December 11th, 2014

writing whiskey wicked faerie

you win a while, and then it's done, your little winning streak


A starred review from Library Journal.

* Bear Elizabeth, Karen Memory. Tor. Feb. 2015. 352p. ISBN 9780765375247. $25.99; ebk. ISBN  9781466846340. SF

The Gold Rush town of Rapid City is just about what you would expect in a frontier community catering to the mining trade: rough, violent, and full of prostitutes. Karen is a “soiled dove” working at Madame Damnable’s establishment, where she and her sisters in trade serve a more respectable crowd than the poor girls who work the cribs at the waterfront. When one of those young women escapes and runs to Madame’s for help, she brings the wrath of the crib owner, Peter Bantle, on the house. Bantle, in addition to bring a vicious bully, seems to have a device that can control people’s minds.


Verdict Bear (Steles of the Sky; Blood and Iron) pumps fresh energy in the steampunk genre with a light touch on the gadgetry and a vivid sense of place. Karen has a voice that is folksy but true, and the entire cast of heroic women doing the best they can in an age that was not kind to their gender is a delight. Ably assisted by a U.S. Marshal and his Comanche posseman, Karen and the ladies kick ass.

In other news, the tea today was Upton's cherry bancha, which I do not like much but this was the last of it. and the teacup today was a traditional English-style pottery mug from SRS-Grunden Pottery, based in Oak Bluffs Massachusetts. She does lovely, lovely work.

I'm still working on proofing the Whiskey and Water ebook. Also, I went climbing tonight. And there was snow.
rengeek kit faustus commodorified

you never ever believed in me

I just happened upon one of my favorite bits of Whiskey and Water, and figured I'd come back here to share it. Context: the Devil is throwing a farewell party for Christopher Marlowe, in Hell. Kit's new friend, Matthew Szczegielniak, who happens to be a junior professor of English Literature as well as a Magus, is attending.


“We have our differences.” Kit stepped back. “I thank you the farewell, Morningstar.”

Lucifer folded his wings with a clap. :Joy you in it,: he said, and made a bow that swept him away. Kit watched him go, and finally unfolded his arms, breathing shallowly. “All stories are true,” he murmured to himself, about to turn and find a servitor angel of his own.

A voice at his shoulder startled him. “That’s the bitch of it, wouldn’t you say?”

Matthew. Kit exhaled in relief. He’d jumped, and almost tripped himself on the overbalancing shoulder frames. And then there was a glass in his hand, and the Mage was grinning at him. Kit saluted him with liquor. “Unfortunately, I think we’re all but crushed under the weight of them.”

“You love him.” Matthew jerked his chin after Lucifer. He swallowed and covered his mouth with the back of his hand, as if in disbelief of what he’d said. The ladderwork of healed piercings that climbed his ear was sharply revealed when he turned in profile.

Kit pinched the bridge of his nose as if his eyes stung, but didn’t drop his gaze. “Of course I love him. I made him. And he came back through history to remake me. You don’t get to fall out of love with the Devil.”

“But Lucifer? Not Mephistopheles?”


“Ah.” Matthew fell silent, contemplating the vagaries of metatextual polycreationism. There might be a paper in it. He cleared his throat. “He’s dressed the fallen as angels. Unholy Barbie dolls.”

“I beg your pardon?” Kit sipped his wine.

Matthew echoed the gesture and looked back at him, directly into his eyes. “Never mind, Kit. You’re going to tell me this is a prelude to Armageddon, aren’t you?”


“You know. The end of days, the seventh seal, the Revelation to John—”

“Oh, that old thing. Different John, did you know?”


Marlowe shrugged. “Bit of a break in style, for one thing. And were they written under Domitian; although it is but a slight century after the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, that John would have been a patriarch worthy of the Hebrews at the time. Of course, I wrote the plays of William Shakespeare, according to some, and he was so much a kinder soul than I—well, it profits us not. Anyway. Fall of Rome. Over and done with, and on to the next apocalypse.”

Matthew rubbed his left thumb against the fingers of his left hand, as if checking for the rings he no longer wore. It still startled him, every time, to find his fingers naked. “What if a lot of people believe it’s true?”

“Then it’s true.” Kit’s eyes seemed unaccountably drawn to the motion of Matthew’s fingers. He dropped his gaze and restrained himself from touching the scars on his own hands, the ring Jane had returned to him. “The Prometheus Club has been trying to remake God for some four hundred years now. With greater success, or lesser. ’The Lord thy God is a jealous God.’ You just get one started, and He tends to get consumed in another. The Pagan stories are easier to work with, these days.”

“So it could be an apocalypse. In the modern sense.”

“We’ll know when the Rapture happens,” Kit answered. He stretched his arms out, fingers interlaced, and cracked his knuckles. “Until then, I wouldn’t trouble myself with it. We have more immediate worries.”

“The duel?”

“The duel.”