I normally stick to one story for each edition of Free Readin’, but this time I’m feeling generous! Paul Jessup (@pauljessup) and Jay Lake (jay_lake) are two of my favourite folk on Twitter and I wanted to point some of my readers to some of their (great) short fiction.
Ghost Technology From the Sun by Paul Jessup
Master told us that the earth was hollow, and that we lived on the inside of it, clinging to the top of the crust. Below us was another world, a world inside the world, a glowing bright sun of a place. What Master called the summerlands. That is where the dead live, he said. That is how we can talk to them, he said. They send us signals across the air, and the mediums pick them up and drink them in.
And when the words came in, we had to speak them. We cannot deny the dead our voices–the dead would be angry if we did. And nobody wanted the angry dead to fly their zeppelins up from the sun and attack us crust dwellers.
That wouldn’t do anyone any good.
Master knew this because he is an ambassador to the land of the dead. At night he walked through the door of the dead, and it beamed his body down above us, into the summer sun inside of the earth. That is where he talked to them, worked out trade between our two peoples.
The dead have a lot to offer the living.
He came back with schematics.
Ways of building circuit boards.
Ghost technology from the sun.
Ghost Technology From the Sun can be read in full HERE.
People of Leaf and Branch by Jay Lake
Maribel ran along the top boards. The planks went from roof to roof, along the ridges, with a jumping-space to reach the peaks of the round huts. She didn’t have the skill of a danseuse, nor the grace of the best of the girls from the stone city below her, but among the woodkin, she was often accounted the most lithe and best.
The Tower Wander was ahead, with Shrike House clinging to its neck like a collar. The old wall had long since been swallowed by the spread of the stone city, gone from defense to landmark to landform in the space of a few generations. The Duke of Copper Downs had forbidden the woodkin to enter the abandoned towers, but their exteriors had never been under such a rule.
So the seven surviving towers acquired names, and superstructures, and held the long, narrow village that ran from the Broken Gate to the Tower Harbor. The towers were part of the stone city, but the houses were the woodkin’s memory of another time and place.
She slipped through the roof of Shrike House, dropping to the floor in a shower of dust and straw.
There was no one there, of course. Shrike House had been empty since Maribel’s mother’s childhood. Seven towers, seven houses, but in every generation more went down to the stone and found lives among the city. None returned.
You can read People of Leaf and Branch in its entirety HERE.
Jessup and (in particular) Lake (a Multiple Hugo and World Fantasy Award nominee) are both well known for their short fiction, and there’s nowhere better to get introduced to them than through Ghost Technology From the Sun and People of Leaf and Branch.