Story Time: The Swan Troika

Today’s Story Time is “The Swan Troika,” first published in the February 2011 issue of Realms of Fantasy, and the last story I ever published there as the magazine folded not too long after (October 2011). Almost every writer I know is convinced that there is at least one magazine they are personally responsible for killing, as they published a story in that magazine’s final issue. Yes, we all have big egos, why do you ask? Regardless, that wasn’t its last issue, and RoF published so many of my stories that, if I was the problem, it wouldn’t have lasted as long as it did. Magazines, especially print ones, come and go no matter what we do. Most die unmourned, but not all. And some, like Weird Tales and Amazing SF never stay dead forever. Part of me still expects Realms of Fantasy to be resurrected some day, but I won’t hold my breath even as I hope for it to happen. All that aside, I’m pretty sure I’m not responsible. “The Swan Troika” remains one of my favorite stories (accompanied in the original by Ruth Sanderson’s superb illustration), and I’d love to do more like it, if there’s ever a home for them again.

I’d like to give a belated shout out to Ekaterina Sedia for helping me with the Russian naming conventions in this story, which I would have made a complete mess of without her.

Standard Note: “The Swan Troika will remain online until next Wednesday, June 13th. Until then, enjoy.

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Story Time: The Penultimate Riddle

Today’s Story Time is from the August, 2005 issue of Realms of Fantasy, “The Penultimate Riddle,” later included in Worshipping Small Gods, my second ever story collection.

“The Penultimate Riddle,” like several of my stories, is a love story at heart. Sort of. Or maybe it’s about someone drawn to a mystery, because aren’t we all? Or maybe something else entirely. Make up your own mind. I’m still working it out myself. Just because I wrote it doesn’t mean I understand it.

As always, today’s story will remain online until next Wednesday, May 2nd. Until then, contemplate the mysteries.

There Are Five Lines

As I’ve mentioned before, not terribly long after I moved north I joined a local writer’s group. I’ve belonged to a few before, and while the experience hasn’t always been a complete success, usually the presence of other writers and the sharing of works supplies a boost of motivation to get my own work done, and that’s something we all need now and again. The difference this time is that this group specializes in flash fiction, which is new(ish) for me and under the aegis of the local library, with links to the wider community.

In short, the library and a local theater group leader are collaborating to turn some of the work from the flash fiction group into podcasts. There are grants involved and other official stuff, but mostly it will involve the members reading their own work, either as part of audio anthologies or even single author audio collections. A lot of this hasn’t been worked out yet, but it appears promising. In preparation we were asked to list some of our favorite lines from the flash pieces we’d done within group.

I mean, sure, I’m doing it, but I have to admit these sort of listings make me a little uncomfortable. First, in any unified (I hope) work, a single sentence out of context loses…well, context. Some of my favorite sentences make absolutely no sense if separated from the sentences around them, so I had to take that into account. Then again, I’m reminded of Damon Knight’s opinion of “killer” first lines, in that the problem with those is that you spend the rest of the time trying to justify the line rather than just telling the F%%%#G STORY. So my openings tend not to be so killer, just, I hope, grabbing enough to get you to the next line, and the next, and so on until the end. So I couldn’t just pull out opening lines…except sometimes. Hey, no one’s perfect.

Regardless, and with all the caveats listed or implied above, here are the five lines I’ve chosen:

Sentence 1:

“There’s a crow’s nest in the crow’s nest, sir.”

Sentence 2:

“I wasn’t sure what a secret was, but apparently it was some sort of dangerous animal that needed confining.”

Sentence 3:

“I’m going to tell you three stories, only two of which are true.”

Sentence 4:

“Everyone dances…sooner or later.”

Sentence 5:

“Right, of course it was—all I had to do was tell the Queen of bloody Elfland to sod off and everything would have been jolly.”

 

 

Story Time: Lord Goji’s Wedding

Today’s Story Time is “Lord Goji’s Wedding” and no, not that Goji. It’s a story  within a story, or an alleged zen parable within a story, or two stories being told at the same time, or something of the sort. It first appeared in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet #15, back in January of 2005.

As always, “Lord Goji’s Wedding” will remain online until next Wednesday, April 18th, when it will be replaced by another Story Time.

Story Time: Death, the Devil, and the Lady in White

This week’s Story Time is from the April, 2005 Realms of Fantasy magazine (later collected in Worshipping Small Gods, 2007), and is a love story…of sorts. I’ve done a few like this with a similar theme and it’s not my first brush with the infamous White Ladies of myth. The first was The Beauty of Things Unseen, way back in 1999 in Quantum SF.

Regardless, the beautiful and terrible White Ladies usually haunted streams or wells and it was death to meet one. A somewhat counter example is from Irish gaelic, the Bean Fhionn, the White Lady of Lough Gur, who claimed mortal lives, but only every seven years. Others were not so restrained. In some cases they were thought to be ghosts, in others remnants of the Tuatha De Danann, or fairie folk. Or maybe they were just ancient goddesses, angry at being forgotten, because no one likes to be forgotten.

This one is just a tad different.

Regardless, “Death, the Devil, and the Lady in White” will be online until next Wednesday, March 28th, when it will vanish into the ether and be replaced by something else.