Wednesday, April 26, 2017

In Troubled Times: Quaker Wisdom

No clear impressions, either from above or from without, can be received by a mind turbid with excitement and agitated by a crowd of distractions. The stillness needed for the clear shining of light within is incompatible with hurry.
~ Caroline Stephen, 1834-1909


I believe there is something in the mind, or in the heart, that shows its approbation when we do right. I give myself this advice: Do not fear truth, let it be so contrary to inclination and feeling. Never give up the search after it: and let me take courage, and try from the bottom of my heart to do that which I believe truth dictates, if it leads me to be a Quaker or not.

~ Elizabeth Fry, 1780-1845

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Anthology Special Price

Two anthologies I've participated in are on sale at a reduced price right now. Across the Spectrum, which I edited with Pati Nagle (and which celebrates Book View Cafe's 5th anniversary and includes stories by Ursula K. LeGuin, Vonda N. McIntyre, Sherwood Smith, Judith Tarr, Katharine Kerr, and Madeleine E. Robins). The Shadow Conspiracy III: Clockwork Souls (also from Book View Cafe) contains my story "Among Friends," pertaining to Quakers, the Underground Railroad, and a slave-catching automaton. They're $2.99 each.

The sale ends May 1, so grab 'em while you can! (And the others look great, too!)




Monday, April 24, 2017

Evey Brett on "Only Men Dance" in MASQUES OF DARKOVER

In the spirit of a masqued revel, here is a gala presentation of tales set in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s beloved world of the Bloody Sun. Some of these stories are humorous, others dark, some gritty, and others whimsical or romantic, but all reflect the richness and breadth of adventures to be found on Darkover.

Masques of Darkover will be released May 2, 2017 and is now available for pre-order at Amazon.comBarnes and Noble and Kobo. The print edition will be on sale on the release date.

While this is her first sale to a Darkover anthology, Evey Brett is no stranger to magic, especially when it comes to horses--just ask her Lipizzan mare, Carrma, who has a habit of arranging the universe to her liking. Carrma not only insisted that Evey move to southern Arizona to coddle her during her retirement, but she was also the inspiration for her books Capriole, Levade, and Passage as well as an anthology featuring supernatural horses. “None of those are based on real life,” she says. “Nope, not one.”

Deborah J. Ross: Tell us about your introduction to Darkover. 

Evey Brett: Back in 2002 when I was just out of college, I got a job working retail at a now-extinct Foley's department store in a mall. There was a Waldenbooks right across from the store, so I'd often go get a book and settle down in a comfy chair somewhere in the mall to eat my lunch and read. One day I was looking for a new book and picked up The Fall of Neskaya, and I was hooked. Fortunately for me (and the bookstore) they had several of other Darkover novels as well.


DJR: What about the world drew you in?

EB: I'm a sucker for stories with telepaths and damaged characters. I'd gone through a number of Mercedes Lackey's books, so finding Darkover gave me a whole new world with a sizeable canon to explore. Having just read the back of The Fall of Neskaya, I'd still pick it up to read because it's got everything I want--telepaths, power, gifts, a tormented character with a secret he can't reveal.  

Thursday, April 20, 2017

[links] Electric Sand and Other Glories

Titan is covered with dunes and plains made of sand consisting of a range of organic molecules. Méndez speculated that the moon's sand might readily become electrically charged, making its behavior significantly different from that of Earth sand.
Méndez's specialty is electrified particles. He investigates phenomena such as volcanic lightning, which is powered by electrically charged volcanic ash particles, and studies "powders in the pharmaceutical industry, which can clump together or stick to the walls of pipes because of their electric charge," he said.



Tatooine world could be habitable despite its inevitably complicated orbit, as long as the planet stays within a particular range of distances from its two host stars, researchers said.
"This means that double-star systems of the type studied here are excellent candidates to host habitable planets, despite the large variations in the amount of starlight hypothetical planets in such a system would receive," Max Popp, an associate research scholar at Princeton University in New Jersey and the Max Planck Institute of Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany, said in a statement.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tuesday Cat Blog

Hello, I'm Shakir. After relentless campaigning, I have convinced my human to give me equal blog time. Well, not truly equal. We all know that truly equal would mean she'd never get a word in edgewise.



Here I am, relaxing on the nicely cushioned comforter my human has thoughtfully provided. As you can see, I'm of the green-eyed black-haired tribe, although I do have an elegant frosting of white hairs on my chest. I was found roaming the wilds at about 10 months of age, so I leave you to guess at my early life, but everyone at the shelter recognized what a good cat I am, and after a long time, I was invited to join the household of humans (and cats -- hiss! -- and a trainable dog -- well, all right) who understood the unique charms of black cats.




You can see from this portrait that I am a cat of Very Large Personality. (Is there any other kind?)

I look forward to receiving your adoration in future posts.

