I’ve mentioned before, both in an episode of the FFFIC reviews, and in a written review, HERE, how much I LOVED Pip Ballantine and Tee morris’s steampunk adventure novel, PHOENIX RISING: A MINISTRY OF PECULIAR OCCURRENCES novel, and it looks like I’m not the only one. Read one, dear friends, read on:
HARPER VOYAGER AUTHORS WIN AWARD FOR BEST STEAMPUNK IN 2011
When Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris set out to write their first novel, Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel, they were optimistic it would perform well as the “steampunk” genre has been gradually on the rise in popularity. What these new authors didn’t expect is for their book, just six months after its release, to win the 2011 Airship Award for Best Steampunk Literature of the Year. The Airship Awards were presented on October 14 in Seattle, Washington as part of SteamCon III, a prominent steampunk convention celebrating the “alternative history” of a technology-enhanced Victorian Age. Now, Tee and Pip make a place for themselves in this subculture of science fiction, and begin to look ahead for the future of their series from Harper Collins.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Tee Morris exclaims. “This is my first mass market release, and even though I’ve had other books both in fiction and non-fiction in print, Phoenix Rising leapt out of the gate swinging and has not let up since, and it’s only been six months.”
On the weekend of its release, Phoenix Rising topped the charts at Borderland Books, one of San Francisco’s outstanding independent book vendors; but before the book even left the presses, their steampunk adventure had sold in Germany, Russia, Australia, and New Zealand, and was topping iTunes’ Literature charts with Tales from the Archives, a podcast of short stories set in the world of Phoenix Rising. Tee & Pip’s debut title also joined the ranks of Audible with award-winning narrator James Langton reading the text. The couple just recently discussed steampunk and the return of high fantasy as guests of New York Comic Con, an event catering to over 100,000 fans of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, and featuring stars of screen, television, and print.
“I get the feeling America wants me to stay here,” says New Zealand native Pip Ballantine. “My first book won an award for its cover art, and now two months later I win an award with Tee. And, just before all these accolades, I signed a third book contract.” Pip has also been writing high fantasy under her full name “Philippa.” With Ace, Pip has written Geist and Spectyr with Wrayth coming in 2012. Also in 2012, Pip will see Hunter and Fox hit the shelves, courtesy of Pyr Books. “Okay, America, I’ll stay.”
Described as “a steampunk X-Files,” Phoenix Rising is set in the history of Victorian England, but not the history that we know. The genre of “Steampunk” is best described as the works of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne come to life. Modern conveniences like computers, airships, and mechanized monsters are present in this alternative 19th Century; and the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences investigates the strange, the unknown, and the bizarre. The book’s main characters, New Zealand operative Eliza D. Braun and British Archivist Wellington Thornhill Books, first find themselves in an unexpected partnership; but then discover themselves at the center of a conspiracy against the Empire. Beauty & Lace magazine describes Phoenix Rising as “… a sensational steampunk inaugural offering from the team of Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris. This book is fast paced, well written and extremely thought provoking while remaining a lot of fun.” and GeekLife.com says “This is a … book that does Steampunk right.”
“We are thrilled to receive this distinction,” Tee says, “but now we need to look forward. Currently, we are in edits for the second book, and that is centered around steampunk suffragists; Pip and I are laying down the groundwork for their third adventure. Its working title is By Dawn’s Early Light, so you can imagine where we are planning to take our characters.”
Pip adds, “We have raised the bar for ourselves, and we have so many possibilities with this series. And we’re still having fun with Agents Books and Braun, so Tee and I can’t wait to see what’s waiting for us down the road.”
The 2011 Airship Awards Finalists for Best in Literature were:
Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris
The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder (a winner of the P.K. Dick Award)
Camera Obscura by Lavie Tidhar
The Half Made World by Felix Gilman