Monday, June 18, 2018

Great Authors Meet Darkover at the Crossroads

Contributors to Crossroads of Darkover share how they first encountered the world of the Bloody Sun.

Robin Wayne Bailey: 
The first Darkover tale I ever read was Darkover Landfall, and I came across it perhaps in an unusual way. At the time, I was working in a bookstore part-time to earn college money, but I was also already a fairly dedicated book collector. Among the books I collected were DAW's yellow-spined paperbacks, which DAW was kind enough to number. I searched these out in new bookstores and used bookstores, determined to own them all, and this is how I came across Darkover Landfall. I'm not sure if I had previously read any of Marion Zimmer Bradley's earlier work, but this book captivated me. I was a sucker for a good "lost colony" story, and this proved one of the best. I remember the day we unpacked that latest DAW shipment and removing this book with its shiny cover and artwork by, I think, Jack Gaughan. It excited me then, and although I drifted away from the series after a time, it continues to excite me.

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 other Darkover novels as well.

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.

Rebecca Fox:
As a moody teenage girl with SFnal leanings in the early/mid-1990s, I really had three main reading choices: Pern, Valdemar, or Darkover. Pern I’d found on my own, in a sixth grade language arts reader of all places. My discovery of Valdemar and Darkover (simultaneously) at the age of 14 or 15 and the subsequent loss of at least a week’s worth of sleep while I devoured several books as fast as I could possibly read them I owe to a camp roommate.

My introduction to writing Darkover came via Rosemary Edghill - who is, incidentally, a brilliant human being, a terrific writer, and a truly stellar teacher - who mentored me through my angst-filled and far less than graceful move from Darkest Fanficcia to the Land of Paid Professional Writers and somehow managed not to murder me in the process (it would have been entirely justified, trust me). At any rate, Rosemary invited me to collaborate with her on a story for Stars of Darkover (“Second Contact,” of which I’m still
terribly fond) and the rest is history. I remain more grateful than I can really express for the invitation, as well as for patient lessoning in things like how to pace a story and how to edit my own work and more than a few good stiff doses of humility. I wouldn't be here without her, and I hope one of these days I’ll at least get the chance to pay it forward.

Leslie Fish: 
I've been a Sci-Fi fan since I was a little kid.  I started on comic books, and learned early to recognize the difference the characteristic drawing styles of Steve Ditko, Wally Wood, and Jack Davis.  I visited our local corner drugs/convenience/comics store at least once a week, and noticed when they started including magazines and then paperback books.  One day I picked up an Ace Double paperback with The Planet Savers on one side and The Sword of Aldones on the other -- and finished them both in a single week, and was forever hooked.

Shariann Lewitt:  
I think what made [Darkover] very different from all the others—and that kept me with it even as I grew up—was that it felt very real to my own experiences as a nerdy girl who wanted to do something with her life, but had to fight for it.  In other worlds, women either were magic users or victims of the patriarchy.  On Darkover—a world with the extreme gender roles that my mother insisted were my lot—women who were willing to fight for their dreams could have them.  Yes, many of them had laran, but others didn’t.  That inspired me and gave me a lot of hope when I was young.

Pat MacEwen: 
My introduction to science fiction happened in the back of a station wagon on a cross-country road trip when I was 13. An older cousin took pity on me, and gave me a box full of paperbacks to help me pass the time. That’s where I met up with Asimov, Doc Smith, Poul Anderson, Heinlein and more. Once home again, I began to explore the genre, and was delighted to encounter female authors as well, and books with strong female characters and story lines.

Darkover was a rarity then – a complicated world with a long history where women mattered quite as much as men, and which often explored nonbinary questions of sex and gender and family and inheritance, and of course laran. Like most writers, I was something of a misfit in high school, but here was a place where I could see myself fitting in, one way or another. I’m also strongly attracted to moral questions in story-telling and tales of Darkover often focus on intricate problems concerning what’s right and wrong in this setting, compared to Terran mores.

Robin Rowland: 
I live in the mountainous coast of British Columbia, where we often experience what I like to call “Darkover weather.” This year winter started early, in mid-November. It started with rain, which changed to freezing rain, to wet snow to snow. One day we had 24 hours of heavy snow, followed again by sleet and then rain, and then another 24 hours of heavy snow. One day, I dug out my driveway four times, the next, the sun came out and it was warm and there was a heavy snow melt underway. Now in mid-January, we have had a lot less snow than usual, but over this weekend we had freezing rain that left layers of ice everywhere.

Many years ago Marion Zimmer Bradley told me in the Darkover Suite at Westercon that she was first inspired by the snow in upstate New York and later, in California, by the Sierras. Every science fiction fan brings their own experience to their enjoyment of stories. I grew up in Kitimat and retired here. In a local First Nations (Native Canadian) language Kitimat means “people of the snow. The valley at the end of an 80 kilometre fjord has a unique micro climate. Four times we’ve had a record one day snowfall for all of Canada. The weather can change to warm to wet in a half hour. Winters can see snow up to the roof of a typical Kitimat 1950s two story ranch style house or sometimes so little snow I only use a half bag of snow melter. Summers can either be dreary, overcast and wet or warm to very hot with the occasional drought. So for me, that unique micro climate of the Kitimat valley is perhaps the closest thing on Terra to Darkover.

No comments:

Post a Comment