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Birthday Reviews: Lisa Tuttle’s “Tir Nan Og”

Sunday, September 16th, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Gary A. Lippincott

Cover by Gary A. Lippincott

Lisa Tuttle was born on September 16, 1952.

Lisa Tuttle won the Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1974. In 1982, she was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Short Story for “The Bone Flute.” Unhappy with what she saw as an orchestrated campaign to sway the voters by one of the other nominees, Tuttle announced that she was pulling the story from consideration. Nevertheless, “The Bone Flute” was announced as the winner of the Nebula Award and Tuttle refused to accept it. She went on to win the BSFA Award in 1989 for her short story “In Translation.” In 2007, she won the International Horror Guild Award for Best Intermediate Form for “Closet Dreams” and in 2012 sue won the 2012 Imaginaire award for best translated story.

Tuttle published “Tir Nan Og” in the January 1999 issue of The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Gordon van Gelder. Stephen Jones included the story in the anthology The Mammoth Book of New Terror in 2004.

“Tir Nan Og” is the story of a woman “of a certain age” who has noticed that her close friends have become cat people, each of them has adopted a feline companion and has given up on male companionship. Concerned about her own situation, she is having an affair with a married man and thinks that if he leaves her she may not be able to interest another man in a relationship. She goes to speak to her friends about their own apparent acceptance of celibacy.

Although her friends are less than forthcoming, which will eventually be her downfall, it is clear to the reader what they are trying to tell her. All she gets out of it is that if she takes her boyfriend to the mountains, she should make him drink from a specific spring. Naturally, without understanding why her friends are suggesting this, things go horrendously wrong for her, although she has a sort of closure that resolves her issue.

Since Tuttle somewhat telegraphs events, the interest is less in what is going to happen, but rather in how Tuttle is going to move her narrator from point a to point b and whether she’ll figure out what is supposed to happen before it actually does.

Reviewed in its original appearance in the magazine The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, edited by Gordon van Gelder, January 1999.


Steven H Silver-largeSteven H Silver is a sixteen-time Hugo Award nominee and was the publisher of the Hugo-nominated fanzine Argentus as well as the editor and publisher of ISFiC Press for 8 years. He has also edited books for DAW and NESFA Press. He began publishing short fiction in 2008 and his most recently published story is “Webinar: Web Sites” in The Tangled Web. Steven has chaired the first Midwest Construction, Windycon three times, and the SFWA Nebula Conference 6 times, as well as serving as the Event Coordinator for SFWA. He was programming chair for Chicon 2000 and Vice Chair of Chicon 7. He has been the news editor for SF Site since 2002.

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