• 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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Gaelean Stars by Kim Falconer

Uru Kadish Vista by Stephan Martiniere

Uru Kadish Vista by Stephan Martiniere, science fiction concept illustrator up for a Hugo Award: Best Professional Artist.

RAM: Sparks! No, make that flames. The energy is about to burst. Likely targets are love relationships. Hint: Work out what you want! I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is that I can’t find anybody who can tell me what they want. ~Mark Twain

AUROCHS: The focused energy of the week hones in to your physicality. Every bump, bruise or sensation of delight has a message and it’s addressed to you. Read it!  There is deep wisdom within our very flesh, if we can only come to our senses and feel it. ~Elizabeth A. Behnke

TWINS: Use this week to discover one new thing about yourself! The difference between us is that I am aware of my natural state, while you are bemused…. We discover it by being earnest, by enquiring, questioning daily and hourly, by giving one’s life to this discovery. ~Nisargadatta

COBRA: The intensity of the week has you pointing your finger at others. Reverse the direction and learn! Why do I storm heaven for answers that are already in my heart? Every grace I need has already been given me. Oh, lead me to the Beyond within. ~Macrina Wieherkehr

 LION:  The challenge before you is the answer to every question you’ve been asking this year. Why not invite it in to dine? It is a puzzling thing. The truth knocks on the door and you say, “Go away, I’m looking for the truth,” and so it goes away. Puzzling. ~Robert M. Pirsig

CERES: No matter how locked into a certain belief you are, it’s still a simple step to change your mind. 1) Think it differently. 2) Repeat. Your distress about life might mean you have been living for the wrong reason, not that you have no reason for living. ~Tom O’Conno

 BALENCIA: The keenest suggestion for this week is to take a holiday. That doesn’t mean you have to get on a plane or even get time off work. Just be you. Sometimes the best way to figure out who you are is to get to that place where you don’t have to be anything else. ~Levis Ad

SCORPION: Bogged down is a feeling you get when you are on somebody else’s path, not your own. Exhausted? Check your goals. You will recognize your own path when you come upon it, because you will suddenly have all the energy and imagination you will ever need. ~Jerry Gillies

ARCHER: There is a lot of ambition in the pot, along with a strong, green, competitive streak. Before you bake this cake, rethink all the ingredients. Relax, enjoy, and remember to have a good time with whatever you’re up to.  It makes all the difference in the world. ~Jeannette Maw

 SEA-GOAT: The key to this week’s testing circumstances is renewal. Go ahead, change your mind, change your plans, change your life! If in the last few years you haven’t discarded a major opinion or acquired a new one, check your pulse. You may be dead. ~Gelett Burgess

WATER-BEARER: There is a propensity to ask for tangible proof, a show of hands, a written statement, a declaration of love. The irony is that when someone is with you all the way, there are no words to define it.  Love isn’t something you see with your eyes. ~Gwen Cooper

  FISHES: Many fish are swimming upstream this week. Are you? Why not turn around? It is the gift of individuality. To know what you prefer, instead of humbly saying “Amen” to what the world tells you ought to prefer, is to keep your soul alive. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Kim Falconer   runs an astrology forum and alternative science site‚ trains with a sword and is working on the second book in the Quantum Encryption trilogy, the prequel to Quantum Enchantment, both of which are set in the world of Gaela, as well as on Earth. The first book in the new series is called Path of the Stray and is now out. Kim lives in Byron Bay and is taking part in several events at the Byron Bay Writers Festival this week, find the details on the News & Events page!

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Mercury goes retrograde – Gaela horoscopes by Kim Falconer

Europa being swept away by Zeus

Europa and Zeus, Roman Mosaic. Photo by Maicar Forlag, GML

 

Mercury is retrograde in the sign of Taurus from April 18 to May 11, 2010. The following are hints for traversing, and appreciating, this reflective time.

