Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Well, I'm back, she said...

Or maybe this shd. be titled After Long Silence, the alternate title of Sheri S. Tepper's The Enigma Score.
I don't, however, mean to use the Gandalfian update on absence: "Wherever I have been, I'm back." In fact, I shall probably comment on where I've been at some length, and with pictures to boot.
But for an opening salvo, let's update on the writing from Where We Were when I left. At the beginning of September when:
"The Honor of the Ferrocarril" had come out in June in Gears and Levers 3.
It's now also out in Across the Spectrum from Bookview Cafe Press. 
"Spring in Geneva" was going up in instalments on the blog, and due out from Aqueduct.
Now out from Aqueduct in October, with a wonderful cover thanx to the graphics skills of Kath Wickham at Aqueduct. Paper version only at the moment, but an ebook on the way. Check out and/or order on Amazon here

"The Price of Kush", or by its working title, "Candace," is in process of formatting for an ebook with Milton Davis for Griots II: Sisters of the Spear. Seen some of the art, and it is sensational. Holding breath that there might be some for Candace as well.
And while I was away, amazing, wonderful. A post popped up in my Inbox about a manuscript I'd sent off before I left, with v. little expectations. I even left the answer till last to open, thinking, Only another rejection, let's not bring ourselves down till we have to. But again, lo and behold! Amazement. "The editor loved it," quoth the publisher. "Do I work directly on the contract with you?"
Hosanna! Hosanna and Huzza!
So, the fourth Amberlight book, titled Dragonfly, shd. be coming out from Jupiter Gardens Press in the near future, both p.o.d. and e-versions I expect. Nowhere near the proofs, even yet, let alone actual release, but it's on the way.
And my current frustration is that I knocked up a placemarker cover when I e-booked the ms to read on my Kindle:

 From an image I collected off the Web when writing the ms. But now, hanged if I can locate it to ask permission for its texting-over (no, the title and name weren't there on the original) and use as a cover. Dratsab, dratsab, dratsab, as Lois Bujold's  Temple sorceress likes to say in The Hallowed Hunt.
So, if anybody who sees this took the photo, or knows who did, or can re-find it on the Web, let me know, please! A comment on the  bottom of this post will work pretty well.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Table of Mythical Beasts

