An exciting delve into a conglomerate land filled with magic and mystery.
FOREST OF GLORY enjoys the book as well.
This is a mosaic novel. It’s several stories set in the same world but written at different times, put together with a framing story. I liked the setting of these a lot! It’s a bunch of worlds that have all ended that somehow get glomped up together. I liked all the little bits of culture and how most of the stories focused on urban places.
Rich Horton on STRANGER AT ECBATAN recalls his many reviews of Brennan’s short stories.
I haven’t done a Birthday Review in a bit, and it occurred to me that I had never done a collection of my Locus reviews of Marie Brennan’s short fiction … and I realized that there are some people whose birthdays I don’t know. But that’s no reason not to post about their wonderful short stories! So here is what I’ve written about Marie Brennan’s short stories in the past dozen years or so:
Locus, March 2008
The Fall On Spec has three nice fantasy stories – each managing to be somewhat traditional and yet quite clever and original. Marie Brennan’s “Nine Sketches in Charcoal and Blood” tells of a curious group of seemingly related people at the auction of a dead man’s effects – what sinister secret links them to each other and the dead man, and on what are they bidding?
Locus, January 2009
I was particularly impressed by Marie Brennan’s “A Heretic by Degrees” (Intergalactic Medicine Show, December). It’s set in a strikingly artificial setting – I was reminded of Ted Chiang’s “Exhalation” and Will McIntosh’s “Linkworlds”, to name two other 2008 stories. Brennan’s story opens it what seems a somewhat conventional fantasy world, as the new Councillor Paramount feels pushed to heretically suggest that they look “outside the world” for a cure for their dying King. And soon the Councillor is journeying to a series of strange quite separately and increasingly small “worlds”. Brennan does not content herself with simply displaying this odd universe – we get a similarly odd, and unsettling, explanation, as well as a satisfying and unexpected solution to the Councillor’s (and the King’s ) problem.
2020 Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellow R. B. Lemberg’s amazing THE FOUR PROFOUND WEAVES is a beautifully articulated exploration of queer identity and transformation
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R. B. Lemberg and their debut book THE FOUR PROFOUND WEAVES continue to attract effusive attention.
LOCUS reports that Lemberg has been chosen as the 2020 Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellow.
The $2,000 fellowship, sponsored by the University of Oregon Libraries Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA), is awarded “to encourage research within collections in the area of feminist science fiction.”
SCUA houses the papers of Suzette Haden Elgin, Kate Elliot, Sally Miller Gearhart, Molly Gloss, Damon Knight, Ursula K. Le Guin, Laurie Marks, Joanna Russ, Jessica Salmonson, James Tiptree, Jr., and Kate Wilhelm, and is in the process of acquiring the papers of other feminist science fiction authors.
Anna Burke at NEW YORK JOURNAL OF BOOKS praises the book.
THE FOUR PROFOUND WEAVES is a beautifully articulated exploration of queer identity and transformation. Lemberg’s prose is rhythmic and haunting. They do not flinch from truth, but neither do they dwell too long in darkness. “It is only in stories that change is easily found,” says Uiziya e Lali, but Lemberg’s first Birdverse novel is a testimony to how stories can do just that. The inventiveness of this world and its systems of magic reflects our own but does not mirror it; the possibilities presented offer hope for different ways and modes of being.
MI BOOK REVIEWS feels much the same.
THE FOUR PROFOUND WEAVES is AMAZING. The two MCs are trans and are totally the sort of heroes I needed to read.
In advance of forthcoming (Nov. 16) first issue, REVUU teases coverage of the acclaimed debut.
We also cover the debut of an up-and-coming writer who creates a fictional world based on the LGBTQ+ society in Kris van der Voorn’s review of THE FOUR PROFOUND WEAVES.
INSECTOID REVIEWS reveals Why You Should Read Birdverse.
I strongly urge everyone to read Birdverse, it is truly one of the hidden gems in today’s science fiction. I only scratched the surface of why these stories are great. Birdverse is shaped by R. B. Lemberg’s queerness, neurodivergence, and Jewishness creating a rich tapestry of immersive narratives full of hope and comfort for the othered and marginalized. Don’t know where to start? Start with “Grandmother-nai-Leyit’s Cloth of Winds”. You can find the entire bibliography of Birdverse at R. B. Lemberg’s website with many of the stories free to read.
