Upcoming Release: Warp Gate Concerto

Great news, readers! My new novella Warp Gate Concerto is almost here! First things first, check out the cover, made as always by the wonderful Natasha Snow:

Cover for Warp Gate Concerto by Dorian Graves; art by Natasha Snow.

Beautiful, isn’t it? But…what’s it about? Here’s the official description:

Nulani, Ashua, and Silna are alien soulmates on the run from their oppressive homeworld. When their past catches up to them, they find themselves lost and separated on a deadly jungle planet. To survive, they’ll have to face everything—from floral reptiles to pain-eating scientists—with only their wits and mind-altering music on their sides.

But they soon learn they aren’t the only ones in need of rescue. An underground laboratory houses genetically altered superweapon Kozrin, who is not only a reminder of the war they left behind…but is also their soulmate!

Can this ragtag group of polyamorous space pirates reunite, rescue their new love, and escape this deadly planet alive?

This fun piece of science-fiction comes out July 22nd. However, preordering through the NineStar Press website not only lets you grab the novella 3 days early, but you can also use the code “Preorder” for 30% off! That’s quite a steal for the misadventures of polyamorous space pirates.

More importantly: If this novella goes well, I’ll be able to write more stories in this weird, queer galaxy I’ve written up. I have so many more adventures to show you with the Psyrens and their crew, so help show some love for weird aliens. Preorders, reviews, every little bit helps.

Here’s looking forward to July 22nd!

~Dorian

PS: For those wondering, Warp Gate Concerto is not currently receiving a print release due to its small size. It’ll be ebook only, in whichever format you prefer. However, if I’m able to write more novellas in this universe, there may be a print collection out in the future…

Favorite Reads of 2017

Congratulations, dearest readers: you all made it to 2018! If your year was anything like mine, it was a roller coaster that was done before you even finished strapping yourself in. While most of it was a parade of bizarre news and awful weather, the year did have its bright spots. For me, one of the best perks of 2017 was all the books!

A quick confession: I’d actually taken a bit of a break from hardcore reading the past few years. Not to say I stopped reading entirely—an author that doesn’t read is like a scientist who doesn’t research, after all—but I had a hard time sticking with books that didn’t instantly grab me (or, if we’re being honest, fanfiction). I kept telling myself I was too busy to commit to a book, or that I was sick of over-analyzing stories after college.

Then “Bones and Bourbon” was accepted by Ninestar Press (and releases in three months, that’s so soon I can’t believe it), and in order to better get to know fellow readers and authors in my community, I volunteered to be a judge for the Rainbow Awards. Plus, I resumed social media and met all sorts of other authors on Twitter and Goodreads, ended up at the San Diego Comic Con and found more books, and so on. To make up for all the time lost, I threw myself headlong into reading, and now?

Now, I’m going to share with you my top ten favorite reads of 2017! There’s no particular order to this list; just a collection of books I enjoyed this year, from mainstream to indie, genre or otherwise.

  1. The Animal Man Omnibus, as written by Grant Morrison

    This whopper of a comic collection was what kicked off 2017 for me, being my 2016 Xmas gift from my partner. For those who don’t know what’s so special about Grant Morrison’s take on Animal Man, I won’t spoil the fun, but if you’re a fan of deconstructing superheroes, underutilized characters, and comic book metanarratives, Animal Man is a treat. I especially recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics (especially since they’re technically in the same universe…)

  2. Can’t Hide From Me by Cordelia Kingsbridge

    The first book I read for the 2017 Rainbow Awards, and one of my favorites to boot. This thriller has the perfect balance of conflict and romance, as its secret agent protagonists try to avoid both a killer and the threat of falling back in love with each other. All the characters are entertaining and well-developed (and diverse to boot!), the action is on point, and the use of tension is masterful.

  3. Haunting Muses, anthology curated by Doreen Perrine

    Four words: Lesbian Ghost Story Anthology. The premise alone is exciting, but all the stories within were so good! The definition of ghosts ranged wildly, from literal apparitions (some of who were the titular lesbians, but not always) to memories, ancestors, or even the faint reminders of a long-lost relationship. There are funny stories and dark ones, romances and tales of terrors, and even the sweetest zombie love story I’ve ever read.

  4. Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire

    I’ve been meaning to read more Seanan books for awhile now, having only experienced her pseudonym Mira Grant (and some of her music, actually). Discount Armageddon was one of the most fun reads I had, where just the protagonist’s view on life is enough to lighten the narrative. I also loved how many less-common creatures were used (or invented, such as the cuckoos), and how the few familiar creatures we saw were given unique twists—and being the worldbuilding geek I am, I loved all the realistic biological details. Hail!

  5. Fire Sea by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

    The third book in the Death Gate Cycle, Fire Sea wasn’t a quick read, but definitely a worthwhile one. Each book takes place on a different world, and this one is a slowly dying planet whose inhabitants utilize necromancy and the strength of the dead in order to keep the living alive. The concept alone was fascinating, but add in two rival protagonists who must work together to survive, even with conflicting ideas on what should be done with the knowledge of necromancy in their inter-planetary war? Moral AND magical conundrums, a delicious combination.

  6. Sweet Blood by Dusk Peterson

    Sweet Blood is a special entry in this list, because while I didn’t like all of it, it gave me the most to think about out of all the books on this list. It’s the fifth book in a series, is technically five novellas strapped together into one book, and starts with a sadistic torturer punishing one of his own—but while it’s certainly not for everyone, there’s such wonderful craft past that opening! Inspired by historical prison reforms, this novel brings up important moral questions about redemption, sacrifice, how to balance tradition and revolution, and so much more. Even minor characters have intriguing developments, there’s worldbuilding even in minor details like the presence of hot cocoa in the dungeon, and that sadistic torturer I mentioned? He’s so multifaceted and developed that he became one of my favorite characters. Still trying to wrap my head around that one.

