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Here for the Reading, 2019:
May 14, 2019
The old witch climbed into bed, drew her quilt to her chin, and spoke. The hut settled on its haunches, listening. “I know in my bones my end is near. You have served me well, with more care than I would ever have imagined. But you are a magicked thing. You need a witch’s power to remain alive. I’ve used the last of mine to grant you three days to find a new witch.”
Then softly she mumbled some last advice…
The girl in Vanan Quick’s Memory Bank & Trust wore the dark robes of the desert nomads. Perhaps fifteen, she was thin, with vacant eyes, and hair shorn close to the skull. Not the usual class of client Vanan Quick served in his shop on Varrowmind’s elite Street of Sorceries. And not, he was sure, an applicant for the valued position of apprentice.
But he was ever the professional. “What can I do for you, young miss?”
“You are the memorist?”
Vanan blinked. Not at the question, for he was indeed a master memorist. It was the sepulchral voice that gave him pause.
He reached for the jade amulet at his neck. “I am. And what, pray tell, are you?”
April 26, 2019
It was too wild, all jagged rocks and sun-bleached driftwood. But it suited me, this beach and this night, a night one could believe in monsters….
Just as the last of the sun disappeared I saw him. He emerged from the grey waves dripping wet and perfect. His hair was black as sin and his pale skin shone like the moon. His body was slender and his face all strange angles, but he was heartbreakingly beautiful. My Irish grandma had told me the old stories and I could see the danger — but his fathomless black eyes fastened on me, ensnared me.
April 5, 2019
The Fo’dekai could write in blood, and now he had their stories in him. Thousands of them, crowding his dreams, bleeding into his waking consciousness, his mind groaning from their weight. The first dreams were visions of a strange world, flying over blood-red deserts, black oceans, purple forests. Darren sensed a planet being constructed, layer-by-layer, in his mind. He wanted to talk about the dreams, but no reason to be alarmed the doctor said. No reason? He had literally dived into a dark ocean and plummeted into a black chasm. He could see, monochromatically but with precise resolution. He could feel his short undulating tentacles, and his skin rapidly oscillating through a kaleidoscope of patterns.
March 22, 2019
We cloudweavers specialize in different shapes — we collaborate and mold the textures of air and rain, cold and heat. The sun and moon are pallets to tint our canvasses.
But now the sun is dying. People no longer look at our art, our gifts, and as they stop looking, our clouds thin and fade. We grow weaker, less aware. Without our mediums, our art, what are we?
March 8, 2019
Her skin was mottled blue, like storm clouds on a night sky. On days when the stares got to her, she’d throw on her old military coat and a pair of sunglasses. If it were up to her, she’d be wearing a pair of concrete shoes at the bottom of the surf. The bacteria coursing through her veins had other ideas.
And now, after all the cover-ups and slashed pensions, the brass was back. Calling for her to clean up their mess again.
She laughed. “We are within the hill and beyond the stream that stains like blood,” she said. “I will tell you now one true thing: when you bargain with those who live within the hollow hill, you give us things which it amuses us to take, and we give back things which it amuses us to give.
On cold, starless nights, when the full moon is shaded with red clouds and blue ice crystals, all the crones in Selemku sit around the Great Baobab and weave stories of a time long before women knew smoke, men knew fire, and children knew dust.
It’s on a night like this that Odera scratched her fingers on the door of a cottage in the woods, a baby sleeping softly in the crook of her arm, a bird croaking in the rusty cage clutched in her fist.
∼ Podcast #1 ∼ in The Storytelling Room
February 11, 2019
In the darkness overhead, Ilianthe saw a point of light flash into being.
Flash and hold steady.
Another way station in the void.
Another star, created of angel light and dragon fire.
Their victory allowed them to create stars, to reshape the Cosmos Hundreds more would be scattered through the darkness of the heavens, and the Holdings would no longer hang cold in the lightless emptiness. Yet victory had not brought peace.