In the REDDIT r/Fantasy discussion Why should I write fantasies? The struggle of a writer, eriophora of Black Forest Basilisks suggests THE FOUR PROFOUND WEAVES, Marie Brennan’s DRIFTWOOD, and several others.
Some books that I think are stand-outs when it comes to exploring philosophy, humanity, and getting into “deeper” ideas:
Deerskin by Robin McKinley
My Heart Struck Sorrow by John Hornor Jacobs
Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer (fantasy/sci-fi)
The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez (fantasy/sci-fi)
Silently and Very Fast by Caitlin Starling (fantasy/sci-fi)
The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar
THE FOUR PROFOUND WEAVES by RB Lemberg
The Seventh Perfection by Daniel Polansky
The Pursuit of William Abbey by Claire North
DRIFTWOOD by Marie Brennan
Ringshout by P Djeli Clark
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Months after its release, Marie Brennan’s DRIFTWOOD continues to garner interest.
Axie Barclay for MANHATTAN BOOK REVIEW enjoys the mosaic novel.
From the lived-in feel of the world to the mysteries surrounding Last, let alone the creatures from all the worlds emerging from the Mist, Brennan is at her most creative with this work. From religious zealotry to loners trying to save their little stretch of earth or memory of their people, Driftwood is as diverse as the Shreds themselves. Definitely worth a read.
At FANTASY LITERATURE, both Kat Hooper and Jane Nyman feel much the same
I enjoyed most of the tales, though, and hope that Brennan will revisit this setting for a full-length novel in the future.~Kat Hooper
I listened to the audiobook which was produced by Tantor Audio and beautifully narrated by Christina Delaine. I recommend this version!
Bill’s comparison between DRIFTWOOD and Invisible Cities is quite apt — the quilted-together nature of the stories, the otherworldliness and yet almost-recognizability of Driftwood’s lands and peoples, the stories they tell each other and themselves about who they are and where they came from, all evoke Italo Calvino at his finest, and I can’t think of a better compliment to pay to Marie Brennan.~Jana Nyman
[I’d] recommend it to anyone who’s already a fan of Marie Brennan or to anyone who is looking for an introduction to her work.
Mentions of DRIFTWOOD abound on REDDIT.
r/booksuggestions Your favorite shorter books (under 250 pages)
I recently read the new book by Marie Brennan called DRIFTWOOD. Had about 200 pages and was very interesting.Baroness_Lori
The world was something i never read before. Very unique and well written.
Loved it! I’m a big Lady Trent fan, and I enjoyed this jaunt into a different world. I hope she writes more books in this setting, it was very creative and fun, and the story really stuck with me.thesphinxistheriddle
As part of r/Fantasy’s What are some physically good looking looking fantasy/sci fi books?, chem9dog included the book under “And here’s a list of normal books you can get anywhere that I think are just plain gorgeous even without a fancy edition.”
Nicky @ The Bibliophibian includes a selection from the book in Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Book Quotes.
Paggarat was less doomed than they wagered, not because of how long it lasted but because of how it went out. Because of Aun and Esr, smiling at each other until the end of the world.
For BOOK VIEW CAFÉ, Brennnan offers her thoughts on hospitality.
After that tour through the unpleasant things humans do to each other, let’s turn our thoughts to something nicer.
You may think it odd that I’m discussing hospitality, given that my patrons voted for a set of economic topics this month. But we’re going to be looking at concepts of generosity and charity, and from that perspective, it seems only natural to begin with hospitality: the welcoming of a guest into your home.
Specifically, welcoming a traveler. We also take in guests on a more casual, short-term basis, when somebody comes by for dinner or to have a conversation, but for our purposes here I’m focusing on travelers. These days we talk about the “hospitality industry,” as if there are factories somewhere churning out a product for customers to buy — and in a sense, that’s true. Hotel chains operate on the promise of mass-produced accommodations, rentable for a set time in exchange for money.
But hospitality used to mean a good deal more. It wasn’t financial; it was sacred.
