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Love's Body, Dancing in Time by L. Timmel…

Love's Body, Dancing in Time

by L. Timmel Duchamp

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Duchamp is possibly best-known as the owner of Aqueduct Press, an excellent US small press which focuses on feminist genre fiction, but she is also an accomplished science fiction and fantasy writer in her own right. In fact, her ‘The Forbidden Words of Margaret A.’ I would count as one of the ten best science fiction stories ever written and her Marq’ssan Cycle one of the best sf series about first contact. Love’s Body, Dancing in Time is her first collection, and contains a short story, two novelettes and two novellas. ‘Dance at the Edge’ takes place on a world where some people – or so the narrator believes – can see a border into another world, but they lose the facility when they turn adult. In ‘The Gift’, a travel writer returns to a world famous for its culture, falls in love with a famous singer, but then discovers the price he paid for his voice (think The Alteration). ‘The Apprenticeship of Isabetta di Pietro Cavazzi’ is something Duchamp has done before – a well-researched, and convincing, historical story that slowly drifts into genre territory. In this case, the title character is a young woman confined to a convent to keep her away from a young man whose father wants him to marry well. This is very much a story which takes place in the world of women. The shortest peice in the collection is ‘Lord Enoch’s Revels’, which describes a party hosted by the eponymous peer, during some indefinable period, which may or may not be supernatural. The last story in Love’s Body, Dancing in Time is also the longest: ‘The Héloïse Archive’. It is worth the price of entry alone. A framing narrative describes the main text as a series of undiscovered letters between famous historical romance lovers Héloïse and Abelard, but as the letters progress so things begin to diverge from known history. It’s hardly an original idea, although showing the effects of time travellers’ interference in this secondary manner is quite original – the only other example I can think of is Mary Gentle’s Ash: A Secret History. And like that humungous novel, Duchamp’s novella displays an impressive amount of research. The story of Héloïse and Abelard is fascinating in its own right – the real story, that is, as it unfolds here, before gradually swerving off the rails. Every time I read something by Duchamp, I’m surprised she’s not better known. I suspect the fact that much of her output these days is published through Aqueduct Press, her own press – and that’s not a criticism, by any means – which is a proudly feminist genre press, and Duchamp herself is a very feminist writer… and I’m all too sadly aware how many Neanderthals there are in sf fandom who think “feminism” is a dirty word… Love’s Body, Dancing in Time is not an especially strong collection – although that last novella is a killer – but there are works I would demand be read in Duchamp’s oeuvre – both mentioned earlier (and I’m not the only one to think so about ‘The Forbidden Words of Margaret A.’ as it opens Sisters of the Revolution, an excellent anthology of feminist sf). Seek out her work – especially the Marq’ssan Cycle or a more recent collection, Never at Home. ( )
  iansales | Mar 3, 2018 |
Love's Body, Dancing in Time is a first-rate collection from the provocative L. Timmel Duchamp. There are two fine reprints and three new stories. "Lord Enoch's Revels" is a brief evocation of a mysterious and erotically charged party. "The Heloise Archive" is a collection of letters from Heloise to Abelard, with "contemporary" commentary: slowly we learn that in this alternate history Heloise has, with the help of a strange visitor, changed the place of women much for the better. The best new story is "The Gift", in which a maker of travel documentaries in a future Galactic society falls in love with a young singer on a world she is visiting, only to fall afoul of this world's different mores about art, identity, choice, and discipline.
added by ltimmel | editLocus, Rich Horton (Jan 2, 2010)
Duchamp's stories are ambitious, deeply felt, and carefully and often beautifully written, and her thematic emphasis on love makes this a more unified book than can usually be expected of a collection.
added by ltimmel | editNew York Review of Science Fiction, Mark Rich (Jan 2, 2010)
(starred review) Duchamp's five unusual, provocative love stories featuring strong, memorable heroines can haunt a reader long after the last page is turned. In "Dance at the Edge," Emma Persimmon doggedly pursues the woman of her dreams, a dedicated physicist with the uncanny ability to see other realities. "The Gift" explores gender and human existence beyond the strictures of the male-female model. "The Apprenticeship of Isabetta di Pietro Cavazzi" acquaints us with an unusually talented servant girl who discovers her strength and power in woman-magic. Dark and compelling, "Lord Enoch's Revels" fairly bleeds upon the page, mirroring the anguish of its protagonist, Sybil. "The Heloise Archive" retells the tragic story of Heloise and Abelard but includes Heloise's regular visitation by the angel Nuntia, come to purge Christ's message of the church's drastic alterations of it over the centuries, in the end—a real corker—the history of Europe is radically changed. Each tale is a polished gem, reflecting human nature in all its goodness and ugliness, and inviting deeper inspection of cherished belief systems and re-exploration of the big questions of relationships with ourselves, others, and God. Supremely intelligent and confident, Duchamp infuses her consistently sensual prose with mystery and beauty. Moreover, it is unpredictable—so emotionally and conceptually multifaceted that there is no fast track through one of her stories.
added by ltimmel | editThe Booklilst, Paula Luedtke (Mar 1, 2004)
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Emma Persimmon discovered the Edge in the first month of her life.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0974655910, Paperback)

Love’s Body, Dancing in Time offers five love stories by the critically acclaimed L. Timmel Duchamp, stories only she could tell. Carnal and queer, intricate and involved, they range from the heart-breaking Sturgeon Award finalist "Dance at the Edge" to the historically authentic, Tiptree short-listed "The Apprenticeship of Isabetta di Pietro Cavazzi," to the subtle, original "The Heloise Archive," in which the rewriting of the eleventh-century abbess’s life story dramatically alters the course of European history. Like all of Duchamp’s work, this fiction is passionate, feminist, and intelligent.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:49 -0400)

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