And again, my post for this month's topic.
The “mythical” in this title cd mean, firstly, non-existent, including invented beasts, or secondly, beasts out of myth and legend, non-existent or not.
A fantasy writer inventing a beast from scratch naturally asks, Can I make this seem original? A fantasy writer looking to a legendary beast – a dragon, a unicorn - knows that s/he faces the answer given by one of Barbara Hambly’s vampires, when asked if they had ever tried to use other ways of getting blood: “Everything has been tried.”
And with the famous mythical beasts everything HAS been tried. Yet, perversely, if you do use/recycle one, yours will never be quite the same as every other version. If only because your writing style, hopefully in a good sense, is not like anyone else’s.
Way back in the last century, before I ever wrote anything that cd. be labeled fantasy, I did decide to write a fairytale. It had only two parameters: it started with “once upon a time,” and it had a monster/weird thing per chapter. At the time my brain was stuffed with enthusiastic research into antiquity, and the second parameter was a cake-walk. Said “monsters” included an Assyrian hawk-headed god, a chimera, of sorts, a serpent oracle, a couple of Gilgamesh Scorpion Men, and, among others – a unicorn.
I did not actually think, how can I make this unicorn original? Nor did I rehearse all the versions I knew, right down from James V of Scotland’s famous “Fenced Unicorn” tapestry that I finally saw in 2012 in Stirling Castle.  I didn’t even recall the airiest and most delicate of the modern sugar and good-magic incarnations, in Peter Beagle’s The Last Unicorn. Mine just came through the avenues of the story – written in longhand, omg – and – um – there it was.
At this point, Our Hero and his Faithful Sidekick (I was also very traditional about questers in those days) had passed the set-up stage,  weathered their early tests and were facing Serious Danger Number One – Lost in Desert During Murderous Pursuit. Which had modulated to Lost in Desert in a Sand-storm. Anddd:
Perhaps it was the thirst that made them heedless when the wind’s regular onslaught broke into veering gusts; and perhaps it was the thirst that hid from them the way the sand now crunched thin and hard under their feet; certainly it was the thirst, locking them into a stupor of endurance, which concealed Sweetwater’s true avenger until it was too late.
Two sand flurries had clashed, an eddy recoiling upon itself, and it came upon them through the curtain, so all they saw was a flash of solider, linearly moving white; all they heard was the crr-unch crr-unch of approaching hooves matched to the grunts of a galloping beast. Then something hit the mare’s right side with the impact of a new-fired cannonball.
The shock bowled her right off her legs and over the prince at her left shoulder, down in the sand beyond him with a great horse scream of pain and shock and fright. The overset prince caught one flash of milk-grey belly and thrashing legs as they arced over him; a sector of open sand; then at right angles to the rest a pair of white, driving hocks that plunged like a fired bow and were gone.
He was rolling in the sand, a snapped spear haft vertical at his elbow, Ervan and the bay a mist shadow beyond his feet. Beside him, all her side a flaring scarlet shield of blood, the mare was trying to get up. And beyond her the attacker had wheeled to complete the kill.
Ripples of silver hide glistened through the sand murk, slender steel muscles played above cloven yellow hooves. It had a horse’s head but a goat’s beard, a pure gold eye, cold and impassive as a surgeon’s, and from the silver forehead a length of gleaming, whorled tortoise-shell was levelled like a spear. The gleam was a lacquer of fresh blood. The goat’s chin tucked under as it trained its weapon on the fallen mare, the delicate hocks were flexing like tempered steel.
The prince struggled onto an elbow. As he did so he saw the pain and terror in his mare’s eyes, and suddenly the sand mist went a bloody, mottled red. His hand shot to the snapped spear. He wrenched it out and floundered up, yelling, “Come on!”
Though it came out as a mere cough the movement sufficed. The unicorn’s eye flicked. Quick as a great cat it changed aim in mid-career, leapt the mare with one feather-light spring and charged the prince.
He had dropped on one knee. Now he planted the other on the broken spear butt and leant it up and outward, gripping it in both hands. The blade was just above his head. He knew the haft was too short, he knew that even if he aimed true the unicorn would transfix him, and he did not care. He had forgotten all about the Quest. He knew only that his innocent mare was dying, and he meant to have her revenge.
The golden eye leapt at him, the nostril flaring like a great red rose. He heard its quick breath and somehow admired the splendid force with which its hind feet punched the sand. I shall die with honour, he thought, and dropping the spear point below the round ringed boss of the levelled horn, he trained it between the cushions of that sleek silver breast.     
But suddenly a shadow sprang over him. Something flashed; there was a brazen scream, an axe-like clunk! A silver projectile hurtled past, a spray of blood drenched his face, and the swing’s impetus dropped Ervan on his knees beside the prince, yelling, “Got him! Got it! Look!”
Out in the fog the unicorn pivoted, a splendid, deadly javelin haft, rearing, beating the air with its forefeet, braying with rage and pain; and the prince saw what Ervan had got.
The horn had been lopped. Its point was gone, and the trunk played like a fountain, three or four simultaneous sprays of blood.
  No, my unicorn wasn’t pretty, or in the least simpatico. I did hope it was powerfully vivid, menacing, and very definitely Elsewhere.  But the creative unit, aka the Black Gang, were in their usual mode, right down to the lopped horn: like the heads of cattle I had seen dehorned back home in Australia, it spouted not one but two or three jets of blood.
The Last Major Battle was even more aberrant: a confrontation with the Scorpion Men, it was going to be awesome, a heraldic swash-and-buckle, larger than life – in fact, mythical. Unfortunately, the Black Gang extrapolated the consequences of swinging a sword two-handed at a six-foot  monster while standing on an ice lake, and ye heraldry degenerated into an ice-hockey pile-up crossed with a fallen Rugby scrum.
The consequences were definitely catastrophic, but the actual event? Traumatic, ferocious, bloody. Yep. Mythical? Well, er – no. It seems if I do mythical, with beasts or anything else, it very definitely turns out nearly all my own.
The table rolls again for August. This time we are over at Andrea Hosth's blog for the topic "Mythical Beasts" - like these.

