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Sedia, Ekaterina (E. Sedia)

Sedia, Ekaterina (E. Sedia)

PERSONAL:

Born in Moscow, Russia; immigrated to the United States; married.

ADDRESSES:

Home—NJ. Agent—Jennifer Jackson, Donald Maass Literary Agency, 121 W. 27th St., Ste. 801, New York, NY 10001. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer and editor. Also teaches biology and plant ecology at colleges.

WRITINGS:

(As E. Sedia) According to Crow (novel), Five Star (Waterville, ME), 2005.

(Editor, with Edward J. McFadden III; as E. Sedia) Jigsaw Nation: Science Fiction Stories of Secession (anthology), with contributions by Paul Di Filippo, Wilder Publications (Radford, VA), 2006.

The Secret History of Moscow (novel), Prime Books (Rockville, MD), 2007.

(Editor) Paper Cities: The Anthology of Urban Fantasy, Senses Five Press (Brooklyn, NY), 2008.

The Alchemy of Stone (novel), Prime Books (Rockville, MD), 2008.

Contributor of fiction to anthologies, including Bare Bone 7 (as E. Sedia), Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2005; Shadow Box, 2005; Poe's Progeny, Gray Friar Press, 2005; The Elastic Book of Numbers, Elastic Press, 2005; Potter's Field, Sam's Dot Publishing, 2005; Panic, Sam's Dot Publishing, 2005; Travel: A Time Historic Anthology, Rage Machine Books, 2005; New Writings in the Fantastic, Pendragon Press, 2007; Jabberwocky _1, Prime Books, 2005; Text:UR—The New Book of Masks, edited by Forrest Aguirre, Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2007; Japanese Dreams, Prime Books, 2007; Sybil's Garage No. 5, Senses Five Press, 2007; Magic in the Mirrorstone, Mirrorstone Books, 2008; and Science Fiction: The Best of the Year 2007, edited by Rich Horton, Prime Books, 2008.

Contributor of poetry to anthologies, including Dream the Dark Majestic, Rage Machine Books, 2005.

Contributor of short stories to periodicals, including Aeon magazine, Analog, Baen's Universe, Between Kisses, Book of Dark Wisdom, Clarkesworld magazine, Fantasy magazine, Fortean Bureau, Fusing Horizons, GrendelSong, Lenox Avenue, Liquid Laughter, Lone Star Stories, Oceans of the Mind, and Subterranean. Also contributor to the Bulletin of the New Jersey Academy of Science.

SIDELIGHTS:

Fantasy novelist Ekaterina Sedia's work is one of the leading examples of a form of dark fantasy that has become known as "urban fantasy." However, she came to fiction from a background in the biological sciences. "I am a plant ecologist, I teach in a liberal arts college," she told an interviewer for OF Blog of the Fallen. "I started out in neuroscience but switched to plants when I began graduate school. So teaching and science are my primary occupations, with writing a close second. I was born in Moscow, but have been living in the [United States] since [the] early 1990s. I started writing in 2003, and since then I [have published novels] … as well as … short stories."

"I like cities, and I find fiction taking place in them very interesting," Sedia stated to Marshall Payne in an interview for The Fix. "However, I noticed that much of the label became co-opted by fairly generic vampires/werewolves/spunky supernatural investigators, with cities rarely contributing anything than a generic backdrop." "As much as I love a good shapeshifter/paranormal-investigator story," she told John Joseph Adams in an interview for SciFi.com, "I feel that urban fantasy includes much more than that. The book was a reaction against this narrowing of meaning." She addressed this situation partly in an anthology she edited, Paper Cities: The Anthology of Urban Fantasy, and in her novels The Secret History of Moscow and The Alchemy of Stone.

