Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Mosque Upon My Bookshelves!

At long last! My copies of A Mosque Among the Stars have arrived!

I haven't had a chance to do more than flip through this anthology of science fiction stories related to Muslims and Islam, but I am eager to see what the stories are like. My own "Miss Lonelygenes' Secret" is in it, along with "Squat", by Donna McMahon, "A Walk Through the Garden", by Lucius Shephard, and the intriguingly titled "The Weight of Space and Metal" by Camille Alexa. The cover is by
Lee Kuruganti.

Thanks for putting this together, Ahmed and Muhammad!

From the publisher's website:


Edited by Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmed and Ahmed A. Khan, this anthology features 12 SF stories (originals and reprints) that portray Islam or Muslim characters in a friendly light.

Table of Contents

Lucius Shepard: A Walk in the Garden
Tom Ligon: For a Little Price
Jetse De Vries: Cultural Clashes in Cadiz
Howard Jones: Servant of Iblis
Andrew Ferguson: Organic Geometry
Ahmed A. Khan: Synchronicity
Camille Alexa: The Weight of Space and Metal
G.W. Thomas: The Emissary
Kevin Miller: A Straight Path Through the Stars
Pamela Taylor: Recompense
C. June Wolf: Miss Lonelygenes' Secret
D.C. McMahon: Squat

Pages: 260
Price: $20 + shipping
To order: email zc.press@gmail.com

Monday, March 09, 2009

Bitten by Book Reviews.

I had the rather odd experience last week of dreaming that if I was to be turned into a monster, I would like to be either a vampire or a werewolf, because they are bitten on the neck before they die.

Besides showing a sad misunderstanding of werewolf physiology, and a shockingly ribald undercurrent to my dreams, this does at least speak clearly to the love/not-love relationship it is possible to have with things like biting, and book reviews.

Being a sensitive soul, I was a little droopy after reading the review of Finding Creatures & Other Stories on the Bitten By Books site last night. Then a few hours later I saw another review posted to LibraryThing. The interesting thing about these two reviews is that in part they are commenting on the same thing, with extreme opposite reactions to it. A good reminder to me, when I am assessing a book, to remember that just because it isn't working for me, that doesn't mean it isn't working. (I shouldn't have needed the reminder--Charles de Lint says the same thing in the intro to my book. Oopsies.)

Anyway, to save you, dear readers, the trouble of searching around for these reviews, I will copy them here and let you struggle to your own conclusions.

Mar 8, Review by Ricki
Finding Creatures & Other Stories by C. June Wolf
*** (out of a possible 5 tombstones)

A collection of short stories is a good way to get a feel for an author. Canadian author C. June Wolf’s writing style comes across loud and clear in Finding Creatures & Other Stories.

Finding Creatures & Other Stories is a collection of 15 short stories. While some of the stories are fantasy and some are sci-fi, a few are closer to just plain fiction. In all of them, though, the main character learns some important inner truth, but often in a bittersweet way. A lot of the stories also have origins in religions and beliefs from various parts of the world, making each unique in their own way.

Out of all of the stories, the two that I enjoyed the most were the title story, “Finding Creatures” and “Miss Lonelygenes’ Secret”. “Finding Creatures” is a heartwarming story about a lonely girl who meets an invisible horse who helps her make friends to fit in at her new school. Also ending on a positive note is “Miss Lonelygenes’ Secret,” a sci-fi tale about a matchmaker who finds a way to make her own match.

Wolf excels at poetic prose, as evidenced in every one of her stories in Finding Creatures & Other Stories. However, most of these stories, while beautiful, were hard to really get into, lacking a connection between the reader and the main characters. Also, the dismal endings of some made the whole collection somewhat of a downer. Plus, many of the stories has a post-modernist feel to them as they lack an easily identifiable climax or conclusion.

If you enjoy beautiful short stories or learning about other philosophical beliefs, C. June Wolf’s writing will appeal to you. However, for those looking for a fun paranormal read, I would suggest looking elsewhere.

(Interjection from the future: As I said, this didn't exactly make my day. But I went back today - 4 June 2009 - and discovered these wonderful comments. The last is by the owner of the Bitten By Books site. Now that's a vote of confidence. Thank you, all!), all
  1. Comment by Ursula Pflug — April 3, 2009 @ 4:50 pm

    I really enjoyed Casey’s book and so did Charles de Lint who wrote a lengthy introduction.

    I’ve reviewed it for the April Internet Review of Science Fiction.