  Read. Enjoy! Maybe even find a topic to think about ...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Spring in Geneva - Snip 3

This time we're almost in at the deep end. Or rather, here's the last paragraph of Snip 2, preceding Snip 3.
 To begin at the beginning, there was Snip1, and Snip 1 AND Snip 2 is here

But this time:

This time I was not vouchsafed a reply. Voices came from behind us, others descending the Rue de la Croix Rouge from Old Town. My interlocutor flung up his head, much in the manner of a startled deer. Then in one motion he swept his outer garment round him, in three enormous bounds reached the lower wall, swung himself over with the spring of an East Indian orangutan, and vanished. All that remained was the flower, a spot of purple, darker than blood upon sere winter grass.
* * * * * 

Picture, my friend, the speculation, the conjecture, the excitement generated in me by this interlude. Three times that day did uncle Laurent have to chide me, even to cry laughingly, “Fie, Anton, do you fancy yourself back at University? The house heir blotting his ledger like a callow clerk? For shame!”
My internal ferment had hardly subsided before, next day being Sunday, some friends had proposed a walk in the Plainpalais. It was a clear afternoon at last, the trees finally leafing, and a mere brisk breeze. As I approached our rendezvous, motion in the nearest copse caught my eye. Something large and dark had bobbed up and hastily down again. In a moment my eye distinguished, amid the birch-boughs and rhododendron bushes, the unmistakable form of my acquaintance from the Parc des Bastions.
“Sir!” I hailed him, turning aside. “Monsieur del Fuegan!” What other appellation could I use? “How do you, sir?”
Recognition seemed to deter him from what had promised to become open flight. While he wavered, I drew near enough to make such escape rank discourtesy. “You too are enjoying this fine day?”
He nodded and mumbled something, but this time I was determined to assuage my curiosity by whatever unmannerly means. “You are staying in Geneva? Or along the lake, perhaps?”
Before he could reply a woman cried behind me, “William! William! What are you doing?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Spring in Geneva - Snip 2

This time, all of Scene One:

M. Pierre Rosch,
House of Clerval and Rosch,

My dear Pierre,
Your letter has come at last; and after such aid as yours, in such an enterprise as this has proved, how can I not fulfill my promise? I write then to inform you, fully  and frankly, “what it was all about.”
Anticipating your command, I begin at my own beginning: that first glimpse of the Promethean, one bitter cold morning in the Parc des Bastions, attempting, as I thought, to eat the hyacinths.
At first glance I assumed this was yet another unfortunate mendicant, cast abroad in the second season of famines after the summerless year. Drawing closer, I felt in a pocket and suggested, “If you wish, I will give you a franc; then you need not eat the flowers.”

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Spring in Geneva - Snip 1

Trying a new experiment here. I'm going to serialise a fair portion of "Spring in Geneva," the Frankenstein riff novella coming from Aqueduct in e-and print format in October. I actually posted the opening paragraphs a while back, so I'm going to repost those here, and add another section.  Then next week, I will add a further snip, und so, und so... At least until the end of August.
So, here we go: "Spring in Geneva," beginning at the real beginning, and going on from there - for a short way, at least.

Mme Desiré Rosch,
House of Clerval and Rosch
Ma chére Didi,
Most irritating yet most sapient one, you were precisely correct. Grand-père’s youth did indeed include more than he ever told us. I was engaged in the melancholy task of turning out those books he left me, when I shook this document from between the pages of Chapter Five in his copy of the English novel
Your nonetheless fond brother,
House of Clerval and Rosch
June 30th 1868

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Intrusive Fantasy

The topic for this month on the Great Travelling Round Table Guest Blog, hosted this time by Chris Howard with Andrea Hosth, Carole McDonnell and yours truly, over on Saltwaterwitch. Enjoy!

