Monday, June 29, 2009

Evil Magic over Galvany

When the Hole opened over the fields, there was confusion. The dark aperture occluded the sun as it enlarged from an occult pinpoint in the sky to a wide tear. Baffled by its appearance, the crop mages huddled together. And then the Teertsi gangs began to emerge.
"What... what is that?" Alex's father, an elder among the crop mages, had cried out.
"It looks like the sky is being torn!"
"This is evil, evil magic."
Alex could only agree.
The first sight the Delta folk had had of the Teertsi were the heliothopters, spidery airborne vehicles with only a single rider, pumping pedals and bellows to keep his flimsy craft aloft - but these were only scouts, soon followed by handfuls of airships, proud and terrifying zeppelins. Within short moments, the airships were dropping balloons filled with only enough hot air to slow their descent, and attached to these balloons were baskets brimming with Teertsi ground troops in their oily black armor, made from the hide of no beast Alex had ever seen. From these baskets also emerged the Starcatchers and the Lutanists, who began setting up their equipment on a nearby hilltop. The ground troops charged down the hillside and across the fields of Galvany.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Old Washerwoman of Scrub Sheelie

" wherever you are, you will eventually leave the quandary!" This would have been reassuring to Alex, if this were in fact a quandary in which he was floating, but it came as cold comfort, as this particular aetherial non-conformity allowed of only two exits. He remembered that much from his hurried briefing, only hours earlier.
A dilemma then... was the same thing true of a dilemma? He couldn't remember. So! He might be in here forever. Surely they hadn't intended that! The whole thing had happened so quickly. And there again was that strange voice in the back of his head. Alex asked it to go away, and it did.

In the earliest days of the Teertsi occupation of the Azure Delta, stories had been passed around from neighborhood to neighborhood; like, for instance, the old washerwoman from Scrub Sheelie, who, after the Teertsi gangs had taken her family from her, had turned her strong hands from wringing out the days laundry to wringing the necks of any young Teertsi foolish enough to venture out after the curfew they themselves had imposed. In Galvany Fields, where Alex had lived before coming to Azure Spires, the standard rejoinder to this story had always been that, were the Teertsi youth not so filthy that they rarely had their clothes laundered, the poor woman might have accepted their trade instead.
Alex had cringed when he heard stories like these. In those first days of occupation, his family had known both poverty and mistreatment at the hands of the Teertsi. He would never forget this.
He had been there to witness the Teertsi Hole opening. This he would never forget either. There had been chaff demons in the fields that day. Each year at the harvest, the crop mages would set hexes on the straw and threshed hay, separating the usable wheat and other grains from the rest. As the hexes took effect, the chaff would form whirlwind homunculi, thin and tall, graceful manakins which would then lend their assistance during the rest of the harvest. They were neither strong nor durable, but the chaff demons were reliable, until the Autom Feast after last harvest, at which they would dance themselves to pieces.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Alex was in a quandary. At least, that was where he thought he was, but he was unsure. If only he had paid more attention.

Oh well, he had all the time in the world to ponder it now. He silently cursed himself for not paying more attention in his Psychic and Magical Telemetry and Geography of the Arcane World classes. Only last month, there had been a guest lecturer who was rumored to have spoken very knowledgeably on the subject of "Topological Non-Conformities in the Aether." Alex, naturally, had skipped the lecture to go floating in the Tane, the small river that ran through the center of campus. It had been the hottest day of midsummer, far too hot to spend in a stuffy lecture hall.
For almost two years now, Alex had attended the School of Arts and Magic, in the College of Dweomer at the 'Varsity of Azure Spires. He was barely squeaking by with a passing grade in most of his subjects, "Psych and Madge" included.
"Now let's see... solutions: the quandary has four potential solutions, or egresses," he muttered to himself. "Indeterminability: you can never be completely sure which solution you are approaching... but... but..." There always was a "but" or a "however" attached to these sorts of definitions, a matter which had caused Alex serious grief in the past. "But!" he exclaimed, "you are assured of eventual egress as an invariant state of the quandary, based on the impossibility of stasis."
Put simply, if you can't stand still, you will eventually have to leave. Which is, ironically, a phrase several of his professors had applied to Alex in the last handful of months alone.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Horns of a Dilemma: Introduction

In an effort to ignore this space so I can get some work done in other areas of my life (more on this at an appropriate time), over the next month, I am serializing an excerpt from one of several unsuccessful attempts at "National Write a Novel Month," in 8 installments, published Monday/Thursday. Enjoy!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Writers who Tweet

Following is a group of writers who I have been following in Twitter. They are all professional, in that they all would like to get paid for what they are doing. The phrase "professional writer" is undergoing some growing pains at the moment, much like the phrase "professional journalism," but simply put, most people want to get paid for what they do at some point, and we need the professionals in these estates, as much as we need the amateurs.

@bruces - Bruce Sterling wrote one of my favourite science fiction novels, Schismatrix; as well, Sterling's early cyberpunk anthology Mirrorshades set the stage for an entire genre. Sterling doesn't post as often as I'd like, but when he does, I always pay attention. A writer with his eye on the future.

@GreatDismal - William Gibson and Bruce Sterling collaborated on the steampunk prototype The Difference Engine, and it was William Gibson who has consistently hammered in the nail of cyberpunk. He is interviewed in a fantastic film No Maps for These Territories.

@1889ca - MCM is creator of Rollbots, animated mayhem currently showing on YTV in Canada, and soon elsewhere around the world. MCM is actively searching for different ways to perform and commoditize the process and distribution of writing. Also insane.

@scalzi - John Scalzi has written numerous fiction and non-fiction books, notably The Last Colony. He lives in Ohio, so when he tweets about finishing his writing quota for the day at 2.00 on the west coast, I have to realize it is dinner time in the east. Also a creative consultant for Stargate: Universe, which should get interesting.

- Dan Holloway is writing a novel on Facebook called The Man Who Painted Agnieszka's Shoes. He also blogs and is a member of the Year Zero Writers collective. When Dan tweets from the U.K., it is either really late on the west coast, or really early in the U.K.

I realize these are all male writers, and I will try to rectify that with a future list. Elizabeth Hand, possibly my favourite living writer, blogs at LiveJournal as the +1 in the Inferior 4+1, but refuses to tweet.

Please leave comments on female writers who tweet!