Let me recommend Tanith Lee to anyone
who loves the language. Not all of Tanith Lee however. She's written over
60 books and some of them she really hacked out. But some of them are
wonderful. If Shakespeare was Christopher Fry in his last life in this
one she's Tanith Lee. Most of her books seem to be about nothing. They
go down as easy as ice cream but then you find yourself thinking about
them months or years later. Sort of like you do with Kurt Vonnegut.
Let me suggest a starter set of Tanith Lee:
Bite the Sun: A reissue of Don't Bite the Sun
and Drinking Sapphire Wine. A lot of fun. Ever wonder why
3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine is called ecstacy? Was it after one
of the drugs in this perfect world where suicide is merely a way to get
a new body before you've spent the minimum 30 days in the last. A world
where bodies and genders are changed as easily as clothes. Where young
(yang) lasts 50 or a 100 years, death is by ennui and followed by another
rebirth. Where machine slaves follow you around begging only to serve
you but where teen angst and tears rule life.
And then there was this sound. A kind of soft, soft,
pat-pat noise, like tiny paws clapping. I was just thinking how pretty
it was, crazy and disoriented as I'd become, when the heavens opened
and the desert was under water....a solid silver wetness
Blood, my blood, was running exuberantly from the wound,
as if it had been waiting for ages only for a chance to get free of
the skin envelope, and now, burbling to itself, fled like the kids at
hypno- school at midperiod.
The mountains were like carvings from the night left
behind at dawn, the edgings of sand like powdered silver. And here light
was raining in dapples of golden green through the tall trees.
their...faces...shone with the pure radiance which
only total imbecility can bring.
Red As Blood or Tales from the Sisters Grimmer : A retelling
of old fairytales in new ways.
Cinderella becomes Ashella, the daughter of a witch, her stepmother and
stepsisters loving, the prince, driven mad with love, the target of her
The paid piper steals the children of the town with a curse of sterility
Rapunsel is raised to let down her golden hair to bring a demon up from
Beauty and the beast, the beautiful beast an alien invader.
In Little Red Ridinghood, grandmother is not swallowed by the wolf but
becomes ones, a werewolf, as a pendulant granddaughter finds herself crossly
following in grandma's footsteps.
she became aware of the little fluttering at her left
wrist. She looked, and a scarlet butterfly flew away from her, away
down the length of the tower, and then another, another, an unraveling
scarf of butterflies like winged blood.
Her hands, which had been dishes for her tears, now
lay as if slain in her lap
Sung In Shadow: Romeo and Juliet with a twist. Everything
different and everything the same. Idiot children motivated by lust but
All the other towers of Sana Verensa's horizons, were
starting to open the lamp-lighted slots of long slim windows.
Inexorable vertical eyes of brass and blood fixed on
the town, the darkening hills that embraced it. The towers seemed all
alive in this moment, like serpents risen on their tails, pitilessly
with a feigned velvety sloth
two blue conflagrations that must serve as eyes
The storm broke on a count of twenty after sunset.
Thunder, like a clap of enormous wings, the wings of some fabulous giant
bird made of metal, smote out impending stars, and crushed the last
strawberry colors from the sky.
Leopardo, soaked to the skin and the water plopping
in a heavy glass fringe from his clothes to mirror his image on the
that most incurable and terrible of all man's ills,
his rage at being alive
the oriental silk sizzling over the floor
In the wake of the announcing storm, tossed coins of
rain were broadcast on the dust.
that bizarre disadvantage of the truly beautiful. He
knew and did not know the picture he presented, that which brought him
the violent responses of others, devotion or hatred, and which impaired
the judgement of others more or less consistently.
And then we have The Flat Earth Series which at first seem minor
fantasies about a world where demons amuse themselves causing mischief,
suffering, and death. Azhrarn, Night's Master, is the Prince
of Demons. But notice some of the stories are retellings of biblical ones
and if you look closer you might realize the series is really about the
problem of God, about how there can be a God who is vain, jealous and
cruel but who still loves us. The demon Azhrarn, Azhrarn the Beautiful,
is all those things, yet in the end, when even the Gods will not lift
a hand to save humanity, Azhrarn does. Azhrarn finds that we are the only
thing he cannot do without and that he loves us enough to die to save
she put on flesh like a scalding garment, and knives
tore wide her eyes to a sky of black radiance.
The Drindra lashed their tails and whispered: "Yes,"
like the steam from water thrown on hot metal.
When the night burned its cloak in the sunrise and
the day came
Perhaps winter smiles when it bites dead the leaves
on the trees.
"None shall be happy, for I was never happy. None
shall live, for I never had a chance at life. None shall love, save
in the grave, for that is where my lover couches."
"It is futile to know anything...since all things
... pass, alter, decline and perish.."
"...Come, I will find you beautiful women and
you shall cut their pearl flesh with a jeweled knife and find rubies
under their skin..."
suddenly the water of the river was cut by a thousand
bright blades, all its bright fish leaping.
now a scarlet flower, now a gold, plucked by the blue
fingers of the peaceful night
a thin crystal crying, white blades of sound, horned
to pierce the skin of the night.
The silken trees swept down..., inky willows, their
hair twined with the green jewels of fireflies.
white blossoms drifted from the trees to powder the
face of the pool.
