Trent Walters, poetry editor at A&A, has a chapbook, Learning the Ropes, from Morpo Press.

Jonathan Wood’s story “Notes on the Dissection of an Imaginary Beetle” from Electric Velocipede 15/16 is available online.

Angela Slatter’s story ‘Frozen’ will appear in the December 09 issue of Doorways Magazine, and ‘The Girl with No Hands’ will appear in the next issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.

Sara Genge’s story “Godtouched” may be found in Strange Horizons.

Archive for the ‘Alex Dally MacFarlane’ Category

The Diamond Finger

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Every day the man Nonthook washed the feet of the gods on their way up Mount Krailat: a task that brought him merit, a respectable income, and the daily jokes of the gods. They knocked on his head as they passed, thunk-thunk, and now Nonthook was bald in the centre of his scalp despite being only twenty-eight years old.

The day that his wife murmured about meeting an attractive young rice farmer, Nonthook stomped up Mount Krailat to the god Issuan and made his complaint.

“Changing their ways is not within my power,” the god said sadly, “but I can offer you a gift in compensation.”

Nonthook thought for a moment, then smiled. “I will have a diamond index finger that kills instantly on touch.”


The gods knocked on Nonthook’s head, one after the other, and dropped like flies.


“He broke the terms of the gift,” Issuan said to a gathering of the remaining gods.

“You might have expected that,” one murmured, but was ignored. Who expects a man to kill gods when he promised to kill mosquitoes and fish? No other man had shown similar stupidity. The other gods shared suggested punishments among one another like a bowl of spicy chicken cooked in a banana leaf. Finally the god Nurai made one they agreed upon.


Nonthook’s diamond finger had brought him great pleasure, killing gods on the mountainside, but hadn’t returned his youthful looks or his wife’s attentions. So on the night of a great festival, when a beautiful young woman approached and asked if he might dance, Nonthook smiled broadly and took her hand. The young woman led him through a series of dance features: a woman stringing flowers for a garland, a deer wandering in the forest, the goddess lighting swords of light, the banana leaves in the wind, the naga twisting its tail–

At this phase, she pointed her index finger at her knee.

Absorbed in the dance, Nonthook pointed the diamond finger at his own knee.

He died like a god.

The Origin of the Blue Bay

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Long ago there was a man called Keha, the finest kite-maker in the kingdom. In his house was a small workshop, where he taught children how to make kites: how to assemble the wooden frame and cover it with handmade paper that he painted for them in intricate designs.

When Keha was an old man, he told the children to stay away from his house while he built them a surprise. They waited impatiently in their village until the day he invited them back. Daydreaming of kites, they ran through the rice fields to where he lived, but they found only one wall of his house remaining. The others had been knocked down to make space for his surprise.

Smiling broadly, Keha greeted them from the side of the largest kite ever built: larger than his house, painted blue like a clear, deep lake, with all manner of creatures swimming across its surface. Great fish with bright scales of red and yellow bared pointed teeth or held a wide tail above the waves. Serpents with green scales and wicked smiles waited beside small, fragile ships. Women with bare breasts and gold crowns around their topknots, and each with the tail of a fish, sat on rocks and held out lotus flowers to passing sailors.

The best thing about this kite, as far as the children were concerned, was not its beautiful decorations: this kite was magical and, with the right wind, the children and Keha could fly on it.

Many joyous days passed on its back, flying over the rice fields and jungles of the kingdom, even glimpsing the capital with the shining gold chedis and the multicoloured roofs of its palace and temples.

Then, on a day when the children were working for their parents, Keha watched fearfully as a great wind blew up. His massive kite tugged on its ropes, snapping one and then another. Not wanting it to tear apart under the strain, he cut the other ropes. He watched as the kite flew away and never saw it again.

But people from the far south of the kingdom are known to say that, once upon a time, a kite larger than a house fell, ripping apart the ground where it crashed, and that a great blue bay filled with fish and other creatures was formed.

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