Monday, January 31, 2005

Wandering the Woodlands: Currently Available Work

a couple of pieces are now published. (as of May and June '05)

one is a short story about a young street kid in Haiti who meets a very peculiar woman who won't go away. The Coin is included in the anthology of Canadian science fiction and fantasy, Tesseracts 9, edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Geoff Ryman. Published by EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing / Tesseract Books.

the other is an interview of Eileen Kernaghan, author of eight fantasy novels, including three which took the Canadian national prize for science fiction and fantasy, the Aurora. (Snow Queen, 2001, Sarsen Witch, 1990 and Songs of the Drowned Lands, 1985.)

the interview focusses mainly on one of her two novels released in 2004--
Winter on the Plain of Ghosts--and will be published by Strange Horizons-- a free weekly online magazine devoted to publishing high-quality speculative fiction, poetry, art, and related nonfiction.

excerpt from The Coin:

"Ba m senk goud," he told her. She cocked her head. "Give me one dolla," he said in English. She understood.

Bouki and Benji were gone. She reached into her pocket, one she had turned inside out earlier, and pulled out a large, dull coin. She put it in his hand, closed his fingers around it, looked into his eyes. She pointed to the coin, pointed to his pocket, closed her fist. "Don't lose it," she was telling him. Then she stood up, gave him a little pinch on the nose, and walked away.

He stared at the coin, empty of feeling. It wasn't Haitian. Or American. He squinted. He couldn't read, but he knew them all. It wasn't Canadian or Belgian or French. He could barely make out the shape of a woman—-an American, he thought, by her face and hair—-and on the other side...perhaps a fish.

He heard a shout and looked in the direction she had gone. Ezo and Bouki and Ti Patrik, sparring and yelling as they wandered up the street. The blan was nowhere to be seen.

The coin was a disappointment. He looked at it numbly. He surprised himself with what he did next, without even thinking. He tossed it over the wall and into the muttering sea. The water swallowed it and it left his thoughts. Bending, he scooped up a nicely weighted stone.

Straightened and aimed at Bouki's shaved head.
Tesseracts 9
excerpt from interview:
Eileen Kernaghan is the author of seven novels, the most recent of which, Winter on the Plain of Ghosts, was released in June 2004. WOPG follows the life of a young boy in the Indus Valley in India, long before the cultures and religions found there now had come into being. The novel has a distinctive feel to it. The setting is intriguing, and Eileen is a careful researcher, permitting readers who are interested in not only a good story but in reliable interpretations of what is known to be true about a given historical place and time. From the WOPG author's note:

"Archaeological evidence tells us that when the Indo-Europeans arrived, the Indus Valley cities were already dying. The invasion from the northwest, as described in the Rig Veda (if indeed it was an invasion) was simply one more event in a long process of decay. Many causes have been suggested—changes in the climatic conditions, a shift in the course of the Indus River, overgrazing, stripping of the forest cover, tectonic uplifting of the sea-coast, mud volcanoes. What is generally agreed is that some change took place which upset the delicate balance—ecological, sociological and economic—that holds a civilization together. This book presents a few of the possibilities."

As a reader, I often prefer spare, undistracting language. Eileen's writing is lush, yet not distracting. It is poetic, yes, but a poetry that enhances the story rather than detracting from it.

WOPG moves slowly but sumptuously; imperceptibly a child becomes a youngster and then a man. In each stage of his life he has challenges to face, and yet there are rewards as well, joys, friendships, quiet times between the sometimes terrible difficulties. In other words, it reads like life — compressed, certainly, but rich, with an honest handling of matters that are all too often glibly dealt with in fantasy novels.

...CW: I don't want to give much away about the novel, but I wonder if there is anything about the story itself you'd like to mention before we go on.

EK: Something I realized as I finished WOPG is that in a way the language has the feel of a Victorian novel. Maybe that’s the influence of all the Victorian novels I read in my youth. And as well, I can see echoes of the Weird Tales writers of the twenties and thirties,who wrote of sorcery and spell-making in lost kingdoms and vanished cities of antiquity.

WOPG is in some ways very different from my other books. In another way, it’s part of a pattern. A friend pointed out that every one of my novels involves a journey. That will be the armchair traveller in me. One other thing I should mention. Those scenes of rebellion, mob violence, looting – Though they may seem inspired by the TV news, they were actually written fifteen years ago.
Strange Horizons

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