by Rebecca Ore
|$16.00 (paperback) |
"When I first met him running on the moors, I thought he was gypsy or part Paki with his otter body and the broad head that ended in an almost pointed chin, but he said he was European, old stock, some French in the bloodlines. His left little finger ended just below where the nail would have been..."
— from Centuries Ago and Very Fast
Aqueduct Press is pleased to announce the release of Centuries Ago and Very Fast, a collection of linked stories by Rebecca Ore, author of Gaia's Toys, Time's Child, Slow Funeral, and other well-received novels. The stories in this collection relate tales from the life of Vel, a gay immortal born in the Paleolithic who jumps time at will. We encounter him hunting mammoths, playing with reindeer tripping on hallucinogenic mushrooms, negotiating each successive wave of invaders to keep his family and its land intact, living as the minor god of a spring, witnessing the hanging of "mollies" in seventeenth-century London as well as the Stonewall riots in twentieth-century New York City. Vel has had more lovers than he can remember and is sometimes tempted to flirt with death. Centuries Ago and Very Fast offers fascinating, often erotic glimpses of the life of a man who has just about seen it all.
The eminent novelist and critic Samuel R. Delany writes: "Witty, vivid, and very thought provoking, these interwoven narratives of the most sophisticated of primitive lusts start with a gay caveman who happens to have been around over fourteen thousand years. Finishing an afternoon tryst with a Puerto Rican drag queen at the Chelsea Hotel in New York, he and his new friend wander back to Greenwich Village to end up smack in the Stonewall Riots of late June '69. Then we go hunting (and killing and dressing and eating and a few other things that might raise your eyebrow) a mammoth. But that's only the beginning. (Want to learn the right way to celebrate the winter solstice?) Ore's little book has intelligence and charm. Really, you've just got to read this!"
And Pamela Sargent, author of The Shore of Women and the Venus Trilogy and editor of the Women of Wonder series, says: "In Centuries Ago and Very Fast, Rebecca Ore reveals the gritty and often less admirable aspects of human life without flinching but also without cynicism. These earthy, lively, and compelling stories centered around a time-traveling immortal show inventiveness, combine cosmic scope with realistic detail, and will leave readers wanting more."
"In Centuries Ago and Very Fast, Rebecca Ore pulls off an audacious
experiment: using the raw language and deliberate focus on sexual
encounters of 'slash' fiction to relate a series of linked episodes and
moments of reflection from the stupendously long life of a gay male, from
his earliest days as a mammoth-hunting caveman to around the present."
— Faren Miller, Locus June 2009
"There are passages of beautiful writing in here, scenes of genuine wonder,
and a sense of humanity that is palpable. Yet when they emerge it seems to
be in despite of the author, whose attentions always are focused
elsewhere. This would have been a much more interesting book if she hadn't
chosen to make it about sex."
(read the whole review)
—Paul Kincaid, SF Site
"Ah, but a true power chord is infinitely replenishable, given enough talent
on the part of the author. And Rebecca Ore proves this to the max with her
new "novel in stories," Centuries Ago and Very Fast... This novel comes
with an endorsement from Samuel Delany, and on sexual and gender issues it
exhibits the same polished rawness and sophisticated yet wide-eyed
wonderment that Delany's writing is famous for. Vel is utterly
believable—and believably strange—as a fusion of pre-modern, postmodern,
and timeless attitudes and habits. He narrates most of the book, with some
chapters from Thomas's POV, and he comes across as the ultimate alien in
our midst, rather in the manner of the hero of Carol Emshwiller's The
Secret City (2007). A cousin to our species, yet not exactly in our direct
—Paul Di Filippo Asimov's Science Fiction, March 2010
"Centuries Ago and Very Fast by Rebecca Ore (from the truly amazing
Aqueduct Press) has a kinetic energy and hard-to-define originality that
held me captivated from first word to
last. Profane—scandalous?—the book wraps stories around
stories, combines the surreal with the mundane and every-day. A story like
"Acid and Stoned Reindeer" that I thought was either genius or chaos when
published by Clarkesworld works much better in the context of the other
stories. I'm not really sure how to describe a book that includes lines
like "We'd run out of mammoths. The ponies looked nervous.", but I tend to
come down on the side of finding it fascinating, although I know many
readers will find this collection difficult."
—Jeff VanderMeer, Locus Online, February 11, 2010