Read Mortal Clay, Stone Heart: And Other Stories in Shades of Black and White by Eugie Foster Free Online
Book Title: Mortal Clay, Stone Heart: And Other Stories in Shades of Black and White|
The author of the book: Eugie Foster
Edition: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Date of issue: November 29th 2011
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 464 KB
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 2010 times
Reader ratings: 4.2
ISBN 13: 9781492836995
Read full description of the books:
I'm not usually one to do this, but I'm going to don my serious hat for a few moments, okay? Before I begin, I'm also going to say this isn't about me in any way, shape, or form.
When you buy a book (and by "book" here I'm honestly meaning any version thereof - an e-book, an audiobook, a tree-book, braille book, chapbook, what-have-you) you purchase something designed to give you an experience. I call that entertainment, but there are authors out there who provide more than "just" entertainment, so I hope you'll forgive me the word if you think it's too small a scope. Basically, you get a reading experience and you get to (hopefully) enjoy yourself.
And the author gets a royalty, or a tick in the column towards future royalties if the advance has yet to be earned off. You probably all know how I feel about making sure authors get paid for what they do, and so I'll skip that particular angle on this discussion.
Sometimes I forget when I'm buying a book - even me, the guy who runs a bookstore - that I'm helping an author because I'm too excited to just get that darned entertainment started. That's what I really want, and most of the time I'm just happy to add that book to my experience.
Every now and then, however, it's more than that.
I saw this post today thanks to Steve Berman. If you didn't go click that link and read it yourself, I'll paraphrase: an author who has just learned she has cancer is now facing the reality of what that means from a financial point of view. It hopefully doesn't come as a surprise that when I saw she had two short story compilations available, I nabbed them both. First, we know how I feel about short stories; second, I trust Steve Berman to tell me when there's an author I should read; third - and this is the most central thing - it puts a few more dollars into the bank for someone who should be worried and focused on getting better, not on paying the bill to get better.
"The Life and Times of Penguin," by Eugie Foster
The first story in Mortal Clay, Stone Heart, and Other Stories in Shades of Black and White is this tale, which begins with the creation of the balloon animal, Penguin. A few paragraphs in, I knew I was going to be completely smitten with Foster's work, and by the end of the story, I was happily correct.
At times frightening, and maybe even a little bit nihilistic in turn, the ultimate tone of the story is nothing short of freaking brilliant. When I talk about reading a short story that humbles, this is the kind of short story I mean. It is that good. Though I of course wish the circumstances were different, I'm incredibly glad I've found this new (to me) author, and I'll be devouring this collection.
In the mean time - and I don't say this often - if you're at all a fan of the short fiction genre, go buy this now. Trust me.
"Running on Two Legs," by Eugie Foster
This is the second story from Foster's collection Mortal Clay, Stone Heart, and Other Stories in Shades of Black and White. Given the author's current reality, there's an incredible bravery and realism to what Ginny is facing with her cancer diagnosis in this story. But there is also a magic in play in this story that was really charming.
See, when Ginny was a child, and battling leukaemia, she chatted with animals. When it finally went into remission, those voices stopped, and the animal songs and sounds became their usual selves.
With the return of cancer to her life, Ginny also regains the chorus of voices from the animals around her, and it is in this odd series of dialogs that the heart of the story beats.
It's moving and wonderful, and exactly my favourite type of story: our world, our reality, but enough magic to make it all the more bittersweet.
"Black Swan, White Swan," by Eugie Foster
I picked up Mortal Clay, Stone Heart, and other Stories in Shades of Black and White after reading Foster's blog entry about her cancer diagnosis and the reality of finances to pay for treatment, and have been completely taken by her writing. "Black Swan, White Swan" is no exception.
At its heart, this is a slowly unfolding mystery about a woman who is rescued from hypothermia and drowning and who - for reasons not immediately clear - provides her rescuer with an alias. Her desire and confusion and inability (or unwillingness?) to describe who she is or why she nearly died is the pivot point for the narrative, but the characterization of her thoughts and emotions plays out in a wonderful dichotomy - she begins to act as two people: one, the woman whose name (and character) is all but invented on the spot once she gave that false name, and the other - who, you can't help but feel might be the real her, but who even so is not being completely honest with herself.
This psyche is incredibly intriguing, and while you know something must have happened, the end-point is one that still leaves you breathless, and here - like in the other Foster stories I've enjoyed so far - the brush of something "other" and magical is the perfect end note to a wonderful story.
"The Bunny of Vengeance and the Bear of Death," by Eugie Foster
Mortal Clay, Stone Heart, and Other Stories in Shades of Black and White was unfortunately introduced to me via Foster's blog where she speaks to having been diagnosed with cancer and being afraid of the incoming bills for treatment, but I'll take the joy where I can find it: these stories are wonderful.
This story in particular follows Rabbit and Bear - Rabbit as the Spirit of Words and Vengeance, and Bear as the Spirit of Reason and Death - as Bear comes down to stop Rabbit from his plan of bringing more vengeance to the world. In a prison, they watch Rabbit's work while a horrific man is beaten to death by other prisoners, and then Bear asks Rabbit to watch this man's life over again, and made a kind of wager with him.
If Bear can bring death to this man's life in a way that changes Rabbit's mind, Rabbit is to leave the world of man - and take his vengeance with him. But if Rabbit is unmoved, then Bear will join Rabbit and bring death and vengeance to those who deserve it.
Unsurprisingly, Foster spins a tale that treads the edge between something dark and something almost chirpily full of vim - something I'm starting to expect from her writing - and the end result is bittersweet and finely crafted. The reader's journey with Bear and Rabbit is a slow ratcheting of tension and the sense that worse is yet to come, but the denouement is done with a few gentle strokes near the end, even if the message is not one overly uplifting.
