Power and Majesty by Tansy Rayner Roberts

July 31, 2010

I’m not a reviewer by any stretch but I thought I would put a few lines down about each of the books available as prizes in my new blog comp, and first up is Power and Majesty, by Tansy Rayner Roberts.

Power and Majesty is the first in a trilogy of fantasy novels and revolves around the nightly battles to save the city of Aufleur from oblivion from a menacing sky. The warriors defending the city are a bunch called the Creature Court, who have various levels of power that let them shape shift and battle the malevolence from above. In the novel they are without a leader, the titular Power and Majesty. Enter Velody, a dressmaker, late to her powers…

I’m not going to try and give an all encompassing review of the book. I really just want to talk about why I really enjoyed it, despite having foresworn the fantasy series thing for a quite a few years now. (Well, that’s a white lie. Six months ago someone got me some George R.R. Martin to read, but other than that…)

I think two things make this a ripping read:

Firstly, is Roberts’ treatment of the genre she is working in. Her treatment of the tropes of fantasy are remarkably fresh and accessible. The shape-shifters of the Creature Court don’t feel like any shape-shifting creatures I’ve read before, and you don’t have to be a werewolf / demon fan to enjoy the idea. The Creature Court – the heroic band of warriors – is full of flawed characters any of whom would passably play the villain in another book. They don’t arrive in shining armour to the sound of trumpets. In fact, half the time you’re not even sure they’ll go to war at all.

Second great thing about this book is the discourse on gender issues that is interwoven through the text, or more correctly how it is interwoven. Too often, it seems like such discussions seem to come at the expense of the plot. Good writers can put forward views inside good stories, bad writers wrap ideology in thin plots that make me wonder why the writer didn’t just write a non-fiction text to begin with.

Roberts is a good writer. Without spoiling too much of the story, her treatment of Velody is nuanced in that she is very deliberately valued because of her femininity, not despite it. She is not a strong female because she has culturally-defined “masculine” qualities, in fact Roberts seems to construct Velody as almost the archetypal “damsel in distress”, before systematically turning the idea on its head, showing the value in every aspect of Velody’s nature. I like this because, not only does the plot not suffer for this work, it benefits greatly in my opinion. Velody is (to this admittedly not well-read fantasy reader) the most original element of the novel. Following her vocation – dressmaking – is just as important to her as going chimaera.

What is “going chimaera” I hear you ask? Sorry, you’ll have to read the book to find out.

So there you go – freshness and originality – the two things that always excite me when I read.

Go out and buy it… or better yet, write a story for my blog comp and win a signed copy!

Find out more about Tansy here.


Fiction Challenge – The Sixties

July 15, 2010

REVERSE INSPIRATION CHALLENGE:

1960s

“People today are still living off the table scraps of the Sixties. They are still being passed around – the music and the ideas.” – Bob Dylan

THE CHALLENGE IS:

For you, my readers, to take Bob’s words as advice and use one (or more) of the “table scraps” below as inspiration to write 750 to 1,000 words of fiction:

The Crying of Lot 49: Pynchon, Thomas (1965)

“Oedipa settled back, to await the crying of lot 49.”

One Hundred Years of Solitude, Garcia Marquez, Gabriel (1967)

“Before reaching the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.”

The Man in the High Castle: Dick, Philip K. (1962)

“She walked on without looking again at the Abendsen house and, as she walked, searching up and down the streets for a cab or a car, moving and bright and living, to take her back to her motel.”

Wide Sargasso Sea: Rhys, Jean (1966)

“But I shielded it with my hand and it burned up again to light me along the dark passage.”

You shouldn’t use these lines! Just go with an image they put in your mind, and take it from there. There are no wrong answers, only interesting writing. Stories should be self contained, but if you think a scene of a larger piece will capture out imagination go for it! The competition is open to everyone, regardless of age, writing ability, or location on the planet.

PRIZES:

Three fantastic books are up for grabs! In no particular order:

Signed copy of After The Fall, by Kylie Ladd

Kylie Ladd is a Melbourne author, currently residing in Broome, Western Australia. Find out more about her at her website. She can be followed on Twitter via @kylie_ladd.

Kate: ‘I had been married three years when I fell in love. Fell, collapsed, stepped off the curb and found nothing but air. Oh, I already loved my husband of course, but this was different. That had been a decision; this was out of my control, an impulse as difficult to resist as gravity.’

