Story Time: A Garden in Hell

I probably should have mentioned that there wasn’t going to be a Story Time last week on account of the July 4th holiday, which felt more like a day of mourning to me anyway, so and regardless, there wasn’t one. This week’s entry is “A Garden in Hell,” originally published in Fantasy Magazine #5, in December 2006. The story was a meditation based on my reading of Buddhist philosophy, which eventually culminated in one my favorite novels,  All the Gates of Hell.

And yes, according to some texts, Guan Shi Yin really does have a demon form she uses in situations as appropriate. I would think “A Garden in Hell” certainly qualifies.

Standard Reminder: “A Garden in Hell” will stay online until next Wednesday, July 18th, when another story gets its turn.

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Story Time: Conversation in the Tomb of an Unknown King

Today’s Story Time is “Conversation in the Tomb of an Unknown King,” which first appeared in Weird Tales #341, August/September 2006. Mostly what I remember about writing it was I was meditating, as one does, on the nature of wights, and specifically tomb wights. You think “ogre” or “ghoul” and a specific image is likely to pop up. Wights were always a little harder to pin down. According to Katharine Briggs (my go-to for information on such things), wight is from old Germanic meaning “being” or “creature.” Vague, much? Truth told I still don’t claim to have much of a handle on them, but I had fun playing.

As always, “Conversation in the Tomb of an Unknown King” will stay online until next Wednesday, July 4th. Then, something else. That’s the deal.

 

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.

Story Time: Laying the Stones

In acknowledgment of the recent passing of Gardner Dozois, today’s Story Time is “Laying the Stones,” the very first story Gardner ever bought from me (and my second ever pro sale), breaking a long and very burdensome drought on my part. It appeared in the November, 1994 issue of Asimov’s SF and, as you can see, in very good company.

Story Time: The Right Sort of Flea

Today’s Story Time is a retelling of Beowulf, specifically an account of his final battle with the Great Wurm. The old king, long past his prime, taking up his weapons one last time because it is his duty and he’s the only one who can, except for one other with more courage than sense. For some reason this part of the legend always fascinated me more than the more famous part about Grendel and his mom. Maybe when I’m old enough I’ll figure out why, but this story was me trying to sort it out. I think I got somewhat close to the heart of it.

“The Right Sort of Flea” was my second appearance in Realms of Fantasy, back in April 1997. It’s never been collected, and now I’m wondering why. My bad.