35. An Operatic Tour of New Jersey, With Raptors
The Apocalypse begins when Diego sings Count Almaviva in “The Barber of Seville” in Dover, New Jersey. He doesn’t notice anything wrong until after the curtain call, when he steps out of the Baker Theater onto West Blackwell Street, struggling to balance the three bouquets of roses in his arms, and walks into a horde of running, screaming people, pursued by a Tyrannosaurus.
I wrote most of this story in a single day in the spring of 2013. I loved the concept so much that, once I had enough to write the title down, the rest of the draft just flowed. (Which is not to say it didn’t need edits – it very much did!)
I can’t take credit for the idea. Someone on Twitter – I no longer remember who – wrote that they were tired of zombie apocalypses and wanted a velociraptor apocalypse. I wrote one. (With paleontologically accurate velociraptors – small, feathered, etc. And a lot of other dinosaurs to boot.) The protagonist is an opera singer who, following the apocalypse, sets out to sing in every opera house that he can.
The protagonist of “An Operatic Tour of New Jersey, With Raptors” is named Diego – and his unfortunately deceased fiancé, Juan – after the Peruvian bel canto tenor Juan Diego Flórez.
It was published in AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review in August 2013, though I don’t think it’s back up on their refurbished site yet. I have, on one occasion, read this story to a live audience and actually sung the sung bits. It was fun.
Song Pairing: Given how a variety of songs from The Barber of Seville pop up all over this story, the obvious song choice is “Largo al Factotum” – sung here by Flórez’s castmate at the Met, Peter Mattei.
36. Under the Clear Bright Waters
She dove into this water expecting to die, after all. She never expected someone was waiting for her underneath.
“Under the Clear Bright Waters” is the only work of outright erotica I’ve ever published. (There’s also “The Giantess’s Dream,” but that’s poetry, and the boundaries with poetry are more fluid.) It’s a lesbian story with a very mild BDSM element, set in ancient Greece, loosely inspired by the myth of Hylas and the water nymphs.
This story was written because of a writing group I used to be part of, along with A. Merc Rustad, Krista D. Ball, and others. Like many close-knit writing groups, we began to fantasize about the idea of publishing our own little anthology. Except that the group contained people who wrote in several very different genres – SFF, romance/erotica, litfic, and other things. We decided that the best compromise between all of these genres was an anthology of fantasy erotic romance, themed around Fae.
Because of struggles in people’s personal lives, disputes within the group, and the other factors that typically hamper such projects, the anthology was never made. But “Under the Clear Bright Waters” was, and now it’s in Monsters In My Mind for your reading pleasure.
Song Pairing: I’m probably just trolling myself at this point, but “Under the Clear Bright Waters” makes reference to an ancient Greek theory in which all bodies of water were connected through a series of underground caverns. So its companion music is now John Williams’ “Passage Through the Planet Core“, from a movie with a very different planet full of underground seas. The soft and mysterious watery atmosphere fits with the story’s tone, I think.