Tag Archives: love and romanpunk

Friend of Finland? Buy Books!

The Finnish science fiction community has organised a Facebook-based book-buying spree to support Cheryl Morgan and her Wizard’s Tower ebook store. (look, you can go straight to her store and avoid Facebook, that’s two good deeds!) Cheryl curates a fabulous selection of e-books, with an emphasis on literary/small press SF and fantasy, and a diverse range of feminist, queer and not-just-from-UK-and-US authors.

I just bought Karin Tidbeck’s Jagannath after hearing Jonathan & Gary talk about the book on the Coode Street Podcast yesterday. Not quite an impulse buy, but I’m still very excited to read it. I can also highly recommend Beyond Binary by Brit Mandelo, Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories by Sandra McDonald, Ishtar by our own Deborah Biancotti, Kaaron Warren and Cat Sparks, and the Tiptree-award winning Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea Hairston.

Also, you know, there’s this:


Elsewhere on the Internet: Reviews, Interviews, Stray Time Lords

Some links of things to do with me (tangentially or otherwise) on the internet this week:

A very positive review of Beyond Binary at i09 – doesn’t mention my story at all (sniff) but it’s great to see such a positive reaction to this book, which I’m very proud to be part of.

Our Sean (yes, he’s ours!) has interviewed New Zealand fantasy author Helen Lowe for Galactic Chat.

A lovely, witty review of Love and Romanpunk – again, I’ve been so pleased at the critical reception for this book, and so very proud of it. I am always interested in the way that readers pick a favourite from the collection (there’s something about the four story suite in particular, I think, that makes people pick out one sweetie over the rest).

Over at Doctor Her, I’m back on the Domesticating the Doctor kick with a short essay about Human Nature/Family of Blood and the Doctor vs. Domesticity. Next one will tackle the Ponds, really truly, I’m not avoiding it or anything!

Locusssed

While we were away RORing (and I am still planning a post on the retreat, honest!) the new issue of Locus came out – and I had forgotten that as it was February, that meant Recommended Reading List! Yee-haw!

Yes, I am a diehard Locus Recommended Reading List fangirl. It’s where I got my book recs from before the blogosphere inserted itself into my brain. Which is why it was so exciting for me to appear on there twice – under Collection for Love and Romanpunk, and Short Story for “The Patrician.” Heady stuff! The Collection recommendation is especially exciting, as I’ve never had a whole BOOK recommended by the Locus crew. And it really didn’t hurt to be poring over the list with fellow recommendee Margo Lanagan over our breakfast bowls…

I’m really excited and proud about how much positive response I have got from people about “The Patrician” – it’s a story that felt right when I was writing it, so it’s fantastic to see it mentioned several times in this issue of Locus, by reviewers whose opinions I greatly respect. The book as a whole has gone very well too – Alisa told me this week that she opened the last box of Love and Romanpunk! How exciting is that, for a small press title to be so close to selling out, less than a year after its release?

Jason Nahrung points out all the Aussies on the list. It’s lovely to see such a diverse range of Australian authors mentioned – that is, old favourites as well as new names. And lots of women! I was particularly excited to see Thoraiya Dyer and Jo Anderton on their for their work, so early in their careers – potential Campbell nominees, perhaps? But congratulations to everyone to made it, especially those of you who are friends. Cos, you know. I like my talented friends BEST OF ALL.

Rock the Romanpunk and Matrons of Awesome

It occurs to me belatedly that I should do a summary post with links for those who didn’t get a chance to catch up on my crazy Rock the Romanpunk week while I was putting out several essay-length posts every day!

Here they are, then.

Matrons of Awesome: 50 Women of Ancient Rome

Introduction
Part I – The Raptae
Part II – Republican Mothers
Part III – Republican Vixens
Part IV – Good and Evil at the End of the Republic
Part V – Romana Princeps
Part VI: Imperial Daughters and Many Small Islands
Part VII: Sex, Scandal and Bloodshed
Part VIII – Agrippina
Part IX – Forgotten Daughters, Brigitte Bardot, and Claudian Goddesses
Part X – Flavian Ladies
Part XI – Trajan’s Matrons
Part XII – Good Wives and the Gladiators
Part XIII – Between the Dynasties
Part XIV – A Surfeit of Julias
Part XV – Saint Helena

and while we’re at it, some silly ones:

Rocking the Romanpunk, one fanvid at a time.

