My roots felt only earth. Thin, and good for nothing but wild grass. As I stretched under the ground, I caught the tang of metal, something sharp and not yet rusted. Clean metal, likely dropped when this patch of land was well behind the battle line. Still, the promise it made helped me exert all my energy into those roots, willing them deeper and farther out.
Sunlight glistened off my barbed leaves, feeding its pale energy to my efforts.
I was not the only blood tree growing on the battlefield, and my concentration broke when my sister began chanting. She was double my height already, as if she’d focused her efforts on leaves and branches instead of roots, but her chanting told me she hadn’t needed to work hard below ground. By instinct I recognized the nature of her words, the cadence of syllables sighing from the pores in her leaves. She chanted the lives of those whose blood she drank.
He finds a forest clearing on a planet of perpetual night in the two hours out of a thousand years that stars spread twinkling across its sky. It’s pure luck that he lands there on his random planet sampling. It’s the most beautiful, peaceful, ethereal place that he has ever seen.
There are no people on this planet. It will never be inhabited. Life evolved to little more than trees (if they are trees, those branching things) that get their food from the soil beneath and what sun that struggles through the clouds. Rocky outcrops ring the clearing in sharp relief against the sky. Beneath the starlight, he forgets about his life and loneliness.
He’s still alone here, but it’s different in the fresh unsullied alien air that fills his lungs as he rests between untrodden grass and unwitnessed skies, different from spending each evening alone in a busy, crowded city, full of strangers he’s too shy to talk to and too scared to try and understand.
Clouds crowd back across the gap, shrouding starlight behind their familiar shield. Darkness falls to rule the clearing. Peter knows it’s time to leave.
He logs the coordinates on his device.
This place would be perfect.
He warned his wife the villagers would come. With their pitchforks, their fire. Their hateful ignorance.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “We have to leave. They saw beneath my mask.”
She did not listen. This was their home. Their little cottage by the burbling mountain stream. Their hard-won resting place after years of rootless travel, where they kept their lovingly tended garden with its fragrant roses and flowering vines, where she eschewed her strange abilities and practiced only mortal skill. An ideal place for a family, though they knew they could never have children now.
When he began to protest her lack of urgency she forced him into stillness and silence. She had that power.
Old James McGrath was widely held to be the orneriest man on the frontier. They say he glared down a rattler so bad the critter’s great-great grandkids were afeared of venturing onto his land. They say that, once, a real big twister, one of them mean old suckers only found in the frontier lands, was sent packing straight back into its girlfriend’s arms by his bilious vitriol. They even say that tricky Coyote tried to swindle him out of his ranch, but ended up walking away missing thirty acres of prime real estate. It came as no surprise, then, that when Death came for McGrath in the shape of a late spring cold, he sent Old Boney packing with pant bottoms full of lead.
“It’s not always there,” Kelly said.
Rose looked at her niece. “What isn’t always there?”
“The room next to mine. It’s not there all the time.”
“What about ‘Copper Penny’?” Lois spread her hands out in front of her like the name was on an old Hollywood marque.
The square-jawed applicant sitting across the desk arched an eyebrow. “Seriously?”
“Sure! Just think of the potential catch phrases. Your arch-nemesis monologues about how you’ve yet again foiled his or her plans and you say, ‘Of course. I’m Copper Penny. I always turn up.’”
She could tell he was tempted. She tried to sweeten the deal. “Plus, copper is very valuable right now.”
He frowned. “It’s just, it’s a little feminine, don’t you think?”
I woke when the boy came through the window. He looked about eight, all dark eyes in a brown face.
“Don’t touch the floor,” I said.
He startled. “Why not?”
“The monster under my bed will get you.”
He relaxed. “I’m too old to believe in monsters. You need a better lock for your window. And bars. Everybody in the neighborhood has bars.”
I tried to imagine bars on the window. Would it be more a prison?
“It’s not safe for you here. You need to go home.”
He shrugged, settling cross-legged on the dresser below the window. “My parents are fighting. I’ll go home in a few hours.”
Literary agent Amy Boggs is a sci-fi/fantasy geek who has been professionally geeking out over books at Donald Maass agency since 2009. She specializes in speculative fiction and is especially interested in high fantasy, urban fantasy, steampunk (and its variations), YA, MG, and alternate history.
So this is a “Best of” list combining all of Lightspeed’s podcasted backlog, combined with the 10 Fantasy Magazine episodes in consideration as well.
Technology is constantly changing the way we do so many things, and writing is no exception. How exactly? I’ve broken down the answer to that question into a set of categories. Keep in mind that all of this is through my own perspective on writing, which has been primarily speculative fiction short stories.
Is there anything I’ve left out, related to any sort of writing? Leave a comment!