Lizard Brain is a shared blog about Science Fiction and Fantasy from Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.

Jimmy Corey and My Face on a Tube

by Daniel Abraham

So there are a few ways to track me and Ty on the various social media sites.  I’m on Facebook under my own name ( and Twitter (@AbrahamHanover).  Ty’s on Google+ (


Your friends and mine at Orbit have put up a professional site over on Facebook just for James SA Corey.   It’s at and they’re looking at putting some cool James SA Corey related stuff up there.  Exclusive excerpts, cover art, possibly even the very exclusive James SA Corey SMBC comic (yes, that exists).

If you’re looking for ways (besides hanging out here) to keep track of all things James SA Corey, go take a look, like it, and we’ll see how the experiment works.

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The Good Winners

by Daniel Abraham

We aren’t a culture that knows how to win well.  It’s not just something we see in the aftermath of a fight or an election, though that’s what started me thinking about it today.  The narrative of conflict we have stops too early.  There is a great battle and then someone wins, and then it’s over: the narrative of redemptive violence.

It seems to me that there’s another step, and that when you leave out reconciliation and reintegration, you wind up perpetuating a fight that should be over.  Tolkien understood that.  Even when his heroes won their fight, there was the struggle after the struggle.  Psychologists and psychiatrists who deal with soldiers returning from war understand the profound difficulty of moving from being in conflict to being in peacetime.  And when we skip that part, I think we don’t actually experience the release and calm that an actual end to conflict should give.  And so instead, we try being violent a little more.  Rubbing it in, keeping the conflict going in — it seems to me — a vain hope of squeezing that catharsis out of it.

Winning well also feel a little like losing because it means stepping back from the battle, letting go of the excitement and rage, and trying to acknowledge the humanity of the person or people you were demonizing just a little while ago.  The uncomfortable truth is that there’s a comfort in demonizing our enemies.  It makes things simple and permits a kind of anger that’s very simple, very comfortable, and almost always inaccurate.

I’m a liberal, and considerably left of President Obama on many, many issues.  But I have conservative friends and family who I’m sure are feeling anxious and despairing today.  I just wanted to take a moment to say that I know how you feel, and while I still disagree with all y’all on some issues basic enough to approach axiomatic, I’m sorry this part’s hard.  If my guy had lost, I’d be pretty damned down today myself.

I know from experience that there are more interesting and more profound conversations about this that we can have now that we’re not in a fight, provided we can let go of being in a fight.  I know that we’re in a media environment that deals with nuance and depth poorly, and that people are nuanced and we’re deep.  And I know that violence, even rhetorical violence, redeems nothing.

If any of y’all want a cup of coffee and sympathy, your loyal opposition is here for you. I’m happy to listen to whatever you have to say (short of violence and trolling).  I won’t agree with all of it, and I’ll call you on some of it, but I recognize that you are also citizens of my nation and of my world.  I’d rather our conflicts go through all the way to the end, where — win or lose or resting to go at it again later — we are capable of being reconciled.



by Ty Franck

Still likes us, apparently.

Caliban’s War is up for a best of 2012 in the Science Fiction category.  Thanks to everyone who’s put us on their reading list on Goodreads.  We are humbled.

Also, some fantasy book called King’s Blood made the best of Fantasy list.


Tyrant’s Law Cover Art and Copy

by Daniel Abraham

It’s not quite the final version, but it’s close enough.  Behold what the fine folks at Orbit have wrought.

The great war cannot be stopped. 

The tyrant Geder Palliako begins a conquest aimed at bringing peace to the world, though his resources are stretched too thin. When things go poorly, he finds a convenient target among the thirteen races and sparks a genocide. 

Clara Kalliam, freed by having fallen from grace, remakes herself as a “loyal traitor” and starts building an underground resistance movement that seeks to undermine Geder through those closest to him. 

Cithrin bel Sarcour is apprenticing in a city that’s taken over by Antea, and uses her status as Geder’s one-time lover to cover up an underground railroad smuggling refugees to safety. 

And Marcus Wester and Master Kit race against time and Geder Palliako’s soldiers in an attempt to awaken a force that could change the fate of the world.

Continue reading ›


Two bits of news and an irony (in the Alanis Morrisette I-don’t-think-that’s-what-the-word-means way)

by Daniel Abraham

First big news:  Check this out.

Book Three of The Expanse and the covers still rock

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New Clarkesworld Article

by Daniel Abraham

Just a head’s up, I have a new article up at Clarkesworld.

The thing is, I don’t write online book reviews. I signed up for Goodreads, and I get notifications all the time about things my friends have read and what they thought of them. When I get something from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Powell’s, I’ll cruise through the reviews and see what people said—not just about the book, but to one another in the comments about the reviews. But when the time comes to decide how many stars to give something I just finished, I almost never do.

It took me a long time to figure out why I’m so reluctant, but here’s what I’ve come to: The more I practice something, the better I get at it.