White birds nested on the roofs, and these birds would
fly up at dawn, like smoke from the burning sun.
It was sunset, the sun a jar of pink bronze oil poured
on the temple roofs.
Dusk came to the ... day and killed it with a blue
sword. Always it was the same, and the day, always taken by surprise,
never escaped, but bled and swooned and shut its eyes in blackness.
a huge late low yellow moon with a single veil of cloud
it had thrown back from its face.
illusion is always superior
Sleep the fisher crept to Simmu and kissed his eyelids,
but he sent her away, though, being shameless, she returned later and
tried to kiss him again.
brooding was indefinite and long...Passions unmatched,
hopes ridiculous, cravings unreasonable.
He crammed himself with books to ease the hollowness
There is no benefit which has not a sister in misfortune.
The intellect of Zhirek, which had caused him such
distress, put constantly into this blinkered box, gradually dislocated
itself from reason and so from its very self.
Aloft, the leaves whispered like dry green papers.
Huge things had happened to her, and none of them at
The girl took up a stringed instrument and plucked
notes from it like sharp crystal sighs.
skies overlaid a mosaic of green foliage.
The moon had risen, one white fruit on the black-leafed
tree of night.
The stars were dull as wax, and a fringe of red had
appeared on the hem of the sky.
The dunes of the day drifted over the sky and were
blown beyond the edge of the western earth. The darker sands of night
piled up on the threshold of the sunset, and eventually buried it.
Day's golden eye closed its black lid, and it was night.
Afternoon expired, the sun politely took its leave,
and dusk wandered reluctantly after.
Electric Forest, the story of an ugly, deformed and isolated
woman who is offered beauty and love but at a price.
Ugly's name, of course, was not actually "Ugly."
That was merely what most people--children, workmates--called her. It
was not even a particularly cruel name any more, simply blisteringly
accurate. No longer spoken in malice, it had lost some of its intrinsic
offense--and gained some. Ugly herself never commented on the matter,
either way...."Ugly!" the children screamed, as they tore
Magadala's hair out, tripped her, stuck into her small sharp objects,
pinched and kicked her. Almost as if, by constant assault, they could
change her into something less dreadful. But ...[she] only grew uglier.
...Only inside her, never let out, the bewildered anger hid, the pain
and the fury. She hid them also from herself, when she could, did ugly
She was a hopeless case.
And if she thought about anything, as her stunted efficient fingers
scrambled over the keys of her machine, ugly Magdala thought of that.
A formless and ulseless sort of thought. While sometimes superimposed
upon the basic hoplessness, was a list of that day's familiar miseries--the
looks of strangers: pity and revulsion, the disgusted and desensitized
looks of acquaintances (there were no friends).
And under it all, checked yet eternal, blazing anguish, howling.
Magdala stood in the elevator, her face its normal
waxy blank. But even as her stomach tightened, aware of the coming meal,
her mouth dried with an automatic inner cringing. She felt fear constantly
but seldom revealed it, for she was used to being afraid, perpetually
and instinctively tensed for the attitudes of the people around her.
She often wished, positively and with no hint of childishness, that
she might become invisible. Sometimes her fear rose to an extreme pitch.
Otherwise it merely breathed steadily within her, like the continuous
steady breathing of the city...
She was twenty-six. Since her birth, no one had ever willingly touched
her, beyond the impersonal doctors at the state home and the children
who had tortured her.
She walked along the edge of the park, keeping to those
spots where trees and plants were most thickly massed. From inside a
tunnel of shadow, she gazed out and beheld the park dotted sparsely
by people...Later, she walked through the narrow back streets, behind
the blocks of old stores, second-hand precincts of curios and paper
books, virtually deserted.
The song of her fear had mounted, but she seemed divorced from it. She
seemed, indeed, alone on a huge markerless plain. Even fear could not
keep her company there.
The buried anguish had gushed to the surface of her brain, her anger
and her bitter, bitter despair. And from the depths of her, in the wake
of these emotions, a scream of passionate demand. She has no reason
not to believe in the impossible. Desperation was always ready to pray
Under the igniting street lights and checkerboard of
blank yellow or black windows
The sea was the sky, but the sky in motion. A
flung shawl of breakers smashed the stars all over the shore.
Though the iced beaker,
lethargically, familiarly, in the man's hand as he kissed it to his
she took the elevator and plunged into the ground.
"You believed, because I was ugly and deformed
and sickening to look at, you believed I was a moron."
She shut her eyes to entomb herself in blackness with
The holostetic forest was acting as on vast lightening
Unaware, the car shot through it
while, like infernal
sweets, carnation and quince candied and dissolved on the polarized
The whole interior of the car was dyed and re-dyed a
hundred variables of color
Almost as suddenly as it had commenced,
the display ended. Dyes, dying out on every side.
Here hung the garments
like a line of flayed skins.
It began to rain
With a strange tin-foil noise,
the plants stirred, advancing their leaves to the water.
each breaker came in over the rocks
As if the
night itself were being torn down its black seams, torn open on a further
blackness, from which the white spume gushed like plasma
concrete promenade between the base of the cliff and the detonating
sea was visible and shining from a recent attempt the waves must have
made to overpower the land.