New under Free Fic

I have added one of my short stories under the Free Fic button in my header: ‘The Far End of History: A Tale from the Last Days of the Seventh Mental Structure’ It was originally published in New Space Opera II, ed. Gardner Dozois & Jonathan Strahan, Eos (2009).

I thought it would serve as a useful introduction to my work. I had already seen it posted (with no permission from me, and no payment) elsewhere on the Internet, so it seemed a reasonable candidate to post here.

http://www.scifiwright.com/free-fic/

SUPERLUMINARY on Patreon

0 SUPERLUMINARY

An internet magazine hired me to write an old-fashioned space opera in the mood and flavor of ‘World Wrecker’ Hamilton to run in fifty or so weekly episodes of two-thousand word each.

However, the magazine folded and returned the rights to me. It is my wish to bring it to my fan (Hi, Nate!) directly.

The title is SUPERLUMINARY.

The plot is this: The sole survivor of an illfated expedition to Pluto finds the Infinithedron, a library of supertechnology from the alien race that created life on earth and guided evolution to produce mankind.

He returns to earth only to discover world war has decimated civilization. Rather than sharing the secrets, he uses them to conquer mankind, impose peace and order, but also abolishing aging, disease, famine.

Lord Tellus (as he calls himself) imprints each of his children with a different branch of the alien science, but the whole of it is taught to none. These Lords of Creation (as they call themselves) are commanded to create life on each of the worlds and moons of the solar system. Scores of artificial intelligent races are fashioned, who adore the children as godlike. The secret of faster than light drive Lord Tellus keeps to himself: mankind he keeps in the solar system. But what is his reason?

He goes mad, and his children rise up in rebellion, and he vanishes, leaving behind mysteries and guesses.

Aeneas Tell, son of Lady Venus, youngest of the imperial family, dreams of overthrowing the his family in favor of a republic, but when he introduces a rebel into the imperial palace for a coup, he is betrayed, and barely escapes with his life, and flees to Pluto.

Here Aeneas discovers the horrific secret his grandfather was hiding, and an ancient evil that sleeps beneath the eternal ice. Aeneas finds himself snared in a labyrinth of intrigue, striving somehow to convince his Machiavellian family to cooperate against a mutual foe none of them credit.

Read the first episode here:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/superluminary-01-5489523

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Iron Chamber of Memory

Sneak peak for my beloved readers. Here is the cover art for my next book, due out in two weeks, in electronic edition only from Castalia House. The perfect gift for Candlemas!

ICoM_960

This book is my submission to the field of “supernatural thriller” after the fashion of Charles Williams, Tim Powers or Gene Wolfe. A supernatural thriller is one where the mystery is not who committed the crime, but what is the nature of reality. This tale suggests a strange new answer to an old question of life, dream, myth, death, or older questions of ghosts, recollections, love and sorrow.

The central the conceit is taken unchanged from A HAUNTED WOMAN by David Lindsay, but my answer to the old question is the opposite of his.

Two young lovers, Henry and Laureline, only recall and know their burning love for each other when standing in the mysterious Rose Crystal Chamber of the High House of Wrongerwood on the island of Sark in the English Channel. Outside that one room, they blithely forget their love and all promises made within the Chamber.

And she is betrothed within the month to marry Manfred, who is the master of the High House and the Seigneur of Sark, Lord of the Island and the last of the feudal governments left anywhere in Europe. The local tenants under his rule whisper fearful rumors of the death of the previous Lady of the Isle, and all her near kin, that elevated the new lord so suddenly to his post.

And so far all attempts by Henry and Laureline to remind or warn their amnesia-cursed out-of-doors selves have failed. The time seems ready for more desperate measures, unlawful and unholy …

You see? The spell is very subtle. It not only sponges out memories, it covers them over with false ones. It explains away little inconsistencies. It made you forget this house entirely this last time. Before, you were able to remember the house and the outside of the chamber. It is getting stronger, not weaker. It is an enemy, and a cunning one…

Oddly enough, the setting for this fantastic novel is real.

