Sunday recs: Everything Martha Wells has ever written

I was introduced to Martha Wells’ books earlier this year through this squee post by Kate Elliott (whose work I love, as I’ve mentioned before on this blog).

I’m so glad I discovered Martha Wells! I’ve been reading everything of hers that I’ve been able to get my hands on. Wells is an amazing worldbuilder – such unique, well-thought-out worlds – but more than that, she’s a great storyteller. I’ve nommed all her books really quickly, because the plots progress with such addictive pacing that I don’t want to put them down.

I’ve especially loved the Fall of Ile-Rien Trilogy (among the best books I’ve read this year, by far! such amazing characters and world and asdgjhsdgl squee), and the Books of the Raksura. I’m currently reading the third book of the Raksura, The Siren Depths (after swiftly devouring the second book The Serpent Sea), and had to consciously stop myself from gulping it down all in one sitting. (I had things to do today, after all.) I just love Wells’ characters, her settings, just, all of it. I can only hope to be as good a writer as her some day.

In conclusion: wow, much awesome, such addictive. Do yourself a favour and read Martha Wells. I’m going to go and read some more of The Siren Depths in bed now. Will try not to stay up too late…

Advertisements

Poetry sale to Stone Telling

My poem ‘Kuura (extract from a Finnish-English dictionary)’ will be published in a “new poets” issue of Stone Telling. Huzzah!

I’ve admired Stone Telling’s thoughtfully compiled and beautiful issues for a long time, so I’m thrilled to be part of this future issue. I’m also very glad that ‘Kuura’ has found a home; it’s part of a series of poetic definitions for Finnish words that either defy single-word definitions or are very strongly Finnish in nature.

Cosmic meetings

M45 - Pleiadi by Luca Argalia on Flickr, licensed under CC BY 2.0

M45 – Pleiadi by Luca Argalia on Flickr, licensed under CC BY 2.0

I just came home from a really inspiring event. The Finnish literature festival Runokuu (‘poetry month’) organised an evening at the Helsinki Student Theatre, a combination of science, poetry and theatre.

First Syksy Räsänen, a physicist, gave us a brief talk on relativity theory and quantum theory, and the different conceptions of time arising from those theories. Then we retired into an inflatable mini-planetarium brought into the theatre by Ursa, a Finnish astronomy society. My goodness that was awesome – a dark space, like entering a womb we called it, and inside, the starry sky reflected on the curving walls. A Finnish poet Helena Sinervo read some of her poems. Then a representative of Ursa showed us the Big Dipper, Cygnus, Cassiopeia and other constellations, and told us other cool space stuff. We also learned the etymology of the word galaxy – always cool to get the smack-in-the-face reaction of learning a new etymology.

I felt so dizzy, lying down on the floor with my eyes on the circling stars and my mind boggling over the concept of such vast distances and us here on our little planet in the midst of all that emptiness. I felt suspended out of time – we could have been there for hours, for all I knew.

After stargazing within the planetarium, we had time for writing. I wrote some babbly nonsense to get my head into writingspace, but then managed to produce two poem drafts in Finnish, one of them accidentally becoming quite polished.

And then the coolest: actors from the student theatre improv-read our freshly written pieces. Oh, the (good kind of) chills I felt when an actor read my poem! She read it precisely like I’d imagined it could be but it was something even more. I went to thank her afterwards for making my poem so powerful.

Conclusion: I’m feeling more confident with writing poetry in Finnish. What a wonderful feeling after so long of poems in my other heart-language being stunted and clumsy!

Sunday recs: Diversity in SFF

I just listened to a great episode of Tor.com’s Rocket Talk, with Kate Elliott and N.K. Jemisin discussing reader, writer, and publisher bias. So great to hear two intelligent writers talking about this stuff! Kate Elliott is one of my absolute favourite writers these days, and I also admire and agree with her thoughts about the importance of representation and diversity. I’ve only read one of N.K. Jemisin’s books, but this was a good reminder that I should read more (yay for libraries and online book reservations).

Listen to the podcast here at Tor.com.

Relatedly, this essay about myths by N.K. Jemisin is important and wonderful: Dreaming Awake

Myths tell us what those like us have done, can do, should do. Without myths to lead the way, we hesitate to leap forward. Listen to the wrong myths, and we might even go back a few steps. – See more at: http://nkjemisin.com/2012/02/dreaming-awake/#sthash.FjyVgNe8.dpuf

Long Hidden – a brief review

I recently finished reading the anthology I got this May – Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History. Here’s how the editors (Rose Fox and Daniel José Older) describe it:

There is a long and honorable legacy of literary resistance to erasure. This anthology partakes of that legacy. It will feature stories from the margins of speculative history, each taking place between 1400 and the early 1900s and putting a speculative twist—an element of science fiction, fantasy, horror, or the unclassifiably strange—on real past events. — See more at: http://longhidden.com/#sthash.oZotn2JT.dpuf

First of all: this is an excellent anthology. Get it, read it, be happy that it exists! Reading the stories in Long Hidden, I found myself wishing that every anthology and magazine would feature such a diversity of characters and settings. So refreshing, so inspiring to read stories where straight white guy is not the default main character. Also, I really like the concept of historically-based speculative fiction. (Should write more of that stuff myself, in fact.)

The time periods in the stories skew towards the 19th and (early) 20th centuries, and the settings towards the USA. This is understandable, because a) it’s easier for non-historians to write about time periods closer to our own, and b) more people wanting to write about the US submitted stories I guess? Anyway, the diversity of character even within the 19th–20th-century and the US-based stories is awesome. I would’ve loved to see more pre-19th-century stuff, but that’s just my love for pre-industrial periods showing. :)

Some favourites from the anthology include (in the order they appear in the book):

  • ‘The Oud’ by Thoraiya Dyer (1633, The Shouf, Ottoman Empire) – lyrical, strange, music and demons.
  • ‘Across the Seam’ by Sunny Moraine (1897, Lattimer, Pennsylvania) – Baba Yaga and gender.
  • ‘Each Part Without Mercy’ by Meg Jayanth (1746, Madras, India) – dream-magic and an especially cool setting.
  • ‘The Colts’ by Benjamin Parzybok (1514, Hungary) – zombie soldiers!
  • ‘A Deeper Echo’ by David Jón Fuller (1919, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) – shapeshifting and family dynamics.
  • ‘Find Me Unafraid’ by Shanaé Brown (1905, Charlotte, North Carolina) – empowering magic.
  • ‘Medu’ by Lisa Bolekaja (1877, Ellsworth, Kansas) – some pretty damn awesome hair.
  • ‘The Dance of the White Demons’ by Sabrina Vourvoulias (1524, Guatemala) – fighting colonisers with earth magic.

All the other stories are great too: this is an excellent collection and a highly enjoyable read. I hope that Rose Fox and Daniel José Older will consider editing more anthologies in this vein, because I’d love to see more like this!

Poetry sale to Strange Horizons

Seems that this week is all about publication news… My poem ‘Raw Honey’ will be appearing in Strange Horizons!

I’m extremely happy to see this poem find a home. It’s a mythic bedtime tale in poem form, written a couple of years ago. There’s something similar in the atmosphere of ‘Raw Honey’ to the other poem I’ve had published in SH (‘Wolf Daughter’). Finnish-folklore-inspired, but twisted into something secondary-world(ish). It’s all fodder for that speculative poetry collection I’ve got planned for the future. :)