Ken Brady’s latest story, “Walkers of the Deep Blue Sea and Sky” appears in the Exquisite Corpuscle anthology, edited by Jay Lake and Frank Wu.

Edd Vick’s latest story, “The Corsair and the Lady” may be found in Talebones #37.

Luc Reid writes about the psychology of habits at The Willpower Engine. His new eBook is Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories.

Kat Beyer’s Cabal story “A Change In Government” has been nominated for a BSFA award for best short fiction.

Archive for March, 2010

A time of great pleasure

Monday, March 29th, 2010

A flexing of the worldskin, and Bird flies, Calling. It is a time of joy, for strangers have landed on Mechaieh. A silver egg resembling the spawn of Frog drifted gently to the ground near Pool. Out of it hatch five beings of the same color and reflectivity, though the egg is not broken. The hatchlings proceed to water’s edge. Frog Greets them, but the strangers do not answer. Dipping one of its upper limbs into the water, one of the creatures drinks with a mouth at its waist. A moment, and all five drink with the mouths in their heads. Bird circles, Frog hides, Tree holds still as strangers approach. There is much pointing, Tree’s limbs dance the Words, but the strangers Speak not. The strangers catch several small beasts and cut pieces from them. The pieces are eaten by the mouths at strangers’ waists. One of the strangers cuts Tree, eats the piece of Tree with its waist mouth. Tree dances again; the stranger falls and moves not. One of the remaining strangers points at Tree. Fire is born, and two of Tree’s limbs are severed. Other strangers run to the fallen one, carry it toward their egg. Worldskin trembles; the strangers tumble from their feet. They rise, run swiftly to their egg, which opens its mouth to swallow them. The egg shudders, stars to rise, then is pulled down into the ground. Mechaieh judders, water splashes from Pond. Again, and again. Worldskin stills, later extrudes silver Egg. Egg opens its mouth and Stranger steps out. Stranger Speaks, and Frog Answers. Bird Calls, and Tree makes Reply. It is a time of joy.


The Third Golem

Friday, March 26th, 2010

This story is part of the Daily Cabal’s third anniversary celebration, a collection of kabbalah-themed stories. (Thanks to Mechaieh for the theme!) The other anniversary stories are Angela’s Mechaiah’s Daughter, David’s Has he thoughts within his head? and Luc’s Before Exile.

Little is known of the activities of the celebrated writer Jorge Luis Borges after he faked his own death in 1986.

According to some reports, he lived in a secret bunker under the Argentine National Library where, with several assistants to help read and research, the blind author devoted himself to the study of the kabbalah, the Jewish mystical tradition that had figured in many of his stories and poems. He focused on the golem-making rituals that turn created into creator in worshipful mimicry of the divine. Using techniques that disassembled and recombined the most basic linguistic elements of the Hebrew bible, Borges invested every waking hour in study and practice. No stranger to creation through language, he became an adept sometime in the early 1990’s.

Assistants beside him, he fashioned three humanoid shapes out of clay. On his own, he inscribed them all over with mystic syllables. When the golems woke to consciousness, they were alone.

One of the three crumbled to dust before they discovered they could sustain themselves by continuously reading and rereading Borges’ work. They haunted the library’s stacks each night, seeking their maker’s stories, poems, essays, letters, speeches–anything that, like them, bore the mark of his mind.

They discovered that, by copying out his work in their own hand, they could renew and refine their rough forms into something more human. Soon they had no need of reference copies, every written word of Borges’ having been pressed into their neuronal clay by their neverending rereading.

Eventually, one began to write not only finished pieces, but their drafts, starting with a copy of “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote,” that contained Borges’ every strikeout and marginal jotting. Even the handwriting was similar. After years of diligent scribing, the golem re-composed the totality of its maker’s career and began to venture new compositions–a line of poetry here, a phrase two of prose there. Another decade, and he was composing new stories, tales Borges would have written.

The moment the golem completed the last word of his first slim volume, The Voice of the Mirror and Other Stories, Borges, living in a distant part of the city under an assumed name, found that he could see again.

“Light,” he said to his companions at a café table under evening trees. “Everywhere there is light.”

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