Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author


When fonts fight, Times New Roman conquers

From The Guardian: When fonts fight, Times New Roman conquers

[A]uthor Sean Richardson had asked the internet to “reveal the deepest part of yourself: Which font and which size do you write in?”, little realising he was about to open a Pandora’s box of preference and prejudice.

This is funny. Also, it’s true.

Not only do I write exclusively in Times New Roman, but I can’t stand other fonts. If someone sends me a document in anything else, I immediately hit Control-A and change the font to Times New Roman. Then I double-space the document. THEN I am prepared to read the thing, whatever it may be.

I suspect I am adamant about this because I spend *so much* time looking at words on a screen that when I say, “I’m used to Times New Roman,” I mean, “No, really used to it. Honestly, this is how typed words should look.”

I know that’s a little over the top. Nevertheless: Times New Roman only. I especially detest all sans-sarif fonts.

You know I’m teaching a class this semester, for the first time in forever. I’m going to describe lab reports today and assign one next week, and yes indeed, I will be saying: Write this sucker in Times New Roman, font size 12, and do not get creative on this. Reserve your creativity for other aspects of your life.

This was basically the Twitter response, though it wasn’t uniform.

Arial 12 pt, replied Poirot novelist and bestselling crime author Sophie Hannah. For Hugo-winning American science fiction author John Scalzi, it’s Georgia, 12-point, single-spaced, and “when I’m done, I double-space the entire document and put it into Courier, again 12pt”. For the Canadian fantasy novelist Guy Gavriel Kay it’s “New Century Schoolbook 12 … because I am young and cool”.

But then the surge for Times New Roman began

Click through and read the whole thing … if you find font wars interesting, of course!

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New fantasy novels coming in February:

Via a post at tor.com. Take a look:

Despite that truncated photo above, there are 27 books on their list.

Without clicking through just yet to look at all these in detail, do any covers in that photo catch my eye? Let me take a look.

All right, I like this traditional fantasy cover, guy on a pony and woman with a sword.

Third book of a series. Hmm, here’s a bit of the description:

Vanquished, facing a doomed existence, any hope for a future slowly slips away as the best efforts of Dárja and Marnej prove inadequate. When they both fail to safeguard those closest to them, the bond between these two unlikely allies, forged by necessity and emboldened by a tentative passion, may not be enough to overcome the secrets and lies that have shadowed their lives. When betrayal and shame guide the future, the outcome can be treacherous.

Well, that sounds pretty awful. Vanquished, doomed, hope slipping away, best efforts inadequate, betrayal, shame . . . yeah, I don’t think so.

Okay, I like this cover too:

Rather Mines of Moria, isn’t it? Fifth book in a series. This does make the descriptions confusing, as apparently the description is written with the already-knowledgeable fan in mind.

[T]he only chance for the living rests with the dead. Having made their fateful choice, can a handful of misfits do the impossible, or are they forever lost to an inescapable grave? As in Virgil’s Aeneid, Dante’s Divine Comedy, and Milton’s Paradise Lost, the most epic tales transcend the world of the living. It’s time to see what lies in Elan’s Age of Death.

We’re apparently heading for the underworld. That’s intriguing. Michael Sullivan has a bunch of books out, but I don’t believe I’ve ever read anything by him. Have any of you? What did you think?

Most confusing cover:

In the larger size, I like this cover a lot! In the tiny thumbnail, I couldn’t see it properly. You want to know what it looked like? A weird face with a gaping mouth — highly unappealing. My eye interpreted the off-white space as hair, the word “in” as nostrils, the arms as the sides of a narrow, inhuman face, and the clock as the mouth. The eyes of the face were hidden behind “witch.” Wow, that’s not a great way to see the cover. When I go back up and look at the thumbnail again, that’s still what I see! Ugh.

I sincerely hope none of you see the thumbnail that way. Not at all what the artist probably wants! Or the author, or the publisher. In a larger size, this is a pleasantly restrained, evocative, interesting cover.

