Verdanii is the most powerful of the great nations, and everybody knows, much as they pretend to be a nation of citizen democrats, that the Allmother is the heart and soul of that mighty and often arrogant isle.
To have seen her in the flesh, me, a twelve-year-old from across the sea—it’s so fantastical that I rarely brag of it. Only my mother believes me.
Her head was round and bald and capped in dandelion fluff, a thick slurr of white seed-bearing parasols that whirled off her in every twist of breeze. She was tall, broad-shouldered, generous of hip and bosom, and she moved like a strongman or wrestler. She smelled, ever so slightly, of milk. She bore a harvest-scythe and a small sack of grain in her big hands, and her face carried so much age that the years thrummed around her like the low boom of an elephant drum. My breath caught, to see life in the eyes of one so frighteningly old. It made my chest hurt.
She weighed and dismissed me with a glance, closing on Garland with brisk steps. She tipped up his chin with the scythe—testing his nerve, I thought—and gave him the sort of looking-over you might expect of a buyer in a slave market.
When she’d done, and before she could speak, he bowed, in the manner of an officer of the Fleet. “It would seem superfluous, at this point, to introduce ourselves.”
My story “The Boy who would not be Enchanted” will be up soon, in the October issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies. (Right now, in case you haven’t had a chance to swing by, they have wonderful new stories by Claude Lalumière, and Jeremy Sim.)
My Boy is the fifth of the series I call The Gales, a group of stories about Gale Feliachild and Captain Garland Parrish of the sailing vessel Nightjar*. These are set over a decade before the events of my novel Child of a Hidden Sea. My other, more facetious name for them is the adventures of Doctor Who, at sea, with her very pretty companion.
This story is told by Tonio, the Erinthian shopboy who rises to become first mate of the ship. Its the story of the first time he stowed away on Nightjar, as a kid of 11. Now he’s 17 and, obviously, far wiser. He knows himself, and he absolutely understands love… or so he believes, anyway. (And he definitely does not have a crush on his best friend!)
Tonio’s good company, and this story is a confection for those of you who have been shipping Bram and Tonio. There’s a piece of bitter chocolate at its heart, too, about Gale’s prophesied death.
The first three stories in the series are Among the Silvering Herd, The Ugly Woman of Castello di Putti, and most recently The Glass Galago. They’re available at the Tor.com site for free reading, or as ebooks. The fourth, “Losing Heart Among the Tall,” will be up at Tor.com on February 22nd, 2017.
Yes, this means they’ll be going up out of order. It’s not a big thing; they are not that tightly bound together that you can’t enjoy them out of sequence.
Kelly, meanwhile, has a kickass essay about being a late bloomer up at Clarkesworld and a Locus Magazine spotlight interview!.
The two of us will be in Ottawa at Cancon in a couple weeks’ time, and I will post my panel info soon.
*Nightjar, as it happens, was recently featured in an article by Fran Wilde on Tor.com, “It’s all about the Rigging: My Favorite Fantasy Boats.”
Kelly and I couldn’t be in Calgary last night for When Words Collide, so we were rewatching Forsyte Saga and keeping one eye tuned to Twitter when word came that Kelly had won the Prix Aurora Award for “Waters of Versailles.” Delightful news, and I am thrilled for her (and, I admit, just a bit smug about having used the words “awards-quality” to describe it before it had even gone out to market).
About ten nail-bitey minutes after that, we found out that A Daughter of No Nation had won the Aurora in the Novel category. Our brother Bill Robson accepted both awards for us, kindly giving up an evening to hobnob with Canada’s SF luminaries. He called to congratulate us, and sent a pic of himself holding both trophies, both certificates, and our nominee pins.
Here’s the speech I sent to Calgary:
Being nominated for an Aurora is one of those things that I believe all Canadian SF authors aspire to. I always did, so it was a thrill and an honor to be on this shortlist with so many great authors whose work I love. I am thankful to my wife, Kelly Robson, to my family, to the people at Tor Books and to all the many friends and colleagues who’ve helped me, over the years, with everything from research and proofreading to unstinting moral support.
Last year, when I had the opportunity to present one of these trophies myself, I was blown away by my good fortune. I feel lucky to be working among such a lively community of brilliant creators, people who celebrate writing, genre fiction, and, above all, each other. I am touched and gratified that you liked A Daughter of No Nation so much; thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
Incidentally, the reason
we weren’t in Calgary was that next week we’re going to be in Kansas City for MidAmericon II
. Here’s my schedule:
The Re-emergence of Environmental Speculative Fiction
Thursday 18:00 – 19:00, 2503A (Kansas City Convention Center)
This used to be a booming field but has only recently re-emerged. Why is this and how do today’s tropes differ from the ecological dystopias of the 1970s?
Mr. Peadar O Guilin (M), Brenda Cooper, Alyx Dellamonica
Oceans: The Wettest Frontier
Friday 10:00 – 11:00, 3501F (Kansas City Convention Center)
James Cambias, Mrs. Laurel Anne Hill, Patricia MacEwen, Christopher Weuve (M), Alyx Dellamonica
We Deserve Better: Lesbians and Bi Women for Change
Friday 15:00 – 16:00, 2209 (Kansas City Convention Center)
TV SPOILERS! TW: Character Deaths.
Alyx Dellamonica (M), Jaylee James, Nina Niskanen, Jay Wolf
Reading: Alyx Dellamonica
Sunday 13:30 – 14:00, 2203 (Readings) (Kansas City Convention Center)
Some of you may have already seen my new Cynthia Sheppard cover on the The Nature of a Pirate Amazon page and/or when I posted it on social media, but here it is again for your delectation. Isn’t it beautiful? My editor very kindly gave me a version without the art, too, so that I can have a Sophie icon that doesn’t have random pieces of alphabet all over the place.
These three books now have, between them, some of the most thematically appropriate, well-matched and flat-out nicest covers I’ve seen on any trio of novels, and I love them all with every cell of my circulatory system, up to and including the big glob in the midst.
In related news, Tor Books has reissued Indigo Springs and
Blue Magic with new covers, and these too are very pretty indeed. I think they’re very appropriate to that universe, and the seeping magical blueness that causes so much trouble for Astrid Lethewood and her poor doomed magic-contaminated friends.
Here they are:
Child of a Hidden Sea
I am very pleased to announce that another of the Gales, “The Boy who Would Not be Enchanted,” has been accepted for publication at Beneath Ceaseless Skies. This is the first of the stories to be slated for an appearance outside Tor.com. The first three Gales are “Among the Silvering Herd,” “The Ugly Woman of Castello di Putti” and, most recently, “The Glass Galago.”
(The fourth, “Losing Heart among the Tall,” is also slated to appear on Tor.com).
This sale may mean the stories will appear out of order, depending on publication dates. This is no great problem. They’re like a family; you can meet them out of birth order.
The Gales switch POV from story to story, and this particular piece of the puzzle is told by one of the characters who is important in the Hidden Sea Tales universe but who doesn’t get as much time in the sun, especially in A Daughter of No Nation, as some of you would like: Nightjar’s gay first mate, Tonio Cappodocio. It is a tale he tells when he’s reached the grand old age of seventeen, and is looking back on Gale Feliachild, Garland Parrish and his youthful stowaway adventure of so many years before. (Five years, in other words. Oh, what a foolish twelve year old he was!)
I love this story, and have been reading bits of it for years at queer-themed events. I’m thrilled about this sale, and excited about you all getting to read it.