Cary: ‘It happened, it’s over, I’ll survive. What’s the point in talking about it?’

Cressida: ‘For ages after I found out I tormented myself wondering when it had started. Not the sex, which was too much even to contemplate. Not even the kissing, but the thought, the desire, the possibility.’

Luke: ‘For seven months I was the happiest man in the world. Who wouldn’t have been? Two beautiful women whose faces lit up when they saw me, one always available if the other was elsewhere.’

Two married couples: Kate and Cary, Cressida and Luke. Four people who meet, click, and become firm friends. But then Kate and Luke discover a growing attraction, which becomes an obsession. They fall in love, then fall into an affair. It blows their worlds apart. After the fall, nothing will ever be the same again.

Signed copy of Power and Majesty, by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Tansy Rayner Roberts is a Hobart based author, well entrenched in the Australian speculative fiction scene. Find out more about Tansy at her website. She can be followed on Twitter via @tansyrr.

The first novel of her Creature Court Trilogy – Power and Majesty, has recently been released:

“She almost missed the sight of a naked youth falling out of the sky. He was long and lean and muscled … He was also completely off his face.”

A war is being fought in the skies over the city of Aufleur. No one sees the battles. No one knows how close they come to destruction every time the sun sets.

During daylight, all is well, but when nox falls and the sky turns bright, someone has to step up and lead the Creature Court into battle.

Twelve years ago, Garnet kissed Velody and stole her magic. Five years ago, he betrayed Ashiol, and took his powers by force. But now the Creature Court is at a crossroads … they need a Power and Majesty who won’t give up or lose themselves in madness …

Signed copy of Worlds Next Door, edited by Tehani Wessely

Tehani Wessely is a Perth based speculative fiction editor, a founding member of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, and the driving force behind Fablecroft Publications. Find out more about Tehani and Fablecroft at the website. Fablecroft can be followed on Twitter via @fablecroft.

Worlds Next Door is an Australian anthology of speculative fiction stories for 9-13 year olds, containing stories by 25 Australian authors, each illustrated by Australian artists. Many of the authors in the pages are award-winning and well known writers of children’s fiction, and the anthology is compiled to be enjoyed by kids and adults alike. Worlds Next Door has its own website containing lesson plans and ideas, free downloads of individual stories, podcasts and lots of other great material for use in the classroom.

———-

WINNING ENTRIES will be posted on the Fiction On Demand blog, and all entries must be submitted giving permission for publishing on the blog.

TO ENTER:

Email your entry to dansimmo1(@)gmail.com with the entry pasted into the body of the email, and the subject line: “Reverse Inspiration Entry: 1960s”.

WORD COUNT:

750 – 1,000 words

SUBMISSION DATE:

Friday 2nd July 2010 – Friday 13th August 2010

Get writing people!


Call For Inspiration: Dark Triptych

July 10, 2010

Okay folks, been awhile since I’ve offered to write some fiction for you. But here one comes.

The Dark Triptych will be 3 pieces of horror, written by me (or at least dark in tone).

I need THREE readers to each give me:

1. An environment: this can mean a car, a building, a town, or even a country. Or anything else!

2. A colour that you hate.

3. A song that has negative connotations for you.

If you’ve never inspired me to write something join in… I promise some writerly goodness in return!


A little mention… for a little story

July 5, 2010

On Sunday I went down to the Peter Cowan Writers’ Centre for the award ceremony of their inaugural 600 Competition.

The competition was open to stories of 600 words or less and my story – the 341 word Eclipse – was one of eleven shortlisted pieces, out of a total 245 entries.

Amanda Curtain (author of ‘The Sinking’) was the judge and described Eclipse as:

“A surreal, elliptical very short story of impending dread, whose meaning is grasped through sensory images and striking language.”

It was a great afternoon, and a delight to be around so many people passionate about local writing.

Read ‘eclipse’ here.


Fiction Challenge: The Sixties

July 2, 2010

REVERSE INSPIRATION CHALLENGE:

1960s

“People today are still living off the table scraps of the Sixties. They are still being passed around – the music and the ideas.” – Bob Dylan

THE CHALLENGE IS:

For you, my readers, to take Bob’s words as advice and use one (or more) of the “table scraps” below as inspiration to write 750 to 1,000 words of fiction:

The Crying of Lot 49: Pynchon, Thomas (1965)

“Oedipa settled back, to await the crying of lot 49.”

