Marks, Laurie J. 1957–
Marks, Laurie J. 1957–
Born March 27, 1957, in Newport Beach, CA; daughter of Donald Monroe (an engineer and farmer) and Marjory Gretchen (a homemaker and marketing manager) Marks; partner of Deb Mensinger. Education: Attended Westmont College; Brown University, B.A., 1980; also earned advanced degree. Politics: "Eco-feminist with elements of democratic socialism."
Author. Farm manager of family-owned orange grove, Riverside, CA, 1980-89; farmer in San Luis Obispo County, CA, beginning 1989. Youth Service Center, Inc., secretary, 1985-87; Riverside County Coalition for Alternatives to Domestic Violence, program assistant, 1987-88; Rape Survivors' Support Group, Riverside Area Rape Crisis Center, volunteer facilitator, 1988-89; Children's Advocacy Council of Riverside, secretary/coordinator, 1988-89; San Luis Obispo Literary Council, administrative assistant, beginning 1990. University of Massachusetts, Boston, instructor in creative writing, composition, and science fiction.
Science Fiction Writers of America, Massachusetts Teachers Association.
The Watcher's Mask, DAW (New York, NY), 1992.
Dancing Jack, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1993.
"CHILDREN OF TRIAD" SERIES
Delan the Mislaid, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1989.
The Moonbane Mage, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1990.
Ara's Field, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1991.
"ELEMENTAL LOGIC" SERIES
Fire Logic, Tor (New York, NY), 2002.
Earth Logic, Tor (New York, NY), 2004.
Water Logic, Small Beer Press (Easthampton, MA), 2007.
A native Californian transplanted to Massachusetts, Laurie J. Marks writes fantasy novels for adults and young adult readers. She began with the first installment of her "Children of the Triad" series, Delan the Mislaid. The title character of this novel is an outwardly deformed but inwardly gifted creature who finds his calling when he undergoes a metamorphosis into a member of the Aeyrie, a race of beautiful, winged hermaphrodites. "I wanted to point out that an ugly duckling in one culture may be a swan in another," the author once commented. "My own experiences as a strange, isolated child and my continuing loneliness as an adult were fuel for this story. But I recently realized that it is an incredible, wonderful strength. I taught Delan this lesson too."
Delan the Mislaid was rejected by two publishers, though one of them, DAW Books, encouraged Marks to keep sending her manuscripts. She did, and the resulting trilogy was published between 1989 and 1993. Regarding that novel, Don D'Ammassa of St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers noted that "one of the most difficult tasks in science fiction or fantasy is to write a story in which the protagonist is not a human being without making it difficult for the reader to identify with that character." Marks, the essayist continued, "proved equal to the demand." In D'Ammassa's view, the three books of the "Children of the Triad" series constitute "a genuine trilogy in that the individual books are separate tales and not just sections of a larger work."
In the second book of Marks's trilogy, The Moonbane Mage, "I asked myself what it is that makes people do the horrible things they do to each other," Marks once commented. "By this time, I had done a lot of work with young people and adults who had been physically or sexually assaulted by people who they loved and trusted. For both my protagonist, Laril, who often behaved badly, and the evil mage, who behaved even worse, the explanation for their behavior was the same: when people are hurt, they tend to hurt others."
The Moonbane Mage centers on Laril, also of the Aeyrie, and heir to the leadership of the race. "Unfortunately," commented D'Ammassa, "Laril is headstrong and thoughtless and commits a crime for which exile is the only suitable punishment." Sent to a distant Aeyrie kingdom, Laril must confront its despotic ruler, Raulyn, who plans to use the race's technological gifts to overtake the world. "The sequel lacks some of the original novelty of the first," decided D'Ammassa, "and the villain lacks real substance, but the rest of the characters are well delineated and the aerial duels are convincing and thrilling."
The author once commented that "both Delan the Mislaid and Moonbane Mage are highly personalized stories of people who have been accidentally caught up in ethnic and/or political conflict and whose decisions and actions can catapult or prevent genocide of one of the world's intelligent species. In both of these books, because the point of view was so narrow, I could only effectively resolve a small part of the larger world conflict. I felt I had to write a third book to really finish the story, and so I wrote Ara's Field, in which the three protagonists represent each of the world's three intelligent species."
Ara's Field takes place in the divided world of the Aeyrie, with the winged race ruling the air, the Walkers dominant on land, and the Mer residing in the sea. "The rivalry among them has often been violent," explained D'Ammassa. Some sanctuary is found on Triad, "where representatives of all three races have found a way to live in uneasy but lasting harmony." However, a series of assassinations results in a framing of the Mer, prompting hero Delan to find the true identity of the killers.
The elements of nature Marks addresses in the "Children of the Triad" books—wind, water, fire, and earth—figure into her later fiction. Her "Elemental Logic" series kicked off in 2002 with Fire Logic, which a Publishers Weekly reviewer observed is "filled with an intelligence that zings off the page." The sole survivor of warfare in the land of Shaftal, Zanja becomes a resistance fighter who uses her gift of fire, manifested in premonitions, to battle the murderous Sainnites. A Kirkus Reviews critic was less than enchanted with Fire Logic, saying that the author's "flimsy backdrop and far-fetched plotting doom this [book] to mediocrity,"
Marks furthers her second series with Earth Logic. It is twenty years after the invasion of Sainnites, and still matters have not been resolved in the land of Shaftal. Mabin fights the invaders, but Karis, the one woman with the power to save her land, is a bystander to events, afraid that the use of her powers will make things worse. At the same time a group of extremists are fighting in Karis's name, further threatening the situation. A Publishers Weekly reviewer had high praise for this "intricately detailed sequel," commenting that "this well-crafted epic fantasy will delight existing fans as surely as it will win new ones." Similar praise came from Booklist contributor Paula Luedtke, who concluded: "The powerful but subtle writing glows with intelligence, and the passionate, fierce, articulate, strong, and vital characters are among the most memorable in contemporary fantasy." Likewise, Library Journal writer Jackie Cassada commended the "vivid descriptions and a well-thought-out system of magic" in Earth Logic. Writing on the Midwest Book Review Web site, Klausner thought this "fantasy novel is exciting because of the clash between two different cultures and this differentiation makes this book a fascinating look at a world in flux," while Gavin J. Grant termed it "a thought-provoking and sometimes heartbreaking political novel" in a BookPage Web site review.
