Posts tagged with "fantasy" - Faerye Net 2013-01-30T07:56:54+00:00 Felicity Shoulders "Small Towns" available to read online! 2013-01-30T07:56:54+00:00 2013-01-31T21:03:20+00:00 <p>Because I am not the sort of person who likes to hear half a story myself, I don&#8217;t like putting others in that situation. Therefore, when I chose to read my novelette &#8220;Small Towns&#8221; at the <span class="caps">SFWA</span> Northwest Readings this month, I decided to plop the full text online for everyone to finish reading, whether they made it to the event or not! It&#8217;s a very different sort of story from &#8220;Conditional Love&#8221;, the other story I&#8217;ve <a href="" target="links">made available online</a>, and I like the contrast quite a bit.</p> <p>&#8220;Small Towns&#8221; is a historical fantasy novelette, first published in the January/February 2012 issue of <a href="" target="links"><em>F&amp;SF</em></a>. Thanks to the kind offices of my co-protagonist <a href="" target="links">Ryan Grove</a>, it&#8217;s available <a href="">as a web page</a> or you can download the <a href=""><span class="caps">PDF</span></a> or <a href="">ePub file</a>.</p> <p>Here&#8217;s the teaser for those who didn&#8217;t make it to the readings:</p> <blockquote> <center><b>Small Towns</b></center> <p>When Jacques Jaillet was a small boy, he brought home a pocketful of sand from the seaside and dribbled it slowly onto the floorboards of his little room. He made long avenues and cottage roofs, rows of shops, garden walls, a church with a fragment of shell for the tower. Then, for no reason he could later recall, he took a deep breath and blew it all away, the shapes and the order, the grains themselves skittering under the baseboard, gone forever.</p> <p>When Jacques returned to his market town in 1918, past his middle years, it looked as if here, too, a monstrous child had finished playing and had blown the town, the streets, the houses and shops from the face of the Earth.</blockquote></p> <p>Go and <b><a href="">read the rest!</a></b></p> Interview about "Small Towns" on the F&SF blog 2012-02-10T15:50:11+00:00 2012-02-10T15:50:35+00:00 <p>I was asked to do an email interview about &#8220;Small Towns&#8221;, my novelette <a href="" target="links">currently available in the January/February <em>Fantasy and Science Fiction</em></a>. Assistant Editor Stephen Mazur has posted the interview over at the <a href="" target="links"><em>F&amp;SF</em> blog</a>.</p> <p>I was really glad to have the opportunity &#8212; writing this one was interesting and unusual, and I hope readers are interested in the extra information.</p> <p><a href="" target="links">Go and see!</a></p> "Small Towns" on shelves in January/February issue of F&SF! 2012-01-03T16:29:21+00:00 2012-01-13T10:09:16+00:00 <p>My <a href="" target="links">first published novelette</a>, first published fantasy, and first published historical fiction are all out on newsstands today and they are all the same thing: &#8220;Small Towns,&#8221; published in the January/February 2012 issue of <a href="" target="links"><em>The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction</em></a>!</p> <center> <p><img src="" /></center></p> <p>I hope all my stories have their own flavor, but this one is particularly idiosyncratic and I&#8217;m quite proud of it.</p> <p>Here&#8217;s the beginning, to whet your appetite:</p> <blockquote> <center><b>Small Towns</b></center> <p>When Jacques Jaillet was a small boy, he brought home a pocketful of sand from the seaside and dribbled it slowly onto the floorboards of his little room. He made long avenues and cottage roofs, rows of shops, garden walls, a church with a fragment of shell for the tower. Then, for no reason he could later recall, he took a deep breath and blew it all away, the shapes and the order, the grains themselves skittering under the baseboard, gone forever.</p> <p>When Jacques returned to his market town in 1918, past his middle years, it looked as if here, too, a monstrous child had finished playing and had blown the town, the streets, the houses and shops from the face of the Earth.