• Fiona McIntosh: Voyager Author of the Month

    Fiona McIntosh was born and raised in Sussex in the UK, but also spent early childhood years in West Africa. She left a PR career in London to travel and settled in Australia in 1980. She has since roamed the world working for her own travel publishing company, which she runs with her husband. She lives in Adelaide with her husband and twin sons. Her website is at www.fionamcintosh.com.

    Her latest book, The Scrivener's Tale, is a stand-alone and takes us back to the world of Morgravia from her very first series, The Quickening:


    About The Scrivener's Tale:

    In the bookshops and cafes of present-day Paris, ex-psychologist Gabe Figaret is trying to put his shattered life back together. When another doctor, Reynard, asks him to help with a delusional female patient, Gabe is reluctant... until he meets her. At first Gabe thinks the woman, Angelina, is merely terrified of Reynard, but he quickly discovers she is not quite what she seems.

    As his relationship with Angelina deepens, Gabe's life in Paris becomes increasingly unstable. He senses a presence watching and following every move he makes, and yet he finds Angelina increasingly irresistible.

    When Angelina tells Gabe he must kill her and flee to a place she calls Morgravia, he is horrified. But then Angelina shows him that the cathedral he has dreamt about since childhood is real and exists in Morgravia.

    A special 10th Anniversary edition of her first fantasy book, Myrren's Gift, will be released in December!

     

     

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Gender in Speculative Fiction Part II: Early Works by Kim Falconer

Lilith (1892) by John Collier - one of the most potent and misunderstood faces of the feminine

After contemplating gender roles in speculative fiction, I thought it might be interesting to look at portrayals of women in earlier literature. How much has changed in the last five thousand years?

In classical times, many female protagonists were touched by the gods or divine themselves. Some were ‘virgin goddesses,’ a term having nothing to do with sexual innocents (they often had many lovers and offspring). Here ‘virgin’ means intact, self-contained—no need for the auspice of a man. Examples include the Egyptian Neith who says, I am all that has been, that is, and that will be. No mortal yet has been able to lift the veil that covers me. She reminds me of Tracey O’Hara’s Antoinette Petrescu, or Traci Harding’s Tory Alexander, at least until they ‘fall’.

The motive of female characters, ancient or contemporary, is often love. Stephenie Myer’s Bella Swan falls, of course, just like her two thousand year old predecessor, Psyche in Lucius Apuleius’ Metamorphoses. Psyche, much like Bella, is young, beautiful, despondent, clumsy and suicidal. She complains (and cries) a lot, needs rescuing and falls for an immortal. Aphrodite is jealous and sets her a series of impossibly tasks. She fails each one until aid comes unbidden and is saved from death, finally, by Eros. It’s a beautiful story though, not so much romantically but spiritually. This redemptive/divine aspect of love is echoed in Tanith Lee’s character Jane who initially has the same despondency (over her perfect ‘man’) though she grows from her experience, possibly much more so than either Bella or Psyche. Jane’s love becomes a spiritual awakening, a connection with the divine.

The Sumerian story of Inanna and her dark sister Ereshkigal is about psychological transformation. It is one of the oldest narratives—surviving thousands of years in buried coniform text. Inanna finds herself face to face with the queen of the underworld, not unlike Rosette’s first encounter with Kreshkali in the catacombs beneath Los Loma. This is the image of feminine initiation. In both cases the meeting leads to dire events and eventually to individuation and self-awareness.

The ancient Greek Medusa portrays yet another face of the feminine—one seen as the embodiment of evil. But she was not always so! A daughter of sea titans, Medusa was once extremely wise and beautiful. Men found her enchanting and came to ask her ‘favour’ but she was devoted to Athena and ignored them. When raped by Poseidon, she was turned into a monster with dragon wings and snakes for hair. Medusa embodies the outrage of subjugated women. She is angry and poisonous. Any man who ‘sees’ her is literally petrified. This portrayal of the dark feminine is echoed in Sara Douglass’ Ariadne and her decedents. These ‘evil’ women may not find peace or redemption save in death, but they certainly know how to move a story forward!

The fabric of the many-worlds is starting to unravel ...

Who are your favourite female characters? Do you see roots of their personalities in literary works of the past? Amazons? Healers? Leaders? Seers? Wanderers? Lovers? Mothers? Comments most welcome.

Kim Falconer is the author of the Quantum Enchantment trilogy, which starts with The Spell of Rosette, continues with Arrows of Time and will conclude come February with Strange Attractors … until it all begins again with The Quantum Encryption series in October 2010.

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