Brat Farrar (bratfarrar) wrote,
Brat Farrar

Recommendations: brave new worlds

The Book of the Gear (aka gearworld): Here are the two disappointments related to gearworld--

  1. All the embedded image links are broken, so the illustrations are missing (and since it's ursulav, that just about qualifies as a tragedy)

  2. The narrative simply stops, just as it seemed an actual (and intriguing) plot was developing

However, despite those two negative factors, what's there is still thoroughly enjoyable. The premise is simple: each post is a journal entry written by the intrepid explorer Eland the Younger as he investigates an increasingly bizarre underground maze. For instance:
By now, the long walk down the beveled hall, through the room of pages, was laden with a sort of uneasy anticipation. What would happen today? What new weirdness? I was tempted to just go to one of the other areas we still had to explore, but it kept drawing me back. The egg hung in the pouch at my waist, and I kept almost forgetting it was there, and then reaching for a pencil and finding smooth shell under my fingers.

The deer were still there, the oats untouched. They seemed to be in good spirits, despite not having eaten for at least a day. Maybe they weren’t real deer. Maybe the cold room went to a heaven of sweet grasses and warm breezes at night. Anything seemed possible in this arbitrary place.
My fond (in both the archaic and modern sense of the word) hope is that someday ursulav will revisit this odd place and give us the conclusion to Eland's adventures there--which is highly unlikely, given what she's said about the whole project elsewhere, but if it ever does happen I'd be the first in line to buy a copy (preferably illustrated, of course).

Let the Dragon Wake: In the past I've enthusiastically recommended sylviavolk2000's Highlander fanfiction, but she also has several original works available on Amazon, and this is definitely my favorite. The world she draws here is one where magic is so pervasive that the fabric of everything--time, place, matter, even to some degree self--is marvelously malleable, and she writes in such a way that you're swept along with it, as if in a dream.

And at the end it is of course about Love; love, which has its own magic and cannot be so easily manipulated but only won and freely given.

Summer in Orcus, also by ursulav: I feel vaguely like it's cheating to have the same author twice, but she does 'odd and wonderous' so well, I couldn't not. The title is a pun, as the story's about the summer spent in the world of Orcus by a girl named Summer after she meets Baba Yaga in her back yard and is granted her heart's desire. The plot itself is fairly standard "child from the mundane world winds up in a magical world, collects a rag-tag group of helpful friends, and saves the day"--but the writing is clever, the characters engaging, the world highly imaginative, and the whole thing is just a lot of fun, reminding you why the trope became so popular in the first place.
The Clerk scowled. “Do you have papers for him here, then?”

“We weren’t told we’d need them,” said Summer staunchly. She had gone to the DMV with her mother last month. She’d finished her book early and spent two hours watching people talk to the clerks there, and they all seemed to say the same things.

“How am I supposed to work under these conditions!?” he shouted at her, which the clerks at the DMV didn’t do. “Outside real estate! Do you want to crash the housing market? It’s all snails, you understand, snails and hammocks! And we had a woman come through last month on a stone salmon and not a license in sight!”

He flung down his papers and put his face in his hands.
I don't want to give anything away, because the reveal is delightful, but one of the characters is my absolute favorite variation ever on the whole werewolf thing.

(The story's currently available for free at the link above, but if you'd like something you can read offline, you'll need to get a copy over at Amazon.)
Tags: reviews & recommendations

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