Sark is a ‘Dark Sky’ Island, where the showing of outdoor lamps at night is forbidden, and no motor vehicles are permitted on the roads. There are abandoned silver mines beneath the island, and tunnels dug by Nazis when they ruled their during the war. The natives speak a dialect which has never been written down.

Sark is the was the last feudal landhold in Europe. By ancient law, only the Seigneur is permitted to own a hound, or to keep doves.

The High House called La Seigneurie is also real, albeit the author has taken artistic license to assume that its true position, size and shape are never seen by mortal men, nor how deep go its roots.

This book has a special and mysterious place in the author’s heart, because the whole thing from start to finish, all the scenes and much of the dialog, came to me in a dream not long after my conversion, and I spent the whole of the next day writing down before it escaped me. Those notes rested on my desk for  decade. Only now did I have the time to compose them into a novel.

This work was not written according to my own thoughts, ideas, or preconceptions. I offer it to the reader as it was given to me.

Opening below:
Continue reading “Iron Chamber of Memory”

Four Funerals and a Wedding

A guest Christmas story from my lovely and talented wife, as a New Year’s gift for my loyal readers. Enjoy.

Four Funerals and a Wedding

By L. Jagi Lamplighter

Cassandra leaned against the shovel and wiped her brow as a flock of geese flew across the face of the moon. Beside her, Archie dug steadily, unearthing the grave dirt above his fiancée’s coffin.

“You know,” the young woman picked up her shovel again, “this was not where I had expected this to end.”

“Let’s just hope it doesn’t end here,” he grunted back. “Or worse, with us both in jail.”

*                                                          *                                                          *

Continue reading “Four Funerals and a Wedding”

A Lost Chapter: Descendants and Emulations

As an offering for my reader (hi, mom!) below is what had once been Chapter One of THE HERMETIC MILLENNIA. The scene takes place immediately after a tower falls on Montrose, interrupting his first duel with Ximen del Azarchel. 

The scene was cut for reasons of space, but I regretted having the significant historical character of Thucydides Montrose go unrecorded. Also the fragment of the poem by Peerworthy that Scipio the Cryonarch later quotes at greater length is here recited for the first time. The character of Rada Lwa perhaps takes on a heavier significance. 

But, alas, it was a trifle long for an opening chapter, with too much history, and it slowed the pace of the whole book. I thought it Better to start in the era of the Sylphs, with the old world already in ashes, and the First Men already things of legend, and to give the more prominent place of first chapter to Sir Guy. 

In honor of the recent (at the time I write these words) visit of the Pope of the current era to my local town, I thought the lost chapter worth reprinting. 

CHAPTER ONE: Descendants and Emulations

AD 2501

1.       Uneasy Lies the Head

 

All he wanted to do was stay dead.

“Leave me the hell alone,” were the first words out of the mouth of Menelaus I. Montrose when the lid of his coffin hissed open, and shrouds of mist unfurled in contact with the outer air.

“Greetings, High Ancestor, Highest and Highly-Evolved!” said a gaudily tattooed figure. It looked like a woman in a skintight wetsuit of glittering pictures, but then he realized, when he saw her nipples blinking, that she was nude.

She was covered from head to toe with a labyrinth of tattoos and body paints, some of it glowing as if with neon light, and there was a semicircular headdress of yard-wide ostrich feathers, looking like a cross between a warbonnet and a feather duster, spread out from a beehive of hair. He hoped this was just a revivification hallucination.

He rubbed his hand across his eyes, and blinked. On the inside of the coffin lid, conveniently near his eyes had it been closed, was the calendar. November, AD 2501. He looked at the date with dismay.

The women who was not his wife was talking, “The World you rule welcomes and adores you! Are you ready to receive the petitions and supplications of those who watch and guard you as you slumber?”

“Shuddup. I don’t want to be brought back to life. Waste of my time.”

His words were preceded and followed with a gush of nanotech medical fluid, dibbling into a beard spread across his chest like a damp bib. So they came out in more like a gargle than the commanding bellow the world’s first posthuman should possess.

“Abject apologies, High Ancestor. But in the eyes of the Law, persons in suspended animation are alive, and retain the privileges and immunities of life, as well as the duties.”