This is a fascinating little book, with plenty to mull over after the final pages are done. And about those final pages… I’m not going to spoil this book by saying that they’re odd. In fact, I’d love it if someone would read this book simply so I can talk about this ending! It’s not my favorite book this year, but it’s definitely thought-provoking and creative, so it gets a thumbs up from me.
THE BORROWED BOOKSHELF concurs.
I do recommend it if you’re looking for something original. It’s also an incredibly hopeful read, about people forming relationships and community in the face of destruction of their worlds and the arrival of the end. And with the state of the world right now, that’s the kind of story we really need right now.
Karen McCoy, on their eponymous blog, interviews Brennan about DRIFTWOOD.
I know what you mean about awkward gaps between YA and adult markets. Speaking of the “in-between”, I love how DRIFTWOOD explores what happens when fragments of different worlds collide. How did this idea come to you, and in what ways do you feel it might be relevant to readers, especially in 2020?
I honestly can’t remember where this one came from! It began with the short story “Driftwood” (which is the opening section of the novel), and I know the idea began with the setting — but what caused me to come up with the idea of this conglomerate place, all about entropy and liminality, I couldn’t tell you.
As for relevance, oof. I would have been happy for it to be less topical, y’know? But the Publishers’ Weekly review calls it “hope in the face of apocalypse,” and I suppose we need some of that right now. All of the stories that make up the book are about things ending, about how individuals and groups respond to the awareness that their worlds are dying and taking them and their traditions with them . . . which makes it sound really grim, but the beauty (ideally) is in seeing how they still find happiness and hope, how they find ways to move forward despite everything. And the frame story that holds the individual narratives together is all about community.
The art of conlanging (constructing languages) is a very deep rabbit hole to fall down — but it’s possible to achieve realistic-looking results without knowing a retroflex lateral fricative from the ergative-absolutive. Here you will learn some simple techniques for creating proper names and invented terms that can lend a feeling of depth and realism to your invented world, without any need for in-depth linguistic expertise. Students are encouraged to develop a suitable example during the workshop.
This workshop is available to anyone aged 18 or older for a $55 fee.
A fascinating and rewarding creation, Marie Brennan’s DRIFTWOOD is charming, meditative, and often poignant
A quartet of reviews for the fantastic DRIFTWOOD by Marie Brennan.
At FANTASY LITERATURE, Bill Capossere praises the book.
DRIFTWOOD (2020) is a charming, meditative, and often poignant collection of linked stories by Marie Brennan that mostly succeeds both in its individual tales and as a whole, though I had a few issues. But given that one of those is it was too short, it’s still an easy book to recommend.
I absolutely love the setting, which serves up endless potential for stories, since each one reveals a new world to us. Driftwood has a bit of a Calvino-esque feel to it, particularly Invisible Cities, one of my all-time favorite works of fiction. You’ve got visits to different worlds (cities), a sense of the fantastical, each new setting told as a story, some lyrical language. And, as with Calvino, a bit of a haunting sadness. Brennan uses the rich potential of the setting premise to deliver some beautifully original images/ideas, which I won’t ruin by noting here.
As does BLUE BOOK BALLOON.
A collection of simple stories, each self-contained but building into a cycle that is more than the sum of its parts, DRIFTWOOD is a fascinating and rewarding creation, conveyed in prose that can range from the solemn to the bitter to the darkly humorous but is never less than engaging. Brennan is at home sketching the linguistics of a world, bringing alive a marketplace (‘…a thousand spices, each one distinct on the tongue. Aromatic flowers that danced in the gentle air, their seeds spreading I the ceaseless light. Serpents doxing in the warmth, sold as pets, as sacrifices, as food…’) or imaging its complex religious life as she is evoking the long-lived, continually reborn bar, Spit in the Crush’s Eye or describing with great flair the adventurers who brought the balloon to Driftwood and sought to map it – undermining the solemnity of purpose expected in a fantasy novel by saying they did it simply because it seemed a fun thing to do. Everyone might be doomed, swirling away into the pit, but there are lives to live and people here to live them. Finding a calm place between denial of the inevitable and obsession with it seems to be key – in Driftwood as in our own world(s).
READING REALITY adores the mosaic novel.
