Tor.com content by

Judith Tarr

The SFF Equine: Troublesome Tropes About Horses

Just about everybody knows what a horse is. Equus caballus. Odd-toed ungulate. Large herd animal. Prey animal. War machine. Transportation. Companion animal. Sports equipment. Racing vehicle. Semi-mythical beast. Not nearly as many people know what a horse is not. The horse in song and story, not to mention in film, sometimes bears only a tangential resemblance to the animal on the hoof.

We’re firm believers in positive thinking here—believe me, when you work around horses, negativity can get you splatted in three seconds flat—but sometimes it’s useful to talk about the ways in which the equine demographic is misrepresented or misunderstood in popular culture. Here we go, therefore, with a brief roundup of what the horse is not, as a pointer toward what he really is. (And as always, dear readers, please add your own experiences in the comments.)

[A horse is not…]

The Andre Norton Reread Begins: Andre and Me

When I was a baby science fiction fan, back when “girls don’t read this stuff” (but of course legions of us did), I read anything and everything I could find that had a spaceship or an alien on the cover. The scantily-clad (female) beauties I ignored; that wasn’t my demographic.

I never paid attention to the gender of the author, or noticed how heavily everything skewed toward male writers. That was just the way the world worked. I did learn that an author’s name usually meant I’d be getting a certain kind of book, and that if I liked one book by an author, I’d want to read more.

Andre Norton had a lot of those books. A lot. For the most part they were short, they were pithy, they had characters I could relate to and settings that captivated me. [Read more]

Genre Runs on Horsepower: Introducing The SFF Equine

Hello, people of Tor.com! Some of you know me from my rereads of two mothers of modern fantasy, Melanie Rawn and Katherine Kurtz. I’m moving on now to a biweekly (or semiweekly) column on a subject that preoccupies me every day here on the farm: Horses!

From the time my grandfather sat me on a friend’s horse at six months old, I’ve been one with the tribe of horse people. I started riding in grade school, started high school with my first horse. I rode through college and grad school (and studied the horse in history, and of course wrote them into my fiction), then when I fled to the Arizona desert in search of peace, quiet, and low humidity, one horse led to two, then three, then a small breeding farm. When the economy collapsed, the breeding operation shut down, but the stallion and his mares for the most part stayed. They’re still very much a part of my life, and they’re my toughest critics when it comes to understanding the species.

[Read more]

Rereading Katherine Kurtz: It’s a Wrap!

Here we are at last, at the end of the great Deryni Reread. Two trilogies. Two timelines. Both sets of stories continue in later volumes, but these are the core texts of the Kurtzian universe.

It’s been interesting to watch Kurtz evolve as a writer in these books. Especially compared to its sequels, Deryni Rising is a tightly plotted, intensely focused little jewel of a book. [Read more]

Series: Rereading Katherine Kurtz

Rereading Katherine Kurtz: Camber the Heretic, Chapter 30 and Epilogue

Welcome to the weekly reread of Camber the Heretic! Last time, Tavis and Javan forged an alliance with Camber and company, while Evaine rode into a massacre and emerged with a symbol of hope for the future.

This week we come to the end of the book. Camber discovers his destiny, while Evaine leads the family, and the Deryni, into the future.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading Katherine Kurtz

Rereading Katherine Kurtz: Camber the Heretic, Chapters 28-29

Welcome to the weekly reread of Camber the Heretic! Last time, Camber’s brilliant plan went awry, as the conflict between Church and Crown came to a violent conclusion.

This week, Tavis and Javan forge an alliance with Camber and company. Evaine rides into a massacre and comes out with a symbol of hope for the future. And the Camber family makes plans for that future.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading Katherine Kurtz

Rereading Katherine Kurtz: Camber the Heretic, Chapters 26-27

Welcome to the weekly reread of Camber the Heretic! Last time, our heroes raced to save the last of the Gabrilite and Michaeline Orders, Rhys fell into trap, and Tavis confronted a terrible dilemma.

This week Camber’s brilliant plan goes awry, the conflict between Church and Crown comes to a violent conclusion, and karma rides a fan favorite to a fall. [Read more]

Series: Rereading Katherine Kurtz

Rereading Katherine Kurtz: Camber the Heretic, Chapters 24-25

Welcome to the weekly reread of Camber the Heretic!

Last time, Javan and Tavis concocted a plot to trap Rhys, and the prelates of Gwynedd met to choose a new Primate—with deadly consequences. This week our heroes race to save the last of the Gabrilite and Michaeline Orders before the regents can destroy them, Rhys falls into said trap, and Tavis confronts a terrible dilemma.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading Katherine Kurtz

Rereading Katherine Kurtz: Camber the Heretic, Chapters 22-23

Welcome to the weekly reread of Camber the Heretic!

Last time, the regents summarily dealt with the princes’ attackers, while the Camberian Council did its best to control the damage. This week Javan’s inexplicable powers continue to grow, Javan and Tavis concoct a plot to trap Rhys, and the prelates of Gwynedd meet to choose a new Primate—with deadly consequences.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading Katherine Kurtz

Rereading Katherine Kurtz: Camber the Heretic, Chapters 20-21

Welcome to the weekly reread of Camber the Heretic!

Last time, Rhys and Evaine visited Revan, now a holy hermit, and a Deryni attack on the princes ended in tragedy. This week the regents deal summarily with the princes’ attackers, both living and dead; a Healer turns collaborator; and the Camberian Council does its best to control the damage.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading Katherine Kurtz

Rereading Katherine Kurtz: Camber the Heretic, Chapters 18-19

Welcome to the weekly reread of Camber the Heretic!

Lat time, the Camberian Council planted a mole in the royal court as the political situation kept on deteriorating. This week, the human-Deryni situation continues to worsen. Rhys and Evaine check in on Revan, now a holy hermit, and a Deryni attack on the princes ends in tragedy.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading Katherine Kurtz

Rereading Katherine Kurtz: Camber the Heretic, Chapters 16-17

Welcome to the weekly reread of Camber the Heretic!

Last week, Tavis lost his hand for fraternizing with the “enemy,” while the Camber family struggled to do damage control. This week the Camberian Council embeds a mole in the royal court, the political situation keeps on deteriorating, and Javan and Tavis inch closer to a dangerous revelation.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading Katherine Kurtz

Rereading Katherine Kurtz: Camber the Heretic, Chapters 14-15

Welcome to the weekly reread of Camber the Heretic!

Last time, the regents cemented the human takeover of the royal court, and King Alroy was crowned and celebrated. This week Tavis suffers a terrible injury at the hands of his own people, Javan comes to some dangerous conclusions, and the Camber family struggles to do damage control.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading Katherine Kurtz

Rereading Katherine Kurtz: Camber the Heretic, Chapters 12-13

Welcome to the weekly reread of Camber the Heretic!

Last time, Camber and Rhys attended a vital meeting in a setting familiar to readers of the Morgan and Kelson books. This week Rhys experiments extensively with his Deryni power-suppression technique, with disappointing results. The regents cement the human takeover of the royal court, King Alroy is crowned and celebrated, and an undercover faction of Deryni strike back.

[Read more]

Rereading Katherine Kurtz: Camber the Heretic, Chapters 10-11

Welcome to the weekly reread of Camber the Heretic!

Last time, the human regents made their move, and the Deryni scrambled to deal with it. This week Rhys and friends conduct a medical experiment, Camber and company concoct an elaborate religious scam—over Joram’s strong objections—and Camber and Rhys attend a vital meeting in a setting familiar to readers of the Morgan and Kelson books.

[Read more]

Series: Rereading Katherine Kurtz