"A Nose for Magic," by Eugie Foster
I mention this every time I talk about a story from Mortal Clay, Stone Heart, and Other Stories in Shades of Black and White, but I bumped into this collection entirely because of a blog post of Foster's where she speaks about the very real fear of her cancer diagnosis and the worry about managing to pay for treatment. So, before anything else, I will say this: if you are at all a fan of short fiction with a dash of the "other," go buy a copy of this collection - or all her collections. They're wonderful, and right now any extra income can only be less stress on an already incredibly frightening time.
Okay, on to the tale itself.
"A Nose for Magic" is - so far - the most playful of the tales in this collection, and I really appreciated its inclusion on that level alone - it starts with such a fun meet-cute, a woman who has had her paper basically ruined by her pet needs a techy guy to help her recover what was on the disk. But his nose is telling him all sorts of wonderful things about her - she smells wonderful, for one, and he can't seem to keep himself focused on what she's asking him.
Still, he manages to get the files sorted out for her, and that leads to a chat, and a chat leads to...
...Well, it leads to learning that someone has put a dark and evil binding on his soul (more or less) and that he's in deep magical trouble.
But she'd like to help.
It probably shows, but I loved this tale. It's fun, it's bantery, and there's more than enough tension in the scenes where the dark magic comes into play to keep the reader a little off balance. I want more from these characters, and can't help but wonder if Foster has used them again elsewhere.
"The Center of the Universe," by Eugie Foster
I mention this every time I talk about a story from Mortal Clay, Stone Heart, and Other Stories in Shades of Black and White, but I bumped into this collection entirely because of a blog post of Foster's where she speaks about the very real fear of her cancer diagnosis and the worry about managing to pay for treatment.
This collection is wonderful, and again I heartily suggest it if you're a fan of "other" in your fiction.
This tale is centred around a high school reunion, and though the main character hasn't gone to one before, the death of a fellow classmate - one with whom she used to be quite close in a group of four - makes her change her mind about never going back. But what she finds there leaves her uncertain and shaken at first: there's something that her former friends aren't telling her, and there's such acrimony present, too.
They say you can never go home again. But it might just be possible to never leave home - and that might be the most horrible thing of all.
"The Wizard of Eternal Watch," by Eugie Foster
This short fiction piece is wonderful fantasy writing at its finest. Here we have Reika, a woman who is living in a timeless sort of citadel, where demons in cages of illusion lend power to she and the man she works with - power they use to ensure the chaos of these demons doesn't bleed into the real world. A simple rage in one of the illusion cages can cause earthquakes or forest fires in the real world, and though they are removed from time and removed from the world itself, these wizards protect it.
Protecting her heart, however, might be more challenging for Reika.
I bumped into this collection, Mortal Clay, Stone Heart, and Other Stories in Shades of Black and White after someone pointed me to a blog post by the author where she spoke of her cancer diagnosis and the financial realities of treatment and I wanted to do something helpful so I bought the book. I'm loving this book. If you're at all a fan of short fiction with a dash of the "other" you should give it a shot.
Titles, as I may have pointed out, are the hardest part of writing for me. When I get to the end of a story, usually the file is still mocking me, saying "Untitled" in its stupid Calibri font, and letting me know that - once again - I'm in for a long night of agony as I try to figure out what the hell to name the bloody thing.
I know, I know. I'm weird.
When I'm reading short story collections, which I've been doing all year, I've noticed that quite often the title of the anthology is also the title of one of the stories. In a real and wonderful way, this gives me so much hope that some day, if I ever release a collection of short fiction of my very own, that I can take one of those titles and save myself the agony.
Just the once.
"Mortal Clay, Stone Heart," by Eugie Foster
This story is the title piece - and final story - in Mortal Clay, Stone Heart, and Other Stories in Shades of Black and White. Foster's collection is brilliant, and ends with this wonderful story, set at the time of China's first emperor, told by a woman who sculpts and fires clay sculpture.
I only learned of this collection because of a blog post by Foster about her recent cancer diagnosis and the reality of treatment costs and so I bought her collections to help out in my own little way. Since then, I've finished this collection and - I'll say it again - it's brilliant.
Love, sculpture, clay, magic, philosophy, history and a bittersweet mix of life and death. This story has all of this, and brings the collection to a close with complete satisfaction.
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Read information about the authorI grew up in the Midwest, although I call home a mildly haunted, fey-infested house in metro Atlanta that I share with my husband, Matthew. After receiving my Master of Arts degree in Developmental Psychology, I retired from academia to pen flights of fancy. I also edit legislation for the Georgia General Assembly, which from time to time I suspect is another venture into flights of fancy.
I received the 2009 Nebula Award for Best Novelette, the 2011 and 2012 Drabblecast People’s Choice Award for Best Story, and was named the 2009 Author of the Year by Bards and Sages. The Dragon and the Stars anthology, edited by Derwin Mak and Eric Choi, with my story, “Mortal Clay, Stone Heart,” won the 2011 Aurora Award for Best English Related Work. My fiction has also received the 2002 Phobos Award; been translated into eight languages; and been a finalist for the Hugo, Washington Science Fiction Association, and British Science Fiction Association awards.
My short story collection, Returning My Sister’s Face and Other Far Eastern Tales of Whimsy and Malice, was published in 2009 and has been used as a textbook at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of California-Davis. Check out my fiction index for a list of all my published and forthcoming works.
I am represented by literary agent William Reiss of John Hawkins & Associates, Inc., and I’m a voting member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), the non-profit writers organization founded by Damon Knight in 1965 and presenter of the Nebula awards.
I also keep a blog where I indulge in self-absorbed musings and document my writing progress, and I post regular updates on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.