Saturday, July 21, 2018

Ruthanna Emrys

Ruthanna Emrys lives in a mysterious manor house in the outskirts of Washington DC with her wife and their large, strange family. She makes home-made vanilla, obsesses about game design, gives unsolicited advice, and occasionally attempts to save the world.

Emrys's new novel is Deep Roots.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
I’ve just started Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars, in which a dinosaur-level asteroid impact on Washington DC in 1952 kicks off a no-holds-barred program to colonize space. The opening made me cry about five times—it probably didn’t help that I was reading it on the DC metro. It perfectly captures the weirdness of how people respond to crises. The protagonist is Jewish, and about the same level of observant that I am; there’s this point where she’s finally made it to safety, and found a place to stay, and her generous, well-meaning hosts offer her eggs cooked in bacon grease and of course you can’t say anything… Kowal gets the way trivial things push you over the edge in the middle of world-shaking events. The rest of the book is all alternate space program, and still brilliant and but probably less heart-breaking—someone is probably pitching this as Hidden Figures meets Deep Impact, but structurally and emotionally so far it reminds me more of Up.

In between longer and more intense reading, I’ve been going through the first season of Tremontaine, a multi-author serial set in the world of Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint. The authors include Kushner herself, Malinda Lo, Racheline Maltese, Joel Derfner, Paul Witcover, Patty Bryant, and Alaya Dawn Johnson. It’s fantasy of manners with occasional duels. It’s queer as hell, and full of fraught romances that are fraught for reasons other than being queer. Major plot points include celestial navigation, the economics of the chocolate trade, and a possibly-hallucinatory possessed opossum. It’s fun, which is something I desperately need these days.

I’m also slowly savoring Adrienne Maree Brown’s Emergent Strategy. It’s a “self-help/planet-help” book about the practical and philosophical aspects of social justice organization, based in the Earthseed movement from Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. It’s a thought-provoking mix of essays and poetry and relevant quotes, and discussions of how to mediate and meditate and work for change in the face of immanent dystopia. It uses flocks of starlings as a metaphor for how we can move together towards change—and the book itself is like that, different pieces all moving together, with the relationships between them coming clear at the edges.
Visit Ruthanna Emrys's website.

The Page 69 Test: Deep Roots.

--Marshal Zeringue