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.

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Story Time: How Konti Scrounged the World

When I went looking for the text of this story I thought for a while it had gone missing. I mean, sure I could recover the story from its book appearance so it wasn’t really lost, but my original file was apparently gone. Then I found it in an old format under a name I wasn’t looking for, in a font that was just weird. It took some cleaning up to get here, but today’s Story Time is “How Konti Scrounged the World, from the February 2000 issue of Realms of Fantasy. I’m including the introduction, written after the fact as all these are, so take it for what it’s worth.

“This story may be unique among all the stories I’ve written to date. Not because of its subject matter, or tone, or approach, or any of the likely culprits. No, it has to do with the way I work, and when it comes to deciding what story to write, I’m not in charge. Stories come from anything and anywhere: bits of an overheard conversation, an old legend combined with a new understanding, an image, an emotion. That’s why “where do you get your ideas” is such a silly question to ask a writer. Everyone above the mental level of an eggplant has ideas all the time, but not all of those ideas are stories. The real trick to writing is being able to recognize a story when one comes calling.

Except, of course, for “How Konti Scrounged the World.” It didn’t come calling ‑‑ I went and got it. I’ve always had a fondness for Creation Myths, and the clever and fun ways our ancestors answered the “how did we get here?” question. I mean, really. Mud? Transformed ants? Leftovers from the carcass of a slaughtered giant? A god’s dream? Nifty stuff. Anyway, we’d just moved into a new house and I was feeling a bit detached and out of place. Perhaps to bring some order out of the chaos I was feeling, I thought it would be fun to write a Creation Myth and I sat down with the conscious intention of doing just that. All I can figure is that there must have been some subconscious prep work going on, because in that instant Konti and his little sack appeared and the story, as they say, practically wrote itself. Wish I could do that more often. However, it would be nice if I didn’t have to pack every time.”

 

As always, “How Konti Scrounged the World” will be online until next Wednesday, March 7, 2018. Then it won’t be.

Story Time: Judgment Day

In my old neighborhood there were many tree-shadowed streets, perfect for an evening walk. Besides the health aspect, those walks were really good for letting the mind go free as one does given half a chance. On one particular walk I was considering the theological question of man’s relationship with the infinite (as one does) and found myself wondering, “What if we’ve got everything exactly backwards?” I mean, we’re human. We tend to do that. Thus “Judgment Day.”

It was originally published in Realms of Fantasy back in 2000, and a more knowledgeable friend pointed out that it was a very Gnostic story, and I could see that she was right. This is the sort of thing the writer has pointed out to them after the work is done, usually, if at all. It’s not like we understand what we’re doing at the time, at least most of the time.

Today’s Story Time is “Judgment Day.”

 

 

Standard Disclaimer: “Judgment Day” will remain available until next Wednesday, February 7th. As for what replaces it, right now your guess is as good as mine.

Story Time: Take a Long Step

Have you ever noticed, lying along the road, one sad, discarded shoe? Or maybe a boot? Now and then a cap, or work glove, but most often shoes. Rather, one shoe. I think I have seen an actual pair of shoes, once in my life. Mostly, just the one. There are a lot of theories about why this tends to happen, though we probably don’t need any other than simple human carelessness. We lose things. It’s our nature. For instance, First Reader asked me about this story just a few days ago (Didn’t you write a story about the missing shoe?) and I thought it would make a good Wednesday story. Then I couldn’t find it, and thought I had lost the file, until I remembered that I wasn’t working in MS Weird at the time, and expanded my search to include the extension of the word processor I used back then. Still miss that one, but I digress.

Story Time for this week is “Take a Long Step,” and it first appeared in Realms of Fantasy for April, 1999. This was my attempt to give at least one alternative explanation for the case of the missing shoe. Or the found shoe. It’s all a matter of perspective.

“Take a Long Step” will be available until next Wednesday, November 22nd. Then it’s something else. You know the drill.

Story Time: The Trickster’s Wife

This week’s Story Time is “The Trickster’s Wife,” originally published in Realms of Fantasy Magazine back in 2001 and later included in The Ogre’s Wife: Fairy Tales for Grownups, my first ever story collection and finalist for the World Fantasy Award. In a way this piece is a meditation on the nature and limits of fate. Mostly, however, it is a simple revenge story, using inevitable fate as the weapon.

Almost everyone knows the Norse myth of Sigyn, Loki’s wife. For his many crimes  Loki is bound to a rock in a cave where a venomous serpent drips poison on him, causing him to writhe in agony. His faithful and devoted wife catches the venom in a bowl to spare him the pain, but every now and then the bowl has to be emptied, and in that time the venom hits him and his thrashing causes earthquakes. But Sigyn is always there to catch the poison again, even though, one day, she will spill the bowl and Loki will thrash until he is free of his chains, signalling Ragnarok, the end of the world.

I always thought fate handed Sigyn a very raw deal. It occurred to me that perhaps Sigyn thought so too. Which puts her activities in an entirely different light, and so the story.

 

Standard Reminder: Next Wednesday, October 11th, the Story Time will change.  Until then, I hope you enjoy “The Trickster’s Wife.”