Kitsune. Werewolves. Crane wives. Selkies. Every culture has stories of such strange creatures—animals turning into humans, humans shapeshifting into animals. Sometimes seductive, sometimes bloodthirsty, but always unpredictable like nature itself, these beings are manifestations of our secret hearts, our desire to belong to both worlds: one tame and civilized, the other unfettered and full of wild impulse.
Here are stories that will make you wish you could howl at the moon until your heart bursts with longing or feel yourself shedding your human body as easily as a snake sheds its skin. Be-were the night… it might not kill you, but it will certainly steal you away!
In a Russia where the Decembrists' rebellion was successful and the Trans-Siberian railroad was completed before 1854, Sasha Trubetskaya wants nothing more than to have a decent debut ball in St. Petersburg. But her aunt's feud with the emperor lands Sasha at university, where she becomes one of its first female students — an experiment, she suspects, designed more to prove female unsuitability for such pursuits than offer them education. The pressure intensifies when Sasha's only friends — Chinese students — start disappearing, and she begins to realize that her new British companion, Jack, has bigger secrets than she can imagine! Sasha and Jack find themselves trying to stop a war brewing between the three empires. The only place they can turn to for help is the Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace, newly founded by the Taiping rebels. Pursued by the terrifying Dame Florence Nightingale of the British Secret Service, Sasha and Jack escape across Siberia via train to China. Sasha discovers that Jack is not quite the person she thought he was…but then again, neither is she.
The first short story collection by award-winning author Ekaterina Sedia!
One of the more resonant voices to emerge in recent years, this Russian-born author explores the edge between the mundane and fantastical in tales inspired by her homeland as well as worldwide folkloric traditions.
With foreword by World Fantasy Award-winner Jeffrey Ford, Moscow But Dreaming showcases singular and lyrical writing that will appeal to fans of slipstream and magical realism, as well as those interested in the uncanny and Russian history.
Remember the werewolves of classic stories and films, those bloodthirsty monsters that transformed under the full moon, reminding us of the terrible nature that lives within all of us? Today's werewolves are much more suave — and even sexy — and they've moved from British moors to New York City lofts, shaved, and got jobs. But as the tales of these writers will show you, they remain no less wild and passionate, and they still tug at the part of our being where a wild animal used to be. Running With the Pack includes stories from Carrie Vaughn, Laura Anne Gilman, and C.E. Murphy, and they will convince you that despite their gentrification, werewolves remain as fascinating and terrifying as ever.
Ekaterina Sedia resides in the Pinelands of New Jersey. Her new novel, The Secret History of Moscow, was published by Prime Books in November 2007. Her next one, The Alchemy of Stone, will be published in June 2008. Her short stories have sold to Analog, Baen's Universe, Fantasy Magazine, and Dark Wisdom, as well as the Japanese Dreams (Prime Books) and Magic in the Mirrorstone (Mirrorstone Books) anthologies. Visit her at www.ekaterinasedia.com.
Mattie, an intelligent automaton skilled in the use of alchemy, finds herself caught in the middle of a conflict between gargoyles, the Mechanics, and the Alchemists. With the old order quickly giving way to the new, Mattie discovers powerful and dangerous secrets—secrets that can completely alter the balance of power in the city of Ayona. However, this doesn’t sit well with Loharri, the Mechanic who created Mattie and still has the key to her heart—literally!
A steampunk novel of romance, political intrigue, and alchemy, The Alchemy of Stone represents a new and intriguing direction by the author of the critically-acclaimed The Secret History of Moscow.
Sedia (According to Crow) applies urban fantasy templates to her Russian setting with mixed success in her second stand-alone novel. Masha, the cheerfully normal sister of vision-prone translator Galina, turns into a jackdaw and flies off, leaving her just-born child behind. Joined by police detective Yakov Richards, Galina tracks the missing Masha into an underground milieu where lost souls mingle with beings out of Russian folklore. A host of secondary characters rapidly clutter the narrative and cloud its focus, and Sedia's persistently curt prose favors contemporary atmosphere over mythic resonance, diminishing Koschey the Deathless and Zemun the Celestial Cow to near-mundane status. Modern blue-collar Moscow is pitch-perfect, however: bustling yet seedy, disorganized and none too respectable. While undeniably authentic, the cynical tone may alienate many Western readers before they reach the startling but well-grounded climax. On the whole, this wholeheartedly Russian tale is most compelling as social commentary.