New Worlds, Year Four: More Essays on the Art of Worldbuilding
by Marie Brennan
Escape into another world . . .
Bathing and banking, animals and adultery: human culture contains a truly daunting array of elements. The fourth volume of the NEW WORLDS series takes readers on a tour of all-new topics, delving into everything from childbirth to dream interpretation to the importance of generosity, as award-winning fantasy author and former anthropologist Marie Brennan continues her in-depth exploration of worldbuilding in science fiction and fantasy.
Since old churches tend to be large, you could in theory convert one into housing, and live in it. If you own thousands of books, a big empty building is just what you need! But a very large sturdy space is also suitable for subdivision. This is a particularly felicitous example, in historical downtown Annapolis MD.
Click through and contemplate the real estate photos. An architect divided the large old church structure into three condo units, but has preserved a great deal of the core architecture. The unit at that link has the big two-story stained glass window! The big tower, visible in the photo, is clearly dedicated to the elevator.
I just committed unnecessary travel during Covid. Interesting that the word “Covid” has become a noun in itself—one doesn’t need to add “era” or “pandemic” to it any more. It’s Covid and everyone knows what that means. An adjective or a noun, or even a verb. I’ll Covid you if you don’t watch out.
Getting on an airplane during Covid restrictions is no less or more difficult than it ever was. I had to fuss greatly with Delta, who claimed on their website that they wouldn’t open up to full capacity until May 1st. But when we all got to the airport, waiting to board, in spite of the airplane seating chart that indicated X’d out seats on every row except for couples and families, they made the rather sly announcement that one may be seated next to a stranger because of increasing ticket demand.
Highlights of Florence, the city of arts, with Thor and me.
NOTE: Since travel is still on hold with the pandemic continuing, I’ve started a new blog series offering a virtual vacation and time-travel to my first big trip with Thor in 2008. Italy! Starting with highlight photos posted here on Saturday, Jan. 30, I’ll continue every week. Join us in Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre, Venice, and Milan. Buon viaggio!
The Rambling Writer just got kidnapped by Thor, who insisted it was time for R&R and a trip to Hawaii (super safe with pandemic precautions). I’ll return with your Italy virtual vacation soon! Meanwhile, some highlights of Florence: Continue reading
(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series.)
Place one million dollars in unmarked bills in a duffel bag and leave it in a locker at the bus stop . . .
When we think of hostages and ransoms nowadays, we tend to think of terrorists, bank robbers, and kidnappers. Criminals who despicably use other people’s lives as bargaining chips to get what they want. The part about them being bargaining chips certainly has a long pedigree, but the “criminal” and “despicable” part wasn’t always the case.
Photo by Elena Kuchko on Unsplash
Before we moved to Orcas Island, we lived in Portland, Oregon.
Portland is famous (and rightfully so) for many things–Portlandia, roses, coffee, bicycles, beer, hipsters, hipster coffee, hipster beer–but one of the most important things for me about Portland was Powell’s Bookstore.
Well, bookstores, actually; in addition to the giant mother ship downtown (oh my goodness what a store!), there was a Powell’s in our neighborhood (the “home and garden” store, though it had a decent genre section), and, um, I’m sure there were a few other branches, but–
–but OUR Powell’s, the one with the BIGGEST genre collection, the one where all OUR folks had their events and readings and book launches and all, was out in Beaverton.
So, I got the shot. Well, shots, plural – I got the Pfizer two-shot wonder, the requisite number of weeks apart. I’ve been watching a steady stream of people I know posting gleeful “I GOT SHOT!” images on social media, showing off bandaids or stickers or someone poking a needle into their arms while they turn their masked faces to the camera and do their best to show that they are smiling. and then there’s the “oh the things we’ll do (again)” posts that follow. From people who can’t wait to go back into the world. From people who are wary of going back into the world. From people who are frankly scared of going back into the world. A world that has changed.
I’m looking at cons. Not that I used to go to a huge number of them – but things like Orycon, in Portland in the fall, have been something of a mainstay and this year they seem to be on track to have an in-person convention again. And I am looking at it with honest yearning, and it would probably be a magic wand of sorts, assuming enough people are brave enough to go there this year, that enough people I know and MISS, dammit, might be there for me to talk to in person again one day some day soon when the plague ends.
But is it safe? will it be safe? How do we learn to trust the world again?
We can make plans, and they can come to pass, and have consequences we may not have anticipated -are we prepared for that? Or are we prepared for the “best laid plans” scenario where we might MAKE those plans and have every intention of putting them into action and then something can happen at the last minute and it all falls through and we’re going to be even more bereft and despondent than if we had never made the plans at all?
The Earl in the Shadows
The Thrilling Victorian Adventures of the Most Dangerous Woman in Europe
by Brenda Clough
Marian Halcombe Camlet comes to awareness in the Dower House of a grand English country house, but she can’t remember how she got there.
(Picture from here.)
Recently, a friend of mine lamented that he’d fallen into a particular way of writing books. He didn’t like it. He found it inefficient.
The conversation left me wondering how I write books—or any fiction, really.
I do have a process, though it feels more like blundering around in the swamp. At night. When it’s raining. Baleful, disappointed eyes stare at me in the dark. So many, many eyes…
Anyway, here’s how I do it. Continue reading
This is a wonderful, diverse, and extensive collection of short stories (and a few miscellany) based on the theme of Hope. Which is understandable, and in some ways mandated by the past year of Covid, racial injustice and tension, political divisiveness, conspiracy craziness, and simple mean-spiritedness that has permeated almost all levels of culture. Of course, there is another way to view the past year, and that is the unfettered creativity and triumph of the human spirit that emerged in front-line workers, parents, teachers, and a whole host of others. And this is where the Black-Eyed Peas Anthology is situated. On the positive side of the line. It is, quite simply, an antidote. Continue reading