Digger’s Lament

Digger’s Lament is a side story to an epic science-fantasy trilogy I’ve had percolating in my head for a little over five years. Palta and Ananda were supposed to be minor secondary characters, but they are the first to hit the page. Robert Helmbrecht at the sadly defunct Hazardous Press, who bought my first ever story, asked me to contribute to the anthology “Tales of the Black Arts” and I wrote the first draft in one night. I’m more than a little in love with these two characters and have a pair of other adventures in mind for them before I tackle the Big Trilogy, “This Side of the Blue”.

In the night, the valley was so filled with smoke that Palta could not make out the dimmest guidestars. He had a dozen other ways to divine the time and his location, but it still filled him with a slippery dread, a feeling of being half-lost and pointed in the wrong direction. His tent, barely half the size of the reeves’ tents and still stinking of the marsh crossing, seemed to close in on him like a fist as he tried to catch a few fitful moments of sleep.

He’d wet his scarf and tied a thin strip to his face, but the sharp stench of the burned town and a hundred cook-fires crept through, clinging to the soft tissue of his eyes and nose. Outside, he could hear the 17th Expeditionary Host of Imperial Kattaka, the insectile buzz of a thousand men talking grimly by the fires, reeking of dismay and unease. He knew it wouldn’t be long until they started to blame him for the men who’d died that day.

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Black Stars Rise: New Fiction in FLAPPERHOUSE and True Detective Ramblings

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Firstly, this week marks the release of the first issue of FLAPPERHOUSE, a new magazine from editor Joe O’Brien. Joe is a long time visitor to the site, and I was honored that he asked me to submit. My story, “Axis Mundi”, (sample here!) is a sci-fi/horror story about derelict spaceships and divinity, is one of several new stories and poems to grace the pages of the first issue. It’s a terrific collection of varied voices, and the more I read, the more proud I am to be a part of it.

Secondly, I just finished True Detective last week. I wanted to hold off on the last episode for several years, just to inhabit the liminal space forever, but my wife demanded that we finish it. I’ve been enormously taken by the show, from the deliberate reference to the philosophy of Thomas Ligotti and other antinatalists in the first 15 minutes, to the series-wide use of weird fiction in general and Robert Chambers’ “The King in Yellow”in specific, the show was not only expertly written, shot and acted, it was also directly created to please me. Or, that’s how it felt across most of the 8 episodes. I’m fairly certain that this is, and will remain for some time, my favorite series on television, ever.

Since the show ended, I’ve been chewing on some things. One thing I’m maybe mildly disappointed with is that a lot of the intricacy of symbolism in set and costume design turned out to be coincidental more than intentional, but the show still has the feel of a puzzle box. And I adore puzzle boxes. With the writer mentioning that he’s a fan of some of my weird fiction authors (Ligotti, Barron, and Langan among them), and that he’s drawn direct inspiration from the genre (beyond the overarching King in Yellow references within the story), it had me on high alert for references, metaphors and symbolism. So, this is me pulling on threads and seeing what tumbles out.

Spoilers, obviously.

Right fucking

I’ll try, Rust. Here’s my thoughts on one of the repeating images and concepts from the show: Black Stars…

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