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Writer Gal

April 2017

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Writer Gal

I just have to tell you three things...

1.) Shimmer's Clockwork Jungle.

Now. If I never actually write a blow by blow review of this, I still want you to know that it's constantly surprising, often mind-blowing, and well-worth the read. Plus, there's this woodcut of a wolf riding a unicycle that you MUST see.

I freely admit I bought it for Amal El-Mohtar's story, "The Fishbowl", and for Shweta Narayan's story, "The Mechanical Aviary of Emperor Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar."

And I was NOT disappointed. I was, in fact, elated. That was my first shweta_narayan story I ever read ever, and I instantly became some kind of junkie. More, please! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!

As for tithenai. My Amal. You must understand. Her fiction and poetry often make me want to drown. Wreathed in flowers, barge on fire, heaps of riches around me, the whole shebang. She is like that passage from Shakespeare's Winter's Tale:

"Each your doing
(So singular in each particular)
Crowns what you are doing in the present deeds,
That all your acts are queens."


Then there was James L. Cambias' "The Wolf and the Schoolmaster." With the WOODCUT by Rhiannon Rasmussen-Silverstein that SLAYS me. But even without the woodcut! How I drooled. How I slavered. What a harshness I felt in my chest! Who is this fellow? Must I GOOGLE him? Why are there so many good authors in the world?

And what about that tough-as-rusted-factory-works prose of Jay Lake in "Shedding Skin"? And then, the elegant despair of Susannah Mandel's gentleman Monkey! Oh, and I won't even TELL you about "Otto's Elephant" by Vincent Pendergast because you have to find out for yourself!

I tell you, I never liked clockworks much, but I'm being wooed. I'm three stories away from succumbing to seduction. But never mind THAT. All I'm saying is...

Read Shimmer's Clockwork Jungle.

2.) BLACK GATE 14!!!

It's MASSIVE! It's GLOSSY! It's full of ILLUSTRATIONS! There are THREE POEMS in it! (Which I have not yet read.) After chortling my way through John O'Neill's wry romp of an editorial, laughing though the letters, and reading Rich Horton's essay on older fantasy fiction as closely as my clouded brain allowed, I finally started on the actual fiction. This morning. On the train.

I read "Dark of the Year" by Diana Sherman. How WONDERFUL to have an old man as a protagonist! A GRANDFATHER! It's rare you see that in fiction or film. Rare too that he is so gentle, a vintner, trying to protect his infant granddaughter from the Shadows and demons who will take her if he can't find her true name.

I read "Hangman's Daughter" by Chris Braak - and HURRAH for the FORMDIABLE girl-child protagonist with her laconic but fiercely interesting dad and the incredible world built around them (THERIANS! The LOOGAROO!!! Which, hey, that's a lot like "loup garou" isn't it? Isn't that the French for werewolf? HA!). This story was, in a word (an old-fashioned hippie word), BITCHIN'.

Then I read "The Bonestealer's Mirror." Or most of it. My train ride ended. But so far... VIKINGS! Lots of VIKINGS! Monsters! AXES! Not to mention (surprising but by no means unpleasing) another VERY PROMISING female character!!!

And this is just, what, the BEGINNING???

I tell you, folks.BLACK GATE 14 is where it's at.

(Side note: As of THIS morning's train ride - 5/1/10 - I'm on the novella "The Price of Two Blades" by Pete Butler and I wish I had the day off so I could EAT it.

Now, to get to "Two-Blades," I had to first pass "The Renunciation of the Crimes of Gharad the Undying" which had me giggling fit to BUST! And then, there was this NASTY story by Michael Jasper and Jay Lake which was populated entirely by villains - protag, antag and all the evil tags between. Ew. Very nice! But... ew.

The next story up has a cool title. And the NEXT story after that??? Is a JAMES ENGE story!!! So I'm set. So what if I have two hours of a train ride tonight? Do I mind in the LEAST? No! For I have BLACK GATE 14 to succor me! Plus, Doctor Who awaits me at the end of my trek.)

(((Note as of Sunday Morning, May 2nd, 11:08 AM:

"The Price of Two Blades" was very fine. I like a good novella. I'm a sucker for a good novella. My pleasure in reading a short story derives from how much the writer managed to do in a pithy period of time - what weight of history, culture, character, heart can be conveyed in a palmful of paragraphs. But that kind of pleasure, like in the Gilbert Sullivan song, is a "short, sharp shock," and then BAM! You have to move on to the next short story, by a totally different author, in another alien world, and you have to shake off the effects of the last to fully enjoy the next.

But a NOVELLA, now. A NOVELLA! If it's good, I take such SATISFACTION from it, and "Two Blades" was good. Full immersion in place, a tangle of time and character that Pete Butler combs into a neat barbed wire braid, and the bard gets his comeuppance... And is probably a better bard for it. Someday I will learn what, exactly, Black Gate has AGAINST bards, but for now I will just watch and listen.

My favorite bit in "The Girl Who Feared Lightning" was a short exchange between the protagonist and her boyfriend over the phone. It was very natural and easy, yet loaded with all sorts of things left unsaid. It's always amazing to me how a few sentences of dialogue can define an entire relationship. And then, of course, there were the mummies.

Any Morlock story by James Enge is worth reading, and "Destroyer" is no exception. This one was a part of "The Crooked Way" which I've already spoken of at length, but OH! It was SPLENDID to revisit. I like to reread a Morlock story. Like visiting your favorite most dangerous friend.

