Playing with Fire (Third Flatiron Anthologies Book 5)
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Classics is the study of the Ancient Mediterranean World, usually with a greater focus on Ancient Greek and Roman cultures. When I attended Brooklyn College, I chose to major in this field partly due to my life-long interest in the subject, but also my fiction always gravitated to secondary worlds inspired by ancient civilizations. The more I learned about real world ancient histories, ways of life, and belief systems, the more nuanced and dynamic my fictional worlds became. Automatons were statues made out of metal, animated by the God of metalworking, Hephaestus.
In almost all of ancient Greek and Roman stories I read during my Classics courses, I found the conceptual and mythological threads that make up most of our contemporary science fiction and fantasy. In modern times, we recognize such things as robots, one of the most used devices in science fiction. The tale is of a man named Lucius who, in an attempt turn himself into a bird, instead transforms into a donkey and must find a way to cure himself. Lucretius's Universe. This should not be surprising, since, as Ms. Valente put it, Science Fiction is a set of impulses—taking a curious look at the world, wondering what is out there, and crafting answers to satisfy this question.
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Such impulses are timeless, not exclusive to any culture or generation. With that said, we should be cautious in claiming the ancient stories as works of science fiction. Valente aptly stated that the intent of the storytellers must matter in the context of the genre we ascribe to their stories.
This is a stark difference from contemporary SFF writers, who tend to create worlds and concepts that we know are not true. One of the few writers of antiquity to stray from the Greek framework and approach ours was Lucian of Samosata, specifically in his work A True Story. The panelists kept coming back to him because he was the first in his time to write a story and proclaim it as a fictional piece; his intent was to write a story that was not true. Sci-fi, fantasy, magical realism, etc—these are all terms that have been applied to our work for the sake of convenience and profit.
Essowe Tchalim is a writer of speculative fiction short stories and novels. He graduated from Brooklyn College, where he studied concepts of the soul and rituals of power from the Ancient Mediterranean. He currently works at Droga5, where he assists in producing TV commercials. When he is not writing or working, he is reading manga or trying to convince his friends to watch his favorite television shows.
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You can find him on Twitter at Etchalim, where he talks abouts politics, ancient history, and random nerdy shenanigans. Her short story workshop fell on Sunday, one of the last events of the con and the last thing I attended after a weekend of panels, bars, and staying up until 3am talking about books.
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I had never seen Mary in person before, and was a little bit excited. I got to the room early, readied my notebook, triple-checked that my pen was working, got out another one just in case, and tried to curb my wild grinning so as not to freak anyone out. This was my first Readercon and my first con period. I loved it. All of the philosophical conversations about stories--who tells them, what they mean, and what impact they have on real life--had my brain humming. These conversations are vital to the health of the speculative fiction community.
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I was grateful for the opportunity to witness them. Mary entered the already packed room and took her place up front while I concentrated very hard on not bouncing up and down in my chair. She informed us that she was going to try to fit a 3 hour workshop into 1 hour, laughed darkly, and then launched in. I filled four pages of my notebook during that hour--looking at it now, there are half-sentences, charts, bullets, even a math equation. Every story is made up of these 4 elements, though one can be more of a driver than the other.
Mary told us that one trick to get a satisfying story is to close M. James Bailey. Josh Abbott. Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 67 December Carrol Fix. Nathan Shumate. Welcome to the World of Sonic. Lloyd Cordill. Grace's Family. James Patrick Kelly. Beyond the Sun.
Bryan Thomas Schmidt. Mark Mulle. A Gift For Terra. Fox B. Ellimist Chronicles Animorphs. Clarkesworld Year Nine: Volume Two. Mad Scientist Journal: Spring Jeremy Zimmerman. Worst Contact.
Hank Davis. Science Fiction Writers Sampler David Kernot. Shoreline of Infinity Aliette de Bodard. Her Scales Shine Like Music. Rajnar Vajra. The Gallifrey Five.
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Ray Daley. Mission: Blackguard Conspiracy. Galaxy Science Fiction October MDP Publishing. Dark Horizons. Charles Zaglanis.
Mad Scientist Journal: Summer TS Caladan. The Troll Warriors of Sheepbane. Jeroen Steenbeeke. Ben Wolf. Spencer Ellsworth. Not So Secret Origins. Joe Rover. Scott Coatsworth. Visions V: Milky Way. Graveyard of Dreams. Beam Piper. Vignettes from the End of the World. Jacob Haddon. Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 97 June Subspace Survivors. Edward E. Mothership Zeta, Issue 2. Mothership Zeta. The Woman of the Void. Sunshine Somerville. Little Dystopias. Kyle Aisteach. Tales range from dark to playful, featuring fantastical and revisionist histories, as well as a flash humor section, "Grins and Gurgles.
In Hidden Histories, agents of the ancient Library of Alexandria attempt to steer human history, a witch at the stake explains how she was framed, a missing airliner black box turns up, General Custer is defeated by wendigos, Queen Elizabeth tells Shakespeare she was cursed, a seance saves the Apollo moon mission, an alien ambassador mentors Jimi Hendrix, a competing ship line plots to scuttle the Titanic, were-boars fight Nazis in WW2 Germany, the back room of a bookstore holds histories written in the future, and a girl learns the true history of Chinese dragons.
These and many more stories entertain while exploring revisionist interpretations of real and fictional events. Davis Defender of the Realm by H. Them Tourists by A. Free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers.