Story sale to Uncanny Magazine

I’ve signed the contract and I can announce that my new Birdverse short story, “The Desert Glassmaker and the Jeweler of Berevyar,” will appear in Uncanny Magazine. It’s the happiest story I wrote since… hm. It might just be the happiest story I’ve ever written, period.

It’s about two artists and their art and a very great distance that separates them, and it’s about sand and jewels and glass, and I am very happy to be able to share it with you soon.

Thank you, Lynne and Michael!

More Birdverse reviews

A.C. Wise highlights my work and “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” in particular as a part of her Non-Binary Authors to Read feature:

It is a story rich in imagery and sensory detail. It is a story about magic – who is allowed to use it, and what kind are they allowed to use. It is a story about language – who is allowed to speak, and what happens if they cannot. It is a story about love – what would you do for its sake, how far would you travel, what would you give up and leave behind. And it is a story about self – coming to know who you are, and seeing others more clearly in the process. Lemberg also uses the tale to explore gender in fascinating ways….[The story] presents the notion of gender as something both rigid and fluid, each binary choice coming with its own weight. As mentioned before, it’s soaked in sensory detail, transporting the reader to the world of the tale. Overall, it’s lovely on many levels and a wonderful starting place for Lemberg’s work.

“Geometries of Belonging” is now on the Tiptree Recommendations list, along with “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds.” Thank you very much, anonymous recommender!

Tangent Online review of “Geometries…”:

…Lemberg overlays strong themes of consent and identity with enjoyably complex characters and setting, deftly introducing each element in its proper time. A surreal magic system reflects on the characters’ diverse personalities while providing a sense of otherness.

Charles Payseur reviews my worldbuilding poem, “Three Principles of Strong Building,” as a part of his Strange Horizons roundup:

Ah, something to hold me over a little while longer while waiting for the next Birdverse story to read. This poem sheds some light on the system of magic created in the stories and also just does a fine job examining the relationship between the land, the individual, and the creations of the individual. […] The poem itself seems part of some larger text, an instructional one designed to inform the reader of the relationship between land and mind, mind and building, land and building. Triangles all, balanced and balancing, and damn I want more stories now.

I’m working on it, Charles!!!

Patreon updates!

I’ve switched my Patreon to monthly payments. The previous per-creation arrangement was not really working for me, as I ended up constantly worrying whether new pieces were worth charging for, and in the end, nothing felt quite worthy of posting for pay. The monthly payments feel liberating. They also give patrons more predictability – you know what you will be charged each month, regardless of how often I post.

Which is to say, you can support my Patreon with as little as $1 a month to gain access to snippets, worldbuilding, poetry, drawings, and more. Support is encouraging and allows me to continue creating.

I’m posting a new Birdverse poem today. I hope you will consider supporting my work. And a very big thank you to my existing patrons!

“The Shapes of Us, Translucent to your Eye”

When the Unlikely Academia call came out, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to write anything at all. I’m not very good at writing for specific calls. But then I read Amal El-Mohtar’s story Pockets, and I sat down and this story came out of me.

The Shapes of us, Translucent to your Eye” is a story told from a point of view of a junior professor of color who is also an immigrant, inspired by Warda from Amal’s story.

Here’s a review from Charles Payseur, who is speedy and wonderful:

This is an amazing way to close out the issue, with the shortest story so far. In it, Warda is a university professor at a time when being a university professor is kind of one of the worst things to be. Having seen the harrowing that higher education, that education in general has seen in my own state, I can imagine that elsewhere the story is similar. […] Warda’s struggles to fight against, to rise despite, is an inspiring gesture, inspiring because it flies in the face of those who would say that it’s not enough, that why bother if it can’t fix anything. When really the battle is lost if you’re taking life pass/fail. It’s not about the grade but the knowledge, the power that language holds, the power that education and fellowship holds. (read the full review here).

It’s a very short story, and I hope you give it a read.

Julia August’s story in the same issue, “Soteriology and Stephen Greenwood,” is a highly enjoyable lighter take on Unlikely Academia – recommended.

“Geometries of Belonging” reviewed

My new Birdverse novelette “Geometries of Belonging” has been well-received so far. As I wrote before, this is a painful and hopeful story for me; I guess it’s just generally emotionally fraught to be showing a close PoV of someone who is so conflicted, someone who has so often been on the receiving end of judgment. It’s good to see the positive reactions – through reviews, tweets, and recommendations.

Charles Payseur at Quick Sip Reviews writes,

“… This is the second story I’ve read in this setting, and this one only gets more complicated, more rich and more fleshed out. It follows Parét, who is a healer of the mind, a man with power but with a deep sense of shame, of guilt, of worthlessness. […] There is so much good here. So much good that I can’t hope to capture it all in this review, but the landscape is so solid, and the setting is magic and raw and Parét is an amazing character to capture it all, to have to examine those things he doesn’t want to. For all that he’s a passive character, a submissive character, he is alive and vibrant and I want more of this. All the more of this, please. Yes. For now, I will have to content myself with waiting for more stories set in this world to come out.” (read the full review here)

Liz Bourke at / Sleeps with Monsters writes:

Rose Lemberg’s “Geometries of Belonging” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, 1st October 2015) is a prickly, complex sort of story. Its main character, Parét, is a healer of minds, a person with very low self-esteem of their own, who is also in a committed relationship with an important politician. […] Parét ends up in a complicated pickle when the family of one of their lover’s political rivals wants them to “cure” a child—an autistic child—of the family into being a proper granddaughter, rather than the person they really are. The prose is blunt and powerful, the narrative compelling, and the worldbuilding both deep and lightly-sketched, lending an impression of a full world while only touching on what is immediately important.

It is a very enjoyable read, and I thoroughly recommend it.
(read the full review here)

Some kind person added it to the Hugo 2015 nominees wiki – thank you!!

Thank you very much, Charles and Liz, and everybody who has read and recommended the story so far.

Oh, and another one of my Birdverse novelettes, “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds,” is in the Tiptree recommendation list. Thank you, mysterious recommender!

Birdverse at Strange Horizons

The Strange Horizons fund drive has reached $11,000, and that means that my Birdverse worldbuilding poem, “Three Principles of Strong Building,” is up in the bonus issue – together with Shweta Narayan’s “Nettle-Stung” and “B’resheet” by Julia Burns Liberman.

Nettle-Stung” is illustrated by the poet. I love this so much.

Strange Horizons: the First Fifteen Years

If you donate $10 or more, you will get an eBook copy of “Strange Horizons: The First Fifteen Years“, which includes my epic queer poem “Between the Mountain and the Moon.”

Also, watch this space for more fundraising goodies very soon.

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.


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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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