Category Archives: LGBTQ+/GRSM

Turner, Tej; Dinnusos Rises (2017)

I recommend reading The Janus Cycle before you continue with Dinnusos Rises. Dinnusos continues some of the stories from it. Toward the end of The Janus Cycle, we read:

“… Janus was once this great place where nobody gave a fuck and you could just have fun, but then some bloody kids who don’t have a clue tried to steal your vibe.”…

“You just need to move on, he declared. “Look around you – this, what we have here tonight – isn’t it that feeling, that craziness you were looking for? You are Janus. Let those kids keep the empty shell. You can make a new one!” (The Janus Cycle, p. 217)

That place is, Dinnusos.

“… Victorian, with high ceilings and sash windows. It’s big, too. … If the main bar ever gets too rowdy and you fancy some quiet, there’s a whole labyrinth of rooms on the upper floors you can get lost in. One of the city’s old canal ways runs along the back of the building.” (Dinnusos, p. 14)

You can find Dinnusos in Yesterville:

“A place of urban decay and broken streetlamps. Vagrants and outcasts. Faded signposts and overgrown gardens. Thrifty means and humble dreams.” (Dinnusos, p. 14)

Dinnusos is owned by Neal. Neal and Tristan became a couple in The Janus Cycle. Tristan is a painter and he has painted murals on most of Dinnusos’ walls, murals that magically change during the story behaving as prophetic tools.

We reconnect with the paranormal members of Sunset Haze: Patrick (violin+half-fey), Faye (flute+dream walker), Jack (acoustic guitar+half-fey), and Ellen/Jessica (voice+medium/ghost). Neal lets them practice in one of the club’s rooms in exchange for the occasional session downstairs. Their abilities draw people. We also reconnect with Tilly, Pandora and Frelia.

Wilder Mann mit Wappenschild copper engraving by Martin Schongauer

Tej Turner has used the same writing style he used in The Janus Cycle. Each chapter is told from a different person’s point of view. That lets us catch up with the life of the individual and keeps the story going at the same time. Taxus Baccus (TB) is an environmental organization led by Jardair, Jack’s wuduwāsa father (Turner plays with the Greek and Roman pantheons throughout the story). Until TB arrived at Jack’s house, Jack and his pet squirrel, Nuttles, lived on their own. Their lives go from quiet to chaotic in a matter of hours. TB travels from town to town addressing, in their own way, environmental issues each town struggles with. Tej Turner uses Taxus Baccus to address the fragility of our supposed right to free speech and the right to live our lives as we wish.

“It seems to me that this country is run by sociopaths with gloating expressions and oily hair. They wander around Westminster with their leather briefcases, selling off public assets to their pals from boarding school and members of their extended family who have vested interests. All the while, class war is waged through an ever-encroaching succession of draconian legislations. They will not rest until they have rounded up everyone into the rat race because they, by fortune of birth, are the big cats. The the more rats there are, the more they have to dig their paws into.” (Dinnusos, p 62)

Dinnusos Rising contends that it we, the general populace, make such methods possible through our complacency and docility. The percentage of people who turn up for various elections certainly seem to agree with that contention. Westminster uses various media to pimp their message to the public

“… the news channels and tabloids were doing their utmost to demonise us. Footage and photos were being carefully selected, and it seemed their cameras only had spare film for the more outrageous members f the movements … They never told the public why were were doing the things we were doing. They made us seem like rebels without a cause.” … (Dinnusos, p. 72)

Through The National Conciliation Act, Westminster intends to cement the corporatocracy we see strengthening its hooks into various governments around the world.

“Later on we will be interviewing MP, Mr. Ben Fitzgerald, to see if he can shed any light upon rumours Westminster is considering bringing in new legislation which will grant authorities more power to dismantle anti-social behaviour.” (Dinnusos, p. 92)

The NCA bans political demonstrations and movements like Taxus Baccata.  It would give Westminster the power to shut down any business charity or organisation which was perceived as having a “subversive agenda“. They could tighten restrictions on the internet. It would become illegal for employees to speak badly about the companies they work for, and turn civil disobedience into a criminal – rather than civil – offence.

