Fabian, Foster, Frohock

This week’s post in the on-going women writers in science-fiction and fantasy spotlights Karina Fabian, Eugie Foster, and Teresa Frohock. Read my reviews, check out what they have to say about their work — and then go read them!

Magic, Mensa & Mayhem by Karina Fabian

This book doesn’t use different mythologies, like Aliette de Bodard does in her writing. Nor does Fabian characterize people with blond hair and pale skin as outlanders, as Elliott did in Spirit Gate. She uses all the standard tropes — a separate world for the Faerie, dragons, Valkyries, brownies, and so forth — but she invests them with humor and with faith. I read through this book much too fast (too fast because the next Vern and Sister Grace book isn’t out until April!), laughing more than I have since I last read one of the Myth series by Robert Asprin.

Vern (a dragon cursed by St. George) and Sister Grace work for the Faerie Catholic Church, and they’re given a simple job: go with the Faerie contingent to a Mensa convention and keep an eye on things. Of course, nothing is simple, and the complications range from a group of brownies randomly cleaning up people’s rooms to a Valkyrie looking for love to Coyote trying to cause trouble without getting into any. Then there are the elves, the environmentalists, the pixies, the naiads . . .

This book is a fun romp, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Here’s what Karina Fabian has to say about her writing:

Stories are a playground, so I like to have fun with them. I twist clichés, throw tropes and ideas together that hardly seem a match at first, and let my characters lead the way. The results are characters like Vern and stories like Magic, Mensa and Mayhem, which won the 2010 INDIE for best fantasy. I have several comedic stories and some serious ones, and even a devotional.

I’d like to invite folks to check out my website, which is divided by genre, since I write whatever catches my attention at the time. http://fabianspace.com

In the meantime, here are a few of my worlds:

DragonEye, PI: Vern is a dragon serving humankind as a private detective, thanks to a spell set on him by the Faerie St. George. Sister Grace, a high-powered mage and a nun, is his partner. They solve crimes where technology and magic mix badly and often save the universes in the process (Vern’s still trying to get extra pay for that.) Magic, Mensa and Mayhem is the first; Live and Let Fly comes out in April from MuseItUp Books. I also have several stories about them in anthologies and magazines and will be writing some serial stories on my website soon.

Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator: I’m not into the Zombie Apocalypse. I think humans are smarter and more adaptable than that. So when I was asked by Damnation Books to write a zombie novel, I made them household pests. Neeta is an exterminator that specializes in the undead.

Rescue Sisters: Yes, Nuuuuns in Spaaaace! These stories are about a religious order who do search and rescue operations. The women are strong and intelligent and dedicated to serving God and Mankind.

Mind Over trilogy: Most people think telepathy would be a fun thing to have. I disagree. My character, Deryl, was driven insane when uncontrolled telepathy put him at the mercy of all the unguarded thoughts around him, not to mention made him the pawn of two aliens who would use him to further their cause in an interplanetary war.

As she mentioned above, she can be found on the Web at fabianspace.com.

“Biba Jibun” by Eugie Foster

This short story, found in issue 23 (April 2011) of Apex Magazine, is an interesting exploration of a Japanese girl, a country mouse forced to live with her family in the city. However, Rinako’s mother was a rabbit demon, or so her father told her, and Rini adapts. I didn’t understand all the Japanese words in the story, but I do not believe that detracted from my appreciation of Rini’s struggles for acceptance. The ending was not surprising, although it was perfectly apt. I loved this story for the exploration of a world I don’t live in, as well as for the alienation that Rini experienced — an alienation akin to that many of us feel in high school, or even in life, as though we’ll never fit in.

Eugie Foster, when asked about her writing, says,

The same fascination and love that draws me as a reader is what attracts me as a writer, the stuff that fires the imagination and leaves you wandering around in a cloud of “what if” and “ooo” for the whole day—the magic, the sense of wonder, the ideas, the fantastical worlds. I particularly love myths, fairy-tales, and folklore. There’s a certain basic and primal resonance to be found in the recurring archetypes within those stories—humanity and where we fit in with the natural world, the power of love, the influence and meaning of evil. Those same themes and storylines recur in the root stories that underlie folktales and myths worldwide. They’re very illustrative of how we’re all so alike in a fundamental way. Plus, they usually end happily-ever-after and are chock full of passion, blood-and-guts, and magic.

I seem to have gravitated to a lot of Asian fantasy in the last few years. I could say that I’m exploring my roots or something lofty like that, but really, I just like it. For readers with an interest in Far Eastern fantasy, my collection Returning My Sister’s Face and Other Far Eastern Tales of Whimsy and Malice, published by Norilana Books, features a dozen stories set in China, Japan, and Korea. Other recent publications include my short story, “Black Swan, White Swan” in the anthology End of an Aeon (Fairwood Press), which is my reimagining of the Swan Lake story. And also, folks can read my Nebula Award-winning novelette, “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast,” in the Nebula Awards Showcase 2011 (Tor Books), edited by Kevin J. Anderson.

Eugie Foster can be found on her Website, www.eugiefoster.com.

Miserere: An Autumn Tale by Teresa Frohock

Miserere has been featured in reviews all over the Internet recently, so it’s quite likely you’ve already seen glowing words about this tale of faith and divided loyalty in a knight caught between his sister’s plans and the woman he loves. I love stories of redemption, and this one is excellent. Lucian wants to redeem his sister Catarina. She needs it; Catarina wants to release the Fallen into Woerld and then upon Heaven. This paragraph, from early in the novel, sets that up quite clearly:

  • Downstairs someone shrieked; one voice rose above the others in pleasure and pain. Catarina no longer hid her perversions but reveled in them and dared him to admonish her. She ignored his efforts to guide her from her chosen path. He had failed to keep her safe. He had failed them all.

This is a dark fantasy, which deals with demons and evil, the twistings within the soul and the battles fought with forces outside. Dark or not, I do love a strong good vs. evil story, and this is definitely in that category, with Lucian, a holy warrior, a fallen exorcist who still strives to resist the Fallen, as a central figure.

Frohock weaves together the medieval life of Woerld and the technology of Earth, the stories of Lucian and Rachael and Lindsay, with wonderful skill and a deft touch. If you enjoy good vs. evil, faith-based fiction (especially with characters struggling to define their faith), pick this one up.

On her writing, she says,

My two favorite genres have always been fantasy and horror. I love the original fairytales where magical realms are entangled with the grotesque to create fantastic worlds. When I was a child, Three Billy Goats Gruff was the story I wanted to hear over and over; another beloved book was Where the Wild Things Are with its scant word-count and brilliant artwork. As I grew older, I started reading Patricia McKillip, Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King.

I love to experiment with different cultures, religions, and themes, and for me and my particular style of writing, fantasy is the genre that allows me to have it all. I can bend the rules or turn them inside out. I like to take chances and step outside existing paradigms to explore new ways of thinking about how we interact with one another, both as individuals and in the cultural context.

My next novel is entitled The Garden (http://www.teresafrohock.com/the-garden/), and it is not in the Katharoi series. The Garden is more about fathers and sons, and it’s also about facing up to our obligations even when those responsibilities can terrify us. And love. All of my novels are, in many ways, about love … how it can be cruel, painful, yet somehow love redeems us too. Of course, there will be magic and otherworldly realms, and if I can, I will definitely make it creepy, because that is what I like to read.

Find Teresa Frohock on her Website, www.teresafrohock.com.

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