An Eleanor Arnason Page
photo of Eleanor at Minicon 2002 by David Lenander
See News section below
Brian Attebery’s acute essay
“RING OF SWORDS: A REAPPRECIATION”
*other news as of September 07*
*Ring of Swords . . . is a classic–by which I mean not an unchanging monument but a text that responds in new and surprising ways to a shifting reality.
–Brian Attebery in the New York Review of Science Fiction*
“faithful troglodytes brought us baked apples and hot wine”
from “The House by the Sea” by Eleanor Arnason,
published originally in Orbit 16, ed. by Damon Knight. (Harper & Row:NY, 1975)
Some relevant quotations:
There’d been a thunderstorm, and my troglodytes had been nervous, padding restlessly around the house, their silver-grey fur standing on end . . . . The new settlers and the city dwellers don’t believe the troglodytes are psychic, but we who belong to the old families know they are . . . . My faithful troglodytes brought us baked apples and hot wine . . . . Warmed by it, we embraced, and my troglodyte musicians played water drums and chimes . . . . But troglodytes are a peaceful folk, which is why they have disappeared from most parts of the planet. They survive only where there are old houses, and members of the old families able to protect them . . . . My troglodytes brought me more brandy and made soft growling sounds which were intended to reassure and comfort me.
The illustration is by Bob Bitzan, and reproduced with his permission. Bob originally drew this after having a dream that one of the charming Troglodytes from this story had come up to him and offered him some wine. The dream was (presumably) inspired by reading the story before bed.
This illustration appeared originally in the Rivendell newsletter, Last Homely Hearth. #8 (August ’81)
& her fiction
Eleanor is pictured with Ursula K. Le Guin at Mythcon in Berkeley, CA, a few years ago.
Sorry the photograph scan is a little blurred, I notice, I’ll try to get a better one up, one of these days.
photo by David Lenander
Eleanor is the author of five published novels, and a number of poems and short stories, and perhaps other things about which I’ve not been informed. She has received both the James Tiptree, Jr. award for “gender-bending SF,” and the Mythopoeic Society’s Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for the novel, A Woman of the Iron People. Also the Minnesota Book Award for Ring of Swords.
Her earlier novels are: The Sword Smith, To the Resurrection Station, and Daughter of the Bear King. Her short stories include “The Warlord of Saturn’s Moons” (which has been reprinted several times), “The Lovers” (a preliminary nominee for awards in 1996), “Ace 167,” “The Hound of Merin,” and many others which have appeared in Orbit, New Improved Sun, Tales of the Unanticipated, Xanadu, A Room of One’s Own, New Women of Wonder, The Norton Book of SF, and other places.
Eleanor told me earlier this year that she was about to sign a contract with a small press for publication of the sequel to Ring of Swords, at least originally titled Hearth World. She expects to revise the manuscript for this publication, so no idea about when it might be published. Or whether the originally conceived third volume will ever be written.
Prof. Brian Attebery, of the University of Idaho, has granted permission to post his insightful essay, “Ring of Swords: A Reappreciation,” here.
Eleanor was at Diversicon this month, where she told me that she has started a new blog at http://eleanorarnason.blogspot.com
Somewhere in the past year or two there was a collection of short stories, Ordinary People, which reprints a half-dozen or so of Eleanor’s stories. It comes from Aqueduct Press and is listed at $9.00 (ISBN: 0974655902). She also had a story in the Wyrdsmiths chapbook/anthology.
Eleanor is supposed to be guest of honor at Mars Con in 2007: http://www.marscon.com Which is the first weekend in March, at the Holiday Inn Select in Bloomington.
MAY-JUNE (entered July) 2004
Eleanor was guest of honor (along with Patricia A. McKillip) at Wiscon.
Eleanor’s appearance was an opportunity to focus on her fiction and themes of interest to her in many program items. One very nice feature in the program book was an outstanding bibliography, put together by University of Minnesota librarian and long-time MN-Stf maven Denny Lien. Denny has graciously consented to allow me to make this available here, fulfilling a long-time intention.