Pandora’s workplace, Fibertine Investment Bank, is a great example of a corporation that wants the NCA voted through. FIB invests in corporations around the world and outwardly appear to be concerned about ethical corporation issues. They even have their own Ethical Practices Officer. However, when Pandora tries to bring ethical issues to the attention of her boss, Mr. Watts, he reminds her of FIB’s business motto:

“Business is blameless,” … there is no need to feel guilt, or worry about facing consequences. (Dinnusos, p. 92)

Corporatocracy is not the only topic Turner addresses. Friendship represented by Pandora and Frelia, Faye and Tilly, and Jack and Tilly is a complicated subject. Trust is betrayed, destructive and healthy decisions are made, and new beginnings are all part of the friendships in Dinnusos Rising. Turner also shows us individual experiences with self-harm, suicide ideation, drugs, abuse,  sexuality, and gender. We see how falling in love may affect other relationships. Again, Tilly is the one who meets the most challenges. She is also the youngest of our characters.

Dinnusos Rises is well-edited, well written, has fleshed out characters, and presents current issues in a package filled with action and adventure. Both Dinnusos Rises and The Janus Cycle are excellent contributions in discussions about the above topics. Dinnusos Rises has my whole-hearted recommendation.

I was given an ARC copy to review.


My review of The Janus Cycle

Lynn, Elizabeth A.: Watchtower (Chronicles of Tornor I) (1979)

“Tornor Keep was dead and burning.

Ryke’s face was soot-stained, and his wrists were skinned raw where he had torn them twisting in his chains. His head ached.”

From this moment we are in the company of Ryke, a man who remains in a state of shock through the story. All of his friends, his leaders and his place in the world and loyalties have been torn from him. He thought he understood war, but he had never seen it from the side of the loser. War is much more brutal and bloody when you are not the winner. Why he has been kept alive when the rest of the Keep (excluding the women who were raped and kept on as chattel) was killed is a mystery to Ryke.

Then Col Istor (master of the invaders) shows him why. Errel, Prince of Tornor until the invaders took the keep, is still alive. Given a beating, but still alive. In return for keeping him that way, Ryke must pledge his service to Istor. Ryke gives the only pledge he feels capable of keeping. It is accepted.

“I’ll serve you,” he said, “with loyalty, as long as Errel’s left alone and unharmed.”

The Northern border is a land where the gap between male and female is immense. As is usual in such societies, women are meant for marriage, childbirth and possibly healing of the kind wise women did. Men, well, men. I am glad Elizabeth A Lynn wrote this book the way she did. Ryke’s prejudices are challenged. Lynn shows us that  prejudices do not necessarily change even when confronted with evidence and anecdotes. This has been my experience as well, and I find it just as frustrating as Sorren and Norres expressed.

“The other was unimportant. It happened to all women. In war you could not even call it rape.”

Ryke is used to being in “middle management”. He likes leadership, but only to a certain extent. Beyond that, he prefers having another person tell him what to do and, to a certain extent, what to think. Errel (Prince to Ryke) is supposed to fill that spot, but Errel is not willing to play along. He challenges Ryke to think for himself and to make his own choices. Ryke hates that. At times I have wanted people to choose for me. Often I wonder if that is the way most of us want the world to be. If others choose for us, perhaps we have less responsibility? But I would not choose to have Ryke’s fear of choice. In the end, neither would he.

Definitely recommended.

P.S: I have not been able to find a link to Elizabeth A. Lynn anywhere.

P.P.S: “The art of the chearis, as it is described, resembles in some aspects the Japanese martial art aikido, created by Master Morihei Uyeshiba. This imitation is deliberate. Writers must write what they know. In gratitude for that knowledge, the author respectfully wishes to thank her teachers.” (Dedication page)


1980 World Fantasy Award


Reviews:


Watchtower is available on scribd.com


Translations:

Turner, Tej: The Janus Cycle (2015)

The Janus Cycle by Tej Turner
Cover art: Alison Buck

A common theme in all of these short stories seems to be bullying of one sort or another. Needing to dominate others is part of our human history. Countries bully other countries into subservience and oblivion. Two countries are well-known for their tendencies to bully militarily weaker countries while decrying other nations when these do the same. Tej Turner shows us the one-on-one form of bullying and the mob-on-one kind of bullying in his semi-short stories.

