200 issues of Beneath Ceaseless Skies!

I have published in a variety of speculative genres: science fiction, magic realism, surrealism, slipstream, horror, and even dubiously a bit of memoir which might or might not be speculative. But secondary world fantasy, and epic fantasy in particular, remains my favorite genre – the genre that sustains me, the genre I read, the genre I came here to write. In the best epic fantasy writing, things I love the most can converge: multi-faceted characters, cultures in conflict and contact, anthropological depth, social commentary, mythic grandeur, politics, folklore, otherworldly creatures, fascinating artifacts, a deep sense of history and learning, and of course: magic. It might not be fashionable to admit this, but I am a sucker for well-done stories with magic. If you are reading this, you may be familiar with my secondary world, Birdverse; you’ll find most of my favorite things in there.

If you love all those things too, you might consider supporting Beneath Ceaseless Skies, an online magazine of secondary world fantasy literature that has just – as in today – BCS 200th issue. I consider BCS to be one of the best, if not the best, sources for fresh epic fantasy in the field.

High Above the Savannah, by Martin Ende - cover art for BCS 200

High Above the Savannah, by Martin Ende – cover art for BCS 200

200 issues is a lot. BCS began publishing in 2008, which, accidentally, was also the first year anything of mine was published (though not in BCS!). The editor Scott Andrews rejected many of my stories before he accepted, after a rewrite request, “Held Close in Syllables of Light” – my first published Birdverse story, the first of my prose (not poetry) publications with queer protagonists, and my second professional sale. It meant the world to me to have a story with three queer teens accepted at a professional venue after so many discouraging remarks about the marketability of specifically queer work. That was 2011; publishing is different now, and we are richer for it, but Scott was one of the early adopters, so to speak, and for that I will always be grateful. Since then, Scott has published two more Birdverse novelettes of mine, “Geometries of Belonging” (almost a novella!) and the Nebula-nominated “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds.”

BCS is an excellent source of epic fantasy reading in shorter form and a way to sample works by such contemporary greats and up and coming writers as Aliette De Bodard, Yoon Ha Lee, Fran Wilde, Saladin Ahmed, Ann Leckie, Tom Crosshill, Cory Skerry, Naim Kabir, Ken Schneyer, and many brilliant others (here is the full list of BCS authors and their work!). Scott’s tastes are varied, and I appreciate his commitment to stories which are both character-centered and world-centered – just some of my favorite things.

Beneath Ceaseless Skies team is running a subscription drive to increase the wordcount limit of the work they take. This is really important, considering how few professional markets take stories over 10k. I have a weakness for longer short fiction and feel that epic fantasy works especially well at novelette length; I hope you will consider supporting this publication and the genre to which it is dedicated.

Post-Nebula Post

I am back from the Nebula Awards weekend, which I attended with my wonderful spouse, Bogi Takács. It made all the difference to be there with Bogi rather than on my lonesome.

The con was excellent. I met many wonderful people face-to-face for the first time, participated in two panels (“Language as Rebellion” and “Historical Research from the Margins”), and attended a few more panels, learned things – it was great. The hotel was often overwhelming, but allergy-friendly foods were available in the con suite, which we really appreciated.

At the Award ceremony, Henry Lien and friends’s Emperor Stardust and the Eunuchs of the Forbidden City performing “Radio SFWA” was one of the highlights of my eventful life. I hear a video will be available soon. I did not win, but I participated in the Alt! Awards ceremony (also the brain child of the inimitable Henry Lien). The Alt! Awards was easily my favorite part of the evening. I read a very dark unpublished Birdverse poem (“Laukur at the Court of Ladder”), which I think a few people liked.

