Brenda Cooper


A Review of Four and Half Year’s Worth of Work

A review of my most recent four book series (in two duologies) came out yesterday.  Duology 1 is The Creative Fire and The Diamond Deep, and Duology 2 is Edge of Dark and Spear of Light. All of them came out from Pyr. The second two books came out because after I finished the first story, I wanted to explore the world more deeply (Worldbuilding is one main reason I write SF instead of contemporary fiction). So they are two complete and loosely linked stories in one world.

The-Creative-FireFirst a word on reviews in general:

As an author, I usually don’t talk a lot about reviews, except maybe to point people to good reviews in hopes it will encourage them to try my work. Good reviews make me happy.  Bad reviews make me sad, but if they’re thoughtful enough I can learn something about the reader experience from them.  I don’t argue with reviewers. I’ve seen writers do that, and I’ve never seen that turn out well.

So why do I want to talk about this one?

For the first time, I’ve had what feels like a review of a body of work, rather a point in time in my career, and:

  • That feels pretty special (there are moments when you realize you’ve taken a step in a writing career. Sometimes someone else notices first.  I finished that work under deadline and moved on, still slammed with deadlines, and this review reminds me to stop for a minute and take a breath).
  • Someone was interested enough in this work to really think about it. This is a fast paced, crazed world. So that’s a real compliment.
  • The reviewer (Paul Weimer), gets the series. He did review the first three books individually.

Here’s a link to the review, which is over at Skiffy and Fanty.


Reading Recommendation: Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life

E. O. Wilson’s Half Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life is one of the best books I’ve read on the future of Earth.

He states the problem clearly….after beginning with an apt description of what we (mankind) are like and then stating that we have little time to spend on the wrong trajectory, he says:

“Meanwhile, we thrash about, appallingly led, with no particular goal in mind than economic growth, unfettered consumption, good health, and personal happiness. The impact on the rest of the biosphere is everywhere negative, the environment becoming unstable and less pleasant, our long-term future less certain.”

Yet even though Wilson pulls no punches throughout the book (which is frightening on many levels), he is hopeful. He sets a huge goal. He means exactly what is in the title. Set aside half of Earth (landmass) for biodiversity. Leave it alone. Let it recover and grow. This is the moonshot solution for biodiversity.

It’s not impossible.

Unlike many authors with roots in the environmental wHalf Earth Coverorld, Wilson embraces technology and progress. He sees innovation as enhancing our ability to save the world. In short, in the future, we will know more about the other beings inhabiting the biosphere beside us, we will be able to monitor and understand them better, and we will have tools to build an economy that is not based heavily on the destruction of natural resources. He clearly understands the connected future we are moving into and the positives and challenges of the increasing rate of change. In chapter 16, he writes:

“The collective human mind, hyperconnected and digitized, will flow through the entirely of the life we have inherited far more quickly than was possible before. We will then understand the full meaning of extinction, and we will come to regret deeply every species humanity will have carelessly thrown away.”

In many ways, this is a futurist’s book about the ongoing loss of biodiversity. That doesn’t mean we need to (or can!) wait for the future before we act. Rather, we must do more of the conservation we are already doing. Much more.

We also need to spend a lot more time and resources on practical field science – I did not for example, realize how many species we haven’t even discovered yet (there is a great case made for this in the book).  I felt like I learned something, which is a reader cookie for me if I’m going to spend hours on a science book.  Note that it pairs well with The Sixth Extinction, which I read and recommended already, but which I intend to re-read this month.

I highly recommend that everyone read Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life. It is readable – Wilson wrote this book for all of us to understand. His style is accessible and conversational.

Even if you think you understand the problem, and the solutions, the book should be owned by us all for the beautiful descriptions of the best places in the world that fill the center of book, in chapter 15. It reads like poetry. I listened to parts of it three times (chapter 15 and the last few chapters).  Yes, it’s a research book for my current novel, and I’m getting to use it as part of my MFA, but more importantly, it’s a very good book.


Worldcon Schedule – Kansas City!