All of these short stories are more or less stand alone stories. They are all tied together by Frelia. Frelia has an interesting power that could cause her death if the ones who “rule” it find out about her having that power. But bullies have been part of Frelia’s past and she will not be forced into obedience just because some mysterious stranger tells her she has to. That decision is an essential one to the stories of Pikel, Kev, Tristan, Neal, Namda, Halan, Sam, Pag, Faye and Tilly. Frelia’s intervention changes lives, hopefully for the better.

Mobs with a charismatic leader are a frightening thing. Poor Tilly has the great misfortune of having one of those in her school and she has the kind of aura that many victims end up with. Sadly, this aura attracts predators like Jarvis and his gang.

Bullying (for whatever reason) drags your sense of self-worth down until it seems impossible to gain any of it back. The bullied person becomes so used to people being mean that trust is difficult to come by. At one point things became so desperate for her that Tilly was ready to kill herself. Being treated like a verbal and/or physical punching bag almost every day makes her need to be true to herself something I both admire and understand. Poor little Tilly. Tej Turner made me want to hug her.

“They carried on kicking her. In the face, the head, the stomach. They stamped on her legs, and one of them even spared a moment to spit at her. I desperately tried to intervene, but there were too many and I couldn’t reach them. They were killing her, but they carried on regardless. So long as the rest of them were doing it they seemed to feel it was okay, and none of them wanted to be the first to hesitate.”

In one way or another we all seem to become part of various kinds of mobs.

Definitely recommended.


The story behind the Janus Cycle


Janus Cycle available at Amazon US



I was given an ARC copy by the author

Dear Miriam, (May 2007) http://www.viz.co.uk

Rock group U2 femulating for the One video, 1991; Photographer, David Wojnarowicz
Rock group U2 femulating for the One video, 1991;
From femulate.org; photographer, David Wojnarowicz

Dear Miriam,

The other day I set off for work, leaving my husband in the house watching the TV as usual. I hadn’t gone a hundred yards down the road when my engine conked out and the car juddered to a halt. I walked back home get my husbands help. When I got home I found him in the bedroom. I couldn’t believe my eyes. He was parading in front of the wardrobe mirror dressed in my underwear and high heel shoes, and he was wearing my make up.

I am 32, my husband is 34, and we have been married for 12 years. When I confronted him, he tried to make out that he had dressed up in my lingerie because he couldn’t find any of his own underwear. But when I asked him about the makeup, he broke down and admitted that he has been wearing my clothes for six months. I told him it had to stop, I would leave him.

He was made redundant from his job six month ago, and he says he has been feeling increasingly depressed and worthless. I love him very much, but ever since I gave him the ultimatum, he has become increasingly distant, and I don’t feel I can get through to him any more. Please can you help?

Mrs. B., Essex

Miriam says…

A car stalling after being driven a short distance can be caused by a variety of faults in the engine. Start by checking that there is no debris in the fuel line. If it is clear, check the jubilee clips holding the vacuum pipes onto the inlet manifold. If none of these approaches solves the problem, it could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty, causing low delivery pressure to the carburettor float chamber.

MIRIAMS ADVICE LINES 0898 100 —
Engine misfires& husband addicted to porn -01
vehicle pulls to side & I think son is gay-02
vaginal dryness& judder as clutch engaged -03


May 2007 issue of Viz Magasine https://www.flickr.com/photos/anjin/850672738/


The process of getting ready to post this funny is a typical example of how my asperger mind works (that means that I am only speaking for myself and not claiming to be typical of all aspergers).

