fantasy fiction novelette Tales from the Subcontinent

story sale

Hmm-hah. Dusty. Apparently I’ve had nothing to say to the internet at large for quite some time.

But news today: My fourth sale to the estimable online monthly GigaNotoSaurus. Editor Rashida J. Smith estimates “The Tale of the Ive-ojan-akhar’s Death” will be posted next summer or a bit later, depending on inventory. Long after I’ve spent the payment, then.

Begun years ago in Rhode Island, completed here in Oregon, “Ive-ojan-akhar” is a tale from the history of the  Kandadal’s World, taking place about two hundred years after “The Oily Man” (in Berman, ed., Handsome Devil, 2014) in some of the same locales. It’s long, elliptical, difficult, and I quite like it. I’m gratified Rashida does as well.

Otherwise: It’s summer, finally, and my garden looks well.

6 June 2017, dawn

Other-otherwise, the novel I’ve been secretively writing since November reached the 300-typescript-page landmark last night.

fantasy fiction novelette self

spring is here*

And with it my first published story in two years. Go. Read. (It’s free.) Then, if you missed it and if you like, there’s a bit of background on “The Garden of Sons and Husbands” here.**


* Or so they say. I am not so sure. El-Niño-birthed weather patterns mean it’s been dismal in the southern Willamette Valley: grey, chilly, rainy—oh, the rain. Until this week there hasn’t been a stretch of more than four days without it since December, I think, and I don’t trust the current sunny respite.

Or maybe I’m just still in a dismal, wintry mood, unable or unwilling to appreciate the springiness in the air. Because the truth is the winter 2015-16 was thoroughly unpleasant. I was sick, so sick, from mid-December until…well, officially I’m mostly recovered and convalescing on schedule but I wouldn’t say I’m well. A few words: Pneumonia. Pleurisy. Empyema. Three weeks ago I was in hospital with a tube in my chest and IV fluids and antibiotics dripping into my veins. Since then I’ve had a fancy catheter in my right arm for the daily outpatient infusion of yet more weapons-grade antibiotics—scheduled to come out this afternoon. Finally, thank merciful and compassionate God, I’ll be able to take a shower.

So, yeah. It’s been ugly and I have accomplished little these four months besides attempting to regain my health.

So there’s my excuse for not posting anything here since early December.

And here, because we could all use some cheering up and my deck garden has been performing in despite of the weather, some photos of flowers. Flowers are good.

