TOF had planned to present America's Next Top Model at Boskone. Now he must content himself with translating it into a blog post. A portion went up already as Part I. Part II is in the works.
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|Son of TOF|
Anchorage in the spring is a halfway pleasant place. The weather was warming nicely into the mid-thirties, the flowers were blooming, the trees of course were evergreen, but even they were getting into the spirit of things with their rising sap. The only problem really is when the zombies begin to melt out of the ice.+ + +
Winter always trapped them. Cold weather was not their friend. Neither was warm weather – they rotted faster down in Louisiana and Florida – but cold weather froze them up solid, immobilized them like a pot roast in your freezer. Then along comes the thaw and they slither out and create a public freaking nuisance.
That’s when Spivak and I and the other DPW crews swing into action, patrolling the roads and keeping an eye out for the undead. Me, I liked it better when the roadkill stayed on the road.
The second is an alternate history, also still in exploratory phase. I cannot here post my collaborator's prose, but my section, coming second, begins thusly:
Haw Kok-wing, puhāvam of Golden Wind for Sriwijaya’s Palembang studied the horizon through his farseer, hoping in the Buddha to raise land to the east. He stood in the very bow of the junk and kept the glass level by long practice, absorbing the rolls with his knees and hips. This Far-Western Ocean was choppier than the more peaceful seas that embraced the Homelands, but he was more than grateful to be out of the enormous swells and ferocious winds of the Southern Ocean.+ + +
A following wind tousled his long, black hair, blowing it forward into his face. He brushed it back impatiently and adjusted his headband. Then he stood and blew his breath out, lifting the drooping moustaches than hung off both sides of his lip.
He handed the farseer to his first mate. “What do you make of that cloud on the horizon. Four points sisi kanan.” He pointed off to the right.
Budhiharto was the opposite of Haw Kok-wing in every way: short where the captain was tall, round where the captain was sharp, an innocent guileless face where the captain wore the look of a hungry sea-eagle. Budhi stared at the indicated spot for several minutes before lowering the glass. “Black smoke. Volcano?”
“Maybe. Volcano means land, though.”
“Could use some time ashore, bapak. Tired of being whipsawed by these currents. None of them seem to go the right way.”
Kok grinned. “You mean none of them went where we want."
His mate considered that some before shaking his head. “Do you think those islands we raised was the country the Orang-Jepang found?" The currents had carried them far off to the west of Africa before they had found a wind to fight them with. "Hate to come all this way for nothing. If the Jepang got here ahead of us… They were looking for an eastern route to Rome.”
“One problem at a time, Budhi. Let’s check that volcano first.” He raised his voice, “Steersman! Four points, sisi kanan!”
The third potential is a larger book with a couple other guys for which there are no teasers and concerning which deponent speaketh not.
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Meanwhile, proceeding apace on "The Journeyman: On the Thither Shore," the further adventures of Teodorq sunna Nagarajan the Ironhand. The first episode "On the Shortgrass Prairie" appeared in ANALOG last year, and the second and third -- "In the Stone House" and "Against the Green"-- should appear soon this year. "On the Thither Shore" begins thusly:
A squawk in the street
The town of New Cuffy greeted the dawn with a rustle of sounds. Roosters crowed their duty. Ships’ bells clanged the watch in harbor. Dogs yapped. Shutters slammed back on windows; and night-soil plummeted onto unwary passers-by. Horses huffed and accepted their harness; carts groaned into the streets. Shortly, children could be heard shrieking and crying out to one another as they were chivvied to their schoolmasters. From the Clock Tower the call went out for the morning prayers.
Teodorq sunna Nagarajan the Ironhand made his way through the narrow lanes, winding between houses that soared three stories into the very sky. It seemed to him that the buildings were poised to topple over and bury him beneath splinters and beams and tiles. Here, a furrier laid out his green hides for curing. There, a silversmith tapped on bridle bits and jewelry. Fishermen newly docked from the night’s labors hawked their wares on the breakwater walls. Gulls shrieked overhead, anticipating their portion.
Teodorq paused as he often did when entering Harborside and took in the vista of the Unquiet Sea. The greenies had graced it with that name for the frequent storms and insistent currents roiled it and brought ships to grief. Unlike other lakes that Teo had seen, the Unquiet Sea had no farther shore, but rippled out to a horizon that blurred imperceptibly into sky. It was enough to make a lesser man dizzy.
Victualers and cooks were lighting their braziers and grills and Teo took himself to the kiosk of Fatharu pitmaster, who had rolled out his smoker with its tantalizing odors of cue. Nagarajan’s son was no such fool as to tally his wealth visibly, not in Harborside, but he mentally counted the coins in his scrip and decided he had enough for a bob. He laid down his bindlestiff with its poultry-bag and made the transaction with his left hand, dropping the coins and taking the skewer with a single move.
His right hand of course lay gently across the pommel of his knife. Not that many men in New Cuffy were inclined to rob him – he was taller than the average ruck of greenies and had muscles in places where many of them did not have places – but one never knew when it came to such untribed folk as these.
For the human wreckage in Harborside had lost their tribes, and the greenies had never had them. No one stood between them and their rulers. Hence, their only safety lay in obscurity, and no place offered more obscurity than the warrens of the Harborside Mews. There, lower class greenies mingled with the natives of what their new masters called the Thither Shore.
The morning bustle was in full career and the street and boardwalk offered a motley mix. The greenies, with their strange neck frills spread to catch the morning sun, were the dregs of their folk – laborers, ruffians, pickpockets, thieves – but could strut about Harborside like the lords of creation because the pale-faced coastalmen, reduced to beggary and drunkedness, gave them someone to look down upon.
Teo had no great regard for the coastalmen himself. It was one thing to be broken by the greenies, as the fisherfolk had been three generations before, but Teo did not think they should have broken quite so thoroughly. The forestmen from the smashed stockades of the Great Woods had at least kept their pride.
Greenies, coastalmen, and forestmen mingled with short, wide swampmen from the southern paiutes, decked in vests of stiff gator hide and necklaces of small animal skulls; and with ironmen from those Houses that had bent the knee, foolishly convinced that their nominal alliances made them somehow equal partners to the greens. Teo had even seen another prairieman like himself, though from a distance. He had worn the feathered bonnet of a Ptarmigan, but Teo was a Scorpion, and Ptarms rode different trails.
It was a diverse and oft-times volatile mixture, and one prone to periodic outbursts of grievance, real and imagined. So far as Teo knew, the only hillman who had wandered this far east was his own boon companion, Sammi o’ th’ Eagles. Which was just as well. Two such men might be hard to take.
“How goes it by you, Fatharu pitmaster?” Teo asked the man who had handed him the chicken breast on a wooden skewer.
“Just scrumptious, Teodorq body… What are ye today? Bodyguard or debt collector?”
Teo shrugged. “The day is new-hatched. Who can say what will molt?”
Fatharu nodded toward one of the ships that had tied up at the wharf. “Big hat arriving,” he said.