I love the stuff Tumblr throws up. I follow a few fashion blogs – I know nothing about fashion but I enjoy photography and interesting clothes – and this just appeared on my dash (by photographer Ekaterina Belinskaya)
All I can think is that’s almost exactly how Chief Minister Renna of the Rock looks in my head, except that Renna has dark hair. Gorgeous. Also, hey, I should do a character rundown post. In the next couple of days, maybe.
Check out the rest of Belinskaya’s stuff, too. She’s pretty fabulous.
Ravenblood, book II of Casting the Bones, is done. Just shy of 83k words. For the record, that’s three books written so far in 2013, with a fourth planned before the end of the year (book III), which honestly kind of blows my mind a little because I never saw myself being a writer who could work that fast and not produce utter crap.
I mean, I don’t think this is utter crap. I hope not.
The End never stops being a odd phrase to write.
My back hurts.
As promised, I’m giving away a copy of my new book Crowflight! To enter, just fill in the form below, and I’ll draw a winner at random after October 13th.
If you want to find out more about the book itself, clicky. If you want to read the first chapter, clicky. And of course, if you actually end up spending money on the book, that is incredibly awesome and so much appreciated.
Go! Enter! Free! Yay!
Crowflight focuses on Turn, a member of the Crow tribe – the people of the land of Nicht appointed by the goddess Atropos to lead the souls of the dead across the space between the worlds and to whatever comes after. But Crowns aren’t the only inhabitants of Nicht; there are the Ravens, nomadic sorcerers mistrusted by the other two tribes, and there are the Rooks, the keepers of justice and the law, who live in the ancient city of Calvaria. The three aren’t in any kind of open conflict – at least not initially – but none are especially fond of each other, though all three recognize that the other two have some purpose to serve in the organization of the world. Of the three, the Rooks and the Crows get along the best. No one likes the Ravens. The Ravens appear to have accepted this, given that there isn’t much they can do about it. But of course, when mistrust festers for long enough, the results can be terrible…
Obviously I chose ravens, rooks, and crows because of the ties to death and the afterlife that they have in many cultures. But as creatures, they’re awesome for a bunch of other reasons as well. Here are a few, which you might or might not know.
- Crows can recognize unique human facial features. They can also share information about who’s to be avoided.
- Crows also engage in tool use with leaves and stalks of grass, and have even reportedly been observed using breadcrumbs in a form of bait fishing.
- The oldest documented crow in captivity died in 2006 at the age of 59.
- Crows eat literally almost anything. Carrion, of course, but also seeds, eggs, fruit, and other birds.
- In addiction to being associated with death, crows are also associated with war in Irish mythology, via a connection to the Morrigan.
- In Norse mythology, ravens are associated with knowledge; Huginn and Muninn, Odin’s ravens, travel through Midgard and return to him with information.
- During WWII in America, the crow was apparently designated an “enemy of the public” and blamed for stealing the nation’s grain. Not 100% sure that this one isn’t apocryphal, but hey, people are weird.
- No one knows for sure what the whole “murder of crows” thing is about – the title that Crowflight originally almost had. It’s been lost to antiquity – prior to the 15th century. But it may have had something to do with the whole death association aspect. Again, people = weird.
- Ravens show up several times in the Bible, more than once as illustrations of God’s providence; they feed the prophet Elijah and Jesus uses them as an example in one of his parables.
- Legend has it that if the ravens of the Tower of London are ever removed, it will mean the end of England itself.
- The figure of the raven is also important to the mythology of many of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest, where it fills both the roles of creator and trickster, depending on the story. In one, Raven brings light to the world by forcing open a box belonging to Seagull, in which Seagull is keeping the sun.
So yeah, corvids are seriously cool. And it’s interesting how ubiquitous they are in various human cultures, as well as the ways in which a lot of their different depictions share things in common. This is only part of why they seemed natural go-tos for the inhabitants of a world that straddles the border between life and death. I hope that I’ve managed to keep them interesting.
Guess what else is out today? Shimmer #17! Which features stories by me, Helena Bell, A.C. Wise, Damien Angelica Walters, Lavie Tidhar, and a whole
mess of other awesome people.
You can read excerpts of each story at the link above. Here’s a bit of mine, “Love in the Time of Vivisection”.
Stripped of its skin, muscle is very beautiful.
He brings a mirror and shows mine to me, my powerful, corded thighs and the harder stripes of red and white at my hips and the bars of my stomach. My arms. He has left my breasts untouched; those will be handled with exquisite care when most of the rest of me is done. I am a creature of glistening red. I am a wet ruby, run through with pale flaws. I move—I still can, a little—and I watch my gemstone body pull and flex.
He says he loves every part of me. As he pulls me slowly to pieces, he has an opportunity to acquaint himself with all of those component parts. This is both a gift that I give to him and a demonstration of himself to me, proof of what he says.
The ultimate test of any claim is whether one can hold to it when it is made as literal as possible. As literal as flesh. As bone. As the edge of a knife.
As I was yelling about on various social media outlets yesterday, Crowflight – Book I of Casting the Bones – has been released and is now available to spend your hard-earned dollars on.
Goodreads link is here, if you’re so inclined.
It’s been almost exactly a year from completion of the first draft to release of the final; I wrote the book in October of 2012, as I was coming off one of the hardest semesters and summers of my graduate career. I’d taken and passed my comprehensive exams, I’d had a bit of a mental breakdown as a result, and I was retreating into writing in order to help heal myself. In many ways I’m still there. As I told Elise Tobler in the interview she did with me, a lot of what Turn goes through in Crowflight came out of those feelings of anxiety and uncertainty: having one vision for your future and having that vision entirely upended by events mostly beyond your control. Turn is a reluctant hero; she accepts her role but she never entirely embraces it. She doesn’t want the responsibility of saving an entire world on her shoulders. She’s not a coward; she’s just tired and hurting.
