Monday, April 20, 2015

Diana L. Paxson on "Blood-kin" in GIFTS OF DARKOVER

On a wondrous planet of telepaths and swordsmen, nonhumans and ancient mysteries, a technologically advanced, star-faring civilization comes into inevitable conflict with one that has pursued psychic gifts and turned away from weapons of mass destruction. Darkover offers many gifts, asked for and unexpected. Those who come here, ignorant of what they will find, discover gifts outside themselves and within themselves. The door to magic swings both ways, however, and many a visitor leaves the people he encounters equally transformed. 

Gifts of Darkover will be released May 5, 2015, and is now available for pre-order.

Diana L. Paxson talks with editor Deborah J. Ross about her story, "Blood-kin."

Tell us about your introduction to Darkover. What about the world drew
you in? What do you see as the future of Darkover? Is there another
story you would particularly like to write?

I first heard about the Darkover books when I discovered fandom as a grad student at Berkeley in 1965. That was also when I first met Marion. I invited her to the first tournament of what became the SCA [Society for Creative Anachronism],  but I didn't get to know her or the books well until I married Jon DeCles. As a major in Medieval literature, I really appreciated Darkover's society and I was intrigued by the way she dealt with psychic powers. As Darkover fandom developed in the 70s, and I talked to more fans,  I realized that Marion was using the fantastic setting to explore some important issues, starting with psychic abilities and continuing to explore gay issues and eventually, feminism.

For the future, I think the challenge will be to continue to break new ground while retaining the qualities that attracted us in the first place.

What inspired your story in Gifts of Darkover?
In "Evanda's Mirror" (in Stars of Darkover) I asked what might happen if a transwoman an tried to join the Free Amazons. It seemed like the kind of issue Marion might have tackled if she were writing today. In "Blood-kin" the characters from the first story face the consequences of their actions, as Thendara suffers an Ebola-like plague.

What have you written recently? What lies ahead?
My non-fiction book on possessory trance is coming out in March, and I will have a novelette, "Deor" in S.M. Stirling's Change anthology this June. Some other short stories are in the pipeline, and I am working on a proposal for a historical fantasy about the Seeress Veleda.

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