The Birdverse is R.B. Lemberg’s fantasy world, named after its Bird deity. It is a complex, culturally diverse world with many LGBTQIA+ characters and different family configurations. Works set in the Birdverse have been nominated for the Nebula award, longlisted for the Hugo award and the Otherwise award, placed in the Rhysling award, and more.
In the Birdverse, a magic loosely based in geometry is a source of craftsmanship, art, protection, and healing. Multiple cultures and countries engage in trade relationships and political alliances. Cultures make use of magic according to their own traditions and rules, and worship the deity Bird, in whichever feathered form Bird takes. And within these countries and cultures, individuals hurt and are hurt, heal and are healed. — Bookslut
The Four Profound Weaves
The first Birdverse book in print is The Four Profound Weaves, published in September 2020 by Tachyon Publications. It is available as a paperback and an ebook from Tachyon, Amazon, Bookshop.org, The Raven Bookstore (signed paperback copies), The Portal Bookshop (the UK), and other fine retailers.
[STARRED REVIEW] “Nebula-nominated Lemberg’s first novella, set in their deeply queer “Birdverse” universe, presents a beautiful, heartfelt story of change, family, identity, and courage. ”
When diving into the short stories set in the Birdverse, I recommend that you start with one of those four. Your choice—there is no wrong place to begin here!
“Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” A family of Khana traders has a secret: a cloth of winds. Queer and trans families, autistic people, carpets (novelette, Beneath Ceaseless Skies)– (June 2015) – a good companion to The Four Profound Weaves, happens just before the events of Weaves.
- Nebula Award Nominee 2016
- Tiptree Longlist 2016
- Hugo Award Longlist 2016
“The Desert Glassmaker and the Jeweler of Berevyar” (short story, Uncanny) – a small happy story about two artists (February 2016).
“Geometries of Belonging” (novelette, Beneath Ceaseless Skies) – Parét, a famous mind-healer, is asked to cure a young autistic patient – but his patient does not consent to be cured. Meanwhile, Parét uncovers a carefully wrought intrigue against his lord and lover. (October 2015).
- Winner, The Big Sip Award for excellent relationships in SFF (It’s a small award, but I love it!)
- Honorable mention in Year’s Best SF, edited by Gardner Dozois
“The Book of How to Live” (novelette, Beneath Ceaseless Skies) – Efronia Lukano is a commoner without magic who trekked across the landmass to study at the Royal University of Laina. A story about bitter academic politics, and revolution as a viable alternative to academic politics – also with an autistic and asexual protagonist and f/f feels. (September 2016).
Things get a bit more advanced
“The Book of Seed and the Abyss“: a Birdverse Kabbalah story about the language of creation, and a book thief. Patreon exclusive, 2018.
“A Splendid Goat Adventure“: the intrepid Marvushi e Garazd sets out in search of magical goats. Shenanigans ensue. This is a light-hearted, cheerful epistolary adventure about goats and academia. (Patreon exclusive, 2017; reprinted in Transcendent 3: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction 2017.) CW: inebriation
“Ranra’s Unbalancing” (poem, Strange Horizons) – Ranra tells about the disaster that destroyed her homeland. Also quince. (November 2015) CWs: swearing, things do not go well, this is a poem about a disaster in which people die
- Winner, Strange Horizons Readers Poll.
“Three Principles of Strong Building” (poem, Strange Horizons) – a worldbuilding poem about one of the oldest Applied Disciplines, Strong Building (September 2015).
Portrait and related things (tread with caution)
A Portrait of the Desert in Personages of Power (novella, Beneath Ceaseless Skies): A very old royal personage, running around the desert on stilts, discovers the antihero fast asleep in the sands. ( supermages, consent, power exchange, the magical history of Birdverse). (2017)
This novella is available from Beneath Ceaseless Skies. It has CWs for power exchange, edgeplay, about 400 years of an age gap, beyond-101 discussions of consent, trauma, sadism, healing from trauma, painful secrets that do not have to be revealed, and extremely poetic language, especially in the beginning, which serves as a warning of sorts that it’s not for the faint of heart. This is the bravest and most complex thing I’ve written, but please mind the CWs. Everything is consensual. There is no sex.
“Mirrored Mappings” (poem, Through the Gate) – a mythic poem about layered histories, set in the Great Burri Desert. This is a companion to A Portrait of the Desert in Personages of Power, the poem’s speakers are its two main characters. (June 2016) – no CWs
There are many more Portrait-y poems on my Patreon. These two characters really feel for each other.
“ I will show you a single treasure… ” (poem, Goblin Fruit) – many women work together to create the greatest treasure ever woven, even though they know what fate awaits it. Note: some worldbuilding has changed since publication of this story. (Summer 2013)
- Rhysling Award nominee
- Rhysling award, 3rd place, in the long poem category
“Held Close in Syllables of Light” (novelette, Beneath Ceaseless Skies): YA with three queer teens on a trading quest gone awry. (October 2011.) It’s important to note that this was an earlier story, the first BV story to be published – and that it takes place later on the timeline. Things changed quite a bit in Birdverse since then, especially in the details of the Ranravan-Kekeri House dynamics, as well as to the Raker’s earlier time in Burri. All this is background detail, but it is important. I will update this story for a collection, should one materialize.
- Reprinted in Best of BCS, Year 4.