I’m really excited about this programming.  It’s all great.  Please note that my reading is early in the convention.  But hey, it’s right after one of may favorite topics, Environmental Speculative Fiction. So drop by for the panel and stay for the reading.  I also get to moderate some of my favorite writers…..

The Re-emergence of Environmental Speculative Fiction

Thursday 18:00 – 19:00, 2503A (Kansas City Convention Center)

This used to be a booming field but has only recently re-emerged. Why is this and how do today’s tropes differ from the ecological dystopias of the 1970s?

Mr. Peadar O Guilin (M), Brenda Cooper, Alyx Dellamonica

Reading: Brenda Cooper 

Thursday 19:00 – 19:30, 2202 (Readings) (Kansas City Convention Center)

Brenda Cooper

Autographing: Neil Clarke, Brenda Cooper, Rebecca Moesta, Martin Shoemaker, Rosemary Claire Smith

Friday 10:00 – 11:00, Autographing Space (Kansas City Convention Center)

Rebecca Moesta, Neil Clarke, Brenda Cooper, Martin L. Shoemaker, Ms Rosemary Claire Smith

Humans and Robots

Friday 13:00 – 14:00, 2204 (Kansas City Convention Center)

With advances in artificial Intelligence and human control of robots, will Asimov’s farmous laws be needed. How might programming the laws of robotics be approached? How does this relate to fuzzy sets and chaos theory?

Brenda Cooper (M), Walt Boyes, G. David Nordley, Jerry Pournelle, Mr Kevin Roche

Generation Starships

Friday 18:00 – 19:00, 2502B (Kansas City Convention Center)

What would life be like for those living on a Generation Spaceship? From water storage and greenhouses to dealing with the reprecussions of being always indoors, panellists will discuss the scientific, sociological and psychological aspects of building and living on a Generation Spaceship.

Gregory Benford, Ms Pat Cadigan, Jerry Pournelle, Brenda Cooper (M), Mark W. Tiedemann

The Future of the City

Saturday 13:00 – 14:00, 2209 (Kansas City Convention Center)

As part of “The Future of” series we look at Cities. We consider what makes a city, whether it is a place of 350,000 people (Utrecht, the Netherlands), somewhere with a cathedral (Chichester, UK – population 27,000), or something else entirely. Over the centuries and throughout the world, cities have been defined and understood very differently, so what changes do we expect to come in the next decades or centuries?

Gary Ehrlich, Alex Jablokow (M), Luke Peterson, Renée Sieber, Brenda Cooper

Space Technology Spinoffs

Saturday 16:00 – 17:00, 2210 (Kansas City Convention Center)

There have been some 2,000 technological products, inventions and ideas trasferred from NASA missions to commercial products and services. Of these, many have made life on Earth better in the fields of health and medicine, transportation, public safety, consumer goods, energy and environment, information technology, and industrial productivity. Panelists discuss their favorite examples of space technology spinoffs.

Mrs. Laurel Anne Hill, Les Johnson, Janet Freeman-Daily (M), Joy Ward, Brenda Cooper

Kaffeeklatsch: Brenda Cooper, Larry Niven, Tui Sutherland

Sunday 11:00 – 12:00, 2211 (KKs) (Kansas City Convention Center)

Larry Niven, Tui Sutherland, Brenda Cooper


Reading Recommendation: Arabella of Mars, by David Levine

Arabella of MarsYou really need to pick up Arabella of Mars, by David Levine.  This is a great time to do it.  It’s a total escape from right now, right here, and a grand one at that!  It’s both surprising and familiar, and beautifully written. If you loved Fran Wilde’s Updraft you’ll love this.  Use it to fill in the moments between now and the time Fran’s Cloudbound comes out, which can fill in the time until David’s next book comes out….

More importantly, use it to give you a few moments of happiness while you settle in with a great heroine in a world you want to be part of. At least I wanted to be part of it.  David can just write me right into the next book!

