Tag Archives: #TimeTravel

Vaughn, Carrie: Steel (2011)

steel-by-carrie-vaughn
Steel is a historical fantasy about a girl who is thrown into the past and desperately wants to return to what she had not realized she had. It is an action-filled coming of age story set in beautiful Bahamas on the Diana, captained by Marjorie Cooper. It is a story about choices, and how those choices end up defining us. What Steel is NOT is a swashbuckling romance.

A large wave surged under them then, sending the boat rocking steeply. Jill, the world-class athlete who’d never yet lost her balance in a fencing bout, fell. Stumbling back, she hit the side of the boat and went over. Grabbing uselessly for the edge, she rolled into the ocean. ….

Waves pitched her, her sunglasses were torn away, the water was cold, shocking after the tropical air. She couldn’t catch her breath – swallowed water instead. Flailing, she searched for up, groped for the surface – couldn’t find it. Her lungs were tightening. It had been sunny a moment ago – where was the sun?

Someone grabbed her. Hands twisted into her clothing and pulled her into the air. She clutched at her rescuers, gasped for air, heaving deep breaths that tasted of brine, slimy and salty. But she was out of the water. She was safe. She wasn’t going to die.

Many people talk about pirates as if they lived a romantic kind of life. I suppose many historical eras have people longing for them. But there was little romance going on in days that were usually all about survival. Marjorie Cooper is the Captain of the pirate ship Jill ends up on. Cooper and the rest of the crew quickly realize that Jill is completely at a loss about everything that has to do with a pirate’s life. Suspicions about her being a spy for Edmund Blane (another pirate) are soon squashed by her ineptitude. Even fencing, a sport Jill thought she excelled at, was of a whole different caliber in the Bahamas in the late 1800’s.

Jill could only shake her head – no, she’d never fought for blood. Not real blood. Only ranks, medals, and maybe a college scholarship. She bowed her head, embarrassed, when tears fell. She wiped them away quickly. Her still-wet hair stuck to her cheeks. Salt water crusted her clothing. However much she wanted to sit down, pass out – or drop the rapier, which she wouldn’t have been able to raise again if Henry came at her in another attack – she remained standing before the captain, as straight as she could, which wasn’t very at moment.

“What’s your name, lass?”

“Jill. Jill Archer,” she said, her voice scratching. She only just noticed that she was thirsty.

“And, Jill, how do you come to be adrift in the wide sea so far from home?”

The tears almost broke then, and she took a moment to answer. “I don’t know.”

Slowly, Jill learns what it means to be a pirate and also what it means to be an adult. Basically, that meant work. The kind that left her little time and energy to plan, to regret or to think about her family. Wood had to be kept free of mold, sails had to be mended, ropes had to be spliced, the ship had to be emptied and barnacles removed and repeat. Slaves were rescued, battles fought, magic rapier tips followed and lives were put on the line. All the time the Diana kept on chasing Blane and Jill became more and more part of most of the crew. But not all of it, the Diana‘s prisoner included.

On board, the pirates have a Doctor Emory. When Diana was landed to clean off barnacles, he tried to signal his friends in the hopes that they would see and come rescue him and kill the pirates. Having signed their articles, Jill does not feel the same.

Often, Jill finds herself thinking that she should tell her siblings Tom and Mandy about her experiences. She wonders if her family misses her. She regrets her moping, when, really, there was nothing to mope about. Slowly she goes from being an unaware, privileged, white, middle-class girl to learning some of life’s more difficult lessons. One is that very little in life can be taken for granted. A difficult lesson to learn is that when you feel helpless it is easier to follow orders you do not understand rather than to disobey. What happens when a point that seems like one of no return appears? What then? Jill learns what obsession looks like and how it brings danger to others. She learns about the dire consequences some choices have and how some of those consequences reach far into the future to bring a 16-year old girl into the past to right them.

Definitely recommended.


Reviews:


Steel can be found at Amazon

Norton, Andre: High Sorcery (1970)

Wizard’s World (1967)

His decision had shaken the “hound”. Craike bared teeth in a death’s-head grin. Now the mob would speed up. But their quarry had already chosen a part of the canyon wall where he might pull his tired and aching body up from one hold to another. He moved deliberately now, knowing that, having lost hope, he could throw aside the need for haste. He would be able to accomplish his purpose before they brought a gas rifle to bear on him.

At last he stood on a ledge, the sand and gravel some fifty feet below. For a long moment he rested, steadying himself with both hands braced on the stone. The weird beauty of the desert country was a pattern of violent color under the afternoon sun. Craike breathed slowly; he had regained a measure of control. There came shouts as they sighted him.

He leaned forward and, as if he were diving into the river which had once run there, he hurled himself outward to the clean death he sought.

Through the Needle’s Eye

“She’s a witch, you know!” She teetered back and forth on the boards of the small front porch. “She makes people disappear; maybe she’ll do that to you if you hang around there.”

“Ruthie!” Cousin Althea, her face flushed from baking, stood behind the patched screen. Her daughter was apprehensively quiet as she came out. But I was more interested in what Ruthie had said than any impending scolding.

“Makes people disappear – how?”

“That’s an untruth, Ruthie,” my cousin said firmly. True to her upbringing, Cousin Althea thought the word “lie” coarse. “Never let me hear you say a thing like that about Miss Ruthevan again. She has had a very sad life -“

By a Hair (1958)

Father Hansel had been one of the three Varoff shot out of hand, and there was no longer an open church in the valley. What went on in the oak glade was another matter. First our women drifted there, half ashamed, half defiant, and later they were followed by their men. I do not think the Countess Ana was their priestess. But she knew and condoned. For she had learned many things.

The wise women began to offer more than just comfort of body. It was a queer wild time when men in their despair turned from old beliefs to older ones, from a god of love and peace, to a god of wrath and vengeance. Old knowledge passed by word of mouth from mother to daughter was recalled by such as Mald, and keenly evaluated by the sharper and better-trained brain of the Countess Ana. I will not say that they called upon Odin and Freya (or those behind those Nordic spirits) or lighted the Beltane Fire. But there was a stirring, as if something long sleeping turned and stretched in its supposed grave.

 Ully the Piper

There was only one among them who was not satisfied with things as they comfortably were, because for him there was no comfort. Ully of the hands was not the smallest, nor the youngest of the lads of Coomb Brackett – he was the different one. Longing to be as the rest filled him sometimes with pain he could hardly bear.

He sat on his small cart and watched the rest off to the feasting on May Day and Harvest home; and he watched them dance Rings Around following the smoking great roast at Yule – his clever hands folded in upon themselves until the nails bit sorely into the flesh of his palms.

Toys of Tamisan (1969)

“If you have any wish, tell it to Porpae.” Kas dropped his hold on her arm and turned to the door. “When Lord Starrex wishes to dream, he will send for you.”

“I am at his command,” she mumbled; it was the proper response.

She watched Kas leave and the looked at Porpae. Tamisan had cause to believe that the android was programmed to record her every move. But would anyone here believe that a dreamer had any desire to be free? A dreamer wished only to dream; it was her life, her entire life. To leave a place which did all to foster such a life – that would be akin to self-killing, something a certified dreamer could not think on.

Goodreads


Translations:

  • Italian: Le terre degli incantesimi (1979)

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