March 2008 Newsletter


Monthly Writing Challenge


Editors' Choices


Publication Announcements

On Shelves Now

Membership Info



The year has started out like gangbusters! It's so gratifying to see so many books and short stories out by our members. Some of our members are giving back to the writing community by holding critique contests or leading a synopsis focus group...while many of us give back all the time by reviewing others. OWW has truly become what we wanted it to be--a platform for ways writers can interact and collaborate to improve their writing skills--and we need YOU. Every time you post a submission or a critique, enter a contest or contribute to a discussion, you help OWW grow. A group is only as good as its membership. And you guys rock!

We're sad to announce that after bazillions of years of working with the workshop, author, editor, and award-magnet Kelly Link has stepped down from her role as our Resident Editor for short stories. Her insightful reviews will be greatly missed; we feel very lucky to have had her on board since we launched OWW. Susan Marie Groppi, fiction editor (and editor-in-chief) at genre Web publication Strange Horizons, will be now selecting and reviewing our short story Editor's Choices. We feel lucky to have her on board, too!

As always, contact us if you have any questions, publication announcements, or ideas for improving the OWW newsletter.

Maria Zannini, newsletter editor
newsletter (at)

Monthly Writing Challenge

Thanks to Leah Bobet for this suggestion. THE RITES OF CHALLENGE

March's challenge will be Spring! Whether you have it or are just wishing you did, spring brings a lot of thematic connotations to a story: renewal, growth, resurrection. A jump into something new. This is a great challenge to think about setting and what it contributes to other aspects of the story: how it informs themes, characters, and plotlines as well as providing a place for the story to be.

Challenges are meant to stretch your writing skills, so have fun! Include "Spring challenge" in your submission title so people can find it.

Challenges can be suggested by anyone and suggestions should be sent to Maria (newsletter (at) For more details on the challenges, check the OWW Writer Space.


March Focus Group on Synopsis Writing: So you've finished the novel. Looked up the agents. Written that spiffy query letter and polished it up. And then there's the synopsis. Writing novel synopses is one of the most elusive skills in the writer's toolkit--how to compress that hundred-thousand word epic into a few pages that'll sell your book. During the first two weeks of March we'll be running another in our series of OWW synopsis-writing focus groups: discussing standard wisdom and articles on synopsis-writing, working up synopses for our works-in-progress, and helping each other improve them. The group is led by OWW member Pen Hardy, who worked on the last synopsis focus group and has graciously volunteered her time. Join the oww-sff-focus mailing list if you want to participate and are not already a member of the list: Sharpen your synopsis-poking sticks!

2008 Odyssey Writing Workshop: Odyssey is a great opportunity to improve your writing and meet editors and authors. Jeanne Cavelos, Odyssey's director, founder, and primary instructor, is a best-selling author and a former senior editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing, where she won a World Fantasy Award for her work. This year's workshop runs from June 9 to July 18, 2008. Class meets for four hours in the morning, five days a week, and students spend about eight hours more a day writing and critiquing each other's work. Early admission application deadline is January 31; regular admission deadline is April 10. Tuition is $1800, and housing is $700 for a double room and $1400 for a single. The workshop is held at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. For more info: phone/fax (603) 673-6234, e-mail, or visit the Odyssey web site.

Editors' Choices

The Editors' Choices are chosen from the submissions from the previous month that show the most potential or otherwise earn the admiration of our Resident Editors. Submissions in four categories--science fiction chapters, fantasy chapters, horror, and short stories -- receive a detailed review, meant to be educational for others as well as the author.

This issue's reviews are written by Resident Editors Jeanne Cavelos, Susan Marie Groppi, John Klima, and Karin Lowachee. The last four months of Editors' Choices and their editorial reviews are archived on the workshop. Go to the "Read, Rate, Review" page and click on "Editors' Choices."

Congratulations to the current Editors' Choice authors!

Editor's Choice, Fantasy Chapter


It's been a while since I touched on beginnings. I feel stupid typing this, but this is the first chance the reader gets to see your world. Make it interesting. Don't spend time laying out the foundations of history, characters' lineage, or the history of important artifacts; instead start with something compelling. In literary terms, this is in media res , or in the middle of things. This does not mean start in the heat of battle. The Scarlet Letter employs this technique as does the TV show Lost or even Heart of Darkness . Only one of these three examples actually starts in a, literal, explosion of action. All it means is that there is a history to the events currently taking place in your story. And you've laid them out in a way that the reader wants to dive into your story to uncover them.

