Tor.com has released the cover for a story I sold Ellen Datlow not long ago, “The Color of Paradox.” The image is by Jeffrey Alan Love and it’s very creepy and appropriate. I feel as though I could fall into it, staring for endless hours… or possibly just until the kittens do something irresistible. (Attention spans are lamentably short at Dua Central right now.)
The elongation of the figure and its placement in the upper left corner draw the eye first, delaying the moment when you track down to the city and see that Bad Things are happening. The brushwork is delightfully scratchy, and naturally I headed right off to Love’s blog to see what the rest of his work looked like. He’s got an image for Tolkien’s Beowulf that is sheerly amazing, and I liked his take on Excalibur, “The Sword in the City” very much.
“The Color of Paradox” is a first attempt to write something I have been trying to wrap my head around for years: a series or novel or some damned thing set in a universe where there’s time travel, but it only moves backward. All of the missions are one-way missions. You can receive instructions and resources from the future, but your only option for responding is to essentially leave time capsules where nobody else will find them.
It is also one of those stories that grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I dropped everything and wrote it in a bit of a mad haze. It’s very different from Stormwrack and the impulse was probably driven by a desire to write in a different key.
Another thing about the story that delights me is having gotten to work with Ellen Datlow again, because she is a brilliant and generous editor and it had been too long since I had anything to send her.
It will be live on the Tor site and readable, for free, on June 25th, the same day Child of a Hidden Sea hits bookstores.
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.
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!
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!
The latest Buffy Rewatch is up at Tor.com – it covers “Conversations with Dead People,” which I suspect you’ll all agree is one of the better S7 episodes.
I am at home cooking and working on the next Buffy essay (I’m on “Potential”) and I have my Schmaltz playlist on. The dictionary definition of schmaltzy is “excessively sentimental,” and I don’t know if all of my choices qualify, but I will admit, publicly, that Barry Manilow’s “Can’t Smile Without You” is on it. Essentially they’re songs that make me feel sentimental.
So, I’m puttering around chopping veggies and the Eagles come on, with “New Kid in Town,” a song that’s been making me emo since the Seventies. And it occurred to me, in a distant way, that the lion’s share of my listening brain takes the one lyric: “Great expectations/everybody’s watching you,” literally. It’s as if in mid-song the narrator breaks off to personally address a Masterpiece Theater version of Great Expectations, to say “Hey, there. We’re tuning in. All of us. Just FYI.”
Yeah, so that happened.
Another thing that’s happened, as some of you may have heard, was that we got some freezing rain in Toronto. Here’s a picture:
This week’s rewatch is up to “Him,” the S7 episode where a magic coat makes an allegedly unremarkable young man graceful, attractive, and an all ’round tasty morsel.
Here in Toronto, we got a dumping of the white stuff: nineteen centimeters of snow, or so somebody told me. Kelly and I promptly went out and got proper boots. This should be, I think, the last of the official moving expenses. The boots are waterproof and toasty and pretty clompy, and I’ve done my usual stomping about in them for the past couple of days with satisfactory results. I’ve been taking pictures, and they’ll end up here as I continue to sift through them.
I’m up to “Selfless” on the Buffy rewatch. Anya! I love her so. Here’s the essay.
At least one person in the comment threads has already called this the best episode of season 7. I’d say that’s “Chosen,” because I loved how the series closed. But then there’s “Storyteller, too.
Still, Anya! So complicated, so smart, and so darned strange!
Since we are now supposed to be living in a land of snow, I have been uncharacteristically keen to have some. And we have, but it hasn’t been very visually impressive. It falls, it slushes, it goes away. There have been a few good holiday trees though, especially in the financial district. I thought this one, for example, was pretty nice:
This week’s rewatch covers the episode “Help,” which is the one where a young teen predicts her death, and Buffy tries to stop it.
Today is the last really full week of work for my Novel One students at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. They’ll walk out with a first chapter, an outline, and a plan for moving forward with their projects. Starting next month, I’ll be teaching “Creating Universes, Building Worlds,” which is the speculative fiction course with a focus on short stories. There are still some slots for students in this one; if you have any questions, let me know.
In terms of one-on-one mentorships, I will not be taking new students for at least the first couple of months of 2014. I could be persuaded to run a waiting list, so if you are interesting in this and we haven’t talked before, reach out.
I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving, if you happened to celebrate it last week.