Crocuses, 25 January.
Crocuses, 25 January. Their second spring.
A single snowdrop, 4 February. A disappointment—only one of last spring’s flowered though they all came up, and only one of the five put in in the fall survived.
A single snowdrop, 4 February. A disappointment—only one of last spring’s flowered though they all came up, and only one of the five bulbs put in this past autumn survived.
Reticulated iris, 4 February. Repeats from last spring.
Reticulated iris, 4 February. Repeats from last spring.
Wood violets, 16 March. Another disappointment: they're clearly labelled Viola odorata but possess no fragrance whatever.
Wood violets, 16 March. Another disappointment: they’re clearly labelled Viola odorata yet possess no fragrance whatever. But pretty.
Iceland poppy (rather storm tossed), 16 March. I sowed the seeds last spring but nothing ever came up, saddening me. Then, when I was cleaning out that box in the fall I discovered two sprouts and decided to see if they’d make it through the winter. As you see, they did.
Iceland poppy (rather storm tossed), 16 March. I sowed the seeds last spring but nothing ever came up, saddening me. Then, when I was cleaning out that box in the autumn I discovered two sprouts and decided to see if they’d make it through the winter. As you see, they did.
Second Iceland poppy, newly opened and in context, 16 March.
Second Iceland poppy, newly opened and in context, 16 March. Reticulated iris in foreground, slowly opening anemone to the right.
Close-up of the poppy, 16 March.
Close-up of lemon-yellow poppy, 16 March. Presently there are five buds to look forward to.
Rosemary, 16 March. Of all the many rosemaries I've owned over the years, the first to flower for me.
Rosemary, 16 March. Of all the many rosemaries I’ve owned over the years, the first to flower for me.
Pucshkinia, 27 March. I thought they’d be taller. (I also never thought all the clarkia seed sowed in the fall would be up so far so early.)
Pucshkinia, 27 March. I thought they’d be taller. (I also never thought all the clarkia seed sowed in the fall would be up so far so early.)
Stocks, 27 March. Survivors from last summer.
Stocks, 27 March. Survivors from last summer.
First anenome, 27 March. A bit past its prime. Two more on the way, one apparently the same blue.
First anenome, 27 March. A bit past its prime. Two more on the way, one apparently the same blue.
Tulip magnolia (left) and lilac in the downbelow, 30 March. Poor things would appreciate pruning. I don't know what the purple masses in the left foreground are but they’re certainly cheerful.
Tulip magnolia (left, and a happier specimen in the neighbor’s yard beyond the fence) and lilac in the downbelow, 30 March. Poor things would benefit from pruning. I don’t know what the purple masses in the left foreground are but they’re certainly cheerful.
Flowering plum trees out the bedroom window, 31 March. Tasty plums, too.
Flowering plum trees out the bedroom window, 31 March. Tasty plums, too.
Primrose and I don’t know what, 31 March. The primrose survives from winter before last when I had multiple specimens potted in the living foom to alleviate the gloom. The other thing I first believed another puschkinia, although I didn’t recall planting any in that box, but on closer inspection, no. Perhaps a triffid.
Primrose and I don’t know what, 31 March. The primrose survives from winter before last when I had multiple specimens potted in the living room to alleviate the gloom. The other thing I first believed another puschkinia, although I didn’t recall planting any in that box, but on closer inspection, no. Perhaps a triffidling.

** [That fourth 2015 story meant to be completed by New Year’s? Ha ha, no, alas. I was allowed a generous deadline extension but even so. Stupid narrative chose to become complicated and to address issues far outside the brief. Perhaps I’ll finish it one day, perhaps not, but in any case it won’t appear in the intended anthology.]


fantasy fiction novelette

story news

I have not been talking about writing much but the fact is I’m doing it. Some. Now and again. And even finishing things…infrequently.

Which is to say, so far this year three stories, two longish and one shortish. And a fourth I mean to complete before the New Year’s Eve submission deadline (get cracking, Jeffers!). I won’t say anything yet about #1 or #3 because they’re out on submission and jinx.

But #2 I can talk about because it just sold and will appear, Kindly Editor tells me, probably in the spring of next year.

As a dreamy, bookish, introverted, somewhat alienated sprog in the early 1970s I naturally fell under the spell of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. (I’ll give you a moment to snigger about the series title. Even in those innocent days, “adult” as a descriptor for, uh, “art” had undertones of “raunchy,” if it hadn’t quite become the euphemism for “pornographic” we now recognize. One wonders how Ballantine Books’ publicity department let it pass.)

Here is the scene: the summer before I started my second year at prep school in Pebble Beach, California—a peculiar gated community consisting primarily of golf courses and scenic vistas, adjacent to the equally peculiar village of Carmel-by-the-Sea, my hometown. My elder brother had attended the same school (would later return for a long career as a teacher), my younger brother came up three years later, and my mother had just been hired as school librarian. Conveniently enough, as the family couldn’t really afford my tuition. That summer she put in several hours a day familiarizing herself with the library and cleaning up inherited messes.

She dragooned me to help out. My wage was one new paperback book a week with the promise of no complaints if I chose trash (science fiction or fantasy) as I was certain to do. Friday afternoons after a few hours of work we would drive down to what passed for Pebble Beach’s commercial district for lunch at the drugstore before spending another hour or two swimming and sunning at the Del Monte Beach Club. But between the lunching and the clubbing I had a short precious period to rifle through the drugstore’s two spinner racks of new mass-market paperbacks.

