Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Short Story Review: The Art of Mapmaking by Thalia Fand

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The Art of Mapmaking is a short story by Thalia Fand and it is brilliant. A gorgeous story that follows the careful, intelligent seduction of a fantastic, unique woman, this is a beautiful erotic romance novella that I am on the verge of pulling out a thesaurus to describe as cleverly and poetically as it deserves.

If you're looking for a quick sex story, and aren't interested in character development, then half this story will be wasted on you. If you're looking for a well written courtship between two intelligent and attractive women, that is actually quite unique, then you should enjoy this story. A lot.

Our narrator and protagonist Sara is a smart, attractive lesbian, who has no trouble finding new lovers, but doesn't stand out as particular special (apart from being gorgeous, smart and talented), except in her inspired and determined approach to winning Casey's heart.

Casey is a highly educated, inspired, brilliant woman, who does regular stand up on a local stage. She creates the most incredible skits, plays, performances, random lectures from the most random of words, using her enormous knowledge of trivia and keen interest in just about everything. She captivates everyone, and is the most popular performer there.
"Someone from the audience calls out a word, and off she goes. Zoom, pulled from thin air and flying by the seat of her well-worn jeans. She loops and whirls, making the audience laugh and gasp and sometimes even fall silent. I don't know what to call what she does. She blends real-life facts and stories with clearly made-up ones, throwing in wry observations about people, life, and the nature of the universe. I think of it as a braid, but it's really more of a glorious tumble, somehow twined along a central theme that only she has a hold of right up until the end, when it seems like the most natural thing in the world and the only place her story could have gone."

Casey is also visually... blind. Not actually blind, she just lacks any ability to visually appreciate elements such as form and colour. Sara noticed her lack of visual description, her inability to dress with any eye for colour and cut, and tailored her entire approach to Casey based on an inspired guess (and a great deal of observation).

This could so easily be made to sound like a disability, rather than a different way of viewing the world, and the author handled this beautifully, so I shall try and do the same. And I'm making a point of this, because it is such a fine line it is worth pointing out how delicate and sure a touch was needed.

So first we get to join the audience for some fascinating stand-up, and get to know Sara, before she ever really starts talking to Casey. But when Casey decides she's interested, they mesh beautifully, exploring each others' minds and personalities, and finally, bodies.

The real hook, at least for me, was the way Sara planned her seduction to Casey's unusual senses. From catching her interest by providing her with practical suggestions on clothing choices, to dressing in clothing chosen for softness and silkiness, rather than appearance, Sara carefully and very successfully courts the woman of her dreams.

There is also sexual content. Hurrah. As you may have guessed from the description of 'erotica'. It's handled as well as the rest of it, though they do keep putting it off in order to make sure it's perfect (cruel, cruel anticipation). The only bad I thing I can think of about this story is that it... well. Ends.

The Art of Mapmaking is available for free online. Nevertheless, I bought it as soon as it was released on Kindle and I recommend you do as well.


Because it's literally only a couple of dollars, because it's much easier to read on a Kindle than as blog posts on the screen, because she (or the internets) might take the free version down one day, and because it will encourage the author to keep writing. And I really, really want her to do that.

You can buy The Art of Mapmaking on and as a Kindle ebook or read it online here. I suggest you buy it. Really. Please. For me?

If you enjoyed The Art of Mapmaking:
  • Check out the review of Jericho by Ann McMan 
  • 'Aurora Awakening' by Thalia Fand
    • The author has already begun a new story, 'Aurora Awakening', which is very different in setting, genre and style ( a science fiction story, following an engineer on a spaceship), although clearly headed down the same erotic romance path of 'woman meets very attractive woman, dances around her for a while and then seduces her'. You may have trouble getting it into it, but once you're used to the future slang, and gotten past the character introductions (necessary, but dominates the short excerpt), I think it's worth it. So far, only the first chapter is up, which isn't enough to really either judge accurately, or get properly into the story, but I'll definitely be reading it through.
    • Having read it, it's worth it. Very different from this story, but truly brilliant in its own way. There's a review up over here.

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