Apparently, the ever-radiant C.S.E. Cooney wrote this in a recent interview:

“Every time I hear Rose Lemberg read a poem aloud, I sort of collapse into happy lava inside.” – C.S.E. Cooney interviewed by Angela Slater

Claire has heard all of my poetry performances so far. I think I only did three: World Fantasy 2011; Readercon 2013; and the Nebula Awards weekend. They were all very intense. I’d like to do another at some point. For example, if I am ever nominated for anything else, I think I will read another poem. 🙂

Rose Lemberg with their shiny Nebula Certificate

Team Novelette with shiny Nebula Certificates

I am really happy with Alyssa Wong’s win in particular. You can read more on Alyssa’s blog, and watch the acceptance video. I am also so pleased that C.J.Cherryh received the Grandmaster award. I have been her fan since college, and I very rarely fanperson anything. I no longer fanperson her to the same degree I did in college, but I think she absolutely deserved the honor. Plus, I learned that she and her partner got married!! Thrilled with this development.

We did not manage to launch An Alphabet of Embers at this con due to printer snafus, but we are very close to launch once printer snafus are vanquished.

We did have one proof copy, as depicted below:


Nebula award-winning author Alyssa Wong cries after reading M.Sereno's "Only Revolutions" in An Alphabet of Embers

Nebula award-winning author Alyssa Wong cries after reading M.Sereno’s story “Only Revolutions” in An Alphabet of Embers


 

Essay reprint

My essay “The Priviliege and Necessity of Writing” (this blog) will be reprinted in the 2015 edition of Speculative Fiction: The Best Online Reviews, Essays and Commentary edited by Foz Meadows and Mark Oshiro. Really happy about that.

Empathy and hope: an essay on Birdverse

I have been honored and moved to read Sessily Watt’s latest (and last) Facing the Raven’s Eye column at Bookslut, titled In Hope, which focuses on my Birdverse work.

But when literature includes moments of empathy — of growing the world, fictional or otherwise — it offers hope in the midst of pain. In this sense, Rose Lemberg is among the most hopeful authors currently writing.

Sessily says many insightful and beautiful things about my worldbuilding, including some things that other reviewers did not yet discuss. Here are some excerpts:

In the Birdverse, a magic loosely based in geometry is a source of craftsmanship, art, protection, and healing. Multiple cultures and countries engage in trade relationships and political alliances. Cultures make use of magic according to their own traditions and rules, and worship the deity Bird, in whichever feathered form Bird takes. And within these countries and cultures, individuals hurt and are hurt, heal and are healed.

One of the often-used tools in the Birdverse box of empathy is the perspective of a trader, who shifts between their own culture and the culture of another, trading not only physical objects but traditions and ideas, too.

And:

The intricate geometry of the magic system — its arrangements of polysyllabic “deepnames” — seems to be mirrored in the relationships of the characters… Both the characters’ relationships and the magic system emphasize coexistence and support, often involving a mix of what is considered strong and what is considered weak. And every story holds a deep and painful honesty about the harm we cause each other through fear, the “vessels of brokenness” we become under our own actions and the actions of others, and the warmth and wholeness that can be found through acceptance of one another.

Sessily also offers an in-depth look at two stories, “The Desert Glassmaker and the Jeweler of Berevyar,” and “Geometries of Belonging.” The whole column is here. Check out the other Into the Raven’s Eye columns by Sessily Watt here.

I am really, really moved by this. Thank you.

Glassmaker and Jeweler reviewed

A new review of my Birdverse story “The Desert Glassmaker and the Jeweler of Berevyar” (Uncanny), by Kate Lechler at Fantasy Literature:

What I absolutely loved about this story was how rooted in natural landscapes it was. Maru tells Vadrai about the desert, full of wind and the “striated bones of forgotten beasts.” Vadrai in turn shares images of their home in the Northern forest, “the small, snow–hopping birds and the children running outside, running even though clothed in such enormous garments” and a wonder which Maru has never witnessed: trees.

I also loved the idea that two creativities, even of different natures, enhance each other.

(read the full review at the Short Fiction Monday column)

Thank you very much. It really helped to read this review today.

Nebula Awards Weekend 2016

Due to the constraints of finances, childcare, health, and neurotype, I have not been much of a con-goer. The last convention I attended was Readercon in 2013. I am attending a con this year, and I am looking forward with pleasure and trepidation. The con is the Nebula Conference, and I am one of the Nebula Award nominees this year. And, unexpectedly but very happily, Bogi Takács will be able to come with me to the convention!

