Archives for posts with tag: Aestival Tide

As I was preparing the Philip K. Dick Award Bundle for Storybundle.com, I noticed that two of our authors had some startling things in common (other than being multiple award-winning, brilliant stylists and Philip K. Dick Award Finalists, of course).

Kathe Koja, who wrote The Cipher, and Elizabeth Hand, who wrote Aestival Tide, both grew up Catholic, are interested in the theater, and write science fiction and weird fiction.

I was intrigued and invited them to a Question-and-Answer. I grew up a Unitarian-Universalist but my great-grandparents in Europe were Catholic. Whatever your background, you’re sure to find this Q&A with Kathe and Liz as fascinating as I did.

Lisa Mason (LM): How did growing up Catholic affect your imagination as a child?

Kathe Koja (KK): It’s an extremely visual religion—not just the ceremonies, but the iconography, the saints and their various identifying symbols (St. Lucy with her plateful of eyes, who could forget that?), and the whole streaming pageant of heaven and hell art; think of Bosch. And the crucifix itself is a tremendous icon.

Elizabeth Hand (EH): For me, it was the storytelling element—the fact that there are all these great stories in both the Old and New Testament. From an early age I didn’t take (most of) them literally, but I loved the stories themselves. I went to Catholic elementary and high school, and then Catholic University (the latter not for religious reasons), so I had a long time to absorb and observe this stuff. And having to sit still during Mass gave me a chance to daydream and observe closely everyone around me, two habits which are crucial to writers.

LM: How has that affected your writing?

KK: Those visuals fostered an ability to think in symbols, which is very helpful. And growing up Catholic provides a kind of cheek-by-jowl daily acceptance of mysteries, or it did for me anyway: the impossible is real, they insist, nothing is too strange to be true. So for a fiction writer, that’s pretty fertile ground, pretty useful affirmation. And all the repression and absolute authority gives you something to push against, so that’s useful, too. It teaches you in the end that you must think for yourself.

EH: I was fascinated by the sense of ritual, though in my own work I’ve drawn on ancient pagan and mystery religions (which the Church did as well) rather than Catholic liturgy. I also was terrified by the notion of the apocalypse, and that definitely has played into a lot of my novels and stories.

LM: You’re both interested in the theater. Did the ceremonies, the religious costumes, the pomp and circumstance awaken your interest?

KK: No, but they make a jolly example.

EH: I’m not sure it did—I was more drawn to theater in and of itself. When I was in sixth grade, the eighth graders did “Macbeth,” and I was completely captivated. A few years later, my mother began taking my sisters and I to the American Shakespeare Theater in Stratford, CT, where we’d see whatever was playing in repertory for the entire summer. It was wonderful.

LM: Does theater play a part in your writing?

KK: A huge part. My most recent novels—UNDER THE POPPY, THE MERCURY WALTZ, and coming in November, THE BASTARDS’ PARADISE—are all about theatre, the story of two men who share their lives onstage and offstage. Love is a kind of performance, as life is a kind of show.

And I write and direct for my performance ensemble, nerve. Our next production is in January, an adaptation of DRACULA with no fangs and no blood. http://gonerve.com

EH: Oh, yes. My first novel, Winterlong, featured a Shakespearean troupe whose diva was a talking chimpanzee, and also riffed on “Twelfth Night,” a play I’ve been obsessed with since I was seventeen. I spent decades trying to capture that play’s magic in my fiction, and finally succeeded with Illyria.

LM: Kathe, are there Catholic influences or imagery in The Cipher?

KK: None there consciously, but you could call the Funhole hell, if you had a mind to, or one of its portals, in the absence of any presence but the self, as Nicholas suggests somewhere along the way down. I think it’s Dante who wrote “There is no sky in hell.”

LM: Liz, now that I’ve started reading the bundle, this may seem like a silly question, but there it is. Catholic influences or imagery in Aestival Tide?

EH: So much that’s under the dome in Araboth is a corruption of some sort of formal religious belief, especially fundamentalist beliefs. The Compassionate Redeemer is actually a monster loosed in a perverse ritual, and the Orsinate is a corrupt theocracy. Then there’s the Church of Christ Cadillac, whose adherents wear hubcaps on their heads. But there are also elements borrowed from ancient Greek and Roman ritual, so it’s all a pretty catholic (lowercase c) mix.

LM: Yes, catholic, lowercase, is a word in and of itself. Webster’s Tenth defines it as “comprehensive, universal, esp. broad in sympathies, tastes, or interests.”

So there you have it, my friends. The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle includes Aestival Tide by Elizabeth Hand (PKD Finalist), Life by Gwyneth Jones (PKD Winner), The Cipher by Kathe Koja (PKD Finalist), Points of Departure by Pat Murphy (PKD Winner), Dark Seeker by K. W. Jeter (PKD Finalist), Summer of Love by Lisa Mason (PKD Finalist), Frontera by Lewis Shiner (PKD Finalist), Acts of Conscience by William Barton (PKD Special Citation), Maximum Ice by Kay Kenyon (PKD Finalist), Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (PKD Finalist), and Reclamation by Sarah Zettel (PKD Finalist).

The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle runs only until October 15. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Download yours today at http://storybundle.com/pkdaward and enjoy world-class, award-winning reading right now and into the holidays.

In Aestival Tide, Elizabeth Hand returns to the extraordinary Winterlong universe. In Araboth—the majestic, domed, multi-tiered city of the Ascendants—obsession with beauty and power vents in haunting, horrific ways. The resurrected Margalis Tast’annin has become the Aviator Imperator of the Ascendants, enslaved by his former lover and exiled to the debauched city of Araboth. And the city that was once home to an advanced society is now a shadow of its former self. Now, as the once-in-a-decade Aestival Tide approaches, the formerly great dome teeters on the brink of its own destruction.

Aestival Tide Cover Final

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Elizabeth Hand including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the author’s personal collection.

“Hand is a superior stylist.” —The New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Elizabeth Hand (b. 1957) is an award-winning author whose science fiction and fantasy novels include the Winterlong series, Waking the Moon, Last Summer at Mars Hill, and Glimmering. Her novels and short stories have won the Nebula, World Fantasy, and Shirley Jackson Awards, among others. Hand was born in California and raised in Yonkers and Pound Ridge, New York; she now divides her time between London and the coast of Maine. Over the years she has been a regular contributor to the Washington Post, the Village Voice, the Los Angeles Times, and the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, among many others.

So there you have it, my friends. The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle includes Aestival Tide by Elizabeth Hand (PKD Finalist), Life by Gwyneth Jones (PKD Winner), The Cipher by Kathe Koja (PKD Finalist), Points of Departure by Pat Murphy (PKD Winner), Dark Seeker by K. W. Jeter (PKD Finalist), Summer of Love by Lisa Mason (PKD Finalist), Frontera by Lewis Shiner (PKD Finalist), Acts of Conscience by William Barton (PKD Special Citation), Maximum Ice by Kay Kenyon (PKD Finalist), Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (PKD Finalist), and Reclamation by Sarah Zettel (PKD Finalist).

The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle runs only until October 15. Once it’s gone, it’s gone! Download yours today at http://storybundle.com/pkdaward and enjoy world-class, award-winning reading right now and into the holidays.