Eric Foulkrod uses this technique in chapter 1 of his novel Tears of the Dead . I beg your patience while I quote the introductory paragraph from this chapter:

Two things I swear are true. The first, is that every moment I draw breath I wish I was at your side. And the second, my only wish that surpasses that, is to once again lie dead on a highland field of ice and ash.

The reader has no idea who has these thoughts, but is compelled to read on and learn who it is. There is a lot happening in this short paragraph. The speaker swears to these things being true, which implies that there are lies and false trails ahead. Also, there is a lost love, which is always a good source of tension for a story. Think The Trojan War or Hamlet or Perdido Street Station ; all of these stories turn their plots around love and loss. Lastly, the speaker was once dead. I don't know about you, but I'm curious to learn about someone who was once dead and is now alive. And tied together, it becomes the classic 'rather be dead if I can't have your love' concept.

This paragraph takes place before the words "chapter 1" and pulls the reader into the story. I'm hooked at this point. The person who has such intense feelings will lead the reader down a dangerous path full of action and adventure. This certainly won't be a boring ride.

That's not to say that Foulkrod doesn't make the occasional stumble. There are places where his word choice is awkward. In one part, Foulkrod calls a character a memory and follows this up by saying that she is "nothing more than memory and ash." The reader has just been told that this person is a memory, there's no need to restate it. Repeating what you've just said to the reader is distracting at best and off-putting at the worst. In this case, I like the phrasing memory and ash since it's similar to, but different from smoke and mirrors, so I would change the first instance of memory to something more like "She's in the past now " and follow that with the memory and ash line.

Later on, he speaks of seven villages and a resultant six plumes of smoke. As a reader, this implies to me that one village was spared. However, it becomes clear that the plume of smoke was not seen due to physical limitations due to a ridge trail. The phrase would read better as something along the lines of "He had seen six confirmed plumes of smoke and his mind created the other. " Please note that I am an editor, not an author.

It's a small thing, but Foulkrod spends some time with the Marshal, the main character of the second half of chapter, and his pipe. But when the Marshal is done with his pipe, he just lets it fall to the ground. There's no reason for him to have a pipe if he's going to dispose of it. Perhaps this is a theme of the Marshal's and he keeps searching for new pipes, better pipes. It feels like an oversight. A pipe is not something to just toss to the ground when done. I can see that with a cigarette or cigar, but not a pipe. If Foulkrod truly wants the Marshal to toss the pipe aside, some reason needs to be forthcoming. Perhaps this particular pipe reminds him of a lost love or a father who neglected him so he decides to toss it aside and find a new one. Perhaps he wants to give up the habit and is going through the extreme example of disposing of the pipe in order to quit. Whatever the reason is, either the Marshal should keep the pipe or the reader should know why he just tosses it aside.

For the rest of this review, visit the Editor's Choice area of the OWW site!

John Klima, Editor, Electric Velocipede

Editor's Choice, Science Fiction


It's not often that we see end chapters of a novel on the workshop, but they are worth looking at for these purposes because endings are often difficult for any writer and they pose a different sort of problem from beginnings. While in beginnings you need to capture the readers and hold onto them, one assumes by the ending you have held the readers thus far and they are anxious to see it all conclude, to reach their payoff. Different readers will accept different things in endings; not everyone needs a bow-and-tie conclusion in plot, but there should be some sense of resolution. In fact, sometimes if things are too neatly resolved the book can feel orchestrated (we all know novels are orchestrated but that should never be too apparent, or too felt.) If some parts of the plot are left to imagination or extrapolation, readers tend to want emotional resolution at the very least. We'll disregard avant-garde ways of storytelling for these purposes and deal with storytelling in a more prosaic fashion, as much of the examples on the workshop are adventure stories in one form or another. Thus many of your readers would not accept a hanging or symbolic sort of ending, where you have to chase a sense of conclusion (unless of course you have a sequel, but even then, too much of a cliffhanger or unresolved issues both in plot and character will likely aggravate a reader).