Shakir (his mark)


Monday, April 17, 2017

Leslie Roy & Margaret L. Carter on "Believing" in MASQUES OF DARKOVER

In the spirit of a masqued revel, here is a gala presentation of tales set in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s beloved world of the Bloody Sun. Some of these stories are humorous, others dark, some gritty, and others whimsical or romantic, but all reflect the richness and breadth of adventures to be found on Darkover.

Masques of Darkover will be released May 2, 2017 and is now available for pre-order at Amazon.comBarnes and Noble and Kobo. The print edition will be on sale on the release date.


Margaret L. Carter specializes in vampires, having been marked for life by reading Dracula at the age of twelve. Her Ph.D. dissertation even included a chapter on Dracula. Her vampire novel Dark Changeling won an Eppie Award in the horror category in 2000. Other creatures she writes about include werewolves, dragons, ghosts, and Lovecraftian entities with tentacles. In addition to her horror, fantasy, and paranormal romance fiction, she has had several nonfiction books and articles published on vampires in literature, including Different Blood: The Vampire As Alien. Recent work includes Passion In The Blood (a vampire romance), Sealing The Dark Portal (a paranormal romance with Lovecraftian elements), and “Crossing the Border” (horror erotic romance novella with Lovecraftian elements).


Les and Margaret Carter attended the College of William and Mary together as a married couple and earned their bachelors’ degrees there. Les later received an MS in Electronics Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. He retired from the U.S. Navy as a Captain after thirty years of service. He and Margaret co-wrote “Carmen’s Flight,” published in one of the early Darkover anthologies. They have also collaborated on a fantasy series, beginning with Wild Sorceress, for which he’s the primary author. Les has over fifty years of experience in search and rescue as a member of the Civil Air Patrol. Les and Margaret have four children, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

[personal] Milestone Birthday

I'm 70 years old today. It feels so strange to be that big a number. I have no idea what it means to be This Many Years. But it does feel like a milestone, a sea change.

It comes after a period of wrestling with my engagement with the repeated, periodic parole hearings for the man who raped and murdered my mother -- who was 70 at the time, so that's another reason this age is a huge change for me. I'll likely write about this more, but basically I have decided to not participate in any future hearings 30 years is long enough and past long to carry such a burden. It's done terrible things to my life, and I've fought so hard to regain my peace of mind, let alone my happiness. This is what my mother would want for me, and now I'm finally able to leave the nightmare behind. Turn the page, shut the door, throw the whole vile mess into the ocean.

Back to the birthday. I had a lovely early celebration last week, when younger daughter was home from medical school for spring break, and she and her wife and older daughter and beloved spouse and I all went out to a very fancy dinner. Having both my girls and my daughter-in-law and my husband all together was the best present ever.

I've been unhappy with how unproductive and unfocused I've been for the last year. The parole hearing was only partly to blame, but I have the feeling the right moment to tell the stories and do the other things that are meaningful to me is slipping away, or in danger of doing that. So my present to myself is a promise to sit down, with my journal if helpful, and figure out what's distracting me and how to structure my days. To live well, work well, love well, take excellent care of myself, fill my time with joy.

Monday, April 10, 2017

India Edghill on "The Price of Stars" in MASQUES OF DARKOVER

In the spirit of a masqued revel, here is a gala presentation of tales set in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s beloved world of the Bloody Sun. Some of these stories are humorous, others dark, some gritty, and others whimsical or romantic, but all reflect the richness and breadth of adventures to be found on Darkover.

Masques of Darkover will be released May 2, 2017 and is now available for pre-order at Amazon.comBarnes and Noble and Kobo. The print edition will be on sale on the release date.

A writer of historical novels (so far, mostly set in Ancient Israel) and fantasy short stories (set everywhen from India to Darkover to Imperial Russia), India Edghill's love of history has resulted in the acquisition of far too many books on far too many subjects. A former resident of the beautiful Mid-Hudson Valley, New York, India and her Cavalier King Charles Spaniels now live in the beautiful Willamette Valley in Oregon.


Deborah J. Ross: Tell us about your introduction to Darkover.  

India Edghill: Oh, heavens, that was so long ago I don't even remember.  I was in my teens and had just discovered science fiction.  Back then it was hard to find and one couldn't just pop off to the Internet to find something you wanted.  If your library didn't own the book, or you didn't spot in at a yard sale, you were out of luck.  Sometimes -- wonder of wonders! -- a science fiction book would show up in the rack of paperbacks at the drugstore, but not often.  And there weren't that many bookstores in suburbia.  Now Amazon, eBay, ABEbooks, and Indiebound have made it so easy to find not only new books, but used ones too, and Project Gutenberg makes thousands of out of print and out of copyright works available free.  The Internet also makes it easy to find a local bookstore no matter where you're going.  But back to Darkover!  Somehow, at some point, I managed to pick up a copy of -- I think it was The Bloody Sun and that did it.  I was hooked.


DJR: What about the world drew you in?