</blockquote></p> <p>I hope you&#8217;ll go out and buy the magazine at your local newsstand or Barnes &amp; Nobles. Portlanders, <a href="" target="links">Rich’s Cigar Store</a> has copies!</p> <p><strong>Edited 1/13/12:</strong> <em>F&amp;SF</em> is <a href="" target="links">available for Kindle</a>, as well!</p> Firsts! (In which I make another sale) 2011-07-14T19:26:06+00:00 2011-07-14T19:26:12+00:00 <p>It&#8217;s not easy opening a securely closed envelope while carrying the rest of the mail, a set of keys, and a plastic bag full of Chinese takeaway. But sometimes it&#8217;s worth it! Teasing open this particular envelope yielded me an acceptance letter from none other than <a href="" target="links"><em>The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction</em></a>, more commonly known as F&amp;SF!</p> <p>This sale marks <em>several</em> firsts for me. It&#8217;s my <strong>first fantasy sale ever</strong>, and my first novelette sale! (For those of you not up on our obscure lingo, that means it&#8217;s longer than my previous short fiction sales &#8212; <a href="" target="links">over 7500 words</a>.) It&#8217;s also my first sale to this excellent magazine.</p> <p>The novelette in question is called &#8220;Small Towns&#8221;, and it&#8217;s set just after World War I in Europe. So I suppose it will be my first published historical fiction, as well! I am proud and excited &#8212; thanks to everybody who read this story and believed in it, especially my critique group and Ryan!</p> <p>As soon as I know more about when this story is coming out, I&#8217;ll pass it on here. <em>&Agrave; la prochaine!</em></p> Plug plug - Kelley Caspari's Sculpture 2011-06-08T10:36:42+00:00 2011-06-08T10:37:10+00:00 <p>My good friend <a href="" target="links">Kelley Caspari</a> is a splendid sculptor, who&#8217;s been working hard on a project she wants to show at Worldcon. She doesn&#8217;t like stasis, which is a challenge for a sculptor. She&#8217;s taking it on by creating narrative in a bust: she chooses a pair of archetypical characters from stories and myth, and sculpts one bust: half one character, half the other.</p> <p>Kelley&#8217;s an amazing artist and the attention to detail is pretty stellar.</p> <center><img src="" /><br /> <strong>Blind</strong> by Kelley Caspari<br /> More angles and details (whose tail is that in the witch&#8217;s hair?) on Kelley&#8217;s <a href="" target="links">Kickstarter</a>.</center> <p>This is just one of the two busts, the witch/king one. To see her siren/sailor piece, click on through to Kelley&#8217;s <a href="" target="links">Kickstarter page</a>. You can help her name that one, whether or not you donate to her project!</p> <p>These sculptures are done, but they need to be cast in bronze so that Kelley can show them at Worldcon (imagine trying to transport hundreds of hours of your life in the form of mushy clay in crates), so that&#8217;s what her Kickstarter campaign is all about. I&#8217;m spreading the word about Kelley&#8217;s project because I love her work and I believe it should have a wider audience &#8212; even if you aren&#8217;t able to donate yourself, I hope if you like her sculptures, you&#8217;ll spread the word with a tweet or blog post or status update or what-have-you. She only has four more days to make up the last fourth of her goal! And that is my shameless plug for the month, if not the year.</p> A lean, cadaverous figure 2010-10-20T15:35:10+00:00 2010-10-20T15:37:40+00:00 <p>I&#8217;m in the midst of two rereads right now: I&#8217;m listening to an audiobook of <em>Mansfield Park</em> and blazing my way through the entirety of <em>The Chronicles of Amber</em>. (So far I&#8217;ve noticed the restrained and slightly circumlocutory nature of Austen affecting my personal communications more than Zelazny&#8217;s mixture of the sardonic and lyrical.) I&#8217;m thoroughly enjoying my return trip through Amber and Chaos, and finding things I don&#8217;t remember noticing before.</p> <p>Take this passage, for example, as Corwin descends into the fastness below Amber:<br /> <blockquote>Twisting and winding through the gloom. The torch and lantern-lit guard station was theatrically stark within it. I reached the floor and headed that way.