  7. The Ancient Magus Bride by Kore Yamazaki

    I jokingly call this my guilty pleasure manga, but I admit, I’m a sucker for anything with properly dark faeries and magic. Not only is this series well-researched in regards to British folklore and detailed with its unique brands of magic, but it’s a story of hope overcoming despair, be it saving endangered dragons or just learning new magics at home. Plus, who doesn’t want to smooch the powerful, naive eldritch wizard with a skull head?…Just me, huh?

  8. Hearts of Darkness by Andrea Speed

    Another book that, while not perfect, was flat-out fun to read. The protagonist is a master supervillain’s son who comes into his own as he doublecrosses other villains and heroes alike, with the help of overpowered gadgets and an adorable assassin sidekick. The evil plans don’t experience too many hiccups, but sometimes, it’s fun to just watch a protagonist be openly wicked as he crushes his competition throughout the city. Plus, one of the “good guys” that gets thwarted is basically Batman, which I found outright hilarious.

  9. Ardulum: First Don by J.S. Fields

    First off, bonus points for not only having prominent aliens in this sci-fi story, but having almost all of the POV characters be aliens. Especially when those aliens come from such vastly different worlds and backstories (and are all apparently inspired by different types of fungi to boot)! I also like that as the plot goes on, ripples and repercussions arise across the different POVs, especially across the radio transmissions heading many of the chapters. It’s such a cool technique to holistically tie all the storylines and settings together.

  10. Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson

    First off: that art. Just look at that art a long moment. Then go read the comic and see how much more of a gut-punch the plot is, its gorgeous art refusing to shy away from the visceral and terrifying. You would think that animals solving occult mysteries would be cute and quirky like a Scooby Doo knockoff? Read this comic and let your perceptions be ripped apart to shreds. Then give your pets a nice, long hug.

And now, as a bonus entry:

  1. Utter Fabrication: A Historical Account of Unusual Buildings, curated by Dawn Vogel and Jeremy Zimmerman

    Okay, this one’s cheating a little, because I have a short story in it, “The Orpheus Well.” Of course I’m going to like it. But even if you completely ignore my story, all the other entries are so good and diverse! From haunted spaceships to disappearing bike racks and fantastical hideaways, this anthology explodes with cool ideas and nifty words. Little touches like the transition markers and the extra artwork show what a labor of love this was; I’m honored that I got to be a part of it.

There’s the verdict, dearest readers. Now, onto all the books of 2018—including mine!

~Dorian

Rainbow Awards 2017!

It might be a Monday, but I’m dancing my touchdown dance anyway. Not just for surviving another Thanksgiving/Black Friday double shift in retail, mind you (I already celebrated that…with alcohol and a few levels of Ratchet and Clank).

No, the reason I’m rejoicing is because this year, I volunteered to help judge for the 2017 Rainbow Awards, and I sent in my final review a few hours ago!

What are the Rainbow Awards, you ask? It’s a celebration of LGBT+ literature, full of diverse relationships and genres. Participants can enter their novels into the contest by donating to one of many LGBT+ charities, and then judges volunteer to read as many books as they’d like (in whatever genres they’d like, so they can avoid reading genres they prefer to avoid), rating each book in terms of Plot Development, Setting Development, Character Development, and Writing Style. There’s also a cover contest as well! There’s more information here if you’re interested in the details, either as a participant or judge for next year.

I ended up reading and reviewing fifteen books this year, which ended up being a lot of fun. I’d been in a reading funk for the past couple years, so being pushed to finish a bunch of books spanning different genres really helped overcome that. Especially since I’m usually not the sort to read anything too far outside of the sci-fi/fantasy genres, but I ended up with a lot of contemporary romances, mysteries, and thrillers that I really enjoyed.

One thing that really impressed me about the entries I read was the sheer diversity of it all. Most of the relationships presented were M/M, but I also got to read some lovely F/F anthologies, relationships with trans* and asexual characters, and even a polyamorous triad. Plus, a lot of the characters came from diverse ethnicities and backgrounds, and even positive portrayals of protagonists with mental illnesses, HIV+, and more. Healthy relationship practices like consent and boundaries were also explored in nearly every story, often so naturally that it didn’t even waylay the plot. It was so wonderful to read such inclusive fiction!

Also, since I’m a craft-analyzing nerd (thank you, copious college lit classes), I have to say, I had so much fun analyzing the techniques of all these authors. How did two authors manage to perfectly balance romance and danger, especially when one wrote a city-based thriller while the other presented a countryside recovery tale? Why did one book’s discussions of mental illness or magic feel dry and forced, while another by the same author was fresh and invigorating? What were the pros and cons of this book being split into five novella-esque sections, and how the hell did the author manage to make me flip my opinion on a sadistic prison leader? Did one author really manage to write two different short stories about heartbroken lesbians traveling Alaska without them being at all repetitive?! Why was nearly every story in the lesbian ghost story anthology so PERFECT?

I’m still basking in the glow of review-finishing achievement, especially since I left on a high note of a damn good book. I’m already looking forward to judging next year’s round of books—and seeing my own in the running, because “Bones and Bourbon” will be ready to rumble by the time the Rainbow Awards 2018 is open for business. Until then, I’ll wait and see which books manage to win this year, and resume posting my own reviews on Goodreads.

In the meantime, many thanks are in order. Most of all to Elisa Rolle, for all her hard work in managing these awards, from finding the books to herding all the judges and rounding up the reviews. To the judges who helped review all those entries, and to all the teams and publishing houses behind each book. And especially thank you to all the authors who participated and gave us readers all this wonderful rainbow of books to read from.

In this contest, everyone’s a winner.

~Dorian