1) An as-yet-untitled murder mystery set on a space station:
“Advocate Temm. ISC Wyoming in two minutes.”2) With a working title of Costano, this is "historical fantasy" set in the late Renaissance/early Baroque period:
I close the antique book and stow it in my duffle bag, between a fresh folded tunic and a slim battered box monogrammed AMT.
Standing, I zip my flight jacket, sling the duffle over my shoulder, and climb the short ladder leading from the passenger cabin to the forward hatch. Through the porthole gleams the glass-and-metal sphere that is the colony farthest from Earth.
My right hand clenches, the palm clammy. I rub it on my tunic hem.
After a clean blue light scans the transport for toxins or disease, a rigid tentacle reaches from the space station. The terminal tunnel opens as soon as the transport docks; like a giant’s breath, the exchange of air between station and transport ruffles my hair.
I enter the first equalization chamber, and my first step is heavy, awkward, as if I descend a stair but miss the last step. There are a succession of chambers—four, in all—where arriving travelers are acclimated to the difference in pressure between whatever transport they arrived on and the station’s gravity, which is Earth norm.
Earth. The last place I saw Edo.
A colossus bestrode the plaza, muscles gleaming in the sun, one massive fist raised in triumph. In it writhed a great snake whose sinuous body twined the giant’s upraised arm, bound his torso, flicked his leg. The giant laughed, eyes alight, and gripped in his other hand a dagger, forever poised to strike.3) This fantasy bears the working title of Goblin:
Dropping a coin into the baker’s palm, Alessandro did not take his gaze from the frenetic mass. The sculptor had made stone live, and the shock of it gripped Alessandro’s throat.
The baker chuckled. “You like our little decoration?”
“Yes. Sometimes, I swear, it breathes.”
“Whose is it?”
“Ours, of course!”
“No—who carved it?”
The baker’s voice sharpened. “Where does your ship hail from?”
“South. On the western tip of the Talin’A Penninsula.”
“Even there you must have heard of the Academ di Archimédi.”
So he had, but no student made this.
“The final finished work of Archimédi de Pontus Piero, founder of the academ.” The baker’s voice swelled. “ He was very old, and ill, and his students begged to finish it for him, but Seyor Piero refused. Some nights near the end, he had torches set around the plaza—he carved here, you know—and polished the sandals and the feet. See how even the blades of grass shine? Then, when the sun rose one day, he lay right there. Dead.” The man sighed. “They are already telling stories. Some say Seyor Piero’s tools disappeared with his life, and that his spirit waits to give them to the next great artist. “ He shook his head. “Foolish talk.”
Goblin dragged his arm across his forehead; his sleeve came away wet, and he squinted into the sky. No clouds. No birds. Only the sun's searing heat. Yet fires must be tended, even on a day like this.
He could hear the sea rolling up onto the rocks below Thora Keep. From the battlements, he would be able to feel the cooling breeze off the water, but down in the bailey, the walls prevented the wind and trapped the sun.
The earl forbade him go outside the walls. Goblin did not resent the restriction—Lord Clement was a kind master—but he dreamed of walking on the seashore and feeling sand beneath his feet. Was it muddy? Did it grate like crushed stones? He wanted to venture into the forest and stand under the green. How did sunlight appear, shining through all those leaves and branches?
He wanted to do many things, but he was only a misshapen little gnome, a goblin, whose twisted body would never allow such adventures. His left shoulder hunched, higher than the right, and one leg always dragged a little behind when he walked. His mouth drew up at the left corner, and one hand curled into a perpetual fist. His was not the most noble figure in the province.
Nor the most able. This morning, he had dropped the wood for the earl's fire. The entire load bounded down the stairs and hit Warren the steward in the knees, rolling him to the bottom where he landed on the heaped wood like a corpse on a funeral pyre. Warren struggled to his feet and straightened his robes. Scowling and grabbing up his cane, the man blustered and fumed, threatening to go to the earl about this. Goblin kept his head down during the tirade. Silence sometimes means short scoldings.
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