I don’t suppose more than a quarter of them were SF or fantasy. Indeed, I’m not sure how those two racks managed to provide a book I wanted every week for the entire summer. I do recall that the first Ballantine Adult Fantasy title I encountered shocked me with its price—$1.25 instead of the 75¢ or 95¢ then standard—and I worried about choosing it since it was so expensive. Apparently my mother was pleased with my work that week, though, because she made no protest. I don’t remember which book it was, which novel or collection or anthology with which gorgeous Gervasio Gallardo or David McCall Johnston or Bob Pepper cover.

At any rate, I bought a great many BAF titles during my high-school years. I wish I still had them but they—and too many other books—were lost in the First Great Book Disaster when stored for several years in the damper-than-I-knew basement of a friend’s house. Alas.

But the point of this exercise in nostalgia is to bring up California poet/short-story writer/graphic artist/sculptor Clark Ashton Smith, whose fiction I first encountered in BAF editions…and who had something of a local connection. As a poet he was a disciple of George Sterling, who lived some while in Carmel and was one of the earliest champions of my grandfather’s work. CAS himself resided the last few years of his life in Pacific Grove, on the other side of Pebble Beach from Carmel.

CAS is probably least remembered of the great Weird Tales triumvirate of the 1920s and ’30s, after Conan the Barbarian’s creator Robert E. Howard and well after dread Cthulhu’s daddy, H.P. Lovecraft. When he is remembered it’s as the prose stylist of the trio…a judgment I’m no longer quite willing to accept. He had a distinctive style, surely (all three did), but it’s a good deal too empurpled, too incarnadined, too penny-a-sesquipedalian-word for my present taste. Teenage Alex, though, fell hard under the spell of his tales of necromancy and lurking unease set in the bejewelled tapestries of mediaeval Averoigne, prehistoric Hyperborea, postdiluvian Poseidonis (last fragment of sunken Atlantis), and, especially, in Zothique.

Zothique, in the CAS legendarium, is all that remains of the continents of Earth millennia hence as the planet and its sun near extinction. It’s a place of dusty deserts and ancient ruined cities, curses and bloodthirsty gods and necromancers—so many necromancers. It’s the direct antecedent of Jack Vance’s Dying Earth—Vance admitted as much—which I would discover a few years later, and hence of an entire subgenre of fantastical literature. Thank all Zothique’s dread, rabid gods, however, that said subgenre follows Vance more closely than CAS. The latter had a vivid, lurid imagination and a distressingly large vocabulary but his plots are primitive and his characters less than types, seldom criticisms that can be made of Vance.

That said, “The Garden of Sons and Husbands,” my own first (possibly only ever?) addition to the Dying Earth subgenre, is intended in part as homage to CAS and to the Ballantine Adult Fantasy edition of his Zothique stories with the deliciously creepy George Barr cover that so enthralled teenage Alex.

I came up with the novelette’s title some years ago back in Rhode Island (August 2009, to be precise) and drafted about half the first, long paragraph before setting it aside. But the title was too good to lose and in July of this year I wrote all the other paragraphs. A good many of them. Just under eleven thousand words’ worth. Sufficient that I will claim “The Garden of Sons and Husbands” as the first story written in Oregon, in distinction to the first story completed (#1 above, which I’m not really talking about), two months before but already two-thirds drafted before I crossed the continent. (Every word of #3 was written right here in Eugene. Also not talking about.)

And yay, the third market I submitted “The Garden” took it, that being the intriguing webzine dedicated to long stories of science fiction and fantasy This will be my third appearance, after “Tattooed Love Boys” in March 2012 and “A Man Not of Canaan” in July 2013. The first two sold to founding editor/publisher Ann Leckie before anybody knew who she was. Now that she’s deservedly famous (the Ancillary trilogy is so fine), GigaNotoSaurus is edited by Rashida J. Smith—who will doubtless become famous herself soon enough—and I am delighted to sell to the new management.


I will post a link when “The Garden of Sons and Husbands” goes live next year.

fantasy fiction football (soccer) historical fantasy Lethe Press novelette novella Rahab SF short stories spec fic

book news

Long ago at the beginning of time—in 1976, that is—the first piece of fiction I was ever paid money for appeared in print. If I remember correctly, that story paid for my first electric typewriter. I’d written it longhand in a prep-school spiral-bound notebook, then typed it up on a portable manual Hermès that might be worth some money now if I still had it.