One Hundred Years of Solitude, Garcia Marquez, Gabriel (1967)

“Before reaching the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.”

The Man in the High Castle: Dick, Philip K. (1962)

“She walked on without looking again at the Abendsen house and, as she walked, searching up and down the streets for a cab or a car, moving and bright and living, to take her back to her motel.”

Wide Sargasso Sea: Rhys, Jean (1966)

“But I shielded it with my hand and it burned up again to light me along the dark passage.”

You shouldn’t use these lines! Just go with an image they put in your mind, and take it from there. There are no wrong answers, only interesting writing. Stories should be self contained, but if you think a scene of a larger piece will capture out imagination go for it! The competition is open to everyone, regardless of age, writing ability, or location on the planet.

PRIZES:

Three fantastic books are up for grabs! In no particular order:

Signed copy of After The Fall, by Kylie Ladd

Kylie Ladd is a Melbourne author, currently residing in Broome, Western Australia. Find out more about her at her website. She can be followed on Twitter via @kylie_ladd.

Kate: ‘I had been married three years when I fell in love. Fell, collapsed, stepped off the curb and found nothing but air. Oh, I already loved my husband of course, but this was different. That had been a decision; this was out of my control, an impulse as difficult to resist as gravity.’

Cary: ‘It happened, it’s over, I’ll survive. What’s the point in talking about it?’

Cressida: ‘For ages after I found out I tormented myself wondering when it had started. Not the sex, which was too much even to contemplate. Not even the kissing, but the thought, the desire, the possibility.’

Luke: ‘For seven months I was the happiest man in the world. Who wouldn’t have been? Two beautiful women whose faces lit up when they saw me, one always available if the other was elsewhere.’

Two married couples: Kate and Cary, Cressida and Luke. Four people who meet, click, and become firm friends. But then Kate and Luke discover a growing attraction, which becomes an obsession. They fall in love, then fall into an affair. It blows their worlds apart. After the fall, nothing will ever be the same again.

Signed copy of Power and Majesty, by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Tansy Rayner Roberts is a Hobart based author, well entrenched in the Australian speculative fiction scene. Find out more about Tansy at her website. She can be followed on Twitter via @tansyrr.

The first novel of her Creature Court Trilogy – Power and Majesty, has recently been released:

“She almost missed the sight of a naked youth falling out of the sky. He was long and lean and muscled … He was also completely off his face.”

A war is being fought in the skies over the city of Aufleur. No one sees the battles. No one knows how close they come to destruction every time the sun sets.

During daylight, all is well, but when nox falls and the sky turns bright, someone has to step up and lead the Creature Court into battle.

Twelve years ago, Garnet kissed Velody and stole her magic. Five years ago, he betrayed Ashiol, and took his powers by force. But now the Creature Court is at a crossroads … they need a Power and Majesty who won’t give up or lose themselves in madness …

Signed copy of Worlds Next Door, edited by Tehani Wessely

Tehani Wessely is a Perth based speculative fiction editor, a founding member of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, and the driving force behind Fablecroft Publications. Find out more about Tehani and Fablecroft at the website. Fablecroft can be followed on Twitter via @fablecroft.

Worlds Next Door is an Australian anthology of speculative fiction stories for 9-13 year olds, containing stories by 25 Australian authors, each illustrated by Australian artists. Many of the authors in the pages are award-winning and well known writers of children’s fiction, and the anthology is compiled to be enjoyed by kids and adults alike. Worlds Next Door has its own website containing lesson plans and ideas, free downloads of individual stories, podcasts and lots of other great material for use in the classroom.

———-

WINNING ENTRIES will be posted on the Fiction On Demand blog, and all entries must be submitted giving permission for publishing on the blog.

TO ENTER:

Email your entry to dansimmo1(@)gmail.com with the entry pasted into the body of the email, and the subject line: “Reverse Inspiration Entry: 1960s”.

WORD COUNT:

750 – 1,000 words

SUBMISSION DATE:

Friday 2nd July 2010 – Friday 13th August 2010

Get writing people!