Sunday recs: Kate Elliott and an assortment

Number one rec today – something I’ve mentioned before, too – is Kate Elliott’s amazing Spiritwalker Trilogy. I’ve had the flu – a-bloody-gain – and have been gobbling down books. I just reread the first two instalments of Elliott’s trilogy, Cold Magic and Cold Fire, and cannot wait for the last one (Cold Steel) to come out (June 25th!). Seriously, I haven’t enjoyed a reread this much in ages. Elliott describes the books as “an Afro-Celtic post-Roman icepunk Regency fantasy adventure with airships, Phoenician spies, the intelligent descendents of troodons, and a dash of steampunk whose gas lamps can be easily doused by the touch of a powerful cold mage”. It’s an amazing, wild ride. The setting and characters are incredibly delicious. I really admire Kate Elliott as a writer, and she blogs most enjoyably too!

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As to recs of a shorter sort, here is a random sweetshop assortment of online fiction I’ve read and enjoyed recently (yes, I was on a Strange Horizons binge):

The Lucia Bird by Ryan Simco, from Strange Horizons. Oh wow. I have a soft spot for stories involving awesome grandfathers, so this science fantasy totally got to me.

The Last Sophia by C.S.E. Cooney, from SH. An intriguing fairy story, excellent narrator. Gentry babes! Lush imagery! Nineteenth-century diction! Strange but awesome.

Hear the Enemy, My Daughter by Kenneth Schneyer, also from SH. This was a pretty upsetting story, for me, but very cool use of language/linguistics in SF. I do so appreciate linguist protagonists!

The Thing Under the Drawing Room by Jedediah Berry, from the inaugural issue of Interfictions Online. This is a weird and wonderful tale. I really enjoyed the writing style, and the whole story was just delightful! A barbarian hero in a sprawling Gothic complex of a house, in a competition involving being possessed by the spirit of an old god. Brilliant stuff.

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Poetry in Polu Texni: Beauty Remembers

Excellent news for this June Monday: my poem ‘Beauty Remembers’ is now online at Polu Texni.

Read it here!

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Since the poem was inspired by the tale of Beauty and the Beast, I think this is the time to wax lyrical about how much that fairy tale has inspired and continues to inspire me.

I was first exposed to the fairy tale through the Disney movie. I was five years old when it came out, and it was the first film I ever went to see at a cinema. I remember me and my friend had to sit perched high on the seats to be able to see the screen. We were mesmerised.

It was a magical – and, I think, formative – experience. The Disney version of Beauty and the Beast has stayed with me all these years. I’m not ashamed to admit that I still love it. As a geeky brown-haired bookworm, I identified with Belle from the start. It was fabulous to have an animated character who also liked to read and who dreamt of adventures in the great wide somewhere. I still get shivers in the scene where Belle explores the forbidden west wing of the castle – the music, the animation, ah, such magic!

Later, I found the original fairy tale and loved it too. I was also drawn to other tales of animal transformation and love – The Black Bull of Norroway is a fantastic example, with its powerful female hero climbing the glass mountain to get to her love. And I’m a total sucker for retellings or adaptations of Beauty and the Beast or similar tales. Even if I think the adaptations/retellings are horrible, I’ll enjoy some part of them because hey, it’s Beauty and the Beast!

Naturally, the theme crops up in my own writing, too. Most notably, recently, in the novel I started during Nano 2008 and finished the first draft of last autumn. (The novel that I should edit properly sometime…) Anyway, it’s inspired by Beauty and the Beast, and is set in a strange city and a realm within that city.

While I was revising that novel last August, I was so caught up in the beauty/beast theme that this poem popped out, too. I’m really happy that ‘Beauty Remembers’ is available online now for all to read.

Sunday recs: Interfictions &c.

I haven’t read through the entire inaugural issue yet, but the new online journal Interfictions: A Journal of Interstitial Arts is already a delight. I’m hugely fond of the spaces between/amidst genres, styles, fiction/nonfiction, types of art – so Interfictions makes me feel all fuzzy inside. :) Such a weird, delicious mixture of texts (and pictures and sound, even!).

In the vein of artistic interdisciplinarity, here’s something I recently enjoyed from Strange Horizons: an experimental, intertextual, weird, and rather awesome piece. Book of Vole (Excerpts), by Jane Tolmie and Perry Rath.

Also from SH, a strange and oddly intriguing story about maths: A to Z Theory by Toh EnJoe.

That’s my recs for tonight! I’m off to eat some pie now. Mmm, berries.