“Book…” reviews and recommendations roundup

My Birdverse novelette “The Book of How to Live” has been getting attention from readers and reviewers, for which I am very grateful.

“Book…” is on the Tangent Recommended Reading list – two stars.

Fran Wilde posted “Things to Read While Rebooting: An awards Post of Sorts” in which she recommends “The Book of How to Live” in the Novelette category.

Jason Sanford included it in his “2016 novel and short fiction recommended reading list.”

Ada Hoffmann, Autistic Book Party:

Rose Lemberg, “The Book of How to Live” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue #209, September 2016)

[Autistic author] A story about a magicless autistic artificer in a magical world, and the beginnings of a revolution. Efronia’s autism is downplayed but recognizeable, particularly in her confusion over people’s motivations and in a period of sensory overwhelm she has towards the end of the story. She is a patient, steadfast person, which is a nice thing I don’t see often enough. The story overall is political in a very good way. [Recommended]

The SFF that’s helped me through 2016 (Book Smugglers; Charles Payseur):

“The Book of How to Live” by Rose Lemberg, out from Beneath Ceaseless Skies. This story, maybe more than any other this year, has been important for keeping going. For finding ways to make the work worth doing. Focusing on what’s important. Pushing forward.

Charles Payseur also discussed this story at length on Cabbages and Kings.

And Charles also awarded it a Sippy in the I’d Ship That category (!!!)

While looking around for reviews I keep running into new reviews of my Birdverse novelette “Geometries of Belonging.” This story was overshadowed by “Cloth…” last year, but people keep finding it. It’s a story that keeps on resurfacing.

Here’s a review from JC Hoskins; their blog is Strangely Charmless. Thank you.

Parét is a healer who works their craft by using deepnames, the Birdverse magic system. In the course of their work, they meet a young neurodivergent, trans person: Dedéi. And, while Dedéi’s situation cries out for help, they are also close to the heart of a dangerous political problem that could bring down Parét’s lord and lover as well as drag the nation into war.

Dealing explicitly with emotional and physical abuse and the sickness that always lies behind it, this story also talks about the trouble with attempting to do good in the world—i.e. the harm that is often inadvertently caused. As a result of loss, Parét has sworn to move through the world without affecting it, for good or ill. But their drive to heal often lures them into action against their better judgement.

I won’t give away the ending, but I will say that you shouldn’t be afraid to read this: there is no tragedy here for you. Instead, this is a story for survival, for resistance, for overcoming. This story is what you need right now.

Going at my own pace: The Impact of Rose Lemberg’s “Geometries of Belonging” is a beautiful and needed essay by Xan West about how “Geometries…” influenced their writing on disability.

I cannot explain how deeply affirming my reading experience of Geometries has been. The pacing alone…the way this story moves just flat out works for me. It begins slowly, builds in spirals. When I am in it, I am fully immersed and held, supported. I get to attend to the things that are important to Parét, follow the way he thinks, connect with how he feels, and this gets to be so much deeper because I am not using such a big part of my brain trying to match pace with the story. I found myself breathing slow and even as I read, almost like I was meditating. It was as soothing as letting myself stim feels.

Many of my stories are in Xan’s End of Year Book Survey 2016 with some very kind words about my work. Thank you very much.

My novel The Upholding features Parét twenty years before the events of “Geometries…”, so if you appreciated “Geometries…”, this book might be for you.

“Cloth….” illustrated (and grief)

I have mentioned before that I have been very fortunate to work with Renne Chon of Science Fiction World, to get my Nebula-nominated novelette “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” translated into Chinese. I have posted some translation Q & A with Renne Chon on my Patreon as a rare public entry.


In November, I received two issues of Science Fiction World with my story, gloriously illustrated by Chengxing Huang (黄诚兴). Science Fiction Magazine (China) was the original commisioner.

I sent a photograph of the spread to my parents in Israel. I have a difficult relationship with my parents around my queerness, but they were very excited that a story of mine was translated into Chinese. My father, a painter and sculptor, loved the illustration. My dad had a stroke and passed away suddenly in early December. This translation and illustration were the last thing of mine that he had seen.

