Friday, 27 February 2015

SFFSat 28/2/2015 Sorrel in Silver

This is my snippet this week for SFFSat. I couldn't post last week - real life intervened - but this week I'm back. SFFSat is a place where a number of authors post snippets from their written works, and give the opportunity for comments, support and encouragement. Please also explore the other blogs that are part of this set - you can find the information here. 

 This is another snippet from Sorrel in Silver. Sorrel is trying to get to her aeroplane, to make her escape from her current difficulties...



I swam cautiously towards the Cygnet; my objective was stealth, not speed. The four graalur on the jetty weren't expecting anyone to approach the aeroplane from the water, so I reached my bird without any problems.
   I stretched up from the water and my fingers slid under the edge of the hatch. It was unlatched! For once, luck was on my side. I teased it open slowly, pulling back on it until it was opened fully. I could only hope the graalur hadn't noticed the door move.
   I lifted the bomb and slid it neatly into the cockpit. It rolled and I heard it clonk against something inside. I froze, hanging in the water, waiting to hear if the graalur responded. Some bored guards chat amongst themselves; these four were clearly too stupid to think of things to talk about. After a minute of waiting, though, they hadn't come to investigate the sound, so they were also too stupid to notice indications of trouble.
Always assuming they weren't trying to lull me into a false sense of security.

As always, comments appreciated.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Re-reading Andre Norton

Every now and then, I get the urge to read something from when I was much, much younger. I suspect some of the books I loved then and still think of gladly would be painful to re-read – I have fond memories of Hugh Walters' Chris Godfrey novels, with a team of young men exploring the Solar System planet by planet, but I have no doubt I would find them juvenile and clumsy now. But some authors still bear re-reading, and high in that list is Andre Norton.

Ms Norton wrote a very large number of books. I read a significant proportion of them when I was at junior school and into my teens. A good range of her books grace my shelves now, and every so often I indulge in another few. A recent acquisition was Dark Companion, an omnibus containing Dark Piper and Dread Companion. I can't help thinking Dread Piper might have been a more interesting title!

  
I'm sure I only read Dark Piper once – I found it quite disturbing when I was, at a rough guess, about 8 or 9. It tells of a colony world where a group of children are led into some caves by the Hamelin-esque Dark Piper of the title. His purpose is wise – he has guessed that there is about to be a bitter conflict between the colonists and the crews of a trio of displaced spacers. He's right – everybody else is slain by bombs and a plague virus. The novel disturbed me as a child – a book where all adults die, including parents and loved ones, was strong stuff. Re-reading it now, it holds together well.

 
Dread Companion was a later book. When I started reading it recently, I really wasn't sure if I had read it as a child. I didn't remember it – but as I read further, images came back to me. The heroine is the tutor of two brattish children – but one, the girl, has an invisible companion, who leads the heroine and the girl's brother into an alternate world, one that has a strong air of the fey. Eating food there turns the little boy into a faun-like beast, and the girl has witch powers. The heroine struggles to retain her humanity and get them all back home. Reading it now, it is a complex, layered novel, and one I've thoroughly enjoyed.


Next on my list is Star Gate. I know with absolute confidence I read this as a child, but so far, as I've been reading it, I haven't remembered it. As I've got further through, though, there are odd details that ring bells. I can't say much more about it - I'm not far enough through to comment intelligently.

So why have Andre Norton's books resonated with me all my life? I suspect, more than anything, it is because her heroes are always outsiders. Loners who don't fit in, who think too much and who don't know where they belong or what they are striving for. I've no doubt that I'm mildly aspergers – many, if not all of Norton's heroes feel as though they, too, are on that spectrum, even though when she was writing most of her novels the term was yet to be coined. I could identify with her heroes far more than with many of the brave characters in other books. Her heroes felt like me.

Friday, 20 February 2015

SFFSat 21/2/2015 Sorrel in Silver

This is my snippet this week for SFFSat. I couldn't post last week - real life intervened - but this week I'm back. SFFSat is a place where a number of authors post snippets from their written works, and give the opportunity for comments, support and encouragement. Please also explore the other blogs that are part of this set - you can find the information here. 

 This is another snippet from Sorrel in Silver. Sorrel is in the city of the lloruk, following Juustehr, one of the reptilian lloruk mages. She opens a door and stops dead...



The chamber beyond was full of snakes. At least a dozen. Two gigantic ones, six feet long or more, with diamond patterns of orange and blue scales, were sprawled across the outcroppings of stones that dotted the room. Five smaller green serpents lay under the illumination of a bright lamp shining down onto a wide, smooth stone slab. More writhed away across the striated stone floor; those were small ones, only a foot long, in a variety of patterns. Juustehr walked through the chamber with a total lack of concern for the snakes. I stared at them. One of the big ones, its head only a couple of feet from the lift doors, turned its eyes to me and held my gaze. I didn't dare move.
Juustehr turned and looked back at me. He was almost at the far door out of the room. 'Sorrel? Don't waste time admiring that python; she's lazy, always delighted to be ogled.'

 As always, comments appreciated.

Friday, 6 February 2015

SFFSat 7/2/2015 Sorrel in Silver

This is my snippet this week for SFFSat. SFFSat is a place where a number of authors post snippets from their written works, and give the opportunity for comments, support and encouragement. Please also explore the other blogs that are part of this set - you can find the information here. 