Helen Lambert has lived several lives-a young piano virtuoso in 1890s Paris, an actress in 1930’s Hollywood, a rock star in 1970s Los Angeles-only she doesn’t know it. Until she meets a strange man who claims he’s watched over her for centuries, bound to her from the beginning. …. Caught in a curse, Helen will be forced to relive the same tragic events that ruined her previous lives. But with each rebirth, she’s developed uncanny powers. And as the most powerful version of herself, Helen must find a way to break the curse before her time runs out.

One imagines she succeeds. This one is evidently a standalone, and sounds much less hopeless and doomed and so on, so that’s a plus.

Okay, aside from the covers, what do we see? Just skimming the titles, assassins and death, both seem big. A Conjuring of Assassins, The Queen’s Assassin, Death Knell, Age of Death. Let me see, which titles actually appeal to me the most?

All right, how about:

Carved from Stone and Dream. That’s a very good title, certainly my favorite title of any on this list. This book is by T Frohock, hmm. I know she writes very dark. This is the second book of a series set in an alternate 1939, with a war going on between angels and daimons.

Okay, now, which books are by authors I know I like? . . .

All right, here is The King of Crows by Libba Bray. Forth book in a series.

The Deepest Blue by Sarah Beth Durst — this is connected to her Queen of Blood series.

Breaking Silence, in the Serrated Edge series by Mercedes Lackey. I didn’t know that series was still going. I have the first couple, I believe. This book is co-written. Interesting.

And — worth looking through the list to find out about this one —

The Initiate by James L Cambias.

It’s their world. He’s going to take it away from them.

The Apkallu are masters of magic. Theirs is a secret tradition stretching back to the dawn of civilization. They rule the world from the shadows, using mind control and deadly monsters to eliminate any threat to their power. If they know your name, or have a trace of your blood, you can never defy them. Sam Arquero lost his family to a demon, and knew that nobody would believe the truth. An old man named Lucas offers him the chance to find out who is responsible, and bring down the Apkallu forever. All he has to do is join them. Under a new identity Sam learns the secrets of magic, infiltrates the Apkallu, and walks a razor’s edge as he picks off their leaders while avoiding supernatural detectives on his trail. But Sam faces a greater threat: As he fights monsters, what is he becoming?

Ah! “Assassin” isn’t in the title, but it’s certainly in the story, very much in keeping with the assassin/death themes of February releases. Well, I must say, Cambias is one of the most variable authors I can think of. Near future anthropological SF! Very near future thriller SF! Much farther future adventure SF! And now this, a fantasy novel. Well, sure, I’m interested. This is one I’ll want to remember so I can give it a try. Comes out the first week of February.

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I was too busy this weekend to write blog posts —

Because my puppies had their first show. That plus other things kept me pretty busy. Morgan showed Saturday, Naamah Sunday. As expected Morgan took everything completely in stride, whereas Naamah needed the extra day to get more used to the crowded place and all the weird dogs that aren’t Cavaliers.

Each puppy won her class. Naamah got reserve winners, so that wasn’t bad for her first show! She was a little nervous, but did well enough that the judge could look at her.

Here’s Morgan:


And here’s Naamah:

Also adorable, obviously.

Now, you know those ridiculous Facebook quizzes, “Only 2% of the people who take this quiz can get all these breeds!” And then they they ask only about super-popular, super-common breeds that anyone can identify.

Well, here are some of the less popular, less common breeds I saw this weekend, often in surprising numbers (surprising is more than one or two, for some of these breeds!). Anybody who gets all these really does know their dog breeds:

How about it? If you get all five right, you get a gold star!

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Here’s a post from Janet Reid that caught my eye:


One of the panels I attended was about AskHistorians.com.
I’d never heard of it before (probably because I was busy lollygagging in the bar) but the description sounded interesting.  It’s a place anyone can ask questions about things in history.

Some caveats: it’s not the substitute for research you can do on your own.
A question like “When did Germany invade Poland?” isn’t going to survive moderation.

