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From the Archives: Club Stories, Mr. Molly

So I recently went back and looked at my old blogs at LJ and DeadJournal (remember THAT?!? Wow.). Truly purple writing, but the glimpses into my early twenties are priceless. 

And now I shall share. Witness the madness that was January, 2002.

4:41 am - A night of drinking, dancing, and disappointment... oh, yes, and some fun...

Um, NSFW? Cut for cursing and frank discussions of sexuality.Collapse )
The Literate Shrew is back from her long hiatus and ready to get back to business. I started this blog not only to have a place to vent about my favorite things, but to showcase some of the amazing writing I have been privledged to read. As ever, life got in the way. Well, I'm not putting up with that BS anymore. Let me kick off my new LGBT speculative fiction focus by explaining how I fell down this particular rabbit hole.

Speculative fiction (fantasy and science fiction, to the unintiated) has fascinated me since I was old enough to read. In my time, I've devoured every fantasy, science fiction and horror book I could get my hands on. In recent years, my genre reading habits have narrowed significantly. Gripping tales of the dangers of new technologies or the price of magic on mortal souls no longer quite satisfy me. I've grown up, and my tastes have grown up too.

Now I look for books that have characters who fall into a different definition of "other." That is to say, characters who are gay.

It's taken me many years to come to terms with my own identity as a queer female, and even longer for me to actively seek out stories featuring characters who, like me, don't fit into society's narrow definition of acceptable sexuality. Looking back, I can see that I was always drawn to speculative fiction with a LGBT focus, but only recently has that interest galvanized. This also has a lot to do with the fact that I just finished my first novel, which is urban fantasy with a gay male protagonist, and I realized that I had no idea if anybody else had written a book like that. Am I alone? I had to know.

Thus began the amazon.com searches, the discoveries of new writers and the rediscoveries of old favorites. Before I get into a long, fan-girly list of the new discoveries, I’d like to look at some of my “root” authors, or the writers that I've been reading for years that, lo and behold, have written some excellent fiction with LGBT characters or *gasp* might even be gay themselves.

Samuel R. Delany

This author started it all. I first discovered him through my Dad’s collection of science fiction novels (thanks Dad), and, like many a burgeoning geek, devoured Dhalgren in high school. Delany’s stories and novels were opaque and different, captivating and strange. As a wee shrew, most of the speculative fiction I read was from the late ‘70s and early ‘80s (way to date yourself, Shrew), and this was a time in speculative fiction where people were playing with ideas of gender and sexuality in new and amazing ways. Delany was in this vanguard, depicting fluid sexuality amidst speculations on the nature of the universe veiled in literary allusions. Delany is a certifiable genius, and also happens to be gay. Discovering this fact was a revelation for the teenage shrew, and I have been in love with him ever since.

Perhaps my favorite Delany titles are the Neveryon series, which features a bisexual (if I remember correctly) main character and many homoerotic elements. He has also written openly about his personal sexual journey in essays and most notably in the novels The Mad Man and The Motion of Light In Water. Delany is a treasure. If I ever get to Clarion, I will no doubt follow him around like a puppy.

[Sidenote: In the intellectual circles that concern themselves with literary criticism of science fiction (yes, they exist), Delany is pointed to when people talk about gay sci-fi, kind of like Ursula Le Guin is indicated when the words “feminist” and “science fiction” are in the same sentence. I won’t get into any major literary fights here, but let’s just say that doesn’t exactly mean the SF community throws pride parades. But that’s a post for another time.]

Tanith Lee

Tanith Lee is a prolific British writer who was also part of the New Age SF vanguard. She has written vampire fiction with transgendered characters and “hard” science fiction with fluid gendered characters, but my favorites are her old DAW sword and sorcery fantasies with the yellow spines. Those old DAW books had the best late 70s barbarian covers, and even if they didn’t have anything to do with the story inside, they were a joy to behold. To this day, I will scan the shelves of used book stores looking for those bright yellow spines. But I digress.  

Tanith Lee has most recently written an excellent book called Disturbed By Her Song that features stories by the Garber twins, Esther and Judas, both of whom are homosexual. Like many of her works, it is a beautiful, dreamlike book with timeless settings and fascinating characters. This book is really a jewel in any LGBT speculative fiction collection. The Shrew highly recommends it.

James Tiptree Jr, AKA Alice Sheldon

As James Tiptree, Jr, Alice Sheldon wrote some of the most intense and influential science fiction stories of all time. “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?” is considered a classic of feminist science fiction, and has been widely collected, most recently in her collection Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. I fell in love with her works after reading some stories in my Dad’s vast Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction collection. In particular, “The Color of Neanderthal Eyes” absolutely floored me. 

The life of Alice Sheldon is as fascinating as the stories of her pseudonym, James Tiptree Jr. The fact that she chose a male persona to write under and her subsequent journey as a science fiction author is fascinating by itself. I could write a whole blog post about her, so instead I’ll simply recommend her biography: James Tiptree Jr: The Double Life of Alice Sheldon.

Those are the roots authors of my queer science fiction obsession. More authors and book reviews will follow, notably a more substantial review of Lee's Disturbed By Her Song, which I recently read.

(X-posted to literateshrew.blogspot.com)

The Saga of Short Bus



This is Short Bus. He is the Runt of the Outside Kittens, son of Molly the Tramp, little brother to Mop and Mama's Boy.

He was dead this morning.

