Year’s End

It’s nowhere near the actual year’s end. But it’s beginning to look a lot like for-your-consideration season, and since I only have two things this year for your consideration and don’t anticipate having more, I will just go ahead and round up all both of them right now.

My short story “Jack Among Wolves” appeared in the (incredibly fun) Aetherwatch anthology Skies of Wonder, Skies of Danger.

It could not be said that Captain Jack Valiant objected to illicit custom; what she did object to, strenuously, was being entered into such an arrangement without her foreknowledge and consent.

“It is my most ardent desire,” the Captain said sotto voce to the great blond bear of a man at her shoulder, “that the portmaster should fling himself into the God-damned sea.”

“He would have to go some way,” her Chief Mate observed. “Better to desire he fling himself into the river, no?”

“Desire knows neither reason nor geography, Mr. Kuznetsov.” The Captain stepped forward to address the trio waiting amongst their baggage on the gangway. “I am sorry; you could have the sigil of Black Bess herself and I’d still tell you to sod off. The Blackbird is a cargo vessel, neither obliged nor licensed to ferry passengers anywhere, much less to the bloody Sebiran border. As Mr. Hewlett damned well knows.”

And “Ghosts of Bari,” my second published story from the KinVerse, had the bittersweet honor of being the final story in the final-ever issue of Shimmer.

Salvage is the only long-term game in the universe.

No tyrant of the star-nets or titan of trade ever admired a salvage crew; we’re the crows on their trash-heaps, the rats in their walls. But I don’t think any of them’s ever considered, either, that when their names have long gone airless and their works are rust and shadow, it’s junkers who write their elegies.

Every empire ever raised eventually falls. And sooner or later, the crows always come for the corpses.

Neither of these stories is currently available free online, but if you are a SFWA or current WorldCon member and have any interest in considering either one for a nomination, drop me a line and I can send you PDFs of either or both.

On Burning and Ash

After Burning” is out today, friends, available for free at Beneath Ceaseless Skies. (If you like it, though, and stories like it, may I recommend a BCS subscription? Scott Andrews is a tremendous editor, and I’ve discovered many of my own favorite writers through the magazine.)

If you enjoy the story (I hope you enjoy it!), then you might be interested to know that it is directly connected with my WIP novel, Ash and Ordinary. The short story, set in a border settlement of the theocratic Marethi Ordinary, takes place about six months before the opening of the novel. The novel’s primary POV character is none other than the Wolf himself, but he is surrounded by a trio of badass ladies.

Grandmother and widow Farin Lais only wants the quiet retirement of running a village tea house; wasteland scavenger and river-pilot Esmat Ahuja is trying to smuggle a man home from a war zone. And the Wolf’s new and dubiously-loyal undead comrade, Sirin, is keeping secrets that may spell the end of the Ordinary itself — or its salvation. When the four of them collide, the Wolf — still coming to terms with his own crippling injury and trauma — will have to decide whether saving the empire he serves from the traitors in its shadow requires him to betray it first.

The story is rooted in the legend of Prester John, but also contains elements of Joan of Arc, the Tunguska event, Cossacks, various medieval heresies, and zombies.