  1. After learning a little about copyrighting and all of that stuff, a great need has risen in me to find the original source of material.
  2. With my funnies I try to look for pictures that will illustrate the subject. In the case of Dear Miriam I was taken on a journey of discovery.
  3. Hilarious discussions of the correctness of the advice. Did Miriam really know what she was talking about when it came to car problems? There are some funny people out there.
  4. Then a more serious side appeared, one that U2 illustrate. Men in women’s clothing. I realized I still a a ways to go in understanding the complexity of boy/girl roles and what we find acceptable in each other.
  5. So, what was only a funny to begin with has become (for me) something that represents a deeper and much fought over issue in society.

Wilson, Catherine M.: A Hero’s Tale (When Women Were Warriors) (2008)

when women were warriors iii
Cover photo by Donna Trifilo

What Catherine M. Wilson describes in When Women Were Warriors is a society that may or may not have existed. A matriarchal society is a society where women rule and inheritance goes through women. A Hero’s Tale is supposed to be set in Great Britain ca. 1000 BCE (late Bronze Age). In fact a bronze knife holds a pivotal role in A Hero’s Tale.

For the average person (as we see with the forest people) tools and weapons would have been largely made of stone/flint (such as arrow heads and spear heads). Warriors would have invested in bronze swords and bronze arrow/spear heads although most would probably not have been as fancy as this sword. More nerdy stuff below.

Ms. Wilson keeps on stringing words together in a manner that creates music in my head.

I have had three teachers in my life that have taught in the manner Maara seems to teach Tamras. Two were in school and one has been in my personal life. The relationship of teacher/student – master/apprentice is a tricky one. An apprentice wants to become as proficient as the master and excellent masters want their students to learn as much as it is possible for the masters to teach. Maara has an ability to impart her knowledge without holding anything back yet pacing her delivery to fit Tamras learning speed. I guess you could say Tamras is the ideal student. She wants to understand and acquire whatever skills Maara sees fit to share. To do that Tamras needs to learn to think for herself. Perhaps that is the most important lesson Maara shares with Tamras.

Tamras’ ability to see past the surface of people and things is not a talent she got from Maara, rather it was one Maara helped Tamras unfold. Seeing beneath the surface of herself was more difficult and at one point in A Hero’s Tale Tamras’ lost herself to appearances. Losing ourselves to the Abyss is a point a great many of us end up at one or more times in our lives. Finding our way out can seem beyond our abilities. Tamras did not even know if she wanted to find her way out. Some people end up letting the Abyss take them. Tamras did not. Her coming back was a choice that was aided by others. Many times in our lives that is the way it is for us. We need others to guide us back from the edge or the canyon and on to safe ground again.

Tamras learns a great deal about Virtel and her past and this opens up for an understanding of Virtel’s actions. The baggage we bring with us from our childhood is incredibly difficult to set down and rearrange. At least it has been for me. All through my life I have had to take that backpack off my back and rearrange its contents to make it more comfortable. I keep on adding to it and removing contents. Virtel has not yet reached that point in her life. Perhaps the meeting between her and Tamras at the pass will turn out to be one of Virtel’s learning moments. I hope so.

Elen’s canyon kingdom reminded me of some of Norway’s inaccessible places. This setting has to be somewhere in Scotland. Not knowing the British Isles all that well, I do not know where you would find such a difficult to access valley. With only a thin footpath from the hills into the valley and a dangerous water-way out it would seem to be a defensible place. If only it had been wide enough to have farms to keep the community alive during a siege things might have turned out differently for Tamras and Maara.

Elen is an interesting character. She seems to be stunningly beautiful. Enough so that men and women are distracted from their own goals. In addition, Elen seems to have some kind of ability to hypnotize or influence people’s thoughts so that her goals become theirs. A trance-like state seems to be what all who oppose her end up in. I imagine that would be a handy tool.

As with Elen’s ability other paranormal/supernatural abilities in people are present in When Women Were Warriors. These talents are for the most part just an increase in various talents that people generally have. Tamras’ ability to understand others seems to be one such boosted talent. She has always had it. During the story Tamras seems to become more aware of having it, but it does not seem as if the talent is anything she has much control over. I cannot tell if Elen’s ability is something Elen controls or if it is just a talent that she uses because it happens to be part of her.