“Thought I had those damn laws fixed. You lot fix ‘em back whilst Greatgrandpa Meany was a-slumbering, eh?” He was not the great-grandfather of any here, of course, having been married only one day, and fathering no offspring. These were descendants of his long lost brothers and cousins.

The tattooed lady was still speaking. “I bear the greetings and praise of a grateful world, O Liberator, Defender of the Slumbering Dead, Shield against the Ghosts of Iron, Bridegroom of the Stars, and Firstfruits of the Humanity beyond Humanity!”

“Did you just call me a fruit?”

“While you slumbered serenely in suspended animation, you have been elected by the Advocate Authority to the following positions…”

“Skip the list. I resign.”

“Sire and Archon, I respectfully regret to inform you that certain of the Advocates of the Darwinian Translation have decreed that you may not forswear the various duties that your status as a transhuman being, the Next Step of Evolution, imposes upon you. They have clearly decreed.”

“Fine. Leave the names and addresses of those guys who decreed all that, I’ll go find them and decree them a few broken bones, and then I can get back to being dead, like I wanted. Who the hell are you, any way?”

“I hold the commission of Auditrix and Intercessor for the Slumbering of the Elevated Elite, World Hibernation Syndicate, Quebecois District, with Patents of Power of Attorney, Chief Montrosologist with degrees cum laude in your Life and Work and History—” (Montrose could practically hear the letters being capitalized with Breathless Self Importance) “—I am the Right Honorable Unwearied Vigilance Serenmisina Aphthartolatrai y Isisi Santiago Lustral-Montrose of the Vernal Argent-Montrose Line, Evolved and Highly Evolved, Twenty-Eighth in lineal collateral cross-descent from your brother’s Napoleon second wife’s Edith great niece on the distaff side, one Petruna Ekaterine Woad. My escutcheon and heritage are most proudly displayed!”

She turned her back, and the pattern of swans and peaches that gleamed up and down her legs, buttocks and back winked out, to be replaced by a glowing tattoo in inky black and bright gold.

Her back was bright with a heraldic shield of gold scallops on a black field, and quartered with roses, while, above, a helmet with a serpent crest gleamed along her shoulder blades. Ornately folded and slashed mantling meandered down her sides toward her waist, right where some women are the most ticklish. The family motto ne oublie “never forget!” blazed at her neck beneath her upswept hair, albeit what the motto meant, or what was supposed to be remembered, had long been forgotten.

Beneath, the curves of her hips and thighs her long dancer’s legs were covered with an intricate pattern of genealogical trees, with the significant names and marriage ties blinking. Montrose saw his own name occupying a predominate position on her shapely buttocks, surrounding by a pattern of cloudbursts and thunderbolts.

“Great,” he muttered. “You must think of me every time you sit down.”

Continue reading “A Lost Chapter: Descendants and Emulations”

Origin of IRON CHAMBER OF MEMORY

This month I have not had a day-job, and so for the first time have had enough free time to work like a full time writer.

This is the novel I have been waiting eleven and a half years to write. I wrote the manuscript in five weeks, and spent a week polishing and revising.

I sent it off to Castalia House this Monday, so keep your fingers crossed for me. (I have also begun a new project for Castalia House called MOTHS AND COBWEBS, a juvenile, which I will describe in a later post.)

iron chamber

The novel is called IRON CHAMBER OF MEMORY.

The story idea came to me during the month of December in 2003, just a few days after my rather dramatic conversion from total Christ-hating atheism to total fidelity. I was recovering from major surgery, and still had one foot, so to speak, in the spirit world.

This story idea came to me in one moment, complete, perfect, in immense detail. I dragged myself out of bed to spend one afternoon writing the outline down in one go from start to finish.

Nothing like this has ever happened to me before, and nothing since.

I often speak of writing as if I am taking dictation from the muse. Usually I am exaggerating a little, or being a little modest. Here I am not. It is as if some other spirit than mine contrived this story, and all I have done is write it down.

The thing was eerie. There are certain ideas and themes in it which are quite a bit like other things I have written. An amnesiac hero trying to discover who he really is, for example, appears in nearly everything I write.

