Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

In 2014 Ancillary Justice won both the Nebula and the Hugo, but that’s only the beginning. It also went on to win the BSFA Award, Arthur C. Clarke Award and Locus Award. In a single year, it has become one of the most decorated books in the history of science fiction. Story Con Author William Hertling has a review.


If you’re a fan of science fiction space epics, stop reading now, and go buy Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie.

I can’t recall whether I discovered Ancillary Justice because of the front cover blurb by John Scalzi, or this compelling synopsis:

On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was the Justice of Toren–a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of corpse soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.

An act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with only one fragile human body. And only one purpose–to revenge herself on Anaander Mianaai, many-bodied, near-immortal Lord of the Radch.

It’s a really interesting premise with great execution. The story alternates two timelines, both told from the protagonists point of view. In one, the protagonist is the starship’s AI that controls both ship and thousands of human-bodied robot soldiers. In the other, taking place twenty years later, the AI has been reduced to just a single one of those bodies, carrying out her mission over twenty years.

Ann Leckie masterfully describes the underlying culture and politics, tying together both plot and cultural details and values. Although space empires are a common setting in scifi novels, making up an entire subgenre, the storytelling is fresh and wonderful.

William Hertling is the author of the best-selling technothrillers Avogadro Corp, A.I. Apocalypse, and The Last Firewall. His first novel for kids age 8-12, The Case of the Wilted Broccoli, came out this summer. A writer and computer programmer, he lives in Portland, Oregon. You can follow him on twitter or sign up for his mailing on

We’re in the Columbian this Sunday!


I just got the official word that the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District is putting an ad in the Columbian this week. I am really thrilled with the partnership Story Con is developing with The Vancouver Community Library and the library district. I just wanted to give a huge shout out to Jennifer Huan, Jackie Spurlock and the other staff there. They are making this all possible.

At the district level a huge thank you goes out to Amy Scott, Sue Vanlaanen, and Christina Cain from the graphics department gets credit for our great logo.

Thank you all so much! I appreciate all your work!

Erik Wecks

Neptune’s Brood By Charles Stross


I’m a big fan of Charles Stross’s science fiction. He’s absolutely brilliant (listen to some of his talks on YouTube if you get the chance, or go read his blog posts), and it always comes across in his fiction.

On one level, Neptune’s Brood is a classic space opera novel involving interstellar space travel, colonization, and space battles.

On another level, Neptune’s Brood is a careful study of what you get when you rigorously think about how economic principles, human uploading, transhumanism, the limitations of light speed, and the cost moving matter apply to developing an interstellar civilization.

In other words, it’s the type of very smart fiction you expect from Charles Stross.

The occasional pitfall of uber-smart fiction is that it can sometimes be a challenge to read. If the ideas come too fast or require too much effort to grok, the reader ends up working so hard to understand things that the reading loses its fun. Stross manages to avoid that pitfall here. It’s an enjoyable, straightforward read underlaid with a foundation of brilliance.

You can get Neptune’s Brood on Amazon, and I’m sure everywhere else as well.


William Hertling is the author of the best-selling technothrillers Avogadro Corp, A.I. Apocalypse, and The Last Firewall. His first novel for kids age 8-12, The Case of the Wilted Broccoli, came out this summer. A writer and computer programmer, he lives in Portland, Oregon.

What a Great Story Con Panel Looks Like


Story Con is dedicated to helping the reader find their next great book. The job of the panel at Story Con is to expose the reader to new books and great authors.

  • A great Story Con Panel won’t focus much on the writer’s process.
  • It will focus on presenting a great conversation about books written by the panelists.
  • It won’t talk about what’s on the writer’s iPod.
  • It could talk about how music is important to the plot of a novel.
  • It won’t talk about why self-publishing is better (or worse).
  • It could talk about how readers can sort through the books on Amazon to find the truly great ones.
  • It could be topical or a survey of a genre.
  • It could be an interview of one substantial author.
  • Or it could be a conversation between several authors.
  • Whatever it does, it will showcase at least one book written by each author on the panel allowing the reader to get an idea of its content or themes.

For example here are two panels facilitated by Erik Wecks at the Wizard World Comic Con this past Winter.

Speed Dating with Speculative Fiction Authors:
Need a new book to read? Are you tired of looking for the needle in a haystack of drivel? Here’s your chance to hear an elevator pitch and a short reading by local fantasy and science fiction authors. Ask questions, find a great read, and purchase the books you want on the spot.

Does the Sci in Science Fiction Matter?
Why is it everyone loves Star Wars, but comparatively few will read a science fiction book? Lovers and haters, gather with three local science fiction authors to discuss what works and what doesn’t, and tell us what would make science fiction sing.

Story Con welcomes panel submissions by both traditionally published and independently published authors of all fiction genres. Panels will be selected for how closely they follow the criteria above and for their ability to attract an audience. Authors with few fans should seek to find other authors who will be able to draw readers to the con. You can propose a panel here.

Panel submissions are open from June 3 to June 30th.

photo credit: the bbp via photopin cc

What Readers Can Expect At Story Con!


Story Con is designed for readers.

This year we are being hosted at the Vancouver Community Library in downtown Vancouver, WA. If you haven’t been there. It’s a great space with great design aspects and good places to read or study. It also has three rooms that we will be able to use.

Story Con is all about helping readers get a chance to interact with quality authors who have great books available to read. At Story Con you can expect to find authors doing readings from their work. You can also find great panel discussions on topics related to genres such as romance, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.

If all goes well you will also have a chance to purchase their books on site and get a copy signed.

What you will not find at Story Con are writers sitting around talking about the intricacies of their I-pod playlist, whether they find it more enjoyable to write with the window open or closed, or whether they are a “pantser” or a “plotter.” (Its an industry thing. Don’t worry about it.)

We want our writers to save their networking and shoptalk for the pub. This convention is for you and we hope you enjoy it.

If you have any ideas about what you might want to see drop us a line at

 photo credit: aurelio.asiain via photopin cc

Authors, we need your help!


StoryCon is a convention laser focused on helping readers find their next great read and we need your help!

StoryCon will be running eighteen panels during our convention, and if you are an author local to the Pacific Northwest, we want you to help us fill them with fantastic content.

We need reader focused panels in the following areas:

  • Romance
  • Thriller
  • Fantasy
  • Science Fiction
  • Contemporary Fiction
  • YA
  • Historical Fiction
  • Humor Fiction
  • Graphic Novels
  • Mystery

If you are a writer and can contribute to one of these areas, sign up for the mailing list and watch this site. On or about June 1st we will open up for panel proposals with a full guide to our requirements.

For now, just remember the panel topics should be reader focused. We are not a writers convention, and we don’t want our panels to become writers talking shop. These panels are designed to allow readers to connect with authors and pick out great books to read.

Also, panels need to create an audience. A successful panel will have some kind of a draw, either by topic or people on the panel.

If you want to know more about our convention and what it’s about, you can check out the tabs across the banner at the top of the screen.


photo credit: pedrosimoes7 via photopin cc