In this month's selection there is a definite sense of 'wrapping up,' if only because of the summary nature of the paragraphs. The chapter is also rather short, which may not really be necessary considering the following chapter is also not long. At this point in any novel it may not be necessary to chop up the narrative quite this much. Writers can sometimes get lazy towards the end where they feel it's a matter of wrapping up the tail end of a story, but pacing is important right to the last word to give a proper sense of completion, even if all the plot points might not be tied up. Having not read the entirety of the novel thus far, this isn't a commentary on 'bad' pacing in this particular chapter or on the specifics of this novel's plot, but in general it is something to watch as the writer perhaps revises the draft from start to finish. Any writer, upon completing a novel, should be explicitly aware of the pacing even after a climax point. You don't want to run the risk of dragging things out, but you also don't want to speed to the last sentence so quickly that the reader feels rushed, like you suddenly needed to chop down your word count.

There's no doubt that this writer is adept at storytelling; the prose is clean and the characters - even as they show up briefly - have a clear presence. There is a letter writing form, a transcript form, as well as a regular narrative - all of which should possess different tones. If the protagonist's letter writing voice sounded precisely the same as the regular narrative this would make the novel monochromatic in tone, but we see in the way Tom addresses his wife that it is with the language of someone not necessarily being the 'author,' which is a skill some writers don't have when they want to inject that technique in a novel. This points to a command of voice; though the author should be conscious of how they are portraying their character, it shouldn't be obvious to the reader that they are doing this. Using a letter writing technique in a book can help to illustrate a character so it's best to take colloquialism and personality into account and want to show that 'in their own words' as well as using it to convey more straightforward information.

For the rest of this review, visit the Editor's Choice area of the OWW site!

Karin Lowachee

Editor's Choice, Short Story

"Year of the Pearl" by Marguerite Croft

"Year of the Pearl" is the story of a brother and sister, both born to a woman in a celibate religious order, who each turn out to have an important role to play in the preservation of their world.

This story has, at its core, a gorgeous and interesting world. Jamie and Joshua live in a world that is governed by supernatural or magical forces that have a direct and often personal involvement in people's lives. I think you've shown real creativity in crafting this universe, and I thought it was clever to involve story elements that are superficially similar to features of our own world but that are revealed to function in more significant ways. For example, the naming cycle of the years (Year of the Garnet, Year of the Opal, etc.) reads at first like a simple analogue of familiar horoscope systems, but it becomes clear very quickly that they have real meaning in this world. I would actually like to have seen a little bit more of the magical underpinnings of this world.

I also found Jamie to be a completely believable character, which is a difficult thing for most authors to do when working with child protagonists. She's aware of the world around her without sounding quite like a miniature adult, and she has a child-like understanding of the world without ever being twee or precious. I particularly liked some of the little touches, like Jamie's comment that she knows she's special, she's the Tea-Bearer. It's a small thing, but a perfect reflection of a child's view of her place in the world.

Focusing the narrative on Jamie's perspective allows you to benefit from the fact that children often aren't as troubled by mysterious or unexplained events--everyone else may think that Joshua is a demon, but to Jamie, he's just her brother. An adult might be upset, or at least surprised, to learn that her dreams actually could come true, but Jamie accepts it without too much concern. You've written Jamie in such a way that this acceptance feels like a natural extension of a child's sense of wonder, and that's very nicely done.

Despite all of these strengths, the story as a whole felt a little bit undisciplined. A number of story elements seemed to be either not very well explained or not fully integrated. Jamie's dreams should have a greater prominence throughout the story--the piece opens with her recurring dreams, which indicates that they're very important, but we see very little of them, and they don't actually contribute much to the narrative. Joshua tells her that her dreaming is important, and it's a key part of resolving Jamie's character arc, in that it gives her a sense of identity other than just being her brother's keeper. I think this is a strong point in the story, that Jamie is important both for helping her brother and for her own talents and qualities, but it's undermined by the fact that her dreams aren't a larger part of the story. Even at the end, when the glowing pearl that she'd dreamed about turns out to be the key to saving Joshua, the dreams are essentially irrelevant to Jamie's actions--she digs the pearl out because Joshua tells her to, not because she has any insight from her own experiences as a dreamer.