Eleanor was featured (along with other Twin Cities women SF writers) in a fine article in the local City Pages .
“Between Planets” by Terri Sutton, appeared in the 5/26/04 issue, as the Arts story. The caption to the story (still available online as of this note): Let the heroine carry the big gun: Seven local women writers talk about creating their own worlds- and the problems with life on Earth.
Ring of Swords was recently featured in a long front page article by Brian Attebery in The New York Review of Science Fiction. http://www.nyrsf.com/
About Ring of Swords, Brian Attebery wrote that it “is one of the best science fiction novels of the 1990s–or indeed, of any decade. The book appeared just over ten years ago . . . . on rereading the novel, [I find] . . . that it is a slightly different book than the one I first read–and an even better one. Indeed, I would now say that it is a classic–by which I mean not an unchanging monument but a text that responds in new and surprising ways to a shifting reality.”
Prof. Attebery has agreed to post the essay here. Many thanks!
Attebery is the author of The fantasy tradition in American literature : from Irving to Le Guin (Indiana U Pr), Decoding gender in science fiction; The Norton book of science fiction : North American science fiction, 1960-1990 (co-ed); and Strategies of fantasy.
Note that the NY Review of SF is not very current online, and their articles are not available in full-text. In fact, the web-site hasn’t been updated since 2002, so there’s no listing of the recent issue featuring Attebery’s article.
Eleanor interviewed on TV Bookshelf
Earlier this year, Eleanor was interviewed on the local cable television public access program, TV Bookshelf, http://tvbookshelf.ws/ by yours truly for producer Joan Marie Verba. This has been broadcast over local cable channels several times. The web-site shows a photo of Eleanor from the program.
An online publication recently focused on Eleanor’s work and includes several relevant items, including a poem and one of her most delightful short stories, an interview with Eleanor, and reviews of Woman of the Iron People, and of the Hwarhath short stories:
Strange Horizons, week of 4/29 (www.strangehorizons.com): “The Grammarian’s Five Daughters” by Eleanor Arnason; Precious Metals: Eleanor Arnason’s A Woman Of The Iron People, by John Garrison; Humour in Eleanor Arnason’s Ring of Hwarhath Stories, by Ruth Berman; Interview: Eleanor Arnason, by Lyda Morehouse
2 Nebula Nominations for Eleanor:
The Final Ballot for the 2003 Nebula Awards has been announced.
. . . . The nominees include:
“Potter of Bones”, Eleanor Arnason (Asimov’s, Sep02)
“The Empress of Mars”, Kage Baker (Asimov’s, Jul03)
Coraline, Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins, Jul02)
“Stories for Men”, John Kessel (Asimov’s, Oct/Nov 2002)
“Breathmoss”, Ian MacLeod (Asimov’s, May02)
Best Short Story
“Knapsack Poems”, Eleanor Arnason (Asimov’s, May02)
“The Brief History of the Dead”, Kevin Brockmeier (The New Yorker, Sep 8, 2003)
“Goodbye to All That”, Harlan Ellison (McSweeney’s Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales, ed. Michael Chabon, Vintage, Apr03;
Envisioning the Future: Science Fiction and the Next NewMillenium, ed. Marleen S. Barr, Wesleyan University Press, Sep03)
“Grandma”, by Carol Emshwiller (F&SF, Mar02)
“What I Didn’t See”, Karen Joy Fowler (SCI FICTION, Jul 10, 2002)
“Lambing Season”, Molly Gloss (Asimov’s, Jul02)
“The Last of the O-Forms”, James Van Pelt (Asimov’s, Sep02)
(Thanks to Richard West).
