K. Tempest Bradford

K. Tempest Bradford

Between Boundaries

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Creative Endeavors in Honor of FOC_U

fen of color unitedSo here’s my thing: RaceFail is… tiresome and anger-making and I’m just as much ready to be done with it as you are. Instead, let’s try for some RaceWin (yes, Sharyn, I’m looking at you). Today we’re going to celebrate the creative efforts of Fen of Color. Fen being the plural of fan (specifically fan of the SF/F/H variety), of Color indicating a broad spectrum of people who mainly do not identify as white. You can have any opinion you like on whether that term is useful, valid, or dumb. For today, hush up, because it’s not about that. It’s about celebrating fans and fandom, writers and writing, vidders and vidding, musicians and musicing.

My contributions are thus: three print stories that live online, each featuring main characters that are of color, and each in some way dealing with issues of race, class, and culture. Sorry not to post them in their entirety in this entry (you wouldn’t want that, anyway, it would be a lot of scrolling!), but, as I said, they all live online.  You are free to comment on them, discuss, even tell me why they suck/I am wrong or whatever you like.

Also a special treat: my first full-length PodCastle story, Change of Life, is now up. Rachel Swirsky kindly posted it a day early to coincide with this event. Change of Life is a fun story that’s an homage to long-ago friendships and my love of animals.

Once you’re done here, check out FOC_U where there should be more links to more stories and poems and essays and creative efforts. If you’ve ever been inclined to think that just because you don’t see a lot of fans or writers of color at a convention that means they don’t exist, this is obviously the day you’re going to get schooled.

ETA: You might also want to spread the word on Twitter with #foc_u. I also just tagged this post foc_u in Delicious, another good way to keep track of links.


Élan Vital (@ Sybil’s Garage)

I helped her past the immaculately landscaped gardens and small orchards.  The scent of flowers, herbs, and fresh-cut grass wafting at us in turn.  I glanced at the garden entrances as we passed by, catching quick glimpses of other people in the middle of visits.  A young couple who’d been in the waiting room with me knelt by a small, bald girl as she splashed in the koi pond.  Two elderly women stood under a weeping willow, their heads close, lips barely moving.  A large group of people speaking Mandarin milled around the waterfall in the rock garden.  I could still hear faint traces of their melodic din all the way down by the lake.

I preferred this spot—the flora was less regimented and more natural.  And no walls.  Just an open space, water gently flicking the shoreline, a beautiful view down the hill, and the occasional cat wandering by.

“This hasn’t changed much,” my mom said as I helped her down on one of the small benches by the water.  “I thought they were going to get ducks or geese or something.”

I chose a nearby rock for my own perch.  “I think they’re having trouble with permits or whatever you need nowadays.”

The wind kicked up, sending freckles of reflected light across her face.  Her skin was still perfect, beautiful and dark brown, though stretched across her cheekbones a little too tight.  I hated that I never had enough to restore her round cheeks and full figure.  I have to look at pictures just to remember her that way.


Until Forgiveness Comes (@ Strange Horizons)

In the twelve years since Red Seteshday, the clerics have perfected the haitai ritual to the point where participants know the script by heart and no longer need much direction on where to go and when. Still, Sadana manages a rotating roster of family members and survivors, reminding them of the correct verses to chant while invoking the highlights of that tragic day. Every year she stands on the memorial dais at the center of the Main Concourse, marking the time for prayers and the time for reading the names of the dead. Even if she weren’t an officiant, Sadana says she would find some way to participate.

“Having something to do gets me through the day every year. It’s my way of honoring Beke.”

She lost her partner of four years that morning. Both seminary students at the time, they were planning to spend their lives serving Iset together. Bekeshe was on her way back to Nubia to spend time with family before her acolyteship began. Every year Sadana watches a faint trace of her stride across the concourse with her bags, searching for the train to the airport, just as the bombing began.

Though the day is painful, Sadana feels that her dual role as mourner and officiant has helped her minister to the families over the years.

“I know exactly how everyone feels. We all lost someone we loved. Had them ripped away by hate. We share a bond.”


The Seventh Reflection (From Thou Shalt Not…archived here)

Clia stood before the large, oval mirror in her room and stared at the reflection. Bone-straight hair–long, shiny and black–a heart-shaped face, perfect button nose, sensual mouth, and wide green eyes. The skin held no blemish and no imperfection–not too dark, but not too light. An elegant neck; firm, round breasts; smooth, flat stomach; curvy hips; long, muscular legs tapering toward the floor and ending at the bottom of the mirror.

“Yes, this is what I want,” Clia said. Her mouth moved. The reflection’s did not.

Are you ready to gather what I need?

“Yes. It’ll take a few days, though.”

I have nothing but time. The reflection shimmered away, replaced by an image of what Clia looked like in every other mirror.

She did not often look at mirrors.

10 Comments

  1. mlp mlp on 18.05.2009 at 12:43 [link] (Reply)

    I’d read “Until Forgiveness Comes” and “The Seventh Reflection” before, but hadn’t seen “Elan Vital” yet. Wow. It’s such a powerful story. You really have a gift for telling stories about family, love, and loss.

    1. tempest tempest on 18.05.2009 at 18:00 [link] (Reply)

      *hugs you*

  2. Cecily Cecily on 18.05.2009 at 20:02 [link] (Reply)

    I discovered your writing through a link from Alas, A Blog. I’m so glad they linked to you, because reading your stories, especially Élan Vital, has been the highlight of my day. Thank you.

    1. tempest tempest on 19.05.2009 at 01:22 [link] (Reply)

      Thank you! Hearing things like this makes me very, very happy.

  3. Jolantru Jolantru on 18.05.2009 at 21:45 [link] (Reply)

    The stories are stirring my soul. Very poignant, very resonant.

    1. tempest tempest on 19.05.2009 at 01:22 [link] (Reply)

      I’m really glad they moved you :)

  4. laura lawson laura lawson on 19.05.2009 at 05:20 [link] (Reply)

    Wow, these are amazing, loved the seventh reflection, it had such suspense, and was just awesome.

    you are very talented

    1. tempest tempest on 26.05.2009 at 22:23 [link] (Reply)

      Thank you!

  5. GallingGalla GallingGalla on 19.05.2009 at 09:58 [link] (Reply)

    i just got done reading Élan Vital. sad, beautiful story.

    1. tempest tempest on 26.05.2009 at 22:23 [link] (Reply)

      I’m glad you liked it.

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I'm a writer, most often committing acts of genre (fantasy, science fiction, and other stretches of the imagination). You can find my short stories in many and various magazines and anthologies and podcasts. In addition to being a writer I also engage in activism and fandom -- often both at once.

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