<br /> &#8220;Good evening, Lord Corwin,&#8221; said the lean, cadaverous figure who rested against a storage rack, smoking his pipe, grinning around it.<br /> &#8220;Good evening, Roger. How are things in the nether world?&#8221;<br /> &#8220;A rat, a bat, a spider. Nothing much else astir. Peaceful.&#8221;<br /> &#8220;You enjoy this duty?&#8221;<br /> He nodded. &#8220;I am writing a philosophical romance shot through with elements of horror and morbidity. I work on those parts down here.&#8221;<br /> &#8220;Fitting, fitting,&#8221; I said. &#8220;I&#8217;ll be needing a lantern.&#8221;<br /> He took one from the rack, brought it to flame from his candle.<br /> &#8220;Will it have a happy ending?&#8221; I inquired.<br /> He shrugged.<br /> &#8220;I&#8217;ll be happy.&#8221;<br /> &#8220;I mean, does good triumph and hero bed heroine? Or do you kill everybody off?&#8221;<br /> &#8220;That&#8217;s hardly fair,&#8221; he said.<br /> &#8220;Never mind. Maybe I&#8217;ll read it one day.&#8221;<br /> &#8220;Maybe,&#8221; he said.<br /> -Roger Zelazny, <em>The Hand of Oberon</em></blockquote></p> <p>I&#8217;m not sure how the significance of the dungeon guard&#8217;s name escaped me as a teenager and college student (perhaps I did see it, and had just forgotten) but now I find this colloquy very pleasing. Not only does it provide a light beat just where one is needed, but the joke rewards a close reader. It&#8217;s not jarring and can even be justified in-universe &#8212; if there are (at least) two Lancelots du Lac in the multiverse, why not two toiling authorial Rogers?</p> <p>I always enjoy meta-discussion of stories within fiction. (&#8220;You and I, Sam, are still stuck in the worst places of the story, and it is all too likely that some will say at this point: &#8216;Shut the book now, dad; we don&#8217;t want to read any more.&#8217;&#8221; &#8211; Tolkien) Making fiction is making meaning, and I feel it makes a narrative richer to have the characters realize that, realize how much even they/we are engaged in telling, justifying, framing things as we go about their/our business. Here it&#8217;s fascinating, in the midst of a series so varied in texture, setting and moment, to have an idea of how the author sums it up, what he thinks he is about. It&#8217;s playful and daring in a way I associate with Zelazny.</p> <p>It&#8217;s enough to tempt you to meet your own main character and tell them what you are presently writing about. (Would you dare? Note that Roger, here, holds a position where in the first book he presumably {SPOILER} <font color="white">guarded the captive Corwin for four years</font> and few of us have dealt more punishment to our characters than Zelazny has to Corwin.) Of course, most of us wouldn&#8217;t be so bold and Puckish as to include this exercise in our published works. And as for me, to my regret, it would be rather glaring if I included a bit player named &#8220;Felicity&#8221;!</p> Coincidental magic 2010-10-08T16:03:22+00:00 2010-10-08T16:05:18+00:00 <p>I&#8217;ve been thinking recently of the roleplaying game <a href="" target="links"><em>Mage: The Ascension</em></a> (don&#8217;t run, non-gamers!) This game and its fellow supernatural-hidden-under-our-world games were big in the 90&#8217;s (hmm&#8230;do RPGs telegraph bestselling novel genres of the next decade?), and Mage was one of my favorites. The premise was basically that the world runs on consensual reality, and magic is only impossible because most humans have been deeply convinced it is. If a strong-willed magic worker manages to do something obviously &#8220;impossible&#8221; (like turn a vampire into a lawnchair) in front of non-supernatural witnesses, the universe smacks the mage down with the force of humankind&#8217;s collective disbelief. The only dodge is to make the magic seem vaguely plausible &#8212; &#8220;coincidental&#8221;, as the game puts it.