Let me do the math: Sometime in 2016 I will have been a Published Author for forty years. How is that even possible?

To mark the anniversary, I thought, how about a collection of stories, new and old? Not quite as old as forty years—I reread some of that apprentice work from the 1970s and ’80s. I don’t hate it (much) but don’t feel like preserving it either. Let future scholars and heirs do that after I’m dead. So the initial date I chose is 1990, the year I acquired my first computer (an Apple Macintosh SE of blessèd memory) and determined once for all the name I wished to be known under.

I brought the notion to Gentle Publisher, who agreed with good grace (although he nixed my proposed cover in no uncertain terms) and surprised me utterly by saying, “I’ll find somebody interesting to write an introduction.” I am as curious as you are who that will be!

At any rate, barring unforeseen mischance, out in July 2016 from Lethe Press will be a massive tome entitled Not Here. Not Now. collecting thirteen stories and novellas from a quarter century’s work in (and out of) multiple genres.

table of contents

  • “Composition with Barbarian and Animal” [written 1992/published 1994]
    Science fiction, a tale of barbarian merchants in the strange worlds of the far future.
  • “You Deserve” [2013/2013]
    Contemporary dark fantasy about a teenager and his dads, dreadful impulses and dreadful powers.
  • “Michael in the Library” [1991/1998]
    Quasi-historical fiction set in Roman Alexandria, concerning a scribe at the famous library and his lover, a novelist.
  • “Seb and Duncan and the Sirens” [2010-2012/2014]
    Contemporary fantasy: American tourists. Greek island. Sirens.
  • “A Handbook for the Castaway” [1996/1997]
    Quasi-historical fiction, the shipwreck narrative of an eighteenth-century pirate.
  • “A Portrait in India Ink by Harry Clarke” [2013/2013]
    Semi-historical* romance revolving around an Irish artist’s gorgeous illustration for a minor Poe story.
    *(do the 1960s count as history?)
  • “Dramma per musica; or, The Frenzy of Alexander” [1995/previously unpublished in full]
    Faux-autobiographical fiction containing, as in a matryoshka, a narrative of Baroque-opera castrato erotica.
  • “Three Men I Want” [1995/1997]
    A non-fiction short story, deceptively autobiographical, ambiguously confessional.
  • “The Hyena’s Blessing” [2012/2013]
    Quasi-historical fantasy set in eleventh-century Egypt, involving an assassin, a caliph, and, well, zombies.
  • “Captain of the World” [2010/2011]
    Contemporary sports fiction. No, really. Narrated by a Turkish-American soccer goalkeeper.
  • “#duranperi” [2013/previously unpublished]
    Contemporary fantasy, a kind of fairy tale taking place at the edges of the Gezi Park protests in İstanbul during the summer of 2013.
  • “Two Dead Men” [2012/2012]
    Secondary-world fantasy, a supernatural love story set during and ten years after a vicious civil war.
  • “The New People” [2008-2009/2011]
    Science fiction, an exploration of the society evolved on an isolated colony world three hundred years after all the women died. And a love story. And a fan letter to Israeli singer-songwriter Ivri Lider.

fantasy fiction Greece novelette spec fic

’nother February story

Out of the blue! (I just found about it this afternoon.)

I’m pleased to report that my novelette “Seb and Duncan and the Sirens” will appear in Glitterwolf, a handsome and handsomely named new(ish) British journal published thrice a year in print and electronic editions. The issue in question, #5, will be out before the end of the month. Here’s the cover:

Glitterwolf Five

I probably should have tried a tiny bit harder to come up with a title that didn’t telegraph the whole story, eh what? It’s another young-Americans-on-European-vacation story—a theme I may exhaust one day. Or not. In this case codependent best friends and roommates Seb and Duncan from Boston, who run into guess who on an Aegean island. Hijinx ensue. I’ll stop there.

