Have you ever thought about publishing your short stories as a collection?
Yes, I have a Birdverse collection on submission right now. I’ll let you know as soon as I know more, and meanwhile, please enjoy the stories and poems available for free online.
What’s next in the Birdverse?
The Unbalancing, a full length Birdverse novel, will be coming in Winter 2022!
I would like to translate your work / ask about subsidiary rights. How can I contact you?
Please contact my agent Mary C. Moore of Kimberley Cameron.
An Important question about the English Language
Is it Birdverse or the Birdverse?
Well, Russian does not have a definite article, so it began as Birdverse without “the”, but many native English speakers, including my publisher, like “the Birdverse.” I am not a prescriptivist; either way is fine as long as it has Bird in it.
So… fantasy Jews?
Yes, the Khana people are basically secondary world Jews. My worldbuilding about the Khana people is inspired by both ancient and medieval diasporic Jewish history, but it’s not a direct copy of any specific period or community. Instead, some overarching ideas and some details make it into the worldbuilding. Hebrew roots are at the base of the Old Khana language which the men learn, and these roots are recognizable in some of the words and the names that the Khana people use. We learn that the Khana people are diasporic – they are exiles from Keshet, and there are Khana quarters in other places around the landmass. I talk more about this in an essay for Mary Robinette Kowal’s My Favorite Bit .
Is all of the Birdverse Jewish?
There are many different peoples and cultures in this world, and the Khana culture is an important, but very much not the only strand. In some of my works, the Khana people do not appear at all, or appear only tangentially. But yes, there is still a Jewish sensibility to my storytelling in this world, and this is by design. I also used Semitic roots in some of my linguistic worldbuilding outside of the Khana culture.
What are deepnames?
Deepnames are a common source of magic in the Birdverse. Roughly speaking, deepnames are neurological phenomena in the mind, which allow the person with deepnames (called in many cultures a “named strong”), to call or activate deepnames and to do magic with them. Most people do not have a magical capacity. A person can acquire up to three deepnames. Each deepname can have from one to five syllables, and the number of deepnames and syllables, and their combinations, determine the magical power a named strong can possess. Deepname combinations are called “configurations.” The most common configuration to acquire is a single-deepname configuration, where the deepname has three syllables. There is no scholarly agreement why some people can take more than one deepname, and why many people cannot take any. Deepnames are commonly acquired in adolescence, and an acquisition of a deepname can be a painful and frightening process. An acquisition of a deepname is called a powertaking. While a person’s first powertaking is usually not dangerous, each subsequent powertaking significantly increases the danger. One can die during a powertaking event, especially while taking a third deepname, so many people who can take three deepnames choose to avoid the risk.
Magical geometry is the discipline that studies how deepnames can be combined. Strong naming, sometimes called simply naming, studies the deepnames themselves.
I have more questions about deepnames! / Is there a list of deepname configurations?
I am working on a page about deepnames, please check back!
Are there other kinds of magic in Birdverse?
Oh, yes. Why stop at one? The strangest magic in the land is that of the Burri desert, which many scholars think is semi-sentient. The desert is called “ever-changing” in Surun’ and other Burran languages, because it dreams itself into being, and some of these dreams are tangible, while others are not. The desert is more ancient than Birdverse itself, and it actually exists in multiple worlds, which is a theory popular in the Left-Hand Academy of Lepaleh, but not in other academies (The Left-Hand Academy of Lepaleh is huge on mystical things ever since its founder Mi Peyi visited the Garden of the Letters of Creation, but that’s another story). The Surun’ magic of weaving is an art and craft that combines deepnames with the mystical power of the desert. The weaving magic can be practiced outside the desert, but it’s inherently a desert art.
There is also the dreamway magic of the dreaming wilds, but perhaps another time.
The siltway people use deepnames, but very differently from everybody else; also, perhaps, another time.
Just how many universities are there?
Many, and each of them is unique in its emphasis / main specialization. So, for example, The University on the Tiles is pretty free-form, and its emphasis is on starlore. The Mainland Katra University is pretty much the opposite of free-form, and their emphasis is on Strong Building and in general on geometries of power. Hopefully I’ll be able to share more when/if more is published.
What are the Twelve Stars?
The twelve stars are a part of the creation myth of the Birdverse, in which the goddess Bird brings twelve stars in her tail to the newly formed world. The stars fall and are caught by the twelve guardians, who plant the stars in the earth (or, in one very memorable instance, in the sea), creating anchors for the land and the magical foundation for deepnames. There are many stories about this first Birdcoming, each differently told. Here is how one eyewitness describes it:
Twelve stars she carried through the whispering air
on her tail, when the world was young,
the goddess shook them down when she descended
to call the earth up from names.