When I lived in Alberta, I hated winter. I hated waking up in darkness and leaving school or work in the black. I hated being wet of foot, dry of skin, and bone-chilled every time I came in from outside. I hated mushing around in heavy winds while snow accumulated on my forehead, melted its way down my face and glued my glasses to my nose.
I hated forty below for weeks on end and occasionally getting into cars that were iceboxes and shivering all the way across town in same, arriving–inevitably–five minutes after the crappy heaters had begun to pretend to kick in.
Here in Southern Ontario, we are reportedly having the worst winter in twenty or so years. It has snowed often. It has been twenty below three or four times.
Now, here, I have a warm feather-filled bag that covers me from crown to toe. I have sweaters, and thermal tights and toasty waterproof boots. Good stuff, none of which had to be bought by a parent who was weighing a certain amount of poverty against the general concept of Why buy quality for a kid who’ll outgrow this all in a year?
Even in the chill, it has been sunny, so sunny. The amount of light here is amazing. Hazy days seem few and far between.
And you may have noticed that I am nuts for icicles.
This isn’t a new thing. I would try to get good icicle pictures in Vancouver, or on our trips to the Prairies to see the kin. Opportunities were few and far between, but I tried. Here… ha! The old gutters on all these picturesque Victorian houses overflow, and ice over, and spill. Constantly! The resulting frozen structures are spectacular. They stay in place until the light’s good. You can get close to and atop them. You can get under.
Which would be how I’ve worked out that any patch of ground beneath a good series of icicles is also slippery as shit.
Anyway. It’s March. Nobody in Vancouver has sent me a crocus photo yet, though I did make a point of telling all my west coast loved ones that they should gloat. This winter, this unusually cold and terrible winter–as the locals would have it–I have been cold and miserable and sad to be outside all of twice.
It feels like I’ve gotten away with something.
I haven’t enjoyed everything. I am a bit tired of bundling up, which is a wearying chore. I have realized or remembered that the primary thing that I dislike about snow is the stage where it’s dirty and festooned in various types of dog waste.
I am also headed somewhere warm in a couple of weeks. And, in the meantime, here’s some ice for you all.
Here’s what Tor.com says about “The Ugly Woman of Castello Di Putti,” which is live on the site today. (The lovely cover illustration is by Richard Anderson)
Returning to the world of Stormwrack where she set the Tor.com story “Among the Silvering Herd,” A.M. Dellamonica offers a new story that takes us deeper into this fascinating world, the setting of her new fantasy novel Child of a Hidden Sea.
The Fleet, integral to the governing of a world that is mostly water sprinkled with a number of islands, must deal with a unique form of magic, inscription, which is so subtle that its effects can sometimes only be known in retrospect. When a ship of the Fleet visits an island where scripping is common, the crew members of the sailing vessel Nightjar are at a disadvantage when faced with local matters of which they know little. Strangers on the shore, indeed, they may enjoy the local customs… but also may attract unwanted attention that could cost them more than embarrassment or money.
The Castello di Putti has a suggestive sound to it, but don’t be deceived. This is a story of civil strife, of culture shock, and ultimately of the risks and rewards of naval duty. Filled with Dellamonica’s fresh, inventive worldbuilding and the joie de vivre of a society in flux, it shows a side of Stormwrack very different from that presented in the previous tale.
Here’s the opening paragraph:
They had barely come ashore before the riot started.
Sindria, capital of Erinth, was a city of black marble and volcanic glass, a dark architectural foundation layered in color and light. Carved urns and stone window boxes built into the structures all burst with bougainvillea and daisies. Fruit trees nodded along the avenues, laden with oranges, lemons, and sun-burnished golden plums.
As they strode up from the landing, they passed a young couple, a fine-featured woman and handsome man, decked out in vivid fabrics, leaning on each other and sharing the support of a sturdy hardwood walker.
This week’s Buffy essay covers “Dirty Girls.” I hope you all enjoy it! One of my favorite things about S7 is the return of Faith, in her new, less evil and slightly more grown-up persona. It’s still a delight this time around.
It has been an action-packed few days: Kelly and I attended the SpecFic Colloquium hosted by Chizine Publications. One of the guests, writer and editor Silvia Moreno-Garcia, stayed with us, and it was a pleasure to get to know her better. (Silvia has recently bought a story, “Snow Angels” from me for her FRACTURED: TALES OF THE CANADIAN APOCALYPSE anthology.)