It means more to me than I can express.
Thank you, Science Fiction World.


I have an agent

The end of 2016 has been so horrible for me that I’ve been sitting on this bit of good news for a while. At long last, here it is.

My querying process for my Birdverse novel THE UPHOLDING was surprisingly short and eventful; I sent out a dozen queries and received three offers of representation and a rewrite request from four wonderful agents in the field. I loved the conversations I had with these agents; I feel that I learned a lot about the business, and also about myself and my work. I am very grateful for the time and attention my work has received from the agents who considered it.

I had to make some difficult decisions, but I am very happy to announce that at the end of this process I have signed with Connor Goldsmith of Fuse Literary. I had many excellent conversations with Connor and am looking forward to working with him.


Award Eligibility 2016

This is my customary award eligibility post for the year. I did not have as much short pieces out because I was concentrating on longer work, but I am very proud of what I did publish this year.

I have bolded pieces I feel are most deserving of award consideration. Short fiction nominating folks, if you only want to read one thing, please read “The Book of How to Live” (novelette) in BCS Magazine.



Short Story:“The Desert Glassmaker and the Jeweler of Berevyar” (Birdverse short story), Uncanny.

Novelette: “The Book of How to Live,” Beneath Ceaseless Skies (Birdverse novelette). 

“Yes to this story. About work and ability and value in an unequal society, it weaves together magic and mechanics, desire and hope.”  (Quick Sip Reviews)

“Rose Lemberg brings us another moving LGBTQIA fantasy piece set in the Birdverse, the novelette “The Book of How to Live.” Lemberg’s love story follows two strangers who struggle to be accepted in a world ruled by magic users”. (Tangent)



An Alphabet of Embers, ed. Rose Lemberg  – an anthology of unclassifiables, eligible for the Locus award

Lemberg brings their poetic sensibility to one of the most brilliantly arranged TOCs that I’ve yet read, lending an air of beauty and lightness to the entire experience of reading this combined reprint/original anthology. – Karen Burnham, Strange Horizons

Best editor, short form – for An Alphabet of Embers – eligible for the Hugo.

We are always happy to provide review copies of AoE!



Marginalia to Stone Bird (Aqueduct Press, 2016) – debut poetry collection; eligible for the Elgin award. Reviews at Publishers Weekly; LightspeedNerds of a FeatherStrange Horizons

Rose Lemberg’s first collection is a beautifully curated jewel of a book full of colour, longing, and heat. – Amal El-Mohtar, Lightspeed


The Ash Manifesto,”  Strange Horizons. (Short poetry category- Rhysling)

Original poems in Marginalia to Stone Bird:

“Dybbuk Song”

“Speak Love”

“Badgerwoman of the Raspberry Ridge”

“Tarka’s Unsong”

“The Dragon Diptych II: Charovnik”

“An Incantation for the Road”

“Write of Fireflies”

“Wind-Hoarder to the Would-be Poet”

“The Journeymaker to Keddar (II)”

SFPA voters – if you’d like a copy of Marginalia or a file with poems original to Marginalia, please comment or contact me, and I will send it to you.

Thank you very much for considering my work.

“Book…” at the Monthly Round

My Birdverse novelette “The Book of How to Live” made The Monthly Round at Nerds of a Feather:

Bracing. Spicy. Lightly bitter. It’s how I would profile a Session IPA, a drink that speaks to me of autumn and the smell of burning leaves. It’s also how I imagine “The Book of How to Live” by Rose Lemberg would taste, with an eye toward resistance and revolution and city teaming with magic, cultures, and history slowly coming to a boil. And that might seem a bit dramatic for a story that is, at the surface, about lanterns and machine lubricants water pumps. And yet the story does a magnificent job of looking at the economics of magic with a careful eye on where the magicless resident in a society that so strongly values magical talent.

Read the whole review at Nerds of a Feather.

This story is about community, revolution, and resistance, and it just feels very timely right now.

