Elizabeth Bear

Hieroglyph’s Elizabeth Bear publishes Karen Memory, a steampunk Western

February 11, 2015 in Hieroglyph

Karen MemoryOne of our talented Hieroglyph contributors, Elizabeth Bear, just published a new Old West steampunk novel, Karen Memory, with Tor Books on February 3.

This book has it all. To wit:

  • A bordello
  • Mind-control technology
  • A serial killer
  • Electrocuting gloves
  • Airships
  • A Singer sewing machine mecha-suit
  • A meticulously factual burning building scene
  • Gunfights
  • Political intrigue

…you get the idea.

For me, Karen Memory epitomizes something that speculative fiction does uniquely well: help us more clearly see and understand the nuances of our history by putting it into a fantastical context. A major theme of novel is that the Old West was far more diverse than we tend to think, according to the popular and historical depictions that form our cultural imaginary. Bear’s racially, sexually (and otherwise) diverse portrayal of the Old West is arguably much more accurate than many of the more “realistic” and factual sources that are readily available to us as cultural consumers. And this message comes across much more clearly and urgently through the novel’s steampunk grammar than it does in most historical movies or women’s and ethnic studies monographs (at least from my perspective as a card-carrying feminist scholar).

Over at NPR, Jason Heller writes, “Karen Memory breezes by at a leisurely pace, a bracing yet charming adventure yarn that never feels forced, despite the brassy confidence of its delivery.”

Of course, this is all a way of saying that you should definitely check out the book. It’s on sale now at your finer booksellers, and on her website, Bear has posted a roundup of online and offline places where you can pick it up.

Joey Eschrich is the editor and program manager at the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University. He earned his bachelor's degree in Film and Media Studies in 2008 and his master's degree in Gender Studies in 2011, both from ASU.

Featured Contributor: Elizabeth Bear

October 21, 2013 in Authors, Featured Contributors, Hieroglyph

Elizabeth Bear has accomplished quite a lot during her science fiction career. The awards alone are almost endless: a John W. Campbell Award in 2005 for Best New Writer, an Audie Award in 2012 for Best Original Work, a Sturgeon Award, a Locus Award, three Hugo Awards…the list goes on and on.

Author Elizabeth Bear

After working across the spectrum of disciplines – from stable hand to typesetter and layout editor – Elizabeth now spends most of her time writing speculative fiction, although she is a frequent traveler between genre boundaries. She is infamous for her ability to jump around a variety of time periods, realms and styles with fearless agility and exceptional consistency. Breaking down this particular quality, she explained in an interview with Tor.com, “I’m one of those writers who has a hard time repeating herself, so all of my work is quite different.”

Elizabeth is also noted for her diverse approach to creating characters. Although frequently asked to elaborate on her goals for introducing such a diverse range of gender, race, identity and sexual preference into her work, Bear’s response is simple: “What I write reflects the world I know. My friends and family are not exclusively white and straight, so it would seem peculiar to me for the world I wrote in to be.”

Elizabeth lives in Massachusetts. She is a regular instructor at the Viable Paradise writers’ workshop in Martha’s Vineyard, and has also taught at Clarion, Clarion West, the WisCon Writer’s Respite and Odyssey.

Photo courtesy of Kyle Cassidy, source www.elizabethbear.com. Thank you Kyle Cassidy!

Lauren Pedersen was born and raised in Tempe, Arizona to a writer and a helicopter pilot. She is currently pursuing her two passions of art and design at Arizona State University, where she continues to work towards a bachelor's degree in Design Studies with a focus in Design History, and a minor in Art History.