Read Rudi’s story “Detail from a Painting by Hieronymus Bosch” at Behind the Wainscot.

David Kopaska-Merkel’s book of humorous noir fiction based on nursery rhymes, Nursery Rhyme Noir 978-09821068-3-9, is sold at the Genre Mall. Other new books include The zSimian Transcript (Cyberwizard Productions) and Brushfires (Sams Dot Publishing).

Susannah Mandel’s short story “The Monkey and the Butterfly” is in Shimmer #11. She also has poems in the current issues of Sybil’s Garage, Goblin Fruit, and Peter Parasol.

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

Archive for the ‘Alex Dally MacFarlane’ Category

The Patron Saint of Spring

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Blossom covers the courtyard like snow, knee-high. The four trees cluster so closely together and their branches have grown so numerous, and the courtyard is so small, that the petals have nowhere else to fall.
The walls on either side are crumbling. The cherry trees grow without any person to witness them.

A folktale current in the land fifty miles south of the courtyard with the cherry trees tells of a woman who wandered the deserted northern countryside two hundred years ago. It goes like this:

She wore snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils and tulips in her hair, every day of her life. No one knew where she came from — no woman admitted to birthing or raising a child with her yellow eyes. On a cold midwinter’s day, she walked out of the woodland with her hair full of colour, with only a flimsy dress the colour of newly budded leaves covering her pale body.

At first the townsfolk did not trust her. Fey creatures lived in those woods — all sensible people knew that. Her unnatural eyes and the unseasonable flowers in her hair confirmed their suspicions.

One girl was not so fearful. When every door was barred shut to the strange woman, this girl held out a handful of stale bread.

They ate it together under an ice-limned tree.

By the time they finished the tiny meal, all the snow around the base of the tree had melted. The woman ran thin, pale fingers over the snow. It withered under her. The soil softened. A single snowdrop grew, unfurling its green stem like a swan raising its head.

Two men accused her of witchcraft. Another gently took her hand and led her to his shed where ice had ruined stores he feared to hold a torch near. An old woman led her to the lake so that a boy’s body could be brought above the ice for the proper rituals, and a younger woman showed her the earth to thaw so he could be buried.

Every step she took in the town brought snowdrops.

Crocuses followed, quicker than usual, and the first tiny daffodils as bright as her eyes.

It drained her. On the day a field of tulips flowered as red as fresh strawberry jam, she fell to the ground as cold as the snow she had melted. The townsfolk buried her in a separate courtyard on the edge of the church grounds.

The cherry trees that grew there never stopped blossoming.

The Bridges of Ramesh

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

The architect Tir wrote the following footnotes on his submitted designs for the bridges of Ramesh.

1. I appreciate the cost of curtaining the windows of the upper eastern side of the third bridge with woven saffron, but it is essential: this bridge is in honour of those with exquisite tastes. It would be equally diminished if the walkways of cushions were removed. Likewise, the three domed roofs in the centre of the bridge must be constructed (respectively) with silk, gold and the scales of the rarest goldfish.

2. It is critical that the materials used to construct the sixth bridge are not of poor quality. Though the simplicity of the bridge’s design and the crowded dwellings along its length are in honour of (and for use by) the city’s less wealthy people, I do not wish to symbolise a future for them that is bereft of high quality architecture. As Your Highness has indicated, the crushing of our enemy means that the royal and city coffers can be dedicated to the people of the city.

3. The trade bridge will be difficult to build, but it is one of the most important: the flowers and spices, silks and cottons, pottery and jewellery and all the other wares attached to the bamboo lattice of the bridge will remind the people of the city and people from far away what Ramesh offers to the world from its position at the centre of trade.

4. It may be useful to include in the city-wide notices that — except for the carved sandstone memorial walls — the second bridge is exactly like the old bridges. Any people who find the new bridges too extraordinary may use the second bridge until they become more accustomed to the new city.

5. Some people will no doubt protest at the construction of the first bridge from the bones of people and animals fallen in the war, but they should be reminded of the price we pay to live on this land, under this sky.

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