Editor/designer/publisher Matt Cresswell has posted the table of contents for Glitterwolf #5 on Facebook. I recognize the name of one (1) fiction writer but none of the poets or visual artists. New stuff, new stuff.

fantasy fiction novelette short stories spec fic Tales from the Subcontinent

February stories

Two new stories out this month for your entertainment. Yay? First, due on 5 February (according to Amazon; sources differ) in Handsome Devil: Stories of Sin and Seduction* from Prime Books, a novelette, “The Oily Man.” This is a tale from the world of the Kandadal, finally in print a year and a half after I finished and sold it.


I have my contributor’s copy in hand and can aver that (my story aside) Handsome Devil is a fine, big (big!) assemblage of incubi and other supernatural lovers.

* Seduction and Sin kept changing places in the subtitle. I (and friendly editor, I believe) found Seduction and Sin more interesting and intriguing, but apparently friendly publisher disagreed.

Second, due on 11 February (again, per Amazon), just in time for Valentine’s Day, in Best Gay Romance 2014 from Cleis Press, “Shep: A Dog,” a short story about a hapless high school poet and a stray dog set in my home town many years after I shook its sand off my heels. My contributor’s copy has not yet arrived—as of this morning’s trip to the post office—but I have seen the table of contents and the appropriately romantic cover.


Go. Buy. Read.

fantasy fiction historical fantasy magical realism novelette short stories spec fic

stories stories

Parts of June 2013 have been intensely unpleasant but July is my birthday month so it’s got to get better, no? At any rate, I have three original stories and two reprints scheduled for that fateful month.

First, going live at on Monday, 1 July, “A Man Not of Canaan.” This is a work of (not terribly rigorous, I fear) historical fantasy set primarily in the days preceding and following the Bronze Age volcanic eruption of Thira—AKA Santorini—in the Cyclades. Archaeologists presume that catastrophe spelled the end of Minoan civilization and that tales of Thira’s destruction form the foundation of Plato’s Atlantis. “A Man Not of Canaan” reveals for the first time that the eruption was not natural. Rather, it was the deliberate, malicious elimination of a cyclopean city in the depths of Thira’s harbor. I will not (nor will the story) directly reveal the cosmic entity responsible for the eruption but any reader familiar with H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos can probably figure it out…and berate me for taking liberties with the canon.


Second, already glimpsed in the wild (a Philadelphia-area Barnes & Noble) by its editor, Bad Seeds: Evil Progeny is apparently available early from Prime Books. Although I’ve not yet received a contributor’s copy. My story “You Deserve” is narrated by teenage Max, recently adopted by Stuart Ackles-Echeverría and Esteban Echeverría-Ackles and visiting for the first time their vacation cottage on a Massachussetts lake. Here he develops a crush on Rory, another summer visitor, and…bad things happen.


Third, another Steve Berman production—this time from his own press—Where Thy Dark Eye Glances: Queering Edgar Allan Poe will go into general release around mid-month. Often truncated on line due to an early editorial misstep, the full title of my story therein is “A Portrait in India Ink by Harry Clarke”—Clarke being an Irish illustrator of the early twentieth century known for (among others) the drawings he made for a 1916 London edition of Poe. In an advance review at Ideomancer, Claire Humphrey writes: “Alex Jeffers’ ‘A Portrait in India Ink by Harry Clarke’ is as gorgeous as the picture to which the title refers, limning a young man’s sexual awakening in the fascinating lights of a migraine aura.”


And the reprints. For Best Gay Stories 2013, Berman selected my “Wheat, Barley, Lettuce, Fennel, Salt for Sorrow, Blood for Joy,” previously reprinted in You Will Meet a Stranger Far from Home, originally published in Boys of Summer. One reviewer of the collection took me to task for stating flat-out on the back cover that Luke, Our Hero, “meets Adonis on a sailing cruise off the coast of Turkey.” Sorry about that, Sirius. Let’s clarify: Luke encounters variations on and memories of the myth of Adonis, and a young man who may (or may not) embody aspects of that handsome demigod. My contributor’s copy has not yet arrived but I believe the anthology is available for purchase.


