Geometries of Belonging

My novelette “Geometries of Belonging” is out today in the BCS anniversary double issue.

Content notes: the story features queer, trans, and autistic people, often in combinations. It does have D/s themes. It is decidedly NOT a queer, trans, or autism tragedy. TWs for depression, familial abuse, ableism, and misgenderings.

When I started writing, those seven years ago, I had no master plan and no grand hopes. No book deal, no top publications, not even a coveted Clarion acceptance (I had a toddler, and going was – still remains – not feasible). I knew I wanted to be writing something that was not my dissertation. That summer, someone said something important to me, something that upheld me. I wondered if I could write, if I could have a voice – because I couldn’t before, and I didn’t.

So I wrote, and Parét came out.

He was seventeen and already a survivor of quite a lot of trauma. A lot more trauma still awaited him – and great many good things, too; still, it took me some time to accept that he would never not be mentally ill.

There are characters who are just, I don’t know, characters. Others are people.

I wanted all good things for him. I tried to write him into unambiguously happy endings. I think, in the end, for a person who says he does not want to influence the world, Parét told me “no” more times than any other character of mine. He struggled and he did not want that prettied up.

I’m glad I never published those first things I wrote. I put them aside and worked on other things and grew as a writer and a person. But the extended Ranravan-Kekeri family is always on my mind. That’s why I keep writing in Birdverse. If I ever stop, I think I’ll leave the field.

Sometime last year Parét said, “I am ready now – if you’d like,” and I wrote “Geometries of Belonging.” He’s well over forty in this one. There are large swaths of story that come before and after. I’m not the kind of writer who can knock out seven thousand words a day and still keep swinging. I am tired and in pain and sometimes barely hanging on. I have no huge triumph to sell you; I’m still trying to figure things out. I don’t know if there’ll ever be a story before and a story after to show you. But now, right now, you can read this. It is complete in itself.

To say I am proud of this story is to say nothing. It comes from the marrow. It is a marrow thing.

Dedéi’s storyline also continues beyond “Geometries…”- in “Two and Five Syllables.” I’m still working on it. You can find some of it on my Birdverse Patreon.

Thank you, as always, to Scott Andrews at BCS for publishing this story. Thanks to beta readers Bogi Takács, Mea Fiadhiglas, Ada Hoffmann, and Shweta Narayan for reading and commenting.

It’s everything at once day

October is here, and new things with it!

1) Queers Destroy Horror special issue of Nightmare Magazine, edited by Wendy Wagner, is out! Unlike other Queers Destroy issues, this one includes a poetry section. That’s terrific – dark poetry has a long tradition, and I am glad to see it honored here. The poetry selection (available as an ebook or as a part of the paperback) includes work by me, Lisa Bradley, Amal El-Mohtar, Shweta Narayan, and others. Poetry for this issue was selected by Robyn Lupo.


2) Beneath Ceaseless Skies’ seventh (!!) anniversary issue is out today. It’s a double issue, with stories by Richard Parks, Naim Kabir, I.L.Heisler, and myself. All four stories are available in ebook; my story, a Birdverse novelette titled “Geometries of Belonging,” will be available online on October 8. I’ll post a separate entry with some notes about that story next week.

3) Strange Horizons is running a fund drive. As I’ve been saying year after year for a while now, Strange Horizons is superb. It’s one of the most venerable SFF publications, it excels in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, and it is currently running its annual fund drive. Strange Horizons had my first professional short fiction sale (Kifli, 2010), and has published a number of my epic poems, including “In the Third Cycle” (Rannu Award winner, 1st Place in Strange Horizons Readers Poll), “Between the Mountain and the Moon” (1st Place in Strange Horizons Readers Poll, Rhysling award nominee), and, earlier this year, “Long Shadow”. I have donated a copy of my forthcoming poetry collection, Marginalia to Stone Bird (Aqueduct, 2016) to the fund drive prize draw. But that’s not all! My Birdverse worldbuilding poem, “Three Principles of Strong Building,” is in the Fund drive Special Issue and will go live at $11,000. I hope you consider supporting this excellent magazine.

Marginalia to Stone Bird: Cover

My first poetry collection, Marginalia to Stone Bird, is forthcoming from Aqueduct Press in January 2016.

And here is the cover! The stone bird photograph is by the Belarusian photographer Aleksei Kruglenya.

Marginalia to Stone Bird

Forthcoming: New Essay and a Birdverse Poem

I have been quite sick for a while and on top of that, moving, but I have two new things to report.

First, will have a letter in Letters to Tiptree from Twelfth Planet Press; it’s about translations of feminist SF, samizdat, and more. Thrilled to see the collection – the full ToC is here.


Second, Strange Horizons will be publishing my Birdverse poem, “Ranra’s Unbalancing,” which was selected by Li Chua (hurray!). I’ll post more about Ranra and this poem when it goes live.


Queers Destroy Horror

I’ve signed the contract, so this can be announced: I’ve sold a reprint of my Strange Horizons prose poem, “The Rotten Leaf Cantata,” to Queers Destroy Horror! special issue of Lightspeed. I’m very grateful to Bogi Takács, Sofia Samatar, Shweta Narayan, and Sonya Taaffe for their support of this poem and of my work.

Thus I have apparently destroyed both SF and Horror, leaving Fantasy unscathed (I did not submit to QDF). However, if you’d like to read a secondary-world fantasy of mine with queer, trans, neuroatypical protagonists, I hope you consider “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds.”


