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Stories, Podcasts, Interviews, and Articles, 2019:
November 8, 2019
An After Hallowe’en Treat
On a stormy Hallowe’en night in an lonely old cottage in Scotland be careful what you say while stirring the pot.
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October 31, 2019, in Eldritch
by Adam Stemple
Today, I was Rodin’s Thinker. Fist on chin, feet bare. My skin was darkened to bronze.
The shadows stretched all the way across the street. One of them broke away. A long thin silhouette. It took a position behind my right shoulder,
“I have been watching you.”
The voice was old, graveled.
“I offer you stone.
The silence of centuries.
The passage of time as a furrow the wind carves in your cheek,”
October 23, 2019
for Young People of All Ages
What was this woman doing disturbing Deifilia’s nest on the belfry? Offering frogs and asking for a baby for her daughter!? Hah! From the looks of the old crone she probably wanted the infant for some unsavory purpose. Perhaps to boil into a stew.
No deliveries for her. Deifilia was sure of that.
Sept. 15, 2019 2019, in Young People from Four to 400
“Ladder to the Moon”
by Naoko Awa
Keiko’s great-grandmother gave her a real rabbit for her birthday. She told Keiko “It’s easy to care for her. But there’s one thing you must remember… Rabbits love the moon! And the moon loves rabbits. So make sure your rabbit doesn’t escape on a full moon night.”
And when the Autumn Moon Festival came, the moon loomed large in the eastern sky and seemed to say, “Your rabbit will be mine.”
We are pleased that the first publication of this story by the much loved children’s author Naoko Awa is here in Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, with the kind permission of her estate. We’ve published it to coincide with this year’s Moon Viewing time in Japan.
August 31, 2019, in Science Fiction
by Christopher Blake
When the colony has been overrun, when you’re the last member of the Defense Force left, when your barricades will soon be breached, how do you cross the light years and say goodbye to the one you love before carrying out the last acts duty requires?
August 23 2019, Interview with Leenna Naidoo,
about her new book, Quest for the Wholly Pale
Emrys Lailoken is the young wizard cursed to quest for the Wholly Pale, without knowing what it is, what it does, what it looks like, or even what planet it might be on. Coming to his aid is a beer-swilling former thief who communicates through portal pocket, a young witch, and an unreadable parchment.
Against him stands the Order of Chaos, his curse, various unicorn hunters, thieves, and other nefarious beings and monsters.
Leenna Naidoo talks about her book, her writing, and Fiction Vortex StoryVerses. Come join the fun!
August 5, 2019
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.
This story has been shortlisted for the Nommo Award from the African Speculative Fiction Society
July 31, 2019, in Science Fiction
Eula had been dispersing time zeitles for 35 years. Even the really bad ones,with a time slowdown of seventy billion to one, light doing less than a quarter-inch per second, didn’t much faze her. But this time it was a zyst, those near-impenetrable shells with time passing fifty times slower on one side of its wall than the other. Partway across half of her would be starving for the blood her heart hadn’t got around to pumping over yet from the other side. A person don’t last long in that state.
July 5 2019, Interview with David Gray,
about his new book, Moonflowers
An uneasy truce lies upon the Earth in the aftermath of angels and demons pouring through a portal and wreaking havoc.
Making his way through the chaos, Petal is the wise-cracking Moonflower whose talents include seeing a few scant seconds into the future, recovering from injuries with blazing speed, and making just about everyone angry.
The action is pretty much non-stop, and packed into a few breathless days’ time.
July 3, 2019
Rudolph, is that you?” bellowed the old man. The wind was starting to pick up again, blowing his baker’s apron behind him. Sandra could see the code of her Autumn Day shredding under the power of the storm. The bubble of calm was shrinking fast.
“I hoped I’d be the one to bring you down, lunatic. Now here you are, in my bakery.” Weatherman Fawkes laughed and strode forward, unconcerned as the clouds closed in on him. “And it’s not even my birthday!”
June 30, 2019, in Myths, Legends, & Fairy Tales
“Four and Twenty Blackbirds”, by Alexei Collier
Beneath her cloak, Marta clutched a bag of pale river stones as she followed Johan through the forest in the dying summer light. Every twelve paces, she dropped one stone. As it fell, she whispered its number.
She had dropped twelve since they’d left the path. She was afraid to count the next stone. Mother had told her to beware that number, twelve and one. It held a terrible power.
So Marta dropped two stones, murmuring, “Twelve and two.”
Stones had long memories, Mother had taught her. They would guide Johan and her back home.
Once it was safe again.
June 7, 2019
The river’s daughter had hair as long and green as eelgrass, and skin the livid white of a fish belly. Her teeth were sharp, and through her thin lips, she sometimes whispered spells and curses, for her mother had been a sorceress. Since her mother’s departure, swathed in furs in the middle of a winter storm, the river’s daughter had not seen a single outsider to the valley. She spoke to the winds and her siblings the creeks, and she amused herself by practicing charms to change her shape. This dwarf, this outsider who moved with such purpose, fascinated her. She watched him from silent concealment in the forest.
May 31, 2019, in Science Fiction
“Wild Ships”, by Phoebe Wagner
The companies that sell broken ships claim the wildness has been scrubbed out of us. It can’t be, though. Deep space still scores our circuits, burns our shells, glitters our glass. When it’s just me and my breaker Killswitch waiting by a nebula, or gravity looping around a planet because again she’s gone too far for my fuel tank, I feel the tug of the desolation. The beeping she stuck in my head — donotdonotdonot — keens into the celestial song we used to hum among the confluxes.
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.