For January 27, the 75th anniversary of the lifting of the siege of Leningrad,
we have in Fantasy “The Ice Angel of Leningrad”, by Eugene Morgulis
This story is dedicated to and inspired by the author’s grandmother, who lived through the Siege of Leningrad.
Beginning in 1941, the city of Leningrad suffered through a brutal 900-day siege at the hands of the German army. Nearly half its three million citizens were killed by bombs, freezing temperatures, or most often, starvation. Those who managed to survive did so in a number of ways, some unsavory, others unspeakable. But none as remarkable as Sveta Gorskaya’s way.
Dr. Benson Spicer was pleased with his small-town volunteer radio host lot in life. For him this modest position was success at its highest. He was reaching and helping his listeners.
But with the station’s ‘new’ salvaged satellite dish, Benson found his audience had become quite a bit more far-ranging and diverse than his little town of Parma, with its six bars, nine gun stores, and enough churches to cover consciences the morning after could account for.
The spirit children, the Angelitos, find their way home following the paths of marigolds, leaving their small footprints in the golden petals.
When they returned to their graves at twilight each Novenber 1st, the paths between the cemetery and the homes of their grieving parents were filled with golden swirls of marigold petals imprinted with each tiny foot.
But Estevan was late returning and lost his way. If he could not return, he would fade to nothing, not even a memory would be left.
As Morgan Roswarne moved, shadowy forms flickered in and out of existence around her.
My interview with her parents had not prepared me for this. How powerful must her affinity be, to call these forms out of the aether?
I was engaged to teach her to control her magic. But I didn’t even know how she called these clustering shadows to her. How would I teach her to keep them at bay?
A woman tended her home and garden, and followed the common customs of the time in the common way, yet she found herself gazing more and more at the uncommon walls of thick old stone surrounding the land of the old woman right beside her. Surely, they held something marvelous, but she didn’t dare approach the small, formidable figure swathed in black which sometimes in the early morning came out of the woods, tended to mysterious business within those walls, and then with the setting sun walked back into the woods.
Well. When she was back in those woods, how was she to know who was peering over her wall?
But deep in those wild woods, in a wide glen encircled by a fence of woven branches hung with feathers, bones, knotted roots, and stones, in the center of the glen, in her dwelling, the eaves and windows hung with things swaying and clacking as with a breeze… the old woman knew.
‘Above us hangs no heaven,
Below us boils no hell,
The Gods they dwell within us,
Where devils swarm as well’.
Blackwolf sat for a moment in the empty conference room. O’Malley had said the planet was where the Gods went, and every devil in hell. All he had to do was bring back fuel from that death-trap and induce seven cut-throats to help save the captors hauling them in to judicial death while keeping an eye on a possibly insane first mate who would pilot an ancient rust-bucket of a fueler, guide them through nightmare land, and why did she always have to have the expertise that forced him to order her to the front line?
July 22, 2018, Science News and Information
Epigenetics is the new dogma of genetic research. If there’s a gene involved with a disease, or a genetic variant associated with a particular trait, you can bet there is some epigenetic mechanism also contributing to that disease or trait. Our environmental exposures have a major say in the epigenetic control of our genes.
We present a related article from Undark Magazine: Uncertain Inheritance: Epigenetics and the Poisoning of Michigan
Hima barely noticed the dwarf.
She saw him now and then at dinner, crouched by Mother’s chair. He looked at no one and no one looked at him.
He was a fixture, like old furniture.
Had there been more than one dwarf, once? At first she wasn’t interested enough to ask.
Later she was too frightened.
So I’m out front of Jaxon’s, down in the French Quarter, singing for my supper. For some fool-headed reason he lets this old cat sit on his doorstep and wail on her trumpet, just like in the old days, even though both of us could get taken for it.
So I’m singing for my supper. Me an’ my trumpet, making the magic them tourists wanna hear. They don’t want no sad songs no more. They want happy tunes these days, blues that sounds more like yellows and greens. So I give it to ’em, and they give me a couple credits, and we all walk away happy.
