You’ll need more than sun cream in Jaine Fenn’s Hid­den Sun

SFX - - Red alert -

As a fan of both science fic­tion and fan­tasy, Jaine Fenn en­joys the best of both worlds. The first in­stal­ment in the Hid­den Em­pire au­thor’s Bro­ken Shadow duol­ogy, the new novel Hid­den Sun takes place in the postapoc­a­lyp­tic so­ci­ety of Shen where the pop­u­la­tion is forced to hide away from the deadly sun­light in iso­lated shad­ow­lands.

“As a fan of odd jux­ta­po­si­tions, I’m all for blurred edges and genre mash-ups, and Hid­den Sun does have el­e­ments of both fan­tasy and sci-fi,” Fenn ex­plains. “The hu­man so­ci­eties of the shad­ow­lands are, for cul­tural and prac­ti­cal rea­sons, low-tech, mak­ing them recog­nis­ably fan­tasy, but out in the sky­land, you’re on an alien planet.”

Able to ex­plore an in­ter­est in science that is un­be­com­ing of her gen­der, main char­ac­ter Rhia’s no­ble sta­tus al­lows her to defy ac­cepted conventions usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with be­ing a woman. “I faced some tough choices with Rhia be­cause she’s largely obliv­i­ous of the priv­i­leges her class gives her, at least ini­tially,” ex­plains Fenn. “But with­out those priv­i­leges she wouldn’t be free to op­er­ate rel­a­tively freely in a man’s world.”

On top of her brother’s in­ex­pli­ca­ble dis­ap­pear­ance, Rhea is also con­fronted with a vi­o­lent homi­cide that rocks her world. “I like to chill out with a good mur­der,” Fenn re­veals. “I’ve wanted to use the de­vice of a mur­der be­ing solved in a SFF plot for a while, as it lends a great ur­gency and con­sis­tency to a story.” SJ

Hid­den Sun is pub­lished on 4 Septem­ber.

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