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.

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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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