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.”
“The Glass Galago”
On Wednesday the third of the Gales, “The Glass Galago,” will be launching at Tor.com. (The first two Gales are “Among the Silvering Herd” and “The Ugly Woman of Castello di Putti”.) This new story takes Gale Feliachild and Garland Parrish to the Fleet itself. It’s not the first visit for either of them, obviously, but it’s their first time together. Gale learns a little more about what it was that got Garland disgraced and kicked out of the service. I hope you guys like it.
I was offline a fair bit during the holidays: didn’t eschew Facebook or Twitter, by any means, but I definitely spent more of my waking hours away from the computer. When I was working, it was often on fiction. There’s a proposal I’m pulling together for what might be my next ecofantasy novel; its working title is Tom the Liar, largely because in my head the main character shares some traits with the Hiddleston Loki. My editors have also sent some notes back on The Nature of a Pirate, so I’m keen to buckle down to revisions. I worked on setting up a spring book tour, and should be announcing dates soon. I thought about some teaching stuff and tried mightily to finish reading David Jaher’s The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World, but didn’t quite get that done before the new year.
The holidays themselves were low-key and pleasant. There was some sleeping in, some feasting, some wonderful time spent with friends. And now it’s snowing in Toronto, and 2016 has come, and I am looking forward to a year filled with wonders and surprises.
photo by Kelly Robson
Author Fran Wilde (my review of her novel Updraft can be found here!) was kind enough to ask me about food on Stormwrack for her Book Bites feature, and nobody will be surprised to hear that I had plenty to say on that subject. Meanwhile, over at Charlie Stross’s blog, I have a piece called “Confessions of a (half-assed) news avoider“, which would be, indirectly, about how I’m doing everything in my power to protect my brain from toxins like the storm of infuriating factoids on offer, 24/7, about the U.S. Presidential race.
Next week there will be a flurry of other interviews with book bloggers like Cherry Blossoms and Maple Syrup and The Book Wars. Some of the questions were very cool indeed.
Tor.com, meanwhile, has posted their December-January fiction roster, with stories by Michael Swanwick, David Nickle, and Kim Stanley Robinson. My “The Glass Galago,” third of The Gales, will be out on January 6th.
“The Glass Galago”
On Wednesday in Saratoga Springs I got to see three variations of this spectacular cover for “The Glass Galago,” which is the third* of The Gales and which will be out in a couple months. Irene Gallo showed me this lush and beautiful Richard Anderson image, and I squealed like a little child newly in possession of all the ice cream.
*The first two Gales are Among the Silvering Herd and The Ugly Woman of Castello di Putti.
I am sitting in the hotel room in Saratoga Springs as I write this, checking my UCLA classrooms and talking with my students about what makes a person or non-human character monstrous. They’re asking: is the monstrous always just about making someone Other? Some might say any ordinary person with a defective moral compass–your classic heartless killer or other all-too-human predator– can be a monster. And in non-fiction, that scans for me. If a journalist wants to call Charles Manson a monster, I’m not going to quibble.
In fiction, my taste runs to the more than human monsters. I like for them to have a whiff of the transcendent. In the above series of stories, Gale Feliachild occasionally regards Captain Garland Parrish as monstrous, even though he’s not even remotely evil. He’s overly blessed by nature, you see: impossibly handsome, exceedingly graceful, and good at almost everything he turns his mind to. It’s just about too much. He’s good, but he can easily be jealousy-inducing. We all know people like this: coveting their good fortune makes us feel small, and it’s hard not to blame them.
The current TV version of Hannibal Lecter has an intense aestheticism and is so robustly athletic that he’s as hard to kill as The Terminator. Some of his qualities are appealing–his love is so pure!–and that makes his compulsion to kill and eat the rude all the more awful. And the fact that we can empathize with the idea of quelling the rude, neglectful and genuinely awful people we run across from time to time actually increases the effect… it invites us to consider whether we might not condone more than we should.