And herewith also 
My take on this month's Round Table topic:
The term was coined by Farah Mendlesohn in her book The Rhetoric of Fantasy, and she classifies intrusive as one of four types in a fantasy taxonomy:
“In the portal-quest we are invited through into the fantastic, in the intrusion fantasy the fantastic enters the fictional world.”
I immediately thought of Jadis the Witch loose in London in C. S. Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew. (The illustration is by Pauline Baynes, from my old Puffin edition) In my terms, this is fantasy where Elsewhere comes Here.
But then, if that’s intrusive, why call going to Elsewhere a portal-quest? Surely that’s when Here goes Elsewhere? So by analogy, that wd. be Extrusive Fantasy?
And the obvious example here is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, where the children first go to Narnia.

But enough frivolity. Both sorts of fantasy have been around a long time, though the current turn of the market has intrusive fantasy wayhay up the visibility scale, with werewolves, vampires, paranormal romance, etc. etc. etc. But as The Magician’s Nephew indicates, such fantasy was well-known in C. S. Lewis’ day. You might even say that “intrusive fantasy” covers the entire range of horror and the ghost story as well, because what are they but stories of intrusion into this world by the unreal?
And in these cases, the horror frisson or the fantasy sensawunda, the air of Faery, to misquote Tolkien, comes from the sudden anomaly of the impossible being Right Here in Your  Front Yard. Or Front  Door, in the Magician’s Nephew’s case. When I read the Lewis I didn’t really get the full flavor of this jolt, since Lewis’s London was already Elsewhere for me. Hansom cabs? This is Here?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Concepcion Arrives

Gears and Levers 3 is out! (Well, it was out last month but they don't exactly blazon the word round the lesser known authors contributing.)
In any case, Concepcion and her motley crew have hit the e-waves at last. As the blurb says:
"Adventure and romance await in worlds that never were but should have been." And the cover sure suits "Honour of the  Ferrocarril," even though it was doubtless designed as a catch-all for the whole antho.

Available on Amazon, Smashwords, and Nook from Barnes and Noble, from Amazon for the lordly price of $4.99 (USD.)

And just in case, in the long space since I was last burbling about this story, you forgot what it was all about, let me refresh your memory with a snippet:

As the Internationale pulled out of La Paz station, the man at the window beside Concepçion Gonzaga leant over and made a proposition that took her breath away.
“Beautiful senora, permit my little bat to share your room tonight, and I will see you attain immortality.” 

Irene (Radford) the editor and I wd. love it if you wanted to read on. Just click one of the links above, and welcome to my South America.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Children And/In Fantasy

Here's my slant on the June Travelling Table Guest Fantasy Blog.

