From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

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The Padishah Begum’s Reflections

Hidden by the feathers of the Peacock Throne, Jahanara watched the Frenchmen’s heads appear at the top of the steps. Diwan-i-Khas, the hall of so-called private audience, would loom before them now. Morning light caught on its outer pillars and scalloped arches, setting the whole aglow: marble embers sparking with pearl and silver inlay in creeper patterns wound around gearwork. Light slanted through the hall, danced on silk and dust and metal, and threw the delegates’ shadows in before them unannounced.

The Lily and the Horn

War is a dinner party. My ladies and I have spent the dregs of summer making ready. We have hung garlands of pennyroyal and snowberries in the snug, familiar halls of Laburnum Castle, strained cheese as pure as ice for weeks in the caves and the kitchens, covered any gloomy stone with tapestries or stags’ heads with mistletoe braided through their antlers. We sent away south to the great markets of Mother-of-Millions for new silks and velvets and furs.

The Glass Bottle Trick

The air was full of storms, but they refused to break. In the wicker rocking chair on the front verandah, Beatrice flexed her bare feet against the wooden slat floor, rocking slowly back and forth.

Miss Carstairs and the Merman

The night Miss Carstairs first saw the merman, there was a great storm along the Massachusetts coast. Down in the harbor town, old men sat in taverns drinking hot rum and cocking their ears at the wind whining and whistling in the chimneys.

Torn Away

The license was invalid by a couple of months, and the photo on it looked somewhat like him but it was faded and not reliable. I told him so. “Oh,” he said. “I should have noticed it was out of date.”

Torn Away by Joe R. Lansdale

Her Lover’s Golden Hair

Lily’s hand is not resting carelessly in her lap. Lily’s sandy feet are not up on the dashboard. Lily’s salty hair is not blowing into a knotted, lovely mess.

Her Lover's Golden Hair by Nike Sulway

Red Dawn: A Chow Mein Western

The boy felt a tingling at the tip of his fingers. He saw with his inner eye: The leader rode unarmed because his power was great. The aura of Qi around him was unmistakable.

Red Dawn: A Chow Mein Western by Lavie Tidhar

Seven Spells to Sever the Heart

Samuel Crewe was the son of a witch. He was, in fact, the seventh son of a witch, who had herself been one of seven daughters. In fairy tales, this sort of lineage was meant to point to great strength, good fortune, and adventures.

Seven Spells to Sever the Heart by K.M. Ferebee

The Invisibles

Here’s what you do, Jerry says. You get one of those little pipe tobacco tins and you put stuff in it. Important stuff. A fingernail. Some hair. A scab. Some dirt from a special place.

The Invisibles by Charles de Lint

The Secret Beach

Though I’m the kind of person who uses the self-checkout line at grocery stores just to avoid the necessity of small conversation with a human cashier, I blurted out, “Hey, where were you guys swimming?”

The Secret Beach by Tim Pratt