IE: Marion's storytelling, of course!  She created a world of wonders and fascinating people and spun terrific stories about them.  I found Darkover back when a science fiction novel was only about 50,000 words, and boy, could she weave a universe for you in those words.


DJR: What book would you recommend for someone new to Darkover?

IE: Well, there's always The Door Through Space…for those really into Darkovan backstory…  Okay, okay, Door isn't technically a Darkover story.  But it's my favorite, and in a sense it's the ultimate Darkover book.  For anyone who's interested in the Dry Towns, it's required reading.


DJR: What inspired your story in Masques of Darkover?

IE: Queen Elizabeth I's eye color.  Semi-seriously!  To start with, all I had was a vague idea:  "what if the most powerful laran-user ever was a girl born in the Dry Towns?"  The Dry Towns have always interested me, so the setting was a "gimme."  And since I'm totally enamored of Good Queen Bess (in fact, my first sale to Mzb's Fantasy Magazine was "Maiden Phoenix", about the young Elizabeth), I swiped her for the character.  And since no one can agree on Elizabeth's eye color -- sources from her own time describe her eyes as every color from blue to grey to hazel to black -- I blended that in as well.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Short Book Reviews: Dave Duncan Tackles Chinese Fantasy Right

I’m a long-time and unabashed Dave Duncan fan. I love his literate, compassionate, exciting fantasy novels. He always comes up with fascinating twists and insights into standard themes, and his handling of the material seems effortless. My only quibble is that much of his work is in series forms, three or four volume (or longer) tales, so if I find a book from the middle, I pretty much have to hold on to it until I complete the set. So I was delighted to find this stand-alone, set it Duncan’s inimitably original version of a magical alternate China. Such stories go through cycles of popularity. Barry Hughart published a series (Bridge of Birds, etc.) back in the 1980s and 1990s. More recently, Ken Liu’s The Grace of Kings and its sequels have attracted much attention. But Duncan’s vision is all his own, and with smooth mastery of his craft, he draws the reader into his marvelous world. His characters, from a starving orphan to a reincarnated god to the scheming, ruthless mother of the imbecile emperor, are vivid and engaging. While the story lines initially share little except a common culture and time, I had no doubt that Duncan would bring them together in the end; I was not disappointed, for the plot twists and thorny decisions resolved beautifully and with Duncan’s signature gracefulness. A treat for Duncan fans and a great introduction to his work, particularly if you are looking for non-Western settings.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Shariann Lewitt on "The Wind" In MASQUES OF DARKOVER

In the spirit of a masqued revel, here is a gala presentation of tales set in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s beloved world of the Bloody Sun. Some of these stories are humorous, others dark, some gritty, and others whimsical or romantic, but all reflect the richness and breadth of adventures to be found on Darkover.

Masques of Darkover will be released May 2, 2017 and is now available for pre-order at Amazon.comBarnes and Noble and Kobo. The print edition will be on sale on the release date.

Shariann Lewitt has published seventeen books and over forty short stories, including “Wedding Embroidery” in Stars of Darkover and “Memory” in Gifts of Darkover. When not writing she teaches at MIT, studies flamenco dance, and is accounted reasonably accomplished at embroidery. Her expertise with birds arises in part from being the devoted servant of two parrots.


Deborah J. Ross: Tell us about your introduction to Darkover. What about the world drew you in?

Shariann Lewitt: I started reading Darkover when I was very young and it grabbed me in a special way, because it showed girls and women doing active, great stuff, not just sitting around being passive.  But unlike a lot of other more feminist stories of the era, the girls and women had to struggle to get to powerful positions and often had to make sacrifices (like Keepers having to remain virgin) in order to wield power.  I could relate to these women because this felt real, this felt like the world I lived in.  I hated having to read stories where the only people who got to do anything that meant anything were male, but on the other hand, I found the worlds where full gender equality was taken for granted was just a little too unbelievable.  A little too much like the magic.  I could relate to the struggles of the women and girls on Darkover and that drew me in.  It all felt so REAL.


DJR: Tell us about your story in Masques of Darkover.

SL: I've been *dying* to tell about this! This is my Bernie Sanders story!  Really! 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

R.I.P SFF.NET

Sff.net has gone the way of GEnie and other beloved communities. GEnie was my introduction to online gatherings. I met people, made friends (still going strong), brainstormed anthologies (and then sold stories to them), kept an eye on friends in need (and noticed when they disappeared and dispatched local friends to check on them), engaged in gossip I wish I hadn't, engaged in kindness I'm glad I did.

Dueling Modems and then sff.net picked up when GEnie couldn't survive the 2K transition. For me, neither had the same vitality, although folks did their best. Sff.net provided an email address and website, however. And we all had to find new hosts as The End neared. As much as I valued these communities, I've oozed on over to blogging, FB, Twitville, and the like.

Life moves on. Communities evolve. Friendships endure.