I am looking forward to meeting many excellent people face-to-face. I will also be on programming. My items are:

Friday, May 13

1:00pm

Historical Research from the Margins with Michael Livingston • Alyx Dellamonica • Eileen Gunn • Rose Lemberg • Ada Palmer • Helene Wecker

3:00pm
Language as Rebellion with Daniel José Older • Rose Lemberg • Kelly Robson • Tamara Vardomskaya

8:00pm – 9:30pm
Mass Autographing

For the autographing, I will be bringing copies of Marginalia to Stone Bird and, almost certainly, An Alphabet of Embers.

Will I see you there? 🙂

P.S. If you’re planning to come and would like to hang out and/or talk to me, it would be great if you could let me know beforehand – a comment or a twitter DM work best.

P.P.S. I feel good about my accessibility needs during the con, especially since Bogi is coming, but just as a hands up, I do tend to get drained/overwhelmed/dizzy and I have mobility issues which can flare up.

Birdverse poem sale

Mitchell Hart will be publishing my Birdverse poem “Mirrored Mappings” in Through the Gate.

This poem was an experiment in that I initially posted it unlocked on my Birdverse Patreon last year. I do not think that anyone except patrons read it. I love this piece and wanted more readers to see it, and so I asked Mitchell whether he would consider it as a reprint for Through the Gate. He did. I sent him an updated version, and now I am looking forward to be sharing it with you soon.

Tiptree Award Longlist

The Tiptree Award lists came out, and I am very pleased to report that “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” is on the Tiptree Longlist. It’s the first time my work appears on the Tiptree lists.

The lists this year are excellent. Glad to see work by A. Merc Rustad, Nino Cipri, Zen Cho, Yoon Ha Lee, Caren Gussoff, Nalo Hopkinson, Carmen Maria Machado, B.R. Sanders, and many fabulous others.

I am also a contributor to two anthologies on the Tiptree Longlist: Letters to Tiptree, edited by Alexandra Pierce and Alisa Krasnostein; and Queers Destroy Horror, edited by Wendy N. Wagner, Megan Arkenberg, and Robyn Lupo.

Hurray!

Hugo and Nebula deadlines

The deadline to vote in the Nebulas and to nominate work for the Hugo is March 31st – just around the corner.

My Birdverse story “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” is on the Nebula ballot this year. It is Hugo eligible in the novelette category. I hope you will give this story a try.

To everyone who has considered, discussed, and promoted this story so far: thank you. Thank you so much.

If you’re curious, there are some entries about this story and responses to it under the Birdverse tag.

A new and excellent essay by Ada Hoffmann, “Worldbuilding about, through, and with autism” at Disability in Kidlit hgihlights both “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” and “Geometries of Belonging” among other great works.

Happy voting and nominating!

Lightspeed Magazine review of Marginalia

Amal El-Mohtar reviews my debut poetry collection, Marginalia to Stone Bird, at Lightspeed Magazine’s March review column titled “Language, Roads, Intersection”:

Rose Lemberg’s first collection is a beautifully curated jewel of a book full of colour, longing, and heat. Divided into three sections—Finding Voice, Changing Shape, and Making Journeys—and containing nine poems original to the collection, Marginalia to Stone Bird constantly shifts between tactility and evanescence: embroidered cloth and starlight, food and fire, letters and music. […]

…ultimately, to discuss the collection’s contents is to muse on droplets on a windowpane during a lightning storm. The wholeness of it, the movement from voice to shape to journey, is heart-breaking; poems that address immigration, gender, love, language, are of a kind to crack a reader open before offering consolation.

Read the whole of Amal’s beautiful review here; the column also covers Sofia Samatar’s The Winged Histories, and The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria by Carlos Hernandez – I’m very much looking forward to reading both of these books!

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About

Rose Lemberg is a queer immigrant from Eastern Europe and Israel. Rose's work has appeared in Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Unlikely Story, Uncanny, and other venues. Rose is a Nebula Award nominee for their Birdverse novelette, "Grandmother-nai-Leylit's Cloth of Winds." For a quick taste of Rose's writing, try the Sampler. You can support their work on Patreon.

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