It’s just been confirmed that “Two Dead Men,” second-written of my tales from the subcontinent, will appear in the Fall 2012 issue of Icarus alongside a new story by that capricious sodomite Hal Duncan and who knows what all other wonders. Apparently not (yet) the editor/publisher, who a week ago was still scouting to fill the issue. “As soon as the next rejection note comes in,” I told him, “you can have that war story you liked.”
I’ve mentioned the subcontinent a few times—most recently the day before yesterday. It’s a major geographical/cultural/political feature of a secondary world I conceived in primitive form last winter on an early-morning walk through the snow along Blackstone Boulevard in Providence, and continue to develop piecemeal as stories require. I wanted a world much like our own but with more opportunities for the miraculous. In the present day of that world, people use their smartphones to navigate unfamiliar cities, drive cars and motorscooters, read novels (in print and on electronic devices), watch movies…and interact with uncanny forces and beings. The subcontinent serves as an analogue for Europe: a fractured patchwork of small and medium-sized nations that fight far above their weight on the world stage.
“Two Dead Men” takes place in the subcontinental city of Fejz, rebuilt after a devastating civil war (parallels with the Bosnian war obvious and intended). An expatriate survivor of the siege of Fejz returns ten years later, not because he believes in “closure” but because the government and his relatives do. In the unfamiliar new-old city, he discovers something different—better? more valid?—different and personal and numinous.