Eleanor was a Wiscon 28 – May 28-31, 2004 guest of honor
Also, it looks as though I’ve failed to note that Eleanor will be a guest of honor at Wiscon this spring, at the end of May. There are a number of program proposals related to her work and interests on the preliminary program Ideas page (vote for your favorites).
From an e-mail:
this is to thank you for maintaining an informative and cheerful page
on Eleanor Arnason’s works.
(You might like to know about a nice photo and short interview with her at:
http://www.mninter.net/~sprounds/NON1.htm , halfway down.)
Arnason narrates Museum exhibit
I’d known for some years that Eleanor, daughter of the former director of the Walker art museum in Minneapolis, had lived in a “house of the future” as a child with her parents, near the Walker. What I hadn’t realized was that the current installation at the Walker, showing some of the furniture in a mocked up living/dining room from that house–a concept house in the 1940s-50s–along with plans and such, features Eleanor’s narration on a recording which plays as part of the exhibit. What I heard was certainly interesting, though I wasn’t able to stay for all of her comments, which are parcelled out several minutes at a time, she reminisces what it was like for her brother and her to live in this architectural “concept” house, called the “Idea House II.”
From the Walker Art Center web-page:
THE IDEA HOUSE
The exhibition begins by presenting two groundbreaking projects of the
1940s that reflected the explosion of interest in design and the home in
mid-century America. In 1941, the Walker opened Idea House I–the
first full-scale, working house built by a museum–to showcase the
advantages of modern domestic design. By utilizing standard building
materials and mass-produced furnishings, the project sought to
demonstrate that quality design was attainable for the middle-class
consumer. The Walker opened Idea House II in 1947 (no longer
extant), a split-level, contemporary house filled with the latest
technologies for the home. It illustrated the benefits of open and
efficient space planning and the practicality of lightweight, modern furniture.
A partial re-creation of the house’s main living space serves as a
focal point in the exhibition galleries, featuring historically accurate
materials and furnishings by such modern design luminaries as Charles
and Ray Eames, Alvar Aalto, Isamu Noguchi, Walter von Nessen, and George Nelson.
Einblatt reports: Local Hugo Award Nominees: . . . .
Best Novelette: “Stellar Harvest,” Eleanor Arnason
Einblatt from July 95 to date is on the web at http://www.mnstf.org/einblatt/. Einblatt is distributed via e-mailing-list send e-mail to email@example.com
Eleanor has forwarded a publishing news update, in response to an inquiry.
“Dapple,” another hwarhath story, was published in the September ASIMOV’S. “The Actors,” a sort of prequel to “Dapple,” will be in the year-end F&SF. “The Small Black Box of Morality,” yet another hwarhath story, has just been reprinted in WOMEN OF OTHER WORLDS, a Wiscon anthology published by an Australian university press. I have two hwarhath stories still unsold, both examples of hwarhath science fiction, and am working on the fifth story in the Lydia Duluth series, which began with “Stellar Harvest,” published in ASIMOV’S this spring.
The idea is to end up with two book-length collections, one titled TEN EXAMPLES OF CONTEMPORARY HWARHATH FICTION and the other titled THE ADVENTURES OF LYDIA DULUTH.
All best, Eleanor
See also Eleanor’s Hwarhath Bibliography, at the end of the story reprinted here: “The Small Black Box of Morality,” a short story and a Hwarhath Bibliography by Eleanor Arnason
I’d also like to thank and acknowledge the careful reading of Roger Silverstein, who pointed out several typographical errors, which I’ve now corrected.
feedback from a reader!
I read “A Women of the Iron People”. The comments I had were a good/bad pair. First, I thought the world was interesting and well fleshed out. It was a good read and the internal consistency seemed good.
The second was a too wordy style in one area. People don’t write “he used his vocal chords to make the sounds for”. Yet when referring to the natural part of the language that involves gestures, she almost always wrote something similar to “she made the gesture for”. I just got tired of reading that. If she writes more about the world, request that she just say “gestured” in the same way she would use “said”. It’ll flow smoother and would shorten the novel by a few pages… 🙂
Again, I enjoyed her writing. I’ll be looking in the library for other book by her.