But a more nuanced question  like “I’m a young woman in Mongolia in 1066. What are my chances of being kidnapped by a rival tribe and married off to a total stranger?” is what they’re looking for.

Well, now, that certainly sounds like a worthwhile resource! If you’re writing historicals, or something historical-flavored like “One Night in Boukos,” or a secondary world that you want to have depth — in all those cases, I can absolutely see a writer wanting to ask, “So, I’m a boy born to a Christian household in the Balkans in the 15th Century. How likely is it that I’d be taken off by the Ottomans to be a Janissary?”

Or whatever.

I, of course, would call my brother and ask him that kind question. But for those of you who don’t have a relative or close friend who happens to be able to answer stuff like that, here you go: Ask a Historian.

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It's aliens!

A burst of gravitational waves hit our planet. Astronomers have no clue where it’s from.

I do enjoy weird astronomical phenomena. We certainly see plenty of unexpected things whenever we get a new look at a planet, and odd phenomena sure don’t seem rare. I don’t know much about gravity waves, but this article says:

 On Jan. 14, astronomers detected a split-second burst of gravitational waves, distortions in space-time … but researchers don’t know where this burst came from. Gravitational waves can be caused by the collision of massive objects, such as two black holes or two neutron stars. Astronomers detected such gravitational waves from a neutron star collision in 2017 and from one in April of 2019 … But gravitational waves from collisions of such massive objects typically last longer and manifest in the data as a series of waves that change in frequency over time as the two orbiting objects move closer to each other.

I think this was obviously some alien species using wormhole technology relatively near Earth. Wormhole opens and shuts nearly instantaneously, and there you go, a split-second burst of distortions in space-time.

Keep an eye out for flying saucers this week!

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Recent Reading: One Night in Boukos by AJ Demas

Okay, this one is a novella – a long novella, a short novel. About 230 pages, it says on Amazon. I got the Kindle version. It’s long enough that the $3.99 price seems quite reasonable.

Also: it’s really good. It’s a historical – okay, wait, not exactly. Let me rephrase that. It reads like a historical. There’s no magic. The world is secondary, but very familiar. We have here a classical setting with an Athenian-like city-state, a Sparta-like city-state, a Persia-like country, and various others named but not described in detail, which are arranged around, as far as we can tell, a Mediterranean-like sea. Thus, a historical, basically, but withoutthe need to stick to historical customs or attitudes too closely.

The two pov protagonists are from Persia. I mean Zash. They are members of the ambassador’s party, in Athens – that is, Boukos – to arrange a trade alliance. We have Marzana, who’s the captain of the ambassador’s guard, and Bedar, who’s the ambassador’s eunuch secretary. Here’s the setup: The ambassador went out to a dinner party last night and doesn’t arrive back at the embassy. Only Marzana and Bedar actually know this. In order to prevent certain disaster, they’ve told the ambassador’s household he spent the night in the city, while they’re telling everyone else he’s fine, just not seeing anyone because, uh, reasons. They have to find him before everything falls apart . . . and, go!

“One Night in Boukos” is such an interesting contrast to Point of Hopes, because almost all the action takes place between one dawn and the next. There’s the same kind of emphasis on delightful worldbuilding details, but in this case combined with a fast pace. Marzana and Bedar split up, each of them investigating one possible trail left by the ambassador. They have very different skills and personalities, but both speak the language. The author does a good job having the Persians speak much more formally, the Athenians much more colloquially – possibly just a little too colloquially at times. Though I interpreted the occasional use of contemporary American slang as the author indicating the use of contemporary Boukosian slang.

Anyway, neither Marzana nor Bedar is all that familiar with the city or the customs. Adding to the confusion and the culture shock, this particular day happens to be an important festival to the patron god of the city, who is a god of fertility. Or perhaps it would be more correct to say, of sex. A certain amount of hilarity ensues. I will say, Bedar manages with more aplomb, but Marzana does all right too.