I can also see where the basic ideas come from: that there is a room in a house where whenever the protagonist enters, he remembers he is in love with a woman who also loves him, but only inside that chamber, and nowhere else. The conceit is taken from the deservedly obscure novel A HAUNTED WOMAN by David Lindsay. I say it is deserved obscure because Mr Lindsay did not exercise his full range of his powerful imagination here, and did not explore the several odd but logical ramifications of the idea.

But there are other themes here utterly unlike my usual fare, and other ideas I know not whence they came.

The only element I added was the setting. Originally, I meant it to be set in Oxford, England, at Magdalen College, but I since discovered a small channel island called Sercq or Sark, called a Dark Sky island, and, until 2008, the last still-functioning feudal  fief in Europe.

The small and beautiful manor house of the Lord of the island, Le Seigneurie, I had to make into something huge and haunted as Gormenghast, and I add a frankly impossible old growth forest which could not fit on the tiny real island; but aside from these indignities of poetic license, the strangest details in the story are the ones taken from life, and these are the least likely to be believed. I did not make up that Sark is a Dark Sky island, once invaded by a Nuclear Scientist, nor that the language spoken there has never been written down.

The overall vision encompassed in the story is strange, and I am not sure if it counts as science fiction or magical realism or mainstream or what it is. Not only is the narrator unreliable, reality is unreliable.

Part of it is a love story, part of it is a story of treason and revenge, part of it is hallucinatory, and part, the best part, is a metaphysical thriller after the fashion of Charles Williams, where the mystery is not who murdered whom, but what is ultimate reality.

Let me favor you, dear reader, with the opening scene:

Continue reading “Origin of IRON CHAMBER OF MEMORY”

A Glimpse of Somewhither (Update of the Update)

Dear readers, I proffer for your reading entertainment the opening chapter of SOMEWHITHER. The novel is unsold, unpublished, part of a trilogy that is unfinished, so this is the only venue where there is any chance to see this work. Here is the first glimpse, here updated, so as to make it a second glimpse. Speculations as to what is really going on and which of the characters is really crazy are welcomed. Enjoy.

 

Continue reading “A Glimpse of Somewhither (Update of the Update)”

The Vacant Forever Village

I offer this as a vignette for my readers. It is a scene that was removed from VINDICATION OF MAN for reasons of space. Whether any fan of the work will find anything to entertain him, I do not know; which is, of course, a second and stronger reason why it was removed. I proffer it as a curio only:

The Vacant Forever Village

1.       He Laughs

AD 68010

And, as suddenly as that, he knew what nagging fear and hidden error had been bedeviling him.

He laughed at himself and laughed for joy, and the noise was so like the braying of a donkey that Trey danced back in a swirl of blue-gray films, startled, and the eyes on the hat of Mickey grew wide in shock, but, off to one side of the field, Blackie del Azarchel scowled and rose up and threw his uneaten half bag of popcorn to the grass.

That made Montrose laugh all the more.

He resolved not to break off any more subsections of himself to watch himself sleep or keep wary eyes Del Azarchel on. What could the man do, now? It was so close to the happy ending that would crown the epic of lonely longsuffering waiting with love and victory. What could he do?

Just as suddenly, Montrose felt sober, and even slightly sick.

Mickey, seeing the look of nausea in his face, asked him what was wrong.

Continue reading “The Vacant Forever Village”

Rabid Puppies Sample Ballot

An announcement from my Publisher: the words below are his. I urge everyone to click through the link to my story “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds” which he has made available on his website.

Rabid Puppies 2015

We of the science fiction Right do not march in lockstep or agree on everything. We span a fairly wide variety of political perspectives and we have very different opinions concerning the optimal way to deal with the corruption and ideological rot that is rife within the world of modern science fiction and fantasy. My recommendations for the Hugo Awards last year were not precisely the same as Larry Correia’s in Sad Puppies 2, nor are they identical to Brad Torgersen’s recommendations in Sad Puppies 3. But they are similar because we value excellence in actual science fiction and fantasy, rather than excellence in intersectional equalitarianism, racial and gender inclusion, literary pyrotechnics, or professional rabbitology.