Just in case a great escape and having a few happy hours isn’t enough, you can do good as well.  This is David’s debut novel (but don’t let that stop you — if you don’t know him, he’s a hugo-winning short story writer and he knows how to tell a tale).  Not only is it his debut novel, but right now  – as its coming out – he’s struggling with family health issues that really matter. So you can have a grand adventure, spend a few happy hours, and do a good deed if you buy a copy.

I promise you won’t regret it.


Edge of Dark a finalist for the Endeavour award!

I’m pleased that Edge of Dark is a finalist for the Endeavour Award.

2016 Endeavour Logo FINALIST 150The winner will be announced at Orycon on Friday, November 18.

Here’s a list of all the finalists:

Edge of Dark by Brenda Cooper, Pyr Books;
Irona 700 by Dave Duncan, Open Road Integrated Media;
The Price of Valor by Django Wexler, Roc Books;
Silver on the Road by Laura Anne Gilman, Saga Press; and
Tracker by C.J. Cherryh, Daw Books

This year’s judges are: Gordon Van Gelder, Jack McDevitt, and Michaela Roessner.

Good luck to all of us!


Release Week Round-Up

I’m four days into the release of Spear of Light, which means I’m a pleased and exhausted author.  Here’s a round of some of what happened: three reviews, one reading (three to come), three giveaways, a preview, guest blog post and an interview. Thanks so much to everyone at Pyr, and to all of the bloggers and interviewers and reviewers and friends who came to readings and all of that. Thanks to everyone who tweeted, posted, cross-posted, and commented.  It’s an ecosystem.  Everyone matters.


You can read a bit of Spear of Light over at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist.


My Life My Books My Escape reviewed it first.  Love the blog title by the way – My favorite escape has always been reading. Of course, now writing is also a great escape from time to time. There is a giveaway of Spear of Light. 

The Exploding Spaceship reviewed Spear of Light.  Bonus review of Adam Rakunas’s Like a Boss – he and I are touring together.  Also a nice review of Infomancy, by Malka Alder.

Bibliosanctum also reviewed Spear of Light.  There is a giveaway of the duology!

Night Owl Science Fiction also has a review.

Thanks SO MUCH to all reviewers — the formal ones like this and every review on Goodreads and Amazon and anywhere else. They matter so much to us authors.  There’s really no words for the influence of each and every review and rating in our current society.

Spear-of-Light_coverOther Giveaways:

If you join my mailing list, you’ll have chance to win book one – Edge of Dark. If you already have that book, I’ll substitute.  Most important, I’m really trying to build a nice mailing list to keep people informed (and I promise not to spam!). Help me out?

Other Media:

Guest Post, “Stories of Your Future” at Fantasy Cafe

Interview at SFF World

Mention at io9

Readings so far:

I got read with Madeline Ashby and Adam Rakunas at the University Bookstore. My favorite record of the event is Liz Argall’s picture-posting.

Readings still to come:

Bike-ride reading with Adam Rakunas from Magnussen Park to Log Boom park and back.  Easy fun largely flat ride all on trails, with readings, bathrooms, and a rest at the turn-around point. 13 miles round trip. Tomorrow at noon – start at Magnussen lot W6 (go in through the main entrance and go straight). Look for Adam on the coolest group-ride cargo bike ever.

Reading in Portland (Beaverton Powell’s) with Adam Rakunas. Tuesday the 14th.

Reading in San Diego — April 23rd. Mysterious Galaxy.

The-Usual-Path-to-Publication-Cover_MEDIUM-WEB-300x450Because sometimes all good things happen at once:

Two other exciting things happened in the same week as the Spear of Light release (while nothing else came out for months before!). The bounty of spring I guess:

I have a story in Neil Clarke’s The Best Science Fiction of the Year.  This is very cool, since I think Neil is one of our best SF short fiction editors out there.  I was really pleased when he picked “Iron Pegasus,” which first came out in Bryan Thomas Schmidt’s excellent anthology, Mission Tomorrow.

I have an essay in Shannon Page’s The Usual Path to Publication: 27 Stories about 27 Ways In.



Win Free Books!

Spear of Light_cover (1)It’s one week before Spear of Light shows up in bookstores.  There are now three ways I know of to win books….