But not today. Today, the Silence finally finds me.
April 23, 2018, Myths, Legends, and Fairy Tales: “The Witching Hour” by Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald I stood balanced at the top of the oldest palm tree, the one that grew at the south end of the village. I was in my element — pitch black night. This was my dawn. The murmurs of glowing spirits mixed with the chitter of living insects. The hoot of an owl reminded me there was work to be done, battles to be fought — silent, undeclared, but raging all the same. And old Mama Ishaka was on the other side of them. With a sigh, I leapt from the tree, fell free, and caught one of the power lines that led to a human spirit. The link was strong. The call of this spirit sang the music of its soul to me. It called me back home.
March 22, 2018, Fantasy: “Liqeni i Zi” by Corey Mallonee Ela and Ismail spent evenings huddled around a crackling radio, listening to news of the invaders, men who had drilled into their own skulls and grafted bronze masks to their faces. Of hungry bullets etched with curling script, which burrowed through flesh to the heart. Often, in those days, Ela would sit on the bare stony shore of the lake and look out at the ruined temple, columns like broken bones guarding an altar of black stone where the village ancestors had sacrificed sheep and goats and sometimes men. Where, she was told, men would waken the gods.
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”
―Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Anybody Can Write a Novel, is a guide to teach one style of writing a novel, as well as a tool for beginning and intermediate writers alike to learn to dissect and analyze the elements of a good story. It is the collection of writing techniques that I have learned through the years, my experiences with them, and an account of my success/failure with each. It is designed to give guidance to those who are lost in the process and need some direction, as well as to give other authors various ideas that they might not have considered before.
For writing advice and inspiration — this guide will be published in regular weekly sections. The introduction is now up.
Feb 21, 2018: Science: Interview with 3-D Nebulae Artist Teun van der Zalm
We at Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores recently had a chance to sit down with artist Teun van der Zalm and chat with him about his work. Teun uses mathematical modeling and computer rendering to create stunning, 3-D images and videos of nebulae. His work can be seen in art galleries across the globe and the videos he creates have been used in short films and other visual media in the last few years. His work is both exquisite and inspiring and we are excited to be featuring some of his work over the coming weeks, starting with the first of his Nebulae Short Films
Video Feb 21, 2018: Science, “Nebulae Short Films, Series One: Interstellar Clouds“, directed and designed by Teun van der Zalm Music by Xavi Mendoza
An experiment to visualize what lies beyond the edge of the Observable Universe…
“A cloud that veils one of nature’s secret places. This is a stellar nursery, a place where stars are born. They condense by gravity from gas and dust until their temperatures become so high that they begin to shine. Such clouds mark the births of stars…” – Carl Sagan, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, Episode 1: The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean
We suggest viewing this video in high quality and full screen for the best in inter-nebulae trips.
Please see the related Interview with Teun van der Zalm
If his lawyer hadn’t gotten so creative with his contracts, Guy would have had something more to do than sit in his cheap apartment and play Doom.
On the evening he prepared to beat his personal best he ignored the knock on the door, and ignored it again, but on the third knock the Doom tingle evaporated and Guy opened the door to find himself standing there. Looking quite good too.
Alternate Guy had an explanation, and a Plan. And he thought it would all be very simple and easy…
Olaf was Lars’ ice bear, and Lars was Olaf’s person. They were a team.
Olaf was intelligent and skilled. When he danced around a sword or walked a tightrope it was as much a performance as that given by any human acrobat.
But he would perform only for Lars. Sure, the King might be there —- a thousand people might be there -— but anything Olaf did, he did for Lars alone.
So they were on their way to perform before the King, But just now they were looking at the chimney smoke rising over the hill. They might soon be at the castle, but meanwhile they wouldn’t mind spending the night with a roof over their heads.
Planetrix interviews Swedish concept artist and illustrator, Gabriel B Stiernstrom, about tools, techniques, and easiest and hardest parts of the work he does.
Along the way we get to see some of the beautiful and powerful images Gabriel creates.