Gods of Risk, Novellas, and Science Fiction as Mode (not Genre)

by Daniel Abraham

The new Expanse novella is out today ( Amazon | B&N ).  Gods of Risk is set shortly after Caliban’s War, and includes one of the major characters from Caliban.  It’s also actually a novella (as opposed to Butcher of Anderson Station which was a short story), and so has about as much plot and action as a two-hour movie.  I think it’s a good story, it’s less than half of what a movie ticket costs anymore, and it’s available now.  Follow your conscience.

Mars-based crime novel space opera.I’ve written about this elsewhere, but one of the interesting things that  ebooks have done is change the status of the novella.  When I started up my writing career, the common wisdom was that novellas — that is to say stories between aout 17,500 and 40,000 words — were the things to write if you wanted to win awards.  There were a coule reasons for that.  First off, that’s a gorgeous length for a lot of stories.  Long enough that you get to stretch out and really explore a character or an idea, not so long that it feels padded out.  And, as I said, it’s about the same amount of plot as a movie, so modern readers like myself are already very familiar with the size of the story.  You’ve probably seen films that were based on novels where the filmmaker had to gut the book to make it fit.  You’ve probably also seen movies based on a short story where they had to make stuff up and vamp for a while to till out the time.  Novellas are the sweet spot in between.

And the other reason they were the way to win awards was that nobody published them.  They’re too short to really justify a print run, when for just a little more money you can print a novel and sell it for considerably more.  Or, if you’re a magazine, you’d be devoting almost your whole issue to a single story.  And so, come awards time, there were always a lot fewer novellas to pick from.

But the world has moved on, and good that it has, I say.  Now we can publish ebook novellas at decent price, and get all the advantages of this length of story with pretty nearly none of the drawbacks (apart from it being only in ebook format).

The other thing that I’ve been thinking about this particular story is that — like the rest of the Expanse books — it borrows from a lot of genres.  Samuel Delany was the first person in my reading who talked about science fiction as a mode.  Because he is much smarter than I am, I didn’t know what he was on about at the time.  As I’ve thought about it, the best sense I’ve made is that science fiction doesn’t have a single ur-plot.  When I pick up a romance, I’m pretty clear that there’s going to be a man and a woman, and they’re going to overcome obstacles and fall in love at the end.  I pick up a mystery, and I’m pretty sure there’s going to be a crime, and by the end of the book, we’ll figure out who did it.  With science fiction, on the other hand, you can’t tell.  Maybe it’s political and personal intrigue mixed with the high science of terraforming or a coming of age story set in a culture that isn’t Earth or a first contact story or an ecological collapse story.  When Delany calls science fiction a mode rather than a genre, I think he means that when you pick up a science fiction story, you could be picking up *anything*.

That’s part of why I love these projects.



A few thoughts on losing the Hugo

by Daniel Abraham

I am back home after Worldcon.  It was a great weekend.  I am very glad I went, and I’m very glad to be home.  There are a lot of people who are very dear to me who I got to see and spend time with, and some conversations that may, I think, shape some largish part of my day-to-day life for years to come.

As you’ll have heard by now, Jo Walton’s love letter to fandom Among Others won the best novel Hugo, beating out Embassytown which beat out Leviathan Wakes.  I wanted to say a couple words about that.

First:  I am and have been a squeeing Jo Walton fan ever since I read Farthing.  I read Among Others aloud to my Darling Wife, and I think it’s a lovely book.  When Jo won the award, I couldn’t stop grinning for her.  Hell, I’m still smiling about it now.

Second:  I am proud and delighted to be mentioned in the same breath with the other authors who were on the ballot, and in the angry grumbling about how close the nomination count was.  (Leviathan Wakes squeaked on.  I mean *squeaked*.)

Third: This is all fun, and none of it matters.  No one who loved Embassytown should love it less because it got a few less votes than Among Others.  No one who admires Charlie Stross is going to turn away from him because he was a couple nominating votes shy of the short-list this time.

Literary awards are a beautiful kind of nonsense, and I was delighted to be swept up in that dream for a little while, and I’m delighted to wake back up from it.  I love my community with all its little triumphs and its occasional hilarious failures of grace.  I love all the folks who are grumpy because we didn’t win, and I love all the folks who were grumpy that we were nominated in the first place.  I am delighted for Jo and for all the other winners.  I appreciate all the time and attention that people have put into this lovely little event, and who will again next year as well.  Really, it was a delight to come and play.

But now I am home.  I have deadlines and bills and dishes, and this part?  It’s actually the part that I love.

Thank you all for being part of this.  I will be a bit scarce for the next couple of weeks, playing catch-up and all.  And I hope to have more news soon.


A Worldcon Clarification

by Daniel Abraham

Because it came up elsewhere:

Yes, I am only appearing on one panel at Worldcon.  No, it is not because I was unwilling to do more.  If you check out how much I’m doing at Bubonicon this weekend, you’ll see it’s much more than one panel.

I ain’t saying success won’t spoil me, just that I’m holding out for more success before I get all spoilt.  🙂

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Caliban Speaks!

by Daniel Abraham

Which is to say has Caliban’s War as an audiobook releasing today, complete with Jefferson May.