Head on over to My Life My Books My Escape (how cool is that name?) for a chance to win a free copy of Spear of Light.  They’ve also got one of the first reviews of the book posted so far.  They’re calling this work a “Must Read Sci-fi Series!”

There’s even more chances to win a copy of Spear of Light  at Goodreads!  Can you help me get to more than 500 entries!

Remember that you can read the first chapter of Spear of Light for free at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist.

And if you haven’t started the now-complete two-book series yet, you can win a copy of Edge of Dark by joining my mailing list (or simply emailing me for an entry — see the post for details!).

Thanks so much, and Good Luck!


Mailing List! Book Giveaway!

Edge of Dark cover

I’m establishing a mailing list

Hello!  I’m establishing a mailing list so that I have a better way to keep in touch with people who are interested in my writing. I’ve been using social media, which works well for many things. But I know I miss a lot of news from authors I like based on what’s actually easily available to me on Facebook or other online venues, and so it’s entirely possible that some of my fans are also missing out on news they might like to hear as well.  This will be a way to reach out to anyone interested when there’s a new release, a contest, or personal news they might find interesting.

Here’s the short version

  • Sometimes there will be advance news or even a free bit of fiction or a poem provided to people on the list.
  • Mail won’t come too often. My aspirations are two emails around releases and periodic other news about appearances and the like.  I doubt that emails will ever come out any more often than monthly (unless really awesome news comes out more than monthly!), and that in many months there will be zero emails. I don’t like spam or want to create it for others. I’m also really, really, really busy.
  • The sign-up form is on my home page.  To prove you’re a human fan, you’ll need to respond to an email. It’s easy, and you get to see a photo of my dogs along the way!

This will work best if a lot of people sign up!  If you sign up by midnight on June 15th, 2016, you’ll be entered into a contest.  For every fifteen people who sign up, I’ll add a copy of Edge of Dark to the contest, up to four copies.  If this is wildly successful, I might add other things (like copies of Spear of Light or even The Creative Fire).  You have to live in the US to enter the contest (that’s about contest rules and risks and not because I don’t love international readers) but you can sign up for the newsletter no matter where you live. If you already have Edge of Dark, I’ll give you the choice of a few other books of mine I have on hand.

Everyone who signs up — even after the contest is over — gets one of my stories sent right to their inbox as a thank-you.

That’s all. Pretty easy.  And don’t worry, if you don’t want to sign up, you can still find me on social media, including Facebook and Twitter.

Official Contest Rules (because they are required)

This is a sweepstakes — that’s what they call it anyway, upon some research.

  1. The prize is a physical copy of my book, Edge of Dark, which I’ll mail to you at my cost (anywhere in the US).  I’ll add one copy for every fifteen entries up to four copies, and if we get more entries after that, I might add copies of other books.  If a winner already has Edge of Dark, I’ll offer a different book from my inventory if they want that instead.
  2. Prizes will be picked by random drawing. All prizes will be awarded.  Your odds of winning are probably pretty good, since I’ll be really happy if I get a hundred fifty entries.
  3. Winners will be notified by email.  They must respond within 7 days or a new winner will be chosen.
  4. The contest is open to anyone over the age of 18 who lives in the United States.
  5. The contest opens May 25th, 2016 and closes at midnight on June 15th, 2016 (Pacific time).
  6. You don’t have to sign up for the mailing list to enter the contest – you can use the contact form on my website and just put “Contest Entry” as the first two words in the “Your Message” section.  You do have to sign up to get interesting email from me.
  7. No purchase necessary.
  8. I’ll publish a list of winners on this blog.
  9. Winners may be asked to provide a photo of themselves (hey, maybe with the book!) for the blog and to sign a release allowing me to use it here on the blog.



How to Spear Light Like a Boss and other events…

It’s going to be a busy June!  I’m quite excited about Spear of Light, which is coming out June 7th.LikeABoss-144dpi

First up — I’m doing a mini-tour with my good friend Adam Rakunas. Adam is a brilliant writer, a fabulous cook, a fellow bike-rider, and one of the best people I know.  His new book is titled Like a Boss and he came up with the brilliant idea of titling out mini-tour “How to Spear Light like a Boss.” How cool is that? There’s more — both Spear of Light and Like a Boss are the second books in series where the first books were nominated for the Phillip K. Dick Award.