RAM: Mercury goes retro in the Ram’s, Aries, 2nd house of true happiness. This is a perfect time to reflect, re-think and reconsider what it is that lights your fire. Are you in touch, or out of touch with your inner resources? Do you see the repository of your greatest desire as a geyser or an abyss? ‘No medicine cures what happiness cannot.’ ~ Gabriel García Márquez

AUROCHS: Mercury ‘turns around’ in the sign of the Aurochs, Taurus the ancient bull. This effects your 1st house actions, your destiny in the making. As things slow down (or stall) it is the perfect opportunity to reassess all the ways and means you assert your will through ‘doing’. ‘Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being
.’ ~Laozi (Tao Te Ching)

 TWINS: Mercury is the natural ruler of the Twins, or Gemini. In retrograde motion, there can be some hiccups especially around electronic and mechanical devices, but oh what a blessing! What ever slows you down, it is your greatest ally in exploring the inner world of spirit. This is the time to release unconscious patterns from the past. 12th house ‘tolerations’ – the hidden things we put up with but wear us down – come to light. Can you let go without labelling? ‘Love is the absence of judgment.’ ~ Dalai Llama

COBRA: Mercury goes retro in Cobra’s, or Cancer’s, 11th house of social connections and like minded others. This is the perfect time to have a look at the people in your life and ask, is this really my tribe? Do your goals reflect the hopes and wishes in your heart or those of the people around you? Rethink your motives in choosing who you spend time with. There could be changes ahead. ‘I’ll happily plug into the tribe that reminds me of the truth: that we are powerful creators, all connected, made of the stuff of Gods. ~ Jeannette Maw

LION: For the Lion, or Leo, Mercury turns around in the 10th house of career, mission and profession. If you are not doing what you love, this could feel a bit like Alice down the rabbit hole. Spend some time considering your options and opportunities with the idea that being who you really are is the greatest career going. Note: ‘Of course, it is very important to be sober when you take an exam. Many worthwhile careers in the street-cleansing, fruit-picking and subway-guitar-playing industries have been founded on a lack of understanding of this simple fact.‘ ~ Terry Pratchett 

CERES: Mercury is travelling ‘backward’ through Ceres, or Virgo’s 9th house of Spirit. This is where your world expands into distant horizons of the mind, as in higher education, meditation or even physical travel to places you’ve never been before. The messenger of the gods is asking you to reflect on where and how you broaden these horizons and he’s not opposed to sending your luggage in the opposite direction to do it. ‘Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.’ ~ Mark Twain

BALENCIA: Mercury does an about face in Balencia’s, or Libra’s, 8th house of sex, death and taxes. This isn’t as scary as it sounds. I mean, your taxes are up to date, right? And in death there is really nothing to ‘do’ but let go so the only thing left is sex. Any hesitations, conflicts or issues in the intimacy department is a celestial messenger in disguise. The trick is to see through the disguise and become the recipient of the blessing. In the wake of an 8th house storm there is always a rainbow if we lift our eyes to see it. ~ Isabel Hickey

SCORPION: When Mercury turns retro in Taurus, the opposite sign of Scorpio feels it through personal, one to one relationships. Don’t think that if you’re single you’re exempt. This is the playground of the trickster for the next three weeks and if you wise up, it will be highly rewarding. Be open to serendipitous encounters. “Why is it,” he said, one time, at the subway entrance, “I feel I’ve known you so many years?” “Because I like you,” she said, “and I don’t want anything from you.” ~ Ray Bradbury

ARCHER: Sagittarius the Archer has Mercury going retrograde in the 6th house of self adjustment. This is the time to reconsider choices made on diet, exercise, health and daily routine. There could also be thoughts going out to the well being of pets complete with trips to the vet. Most beneficial for the mind is spending some time thinking about what brings you comfort and ease. Take the steps that point in the direction of peace. “Poirot,” I said. “I have been thinking.” “An admirable exercise my friend. Continue it.” ~ Agatha Christie (Peril at End House)

SEA-GOAT: Mercury running backward in Taurus lights up the Sea-goat’s, or Capricorn’s, 5th house of love, romance and creative inspiration. Rethink your love life? Only if you have an inclination to do so. Signs suggesting trouble in Denmark include the feeling it has all moved too fast, or too slow, resistance, anxiety and symptoms of a new and compulsive work ethic. If you aren’t experiencing unabashed carefree joy with the other person, what are you doing it for? ‘Then may mercy save her from a man who loves as you do.’ ~ Sara Douglass (Gods’ Concubine)