And for Wilde Stories 2013: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction, the indefatigable Berman chose “Tattooed Love Boys,” likewise reprinted in You Will Meet a Stranger, originally published (in slightly different form) at GigaNotoSaurus in March 2012. A story Berman has loved excessively since I wrote it way back in 2009, in which vacationing Emma and her elder brother Theo get caught up in the schemes of three uncanny, immortal entities who may (or may not) be angels.


(Yes, the weather warmed up and I cut my hair in the two or three weeks between this snapshot and the one above.)

Looking ahead, Prime Books will release Berman’s Zombies: Shambling Through the Ages in August—which is to say, it will probably go into distribution in mid to late July. That mammoth volume includes my “The Hyena’s Blessing,” a tale of an assassin, a caliph, and the shambling undead in eleventh century Cairo. I’m not permitted to speak about another story in Zombies to which I have a troubling connection.


Finally for today, lest you think (as I far too often do) I’ve given up entirely on writing new stories, I will state for the record that I’m presently thisclose to completing a draft of “Lamp Night,” a fearfully long story about heretics, saints, and angels that takes place on Laylat al-Qadr, the Night of Power, in contemporary Pawtucket and Providence, Rhode Island.

Deprivation novelette work in progress

a startlement

Long ago when the world and I were young, carefree—before mobile phones and e-readers and the World Wide Web, almost before personal computers (a decade before I acquired one of my own)—I worked in a public library. For the greater part of that tenure, I was the drone who made sure all the new books the professional librarians recommended were promptly ordered and added to the collection. Among the wonders of that job* was license to study the review journals on which the librarians based their decisions. Committed readers may recognize the names of some of those journals attached to fulsome praise on the covers or flyleaves of their favorite books:  Publishers Weekly. Library Journal and its younger sibling School Library Journal. Booklist. Kirkus Reviews.

In library, bookselling, and publishing circles, Kirkus particularly is renowned for the gleeful savagery of its judgments. Its takedowns were often a sheer, mean joy to read. I can still feel the tingle of outrage and delight when one of my pro-librarian friends brought to my attention Kirkus’s brutal evisceration of 75% of an anthology containing an early story of mine. Alas that I can’t quite recall the vicious half-sentence devoted to my piece—only the demoralizing fact I rated just half a sentence.

I better remember the oddly pleasurable disappointment I felt years later when I understood Kirkus had entirely ignored the first edition of Safe as Houses. How vicious will they be? I’d asked myself again and again. So cruel they declined to recognize its existence!

All of this is preamble to announcing that Kirkus has reviewed my long-delayed second full-length novel, Deprivation; or, Benedetto furioso: an oneiromancy. And…and I am bewildered! The anonymous reviewer isn’t savage at all. I could wish three tiny errors hadn’t been made [it’s Ben’s small apartment in Providence; the man’s name is Paolo and he taught Italian] and the review is almost uncomfortably perceptive, but really, really, I’m shockingly pleased.

Fascinated by an idealized version of Italy he imagines from literature and art, a young gay man goes through the motions of a mundane life in the 1990s, while sleep deprivation causes vivid dreams that blend strangely with reality.

Jeffers’ fuguelike story elevates everyday people and places to the fantastical with beautifully evocative language and detailed descriptions. … At the same time Ben is perhaps creating these people, they help define him. Everyone seems to have moments when they’re real and moments when they’re fantasy; even dreams have agendas and needs to push upon Ben. … An exquisite flow of language ensures that the narrative doesn’t get lost even as Ben drifts.

A gorgeous journey to nowhere.

The full review won’t go live for non-subscribers to Kirkus until two weeks before publication, but here’s a link to where it will show up. Lethe Press will release Deprivation in two and a quarter months, at the end of February, 2013.

*I’m not going to lie. The opportunity to buy books for myself at library discounts was the very best part.

In other news, I guess I’m announcing a majorish project that may or may not work out.