Kermit Tours the Romanpunk
Mark Antony Strips the Romanpunk
Cleopatra Sings the Romanpunk
Brutus and Cassius Slash the Romanpunk
Bad Emperors Dance the Romanpunk
Supersizers Eat the Romanpunk

and don’t forget all this was an excuse for me to talk about my book, Love and Romanpunk

Love and Romanpunk is an e-book now!

Love and Romanpunk is Kindled

Sneak peeks at the stories in Love and Romanpunk

In closing I’d like to give a shout out to Doctor Who, which managed in its season finale to totally out-romanpunk me, even more than last year. And last year gave me Roman autons, the Last Centurion and River Song as Cleopatra! (Two years before that it was Donna speaking Latin, Vesuvius and Karen Gillan as a soothsayer) Hard to beat Winston Churchill as Caesar on a mammoth, though.

Sigh. If only they could have afforded a mammoth.

Matrons of Awesome Part XV – Saint Helena

I've been in this room! Check out the Flavian Lady in the background. Best room in the Musei Capitolini.

The end of the Severan dynasty pretty much concludes the period of Roman history that I know anything about. However, I promised 50, which means one more to go… and though there are many interesting women of the later Roman Empire, if you’re only going to choose one, then it’s fairly obvious whom that one should be.

50. Helena

After the death of Alexander, Rome fell into a time of chaos brought about by very short imperial reigns, assassination, political plotting and civil strife. No emperor since the Severans had managed to found a stable dynasty, which meant that the role of women had been quite limited in the public political sphere.

Helena was the daughter of a tavern-keeper, which in social terms put her somewhere between freedwomen and prostitutes. As a teenager, she fell in love far above her station, with an ambitious young soldier called Constantius Chlorus, and she lived with him as a common law wife, though legal marriage was impossible because of the gulf in status between them both.

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Matrons of Awesome Part XIV – A Surfeit of Julias

So those who have read the lead story in Love and Romanpunk know that the book has a fixation on the name ‘Julia.’ It’s not just because that name was attached to so many women of the first, Julio-Claudian era, or because, thanks to the various Caesars, it had a great many sacred and significant connotations in its own right.

There was another dynasty which cemented the importance of the name Julia, and it marked a huge change in the image that Roman imperial families showed to the world.

41. Julia Domna

When ambitious African-born Roman general Septimius Severus heard of a horoscope for a young woman named Julia that predicted she would marry a king, he hurried across country to court her. Julia Domna was the Syrian daughter (of Arab descent) of the high priest of a sun god. She not only married Septimius but also bore him two sons, Caracalla and Geta. She was a highly intelligent, educated woman who served as a valued advisor to her husband.

Some time later, Septimius brought the horoscope to fruition by using his military and political skills to make himself emperor of Rome. Which is… one way to do it. Ah, Romans. We say they were supersitious, but really they just used the supernatural as a ‘how to’ guide.

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Sneak Peeks: Love and Romanpunk

Thanks to everyone who has been tweeting or emailing me to say how much you have been enjoying the Matrons of Awesome series, and the Rock the Romanpunk posts generally. Normal service of the blog will be resumed as of Monday.

I didn’t end up doing any Films Romana posts (where I do in-depth reviews of the portrayal of Ancient Rome in old Hollywood films) because reworking the Matrons of Awesome posts took way more time this week than I expected. So tried to make up for that with a bunch of YouTube vids. There is much Romanpunk rocking in the world right now!

I’m only sad that I haven’t yet watched enough of Spartacus: Blood and Sand & Gods of the Arena, because I’m sure the fanvids for that are *awesome*.

Oh and cheers to Sean the Blogonaut, who reviewed the e-book version of Love and Romanpunk only a couple of hours ago. It’s also excellent timing that the books has been reviewed in Locus for a second time in the issue that came out today – this time, by Rich Horton. Hooray! It’s awesome to see this little book getting attention.

