May 2nd, 2008

there!, Hello

The End, and a New Book to the List

So, Wednesday was my last official day working at Umass. My boss was retiring, and as my lab was folding up its tents and vanishing across the dunes, I was to venture with it. The department had a nice little celebratory send off for Pete (who got a cake) and myself (who also got a cake; carrot, I might add, for the bunny in my heart, heh). Pretty cool.

Thursday, I hoped to sleep in. Alas it was not to be. A little after the normal departure time, I woke to the sound of the street sweepers' air horns, blatting the final warning to all the folks in my neighborhood to get their cars off the street, lest they be towed. So, up and at 'em I went (not to move the car, which was already done, but to get to work).

I finished reading the next book for the list, and hit the writing hard core. I've got a few projects currently on my plate (not the least is one whose deadline has been moved up from June 30th to May 15th; there goes my leisurely editing time), so I had a pretty good day of writing yesterday, interrupted by lunch/dinner with hntrpyanfar (who is hard at work in her lab) and a visit to shadowravyn in the hospital last night. This morning, I had a crisis about whether or not my story was any good. But I'm enjoying the work, as it speaks to the more literary Ramsey Campbell/Peter Straub side of the dark fantastique (something I long to write well, but absolutely despair that I ever will).


33) Dark God's Kiss by C.L. Moore. (2007, Paizo Publishing, 224 pages).
A collection of all the stories from Weird Tales magazine (circa the 1930s) revolving around the character Jirel of Joiry. This is the first real appearance of a sword wielding heroine (a response in some ways to Robert E. Howard's masculine barbarian archetype). Neither the wilting "girl in trouble" or eeeevil sorceress/femme fatale foil to some square jawed hero, Jirel has carved out her own kingdom in Dark Ages France. She is warrior, she is leader, she is fierce and dedicated and capable, cruel when situations demand it, and, come to think of it, not often all that merciful. In short, the current mold of strong female protagonist is nothing all that new. It merely builds upon an archetype established by Moore some seventy years ago.

The Jirel of Joiry stories are nothing short of breath taking, fast and furious fantasy fiction that is smart, eerie, exciting and absorbing. Catherine Lucille Moore is often dubbed the First Lady of Fantasy, and she earns the moniker. Her fiction is excellent. I've read the six Jirel stories before (in an Ace paperback edition), but Paizo's recent trade paperback volume is enjoyable for the inclusion of "Quest of the Starstone," a little seen tale (written with Henry Kuttner) which finds Jirel of Joiry meeting space outlaw Northwest Smith (another of Moore's series characters, and star of another Paizo volume of Moore's fiction; think an ur-Han Solo and you're about right). This volume also includes an insightful, passionate, and a little over the top introduction by Suzy McKee Charnas.

Currently reading: Bloodstone by Nate Kenyon (for Horror Reader).