31 March 2012

Ancient Wonders

So, you may or may not have noticed that I have a bit of thing for stories about ancient sites (no, it's not just tomb raider fangirling. Although any kind of archaeological adventuring is always fun... ;-P ) Therefore, being asked if I wanted to do an anthology on ancient sites with Jan Edwards for Alchemy Press was a bit of a no-brainer. It's called The Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders and is set for publication around late September and we are open for submissions, right now. (Yes, now!) ;-)

Soooooo, the necessary blurbage:

The Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders

Standing stones, burial mounds, ruined castles or sunken settlements, the ancient sites that litter our landscapes have a mysterious appeal which cannot be denied.

Think myth come to life; old folktales updated; the consequences of tomb raiding; hidden guardians and secret civilisations; from archaeology to tourism; mysticism and myth; folklore to the fantastical. Take us on a journey around the esoteric and enigmatic places that cannot fail to fire the imagination. Intrigue us, thrill us, make us wonder about the where, the what and the who.

We are interested in fantasy, sf, weird and horror tales of all kinds. (No erotica, romance or poetry.)

The nit-picky official guidelines and other techy details can be found on the Alchemy Press website here

Now the official bit's done, on a personal note and in case it needs saying - we welcome stories from anyone and are looking for stories involving ancient sites found anywhere on this world, secondary fantasy worlds or other worlds, with well rounded active characters of any age, race or orientation. Make sure your settings and cultures are well researched and not exoticised and be wary of cultural appropriation (see here and here and here and here and here for more on that).

Co-editor Jan will likely be putting her own preferences up on her blog at some point (will link as and when), for me, personally I'm a fan of the type of stories found on Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Clarkesworld and Expanded Horizons so stories with that kind of feel are going to make me happy. I also skew more towards the fantasy and SF end of things and particularly want to see stories set in or crossing over to other worlds. Also stories where actual archaeology occurs. Especially if the site in question doesn't get destroyed at the end of it. ;-) And fun pulpy romps that don't commit crimes of cultural appropriation (as mentioned above). Ooh, and dystopian/post-apocalyptic fic. And space ships. Can we get an ancient site on a space ship? (Actually, an ancient crashed/buried space ship does technically count as an ancient site...) Do the fae get annoyed when people hijack their standing stones for riding ley lines? What happens when the local community object to a gold-digging chancer kicking over their heritage?

There's bundles of possibilities for interesting stories so bung 'em over to us.

26 March 2012

Two More To Go...

It's sunny out, rumoured, in fact, to be a bit scorchio all week, so guess what I'll be doing...

I don't really need to comment further do I? :-)

(pic from Kate Matthews via Facebook)

23 March 2012

Killer Bridesmaids

So, not-so-little-anymore sister will be getting married next year. (Cue relatives eyes lighting up at the thought of someone in that weird branch of the family doing something vaguely normal that they can talk about. Bless.) And NSLA-sis, in a fit of obvious insanity, has decided she wants me as a bridesmaid. (Guh?) In a proper dress. (Eep!) A purple one. (Oh, well, in that case… alas, my suggestion of all the bridesmaids dyeing their hair purple was nixed, however artful streaks of purple have been tentatively approved.)

Not just any old bridesmaid though, I’m to be Head Bridesmaid. (Which does make me have visions of it being more of a Head Cheerleader thing and do you think anyone would mind me doing a triple back-handspring down the aisle? Not that I could actually *do* a triple back-handspring, and where would you put the pom-poms?) But I digress. Having been given such a very responsible position, I got to thinking, just what in blazes is a Head Bridesmaid supposed to do? Frantic googling naturally ensued.

In Ancient Greece the bridesmaids were there to protect the bride from any forces of evil that might lurk in her path. Thusly, bridesmaids must be just a bit kick-ass as they’re the last line of defence between the bride and whatever Eeeeeeeevil is foolish enough to have a go. As an over-protective big sister I can definitely do that. (Goes to check the kitchen for suitable concealable weaponry, nods in satisfaction at findings. They. Will. Not. Pass.)

Legend also has it that the bridesmaids were there to confuse and distract any evil spirits who wanted to ruin the marriage. This tradition can be seen in old Roman law which stipulated that there had to be ten witnesses to the wedding – five men and five women – with the women dressing like the bride and the men like the groom. This was meant to perplex the spirits as to who, exactly, was getting married and so protect the happy couple from unwanted otherworldly attentions. Hopefully the one officiating the marriage wouldn’t be taken in by the subterfuge otherwise hijinx could very well ensue…

The Anglo-Saxons were a bit more traditional with their protection detail – in their version of events, it was the groomsmen who protected the bride from attack by the groom’s rivals/rejected suitors, as it was thought the groomsmen were better able to fight off any attacker who may want to kidnap the bride. (Obviously the Anglo Saxons hadn’t met the women of my family – potential kidnappers would not stand a chance…) While the boys were off having fun with a bit of pre-wedding hack and slash, the bridesmaids were relegated to leading the bridegroom to church. (Wave a cup of tea in front of him. Job done!)

But bridesmaids aren’t just there to play bodyguard, oh no. They’re also there to give the groom merry hell and make him prove his worthiness before he can even think of getting near the bride. The Ancient Chinese had a tradition of wedding games to help ease the tension between the happy couple and their families and one of these games was the wedding door game. This is where the bridesmaids come in to play as it was their task to block the groom from the bride’s door and set him challenges in order to prove his love for his intended. (Now, do we use one of the four different versions of Trivial Pursuit we have or send him off to find the thirteen treasures of Britain? Is throwing a dragon at him too much? How about a riddle game?)

So the evidence suggests that my bridesmaidly duty, as set out by the ancients, is to harass the groom until he’s proven his mettle, drag him to the altar for the ritual sacrifice… er, nuptials … while fending off Team Evil in a posh purple frock. Sounds like fun. :-)

[The Happy Couple-to-be]