</p> <p>Why have I been thinking about this? Because I think the internet is upping our collective weirdness tolerance. I personally have seen zombies, and even had them flail against my car (I think they were mad I was laughing instead of frightened.) and the same day witnessed a band of semi-armored zombie-hunters stalking around 11th and Burnside. Improv Anywhere creates <a href="" target="links">temporal folds</a> that only Mages with advanced Time skills could match, not to mention <a href="" target="links">freezing 200 people</a> in a train station.</p> <p>All I&#8217;m saying here is that thanks to the internet, the collective belief of the people is a little more stretchy. Next time you think you might have to turn bullets into butterflies or punch through stone, have a friend bring a videocamera. When you next find yourself fighting zombies in Pioneer Courthouse Square or disassembling the Man&#8217;s robotic minions in full view of a schoolbus, yell &#8220;<strong><span class="caps">FLASHMOB</span></strong>&#8221; first! If people still seem genuinely freaked out, try doing a little bit of the Thriller dance. That should change any bystander from organ of the collective banality and stodginess of the universe to an embarrassed giggler ready to recount this &#8220;weird event&#8221; to their co-workers.</p> <p>Go out there and be magic, people! It&#8217;s totally coincidental.</p> Fantasy trope: the possessing progenitor 2010-08-30T14:25:45+00:00 2010-08-31T12:10:12+00:00 <p><em>This post contains a slight spoiler for </em><a href="" target="links">Girl Genius</a><em> by Phil &amp; Kaja Foglio. If you haven&#8217;t already read this webcomic, press that link (it&#8217;ll take you to the beginning) and do. I&#8217;ll wait. </em>Girl Genius<em> was steampunk before steampunk sold out!</p> <p>This post also contains a spoiler for the <a href='' title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9780886776121'>Mage Wind Trilogy</a> by Mercedes Lackey. But if you were going to read that, you probably already have.</p> <p>Oh, and a wee spoiler for Buffy Season 1.</em></p> <p>I hereby predict this post&#8217;s length will only exceed its spoiler warnings&#8217; by a small margin.</p> <p>I was reading the latest installment of <em>Girl Genius</em> when it struck me that one plot point in that fine comic is familiar from another story: the evil sorcerous (wyrd scientist?) ancestor who can possess his or her present-day progeny. This was used to great effect in Mercedes Lackey&#8217;s Mage Wind trilogy. When the good guys and I found out that the evil mage we were up against had <em>slain the Last</em> (and most powerful)<em> Herald-Mage</em> in a previous incarnation, we thought all was lost. It was a pretty effective way of increasing the creep-factor on an already very creepy foe. In <em>Girl Genius</em> it operates a little differently and over only one generation, but it&#8217;s the same general idea. In <em>Buffy</em>, too, a witchly mama did once switch bodies with her child.</p> <p>I wonder if I&#8217;m overlooking (or haven&#8217;t read) other examples of this trope in fantasy. In sci-fi, I think the equivalent would be making clones of yourself in order to prolong your life, whatever the clones think &#8212; which has definitely been done. I think the fantasy version is more intriguing, and here&#8217;s why:</p> <p>It&#8217;s a pop-psych truism that people fear becoming their parents. This trope hooks right into that fear, as well as another potentially unhealthy dynamic: the parents that want their children to be carbon-copies of them. Sure, it&#8217;s icky that your pediatric neurosurgeon dad wants you to be a pediatric neurosurgeon. But it would be even ickier if he wanted to steal your body and do his own pediatric neurosurgery with it, destroying or sidelining your spirit and desires, robbing you of your free will and your natural human span. (This is the subtext that the <em>Buffy</em> episode makes into text.)</p> <p>As if that weren&#8217;t enough psychoanalytic reason for this trope to send a shiver up the fantasy fan&#8217;s spine, the multi-generational version offers a healthy dollop of the &#8220;sins of the father&#8221; thing that&#8217;s so popular in Judeo-Christian circles. Sure, as people are so fond of pointing out, <em>they</em> didn&#8217;t commit genocide, or enslave anyone, or cut down the oak forests of Ireland, or what-have-you. In a fantasy setting, however, your link with those pasts are not theoretical. In any world with sympathetic magic, blood does tell.