What if the creators of fictional worlds could actually live in them? That, in a nutshell, is the premise of Worldshaper, the latest book by Aurora Award-winning Canadian science fiction and fantasy author Edward Willett, and the first book in his new series, Worldshapers, published by DAW Books.
Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, calls Worldshaper, a “rollicking secondary-world contemporary fantasy” that “sets up a fascinating, fluctuating universe with plenty of room for growth for the main characters,” and adds, “Readers will eagerly join their journey.”
Booklist says Worldshaper is “fun, quirky, and highly enjoyable, nicely laying the groundwork for future volumes.”
Worldshaper is the story of Shawna Keys, living what seems an idyllic life as the book begins: she’s just opened her pottery studio in a small Montana city, she has a boyfriend and a best friend, she’s looking forward to the rest of her life—and then, suddenly, everything changes. Terrorists attack the coffee shop where she’s gone with her friend Aesha, killing Aesha and many others. The leader of the masked attackers touches her, calls her by name—and then points a gun at her head. She’s about to die, but she refused to believe it’s happening…and just like that, it isn’t. The attackers are gone and the coffee shop is intact—but Aesha and everyone else who was killed has vanished. In fact, no one else even remembers they existed!
A stranger, Karl Yatsar, shows up and explains to Shawna that the world she thinks is the only world is, in fact, a construct: a world she Shaped to be the way it is. Not only that, there is an entire Labyrinth of Shaped worlds, and all are in danger from the Adversary who has invaded her world and will, inevitably, steal it away from her. Karl tells her she cannot save her own world, but has the power to save all these other worlds, by travelling through them, absorbing the knowledge of how each has been Shaped from the Shapers living within each one, and transporting that knowledge to Ygrair, the woman at the centre of the Labyrinth, and the one who, though Shawna inexplicably doesn’t remember it, gave her this world to Shape in the first place.
In Worldshaper, Karl and Shawna flee through a world changing around them, sometimes at Shawna’s behest, sometimes at the Adversary’s, to escape through a Portal into the next world. The series will take Shawna from world to world, each unique—steampunk worlds, worlds plagued by vampires and werewolves, film noir worlds, epic fantasy worlds—as she tries to save as many as she can from the Adversary. Along the way, Shawna will face many challenges, physical, spiritual, and ethical, as she comes to grips with her power, and the responsibility of creators for the worlds they create.
Worldshapers, the series, is essentially a metaphor for readers travelling into the fictional worlds of books and encountering the authors of those books. In conjunction with that, Willett has also launched a podcast, The Worldshapers (www.theworldshapers.com), in which he talks to his fellow science fiction and fantasy authors about how they shape their fictional worlds. Each episode focuses on a specific book or books chosen by the featured author. Willett talks with the author about how he or she became interested in the fantastic and began writing it, and then in detail about the creating of that particular book or books, from inspiration through first draft through revisions through editing, and finishes with some philosophical discussion of why that author writes.
Edward Willett is the award-winning author of more than sixty books of science fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction for readers of all ages. Besides Worldshaper, other recent novels include the stand-alone science fiction novel The Cityborn (DAW Books), the fivebook Shards of Excalibur YA fantasy series for Coteau Books, the Masks of Aygrima fantasy trilogy (written as E.C. Blake for DAW), and the Peregrine Rising science fiction duology for Bundoran Press. In 2002 Willett won the Regina Book Award for best book by a Regina author at the Saskatchewan Book Awards, and in 2009 won the Aurora Award (honoring the best in Canadian science fiction and fantasy) for Best Long-Form Work in English for Marseguro.
He has been shortlisted for Saskatchewan Book Awards and Aurora Awards multiple times. His nonfiction runs the gamut from local history to science books for children and adults to biographies of people as diverse as Jimi Hendrix and the Ayatollah Khomeini. In addition to writing, he’s a professional actor and singer, who has performed in numerous plays, musicals, and operas. He lives in Regina, Saskatchewan, with his wife, Margaret Anne Hodges, P.Eng., their teenaged daughter, Alice, and their black Siberian cat, Shadowpaw.
His main website is www.edwardwillett.com, and he can be found on Twitter @ewillett and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/edward.willett. The Worldshapers podcast can be found at www.theworldshapers.com, and on Twitter @TheWorldshapers.