I also had some concerns about the pacing in this story. There's a lot of repetition in the earlier scenes, but the pacing at the end is even more problematic. From the point where Joshua begins to be feverish until the point where his transformation is complete, the amount of space given to repeated descriptions of his illness is far out of proportion to the amount of new information conveyed in those passages. Conversely, the crucial revelation of Joshua's role as the Balancer goes by so quickly that it's almost possible to miss it entirely. As a result, the transformation (and the whole mystery of Joshua's condition) doesn't ever really make sense--Jamie seems to understand everything perfectly, but the reader has been given very few clues to figure out what happened. On multiple re-readings of the story, I've been able to piece together what feels like a coherent explanation, but the explanation feels more like guesswork on my part and less like something that I'm actually seeing in the story. (In case it helps, here's my explanation: the magical nature of this world, including the differences between the different Years, is something that requires oversight or regulation. This oversight is carried out by a magical being called a Balancer. Balancers have finite lifespans, and whenever one of them dies, another one has to be born, but the newborn Balancer doesn't come into his powers immediately. That's why there are so many references throughout the story to regular seasonal effects, like droughts and sicknesses and floods, being larger or more severe than normal, but that these effects even out once Joshua steps into his new role.) I would suggest that the entire section needs to be reworked, so that the really important parts are given a more thorough treatment.

For the rest of this review, visit the Editor's Choice area of the OWW site!

Susan Marie Groppi
Fiction Editor/Editor-in-Chief, Strange Horizons

Editor's Choice, Horror

THE CURSED, Ch. 1-3 by Cheryle Aman

In these opening chapters, Dr. Matthew Wright watches over a mysterious patient who has undergone an experimental procedure. Nearby, artist Brianna discovers snakes, reptiles, bugs, and coyotes struggling to break into her house. Kelly Stand, receptionist at the experimental care center, watches as a dead patient rises and walks. These chapters build some good suspense and a strong sense of foreboding. I feel certain that something horrifying is going to happen with the mysterious patient, and I'm very excited as the dead patient rises. The basic structure of the plot thus far works well.

The excerpt also has some nice pieces of description, such as this one:

"Then a hot pain shot across her forehead and something magnetic, like a missing particle of herself, pulled at her from the depths of the night."

That's very evocative.

I think there are three main areas that could be strengthened to make these chapters more powerful. First, the chapters could show more and tell less, particularly regarding characters' emotions. Cheryle, you do a good job of showing characters' emotions at times. One example is on p. 2: "Matt's muscles tightened, and his shirt felt suddenly too tight across his shoulders." You are showing me that he's anxious and frightened. But sometimes you tell emotions rather than showing them. By telling us the character's emotions, you keep us distant from the characters. For example:

"Expectation, stronger than usual, filled him."
"This menacing, mental seduction started about two months ago . . ."
"She didn't like them one bit."
"She had to take care of her friend."
If you can find ways to show these things, they will come across more powerfully.

The second area I'd like to discuss, point of view, also distances us from the characters. The point of view is third person limited omniscient, with each chapter showing us events through a different character. I think that's the best choice for the novel. But the POV often feels distant; it does not show us things as the POV character would really see them, or convey events as the POV character would experience them.

For example, in Ch. 1, Matt would not think of "his keen sensory abilities, born of long practice." This is an omniscient narrator standing at a distance from Matt, giving us a judgment about Matt. This is related to the first point I made, because you are basically telling us about Matt rather than showing us Matt's keen sensory abilities. Matt would notice specific medical changes in the condition of his patient, or other things, and that's what he'd be thinking about, not "his keen sensory abilities." The cause for this in part may be that you need to do more medical research, so you know the specifics that Matt would be noticing. I don't see much medical expertise displayed in this chapter, and to convince us that this is all really happening, and that Matt is really a doctor, you need to know how a doctor would think and what terms he would use. This is a problem for any author choosing a POV character who has knowledge that the author does not. It requires a lot of research.

Another example: "Outside the door, a gurney in need of oil moved down the hall toward the reception area." The opening phrase of this sentence takes me out of the room where Matt is sitting with the mysterious patient and into the hallway. I am no longer in Matt's head. I understand this is not what you intend, but it's an unintended POV shift. These happen all the time, and authors need to be very careful in how they phrase things, to make sure we stay in the POV we're supposed to be in. The quoted sentence is not really conveying how Matt would experience this event. He hears a squeak through the door, then deduces it's a gurney in need of oil. To create a POV that binds us closely to the POV character's head, you need to present the information in the order the POV character would experience it. For example, "A squeak from the other side of the door revealed a gurney being pushed toward the reception area."

For the rest of this review, visit the Editor's Choice area of the OWW site!

Jeanne Cavelos, editor, author, director of Odyssey


Sandra McDonald is back with her new book, THE STARS DOWN UNDER, from Tor. Her first book, THE OUTBACK STARS, got rave reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Both books are about love, duty, and really big spaceships. Sandra also has an impressive list of short fiction to her credit, all this while holding down a full-time job teaching college-level English composition. She's been a member of the workshop since 2002.

