The first women in sf anthology I’m doing for Baen Books will only cover stories from the 20th century, which meant I would have to leave out writers who have come to prominence in the 21st century. So I’m going to find other ways to showcase them.
Cat Rambo is one of those authors. She’s been writing for a long time, but she’s risen to prominence since her attendance at Clarion West in 2005. Her first novel, Beasts of Tabat, came out earlier this year, but she’s primarily known as a short fiction writer. She’s published over 170 short stories. She discusses some of the stories in her collection, Near + Far, here.
Near + Far
One of the things I love about writing is the chance to take part in that grand conversation that is literature, writers talking back and forth, sometimes calling back to those that can no longer answer us, the writers who laid so much of the groundwork we draw on.
Near +Far contains many of my attempts to talk to other writers – for example “The Mermaids Singing, Each to Each” is a retelling of a favorite Hemingway work, The Old Man and the Sea, that I love for its sparse prose and deep emotion. Last year my partner and I drove down to Key West to visit Hemingway’s house, and seeing a signed copy there was a moment that had tremendous resonance for me.
“Amid the Words of War” is part of a conversation that was cut sadly short. Octavia Butler, who was one of my instructors at Clarion West in 2005, said something about her own Lilith’s Brood that led me to think about hostages and captors, and what happens when those hostages return to their own people.
“A Querulous Flute of Bone” draws on an O. Henry story, “The Pimaloosa Pancakes,” and translates a Western love triangle over to a race that changes its gender at whim in a story that was tremendous fun to do and which I think is one of the best things I’ve ever done.
“Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain,” first published in this collection and nominated for a Nebula Award, draws on “Good Country Folk” by Carson McCullers, this time taking the story to a planet where everyone is made of porcelain, and the chimmeree blossoms sing in a signal of spring.
“Long Enough and Just So Long,” just to mention that it may not be admiration that sparks a reply, is the story of a young Martian woman that draws on a Robert A. Heinlein story that I dislike, despite liking so many other Heinlein pieces, because I felt so let down by its pedestrian theme. There’s several other Heinlein references in there, including the name Podkayne, but it’s a reshaping of “The Menace From Earth.”
Near + Far is my favorite of the collections I’ve done, in part because I think it’s some of my strongest stories. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.
To find out more about Cat, go to her website. If you want to try her work, she has a novel in the Storybundle that runs until the end of August. If you’re reading this after August, you can buy the novel and all her other works from your favorite retailer.
The photo from Hemingway’s House copyright by Cat Rambo.