Escape Rating A+: Some books are just WOW! And DRIFTWOOD is definitely one of those books.
Many of the stories in DRIFTWOOD have been previously and separately published, but together they make a surprisingly wonderful and cohesive whole. A whole that is entirely too short but begins, middles and ends exactly where it should. A beautiful puzzlement and a fantastic read
For THE BRITISH FANTASY SOCIETY, Mikaela Silk feels much the same.
I’ll admit I was unsure about this book when I first started reading, but it drew me in bit by bit and I was enthralled by the time I finished reading.
With its unique setting, ‘Driftwood’ offers a refreshingly different take on the apocalypse. There are no zombies, no nuclear or natural disasters, no tales of people resorting to looting or cannibalism. Instead, it focuses on the deeper and more personal aspects of an apocalypse. The question of what people will do when their world and their culture and their civilisation is disappearing, slowly slipping away to an inevitable doom, is endlessly fascinating. The most interesting feature of this is the variety which Brennan’s setting allows; from those who try to deny the inevitability, such as the King of the Miqerni, to those like Noirin who simply want to ease the loss and for the memories of her people to last as long as possible.
Join Jill Roberts, R. B. Lemberg, Marie Brennan and others in virtual conversation at California Bookseller Virtual Discovery Lab 2020
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Tachyhon managing editor Jill Roberts moderates the California Bookseller Virtual Discovery Lab Speculative Fiction Author Panel (Thursday, September 10 11am PST) with Tachyon authors Marie Brennan (DRIFTWOOD) and R. B. Lemberg (THE FOUR PROFOUND WEAVES) plus Sesshu Foster, Mike Chen, Greta Kelly, Natalie Zina Walschots, and Audrey T. Williams. RSVP Required.
This Saturday, 7PM CST, celebrate Tachyon Publications 25th Anniversary with authors Marie Brennan, Daryl Gregory, Joe R. Lansdale, Michael Swanwick, Kimberly Unger, and Carrie Vaughn plus Tachyonistas Jacob Weisman, Jill Roberts, and Rick Klaw
Rick Klaw blog, Events 25th anniversary, armadillocon, Carrie Vaughn, daryl gregory, jacob weisman, jill roberts, Joe R. Lansdale, kimberly unger, marie brennan, michael swanwick, Rick Klaw, virtual event 0
In this special Armadillocon 2020 virtual event, Tachyon publisher/founder Jacob Weisman, managing editor Jill Roberts, and consulting editor Rick Klaw team-up with the all-star linuep of acclaimed, award -winning authors (Marie Brennan, Daryl Gregory, Joe R. Lansdale, Michael Swanwick, Kimberly Unger, and Carrie Vaughn) to discuss, in expected Tachyon fashion, the press’s pasts, presents, and futures. This FREE event happens on Saturday, August 28 at 7PM CST. Please RSVP.
Simultaneously somber and uplifting, Marie Brennan’s DRIFTWOOD is beautifully written and incredibly unique
Beautifully written and incredibly unique. This is definitely a book to check out this summer!
On REDDIT r/Fantasy, user u/daavor agrees.
In terms of style and atmosphere, it perhaps most reminds me of some glorious hybrid of the Divine Cities Trilogy, MJ Harrisons Viriconium novels, and maybe shreds of Gaiman and Valente. Details drift past you in a style reminiscent of certain weird fiction. Of course, those who’ve read Lady Trent have a sense of Brennan’s voice, but absent the framing device of Trent’s memoir this novel’s voice is I think a little softer, a little sadder, a little less feisty, but in the best of ways. The prose is clear, fluid, and well crafted, lingering on the details and oddities, as mentioned before.
Repeatedly here I’ve summarized this novel as sombre or melancholy. It is, and yet I don’t walk away from it sad. Because Driftwood is more than the sum of its parts and DRIFTWOOD is more than the sum of its sorrows. I leave it optimistic and thoughtful (though I wouldn’t pencil it in as optimistic fiction in your bingo card).
THE CURIOUS SFF READER includes the novel in their Mid-Year Freak Out Tag | 2020.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SURPRISE SO FAR?
The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders and DRIFTWOOD by Marie Brennan, I wasn’t expecting to love them as much as I did but, they both blew me away!