</p> Collaborating 2009-10-06T13:09:25+00:00 2009-10-06T13:51:31+00:00 <p>Until recently, collaborating on a work of fiction sounded a bit like climbing a mountain: too much work to contemplate. But then a friend asked if I&#8217;d consider working with her, and she had enough reasons it was a great idea for both of us that I put on my crampons. Not only is it my first collaborative project, but it&#8217;s my first attempt at writing to a pre-selected theme, so I&#8217;m learning plenty about my own processes along the way.</p> <p>But one thing I&#8217;ve discovered isn&#8217;t about me or my writing: collaborating seems to be far more common in spec-fic than in other genres. This may seem obvious to you, gentle reader, but it didn&#8217;t sink in for me until a literary-type writer asked me how my writing was going. I mentioned I was collaborating on a story and got a blank look. I explained a bit further, and he still looked surprised at the idea. &#8220;It&#8217;s not uncommon in speculative fiction,&#8221; I found myself saying. And that&#8217;s true.</p> <p>There are lots of temporary team-ups: Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Moon; P.K. Dick and Roger Zelazny; one book written by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Julian May, and Andre Norton. One of my favorite collaborations is <em>Good Omens</em> by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Most of the long-term writing teams I know of are romantic partners who write together, from Janet and Isaac Asimov to Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon. But all of these collaborations, which I remembered off the top of my head, are in fantasy or science fiction. I&#8217;ve met plenty of people who&#8217;ve collaborated on short stories too &#8212; all of them writing spec fic.</p> <p>So what&#8217;s going on here? Perhaps literary fiction is very invested in the <a href="" target="links">genius model</a> of creation. If writing is something transcendent that happens in the fecund mind of an individual, how can it be shared between two? Of course, I didn&#8217;t find a lot of unabashed proponents of the genius model when I was in grad school: literary writers seem to have become a bit more pragmatic. Well then, perhaps it&#8217;s the implied compromise: in my experience, the literary world does see the author as striving toward an ideal artistic vision. How can two people share the same vision, and won&#8217;t they both have to compromise in order to finish the work?</p> <p>Of course, trying to cast this as an effect of literary aloofness is ignoring another important piece of anecdata. I have read a lot of mysteries &#8212; and, living with my mom, seen the covers of many more &#8212; and I can&#8217;t recall an actual coauthor. (Feline coauthors, in my humanocentric opinion, do not count.) I don&#8217;t have any expertise at all in romance, but my limited impressions don&#8217;t include two names on the cover. If it were just literary fiction that resisted collaboration, why wouldn&#8217;t I have seen at least a few co-written books in these genres?</p> <p>So it is I come to my current working theory: it&#8217;s not about literary fiction, or about what spec-fic isn&#8217;t. It&#8217;s about fandom and what spec-fic is. Fandom is a riot of people building on each others&#8217; ideas, enjoying each others&#8217; worlds and characters. It includes many gamers, who are used to the idea that a story, even an interesting or epic story can emerge from the contributions of four or five people sitting around a table. Maybe it isn&#8217;t that other sorts of fiction have a resistance to collaboration so much as that collaboration just doesn&#8217;t come up in those circles. Whether it came from writers geeking out over each others&#8217; worlds, people around a gaming table or established authors wanting to nurture and promote newer ones, team-writing seems to have a tradition within science fiction and fantasy (and horror?) that it doesn&#8217;t have elsewhere.