 This is another snippet from Sorrel in Silver. Sorrel is in a very strange chamber, alarmed at what she sees.

 
The low tables in the room were laden with silver plates containing what had to be foodstuffs. Some looked familiar – many looked strange, or unpalatable, or both. Food really ought not to be blue or violet in colour. And whilst I had learned from an early age that I had to eat greens, some of the greenery on those silver plates was far too virulent to be eaten.

My attention was soon grabbed, though, by stranger things within the room, even ignoring the people. At one point I glimpsed what I thought was a snake, crawling along the back of one of the chairs. As I peered towards it, it turned its head, and I realised I was staring at the head of a tabitha. It slithered out of sight. My skin crawled, and my stomach churned at the sight, but then I was distracted by something in the air: a glittering butterfly, but with a scorpion tail. I swallowed convulsively, repulsed. Beautiful, but deadly, was all I could think. 


 As always, comments appreciated.

Friday, 30 January 2015

SFFSat 31/1/2015 Sorrel in Silver

This is my snippet this week for SFFSat. SFFSat is a place where a number of authors post snippets from their written works, and give the opportunity for comments, support and encouragement. Please also explore the other blogs that are part of this set - you can find the information here. 


This is another snippet from Sorrel in Silver. Last week Sorrel was enjoying herself in a snowball fight. This time, she is in a more contemplative mood...



I stood in the warm, dark night, looking into the pitch darkness that lurked beyond the walkway that ran round Tolgrail's battered walls. The absence of stars made night-time in the Chasm intense, almost tangible. Behind and below me, I could still just hear the raised voices and heated discussions in the common room, but there was no animosity in the tones. We were going to work with the elves. The only issue was organising the details of the bombing raids.
I ought to be there. I wanted to have some control over what we were doing, but I felt nauseous. Being in the same room as Griffyn gave me the shivers. If only I could remember what had happened in Wrack's mansion. Something important... something that was making my skin crawl. Coloured lights. Something swirling, and a hiss of dust or powder. I stared into the darkness, wondering if I really wanted to remember.
A hand touched my shoulder and I jerked sideways, startled by the unexpected contact. 

 Sorry, I'm not going to reveal here what did happen to Sorrel... 
As always, comments appreciated.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

SFFSat 24/1/2015 Sorrel in Silver

This is my snippet this week for SFFSat. SFFSat is a place where a number of authors post snippets from their written works, and give the opportunity for comments, support and encouragement. Please also explore the other blogs that are part of this set - you can find the information here. 


This is another snippet from Sorrel in Silver. Last week I posted a dangerous battle between dragons. This week's battle isn't quite so serious. My heroine is standing in the snow, talking to an engineer, Jordil, about work on her snowbound aeroplane...


I lifted my hand and opened my mouth, intending to say that I could help, when something slammed into the back of my neck. I staggered, turned, and a second snowball hit the side of my face. Ten yards away stood Kelhene, a real grin on her face, hefting a third snowball. Jordil laughed. I bowed to the inevitable and dived sideways so that Kelhene's third missile missed. My hands scooped up a decent missile of my own, and I flung myself in pursuit of the blonde woman.
We spent a wonderful half hour chasing each other around the mansion's formal gardens, pelting one another with snow, diving for cover behind hedges and defenceless statues. All right, so we were being childish. So what? We had fun. And Kelhene actually smiled and laughed.
By the time we retreated indoors we were both shivering, soaked by melted snow, our fingers blue from cold and our faces flushed. We thawed out in front of the fire in the small retiring room, with the aid of a glass of brandy apiece and some more laughter.


As always, comments appreciated.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

SFFSat 17/1/2015 Sorrel in Silver

This is my snippet this week for SFFSat. SFFSat is a place where a number of authors post snippets from their written works, and give the opportunity for comments, support and encouragement. Please also explore the other blogs that are part of this set - you can find the information here. 


Sorrel in Silver is now on sale on Amazon! This snippet carries on from last week - Wrack and Starron, another dragonlord are locked in combat in Wrack's Great Hall - Sorrel is watching from concealment on the gallery above.




Blood welled from the savage gash. Wrack twisted sharply and flung himself to one side. Starron tore at the membrane of Wrack's wing with a claw, but Wrack slammed his head into the other dragon's chest and sent Starron staggering away, blood spattering across the carvings on the wooden pillars. A moment later the red dragon plowed into him again, head swinging sideways as he hammered against Starron's dark blue scales like a croquet mallet hitting a soft toy. The pair disappeared beneath me. There was a heavy impact against one of the pillars holding up the gallery. The wooden slats below me jolted and I froze, afraid the whole structure would come crashing down. A flicker of orange fire momentarily lit up the entire chamber; now I was terrified of being barbecued. Below me, Wrack's voice rang out, tinged in fury. 'Volg it, Starron! Trying to burn my house down?'
I grabbed the chance to shuffle back and left towards the door. I was confident Wrack had the upper hand. The fact that Starron had resorted to breathing fire suggested Starron thought so, too. His inarticulate, strangled response to Wrack's anger suggested Wrack wasn't letting Starron breathe fire – or air, for that matter.

As always, comments appreciated.