Answers, Round Four

I figure I’ll leave the question post open until I answer the last one. (At present, I probably have this post and one more to make.)

Also, you don’t need an LJ account to post a comment — I’ve resisted locking that down, despite the spam.


bookblather asked, How do you feel about Mary Queen of Scots?

My feelings there are . . . complicated.

I basically have two perspectives on her: the one acquired through reading Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles, and the one acquired through writing Midnight Never Come. The latter is decidedly skewed toward Elizabeth’s side of the tale, while the former is more partisan to the Scottish side (though I wouldn’t say it’s strongly so). Sometimes these two conflict, and which one wins out depends on my mood and what I had for breakfast.

In general, I think her life was a deranged soap opera. All the parental drama and marriages and murders and imprisonment — it’s just crazy. I can’t really imagine what it was like to live through that. One of these days I should really read a good biography of her life.

(Also, even when I’m feeling less than entirely sympathetic to her, I still think her execution was awful. Nobody should have to go through that.)


logovore asked, What fictional settings would you most like to (temporarily and safely) visit?

I appreciate the qualifiers, which change my answer rather substantially. 🙂

The Chrestomanci ‘verse from Diana Wynne Jones’ books would be a great one; I’d love spirit-traveling around to the different worlds. Pern, because flying and going between sounds awesome. Pamela Dean’s Secret Country, even though I don’t know enough literary references to truly enjoy myself there. The Commonwealth of Letters from Silverlock, even though ditto. 🙂 Florin, from The Princess Bride, just to say I’d been there. The World of Two Moons, from Elfquest.

The funny thing about trying to answer this question is, I have a hard time separating the setting from the roles within it. I can’t think of Pern without also thinking of having my own telepathically bonded dragon. I can’t think of Chrestomanci without imagining myself as an enchantress within it. Do I get to be special in these worlds? Or am I just me, with no skills or benefits I don’t already have? That affects my opinion quite a lot.

Any way you slice it, though, almost all of my answers are places I’ve had in my head since childhood. It seems the settings I’ve read about more recently don’t flip that “I wish I could go there” switch in my brain.


wshaffer asked, If you were a rock star*, what instrument would you play, and what would your band be called?

I’d be the keyboardist, probably. (My two instruments are piano and French horn, and while I could name some random instrument I don’t actually play, the truth is there’s no instrument I love enough on concept alone to overcome my love for the ones I know in reality.)

As for a name, that’s harder. What kind of band is this? (I take “rock star” in a broad sense; it isn’t necessarily a rock band in genre terms.) Let’s say we do sort of world-folk fusion, with maybe some electronic and percussive elements on particular songs. I’m sort of tempted to call it “Cabinet of Curiosities” or “Kunstkammer” or something of that sort, but that makes us sound steampunky, which isn’t necessarily what I’m after. I dunno. It’s cheating on the principle of these posts, maybe, but I’ll hand this one back to the commentariat: what do you think such a band should be called?

0 Responses to “Answers, Round Four”

  1. Marie Brennan

    Well, but a French horn is not a convenient instrument for jamming on. Piano is more flexible that way.

  2. coraa

    The World of Two Moons is one of those that I would jump at if I could visit it as a wolfrider (or possibly another kind of elf, but really, wolfrider would be best), but that I would be a lot more dubious about visiting as a human. It’s not even entirely that the characters would be at best dubious about me if I was a human—and indeed, the ‘temporarily and safely’ does away with the very real threat that I’d get a Strongbow-loosed arrow in the neck and that would be the End of Me—as that many of the things I love most about the world are only visible if you’re an elf, and indeed some of them are only visible if you’re a wolfrider. So.

    I find that I need a Nightfall icon.

    Pern is similar, but I harbor the hope that, in the right place and the right time, even me-as-I-am-today could impress a firelizard if firelizards existed, and that would be enough to merit a visit. Although, then again, possibly not if I couldn’t bring it back….

    If I’m constrained exactly as I am today right now, and cannot bring anything back (such that it would be irresponsible at best and heartbreaking at worst to impress a firelizard), I think I’d be tempted to spend a week in Howl’s moving castle, at any point after Sophie’s arrival.

    • Marie Brennan

      Alas, I do not have a Nightfall icon, only this Clearbrook one.

      You’re right that so much depends on who you are in that world. And in some ways, spending time among the Wolfriders (or any other elves) without being one of them would just be horrible. These people have immortality and magic and loving animal companions — but none for you!

      Honestly, that’s true of a lot of fantasy worlds. From a psychologically realistic standpoint, what Lewis did to the Pevensies was appallingly cruel. Enjoy the wonder while you can, because after this, it’s all going away.

      (I thought about adding Howl’s castle to the list, but the truth is I would probably deck him before the day was out. <g>)

  3. Anonymous

    I find it hard to sympathize with Mary, Queen of Scots. Elizabeth was terribly flawed, but I find myself much more sympathetic to her, even as she did an admittedly awful thing (well, she did any number of awful things, but you know what I mean). Mary put her in such a terrible bind. I heard on one of those Tudor documentaries once that there was a joke of the time that if only Elizabeth could marry MARY everything would be fine, and just YES! I want to time-travel back to Tudor England and do Prop 8 there so this could happen. It really would have solved everything.

  4. bookblather

    Oh, man, deranged soap opera is PERFECT for Mary’s life. It seems to me that she was never truly happy out of the French court, which sort of makes me pity her, but on the other hand she was a bit… yeah. Plotting against your ruthless cousin constantly when you’re totally in her power? Not bright, Mary.

    I agree with you about her execution though. That was pretty horrific.

    I’m not sure that this is a biography of Mary per se, but Alison Weir’s “Mary Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley” is an excellent book about that particular event.

    • Marie Brennan

      Mary didn’t have a lot of options, though. Being in Elizabeth’s power like that meant the constant threat, for years on end, that her cousin might decide to simplify matters by getting rid of her. And you know, if you lived under house arrest for twenty years or however long it was, and people kept slipping you messages about how they really love you and want to help you . . . well, I think I had a snarky line in MNC about how she had nothing to fill her hours but needlework and plotting, and there’s a limit to how many cushions a woman can embroider.

      The real problem was, she wasn’t any good at plotting.

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