</p> <p>What do you think? Have you read collaborations in other genres? Am I overlooking something about team-written spec-fic? Who wants to be the only voice in a discussion about collaboration, anyway?</p> The Grey City XXI 2009-08-19T14:00:31+00:00 2014-04-29T05:52:51+00:00 <p><a href="">The Grey City I</a><br /> <a href="">The Grey City II</a><br /> <a href="">The Grey City <span class="caps">III</span></a><br /> <a href="">The Grey City IV</a><br /> <a href="">The Grey City V</a><br /> <a href="">The Grey City VI</a><br /> <a href="">The Grey City <span class="caps">VII</span></a><br /> <a href="">The Grey City <span class="caps">VIII</span></a><br /> <a href="">The Grey City IX</a><br /> <a href="">The Grey City X</a><br /> <a href="">The Grey City XI</a><br /> <a href="">The Grey City <span class="caps">XII</span></a><br /> <a href="">The Grey City <span class="caps">XIII</span></a><br /> <a href="">The Grey City <span class="caps">XIV</span></a><br /> <a href="">The Grey City XV</a><br /> <a href="">The Grey City <span class="caps">XVI</span></a><br /> <a href="">The Grey City <span class="caps">XVII</span></a><br /> <a href="">The Grey City <span class="caps">XVIII</span></a><br /> <a href="">The Grey City <span class="caps">XIX</span></a><br /> <a href="">The Grey City XX</a></p> <p>Eirian jumped up but even as she opened her mouth, she saw Carys lift her finger to her lips.</p> <p>&#8220;What&#8217;s the matter?&#8221; cried Mouse. &#8220;Did somefink bite you?&#8221;</p> <p>&#8220;No, I&#8230;thought I heard something,&#8221; Eirian covered. The boy was looking back and forth from Sly to her, his eyes skipping past Carys unseeing.</p> <p>For her own part, Eirian gazed at her older sister. She looked herself &#8212; more herself, perhaps, than she&#8217;d been since they arrived in the City. There was pink in her cheeks, a violet tucked behind her ear. But the entire cheerful, colorful sight of her was only partly there, like the scenery painted on cheesecloth for village f&ecirc;tes.</p> <p>How the little girl ached to run away from Sly and Mouse, to hide in an alley or a doorway and talk with Carys. Could she touch her? Could she hold her? Through what magic had she returned from death? She licked her lips, and focused on Sly. &#8220;So, where is it you&#8217;re taking me, Sly? And what shall I do there?&#8221; she asked, both to gain time and to acquaint Carys with the position.</p> <p>Sly scowled, still gruff after her emotional revelations. &#8220;To Knock&#8217;s, o&#8217;course, to make as proper a thief of you as may be.&#8221; She looked down at her rather outsized boots with a momentary return of softness. &#8220;&#8216;Til you&#8217;re too big an&#8217; are sent across to Ma&#8217;am Betty&#8217;s &#8217;ore-ouse for to be a nance.&#8221;</p> <p>Eirian saw Carys&#8217;s face slacken in disbelief, then gather into lines as the two Warrens children made ready to depart. Mouse took his silk handkerchief &#8212; his, as the legal owner was not in evidence &#8212; from Eirian&#8217;s hand and folded it carefully before replacing it in his satchel.</p> <p>&#8220;C&#8217;mon!&#8221; he said. &#8220;We have such larks, we Knock&#8217;s boys!&#8221; and he started down the cobbles toward the heart of the Warrens.</p> <p>Sly started to saunter after him, but Eirian lingered, hoping for a moment alone with her rediscovered Carys.</p> <p>&#8220;No use dallyin&#8217; or tryin&#8217; to get away,&#8221; Sly said, turning. &#8220;You&#8217;re in the Warrens, an&#8217; won&#8217;t never find nothing better.&#8221;</p> <p>&#8220;Nothing better than being a thief and a &#8212; well, a thief&#8217;s bad enough!&#8221; Carys fumed.</p> <p>&#8220;Sly, what do they do to thieves if they catch them? The Runners, I mean.&#8221; Eirian asked, speaking up.</p> <p>&#8220;&#8217;Angs &#8217;em, mostwise. Some cop it more special from time to time.&#8221;</p> <p>&#8220;It could hardly be anything less,&#8221; said Carys with some venom, but her face was frightened. They turned into a wide street, originally dirt but now paved haphazard with stones and grates from other thoroughfares. A man walked by with a bushel of crowbars on his back like firewood, his coat chinking with other tools. On the corner, a woman on a stool was sewing a large pocket into the lining of a young man&#8217;s coat while he waited in his shirtsleeves.