  2. Comment by Nicole Hicks — April 9, 2009 @ 7:57 pm

    Sometimes Happy ever after endings begin to pale, I will have to look into this for those times!

  3. Comment by Rachel — April 9, 2009 @ 8:23 pm

    This is the kind of book I can really get into. I am going to have to get my copy soon. Casey is an amazing author and very kind. Good sense of humor. I enjoy some of her poetry from her site. Definitely worth checking out. You can’t really get much better of an an endorsement than Charles de Lint. :)


sandragon's review

Many of these short stories are about people faced with making choices that any one of us may come to face in our lives. The fact that the circumstances surrounding the choices are often wondrous or fantastical is beside the point. To me, these stories are about what it is to be 'human'. Each story contains characters that were very real to me in the strength of their thoughts and emotions. In these stories there is hope and compassion, people who care about what's happening around them and people making connections no matter the differences between them.

I tend to blitz through short story collections, reading one story immediately after another, so that the memory of one story bleeds into another. This time I decided to do as Charles de Lint recommended in his introduction and took breaks between each of Wolf's stories; sometimes as little as 30 minutes between stories, sometimes as much as a few weeks. I'm glad I did as I really got to savour and appreciate each story, every one of which I enjoyed, although a couple left me puzzled.

sandragon | Mar 8, 2009 |


To order Finding Creatures & Other Stories and judge for yourself, click here and choose from the many options.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

A Delicious Review & Wee Updates

I’m plunking along revising Làkansyèl (novel). This is both a tiring and an inspiring task. The first drafting was intense, scary, exciting. Returning to source materials and writing copious notes, then going through those notes and deciding what remains, what goes, what needs to be fleshed out, doing the fleshing, and then inserting them into the narrative…fascinating, nerve-wracking, a feat of endurance, and a lot of fun.

A few days ago I signed a contract with Adams Media for my contribution to the anthology Out of the Broom Closet, scheduled for release in September. This is not speculative fiction, or fiction at all, but is autobiographical and centers on spiritual life. So for that book I am using another name, to keep the two streams of my writing clearly separate.
I am pleased to be a part of this project and am looking forward to reading the other entries.

The Vancouver Public Library is the first library to order Finding Creatures & Other Stories—it is a relief to know that those in Vancouver who can’t afford to buy it will now have the option to borrow it. If you are in another town and would like the book to be available or simply can’t afford to buy it yourself, please consider asking your library to buy a copy. There are generally forms on library websites for suggesting purchases, or call or drop in and ask the procedure. Many thanks to those who requested FC&OS through VPL.

Although the publisher and I have sent out a number of review copies, and more copies of the book are showing up on LibraryThing, very few actual reviews have been posted.
Don D’Ammassa, longtime SF fan in the eastern US, posted this paired review, unfortunately contained in his “Horror” section. FC&OS is definitely Not Horror, so I’m not sure what good it will do, but the suggestion that the stories ought to have been published in Fantasy & Science Fiction or Realms of Fantasy is satisfying.

Finding Creatures & Other Stories by C. June Wolf, Wattle and Daub, 2008, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-9810658-0-9 1864
Both of these are from small presses and both are authors whose names I didn’t recognize…The second collection tends more toward contemporary fantasy. I hadn’t read anything by Wolf either, and most of these stories apparently first appeared in small press and Canadian markets. They vary from okay to quite good and once again I’m surprised that none of them came from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction or Realms of Fantasy. I’d rate the Wolf collection as slightly the better written of the two, but the subject matter in Thomas’ book appealed more to my personal prejudices. 12/8/08

A very lovely review appeared on LibraryThing this week.

Once opened Finding Creatures and Other Stories turned out to be impossible to close, I had to keep going and read just one more until too soon I reached the end. Even the most fantastic dreams, beings from other worlds and wild creations of human mind were made so real you'd almost expect to see some when you raise your eyes from the page. If only the book itself was as magical as its contents, after finishing one story there would forever be another.

Kirjastonhoitaja | Mar 3, 2009 |

I have also signed up for Twitter under the name C. June Wolf. My goal there is to write one 140 character or less comment each day tied to writing, as a way to keep focused and connected with others around writing. If you wish to follow my Twitters please search for me there or click straight from here to my homepage there. Unlike our beloved but in ways unwieldy Facebook, Twitter is brief and to the point.

And with that, I return to Làkansyèl.

As for you, may you notice one clear moment in your day and meet it joyfully.