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The Girl Who Sang Rose Madder

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  125 ratings  ·  25 reviews
In art as in life, you've got to change in order to live. Even when your audience—and maybe your friends—thinks it would be great if you stayed the same forever. In some cases, literally forever.

The author of over seventeen SF and fantasy novels published over the last half-decade, Elizabeth Bear won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2005, and the Hugo Awar
ebook, 18 pages
Published July 20th 2010 by Tor Books (first published July 14th 2010)
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Average rating 3.48  · 
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Apr 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Oh, sure. There was hope. While there was life, her mother used to say, there was hope. And if hope seemed more like a punishment than a protection, that was hardly God’s fault, was it?

elizabeth bear is just so good.

with a lot of these free tor shorts, they're fun, but they're ultimately just diversions for me. they're a great way to sample an author's style and skills, or as a little snack for me to read before continuing with whatever full-length book i'm reading at the time.

but this - this is
May 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: short reads
Shelves: short-reads
The girl who sand Rose Madder surely needed more pages! The story had so much potential, but it was lost between the short length and the unclear twist. The writing was good though.
Karlyflower *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)*
Oct 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Karlyflower *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)* by: Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈
Her flight reflex had been broken for years. She made it up with housecat bravado

I adore the way Elizabeth Bear weaves a tale. In a short, 14 page story a writer has to make some choices about what lead gets buried and which gets the front light. Bear never disappoints me there, always choosing to window dress with the grit and let the fantastical settle in the hallows.

The Girl Who Sang Rose Madder is a story told through the eyes of retired 80's rock guitarist, Em. After some hard life lessons
Oh, this was a good short story, about life and mortality, about legacy and difficult decisions. Even if the general theme was handled many a time before, it's the quality of the writing and the realism of the characters, the dry humor and self irony that make this worth reading.
"Do you make art or do you make life?"
My only one problem was with the language, more exact the slang, as I'm not an English native speaker.

You can read the story here:
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
#26 short story in personal challenge. Finally caught up, and just got to get to #31.

Elizabeth Bear's people feel so real. Her main character feels so messed up and melancholy. And I like the take on death and undeath.

Liked these moments:

"Hard to believe he was even sixty, if you just looked at his abs. The chesticles were terrifying enough to make up for it, though."

"She was in the middle of a reasonably entertaining conversation with a Rolling Stone reporter (ah, Rolling Stone, another shuf
Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈
This is one of the better tor shorties I've read. A middle aged former rock star ponders her own mortality and legacy as she watches her middle-aged rock star brother in law continue to relive his glory days, continue to cut albums, and continue to sell out. Em was one of the best rock guitarists in the 70s, and the fact that she was a female and bested most of the men in the arena has given her a pretty fantastic legacy to revel in. Not picking up a guitar since her on and offstage partner comm ...more
Sep 28, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: burned out musicians, authors who wish they were rock stars
An aging rock star is offered immortality, and debates which is more important: Life or Art.

The damaged rock star and the Pact with a Price have been done pretty often before. Frankly, I'm kind of tired of the burned-out has-been who spends decades mourning the glory days when she was hanging out with (insert dead musicians the author adored in her salad days).

Not being an Elizabeth Bear fan (I haven't read any of her books) I wasn't sure what to expect. This was a competent short story with bel
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This story completely explains Mick Jagger!

I would give this story 5 stars no matter how good it was just because she referenced Nick Cave and the Bad Seed, my favorite band of all time, and the inspiration for my screen name! Luckily it was a good story.
Aug 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Helen by: karen
Shelves: short-stories
Atmospheric, broody, cool short story about an ageing female rock star.
Jun 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Doc. by: this review
God, but Elizabeth Bear can write.

She possesses an unusual talent for weaving fantasy with stark realism such that, once again, I’m amazed by the ease with which she resists categorisation: Is this dark fantasy? Is it magical realism? Or is it urban fantasy? I don’t know, but I couldn’t stop to think about it... because she pulled me into her tale with a firm grip. I fell into a background so believable that I almost stretched my hand forward to touch it. Within it, I met Em, a many-hued protago
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting read. It made me forget due to the subject matter and narration that I was reading a genre story, so when the supernatural twist poppep up it actually surprised me.
Rock and Roll pretend that living forever on earth both works and would be worth it. This short story examines what one woman, faced with the choice to burn on or fade out decides to do. She moves through the story with gritty rawness, but therein lies an undeniable tenderness.

I docked it a star for language, but it deserves a half a star more for nearly making me cry without feeling emotionally cheap.
Warlou Joyce Antonio
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Why was it, indeed, that no matter what you were it was never good enough? Did men get that too, or was it a feminine affliction? Seth’s death-fouled body, twisting from a noose improvised from telephone wire. No, she rather thought intimations of lethal inadequacy were a human condition.
Aug 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: aмерика, g-women, sf
not related to why i wasn't jazzed about this story, but if you're going to reference a rockstar who shaved off his eyebrows why pick bowie? is syd barrett too obvious of a namecheck? actually curious about this ...more
Peter Tillman
Dec 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Elizabeth Bear is an amazing writer, and this is one of her best shorts, that I've read anyway. You can read some real reviews nearby, but don't miss it. 4.5 stars, maybe 5 once I think about it. Really good story about getting old. Might have been even better without the fantastikal element.... ...more
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved this short vignette.
Shane Noble
Sep 08, 2018 rated it liked it
What does an ageing rock star do when the world is changing and passing her by?
An aging female rock star from the 70's debates her life's worth - immortality or art? ...more
Nadine Jones
Apr 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
CW for cancer (because I wish I'd known).

Em instinctively drew herself up in her boots. Her flight reflex had been broken for years. She made it up with housecat bravado.

It's Elizabeth Bear. She can't write a bad story. Why are you wasting time reading this review when you could be reading the story on tor:

A few comments for myself (because all other readers would have clicked over to the story by now. Right??):

Her descriptions of dog ownership are co
harlequin {Stephanie}
This story asks an important question. Do you want to survive or would you choose to really live? Would you accept a free eternity or fight for the one you have?

If you have forever what would you really accomplish? Some of the best moments in life come from the knowledge of that ticking clock.

This story drips with real emotion. The first half was disappointing. I didn't like it at all. Then the second half swoops in for a glorious save before the ball was completely dropped.

When I am near tears
Feb 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tor-short
This is a short story, and I am too lazy to officially review it. I have my eye on a few more short stories at, and I suspect I will feel the same about those. I'll try to find a line or two in each of them to remind me what the story was about, in case I want to revisit one later.

Here's The Girl Who Sang Rose Madder: "Do you make art or do you make life?"

(three-and-a-half stars)
Sep 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
I didn't buy the premise, probably because it appeared to late into the story, but also because there was a hint that the fantastical element only applies to a definite subset of people which rubbed me the wrong way. This may be a spoiler, so SPOILER ALERT, after the reveal it became quite clear thet Bear may have been inspired by a famous sentence to write this story. I'm not going to say which sentence, if you have read it, you know which one I mean. ...more
Jeremy Cox
Oct 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Interesting, but also disturbing and weird.
Sep 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tor-com
This one is about creativity and choosing how we want to live, and die.
Kolie Heyer
rated it really liked it
Jun 12, 2013
rated it liked it
Jun 10, 2015
rated it it was amazing
Aug 09, 2016
rated it liked it
Sep 17, 2011
rated it it was ok
Jul 23, 2013
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