A former U.S. Naval officer, Sandra brings a palpable dose of realism to her stories that adds poignancy to the unique world she's created. Find out more about Sandra from her blog and web site where she posts her announcements and talks about writing. Here's our interview with Sandra McDonald.

Tell us a little about The Stars Down Under. Does it pick up where The Outback Stars left off?

It does! More or less. A few months have passed. Jodenny Scott and Terry Myell are now stationed on the planet Fortune, tackling new jobs while trying to find a balance between their professional and personal lives. Jodenny's working for an admiral -- lots of high stakes pressure there -- and Myell's supposed to be teaching at Supply School, but his new boss hates him. Things go downhill from there, of course.

Where did you get the idea for these books? Is it something you've wanted to write for a while?

The idea of a supply officer in deep space was one I'd been playing with since leaving the military, but the first chapter didn't get committed to paper until I went to the Viable Paradise workshop on Martha's Vineyard in 2001. That's where I met my fabulous mentor, James Patrick Kelly, and my future editors, Patrick Nielsen Hayden and James Macdonald. It was Viable Paradise that gave me a big kick in the butt, and the first draft was finished a year later.

I hear there's a lot of romantic suspense in The Stars Down Under. Do you like weaving a love story into your novels?

I'm a big believer in mixing romance with adventure and science fiction. A good love story, big spaceships, evil villains -- it's Star Wars, which I adored as a teenager. It's Star Trek, Stargate, Star-everything. I try to tell stories that my mom would enjoy, without the technobabble. And she likes a good love story. Like mother, like daughter.

How long have you been writing? Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I've been writing since I was wee! My first stories were about putting my baby brothers in the freezer. I'm pretty sure my parents didn't keep those (the stories, that is -- the baby brothers are all grown up now.) When I was in junior high I wrote about being a space princess from the planet Dia sent to Earth to grow up among the commoners. (Delusions of grandeur are pretty common among writers.) In high school I wrote fanfic based on reruns of "The Streets of San Franscisco" that my grandmother and I watched each afternoon -- she liked Karl Malden, and I had a huge crush on Michael Douglas. I still can't believe he quit and was replaced by Richard Hatch...

You have a military background and a lot of your experience seems to be incorporated in your novels. Did it also prepare you for the rigors of a writing life?

The biggest similarity between the military life and being a writer is getting the job done whether you want to or not. I had plenty of jobs that I disliked, as did my colleagues and sailors, but we did them anyway because we'd made a commitment to our country. No one wants to stand watch at oh-four-hundred, no one wants to muck out the head when it backs up, no one wants to be stuck on a deployment for nine months of the year. A writer's life is a cakewalk compared to that, but sometimes the words come easy and sometimes they come hard, and regardless, your butt has to be in the chair for the writing to happen.

What's an average writing day like for you?

Not nearly as long as I'd like it to be :-) I always have full time jobs -- these days that's mostly teaching college, with office temping thrown in -- and so writing gets done early in the morning, during lunch hours, during breaks, or late at night. And on weekends. The best writing tip I've heard in the last year is to put an "X" through my calendar on each day I meet my word goals. The idea is to have a chain of X's across the weeks and months -- visual confirmation, it turns out, is extremely motivating to me.

You have an awesome bibliography of short stories. Do you enjoy writing short stories as much as novels?

Short stories rock! I always tell aspiring writers that you can learn more and get published faster by working on short stories. There's something inherently satisfying about tackling new ideas, characters and situations in the space of a few thousand words. The market for them has diminished, and goodness knows the pay rate is abysmal, but dramatically speaking, I find them very rewarding to write. I'm also a huge fan of fanfic, as a writer and reader both, and take delight in how many professional writers continue to write it for fun.

What kind of fanfic do you like?

I used to write Highlander fanfiction -- dozens of those. And Sentinel. Emergency. Stargate. Planet of the Apes. I wrote a Supernatural/Highlander recently. Since working on the novels, I just haven't had time to do it -- which is a shame, because I love it! And I met a lot of great people that way who helped me become a better writer.

What do you think are the pros and cons of each kind of writing?

Short stories don't teach you how to sustain a plot over hundreds of pages. Novels can make you sloppy - there's a lot of room to digress and lose focus. Writing short stories is a lot faster and more fun (to me) than writing a novel -- they're like nice walks on a Sunday afternoon. Novels are year-long marathons that you have to keep in shape for and put in those miles, day after day after day, but the prize at the end is bigger.