For those of you on the fence about whether Love and Romanpunk is a book that is for you, I thought I’d post some brief excerpts of the four stories. It should give you a sense for what you will be in for – I tried to pick bits that aren’t too spoilery, and used it as an excuse to scroll through my lovely new e-version on the Kindle, to find some of my favourite lines from the stories.

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Matrons of Awesome Part XII – Good Wives and the Gladiators

When Antoninus Pius was adopted as Hadrian’s heir, he already had a wife and daughter, both called Faustina.

A condition of Antoninus’ adoption was that he in turn adopt two men chosen by Hadrian: Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus. But Marcus Aurelius and Faustina also managed to break the adoptive tradition of the emperors by having a son of their own. And what a son! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

the apotheosis of Antoninus Pius and Faustina

33. Faustina Major

Antoninus’s wife Faustina didn’t make much of an impact on the imperial family, as she died within a couple of years of her husband’s reign. She is notable, however, for getting the title of Augusta almost immediately, making her the first imperial wife since Domitia who didn’t have to wait several years for this honour.

Faustina’s posthumous life is more memorable – she was deified by her husband, and became something of a patron goddess for the whole Antonine family, with an unprecedented number of coin types released in her honour.

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Matrons of Awesome Part XI – Trajan’s Matrons

(or: “disgustingly good women of the Adoptive Era.”)

(or: “of all the PR in all the world, these women had the best that money could buy”)

After the Flavians dynasty died with Domitian, elderly Nerva took the Empire. He didn’t have a wife or children, so he chose the ridiculously sensible route of just picking an adult male who he thought would do a good job, and making him the heir. That was Trajan, a childless forty-something general with a good head on his shoulders.

Sadly, without a focus on dynastic inheritance, there was no place for the public image of women in Nerva’s reign. Let’s move on to Trajan.

It was during the reign of Trajan that many of the historical sources about the Julio-Claudians were actually written. There’s a popular theory that the Julio-Claudian women were dealt with so atrociously in the sources as sluts, harridans and poisoners in order to show how modest, virtuous and generally wonderful the women of Trajan’s family were.

So if you’re looking for the juicy stuff, you might want to go back to some of the earlier entries…

29. Plotina

Plotina was middle aged when her husband Trajan became emperor. Luckily for her, he had no interest in siring a biological heir, so her marriage was not in danger from any wide-hipped young temptresses (for some reason I keep expecting this to happen, ala Henry VIII, but the adoption laws of Rome actually protected wives from being discarded in the name of fertility).

Plotina was a good woman. No, really. Modest, chaste. All those things. We have scads of information (well, compared to other Roman women) about how good she was, and what a non-slutty, non-poisonous, non-greedy wife she was when Trajan was alive.

However, as soon as Trajan died, Plotina’s literary portrayal changed quickly. In Dio in particular (one of our main historical sources) it’s like a switch has been thrown, and she goes overnight from a paragon of wifely virtue to a scheming, ambitious mother figure in the manner of Agrippina.

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Matrons of Awesome Part VIII – Agrippina

18. Agrippina Minor
(often called Agrippina the Younger, same name as her mother, you get how this works by now)

Another of my absolute favourites. This woman had everything: family, power, status. Oh, a few rumours of poison and incest here and there, but who doesn’t have a skeleton or two in their closet?

And yes, my fascination for her led to the short story “Julia Agrippina’s Secret Family Bestiary” and “The Patrician” and indeed the whole four story collection Love and Romanpunk. This is what happens when I embrace my obsessions.

The thing that came as most of a surprise to me, in writing those stories, was that I couldn’t write a sympathetic Livia and a sympathetis Agrippina in the same universe. No matter how much I fictionalised them, they hated each other too much. So Livia has to wait until I have a year or two to set aside in search of The Great Romanpunk Novel, which will have her relationship with Octavian front and centre.

In the mean time, Agrippina gets to slander Grandma with great abandon, and embrace the smugness that comes from having a suite of short stories in her honour. And, you know, being portrayed as a manticore-slaying superhero.

I didn’t say the stories were *entirely* historically accurate. If I cause Tacitus to turn in his grave a little, job done.

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