In response to a query that I forwarded to Eleanor, she responded:
David — “The Small Black Box” appeared in ToTU # 16, 1996.
Upcoming are “The Actors” ( Hwarhath historical romance) in Fantasy & Science Fiction, “Stellar Harvest” in Asimov’s, ‘The Grammarian’s Five Daughters” in Realms of Fantasy [June, 1999] and “On Feeding the Mother” in Paradoxa. Thanks for your help. Eleanor
Eleanor has a story in the latest Tales of the Unanticipated.
feedback from June 1998.
Dear Mr. Lenander:
Thank you for providing us with your Eleanor Arnason web page. It was a lot of fun to read of course, and had many terrific links. I hope this is not too inconvenient but I was hoping you might be able to forward the letter attached below to Ms. Arnason for a project I am working on. In any event , thanks again for the web site and good luck with all your endeavors. Best to you, William Kozy
Eleanor taught a class in May ’98. 9 am to 4 pm, here’s the description. I’ve no idea if this will be repeated at any point. “Outer space, inner space, and virtual reality: writing contemporary science fiction.” $120 (people over 62 and Arboretum members $108); includes box lunch. “Experience an insider’s look at the field by using writing exercises to explore specific writing problems, such as expository lumps and scene setting when the scene is imaginary. In addition, discuss researching stories, marketing, networking, and having fun in the huge and fascinating community of science fiction writers and readers.” Limited to 20. This is through the University of MN University College non-credit classes program.
Einblatt reports that Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror: 10th Annual (ed. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling) lists as an honorable mention: “The Dog’s Story,” by Eleanor Arnason (Asimov’s May ’96)
Eleanor was a special guest at the Science Fiction Research Association conference June 20-23, 1996. There were several papers presented about her work:
Thomas Brennan presented a paper on post-Modernism and Eleanor’s story in the Norton Book of SF, “The Silver-haired Maiden Lady vs. the Red-headed Hussy or The Author’s Revenge in Eleanor Arnason’s ‘The Warlord of Saturn’s Moons’ (1974)”
Lynn F. Williams presented “Gender and Separatism in the Novels of Eleanor Arnason,” a wide-ranging tracing of these themes in A Woman of the Iron People, Ring of Swords and the short story, “The Lovers.”
David Lenander’s paper was supposedly “Trust and Betrayal in Ring of Swords,” but seemed to focus more on placing Arnason’s writing in a context of the genre of anatomy rather than novel, and proceeded to a close reading of the first section of the novel, examining the theme of communication.
For more information about that conference or the SFRA, contact Prof. Mike Levy at UW-Stout at Menomenie. firstname.lastname@example.org
Contents of this page
Here I’m collecting some materials by and about Eleanor Arnason and/or her works. Below is a list of items that I expect (or hope) to be able to add in the future.
To comment about this page, or to offer comments about Eleanor Arnason’s work for posting here, contact me, David Lenander, at email@example.com. In case you’re wondering, Eleanor glimpsed this page at a demo presented at the SFRA conference.
“A Brief History of the Order of St. Cyprian-the-Athlete,” a short story by Eleanor Arnason
“The Small Black Box of Morality,” a short story and a Hwarhath Bibliography by Eleanor
a brief article by Ruth Berman, from Last Homely Hearth
a note about Ring of Swords by Ursula K. Le Guin
Vampires and Aliens, Twin City writer & fan Elise Matheson’s recent article about Eleanor
Reviews of some of Eleanor’s books:
From Underhill’s Corner, by Edith Crowe
a report on a Rivendell Group discussion of The Sword Smith (from LHH) (now excerpted below in “Rusty Thoughts”) Rusty Thoughts, by David Lenander
A Woman of the Axe-Grinder People, by Mary Stolzenbach