The Shores of Spain by J. Kathleen Cheney

The final book of the Golden City series, J. Kathleen Cheney finishes a perfect blend of historical fiction with believable fantasy elements in combining Portugal at the turn of the 20th century with myths about sirens, selkies, and other sea creatures. This book finds Oriana and her husband Dulio living among the sereina as diplomats in a sticky political situation.

What is interesting about the society is that the sereina society is one where men are the repressed sex. Cheney uses this societal aspect as a strong counterpoint to the gender roles in the first two books of her series, which take place in Portugal. The book focuses on Joaquim, Dulio’s brother, and Oriana’s sister Marina as their romance blossoms against a background of investigating sereina influence in Spain.

As usual, Cheney’s writing is full of imagery, strong and tight. The characters are well-painted and different, believable as multi-faceted human beings, rather than just token male and female characters. Gender is well explored in the book, as well as issues of class and parenthood.

It’s easy to be swept up in Cheney’s world. Her writing seems effortless, and her research is impeccable. I strongly encourage you to check out all 3 of the Golden City books.

4th Street Fantasy Convention

Poor, neglected blog. Let me wipe away some of these cobwebs…oh. There you are!

My apologies. There’s been travel. There’s been the death of the most beloved Queen of Cats. There’s been one kick ass acid reflux attack that took me to a foreign emergency room (love you, Minneapolis! Your emergency room is the fastest I’ve ever been in). And…there’s been this book I’m finishing.

It’s a mixed bag, that stuff. Some really, really good. This book, I like this book. It’s getting good feedback from the fine folks reading it for me. I am in the final editing stage. It’s solid. I have hopes for it.

I can’t say enough good things about 4th Street Fantasy in Minneapolis, usually the last weekend in June. Elizabeth Bear has been trying to get me to go ever since I met her in 2009, and I kept having things come up. Schools in Viet Nam, other conferences, fake family reunions, cruises… Plus, there’s it’s proximity to Convergence, which is the main venue I play geek at with Bryon and some geeky friends. However, I finally decided enough is enough and that I was going this year.

And what a trip! I drove up to Minneapolis all by myself (I have great friends, but I’m not sure any of them would have really appreciated this unique alchemy of creation convention and full hall discussion), and then stayed at the hotel. Before festivities began on Friday, the wonderful Caroline Stevermer took me around Minneapolis and showed me some beautiful natural spaces that I’d never been to. Plus, she could be a real tour guide if she needed to be. I learned a lot. I had the opportunity to hang out with Caroline a lot at 4th Street and she is just as wonderful for a whole weekend as she is for a get together.

A real treat was the number of folks I’d met before at Paradise Lost or at Viable Paradise, or because of Viable Paradise. Man, it was wonderful getting to see folks and talk to them. There was dinner and good conversation, so even though none of the rest of the fighting 13 were there, still it felt like coming home.

And you kind of got to hang out with every one. I had breakfast with Beth Meacham two days in a row. That’s a Tor editor, and we were just hanging out. And no one was schmoozing. We were eating oatmeal.

I met some wonderful new people as well, and I hope they stay in touch. Sherri in particular comes to mind. She got my email, but because of cat worries, I was not cognizant enough to get hers.

Cat worries. It was no secret that Bastet was ill, and that I might have to leave. As fate would have it, at that first breakfast, we had all been talking about our wonderful pets. Then I took a voice message from Bryon and had to tell a table full of cat enthusiasts that the cat I had just talked about was very ill. So, many, many people were very supportive at the con.

I will be going back next year. I will be making room for it. I loved it. And if you’re a writer, and you’re not going, trust me, you might want to rethink that. These are amazingly friendly, smart, literate writers and readers who are exceeding friendly.

Okay. Next time. Convergence. Yeah.