During the course of the day and night, two relationships unfold. I knew this was supposed to happen given the back cover copy, but it took a while to get there, relative to the length of the story. Both Marzana and Bedar gradually lose interest in locating the ambassador as the hints pile up that he is a totally worthless jackass. That reduces tension for the reader, who doesn’t care much whether something bad has already happened to him or whether the two of them are too late to save him from whatever fate he might have suffered. The tension instead is focused on the protagonists, in finding out how they solve their problems and whether they come out all right. The reader doesn’t have to be very astute to suspect they’ll both be fine; the tone of the story makes that pretty clear. This is all about the process of getting to the happy ending, without a lot of worry about whether the ending will be happy when you get there. In that way, “One Night in Boukos” is again similar to Point of Hopes. Both are good choices if you want a less-tense reading experience.

Anyway, Marzana meets a charming widow and Bedar meets a young man with an interesting past and an unenviable present. Spoiler: things work out. Even though all the action takes place in less than two full days and neither protagonist meets his specific important secondary lead until halfway through the story, the pacing of those relationships doesn’t feel frenetic. That’s quite a trick, but the author does take the time to make sure both protagonists and both important secondary characters are fully realized. Then as we get toward the end, the plot comes together neatly, click click click as elements fall into place. It’s an elegant story as well as charming. Humorous, but not quite tongue-in-cheek. Nicely satisfying ending. The first thing I did after finishing this story was pick up another of the author’s novellas.

Who would like this novella:

If you like Lois McMaster Bujold’s Penric novellas, and who doesn’t, there’s a good chance you’d like “One Night in Boukos.” If in addition to Penric you also like Gillian Bradshaw’s historicals, then it’s highly likely you’ll appreciate this novella, which has such a strong classical feel plus romance, a lot like most of her novels. Definitely recommended, and thanks to Mary Beth, who pointed me toward it on Twitter at the exact time I was in the mood for a story like this.

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Science fiction set in the 2020s

A post at Book Bub: Sci-Fi Set in the 2020’s Predicted a Dim Decade for Humanity

Now that we’re firmly entrenched in the 21st century (which for a long time was shorthand for ‛the future’ in sci-fi), it’s fascinating to look at all the stories set in this particular decade to see how past SF masters thought things were going to go. One thing is abundantly clear: No matter how bad you think the decade is going to be, sci-fi writers think the 2020s are going to be worse.

The author of the post, Jeff Somers, then goes into detail about some of the horrifying, dystopian, or extinction-level events that take place in novels set in the 2020s.

The sheer variety of doom sci-fi has imagined for this decade is impressively exhausting: Body-switching apocalypse (Dollhouse), time-warping alien invasion (Edge of Tomorrow and its source material, the novel All You Need is Kill), artificial intelligence genocide (The Terminator)—you’re hard-pressed to find a fictional 2020s that isn’t absolutely terrifying.

As Somers points out, apocalypse is fun! Easier to write a novel set during or after an apocalypse than a novel set post-scarcity.

Here’s a fun post on the same topic:

There have been other looks ahead to 2020. I have a 1974 science fiction anthology cleverly titled “2020 Vision.” Editor Jerry Pournelle commissioned eight stories that would be set in 2020. He wanted realism of a sort. … “The ground rules on this book were simple,” Pournelle wrote in his preface. “Each author had to write a story which he truly believed could take place in the real world during the year 2020.”

2020 Vision is a clever title for this kind of anthology. I immediately feel like I should have thought of that.

Evidently the predictions were mainly misses — no surprise there. From the sound of it, the contributing authors took the “truly believed could take place” requirement, well, not all that seriously, let’s say. There’s one story that almost sounds halfway plausible — diets enforced by computerized guardians. Kind of a “Sorry, you can’t order a burger, have a nice sprig of parsley and a glass of water!” dystopia.

Click through to the post for a description of the stories. And if you happen to see a copy in a used bookstore, grab it quick, because it’s way out of print, not available as an ebook, and $55 as a used book at this moment.