A Portrait of the Desert in Personages of Power

Friends, this has been a difficult week. Devastating for many of us. I have spoken at length on twitter about my feelings about this election, and will continue to do so there: @roselemberg.

I posted on Twitter last night that I am reluctant to announce the sale of my novella — it feels weird to have good news at such a difficult time. Many people told me that good news would be welcome.

With this in mind: I have sold my Birdverse Origin novella, “A Portrait of the Desert in Personages of Power,” to Beneath Ceaseless Skies. It is an intensely lyrical and mythic piece with power exchange, consent, trauma, survivorship, queer/trans romance and people turning into giant flaming birds.

This piece is very important to me and I hope you enjoy it too. It will be published in Spring 2017.


New reviews, and a poem!

My new Birdverse novelette “The Book of How to Live” has received some positive reviews.

The first from Tangent, by reviewer Michelle Ristuccia:

Rose Lemberg brings us another moving LGBTQIA fantasy piece set in the Birdverse, the novelette “The Book of How to Live.” Lemberg’s love story follows two strangers who struggle to be accepted in a world ruled by magic users. Efronia wishes to attend university to further her non-magical inventions; meanwhile Zilpit-nai-Rinah fights to attain an equal status within her own family unit, her oreg. […] “The Book of How to Live” is about defining one’s self and developing one’s talents regardless of whether others accept you or not. [see full review here]

The second is from Quick Sip Reviews, by Charles Payseur.

Um…yes. Yes to this story. About work and ability and value in an unequal society, it weaves together magic and mechanics, desire and hope. And for a story that’s about so-called simples, it is wonderfully complex, exploring a setting that continues to expand and deepen, each story strengthening and widening the grid that is Birdverse and providing an incredible experience. This story focuses on two women, Efronia and Atarah, brought together not so much by their lack of deepnames so much as their genius at making things. They are artificers, not because they have been granted the title by a university or other entrenched power, but because their inventions work. And the story is about work, the work that one does and how one does it. About the power of work to draw people together, to unite them, especially when the work is so tied to how to live and how to live better. [read the full review here!]

I have talked about Charles a lot here, because I am so grateful for the work he does reviewing such an astounding number of short fiction publications in SFF. We need this coverage. I hope you will consider supporting his work on Patreon!


I also have a new poem out at Strange Horizons. It’s NOT a Birdverse poem, for a change – it is a rather short piece titled The Ash Manifesto. I hope you like it!

Charles Payseur reviewed this poem at Quick Sip Reviews as a part of his Strange Horizons reviews. Really Charles is a hero.

The Sippys

Last year I found myself a recipient of a new fan award, The Sippy, bestowed by none other than Charles Payseur, reviewer extraordinaire. My Birdverse novelette “Geometries of Belonging” in Beneath Ceaseless Skies received The Big Sip for excellent relationships in short SFF!

This year, in preparation for 2016 Sippys, Charles redesigned the award and kindly revisited the last year’s winners with the new trophies.

Here is mine:


I am really happy with this. In general I am just so happy to see that Birdverse has fans. It means a lot to me. I am especially happy to see “Geometries…” recognized; as you may have seen, I have since written a novel about some of the characters in this novelette – and I’m almost ready to query it.

If you’d like to support Charles Payseur’s reviewing work, he now has a Patreon for Quick Sip Reviews!

“The Book of How to Live” is live! + some notes

My new Birdverse novelette, “The Book of How to Live,” is live in Beneath Ceaseless Skies’ 8th Anniversary double issue.

Here are some notes about this story:

I first became a fan of Mikhail Lomonosov as an eight year old living in Vorkuta, when I read his “Ode to Glass.” I memorized some of his astronomical and other scientific poems, and read everything about him I could find. Lomonosov was an 18-century Russian polymath from a peasant family, who traveled by foot from his home village in the northern Arkhangelsk region to Moscow because he was determined to study. He was admitted into the Slavic Greek Latin Academy on false pretenses – he claimed to be from a priestly rather than a peasant family – and was almost expelled when this was discovered. He was not, however, expelled, and eventually became one of the most influential scientists, social scientists, and poets of the Russian 18th century. As a child, I was deeply inspired and influenced by his story, the humble origins, the very long journey he made on foot, the determination, what it took to get into a higher education environment. I held on to this story and the hope that everything is possible.