What's next for you?

I'm finishing up book three in this cycle, THE STARS BLUE YONDER, for publication in 2009. I'd love to keep writing about Australians in outer space, but haven't made any commitments. I've been writing a murder mystery for my own amusement, and late last year I finished the first draft of a Young Adult sf novel that I'll be polishing this spring -- it's my Buckaroo Banzai for teenagers. Except there's no overthruster. And no John Lithgow.

If you could write any book, regardless of genre or marketability, what would it be?

There's a book in me about reincarnation and consequences and the cycle of life across the world stage. It'll be my opus, and it won't be published in the science fiction genre. I don't know if I can actually write it -- it might be the book that finishes me, instead of the other way around. I don't think I'll be ready to write the first page for another decade or two, maybe more.

Is there any one thing you've learned that you'd like to pass on to up-and-coming writers?

Get your butt in the chair (or the sofa, or bed, or bathtub) and get those fingers on the keys, every damned day. If you can only do five minutes, do the five minutes. But if at the end of the day you've watched TV, done the dishes, surfed the Internet, played Wii, gone clothes shopping and done just about everything else, without getting your fingers on the keys? That's a killer.

Publication Announcements

We can't announce them if you don't let us know! So send your information to Maria at newsletter (at) whenever you have good news to share.

Leah Bobet has sold her short story "Bell, Book, and Candle" to Clockwork Phoenix, an original anthology edited by Mike Allen. She says: Thanks to Amanda Downum, Rayne Hall, Chris Coen, Sylvia Volk, and Bo Balder for their helpful critiques when the story was workshopped! The anthology's release date is Spring 2008. Also, "Furnace Room Lullaby" -- also workshopped back in the day -- has been accepted at horror podcast Pseudopod. The story originally appeared in Fantasy Magazine #5. Thanks again to everyone who gave input on this piece on the 'shop!"

Aliette de Bodard made two more sales this month: "Ys" to Interzone and "Horus Ascending" to IGMS. "Neither of them went through the workshop, but they benefitted greatly from what I learnt there."

Rochita Loenen-Ruiz's story "Rituals of Grief" has been accepted for publication by Reflection's Edge. "This is my second sale to RE. The first one was in 2006. I think I passed 'Rituals of Grief' through the workshop sometime last year. Unfortunately, I don't remember everyone who read it. I do remember Fiona McDonald reading it as well as Calie Voorhis, Aliette de Bodard, and Marshall Payne."

Camille Picott's flash fiction story "Blood Rain" has been published in AlienSkin Magazine. "Thanks to F.R.R. Mallory for a great review!"

On Shelves Now

DIE SONNWENDHERRIN (Mistress of the Solstice), by Anna Kashina (Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, March 2008)

Marija, daughter of the greatly feared Czar Kaschtschej, is the Mistress of the Summer Solstice. According to an age-old prophecy, if the Mistress were ever to fall in love, the world would be plunged into chaos. There seems to be no danger of that as far as Marija is concerned--until Iwan appears on the scene. His eyes are the most beautiful cornflower blue and she finds she simply cannot forget them...

THE STARS DOWN UNDER by Sandra McDonald (Tor, March 2008)

Chief Terry Myell and Lieutenant Commander Jodenny Scott are in that most precarious of military situations, a mixed marriage. Enlisted and officer. It’s unnatural. Terry and Jodenny have been assigned to duty on the planet Fortune, away from the huge ships that carry colonists from the wreckage of polluted Earth to clean new worlds across the galaxy. But there’s another way besides spaceships to travel from world to world. A group within Team Space is exploring the Wondjina Spheres, a set of ancient alien artifacts that link places and times. Now those spheres have shut down and Team Space thinks that Terry and Jodenny are part of the key to make them work again —no matter how the two of them feel about it. They can volunteer, or be "volunteered"..."

THE VACANT THRONE by Joshua Palmatier (DAW, January 2008)

The city of Amenkor has managed to stave off the Chorl's deadly sea invasion, at an unthinkable price. But the Chorl have not been defeated. In order to survive, Varis-the reluctant Mistress of the city-and the citizens themselves must seek aid from their only ally: their sister city of Venitte. But Venitte holds a secret, one that could save the entire coast from the Chorl incursion...or be the key to the coast's ultimate destruction.

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