There’s always been a strong link between children, or the idea of children, and modern fantasy: partly through the juvenilizing of fairytales – Grimm’s collection were domestic rather than fairy stories – and partly through the tacit but powerful view that fantasy is the opposite of rationality, and hence something left behind, when, as St. Paul wrote, “a man” will “put away childish things.”
This is largely a view beginning with the Enlightenment, but fantasy has still had its English defenders, beginning with Coleridge, and  moving on of course, to that T-man, with the ground-breaking 1930s lecture “On  Fairy Stories.” Tolkien conflates fantasy and fairy story, and valorizes both, but predictably, he has to confront the “childish challenge” before he can defend the power of faery for adults.
Children AND fantasy is thus something of a default setting: as Tolkien noted, not all children are either enchanted by or even comprehend fairytales. Even Lewis Carroll can fail notably with children, beginning with me. I only read the Alice books with appreciation once I cd. identify the wicked parodies, eg. of Wordsworth, recognize the chess game moves, and understand the nonsense. As a child, I found the whole deal not only bewildering but often outright menacing.
Children IN fantasy tends to branch out from this default connection. Being considered the rightful audience, children, it seems, are easy for adults to insert as characters IN fantasy/modern fairytales. Children are, perhaps, taken not only as the rightful audience, but thanks to their supposed readiness to accept the unreal, as fantasy’s best audience. As flow over, their presence in the text, especially as pov characters, not only offers a viewpoint child readers can readily accept,  but their acceptance of the unreal events presumably makes such credence easier for children outside the text. And partly, of course, modern fantasy and fairy tale stories were once, mostly written FOR children.
Modern fantasy starts around the turn of the 19th century, almost as a descendant of imperial romance (think Rider Haggard) and ghost stories (think Sheridan LeFanu.) Andrew Lang, Lord Dunsany, and perhaps most importantly, George McDonald, whose books span both adult and child audiences, seem to be the founders of the form.
In contrast, modern children’s fantasy starts about the same time as modern children’s fiction, sometime in the middle of the 19th Century. One of the earliest and most illustrious examples is Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies, which is not a fairytale, but is most certainly fantasy, and as a child, a beautiful illustrated edition had my whole-hearted allegiance.
As I recall it, Water Babies was notably clear of the problems that beset later children’s fantasy. One such problem emerged as my mate Natasha Giardina wrote her PhD thesis, on the transmission of ideologies through children’s fantasy; this was the uncertainty of the narrative voice. Adults until after WWII still seemed unsure how to write for children. For example, does the narrator try to speak as an omnipotent pov to children? (Yes, very often, cf. the asides in The Hobbit.) Is the adualt narrator somewhat self-conscoius? (Yes, quite often, or seems so to me.) Does the quasi-adult voice work? (Not very comfortably, no.) Does the narrator try to enter the child’s view point? (Occasionally, and not all that well, in pre WWII texts like The Hobbit. The one exception I can think of is Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons books. ) Worst of all, does the author, with or without using the narrator’s voice, attempt to preach? That is, to impress on the child reader, consciously or unconsciously, the morals, and more worryingly, the ideologies of the adult world?
The answer to the latter was a resounding Yes. Hardly surprising, since none of us can completely escape our culture and world-view, but very uncomfortable for the analyst, when such world-view includes racism and sexism – evident even in the Harry Potter books – as well as religion, as in the famous case of the Narnia books. In contrast, such preaching rarely occurs in adult-aimed fantasy. It seems a lasting adult assumption that children, even when reading for pleasure, have to be taught.
So children in fantasy may represent not only the primary audience, but also the work’s target, in moral and ideological terms: that is, what happens to child characters, what they learn or fail to learn, does not “simply” provide amusement, as for an adult  reader, but are a powerful socializing tool. “It’s only a story,” in a dismissive tone, with implicit rider, “and a kid’s story, what can it matter?” is one of the silliest assumptions ever made. To the child, lacking adult experience against which to test the text, it’s a manual for the world ahead, and what that  manual says can be easily be swallowed whole.
In adult-directed modern fantasy, children are not central characters, for the simple reason that a child protagonist instantly shifts the story to the Children’s or YA category. Children here are, at best, appurtenances – or perhaps hindrances – to the main characters. It’s a rare female fantasy protagonist who has even born a child, let alone takes one around with her.  I can think of only one novel, Pat Wrede’s Caught in Crystal, where the protagonist does actually take children on a Quest, and I can’t think of any male fantasy protagonist who does so. Some of them do have children, but usually these are shuffled off to the side, or hurriedly grown up to take a bigger part in the story.
The exception to the no-children rule of course, is  the children who begin the book with magical or other extraordinary powers and grow up en route, becoming, so often, the main character of the novel or series.  Perhaps the most powerful, certainly the most enchanting sections of T.H. White’s classic The Once and Future King, are those he didn’t get from Malory – the work on Wat’s adventures as a child.
But for the child who does not grow up in the course of events, most often, those with any important role in adult-aimed fantasy are those familiar characters, the youthful prince or princess who is a pawn in the power struggles of one or more kingdoms.  At times such children are befriended, protected, guarded, or their causes promoted by the adult protagonist or other characters, but they themselves have little part in the action. In Patricia McKillip’s Ombria in Shadow an orphaned ducal heir fulfills this role, and the main male and female characters largely act in his interests.
Tolkien, of course, had the best of both worlds with the hobbits. Their view point is central to both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, they are no bigger than well-grown children, and they can behave like children, particularly in Pippin’s case. Yet they are in fact adults, and longer-lived than humans: thirty-three, not twenty-one, is the age for hobbit maturity. So Middle-earth remains a domain where children’s wonder and innocence in the face of the unreal are central for readers of all ages, and a domain that both child and adult readers can enter without worrying about publishers’ categories. (Though I wouldn’t introduce the Black Riders in Book One to any child under ten, myself. )

