13. Evianna Talirr Builds a Portal On Commission
Here’s the thing. Atoms lie.
First published in the 2014 HWA Poetry Showcase, this is the first official appearance of a character of mine who’s bounced around through a number of different settings and plots, including my out-on-spec novel. She’s one of two characters whom I built the novel around, and who existed before the rest of that setting did.
Here, you can find her luring an unnamed character into a portal to another universe in which he (?) will immediately cease to exist because the laws of physics no longer support his molecular structure. As one does.
14. The Mother of All Squid Builds a Library
“Foolishness,” said the whales again, and they swam back to the upper worlds, eating two of her bodies on the way without even saying thank you.
I wrote this as a birthday present for Bogi Takács; it’s the first and only story I’ve ever successfully written as a present. (Unless you count the rambling, badly spelled tale I once free-wrote for A. Merc Rustad, in which Elric of Melniboné meets Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid and Lovecraftian sea-witch hijinks ensue.)
Bogi was kind enough to make the process easy by listing story tropes that e liked: these included cephalopods and hive minds, especially if the hive minds were not presented as a bad thing. I ended up with a strange, almost fairy-tale-like flash story about a hive mind of squid. (At least one beta reader mistook it for a children’s story, which… Please don’t do that. There is flaying. A child who likes death and creepy stuff would probably enjoy it, but otherwise… don’t.)
After I showed the story to Bogi, I submitted it to the Friends of the Merrill Collection Contest (which it won) and then to various magazines, including Strange Horizons, which published it in December 2013. It’s free to read there. Out of all the stories I have ever written since then, this is still the one with my favorite title.
Song Pairing: Even aside from the fact that the literal voice of a literal whale is important in the story, there is no better accompaniment for this weird little undersea story than George Crumb’s beautifully weird piece of undersea chamber music, Voice of the Whale.