The stories collected in Paper Cities set out some of the basic concepts—and pitfalls—that characterize urban fantasy. "Every time a writer tries to push the genre limits, stretching his [or her] imagination to create something entirely new," Mario Guslandi declared in a review for SF Site: The Best in Science Fiction and Fantasy, "the risk is that fantasy becomes the synonym of weirdness and that the story simply becomes a hollow specimen of the bizarre, lacking heart and failing to touch the inner chords of the reader's soul." Many readers "prefer to think of cities as dumb beasts, mere collections of brick and mortar, marble and steel, men and women, children and the dead," wrote Greenman Review contributor Debra J. Brannon. "Yet people who think of society not as a collective organism but as a loose gathering of people only peripherally affected by each other would be under a mistaken impression. Cities are alive: they breathe, they think, and they dream. They are the loom that knits together past and present and future, weav- ing the living and the dead, the animate and the inanimate into a sum much bigger than the total of its parts." Various authors' "approaches to the idea of the urban," Regina Schroeder stated in a Booklist review, "are wildly varied, intensely satisfying."

Sedia's first novel, According to Crow, was "a shameless riff on the Biblical story of Judith and Holofernes," she stated in an interview for OF Blog of the Fallen. "I even kept the cutting off of Holofernes' head." In The Secret History of Moscow, her second novel, the city depicted "feels like a secret: an alternative world a half-dimension removed from ours, a place woven out of whisper and shadow, populated with forgotten creatures and even less-remembered thoughts," declared Ed Park, in a review for the Los Angeles Times. "It's a satisfying quest novel not only because of the story line (which has the appealingly rambling feel of a good Dungeons & Dragons campaign, in which chance encounters and improvised alliances modulate the narrative) but also for the way the Escher-ready landscape reflects the fragile psychology of Sedia's main character, Galina."

Galina, although once diagnosed with "sluggish schizophrenia," Park stated, appears to have her mental issues under control—until she sees her sister turn into a bird shortly after giving birth. In her effort to understand what is going on, she is joined by a policeman named Yakov and an artist named Fyodor who have both seen similar transformations, and the three follow the birds into a strange world under Moscow, Russia, populated by "beings from legends, fairy tales as well as ordinary people from the sweep of Russian history," stated a reviewer for the Boston Bibliophile, "and the three young people go on a Wizard-of-Oz-like journey to find answers." A Kirkus Reviews contributor stated that The Secret History of Moscow has "great character sketches and plenty of magic-realist incidents, all set forth in charmingly Russian-accented prose." Sedia's "beautifully nuanced" writing, Carl Hays concluded in review for Booklist, provides both "a uniquely enchanting fantasy and a thoughtful allegory that probes the Russian national psyche."

The Secret History of Moscow "was very much conceived as a tribute to things cultures tend to sweep under the carpet—the forgotten, the embarrassing, the histories of losers," Sedia explained in an interview for Ficlets. "In the book, I write about such embarrassing moments—the prosecution of geneticists under Lysenko, Pogroms of late nineteenth century, and present-day prejudice against the Roma. And I wrote about the city I know best, because this is where I grew up."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 15, 2007, Carl Hays, review of The Secret History of Moscow, p. 39; March 1, 2008, Regina Schroeder, review of Paper Cities: An Anthology of Urban Fantasy, p. 57.

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2007, review of The Secret History of Moscow.

Library Journal, March 15, 2008, Jackie Cassada, review of Paper Cities, p. 66.

Los Angeles Times, March 23, 2008, Ed Park, "As the Crow Flies," review of The Secret History of Moscow.

Publishers Weekly, September 10, 2007, review of The Secret History of Moscow, p. 45; January 28, 2008, Jeff VanderMeer, review of Paper Cities, p. 45.

ONLINE

Boston Bibliophile,http://www.bostonbibliophile.com/ (July 17, 2008), review of The Secret History of Moscow.

Ekaterina Sedia Home Page,http://www.ekaterinasedia.com (July 17, 2008).

Ficlets,http://ficlets.com/ (July 17, 2008), "The Big Idea: Ekaterina Sedia," author interview.

Fix,http://thefix-online.com/ (July 17, 2008), Marshall Payne, "An Interview with Ekaterina Sedia."

Greenman Review,http://www.greenmanreview.com/ (July 17, 2008), Debra J. Brannon, review of Paper Cities.

OF Blog of the Fallen,http://ofblog.blogspot.com/ (July 17, 2008), author interview.

SciFi.com,http://www.scifi.com/ (July 17, 2008), John Joseph Adams, "Paper [Cities] Is Urban Fantasy."

SF Site: The Best in Science Fiction and Fantasy,http://www.sfsite.com/ (July 17, 2008), Mario Guslandi, review of Paper Cities.

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