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Travelling Table, Round Three, Revolution One

The round Table of guest fantasy blogs is revolving again - June's topic is Children in and Children and Fantasy, and our host is Carole McDonnell. Posts are up on her blog here. Hope you all enjoy!

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Seagull - At Last

FINALLY yesterday managed to get organised and fleshout the now almost forgotten promo threats from back in Jan and Feb. of 2013. Gathered up the bits and pieces, and put the fourth Everran book up on Kindle. At last!
Just to repeat the details, doubtless now long out of mind.

The cover - ta da, and courtesy of my very good mate and excellent artist, Caroline Husher. Thank you, Caroline, you've done some great covers for me and this is one of the best.

The blurb:
The only thing worse than being made a wizard is to be born a wizard.
The mage’s Arts came to Phaz at birth. His father Zam is the wizard guardian of the great desert Hethria. His mother Sellithar was a Crown Princess.  The rulers of mighty Assharral want him to inherit their empire. What choices does he have left?
Especially with a family who fear that evil is his natural bent?
He could always run. But just to help things along, Phaz has an Art of his own that offers glimpses of the future. Run or stay, his is not where you’d want to end up.
The Seagull is about voyages, in the world and in the heart. It is also a suspenseful high fantasy novel, set in a world firmly realised in the previous novels of the Chronicles of Rihannar, Everran's Bane, The Moving Water and The Red Country. The first received some enthusiastic reviews, the second was shortlisted for best fantasy novel in the Aurealis Australian genre fiction awards, and the third was described by SF Crowsnest as "a lovely book." Now, the story is going on.

For a preview, see the Kindle edition free sample, or shortly, check on here for the novel's own page and chapters.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Third Table Round One, Travelling Guest Fantasy Blog

Yes, after some discussion, we're back, with slightly changed personnel, for a third Round of the Table! Topic for May is/was "Shades of Fantasy" and the posts are now up over on Deborah J. Ross's blog - in the meantime, here's my effusion for the month. Enjoy!

Originally I meant to talk about sub-genres on this, but I’ve done that before, so instead I’ll look at shades in (mostly) high fantasy, varying by both authors’ style and time. Which logically lets me start with one of the fathers of modern fantasy, Lord Dunsany. Here’s the intro to his short story, “Carcassonne:”
They say that [Camorak’s] house at Arn was huge and high, and its ceiling painted blue; and when evening fell men would climb up by ladders and light the scores of candles hanging from slender chains. And they say, too, that sometimes a cloud would come, and pour in through the top of one of the oriel windows, and it would come over the edge of the stonework as the sea-mist comes over a sheer cliff’s shaven lip where an old wind has blown for ever and ever (he has swept away thousands of leaves and thousands of centuries, they are all one to him, he owes no allegiance to Time).
 Writing pre-WWI, Dunsany has more than an echo of Yeats’ Celtic twilight: whimsical tone, slightly formal, archaic usages such as the “they say” beloved of medieval romances. And characteristic of Dunsany, whimsy extended into a long, flapping, image-ridden sentence that in the wrong hands could come perilously close to a place in the Bulwer Lytton awards. No magic apparent in here, yet. This cd. be just a very formal historical novel.
From around the same period we have:
“His highness rode a hot stirring horse very fierce and dogged; knee to knee with him went Styrkmir of Blackwood o’ the one side and Tharmrod o’ the other. Neither man nor horse might stand up before them, and they faring as in a maze now this way now that, amid the thrumbling and thrasting of the footmen, heads and arms smitten off, men hewn in sunder from crown to belly, ay, to the saddle, riderless horses maddened, blood plashed up from the ground like the slush from a marsh.”
Yep, that other Daddy of the Genre, E. R. Edison, from the chapter “The Battle of Krothering Side,” in The Worm Ouroboros. And yes, nobody sounds or ever again could sound like Edison. The lavish detail, the exuberance, the outrageous yet so brilliant faux Elizabethan language is a Phoenix. One of a kind.

