Birdverse: Grandmother’s Cloth is out

My Birdverse novelette “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” is out at Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

This story has queer families (a cultural default for Khana women), and striving for acceptance within the family; it has generations of women and trans people, and friendships, and autism, and very many bonus carpets. It takes place in the south, and while there are white people in Birdverse, there are none in this story.

I love this story. I cannot explain to you how much it means to me, and how happy I am to share it with you.
I am happy to answer any questions about this story, by the way – please leave a comment here or tweet at me!

A note on stress: Khana names ending in -ah, -eh, -it, -et, -at and -el have ultimate stress, so TammAH, GitIT; names ending in -i tend to have word-initial stress, so KImi, BAshri.

— NOTES WITH SPOILERS

Kimi does have what we would diagnose as classical autism. The Khana do not have exact word correspondences for our contemporary diagnoses, but developmental disabilities and language delays (and, of course, physical disabilities) are known. A male child whose educational progress is delayed may or may not be able to pass the tests to gain admission to the inner quarter. These tests involve linguistic as well as mathematical aptitude, as the Khana men are supposed to engage in scholarship of the Writ, and in Holy Artifice. In practice, the vast majority of male children are admitted even if their performance on the tests is weaker, and not all inner-quarter residents go on to become scholars and artificers. A significant speech delay, however, is a major issue.

Many autistic people feel the need to roam, wander, spin, and engage in other types of movement which are calming and emotionally rewarding. In the modern American culture children’s roaming is restricted regardless of disability level, but other cultures are not like this, including many contemporary earth cultures. Kimi’s roaming in the desert is not restricted, and this is normal rather than neglectful for the culture.

Surun’ family structure is different from Khana family structure in that there is no major gender segregation, and marriages between men and women are the norm. The woman is expected to add her husband’s names to hers, while men as a rule do not take their wives’ names. Thus, Naïr e Bulvát’s husband’s name is simply Bulvát. However, they do recognize more than two genders, and allow for non-heterosexual and non-monogamous unions; Benesret e Nand e Divyát had two husbands.

One Comment

  1. […] usually let my stories stand on their own. When this story came out, I had written brief story notes focusing on Kimi’s autism in the context of the Khana culture. Even that felt too much for […]

About

Rose Lemberg is a queer, bigender immigrant from Eastern Europe and Israel. Their work has appeared in Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Unlikely Story, Uncanny, and other venues, and has been a finalist for the Nebula, Tiptree, Elgin, Rhysling, and Crawford awards.

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