Marks pursues a threefold story line in her third installment to the "Elemental Logic" series, Water Logic. Here a peace of sorts has been declared between Karis and the Sainnite army led by Lieutenant-General Clement. But peace has not come to Clement herself, for she must suppress an uprising among her own army while her lover goes on the hunt for a killer who almost murdered Karis. A further subplot involves Zanja the fire witch, who is desperately trying to discover why she has been sent back two centuries in time. A Publishers Weekly reviewer felt that Marks's "depiction of intransigent cultures in conflict, rich with insight into human nature and motives, will resonate for modern readers," and Booklist contributor Luedtke termed the same work a "sweeping fantasy." Cassada, writing again in Library Journal, felt that the "finely drawn characters and a lack of bias toward sexual orientation make this a thoughtful, challenging read." Lambda Book Report critic Lawrence Schimel also offered a positive assessment of Water Logic, noting that it "is not the escapist kind of fantasy that gets turned into blockbuster films; if anything, it's the opposite: a critical, visionary, uncomfortable fantasy that makes us examine our own flaws, prejudices, and blind spots, as individuals and as a society; the kind of work that should be more widely read."
Marks is also the author of the stand-alone novel Dancing Jack, a fantasy set in the land of Faerd, "a pleasant amalgam of the Mississippi steamboat era and the more timeless mock-medieval setting one usually finds in a high fantasy," according to Charles de Lint, writing in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The book features the female riverboat pilot Rhys, the toy maker Macy, and the rather mysterious Ash, all of whom attempt to prevent a dethroned king from regaining his throne. "Marks has a real gift for how she tells her story," de Lint commented, further noting: "Marks's voice, and what she has to tell with it, is her own."
"I tend to address a lot of social issues in my writing," Marks once commented. "I am intensely concerned about ecology, world peace, feminism, and issues of violence and victimization. These concerns can't help but shape the stories I write. I tend to work with unusual ideas and characters. For example, the Aeyrie race in my books is a race of hermaphrodites—people who are simultaneously male and female. I take great delight in using these characters to challenge our definitions of ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine.’ But my primary goal is to create characters so vibrant and alive that they jump off the page and to then tell their stories in an exciting and satisfying way."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Booklist, February 1, 2004, Paula Luedtke, review of Earth Logic, p. 956; July 1, 2007, Paula Luedtke, review of Water Logic, p. 43.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2002, review of Fire Logic, p. 461.
Kliatt Young Adult Paperback Book Guide, September, 1991, review of Ara's Field, p. 26; January, 1993, review of The Watcher's Mask, p. 17; March, 1994, review of Dancing Jack, p. 18.
Lambda Book Report, May, 1994, review of Dancing Jack, p. 40; September 22, 2007, Lawrence Schimel, review of Water Logic, p. 23.
Library Journal, March 15, 1989, review of Delan the Mislaid, p. 89; January 1, 2004, Jackie Cassada, review of Earth Logic, p. 167; June 15, 2007, Jackie Cassada, review of Water Logic, p. 61.
Locus, March, 1989, review of Delan the Mislaid, p. 19; April, 1990, review of The Moonbane Mage, p. 21; April, 1991, review of Ara's Field, p. 23; June, 1991, review of Ara's Field, p. 31; June, 1992, review of The Watcher's Mask, p. 61; October, 1993, review of Dancing Jack, p. 27; December, 1993, review of Dancing Jack, p. 54; February, 1994, review of Dancing Jack, p. 75.
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, May 1, 1994, Charles de Lint, review of Dancing Jack.
Publishers Weekly, February 10, 1989, review of Delan the Mislaid, p. 65; April 22, 2002, review of Fire Logic, p. 55; February 2, 2004, review of Earth Logic, p. 64; May 21, 2007, review of Water Logic, p. 40.
Science Fiction Chronicle, May, 1989, review of Delan the Mislaid, p. 38; January, 1994, review of Dancing Jack, p. 33.
Voice of Youth Advocates, August, 1990, review of The Moonbane Mage, p. 168; February, 1993, review of The Watcher's Mask, p. 352.
Wilson Library Bulletin, January, 1991, review of The Moonbane Mage, p. 115.
Women's Review of Books, July, 1990, review of The Moonbane Mage, p. 40.
BookPage,http://www.bookpage.com/ (May 18, 2008) Gavin J. Grant, review of Earth Logic.
Laurie J. Marks Home Page,http://www.lauriejmarks.com (May 18, 2008).
Mass Media,http://media.www.umassmedia.com/ (May 7, 2007), Andrea Olson, "An Interview with UMass Boston's Own Laurie J. Marks."
Midwest Book Review,http://www.midwestbookreview.com/ (May 18, 2008), Harriet Klausner, review of Earth Logic and Water Logic.
SF Site,http://www.sfsite.com/ (May 18, 2009), Margo MacDonald, review of Water Logic.