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October Books 6) Gossamer Axe

6) Gossamer Axe, by Gael Baudino

I've been using Bookmooch to collect a few of the books on my list of sf and fantasy set in Ireland, and this one was fairly easy to track down.

The premise of the book sounds, frankly, awful. Christa, born in sixth-century Ireland but exiled to 1980s Denver, assembles an all-female heavy metal band (called "Gossamer Axe") to blast open the mystical portals and rescue her girlfriend from the twilight realm where she is imprisoned. To do this she reincarnates her magical harp as an electric guitar.

Yet it's actually rather good. Of course it is rather earnest about paganism, feminism and magic, but the only point where the writing is cringingly embarrassing is in the early sections where Christa is converted from Irish harp music to heavy metal. Apart from that, though, the various romantic and personality plot threads are compelling, and the Irish bits are not overdone. The whole thing is written with a genuine passion which in the end is easier to respect than mock.

It won the 1990 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Science Fiction & Fantasy, and was also chosen as one of the "top 5 gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender genre works of all time" by Gaylaxicon 2000's "The List" panel. (I wonder what the others were?)


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 9th, 2008 05:34 pm (UTC)
It's also the only book by Gael Baudino worth reading.
Oct. 9th, 2008 08:20 pm (UTC)
It did occur to me as I read it that some of the underlying concepts of the book are not that far from your own Walker series - did you have Gossamer Axe at the back of your mind as you wrote them?
Oct. 9th, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC)
Good lord. Not consciously, no. :) I read that book in about ... well, if it came out in 1990, that must've been when I read it. And I haven't read it since. :)
Oct. 9th, 2008 07:01 pm (UTC)
Just like in 'Spongebob Squarepants: the Movie' where Plankton's evil mind-control helmets are shattered by the power of rock music.
Oct. 9th, 2008 09:14 pm (UTC)
Or "Mars Attacks!", where... oh no wait.
Oct. 10th, 2008 12:44 am (UTC)
That is a book I keep meaning to find. I've read a few of hers and theres a certain amount of underlying misandry. They really are quite Mary Sueish.
Oct. 10th, 2008 01:14 am (UTC)
mizkit commented above that this is the only good book by Baudino. In its defence, I would say that there are several sympathetic male characters (though also several rather two-dimensional villains) and the female characters are not all perfect.

I did detect a rather different propagandistic bias in that Christianity (especially Catholicism) is definitely a Bad Thing in the book, whereas Celtic paganism brings immediate resolution and healing to all who embrace it. I dunno, I observe that in real life Wiccans, Buddhists and atheists are capable of just as much nastiness to each other and to others as are Christians.
Oct. 10th, 2008 09:31 am (UTC)
I went and mooched it.

Yeah that tends to make me a little cranky, the entire all Christians are bad and all pagans/buddhists/whatever are good, madness. I've met and know some pagans that make me cranky and I've heard of a few who really don't have a code of ethics. I would never say that paganism is the best thing, only that it's the best thing for ME.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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