Category Archives: Stories

The Silver Khan

Beneath Ceaseless Skies, RuinsBeneath Ceaseless Skies is an elegant online magazine with gorgeous covers, award-winning stories, and a growing following. It publishes “literary adventure fantasy,” with an emphasis on “literary” in the best sense, and pays contributors professional rates. (In the speculative fiction world that means at least five cents per word.)

“The Silver Khan” was my first professional sale, and it appeared in Issue 29, back in November 2009. Like “The Glorious Revolution,” the story treats a revolution of sorts, though a much more abrupt and haphazard revolution. In a caliphate by the sea, a foreign visitor tries to uncover the secret of the Silver Khan’s floating palace (hint: it’s not magic) and decipher the meaning of the frozen statues scattered about its gardens.

Like much of my writing, this story was driven primarily by setting. I had an image of the palace and the gardens, and I wrote this story to explore them. The physical mechanics of the Khan’s palace was almost as much of a surprise to me as it was to the narrator when he suddenly pieced it together. Once I realized how it flew, I knew how it would fall. The epistolatory style I probably borrowed from Gene Wolfe, though to nothing like his effect.

You can read “The Silver Khan” here.

The Glorious Revolution

RayGun cover

This was the first short story I published, back in 2008 (though going by actual word count, I suppose it’s technically a novelette). It appeared in the now-defunct Ray Gun Revival, and I was paid $10 for it. An author whom I highly esteem told me that I should have held on to it and tried to sell it to a professional market, but at the time I think the boost of confidence I received seeing it actually in print was much more valuable than the money. (He may have been right though. Ray Gun Revival was the first market I sent it to, so I never had a chance for feedback from places like Asimov’s, Lightspeed, or Clarkesworld.)

From the editor’s description in the introduction to the issue in which it appeared, “The Glorious Revolution” almost didn’t make it: “The Slushmasters were divided on this story. It has a strange cadence, a unique voice, a construction that almost struck me as epistolary, a dialogue in written letters. Some will hate it. Some will love it. I thought it was worth the risk.” Ambiguous praise, at best, though much of Revival‘s remit seemed more geared toward the pulpy blasters-and-spaceships variety of fiction.

One reader had these thoughts: “It was really a beautiful story, dream-like and creative. Left me rather in awe! The author’s ability to describe wonder, and majesty, and evoke the indescribable — excellent. I think I will remember this story for awhile. It reached inside me and rattled around and really made me feel what was happening in the story.”

“The Glorious Revolution” is what I would call a science fantasy. It’s about a rebellion that turns out to be much larger than it seems. It plays with ideas of social mathematics akin to Asimov’s psychohistory, hierarchies of scale, the ideal of monarchy, and (of course) falling in love with a princess. Call it sentiment for that first publication, but I’m still rather fond of this one.

You can read “The Glorious Revolution” here. (It’s on pages 22 through 34).