If there’s one thing we love more than great sci-fi/fantasy cover art, it’s great sci-fi/fantasy cover art designed by Will Staehle, the creator behind many of our favorite genre covers of the last few years. Today, we’re pleased to bring you another wonderful example of Will’s work, which, even better, will be gracing a book that sounds fantastic.
This July, Anrgy Robot Books will publish The Interminables, the near-future fantasy debut of Paige Orwin, who was inspired to start writing when her favorite online video game was shut down in late 2012. (Sounds like our kind of people). We show off the full cover following the publisher’s blurb, and then keep reading for a guest post from Paige Orwin on what inspired the book, and click here to read an exclusive excerpt.
It’s 2020, and a magical cataclysm has shattered reality as we know it. Now a wizard’s cabal is running the East Coast of the US, keeping a semblance of peace.
Their most powerful agents, Edmund and Istvan — the former a nearly immortal 1940s-era mystery man, the latter, well, a ghost — have been assigned to hunt down an arms smuggling ring that could blow up Massachusetts.
Turns out the mission’s more complicated than it seemed. They discover a shadow war that’s been waged since the world ended, and, even worse, they find out that their own friendship has always been more complicated than they thought. To get out of this alive, they’ll need to get over their feelings, their memories, and the threat of a monstrous foe who’s getting ready to commit mass murder…
And here’s Paige Orwin to talk about writing “an avatar of war.”
One of the main characters of The Interminables is basically an avatar of war. An avatar of a specific war. Now, this presents some issues.
Quick summary: Istvan Czernin is a ghost who exists the way he does because of the outpouring of violence and suffering that came with World War One. It preserved his memory, like a fossil: no real bone left, just the impression of what it looked like. It brought him back just in time to personally fight in the Italian Alps, and because of what he is, he remembers every detail every participant ever had during the fighting–from their perspective, so he knows exactly how horrible it was for everyone.
His side lost. His country disintegrated. He was left over, this ghostly thing that embodies the notion of trench fighting and attrition and pointless violence down to the barbed wire that follows him around. So of course he spent the next eighty years globe-hopping from war to police action to war, picking sides for increasingly petty reasons – he only stopped when he was captured and chained down by a band of wizards – and he did this because pain and violence is a drug to him. Warfare draws him like a beacon. The best and prettiest landscape, as far as he’s concerned, is one with no trees because they’ve all been blown up. He finds himself daydreaming about killzones and rubble, and while he also happens to be a surgeon, he can’t deny that part of the appeal of his job is just being around people who are suffering. He doesn’t even remember most of the battles he fought.
He also happens to be the book’s primary voice for moderation and peaceful solutions.
While doing research for the book, I came across this thing called the “iron harvest.” It’s when French farmers dig up live munitions from World War One when tilling their fields. This is still happening. This happens every year. Every year.
Istvan knows what he is. He knows what people can do to each other, and he knows that, in the end, no parade and no memorial will be worth the price. Istvan is a character who revels in bloodshed, who can’t help but romanticize the notion of war as pageantry and fervor and drama, and yet who in his most rational mind holds the firm belief–from over a century of experience–that it’s all really just murder. It isn’t glamorous and it’s never right. As far as he’s concerned, war is a great lie and a bad habit that always ends with innocent people drowning in the mud.
That’s why I wrote The Interminables the way I did. That’s why violence isn’t ever presented as the best solution. It would undermine Istvan’s entire character: if fixing things were that simple, he would have already won. He’s the best at violence. Violence is fun. Violence is easy. Violence makes lots of difficult people go away and then you don’t have to worry about them anymore.
It will be over by Christmas. It will always be over by Christmas.
Paige Orwin was born in Utah and now lives in Washington state, next to a public ferry terminal and a great deal of road construction. She is the proud owner of a BA in English and Spanish from the University of Idaho. She also survived the 8.8 Chilean earthquake in 2010, which occurred two days after her arrival in the country (being stubborn, she stayed an entire year anyway). You can find her online, and on Twitter @PaigeOrwin.