Rated R for fierce princesses, bloody warlords, and living rocks who will grind you down.
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Love Among the Talus
by Elizabeth Bear
You cannot really keep a princess in a tower. Not if she has no brothers and must learn statecraft and dancing and riding and poisons and potions and the passage of arms, so that she may eventually rule.
But you can do the next best thing.
In the land of the shining empire, in a small province north of the city of Messaline and beyond the great salt desert, a princess with a tip-tilted nose lived with her mother, Hoelun Khatun, the Dowager Queen. The princess‚ whose name, it happens, was Nilufer‚ stood tall and straight as an ivory pole, and if her shoulders were broad out of fashion from the pull of her long oak-white bow, her dowry would no doubt compensate for any perceived lack of beauty. Her hair was straight and black, as smooth and cool as water, and even when she did not ride with her men-at-arms, she wore split, padded skirts and quilted, paneled robes of silk satin, all emerald and jade and black and crimson embroidered with gold and white chrysanthemums.
She needed no tower, for she was like unto a tower in her person, a fastness as sure as the mountains she bloomed beside, her cool reserve and mocking half-lidded glances the battlements of a glacial virginity.
About the Author
Sarah Bear Elizabeth Wishnevsky is an American author who works primarily in speculative fiction genres, writing under the name Elizabeth Bear. She won the 2005 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, the 2008 Hugo Award for Best Short Story for “Tideline”, and the 2009 Hugo Award for Best Novelette for “Shoggoths in Bloom”. She is one of only five writers who have gone on to win multiple Hugo Awards for fiction after winning the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (the others being C. J. Cherryh, Orson Scott Card, Spider Robinson, and Ted Chiang).
About the Narrator
Diane Severson is a lyric soprano specializing in Early Music, especially Baroque and medieval music. Diane has been involved in the SF Poetry Scene (yes, it’s a thing) since 2010. She has narrated for StarShipSofa, and PodCastle. She produces the sporadic podcast, Poetry Planet and is a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. She is a staff blogger for Amazing Stories Magazine focusing on Science Fiction Poetry. The best place to find her is on the web because she tends to pick up and move to another country at the drop of a hat. She and her family currently reside in Paris.