As a grown-up and an academic who is multiply marginalized, I wanted to poke at this favorite childhood story some more. What if the Lomonosov-like figure is a woman? What if the Lomonosov-like figure is a queer, asexual woman? What if the Lomonosov-like person is autistic? What if this person is expelled after all?

I examine some of this in the story of Efronia Lukano, one of the two MCs of my new Birdverse novelette, “The Book of How to Live.” This story is set in Laina, a country in the north-east of Birdverse which has many Russian influences, though Laina is certainly not Russia.

The other protagonist of “Book…” is Zilpit-nai-Rinah (later Atarah), a Khana inventor and artificer without magic. I’ve written about Khana people living in various corners of Birdverse, and there are many more stories to tell; the protagonists of my Nebula-nominated “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” are Khana people from Niyaz, which is in the southwest. Magic is commonplace among the Khana, and especially among Khana women; in “Cloth…”, the protagonist, Aviya, who is without magic, finds her place in her people’s narrative. Zilpit/Atarah does not really fit in the traditional Khana society, and builds new things. There’s a lot more to say about Atarah and the Khana society in Laina, about academic politics, and who gets admitted and excluded, but I will let the story speak for itself.

“The Book of How to Live” is set in the early days of the Lainish Revolution; this is a formative and hopeful period of the revolution’s history, and we see people of many ethnicities and walks of life come together to work for a better world. I hope you like this story and let me know what you think.

Many thanks to Bogi Takács, Shweta Narayan, and Corey Alexander for their helpful comments on this story, and to Scott Andrews at Beneath Ceaseless Skies for publishing it.

Two upcoming reprints

I am very pleased to report that I sold reprint and audio rights to “How to Remember to Forget to Remember the Old War” (Lightspeed’s Queers Destroy SF) to GlitterShip. This is a story of two interstellar veterans with PTSD, and it the first time this story will be available online in text and audio format.

Second, “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” will be reprinted in the Long List Anthology, volume 2, edited by David Steffen – which is Kickstarting right now. The Long List Anthology collects select stories that appeared on the Hugo longlist; and this year they are also reprinting some letters from Letters to Tiptree. Novelettes were a stretch goal this year, and that stretch goal has been reached. The Kickstarter is now raising for the novella stretch goal! Look at this incredible lineup:

Short Stories and Letters (base goal)

“Three Cups of Grief, By Starlight” by Aliette de Bodard
“Madeleine” by Amal El-Mohtar
“Pockets” by Amal El-Mohtar
“Tuesdays With Molakesh the Destroyer” by Megan Grey
“The Women You Didn’t See” by Nicola Griffith (a letter from Letters to Tiptree)
“Damage” by David D. Levine
“Neat Things” by Seanan McGuire (a letter from Letters To Tiptree)
“Today I Am Paul” by Martin L. Shoemaker
“Pocosin” by Ursula Vernon
“Wooden Feathers” by Ursula Vernon
“Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” by Alyssa Wong

Novelettes (stretch goal at $3900 – reached)

“The Heart’s Filthy Lesson” by Elizabeth Bear
“So Much Cooking” by Naomi Kritzer
“Another Word For World” by Ann Leckie
“Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” by Rose Lemberg
“The Deepwater Bride” by Tamsyn Muir
“Our Lady of the Open Road” by Sarah Pinsker
“The Long Goodnight of Violet Wild” by Catherynne M. Valente

Novellas (stretch goal at $5000)

“The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn” by Usman T. Malik
“The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps” by Kai Ashante Wilson

I am very much looking forward to this anthology, and I hope you consider supporting the Kickstarter.

I’ll have a new Birdverse novelette available for free in Beneath Ceaseless Skies tomorrow – so will post more soon!

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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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