True to Marion Zimmer Bradley's vision
WHEN DEBORAH J. ROSS MS '73 wrote a fan letter to renowned fantasy author Marion Zimmer Bradley in 1980, she had no idea that it would lead, 30 years later, to her taking the reins of Bradley's popular Darkover series. Hastur Lord, the latest novel in the series that takes its name from Bradley's fictional ice-covered planet, was released in January.
It was Bradley who provided Ross (Wheeler in those days) with her first professional sale in 1984, including Ross's story, "Imperatrix" that appeared in the first volume of Bradley's long-running anthology, Sword & Sorceress, created to remedy the lack of female protagonists in fantasy literature. The two writers became friends, and before Bradley's death in 1999, Ross was tapped to continue the Darkover series. Since then, Ross has penned five Darkover novels, working closely with the Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust, and she has notes for two more. "I try to create story lines that are true to Marion's vision of Darkover and the themes that were meaningful to her," Ross says.
Besides carrying on Bradley's fictional world, Ross is busy on various projects of her own creation. She has branched out into editing with the Lace and Blade anthology series of "elegant romantic fantasy," releasing a new volume each Valentine's Day. She is also working on an original fantasy trilogy, The Seven-Petaled Shield. "It's a really big story," she says, "with echoes of Romans and Scythian horsemen and ancient Judea."
For budding fantasy and science fiction writers, Ross advises knowing the genre, attending conventions, and joining the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America once published. The most important thing, though, she says, is "write the best damned story you can."
Inside the Oregon State Hospital
Grave problems at the Oregon State Hospital have led to negative headlines and serious allegations for the past five years. What is it really like inside the state-run institution, which treats people deemed criminally insane as well as those who are civilly committed?
Psychology professor Jan Haaken's new documentary, Guilty Except for Insanity, tells a disturbing tale of political neglect and public paranoia concerning the mentally ill, but also one of inspiring efforts to humanize the mental health system.
The documentary follows five people who enlisted the insanity defense after being charged with serious crimes; however, Haaken and her students interviewed more than 90 patients and staff over the two years of production.
Getting access to the hospital's patients and staff was not easy. Haaken attended public hearings of the Psychiatric Security Review Board, where she says she had "about 40 seconds to approach patients" as they came before the board with a lawyer. About half were interested.
At first, Haaken was limited to visiting hours, before slowly gaining access to the locked wards. Staff and patients at the hospital saw work samples and gave feedback at various junctures in the process of making the documentary.
A benefit screening of Guilty Except for Insanity is planned at the Northwest Film Center and Portland Art Museum's Whitsell Auditorium June 27 at 7 p.m. Cost is $8. Proceeds will support future documentary projects at PSU on community mental health issues.
Fallen Firefighters Memorial
INSTRUCTOR AND LOCAL ARCHITECT Aaron Whelton created the winning design for a new Portland Fallen Firefighters Memorial. He entered a contest held among PSU's adjunct architecture faculty to create the memorial, which will be built at the east end of the Hawthorne Bridge. The lanterns in Whelton's design symbolize the 36 firefighters who have perished in the line of duty.
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