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Recent Reading: Point of Hopes by Melissa Scott and Lisa A Barnett

It was, they all agreed later, a fair measure of Rathe’s luck that he was on duty when the butcher came to report his missing apprentice.

Remember that one? It’s the first line of Point of Hopes, which I included in a first-line post a week or so ago.

The situation is simple: a lot of children – ages about eight to thirteen – are being kidnapped. Nicholas Raithe is a member of the city guard, which for some reason are called “points,” and I never really did figure out what “claiming a point” on someone entails or why the guardsmen want to do it. Are they paid per point? Is it a marker of status with their peers? Both? Pointsmen take an awful lot of bribes, too; this is a city where the concept of police is pretty new and still being worked out.

Okay, so: this novel stands out for me in two major ways:

a) Wow, the worldbuilding, and

b) Gosh, there’s whole lot of story wrapped around what is essentially a very scant plot.

Okay, the worldbuilding.

You know how one mark of not-great worldbuilding is names that are all over the place? Like, someone’s named Terasannion and then another character is named T’t’ling and a third character is named, I don’t know, Hope Trueblood, and then another one is named Robert Bateman. That’s generally a terrible thing to do. Well, Point of Hopes is kind of an exception to this rule, because the city of Astreiant is presented as a melting pot sort of city, inhabited by people of diverse nationalities. The only thing that bothered me – and it did bother me – was the inclusion of names like “Nicolas” and “Phillip.” The world is so unlike ours that it seemed just plain weird to have contemporary names like that thrown in with names like . . . let me pick out a handful . . . okay. First names for women: Gaucelm, Mijan, Ashiri, Housseye, Aadje,  and my personal favorite by a mile, Trijntje. I never want to hear anyone complain about the names I give characters again. Trijntje, give me strength! I love the way that looks on the page, but can you imagine an audiobook’s narrator hitting that one? Last names include things like b’Estorr. Obviously that’s from a completely different naming tradition.

So, obviously the names alone announce to the reader that this is a secondary world fantasy. Then at first glance, it’s a medieval-ish European-ish type of setting. Except with little gargoyles that play kind of a pigeon role in the city. But wow, then you learn how important astrologers are and figure out that the metaphysics are very different. It’s as though Scott and Barnett decided to take a medieval understanding of astrology, give it a couple of twists, throw in a little alchemy, and run with it as far as they possibly could. I enjoyed this so much. Want to be a butcher? Well, do your stars suggest that would be a good job for you? Want to be a merchant-venturer? Oops, sorry, your stars say you’re likely to die by water, so you may want to avoid ocean travel. These things aren’t just beliefs. All this metaphysical stuff is true. Very nice worldbuilding element. Plus there are ghosts (not important) and necromancers (one is a fairly important character). And duelists go mad if they kill too many people? That’s not very important either and never discussed, so who knows why they go mad or what form that madness takes. The metaphysics is cluttered, is what I’m saying.

There’s a complicated political situation too. I won’t go into it except to say that astrology is important there as well and in some ways this is the least believable element. I mean, characters tell each earnestly, “No one would do something so terrible just for political reasons,” and although I don’t think I laughed out loud, I might have. Uh huh. No one ever does anything really awful and dangerous merely to seize political power. Who ever heard of such a thing? Anyway, this is all background stuff that rarely becomes foreground, except right at the end.

Let me see. Well, there’s an organized crime lord, I guess, although he doesn’t seem that criminal, really. Most of his business seem pretty legitimate. We meet quite a few pickpockets and so on; when one of the protagonists is a guardsman, it’s perhaps not surprising we get a good look at the seamy side of town. Very few important characters are financially really well off; this is a book that presents the working poor very well, which is rather rare in fantasy as a whole. Technology . . . not quite medieval-standard. Guns have just been invented, flintlocks and matchlocks, I think, and they don’t sound like they’re topnotch examples of their type, either.

