We talk about unequal societies a lot on this show, about privilege and power and who is in a position to use it. We wanted to take a critical look at a subgenre that maybe best reflects the democratic, bureaucratic society that many of us experience every day.

Some of our favourite books fall under the umbrella of political fantasy, as it’s come to be called. These are the stories set in the halls of power, in front of and behind the throne, in offices and secret rooms. It might not be as obvious as a marching battalion, or a bolt of magical lightning, but it is often more potent.

Joining us tonight is Katherine Addison, whose much-loved novel, The Goblin Emperor, is – we feel –political fantasy at its best.

Her latest book, The Witness for the Dead, is set in the same world as The Goblin Emperor, though is another standalone (note: NOT a sequel!). The book is out now!

‘War is diplomacy conducted by other methods.’

Texts and authors mentioned in this episode include:

  • The Traitor by Seth Dickinson
  • She Who Became the Sun by Shelley P. Chan
  • J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The Tough Guide to Fantasy Land by Diana Wynne Jones
  • Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner
  • George R. R. Martin
  • Shakespeare
  • Raymond Chandler

Katherine Addison is the pen name of Sarah Monette.

She grew up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, one of the three secret cities of the Manhattan Project. She got her B.A. from Case Western Reserve University, her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Despite being summa cum laude, none of her degrees is of the slightest use to her in either her day job or her writing, which she feels is an object lesson for us all.

She currently teaches for Ashland University’s low-residency MFA program.

She lives near Madison, Wisconsin, with her spouse, cats, and books.