The writing in The Worm actually ranges widely, from battle scenes like this, sounding almost straight out of Mallory, to the ornate settings, and breathtaking natural beauty like the sunset that closes this chapter, or the first view of Zimiamvia. But it’s a good shade away from Dunsany, not least in the ferocity of its focus, and the equally ferocious insistence of its rhythm. And Edison can do serious magic, but not here.

Monday, April 29, 2013

That Table again - the Last Post for Round 2

Late, late, late muttered the White Rabbit ... So late I missed getting a post in for the Great Travelling Fantasy Guest Bloggers' Round, so late I haven't even managed to get this post up yet!

 The Tabled topic for April  was"SF and Fantasy - we all know the difference, right?"And we have a range of fascinating and complex responses, over on Valjeanne Jeffers' blog. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Abilities of Disability – at Least in Fantasy

My piece on this month on the Great Travelling Guest Blog Fantasy Table:
In real life, disability is exactly what it says. A lack. A limitation. A loss of possibilities open to others, whether to see, to hear, to walk, to run, or just to go a week without the black dog of depression dropping on your back to take the taste out of everything.
Atop the inner physical limitations, come external ones: doors too narrow for a wheelchair, handles too high to reach, prompts or safety signals only visible, or only audible. A flight of “simple” stairs. Even an escalator can be another infuriating check to someone with a “disability.”
Add on the invisible limits: as with race, class, and colour, even with heterosexuality, disability can leave a person either Othered or literally invisible. Even when visible, the unlucky Other has to run the gauntlet, if not of naming for the problem – right up or down to names like Hopalong Cassidy – then of the other egregious reactions, from pity to repulsion: less happily than Hopalong, the person vanishes behind the stereotype.
 In fantasy, as with race, class and colour etc., things could, even ought to be different. After all, fantasy deploys magic, doesn't it? So you have a hero or heroine with real disability? Blind, deaf, wheelchair limited? Eazy peazy. A bit of angst, a few struggles, and along comes a spell or a wizard, or the character her/himself discovers his/her magic, and presto chango! All normal. Disability gone. Right?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Great Fantasy Travelling Table Guest Blog Again

This month the topic is disabilities in fantasy, and we are hosted over on Carole McDonnell's blog for some thoughtful and diverse thoughts on this topic. Enjoy! Think! Write, perhaps as well.

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Novella Accepted

Excitement of the week, the month, the year so far.
Timmi Duchamp at Aqueduct Press has officially bought my novella, "Spring In Geneva."
It’s a 25K word riff on Frankenstein in which the fictional life-creation experiment in the novel turns out real, masterminded by Byron and Percy  Shelley, wanting to produce a superhuman (as in Percy Shelley's idea that poets legislate for the world.)
The story involves Mary Shelley in person, along with a rehabbed version of the Monster, a Swiss banker’s son, some steampunkish parts and a good deal of swash and buckle in the environs of Geneva.  Byron has a cameo as the master-villain, in which he very nearly ran away with the whole story.
I had enormous fun writing this, not least because I got to use such outrageous cliches as "nether garments" and lines like, "'I have ruined all!'" There was also the swash and buckle: ambushes and sword-fights,  Swiss bankers threatening Byron, and a hommage to Nikola Tesla as well as the author of Frankenstein itself.
The story will come out as a standalone novella in Aqueduct's Conversation Pieces line, in both print and e-versions, somewhere around August 2013. In the  meantime, I hope to do a couple more blogs here, and maybe share around a couple of preview pieces. Just as a start, here's two of the pix I used for thinking points in the writing process.
Mont Blanc, a thematic if slight presence in the story, from Mont Saleve, which had a bigger part, just outside Geneva.

