Sunday recs: Rose Lemberg’s Birdverse

Rose Lemberg is a wonderful writer (and editor! but I’m concentrating on her writing here). I’ve recced many things by her in the past too: she writes beautiful poetry full of word-magic, for instance.

But today, I want to highlight two stories from Rose that I’ve recently read and loved. These are both set in the same world, Birdverse: a world where magic is based on language and geometry in fascinating ways.

First, Geometries of Belonging, in the October 2015 issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies. I read this story yesterday, and was blown away by it. It’s a long novelette – so, there’s plenty of time to get immersed. And oh my heart, how immersed I was. The narrator, Parét, is struggling with his own issues within the broader context of the story, and he felt so delicate and fully realised. I ached for him. So many complex characters in this novelette, and complex cultural and political situations that act as a background to the events. It was great to read about an autistic character who is portrayed with such sensitivity and nuance, too. The story also features polyamory, a complex dom/sub relationship, trans and nonbinary characters… wonderful to see such a variety of sexual expressions and gender in a story! This wasn’t the lightest of tales to read – the various societal oppressions and people’s own locks and problems do not make for a happy-go-lucky atmosphere. But Geometries of Belonging is a hopeful story, definitely. And an important one.

Then for something different, to show how varied Rose Lemberg’s Birdverse tales are: The Desert Glassmaker and the Jeweler of Berevyar, published in the newest issue of Uncanny Magazine. This is a happy story – ah, marvellously joyful and hopeful, though not without conflict. It’s written in an epistolary format, which is something that I really enjoy. Two artists meet and share their art, and more. Rose always writes exquisitely, but the language here is really something special. The words in these particular arrangements sparkle like jewels, like shimmering shards of coloured glass.