Here's what happened. Earlier this morning, Jill did her Daily Outside Kitten Count. She counted six, one too few. At first he was hidden by the Kitten Basket, and then she saw him. Short Bus was lying behind the Kitten Basket, stiff, ice cold, and covered in ants. Jill swore he was dead. She went to get a paper towel to clean him up, and when she touched him, he twitched and cried out weakly.

"[expletive deleted] what do we do?!?"

"Warm him up!"

We put him in a bowl of tepid water and held his head up so he could breathe. The water drowned the ants and brought his body temperature up. We kept him in the water and slowly warmed it up so it wouldn't shock his system. He was so pathetic, ya'll. I swear he stopped breathing in my hands and in Jill's hands multiple times. While Jill was holding him in the water, I threw two hand towels in the dryer. When he seemed warmed up, we put him in the towel. We rubbed his little chest and belly, his little back and his little neck to keep the blood flowing. He stopped breathing again, and I fought back tears. But he was warming up. He was breathing.

Jill is a trooper and a genius. She has an old cat named Dizzy who had a terrible bladder infection. The vet had given us an IV to give her fluids while she recovered, and Jill remembered that we still had it. Jill held Short Bus, pinched the skin behind his neck and carefully put the needle in. I warmed the IV with my body and squeezed. We worked like a well-oiled machine, like two vet techs who had been working together for years. We got some fluid under his skin, where his body would absorb it. Short Bus got transferred to another warm, dry towel.

At this point, there was nothing else we could do.

I cradled him against my chest in the towel, just like he liked to be held on these cold autumn nights, and we went outside. Short Bus opened his eyes and looked around. He was mostly dry by this point, and was looking better, though he was still weak. Momma Molly came up then and started nursing the other kittens. Jill put him on her and made sure he nursed. We had to pry off several of his brothers so that he could nurse uninterrupted. Once he was done, we put him back in the towel and gave him some antibiotics we had left over from the other cats. Short Bus was steadily gaining strength, yelling at us and looking around, though the warm towel made him sleepy.

Short Bus became an Inside Kitten at that point. We fed him kitten formula; we fed him nutrient rich wet cat food. His tiny belly was big and round. We showed him the litter box. He was confused.

Now here's the cute part of the story.

At the end of our long day, I brought Short Bus upstairs to live with me. I have a small dog cage that my Persian kitten Firefly was sleeping in. I moved it out of Firefly's bathroom and set it up in my living room. I made him a tiny litter box out of a Priority Mail box, a Hobby Lobby bag and some duct tape. I gave him some food, some water and, most importantly, his warm towel. I put him in and closed the door. Short Bus promptly jumped into the middle of his food bowl, laid down, and started eating.

I ran downstairs and got Jill to show her how cute he was in his little room.

When we came back upstairs, Short Bus meowed at the top of his lungs and ran up to us. The door of the cage was still latched.

"I gotta see how he did that."

So we put Short Bus back into the cage, and watched him. He meowed a bit, then proceeded to climb up the door of the cage  (still securely latched). Then Short Bus shoved his giant head through the grate at the top of the cage, climbed on top, and tumbled, not very gracefully, to the floor.

He has been climbing all over my neck, shoulders and chest as I type this, making biscuits, chewing on my ears, and screaming. It is the most beautiful sound I have ever heard.

And that friend is insomnia. Up late, reading all the internets. Found a new site, the Awl. It goes like this—i09 is to geeks, as Awl is to hipsters. Now I want to spend more time in Atlanta.

That is the gist of these insomniac thoughts: my new life. Life hacking. As utterly pretentious as that phrase is, it fits. Hacking into a life as a writer: freelance, creative. Freelance, meaning the web content sites that I’m setting up on my own today and tomorrow, figuring out words for which I can get paid. (See what I did there? With the preposition? Writerly!) Creative, meaning shopping around The Novel, a process which makes me feel sort of like a pimp and sort of like someone giving away a kitten. Creative, meaning making time to write short stories that will also need homes. 

I need to move into my life for real this time. Get my gigs in order and put my socks in the drawer. I think I’ve been living the last month as if I’ll be leaving any time now, or I’m not really here or something. It’s so different. I’m trapped in someone else’s life, surrounded by bucolic beauty and animals. There are five horses and a foal, three feral cats outside, three cats inside, and a dog. Not to mention the children. I’m not saying I don’t love it, but, honestly, it’s been someone else’s life recently. I’m just a visitor.

Well, not any more.

Thoughts for today...

I am an individual with the right to a good life. I must not look to anyone else to make a good life for me; this I must do for myself.

I pray to learn the way to see myself as a child of the Universe, bearing in my heart and mind the dignity and grace the Goddess has conferred on every one of Her children. Let me learn to live up to this.

Jan. 12th, 2010

What do I want to do today? Not worry about tomorrow!
Topped out at 2,200 words tonight, and finished the chapter! Joy! Tomorrow, intros for new chapters and onward to the next! I'm unstoppable!

Just found out....

SAMUEL R DELANY is teaching at the Clarion Workshop this year!!!!!!


I want to go so bad! But it is $5,000. I'm going to go cry now.

Jan. 6th, 2010

Hey, photogs! A friend of mine is selling his cameras & equipment! Check it out --> http://ping.fm/qMBdo

Jan. 6th, 2010

Dinner, TV watching, and Valentine's hat making completed, I will now commence with the writing. We'll see how that goes.