And here is the cover of Wilde Stories 2013: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction, in which my novelette “Tattooed Love Boys” (originally published at GigaNotoSaurus last spring, then in You Will Meet a Stranger Far from Home) will be reprinted. Forthcoming from Lethe Press in mid-June.

Photo by Rob Lorino, layout/typography by me.


fantasy fiction novelette Tales from the Subcontinent

further news from the subcontinent

Actually news from Aveng, a small country on the far tropical southeastern coast of the great continent from Fejz—birthplace of the mother of “Two Dead Men”’s narrator and the site of his decade’s exile.

Last evening I wrote the last line of a draft of “The Oily Man.” My third subcontinental tale turned out somewhat longer and quite a bit stranger than I had envisioned when I set out in response to an invitation: stories of incubi for a forthcoming themed anthology. That was in May, when I began. Four months. Four months.

At any rate, I completed the draft and e-mailed it off with grave misgivings to the editor who had said he wanted it by early July. I expected him to say the first two thirds were bloated, the conclusion unexpected, unjustified, inconclusive, ambiguous, and odd, the whole probably salvageable with a good deal of work.

Next thing I knew I was downloading a contract.

Ha-hrrm. Well. Shows how well I judge my own work. A few little bits he wants expanded—he objects to late-Regency/early-Victorian euphemisms (he’s correct, too; if the story’s a period piece the period is at least two centuries earlier)—wouldn’t bleach be anachronistic? (yes)—if I can get it up from 9,100 words to an even 10,000 he’ll be just as pleased. But I’m meant to understand “The Oily Man” will appear in a volume working-titled Handsome Devil due from Prime Books late next year. Steve tells me Handsome Devil will also include a fine tale by Tanith Lee, who gave You Will Meet a Stranger Far from Home such a spectacular blurb.

The narrator of “The Oily Man” is the disappointing youngest son of a merchant family of Trebt. In the latter years of that world’s Age of Discovery, Trebt is one of the subcontinental states to have established trade concessions with the queen on the Jade Stool of Aveng. After a scandal, the narrator is packed off on a seven-month voyage to the Avengi port of Folau. An elder sister he hasn’t seen for a decade is already established in Folau, married into a local family.

Within a month of arrival, the young man finds himself surrounded by incomprehensible political maneuvering. The merchant-adventurers resident in the subcontinental enclave at Folau are friendly rivals but rivals nonetheless. Offshore in quarantine are representatives of subcontinental superpower Sjolussa, late to the southeastern sea trade and jealous of the smaller nations’ privileges. (It’s not a spoiler to note that Sjolussa will annex Aveng and its neighbor states about a century later.) The queen in the capital three weeks’ trip away bestows her favors capriciously. Adherents of the throne-sponsored religion quarrel with followers of enigmatic philosopher-saint the Kandadal.

Then our narrator is surprised in his bed by an amorous demon, who may have been set upon him by an enemy. Or a friend.

Also there’s a duel. A courtesan of ambiguous gender who knows things. A shipwreck.

The theme song of “The Oily Man” is this track from Ivri Lider’s Mishehu Paam, a song that gives me the shivers.

Now back to work on the fourth tale from the subcontinent…. Oh. Wait. A collection of stories to lay out and two novel MSs to copyedit. Dammit.

No. Wait. Time for bed.

fantasy fiction historical fantasy novelette spec fic

out of the bronze age

I am very pleased to report my second sale to that estimable online ’zine dedicated to spec-fic stories of awkward lengths, GigaNotoSaurus. What an excellent message to find when I surfaced from an eighteen-hour bout of copyediting. Editor Ann Leckie has requested small but consequential revisions to the MS but is confident enough of my competence to get them right to project publication next spring, April or May. So, a bit over a year after “Tattooed Love Boys.”

Originally drafted nearly two years ago under a different title and set in the Bronze Age eastern Mediterranean, “A Man Not of Canaan” is a tale of, among other subjects, BDSM and Lovecraftian Elder Gods. But not, I think, a horror story. I’ve never written a horror story, I don’t think, nor wished to.