University Bookstore in Seattle Joint Reading

June 7 at 7 PM at University Book Store (4326 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105) – The tour begins! This is the actual launch day of SPEAR OF LIGHT and LIKE A BOSS. Adam and I will read, take questions, and answer the most important question a writer can answer: where do we eat when this is done?

Facebook event
Eventbrite event

Seattle-area Bike-ride Reading (yes, you read that right!) – with special guest Laura Anne Gilman!

June 12 at 12 PM at Husky Stadium (3800 Montlake Blvd, Seattle, Washington 98105) – Laura Anne Gilman will join us for a flat 2.6 mile bike ride from the Husky Stadium Light Rail Station to Solsticio in Fremont. Riders of all ages and skill groups are welcome on this mellow no-drop ride. Note: if there is a catastrophic change in the weather (hurricane, hot hail, sky ferrets), the ride will be cancelled and we’ll just read at Solsticio at 1pm.

Facebook event
Eventbrite event

Powell’s Beaverton, Oregon Joint Reading

June 14 at 7 PM at Powell’s Books At Cedar Hills Crossing (3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd, Beaverton, Oregon 97214). Come and see how two science fiction authors are after a long day in the car. Note: Adam says this is probably the same as the other events, but hungrier.

Facebook event
Eventbrite event

Spear-of-Light_coverOther things I’m doing:

San Diego Reading at Mysterious Galaxy

Facebook Event
Event Listing

I also have at least two guest blog posts and at least one podcast appearance coming up. There are hot rumors of a book giveaway. I’ll post about all these new things when they come out.

No rest for the wicked and overcommitted!  This will be fun.




Cluelessly Excluded / Helpfully Included

Just last month, I got invited to a CIO convention in Seattle as part of my job.  The electronic flyer contained multiple pictures of the speakers – maybe ten or twelve speakers on all the usual CIOish topics like security and cloud computing and the like.  Every face on the panel was male. It could have been worse – only about half were pure white.  But still, I sent them an email and said I had no interest in attending a conference with no gender diversity (they did have one female speaker, whose name was not on page one, and who wasn’t talking about a technical topic). They wanted me to call them back and explain more about what I wan’t coming. I didn’t bother. I’m too busy to explain the obvious to fools, and I don’t want to hear about why they couldn’t find any women. There are women in technology.

Well, just last week, an interesting blog post by Owen Abroad about men not being willing to sit on panels of all men came up fairly viral on the Internet. He has a pledge. I’m not a rabid feminist (I have many male friends and family members who I love dearly and who have been nothing but supportive and helpful to me. I don’t bash men as a group, although the occasional individual has earned a few comments here and there), but I thought it was a sweet gesture, and left it at that. I think I even chose not to share it.

Zero World HoughSo then I arrive at the Emerald City Comic Con (which is working hard on diversity, inclusion, and respect). I ran one panel on creating fascinating characters (which went fabulously – and I had an almost-even gender split of three women and four men until one of my speakers dropped out). I was on the next panel about the science in science fiction.  In a conversation with the fabulous Jason Hough I learned that he had asked the panel organizers to include me because there were no women on the panel.  This had to have happened before the article went viral. So here I was, with an opportunity because someone had noticed no women had been given access to it.  I’m grateful.  I also had a blast – the panel was interesting and the room was full.  We had many people in our signing line.  Roughly half of the audience was female. It might have mattered to them that I was there, whether they noticed it or not.

I’m a forgiving soul. I believe that men get scheduled into technology and science fiction events because there are rather a lot of them in both fields, and the audiences are also very male.  It happens by accident.  I don’t believe we are actively excluded very often. I think we are cluelessly excluded.

I’m grateful to Owen (who I don’t know) and to Jason (who I do know) for not being clueless.