Recent Short Stories Reviewed

My Birdverse novelette “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies) has had a very warm reception from readers and reviewers so far. Here are two samples:

Charles Payseur at Quick Sip Reviews writes (read the full review here):

Well this is a long but very good story about self-determination, about transition, about making a choice. […] I loved the magic of the setting, the names holding power, because names and naming do have such power, because pronouns do have such power. That we at the same time have to be less invested in names that haven’t been chosen by the person bearing them. It’s a subtle story but a rich one with layers deep and moving. A complex and emotionally resonant story.

And from Tangent Online (read the full review here):

“Grandmother-nei-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” by Rose Lemberg is a superior fantasy. It is a deeply felt and well considered story with a Middle Eastern flair. It deals with gender roles but through the use of pronouns, not sex or physical types. Words are its most important theme—words used to describe and delimit our lives. It tells us that stories and words are the truths we tell to ourselves. […] The story is complex without being overly complicated, but it is the theme of language/words that flow through this story as its life-blood. […] the very language of gender association is explored with depth usually not found in a novelette. A rich and rewarding work that compares favorably with Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie in its depiction of fluid gender roles. This story is an accomplished work of rare insight.

I am very happy with these, and also with the readers’ response. Michele Bannister wrote,  for example, “I could almost taste the grit in the air and the texture of cloth-of-winds when reading it; masterful presence of place.” I cannot be more pleased that my Birdverse work is reaching its audience; I am thrilled where I am at the place, craftwise, where I am beginning to do justice to the complexity of my own secondary world.

My Queers Destroy Science Fiction! short story “How to Remember to Forget to Remember the Old War” (available for purchase at Lightspeed) has also been well-received. Lois Tilton at Locus Online seems to have enjoyed the story even though she was ambivalent about QDSF! as a whole (read the full review here):

The narrator is a damaged ex-soldier who seems to have once been minimally cyborged, but the military implants have been removed and the human remnant cast ashore. The narrator has flashbacks and breaks things, and manages to keep it all under control in the times and places where this matters.

[…] the narrator and other damaged war veterans are fully human, which is what makes them so different from those around them, who haven’t been where they have been, or seen and done what they have seen and done. We can recognize them in this effective work.

Spelling the Hours – the lineup!

At long last, here’s the table of contents announcement for the poetry chapbook focusing on forgotten figures in science and technology, Spelling the Hours! This chapbook is one of the bonuses for the forthcoming An Alphabet of Embers anthology.

The chapbook is very cool – different styles, people, time periods – but I think that the most precious thing about Spelling the Hours is the emotional, personal nature of the poets’ explorations of the scientific and scholarly figures therein. I cannot wait to share it with you!

Spelling the Hours

  • Introduction by Rose Lemberg
  • The Clock House by Sonya Taaffe
  • Madrepore by Mari Ness
  • noble, nobel by na’amen
  • Marginalia by Michele Bannister
  • A Personal History of the Universal History of the Things of New Spain by Lisa M. Bradley
  • Agnes Pockels Washes the Physics by Mary Alexandra Agner
  • Pismis 24 by Nelly Geraldine García-Rosas
  • The Lessons of the Knife by Lev Mirov
  • Phliasian Investigations by Sonya Taaffe
  • Never Cease by Bogi Takács
  • Augur Effect by A. J. Odasso
  • Girl Hours by Sofia Samatar

Poetry collection forthcoming!

I am thrilled to announce that I sold my first poetry collection, titled Marginalia to Stone Bird, to Aqueduct Press. It includes forty-six reprinted and nine original poems, and it will appear in the Conversation Pieces series.

I’m really happy with this. I loved working with Aqueduct for my first edited anthology, The Moment of Change; and I’ve been enjoying the Conversation Pieces series, which recently featured work by Lisa M. Bradley, Sonya Taaffe, and Celeste Rita Baker.

Marginalia to Stone Bird
will be my first single-authored collection. It will be out sometime later this year.

Congratulations, Galen Dara!

I learned that Galen Dara has been shortlisted for the Chelsey Award with her illustration to my story “A City on its Tentacles” in Lackington’s Magazine. I am so incredibly happy for Galen. It was truly an honor to have my work illustrated by her, and the octopus painting is just so true to the spirit of my story, and it’s such a beautiful and heartfelt painting – I love it so much and I am thrilled to see it honored.

Another person who absolutely deserves a sea of kudos is Ranylt Richildis, the editor of Lackington’s Magazine. Yes, I am a contributor, so I am a bit biased. That said, Ranylt has consistently produced a beautifully curated and presented magazine that showcases an inspiring variety of writers and artists; it’s always such a joy to read the magazine.

And now you have seen Rose gush, a less than frequent occurrence!

Poem sale!

I sold a short mythic poem titled “A Riddler at Market” to Uncanny Magazine. It’s short, homey, and has many food items. It’s dedicated to Delia Sherman and Ellen Kushner, and it’s a part of AoE backer rewards.

Very happy about this!

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Rose Lemberg is a queer immigrant from Eastern Europe and Israel. Her work has appeared in Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Unlikely Story, Uncanny, and other venues. Rose co-edits Stone Telling, a magazine of boundary-crossing poetry, with Shweta Narayan. She is currently editing a new fiction anthology, An Alphabet of Embers. For a quick taste of Rose's writing, try the Sampler. You can support her work on Patreon.

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