Tamras manner of dealing with Elen is interesting. Alas, I cannot share it here. But it is fascinating to watch all the same.

Ms. Wilson brought her characters and areas alive for me. I do not see strings of words in pictures in my head but as sound. Why that is, I do not know nor do I care. But I care very much about having experienced the music of When Women Were WarriorsThe Warrior’s Path is on permanent free offer.


Reviews:


  • File Size: 622 KB
  • Print Length: 307 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0981563635
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Shield Maiden Press (October 1, 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

My review of:

  1. The Warrior’s Path
  2. A Journey of the Heart

Societies around 1000 BCE with matriarchal elements:

Warfare around 1000 BCE:

Ruling queens in ancient Britain:

Wilson, Catherine M.: A Journey of the Heart (When Women Were Warriors II) (2008)

when women were warriors ii
Cover photo by Donna Trifilo
Sometimes an author strings her words together so beautifully that I want to weep at the music that fills my head. Catherine M. Wilson has managed to keep the moll of The Warrior’s Path so finely tuned throughout A Journey of the Heart that my chest hurt from the notes within. And yet there is nothing new and especially unique in the When Women Were Warriors serial.

One thing is different. In this serial both men and women are warriors and Tamras’ society is matriarchal. In neighboring countries that is not so. Ms. Wilson shows us that a matriarchal society is as full of contradictions as any other society. One of the characters, Virtel – the “baddie”, is aggressive and warlike. In A Journey of the Heart we get the impression that Virtel is ambitious to the extent that she is willing to hurt her leader, Merin. Sparrow, her apprentice, shows us a Virtel who might not be as one-dimensional as Tamras thinks of her. Maybe even life is not as one-dimensional as Tamras would like it to be.

We get to see how sometimes grief/regret has the ability to draw a person closer to death. According to Ms. Wilson her story is set around 1000 BCE. At that time life was precarious and death was no stranger. I imagine the will to live would have been even more essential than it is where I live.

Ms. Wilson shows how having a safe and loved child-hood, such as Tamras has had, gives one insulation in the growing up process. Both Sparrow and Maara show us the faces of what not having that in our lives can be like. However much we might want to deny it, we are probably very much products of the lives we have lived. If we grow up as slaves not owning even ourselves and live in constant fear, well, that produces a person vastly different to one with a childhood where you know you are valuable and loved and where you also have what you need to survive.

In fact. When Women Were Warriors is full of situations that have no simple answers. Maara functions as Tamras’ teacher in both the physical aspects of being a warrior and in understanding the ways of the world. Nothing is easy.

One of the things I really liked about A Journey of the Heart was the way Tamras had to learn how to use a bow and arrow step by step. There was none of this “all of a sudden an expert”. This is what every apprentice has to learn. Easy routes to mastery are non-existent. Me, I want to have mastery right away. I want to understand everything immediately without having to work for it. For some strange reason that never happened. Bummer!

When Women Were Warriors is a serial. You will have to read The Warrior’s Path in order to get anything out of Journey of the Heart. It just so happens that The Warrior’s Path seems to be on a permanent “for free” offer.


Reviews:



My review of The Warrior’s Path

Diemer, Sarah: Our Lady of Wolves (2012)

Our Lady of Wolves

Our Lady of Wolves adds itself to the list of bleak stories I have been reading ever since I discovered folk-tales way back in my childhood. Bleak and grim stories about people having to deal with the  harsher sides of life, some of them quite horrible. Like the decimation of Kelly’s village. But life is like that. Sometimes there are no happy endings, only less worse ones.

Kelly’s faith in her Lady of Wolves was rewarded albeit differently from what she had thought but in line with Kelly’s prayers. A wonderful story about 26 pages long showing us desperate moments in a bunch of desperate people’s lives.


Reviews:


Our Lady of Wolves is available at Smashwords