Sunday recs: Bone Swans

I just finished Bone Swans, a collection of stories by C.S.E. Cooney – very highly recommended!

A great collection of stories, poetry singing along with the narrative (and often included, too, to dazzling effect). C.S.E. Cooney’s writing just has this amazing energy and panache to it. I love it. How they’re written – the juicy, glorious language – is such an important part of her stories. This collection is really diverse, with a range of narrators and styles.

My favourites were “Martyr’s Gem” and “How the Milkmaid Struck a Bargain with the Crooked One”, stories I’d enjoyed already previously. I just adore pretty much every character in “Martyr’s Gem” – especially lovely Shursta! The oral culture is done so well, too. The storytelling bit always gives me the shivers.

“How the Milkmaid Struck a Bargain with the Crooked One” is an awesome fairytale reworking. The narrator is such a joy, and I love how this version plays out. It’s set in the same world as some of Cooney’s other stories, too, such as “The Last Sophia” (in Strange Horizons) and her two Dark Breakers novellas – all of them highly recommended too! It’s so cool to see a writer doing several stories in the same world.

I was also really impressed by “Life on the Sun” and “The Bone Swans of Amandale” (so creepy in a great fairytale way!). The final tale, “The Big Bah-Ha”, appealed to me the least, but I think that’s mostly because I’m creeped out by clowns and so couldn’t enjoy the story as much due to subject matter. However, that was basically my only quibble with this collection.

You should also check out all of Claire Cooney’s poetry because it’s awesome.

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Sunday recs: cuteness, mythology and pirates

I was just making a start on editing my upcoming Finnish short story as per the editor’s suggestions – very good suggestions! I love it when someone reads your work and points out possible things to improve and you’re like yesssss this will make it so much better.

Now for recs before I go to sleep in preparation for a superbusy week of journeying and conference.

Archana and Chandni by Iona Sharma (in Betwixt Magazine) – a charming tale of a wedding in space. This was ultimate comfort-reading for me.

ζῆ καὶ βασιλεύει by Sonya Taaffe (in Ideomancer) – inspired by Greek mythology, grimmer than the previous but beautiful.

The Saga of Captain Jens by C.S.E. Cooney (in Uncanny Magazine) – and finally, a silly, awesomely rhyming poem. I just love how Claire Cooney uses her rhymes! So inventive, so hilarious. Also, pirates.

Strange Horizons Fund Drive 2014

Long time no blog! I’ve had an amazing although exhausting time of it lately, what with a trip to the UK to look at medieval manuscripts, plus two conference things. I was totally exhausted when I came home today, but then I ended up submitting several stories and poems anyway… Relaxation, so hard sometimes.

Anyway! To the point of this post! Which is to say that the Strange Horizons fund drive for 2014 is ongoing. SH is an amazing non-profit speculative magazine – and as can be seen from my rec posts, I often like the stuff they publish. Some of my SH faves from 2014 include:

It’s been a pleasure to have a poem published in SH (and another forthcoming), too, in the company of so many great writers. SH has been great to work with, and of course it’s pretty nice to be paid pro rates. :)

Please consider donating to help keep SH alive and publishing awesome, diverse stories and poems (reviews and columns too)!

Sunday recs: Fairytale, memory loss, alien chess

Three awesome stories for you this Sunday.

How the Milkmaid Struck a Bargain With the Crooked One by C.S.E. Cooney (in Giganotosaurus). Gaaaah, this story made me have all the feelings. It’s long, but it’s SO worth it – what a treat to sink into a world like this. (Incidentally, it’s a sequel of sorts to The Last Sophia, which I believe I’ve recced here previously.) A gorgeous, detailed fairytale retelling with cool worldbuilding, a great first-person narrator, and gorgeous language. And rhymes! Basically: everything about this story is amazing.

Icarus Falls by Alex Shvartsman (in Daily Science Fiction). An aging protagonist suffering from memory loss – this story of space travel and a mother-daughter relationship is sad but in a very beautiful way.

Zugzwang by Curtis C. Chen (also in DSF). A middle-aged woman is challenged to a game of alien chess to save the crew of a spaceship. This story could’ve been bleak, but instead it made me happy and hopeful.

Sunday recs: Two poems

Two poems for this sun-warm Sunday.

‘Song for an Ancient City’ by Amal El-Mohtar (in Mythic Delirium): gorgeous, makes me feel the sand and spices, the heat of the sun.

‘The Sea King’s Second Bride’ by C.S.E. Cooney (in a 2010 issue of Goblin Fruit). For me, the poem works more magic as a performance: here is a video where Claire Cooney brings it to life with such vigour, such amazing acting-magic. I was totally bowled over by her performance – I was just watching and listening with my mouth open. Do watch. It’s breathtaking.

Sunday recs: Happy-making stuff

It’s still Sunday even though it’s past midnight, since I haven’t gone to bed yet, right?

Here’s three recs that I hope will make you feel as fuzzy inside as they made me:

Turnover by Jo Walton (at Lightspeed Magazine): beautiful, optimistic SF set in a spaceship called Speranza (the name isn’t subtle and I don’t even care).

Witch, Beast, Saint: an Erotic Fairy Tale by C.S.E. Cooney (at Strange Horizons): a strange and beautiful love story with a great narrator. (Note: it is indeed erotica and thus fairly explicit.)

Freyja by Nina Pelaez (at Goblin Fruit – vintage GF from 2011): a golden poem filled with summer-happiness.