WATER-BEARER: Mercury Rx in Taurus transverses the Water-Bearer’s, or Aquarius’, 4th house of home and emotional stability. It is a time to re-evaluate the ground you stand on, your connection to family and the people you live with. The actual dwelling may ‘carry the projection’ as in need for repairs, dreams about the house or even the need to move. The gift in all this refection is getting in touch with what you really want. ‘Ah! There is nothing like staying at home, for real comfort.’ ~ Jane Austen

FISHES: Mercury in Taurus runs back through the Fishes, or Pisces’, 3rd house of siblings, communication, writing, teaching, learning and short distant travel around the community. If anything goes haywire in the 3rd house domain – traffic jams, stalled cars, lost emails, crashed computers, missing assignments or fractious sibs – it is time to rethink the way you express yourself. Are you saying what you mean? ‘If writers wrote as carelessly as some people talk, then adhasdh asdglaseuyt[bn[ pasdlgkhasdfasdf.‘ ~ Lemony Snicket (Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid)

Kim Falconer lives in Byron Bay with two gorgeous black cats. She runs an astrology forum and alternative science site‚ trains with a sword and is working on the Quantum Encryption trilogy, the follow up to Quantum Enchantment, both of which are set in the world of Gaela, as well as on Earth. The first book in the new series is called Path of the Stray and will be out in August this year.

Kim Falconer: A Piece of Lilith’s Heart

Lilith - Ancient Sumerian Tablet. Lilith with two owls and two lions (circa 2000 BC)

Into the night,
Into the dark . . .
The greater mysteries await.

Kreshkali in The Spell of Rosette

The dark goddesses were a gateway to the great mysteries. A symbol of the sacred feminine, they were honoured, respected and revered. Temple priestesses initiated men into the sacred rights. It was a boon to participate, but as patriarchal cultures conquered those worshiping the Great Mother, the sacred feminine was subjugated and cast out.

Where did she go?

Jung would say she was relegated to the unconscious of both men and women, and not with very positive results. As the saying goes, what we resist persists and the figure of the demonized feminine is alive and well in mythology, folklore and contemporary fiction . . . like Kreshkali.

I didn’t have the ancient goddess Lilith in mind when Kreshkali jumped into the story—I had nothing in mind; she wrote herself—but on reflection she has much in common with the ancient Mesopotamian goddess even though they are from vastly different times.

Kreshkali lives in a 24th century post-apocalyptic Earth where women are persecuted by a totalitarian government. Technology is failing, the oceans dying, tectonic plates shifting. She’s a hardcore survivor though, studying the occult by day and whoring for water by night. Prostitution is the only occupation opened to an unattached female; drinking water the only currency. Lilith lived in earlier times though her life was similarly oppressed.

Ancient Lilith sprang up in Sumer thousands of years BCE. The handmaiden of Inanna, she brought men to the temple for initiation into the sacred rights. Once beautiful, potent and wise, she became demonized as the goddess cults were subsumed. By the time she appears in Cabalistic text, she is the first wife of Adam, a devouring monster who was outcast because she would not submit to him—specifically she would not lie beneath him in sex saying she was his equal. God expelled from the garden and Eve was created from Adams rib (in hopes of a more compliant mate). Both Lilith and Kreshkali were feared and persecuted. As an image of our ‘collective shadow’ they are scapegoats—the despised ‘other’.

Lilith and Kreshkali are alone. They have no mate to explore their worlds with, no sisters to practice their ritual magic, and no creative offspring. In some versions of myth God condemns Lilith to birth one hundred demons a day that she must then kill with her bare hands. Not surprisingly, these outcast women can harbour some bitterness. But to those who gain their trust, they are powerful allies, a source of strength in the search for wholeness. There is something deeply magical about them, as well as deadly.

Perhaps in writing Kreshkali, I was seeking to reinstate the compelling, mystical, potent, sexual and self-determining qualities of the sacred feminine. I know that many readers love her, honour her, and that is fulfilling on more than a personal level. It feels like something in the collective has been redeemed.

Do you have a favourite female character who carries a piece of Lilith’s heart? I’d love to hear about her!

Kim Falconer lives in Byron Bay with two gorgeous black cats. As well as her author website‚ she runs an astrology forum and alternative science site‚ trains with a sword and is completing a Masters Degree. Her novel writing is done early every morning. Currently she’s working on the Quantum Encryption Series.

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.