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April 1st, 2008

Paper Cities, edited by Ekaterina Sedia (squirrel_monkey) and published by Five Senses Press, has been released today:

The anthology contains my story, 'The Funeral, Ruined', which is the fourth in my Red Sun stories.

In the introduction to the book, Jess Nevins refers to it as a kind of sequel to my story, 'The Souls of Dead Soldiers are for Blackbirds, Not Little Boys', which is true, though you do not have to have read the first for the second. I do have a slight regret in saying that about the story now, for they share no characters or landscape, and in saying it's a sequel will hint that both did in fact, exist before. The truth is, all that they share is a war that operates in the background, and to which both casts are responding to. They also share a braiding technique for the writing, which, if anyone has been watching what I write, is my current little tick that I am using for my novel, Across the Seven Continents of the Underworld, also set in the Red Sun World.

(Aside: braiding takes a lot of fucking time to write. I wave at my self imposed deadlines as they pass me by. Then I tell myself quality wins over speed, because quality takes time, yes. So does weaving, seeding, and layering, but I am not sewing, gardening, or baking, am I?)


'Blackbirds' was originally published in Cat Sparks' Agog! Ripping Reads , and later reprinted in The Year's Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Bill Congreve and Michelle Marquardt. Both were published in Australia, and a lot of people seemed to dig it, which is always cool, and indeed, most people seem to react positively to the Red Sun stories. I suspect if I was to pull together all the nice things that have been said about me in the speculative fiction review world, the best of them would relate to those stories, and I must admit, it's a nice itch to scratch when I have it. The only rule I have in the world is that there's no obscenities, in part because it amuses me to not use them, and also because I've always found that a fuck and shit and cunt require a language that I'm not using in the stories. There's probably a larger post in that, but it's not the point here.

At any rate, like the top of the post says, Paper Cities has been released today, and I thought, really, that one of the things I could do to get people interested in my part of the book was to provide the story that 'The Funeral, Ruined', is a kind of sequel too. And because I'm fabulous--lets face it--I'm going to do so by putting it here, on this blog, for free, to read as you please. I will also use a LJ cut, because the story is quite long, though cuts are nothing but a nuisance to me. All that clicking.

Obviously, it'll be good if you buy Paper Cities, but if you also have a desire to snag the story below in hardcopy, you could do a lot worse than tossing a twenty on the collections that it is in.

The Souls of Dead Soldiers are for Blackbirds, Not Little Boys.

Ben Peek

When I was twelve, my mother took me to see a doctor at the Samohshiir Medical Clinic. As We could not afford a private Doctor, we left early, and walked the two hours from our home to the clinic, and waited in the dim morning light with a dozen others who had traveled early and on foot, like us, in the hope of seeing a public doctor. In the roof of the world above the clinic were thousands of lights. They were the most lights that I had seen anywhere before and I was content to sit on the stony ground and watch them brighten. To my gaze, the white stones sitting in the roof of the world were like tiny, misshapen eyes, and looked as if the ground herself had awoken and was watching us living inside her. My father, a miner, had laughed when I told him this, once. The light was made from the empty world outside, he explained, and the red sun’s light filtering through long shafts of crystal and quartz to us.

The doctor that I eventually saw was named Osamu Makino. He was a small man with a thin, sad eyed, lined face beneath disintegrating grey-white hair. When he stepped out of his office and into the waiting room to call out my name, he was dressed in the doctor’s black pants, black jacket, the black gloves, and the doctor’s white collared and buttoned shirt. Under the bright white light of the room he appeared as if he were falling apart; that it was not only his hair, but his entire personage, that was crumbling into nothing before us.

He examined me in his bright surgery, dripping ointments over my hairless chest, placing cold coins on my eyes, and pressing down on me with warm, powdered fingers. Eventually, he began rubbing a slender bone across my arms. While he did this, he dropped powder onto my left arm. Finally, he said, “Does your skin hurt?”Collapse )

Paper Cities.