 And Mary S herself, my favourite image of her, which I much prefer to the somewhat saccharine portrait with the books and black gear, painted around 1838. I haven't been able to find the provenance for this one, but it's clearly earlier, and it has a lot more steel showing than the later portrait.

This sketch more strongly suggests that she was a redoubtable lady, and I also had a lot of fun writing her like that.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Table Rolls Again

This month the Round Table Bloggers are discussing Technology in Fantasy. Read all abaht it over on Andrea Hosth's Blog, Autumn Write, and enjoy!

Monday, February 4, 2013

A GiveAway

Check out the Goodreads Giveaway Pages, where I'm putting three hardback, library-binding copies of the third Everran Book, The Red Country, up for grabs this month. Advance notice that the fourth book, The Seagull, has been past the wip readers and is almost ready to go up on Kindle.

The Red Country: A few words
The princess Sellithar will inherit the kingdom of Everran, small, peaceful, secure; and stifling under dynastic traditions that Sellithar burns to strip away. The mage Zam is an aedr, the wizard guardian of half a continent, to Sellithar a legend come to life. He doesn’t do well with people. She’s not so good at tact. But to survive a marauding empire, the wild, harsh, fickle, fragile, beautiful desert of Hethria needs them both.
Some wars you just can’t win alone.
 The Seagull: A few more words.
The only thing worse than being made a wizard is to be born a wizard.
The mage’s Arts came to Phaz at birth. His father Zam is the wizard guardian of the great desert Hethria. His mother Sellithar was a Crown Princess.  The rulers of mighty Assharral want him to inherit their empire. What choices does he have left?
Especially with a family who fear that evil is his natural bent?
He could always run. But just to help things along, Phaz has an Art of his own that offers glimpses of the future. Run or stay, his is not where you’d want to end up.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Back to the Table Again

 The Great Travelling Fantasy Round Table Guest Blog is spinning again. We are with Warren Rochelle this month, with the topic, The Hero and the Quest, and you can see all the thought-provoking answers here. Including my own musings on the Quest or not-Questness nature of my third Amberlight novel, Source.


Friday, January 18, 2013

The New Bujold Critical Antho


  Just out from McFarland, edited by Janet Brennan Croft, her collection on Lois Bujold's SF and Fantasy. I even managed to get an essay in. If you check out the McFarland's page, go to ToC and Excerpts and scroll down and down and you will find my piece on cyborg bodies in Lois's Memory. Due out on Kindle in February I believe. Have fun!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

More Food on the (Travelling Round Table) Fantasy Guest Blog

And here's the second round of posts on Food in Fantasy, from Chris Howard, Valjeanne Jeffers, Carole McDonnell and Theresa Crater. Enjoy!

* * * * *
Chris Howard
How do you eat underwater?
 Food wasn’t high on the list of difficulties to tackle for a series of books about people from the sea, with at least half the action taking place deep underwater. If I divided up my world-building time for the Seaborn books more than half of it would go  to undersea combat and the kinds of powers, “bleeds”, magic, breathing, as well as sorting out their limitations, how they are passed to children, and other details.  Most of the other half was in cultural development, cities, history, interaction with the surface, social structure, why a people who are apparently successful have such a low population—in the millions. 

But food proved to be more difficult than combat.  Even if there’s magic involved in making things work in a fight, it can be applied to the weapon once. Everyone in battle-space doesn’t need to perform something crazy three times a day in order to sustain their strength and stop their tummies rumbling.  Right off the bat I imagined—given their technology and powers—you could reduce friction and drag in the water for edged weapons and bolts from crossbows, and spearguns, so that battles didn’t look like thousands of free-falling astronauts spinning and fumbling in slow motion, taking mad swings at each other.  And everyone looking stupid rather than dangerous or fierce.