Later this week we’ll be hooking up with more friends of ours from Vancouver–Rachel Ashe is in town and has an art opening at the Gladstone; the show is called “If These Walls Could Talk.”
Before then, though, there’s grading to be done and the penultimate Buffy essay to be written. I am a few weeks ahead of Tor, of course, so I’ll be writing about “End of Days” this week and “Chosen” after that. I can’t believe I’m so close to wrapping up the rewatch!
The text from the book jacket reads:
One minute, twenty-four-year-old Sophie Hansa is in a San Francisco alley trying to save the life of the aunt she has never known. The next, she finds herself flung into the warm and salty waters of an unfamiliar world. Glowing moths fall to the waves around her, and the sleek bodies of unseen fish glide against her submerged ankles.
The world is Stormwrack, a series of island nations with a variety of cultures and economies—and a language Sophie has never heard.
Sophie doesn’t know it yet, but she has just stepped into a political firestorm, and a conspiracy that could destroy a world she has just discovered…her world, where everyone seems to know who she is, and where she is forbidden to stay.
But Sophie is stubborn, and smart, and refuses to be cast adrift by people who don’t know her and yet wish her gone. With the help of a new-found sister, and a ship’s captain who would rather she had never arrived, she must navigate the shoals of the highly charged politics of Stormwrack, and win the right to decide for herself whether she stays in this wondrous world…or is doomed to exile.
Other things in the life of me: my Creating Universes, Building Worlds students have turned in their final stories, so I am writing critiques not quite day and night. My next course offering will be the more advanced speculative fiction workshop, Writing the Fantastic and as of today there are still slots left for new students. I plan to spend this Saturday at the Toronto SpecFic Colloquium, listening to the above-mentioned Peter Watts, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Madeline Ashby and other amazing writers talking passionately about writing, reading, and all the things we fans know and love.
Finally, to all of you who sent birthday greetings yesterday, on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere, thank you! I won’t have time to answer you all individually, but I appreciate so much that you are out there wishing me well.
I am up to “Lies my Parents Told Me,” this week on Buffy. This leaves me with three S7 episodes left. It has been a lot of fun, but I’ll be glad to change gears a little, and write about some other things for awhile. Perhaps even books! Or other shows. I have been enjoying Black Sails very much, for example. Toby Stephens! Pirates! Adventure on the high seas!
Yesterday we went with our real estate agent and Floor Man Rudy to the new apartment, to measure and choose floors, to figure out the depth and width of an all-important wall nook, and to generally look at all the things we were too excited to see back when we decided we wanted the joint.
Then we cleaned and cooked and prepped the old house for a very small gathering in honor of my upcoming birthday. In addition to the usual godlike carrot cake, Kelly had made sea salt and caramel-covered pecans.
People came, food was devoured, wine was drunk, fun was had.
Today the two of us got a day pass from the TTC–they’re an exceptionally good deal on weekends, as we can both ride on one–and schlepped out to Riverdale Park to admire the domesticated animals and enjoy the sunshine. When we left the house we found happy hockey fans circulating on King Street, celebrating the men’s gold medal, which would be just about the first we’d really heard of it. There were plenty of police around, but everything was peaceful enough.
We had pho for lunch and swung back home via Kensington Market, where we fortified ourselves with espresso. (Shocker, I know! But K needed fortificaton, because she’d fallen on the ice.) Finally, on our way home, we poked our noses into several of the places where we bought furniture last spring, after we moved here. Because, you know, wall nook.
It was strange to be in Rusteak again, and to not be in a state of OMG, I just threw out all my stuff and lurched across the country on a six-week timeline! It was also fun. Whatever we put in the nook, it will almost certainly come from there and almost certainly be gorgeous.
This week’s rewatch covers “Storyteller,” which is the season seven Buffy episode where Andrew attempts to impose his own narrative on the killing of Jonathan Levinson, and Buffy eventually makes him cry. As he so richly deserves. Here’s my essay.
A number of the folks who comment on these columns directly (on the Tor.com site, I mean) have expressed the opinion that Andrew’s redemption arc would have made more sense and been more satisfying if it had been Jonathan’s–if he was the one who committed murder, and had to make up for it. I’m pretty much with them on this; I think Danny Strong is wonderful, and find Tom Lenk’s Andrew really hard to take.
That said, it’s a funny script in a season notable for its lack of jolly, and sometimes you just gotta take what you can get. Enjoy!