"The Presentation" by James Torrens

The Presentation” is a poem in America Magazine. I’ve just read it, and the shock hiding in its simple words and familiar story prompted this post.

We’re old, but God is young.

We are tired, cynical, uncertain. But God isn’t.

We are about to celebrate Christmas, proof that “we’re not despaired of.”

Fair Trade

As a shopper, convenience and price often trumps ethical issues. But I do try. My coffee is Fair Trade, and I often buy organic foods, not just because of protecting my health but because non-organic commercial farming practices often have a significant, negative impact on producers and those living nearby. If I care about these people why am I eating food that compromises their health?

Steampunk Romance Open Call Samhain

If you write romance you might want to check out Samhain’s call for Steampunk novellas. Can you imagine some of the fun to be found in crossing the two genres? Bustles that act as rockets, launching the heroine to the Victorian rooftops. A hero who rides a steam powered bike–there has to be some wicked innuendo in all those pistons! As well as the upper class playing with their alternative toys, this is the world of Oliver Twist. Pickpockets on rollerblades and mechanical snakes that dip into pockets that are lined with automatic razor teeth. Lots of fun.

Romance Divas forum is a great place to get more information, ask questions and surround yourself with other authors. The Samhain editors frequently drop by.

Bride of the Rat God

Bride of the Rat God by Barbara Hambly is a fabulous fantasy. It evokes early Hollywood with a sureness of touch that pulls you in and the characters live and breathe and make you care. The “Moon of Rats”, an ancient Chinese necklace, begins all the problems–like a demon intent on claiming human sacrifice–but the novel is more than a fantastical adventure. Early Hollywood emerged after the First World War, and the heroine, Norah, is still dealing with its tragedy.

The story simply charms me, and I highly recommend it. And if you’re a writer or creative artist you’ll understand the following observation taken from the novel:

“Filming motion pictures, she had learned in her first week as Christine’s dog minder and lady-in-waiting, was rather like writing a book: it took a great deal of time to produce something that was all over in an hour and a half.”

But the hour and a half gloriously proves the worth of Hambly’s effort.

Magic Mourns by Ilona Andrews

I recently picked up a copy of the anthology Must Love Hellhounds. It’s a good collection, but I bought it for “Magic Mourns” and that’s the story I read first and like best.

Although set in the Kate Daniels’ universe, it is told by Andrea. This lets us see Kate through someone else’s eyes, but Kate is on the periphery here. The focus is Andrea, her past and her future, particularly her relationship with Raphael. She is vulnerable and she is a survivor–much like Kate–and with a very similar voice, only we’re allowed to see more of her vulnerability and backstory than we are with Kate.

The novella does a good job of deepening our sense of Kate’s world without actually imparting secrets you need to read to understand the next Kate novel, Magic Bleeds, coming in May 2010. But if you’re addicted to this dark world of magic and tech, where compassion has a price, you’ll want to read “Magic Mourns”.

One final point occurred to me as I thought about this review. The Kate universe is violent. If I saw this stuff in a movie I’d be closing my eyes and whimpering, but I read it eagerly. Maybe my imagination is not as vivid as I think it is?