All right, hopefully that gives you a reasonable feel for the type of world. Now, the characters. Nicholas Rathe is one protagonist. The other is Philip Eslingen, a military guy who came up through the ranks and was just laid off from a disbanding unit. They bump into each other now and then, but Rathe is investigating the kidnappings and Eslingen is basically just trying to earn a living in a city where everybody’s on edge because of all the kidnappings, looking for someone to blame. Foreigners, maybe, like Eslingen. From there the story sloooooowly unfolds. The book offers 420 pages of small type, the kind I definitely cannot read any longer without reading glasses. About halfway through, Eslingen finds himself at loose ends, Rathe suggests he take a job with the crime lord, even though neither of them actually believes is involved with the kidnapping. But just in case, Eslington can keep an eye out. This happens about halfway through the book, and only then do people start putting pieces of the puzzle together. Slooooowly.

Good thing this isn’t a murder mystery, because the bad guy’s plan has to do with magical stuff the reader isn’t told about until right at the end, so there’s no way for the reader to work out what is really going on. The prologue is misleading, if you read it. Which I didn’t, until the end. I did look at it right at first, but it was boring and I wanted to get to the kidnapped children. After the fact, the prologue still strikes me as basically boring and unnecessary. But the point I actually want to make here is: the bad guy is really scary, I guess, but he is summarily dealt with in a few pages, the children are rescued – luckily none of them were killed – and there you go, the end.

That’s what I mean by a lot of story wrapped around a scant plot. I’m not entirely certain I’ve ever read a novel that gave so much attention to the daily life of the characters and so little to the Big Bad. This was basically fine with me; I’m just saying it was somewhat strange to get to the end and think: that’s it? Problem solved?

As a writer . . . as a writer, I totally understand this. I’m pretty sure the authors like the characters and the world and wanted to show off both, with the villain an afterthought to justify writing the whole thing. Certainly that’s how it reads: as an extreme example of a venue novel. I mean, a let-me-show-you-my-cool-world novel. With characters. And then, a very distant third element: the bad guy’s nefarious plot.

Final note: Romance. There isn’t any. Just very tiny hints that there could be something if the story continues. Which it does: there are several books in this series.

Who would like this book:

Well, if you’re into great worldbuilding and you’re not in a rush, sure, give it a try. Especially if you would like kind of a cozy fantasy, a low stress, meandering journey to a happy ending. It’s pretty clear the children are all going to turn out to be fine, at the end, or at least I thought the authors sprinkled in plenty of hints to that effect. Also, obviously, if you would like a romance-free story, here you go.

Who might not like this book:

YA has trained a generation or two of readers to expect snappy plots. If that’s what you’re used to, this will certainly be a different reading experience. Even I found it uncomfortably slow at times, and I like slow-paced novels. The dialogue is perfectly good, but not sparkling with wit – another factor that contributes to the slow feel of the story, because witty dialogue produces a faster feel to almost any story. Although Point of Hopes is good and I enjoyed it quite a bit, it does not imo have a lot of emotional heft. The characters are sympathetic and appealing, but perhaps not that deep emotionally. That could be because they are seldom put in really awful positions and when they are, those situations are promptly resolved. Definitely think cozy, rather than haunting or tortured or angsty or however you’d put the reverse of cozy.

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This is promising

Tuberculosis Vaccine Found To Inadvertently Counter Alzheimer’s Disease

You know, we have a word for this exact occurrence. The word is “serendipitous.”



  1. occurring or discovered by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

However, even though I’m not impressed with this use of the word “inadvertent,” I’m happy to hear about this serendipitous discovery.

“There’s data reaching back to the 1960s that shows that countries treating bladder cancer patients with the BCG vaccine had a lower prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease but it hadn’t been properly analyzed,” Bercovier, lead author of the paper, said.

The exact way the BCG vaccine affects cancer hasn’t been fully understood but it’s known to have an impact on the immune system, as per the study. The BCG vaccine, which “modulates the immune system, may serve as an effective preventative treatment to this crippling condition,” Bercovier pointed out in a phone interview. “Looks like BCG is able to reduce this inflammation.”

