Fantasy booklist: American Southwest authors

Some authors from the American southwest. For websites and other books, click on author’s name.

610Y-M8z8FLOn another note entirely, Barry Hughart’s *Bridge of Birds is about an ‘ancient China that never was’, a sage with ‘a slight flaw in his character’, his assistant, Number Ten Ox, and their quest to save the comatose children of Ox’s village and solve the mystery of the lost princess of birds. This is the first in a series of mysteries about the sage Li Kao, Number Ten Ox, and the occult mysteries they solve.

Evangeline Walton retold some of the lesser known stories from The Mabinogion (ancient Welsh): The Island of the Mighty; The Children of Llyr; *The Song of Rhiannon; and The Prince of Annwn. She wrote in the 1940s-50s but her books didn’t do well until they were reissued in the 1970s. She is a total word magician; her books are evocative, simply written, psychologically astute, bringing a mythical past alive. Just discovered: she wrote two books about Theseus, but didn’t even try to publish them during her lifetime, because that other magician of bringing the past to life, Mary Renault, had just published her Theseus books. (See earlier post.)

Nancy Farmer, *The House of the Scorpion, about a boy who lives in the American southwest, which has become a country called Opium, who is the clone of a 130 year old drug lord.

Also A Girl Named Disaster, about a young African orphan about to be married off to a middle-aged man with 3 other wives. She runs away instead, aided by her grandmother, as well as spirits, baboons, and a leopard, to find another kind of family.

She’s also got a new one out, adult fantasy/s.f. called A New Year’s Tale, about a near future where there’s no social security or Medicare, and the government is trying to get rid of its old people, which is making the ancestors (spirits) truly pissed off. I can’t wait to read this one.

 

Advertisements

Imagining hope, the mushrooms

After making the short list of books (that kept getting longer) it seemed like a good idea to keep on imagining hope. Here’s a link to an interview with Paul Stamets, mycologist, biodiversity advocate, and author of Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Save the World. Stamets found that mushrooms act as a filtration system and is researching their role in undoing ecological damage such as soil and water pollution, as well as their medicinal properties. For a futuristic, fictional interpretation of what’s in Stamets’s (scientific) book, see Nancy Farmer‘s novel The Lord of Opium.

 

Imagining hope, the books

imagesBoth Ursula Le Guin and Diana Wynne Jones have said that “writers of the imagination” can inspire hope as they imagine alternatives to destruction and despair…Marina Warner said something similar in From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers, and probably so have plenty of other people. In honor of the sun moving into Sagittarius, the sign of optimism, what follows is a short, random list of hope-inspiring books and/or worlds, that offer alternative solutions to a number of things:

Ursula Le Guin, The Dispossessed, The Lathe of Heaven, Always Coming Home, The Telling, Tehanu, Dancing on the Edge of the World, etc. (science fiction and literary criticism)

Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle, Fire and Hemlock, Black Maria, The Dalemark Quartet, long story short, pretty much everything (fantasy)

Stanley Cavell, Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage (essays about the classic romantic comedies — mostly starring Cary Grant, often with Katharine Hepburn.)

Lewis Hyde, The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property (using anthropology, literary criticism, fairytales, and the kitchen sink, Hyde looks at what it means to be an artist, healer, teacher, or anyone else whose work is based on the gift, living in a money economy.)

Isabel Allende, Eva Luna (magical realism, the story of a girl who is born a servant and becomes a writer)

Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid (written in 1902, a scientist’s alternative to social Darwinism)

Emma Goldman, Living My Life (“If I can’t dance I don’t want to be in your revolution.”)(autobiography of an anarchist)

Terry Pratchett, Nation, Going Postal, A Monstrous Regiment, Witches Abroad, A Hat Full of Sky, etc., etc. (fantasy)

Matthew Fox, The Reinvention of Work: A New Vision of Livelihood for Our Time (essays about work with heart)

Carolyn See, The Handyman, Golden Days, There Will Never Be Another You (fiction: in which many of her protagonists fight despair with hoping outside the box)

Marion Milner, A Life of One’s Own (the journal of a pioneer of lucid dreaming in 1920s London)

Kim Stanley Robinson, Lucky Strike (science fiction novella; alternate history of Hiroshima and the atom bomb)

Starhawk, Dreaming the Dark (essays) and The Fifth Sacred Thing (fantasy, a future California where San Francisco is run by little old ladies and Wiccans; L.A. is the evil empire where those who own the water run everything)

Nancy Farmer, A Girl Named Disaster, The House of the Scorpion (fantasy and science fiction: an 11-year old girl in Mozambique runs away from an arranged marriage, survives with the help of animals and spirits; the early life of the boy who is a clone of a 140-year old drug lord in a land called Opium, in what is now Arizona)

Francisco X. Stork, Marcelo and the Real World (fiction: Marcelo lives in a treehouse behind his family’s home; he hears inner music and is happiest working with the Haflinger ponies at his special school; what happens when his father puts him to work at his corporate law office for the summer so he can get some experience in the real world.)

Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being (fiction: a Japanese-American girl named Nao is the time being; so is the woman named Ruth who reads Nao’s diary when she finds it on a beach in Vancouver; so is Nao’s great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun)

Robertson Davies, Fifth Business, World of Wonders (fiction: see earlier post)

Dorothy Sayers, Gaudy Night (mystery featuring Lord Peter Wimsey: set in a fictional women’s college at Oxford in 1935, the theme is women’s education, equality between sexes, and the course of true love)

Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita (fiction, or a very strange roman a clef: the Devil comes to 1920s Moscow — where no one believes in him — except a woman named Margarita and a nameless writer who was driven crazy when his novel about Pontius Pilate was ridiculed by the powers that be. This book was banned in the USSR for 30 years, censored for even longer, and Bulgakov officially known as “a slanderer of Soviet reality”.)

Doris Lessing, The Four-gated City, particularly the appendix, where she veers into an s.f. future (fiction, the fifth novel in her Martha Quest series, roman a clef)

Sheri Tepper, The Margarets, Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, The Fresco, The Family Tree, Beauty etc. etc. (science fiction and fantasy, focused on gender and environmental issues, funny and sometimes sad)

Eleanor Arnason, Changing Women (science fiction: a group of anthropologists from a reclaimed earth land on a planet inhabited by matriarchal ‘fur-people’)