and other stories.
Okay, admit it. The title of the post caught your attention. Think of how I felt when I saw that in the subject line of an email first thing one morning. Now, imagine it happening pre-coffee. Yes, I did do a double-take, especially since the sender of the e-mail was Dave Freer.
Now, there are a couple of thinks Dave’s known for. The first is his wonderful writing. He’s a wonderful writer of fantasy and sf. A lot of his work reminds me of Terry Pratchett.
He also has a wicked sense of humor when he wants.
So, yes, I was a little leery when I opened the email. I was also very surprised and did a fan girl squee to see that the subject line referred to one of his short stories.
That short story is now the lead in a collection of six stories by Dave that we’ll be bringing out later today. The collection will be available in our store tomorrow, when the store comes back online. It will be available over the next few days at Amazon, B&N and Smashwords.
But, for now, I thought I’d give you a taste of what he has in store for you. . . .
The Goth Sex-Kitten
Standing inside its pentacle of finely powdered bone-dust, the alembic quivered and shook on its stand.”Concentrate, famulus, for Zorathsyrtus sake!” cursed the master. “Keep that flame steady or I’ll turn you into a privy in a camp full of puke-drunk Joringian mercenaries.”
Tom concentrated. That was enough of a dire — and possibly real — threat to focus his mind remarkably, turning it away from thoughts inspired by his secretive perusal of one of the volumes on the master’s locked shelf. The one with the well-thumbed color illustrations. Tom retained little of his origins, except for a certain fastidiousness, some vanity and a tail, but he knew what he had been, and he knew what he had no fancy to be.
It was all very well for Master Hargarthius. The master magician was as wrinkled as a dragon’s hide after a long hibernation, and was even older than the cheese that lurked at the back of the third pantry cupboard. Marcencius, who had been the master’s previous famulus from before Tom was born, said it had been there a century or so, and he was not to go too close to it, or the cheese would have the flesh off Tom’s hands at the very least… If he was lucky, which, as Marcenius pointed out, he wasn’t. It was a cheese that ate mice. . . .
The churn of the ocean boiled foam for the gale to pick and fling landward. The spume gobbets swirled up the cliff, as great seas ate into the narrow cove across the grinding cobbles.
The storm had left a grey dawn, hazed with rain-squalls and tatters of racing cloud. It was hard to see clearly from the cliff-top, but they could still make out the straight black lines of masts and spars above the angry water that pounded the reef. The two men standing there, braced against the wind, stared at the wreck. “There’s never a man that got off her alive, Bart,” said the shorter of the two, giving an involuntary shiver.
The other, a broad, tall and solid pylon of a man, nodded. “Aye, William-lad. You’d be right about that. It’d take a seal to swim out of there. But the bodies’ll come in the tide. We’d best get down there before anyone else does.”
It was grim work picking through the sodden clothing of the bodies washed ashore, but the rewards could be great, for poor men. And it was fitting that they’d get something for the labour of hauling the corpses to the churchyard. . . .
There are four other stories included as well. Check them out tomorrow when the collection goes on sale!