Not a magic bullet, but perhaps a significant step towards a magic bullet.

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Swordswomen in SFF

Here’s a post by James Davis Nicholl at tor.com: Five sword-wielding women in SFF.

To which my immediate response, without reading the post, is: Five? Good heavens, man, couldn’t you instantly come up with ten? Is there a shortage of swordswomen in SFF? I hardly think so.

Well, let’s see which five Nicholl picks and then add five more.

His five:

Revolutionary Girl Utena by Be-Papas and Chiho Saito

I’ve never heard of that. Here’s his description:

Most modern schools ignore the role of swordplay in teenaged life. Not so at one school, Ohtori Academy, which is featured in Be-Papas and Chiho Saito’s Revolutionary Girl Utena manga. Dueling is a longstanding custom at the academy. Students fight to win the hand of lovely and passive Anthy. …

Oh, it’s like a manga version of a reality show? The Bachelor, with swords? Ugh, terrible setup, no appeal for me at all. Who wants to win a “lovely and passive” lover? Passivity is hardly an appealing quality! Again, ugh.

Cold-Forged Flame by Marie Brennan

Never read it — in fact, I don’t recall hearing about it. I really liked the Lady Trent series, really did not care for the Onxy Court series, who knows about this one? If any of you have read it, please comment.

Tomoe’s Story by Stan Sakai

This is another comic. I don’t know anything about it, but it does bring to mind Tomoe Gozen, the series about the historical figure of the same name. The novels are by Jessica Salmonson. I’m not sure why Nicholl thought of the comic before the novels, because the series was pretty impressive. Too tragic for me, in the end, but still impressive.

Steel by Carrie Vaughn

This one sounds pretty fun:

In Carrie Vaughn’s Steel, fourth-rate fencer Jill Archer tumbles off her boat during a family vacation near Nassau. She hits the water in the 21st century; she is pulled out during the Golden Age of Piracy. Luckily for the teen, Captain Marjory Cooper offers Jill the choice between signing on as a pirate or remaining a prisoner. 

Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones

Margerit Sovitre is astounded when she finds herself heir to the vast fortune of her wealthy godfather Baron Saveze. He has also bequeathed Margerit her very own armin. “Armins” are whos, not whats; they are personal bodyguards. Saverze’s armin is young Barbara, who is unpleasantly surprised, since she’d expected to be freed when the baron died. Serving a jumped-up bourgeoise turned aristocrat wasn’t in her plans.

I read the sample, but I haven’t read the full novel. I did like the sample, though, and will most likely get the full book one of these days.

Well, these are remarkably little-known swordswomen given the plethora of well-known choices and Nicholl’s broad knowledge of the field. Also, these are all fantasy, which is of course expected, but then don’t say “SFF,” say “Fantasy.” I can think of at least one swordswoman in a science fiction world, though. Two. Let’s start with those and then pick some of the lower-hanging fruit.

Swordswomen in SFF, an extended list:

6. Bel in Rosemary Kirstein’s Steerswoman series

7. Mary in Point of Honor by Dorothy Heydt

8. The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner

9. The Paksennarion series by Elizabeth Moon

10. Alanna in the Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce

That’s ten. It was too easy. Let’s add another fve:

11. Winter in The Shadow Campaigns series by Django Wexler

12. Both Harry and Aerin, in McKinley’s Damar duology.

13. Éowyn in The Lord of the Rings

14. Del, in Tiger and Del by Jennifer Roberson

15. Taizu, in The Paladin by CJC

I could go on forever! Stopping at five was ridiculous! Granted, writing a little tidbit about each one would take some time, but still.

Okay! My very favorite swordswoman in SFF may be . . . um . . . good heaven’s, I don’t know . . . so many of the women above might be my favorite, and probably were at one point in my reading history. I really love Harry and Aerin and Paks and Winter and Taizu! I think I would have to throw a dart at a dartboard to pick a favorite.

If I missed YOUR favorite swordswoman in SFF, add her to the list in a comment, please!

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