But we don’t always get to make those choices.
In the next couple of weeks I’m going to be offering a chance to win a copy of the book, and there will also be some assorted goodies. For today, allow me to offer, for free, the first chapter. If you like it, maybe you’ll check out the rest.
Only a few things, but some big stuff.
- This is all over the place already but it’s such a wtf moment that it’s worth reposting: The NSA, in the name of “national security”, has engaged in a massive conspiracy to hack into private information and weaken digital security across the globe. These people are master criminals in all but name. If there was any pretense that they were subject to the rule of law in any form, that should be all over and done with now.
- Along those lines: The very idea that the US – or any state wishing to appear to be powerful – is subject to the rule of law is a farce. Not only that, but by definition the system is constructed in such a way as to make it practically impossible. We’re seeing that in the president’s decisions re: Syria, but it’s always been true.
If American foreign policy is anything, it is not even-handed and impartial, and international law is the least of its concerns. It is selfish, interested, aggressive, petty, and vindictive. It is a state arrogating to itself the right to make arbitrary choices, to make the rules while other countries only follow them. And to prove that distinction—to demonstrate that while the US and its allies can behave according to one standard, other nations can be stripped of that privilege, at will—the US must not only establish “red lines,” and enforce them, but it is the very arbitrary nature of those red lines which allows them to function as signs on the international stage. Lawlessness is how a state proves itself sovereign; submission to law is the sign of the weak.
- Philadelphia’s public schools are doomed, and the end is ugly. The end is also the work of callous, cruel, wicked men. I’m an educator, and Philadelphia is my home. This enrages me to the point of tears, to the point where I have to just not think about it anymore.
This crisis, and the ultimate downfall of Philadelphia public schools, could have been avoided through proper financial management. At the end of the last budget year, the state of Pennsylvania had a modest surplus but Governor Corbett chose to allocate money towards building new prisons. Helen Gym, a public school parent and the founder of Parents United for Public Education, told the Washington Post, “Pennsylvania is one of three states in the nation without a funding formula for schools (based on enrollment, population, or other metric). The funding of districts is basically determined in back room deals among party leadership, with little consideration of need or even actual enrollment.”
- I threw my oar into the #DiversityinSFF discussion with a post linking digital dualism to the boundary policing of science fiction.
One of the things that’s going on here is sexist cultural conventions being produced and reproduced regarding women being bad at science, the devaluing of “feminine” things like emotion and relationships, which are being bolstered and which are bolstering our assumptions about technology as somehow disconnected from the reality of those things. Relationships begun and maintained via social media aren’t “real”. Emotion elicited and transferred via digital technology isn’t “real”. There are feelings and relationships and humanity and interiority, and then there’s technology.
- And one final plug: I’m giving away a copy of We See a Different Frontier right over here. You have until the 18th to enter. Winner will be drawn at random.
Nightmares shifted in their sleep, in the darkness of the lake.
After the loss of a limb, some people experience bereavement. Some people are angry. Some people adjust perfectly well. Some people have a hard time working with your particular family of prosthetics. Fewer than there used to be. The majority of people are fine with you, grateful for the advances that have produced you.
But I read the testimonials and I don’t see all that many people talking about it like it’s them. Theirs, yes. But not them.
A very few people experience a curious crisis of identity. They start believing that they aren’t human anymore. They have panic attacks, nightmares. They claim that not only are you not part of them but you’re a separate mind trying to take them over. A tiny minority actually engage in what’s being called re-amputation.
Footage of a man who hacked off his new leg with a meat cleaver. It took him fifteen minutes to get it all the way off. The pain was immense until he rendered the sensory apparatus inoperative. He has permanent nerve damage. The other leg doesn’t work now. He says he doesn’t regret it. He says incomplete but real human is better than the alternative.
Now that We See a Different Frontier has been released – and is getting some fantastic critical response, some of which you can read about here, as well as Aliette de Bodard’s mini review here – it seems to me that it might be a good idea to give a free copy of it away to you lovely people. So enter below and in two weeks (September 18) I’ll select one person at random to receive a copy of the ebook in their choice of formats.
And of course, if you do win the book, we definitely appreciate reviews on it on Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, etc. This is truly a fantastic anthology – we need to get the word out that it exists, in addition to being awesome. ToC is below.
- Preface by Aliette de Bodard
- Introduction by Fabio Fernandes
- The Arrangement of Their Parts, Shweta Narayan
- Pancho Villa’s Flying Circus, Ernest Hogan
- Them Ships, Silvia Moreno-Garcia
- Old Domes, J.Y. Yang
- A Bridge of Words, Dinesh Rao
- The Gambiarra Effect, Fabio Fernandes *
- Droplet, Rahul Kanakia
- Lotus, Joyce Chng
- Dark Continents, Lavie Tidhar
- A Heap of Broken Images, Sunny Moraine
- Fleet, Sandra McDonald
- Remembering Turinam, N.A. Ratnayake
- Vector, Benjanun Sriduangkaew
- I Stole the D.C.’s Eyeglass, Sofia Samatar
- Forests of the Night, Gabriel Murray
- What Really Happened in Ficandula, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz
- Critical afterword by Ekaterina Sedia