Robert J. Howe's "The Natural History of Calamity" is witty and well-plotted. I expended very little effort in reading - the story just swept me along. It took most of two train rides, and I was in a panic lest I'd have to get off the train before I'd FINISHED it. Another author I must GOOGLE. Kick-ass lady protag, too, I must say. And kick-ass without being INDOMITABLE, you know. She gets knocked around her fair share and is not NOBLE about it all the time. I'd like to meet her again. In, like, a novel. Please.

"Red Hell" and "The Lady's Apprentice" were solid and enjoyable, over almost before they were begun. Next I'll read "The Wine-Dark Sea" by Isabel Pelech. It's an old phrase, isn't it? "Wine-Dark Sea." I can hardly wait. But right now, I'm going into my friend's hot-tub. "Wrap it up, toots," she tells me. So I must stop writing.)))

3.) Cabinet Des Fées.

I keep forgetting April is National Poetry Month, and wonderful people keep reminding me - through Facebook posts, poems in my email, idle mention. That's what it's about! Spread the word!

And Cabinet Des Fées is doing that! By the end of today, it will have featured three poems, including interviews with the poets! Up right now are Amal El-Mohtar's "Orpheus" and seanan_mcguire's "Baba Yaga Said."

Later today, there will be a third poetess*** added to make a triumvirate of Goddesses that would strike awe and wonder into even such of us as who've never really had cause to pity Paris of Troy before.

So long as no one asks me to give an apple "To The Fairest" I'm totally cool with this.

Cabinet Des Fées.

Those are my three things. I thought they were important. Have a wonderful Beltane's Eve, everyone!

*** Added now... The Goddess Cat!



Thank you, beautiful lady!
Shucks, miss. Tweren't nuthin. Tweren't even the iceberg's very tip.
You're a bad influence. I've been GOOD. I have utilized the library heavily and spent NOTHING on reading materials for months. But you come with your crowing and your squees and now I NEEEEEEEED to spend money. Dealer.
Hey, I'm a GOOD influence! You'll LOVE 'em!!!

And Cabinet, at least, is free and online!


Spending money on these fabulous magazines? Better than almost anything except food.
I have ordered a copy of Shimmer's Clockwork Jungle! I decided I wanted a physical copy, although it means I have to wait to read it.
I applaud your wisdom and mental acuity in purchasing this issue.

...Black Gate 14 is out? Really? hrrrrm. I suppose I must go follow up and see why my subscription copy hasn't happened.

This! This right here is why I do LJ! LJ is my exterior brain.

For now, I shall have to go wallow in Cabinet des fees, as I cannot find my copy of Clockwork either. Oh, bother.
Do! Write them an email! You should REEEAAAD it!!!
Beltane's Eve?
Already? Wow.

Good Beltane :)

Also fyi, Vince Pendergast is scriitor. And you are supposed to like HIS illustration which I did!!
Forgive me! I must've been reading too fast. Indeed, the woodcut is extraordinary in that I DID notice it!
The woodcut is made of WIN, no doubt of that.
Aww, thanks for the kind words!

You're welcome - but shouldn't I be thanking you? I had very little to do with it but enthuse!
heh. But your enthusiasm sells copies! I should hire you to squee about all our issues!

and yeah -- rhiannon's woodcut is one of my favorite things in that issue -- it is so absolutely perfect for that story.

(Other favorite things are of course Shweta's story and illustration. :) )
I wish I had my copy with me - because I cannot recall Shweta's Otto illustration off the top of my head.

When I'm in full-steam-ahead reading mode I don't often look at illustrations. They're for later. The woodcut stymied me.

I look forward to studying it with more depth. But then I've already promised it to a friend out of state!
Conveniently enough, we've got Shweta's illustration online, along with Vince reading from his story:

Why, how convenient! And even so conveniently did I just link to it in a brand new LJ entry!

I admit I twist your arm VERY GENTLY.

Words Fail Me

Thank you very much for the kind words. Praise from the praiseworthy. I said over on Facebook that If you repeated that review to my face I'd be blushing the x-ray band.

Re: Words Fail Me

Goodness! I'd like to see that, actually, as I blush radioactively under the least provocation. Like, now. How cool - I really, really hope to read more of you...


You're on FACEBOOK, eh?

Thank you very much for the kind words; it means a lot to know that other folks read and enjoyed the story.

I've had the privilege of publishing Shweta myself; if you'd like to watch her give a clinic on how to cram characters, worldbuilding, and story arc into a ridiculously tight space, you might want to check out her flash contribution to "Triangulation: Taking Flight", which is still in print. (I'll refrain from posting a direct link, as that's too self-serving by half. :-) )

-- Pete Butler
Ooooh! POST LINK!!!

Um. Please!

Oh, yesh, P.S.


Loved your story, loved, loved, loved.



I'm done.
As long as you the hostess grant me permission to hawk my wares....

You can buy Triangulation: Taking Flight direct from the printer, for either $12 + shipping for the dead tree version (featuring bad-ass cover art by Vinny Chong!) or $0.99 for a PDF download (cover-art free, sadly). Amazon.com has the dead tree available for the same price, but might give you a better deal on shipping because, well, they're Amazon.

Finally, you may be interested in this podcast from this year's editors of the Triangulation anthology (of which I'm not one any more -- no worries, it was a bloodless coup), which features one of my former assistants gushing of the excellence of Shweta's very-short story. (As well as guest blatherations from yours truly.) The other podcasts live here, if you're curious.
Ooooh! Cool!

When this blings into my email inbox, I'm-a savin' it, and checking it out at my leisure. Rather than when I'm at work. THANKS! This is SO CONVENIENT!