouth. A literary giant, taken from us far too soon.

    2. Clifford Simak: Rural set, generally fairly quiet science fiction. Try Way Station.

      Andre Norton: Light adventure SF aimed at readers about 10-12 years old, but enjoyable to anybody. Got progressively darker and more preachy as she aged, adopted environmentalism as a religion. The Time Traders is the first time travel adventure in a series of four (I think), and is good fun.

      John W. Campbell: As a writer, he was in competition with Edmond Hamilton and E.E. “Doc” Smith to see who could blow up ever-larger astronomical entities more impressively. He basically stopped writing once he began editing (there are a few stories he penned into the early 1940s), and he was probably a better editor than a writer. The Black Star Passes is representative of his work, but his best story is probably “Who Goes There?”.

      Spider Robinson: Imagine a blues-loving hippie writing Heinlein fanfic with an unquenchable addiction to puns. It’s something like that. Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon is the place to start.

      Lin Carter: Lifelong fanboy of Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs, riffing on their works. Lots of good stuff, but I like Jondar of Callisto myself.

      C.J. Cherryh: Adventure fiction tropes explored in depth, written in a dense style that takes some getting used to (but absolutely worth it). Best entry work is probably Pride of Chanur, space opera with humanoid cat-like aliens, and the most alien character is the single human in it, Tully. The fact that she manages to make Tully seem alien is a sign of how excellent she is. Arguably her best work is Cyteen, but that’s not the one to start with.

        1. Well, my next Simak recommendation would be City, then. A collection of stories telling about legendary creatures called “men”, as remembered through folklore by intelligent dogs. 🙂

  19. Clifford Simak – Mastodonia for the win?
    Andre Norton – The Goddess of the Witch World
    Fred Saberhagen – Berserker
    Robert Silverberg – Lord Valentine’s Castle

    Roger Zelazny – The Amber series

    CJ Cherryh – The Queen of Alien Thought Processes

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