</p> <p>&#8220;I was sorry to hear about your&#8230;sister.&#8221; Eirian continued, pausing to think. &#8220;What was <em>your</em> name before you joined Knock?&#8221;</p> <p>Sly looked at her sidewise, but said, &#8220;Stephen.&#8221;</p> <p>&#8220;It&#8217;s a nice name. What did your parents do?&#8221;</p> <p>&#8220;Da were a clark, an&#8217; Mam took in washin&#8217;. &#8216;Ere, what d&#8217;you want to know all this for?&#8221;</p> <p>&#8220;I didn&#8217;t know I wasn&#8217;t allowed to have a conversation!&#8221; Eirian said with a bit of her usual spirit.</p> <p>&#8220;Well, you can &#8216;old up your end then. What&#8217;d <em>your</em> family do out-Country?&#8221;</p> <p>&#8220;It&#8217;s not all the same like that, you know. You City types say &#8216;Country&#8217;, but there are many places, all different. Our home&#8217;s very pretty. Hills of rock, and heather, and little creeks and falls.&#8221; She was silent for a moment, listening to the sound of a boy yelping in a falling-down house. &#8220;We raised sheep, little mountain sheep with curly horns hidden in their long wool. Carys and I&#8212;&#8221; she glanced over into Carys&#8217;s tender face &#8212; &#8220;we used to help with them. Mama carded the wool and Papa took it into market.&#8221;</p> <p>Sly frowned. &#8220;Must be awful lots of room in Country. You can&#8217;t fit more&#8217;n a dog or a pig maybe in the best lodgin&#8217;s here.&#8221;</p> <p>&#8220;Lots of room outside. Inside, there was only enough for a kitchen and hearth, a bed for us girls and one for Ma and Pa.&#8221;</p> <p>She looked over at her sister once more, and saw she was biting her ethereal lip. She could not, as Eirian could, forget the present danger in recalling past joys.</p> <p>Sly&#8217;s face was also troubled, and her long swaggering step slowed. &#8220;&#8217;Ere we are,&#8221; she breathed. &#8220;That&#8217;s Knock&#8217;s down there.&#8221;</p> <p>Eirian saw that this street ended at a high, orderly wall, and the road widened into a cul-de-sac before it as if the way, dammed up, had collected in a pool. Across this space two buildings leered. They may have started life alike, two great half-timbered public houses that bulged over their ground stories like the bellies of two jolly fellows over their too-tight belts. But use had given the one house an air of suspicion and the other of promiscuity. Every shutter of Knock&#8217;s was closed tight, and the whole veiled with a uniform layer of dust. Ma&#8217;am Betty&#8217;s had every window thrown open and some spilling outward in rickety balconies, and the shutters painted in bright mismatched hues as if to emphasize their purely ornamental nature. No sign hung on either facade, but from the upper stories of Knock&#8217;s hung a clothesline of colorful handkerchiefs, while at Betty&#8217;s this festival flag role was supplied by assorted petticoats.</p> <p>Sly paused at the mouth of this road, looking toward these familiar haunts. She seemed to struggle for a moment, then set her mouth as if biting the end off of something. &#8220;No &#8217;elp for it, Bo-Peep,&#8221; she said, and started to make another cigarette.</p> <p>Eirian almost thought she could feel the rage in Carys, like the queer pressure before a summer storm. &#8220;No help? From you, perhaps!&#8221; the gentle girl growled, and Sly looked sharply over her shoulder, the cigarette paper drooping in her fingers and scattering curls of tobacco.</p> <p>Carys was becoming more solid before her sister&#8217;s eyes, her wrath and love and need to protect condensing in her until she was thicker than a fog coming in from the sea, more substantial than skimmed milk. She floated like an avenging angel over the filthy Warrens stones, and even Eirian shivered to see her.</p> <p>Perhaps now Sly could see her too, for she stared a long time, and tears started down her cheeks unchecked. &#8220;I&#8217;m sorry,&#8221; she said at last to the apparition. &#8220;I&#8217;ll save &#8217;er, if I can.&#8221;</p>