Friday, May 2, 2014
Pioneers of Urban Fantasy: Gael Baudino
Gael Baudino's last book was released in 1996, and to my knowledge she has no plans to resume writing. A pity, because she is one of the founding voices of the urban fantasy genre, despite being largely unknown these days. Her books are gems to watch for when haunting used book stores.
'Gossamer Axe' is my favorite of Ms. Baudino's works. It's a Pagan lesbian '80s hair metal rock fantasy about a Celtic student bard and her quest to rescue her lover from the elves who imprisoned both of them back in the 6th century. In the hands of a bard, harp music can do magic, and this bard is packing an electric guitar with a full rock band to back her up.
'Strands of Starlight' is a more optimistic tale of Elves and humans; specifically, humans who begin to follow the ways of elven spirituality and begin learning to change the world around them. The series is very much a tale of hope, especially for those who would have loved finding out their real parents had pointy ears and a thing for flowing robes. Sure, fine, Vulcan, Elf, take your pick.
The Dragonsword trilogy is a darker tale. It follows an aging former hippie graduate student who gets pulled into a fantasy world created by the jackass history professor she works for. The professor's world is cruel, misogynistic, and totally oriented to glorifying him - the invincible, dragon-riding savior of the people. Problem is, the dragon in question responds to the grad student as well.
The series is a little heavy-handed on the social commentary, but it's still a fun read, especially as the world starts changing and evolving away from being the professor's personal fantasy fulfillment.
Ms Baudino was working with a publisher to bring her books out in ebook format, but that deal fell apart over differences in quality standards. For now, it's old-fashioned paper, and well worth the hunt.