Kristine Kathryn Rusch is an award-winning author who has written fiction in many genres – including science fiction, horror, romance and mystery as well as what she is best known for, fantasy. As if that weren’t enough, she has also found time to edit a number of genre magazines. With all of this on her plate, it constantly surprises me to see that she is able to produce original, inventive and thought-provoking short stories and novels. Take one of her most famous efforts, Hitler’s Angel, which tells the story of Annie, a young American student in the 1970s investigating the death of Hitler’s niece Geli Raubal, who was famously found dead of a gunshot wound in 1931. Although at the time Geli’s death was ruled suicide, the suspicion of murder has always remained and Annie finds and interviews the retired detective in Munich who led the original investigation in the 1930s. Slowly but surely, in a tale often told in flashback by the detective, layer upon layer of mystery surrounding Geli’s death is lifted and the horrifying truth is revealed. I’ve often thought that Hitler’s Angel might make a terrific film, not least because of Rusch’s startling ability to create pictures with her prose and this is a common feature of much of her writing.
For those looking for more traditional fantasy fare, one of Rusch’s most successful series of novels concerns her world of ‘The Fey’. Set in an alternate world which the elf-like Fey, who can be cruel and capricious, have largely conquered, this is a series which is epic in scope, crossing worlds and centuries. Whilst the universe that Rusch presents is richly imagined, what makes these novels stick in my mind is the fact that they are filled with magic, treachery, and unexpected love. These Fey are a million miles away from Tolkien’s elves and are presented with all of the flaws that humans have, but magnified to a dramatic extent. Be warned, Rusch does not stint on the violent, sexual side of the Fey either; the story is often unpredictable and filled with shocking turns of events. For me, though, this is what ensures that the series remains fresh and readable even fifteen years after the first book was published.
As well as historical mystery and fantasy, Rusch is a highly respected science fiction author and has written a number of tie-in novels in the Star Trek, Star Wars and X-Men universes. In my view, however, Rusch’s finest sci-fi work is set in her own created worlds, in particular her stories about Boss, a sort of female Indiana Jones from the future. In Diving into the Wreck and City of Ruins, we are treated to high-adrenaline, imaginative tales of intrigue and danger set in strange galaxies full of weird discoveries for Boss. Boss makes an appealingly no-nonsense first person narrator, which keeps the reader grounded during her otherwise fantastical adventures.
The above is just a snapshot of a writer of extraordinary versatility and I’d recommend that you seek out one of Rusch’s short stories if you’re thinking of reading any of her novel series. If you like what you read, the chances are that you’ll find Rusch’s writing style engaging enough to give her more substantial work a try. Being the nice, kind blogger that I am (!) I thought I’d give you a start. The following link will take you to one of Rusch’s most recently published short stories Unnatural Disaster – enjoy!