What follows is the list of Hugo recommendations known as Rabid Puppies. They are my recommendations for the 2015 nominations, and I encourage those who value my opinion on matters related to science fiction and fantasy to nominate them precisely as they are. I think it is abundantly evident that these various and meritorious works put not only last year’s nominations, but last year’s winners, to shame.

BEST NOVEL

Monster Hunter Nemesis by Larry Correia, Baen Books
The Chaplain’s War by Brad Torgersen, Baen Books
Skin Game by Jim Butcher, ROC
Lines of Departure, by Marko Kloos, self-published
The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson, Tor Books

BEST NOVELLA

“One Bright Star to Guide Them” by John C. Wright, Castalia House (Spanish)
“Big Boys Don’t Cry” by Tom Kratman, Castalia House (German, Italian)
“The Jenregar and the Light” by Dave Creek, Analog October 2014
“The Plural of Helen of Troy” by John C. Wright, City Beyond Time / Castalia House
“Flow” by Arlan Andrews Sr., Analog November 2014

BEST NOVELETTE

“Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” by John C. Wright, The Book of Feasts & Seasons
“The Journeyman: In the Stone House” by Michael F. Flynn, Analog June 2014
“Championship B’tok” by Edward M. Lerner, Analog Sept 2014
“The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale”, by Rajnar Vajra, Analog July/Aug 2014
“Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium” by Gray Rinehart, Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show

BEST SHORT STORY

“Turncoat” by Steve Rzasa, Riding the Red Horse
“The Parliament of Beasts and Birds” by John C. Wright, The Book of Feasts & Seasons
“Goodnight Stars” by Annie Bellet, The Apocalypse Triptych
“Tuesdays With Molakesh the Destroyer” by Megan Grey, Fireside Fiction
“Totaled” by Kary English, Galaxy’s Edge

BEST RELATED WORK

Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth, by John C. Wright, Castalia House
“The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF” by Ken Burnside, Riding the Red Horse / Castalia House
“Wisdom From My Internet” by Michael Z. Williamson, self-published
“The Science is Never Settled” by Tedd Roberts, Baen Free Library
“Letters from Gardner” by Lou Antonelli, Sci Phi Journal #3

Continue reading “Rabid Puppies Sample Ballot”

Idle Thoughts

The fine folks at Apex & Abyss, Magazine of Speculative Fiction, just published my short story ‘Idle Thoughts’ which is a tale of telepathy and retaliation and justice and murder and why boys never call girls who call boys.

You can see it here: http://www.abyssapexzine.com/2014/09/idle-thoughts/

The opening goes like this:

I’m sorry that I smiled at him when he came in, all dripping from the rain. I know it will make my thought-testimony look bad in court. But when you work the late-night shift at the Recruitment Center, and a handsome stranger comes in, even if he is a little sad and grim, it’s hard not to have idle thoughts about him.

But I wasn’t helping him, even if I liked his looks. He shook his coat as he took it off, sending water everywhere. His hat made a puddle on the counter.

“The operation to become a citizen. Is it painful? Does it take long? I’m in sort of a hurry.”

He looked back to the plate glass window. Maybe he was looking at the courthouse and Town Hall across the street. Maybe he was looking at the rain.

“Brain tissue is not sensitive,” I said, smiling, looking up at him. “The major part of the operation, correlating your individual patterns to the standardized symbols, takes less than a minute. It takes longer to decided what to do first, to go cast a ballot or go buy a gun, they say!”

Sometimes men smile when I say that. Sometimes not. He did not. I wish I understood them. Men, I mean.

Did I mention how blue and deep and penetrating his eyes were? And you could not look at lips like his without wondering what they would taste like, cruel and passionate, perhaps with a hint of lingering champagne, as strong arms picked you up and carried you away . . . .

(That doesn’t mean I was helping him. What girl does not have idle thoughts?)

I hit the button which folded back the wall to the inner room.

Beyond, the chair was a black with padding and shiny with wiring. Above the headrest, like a chandelier, were the probe-arms, the injector, and the surgical array.

“So there it is,”  he muttered, staring.

“There it is!” I agreed, cheerfully.

I got up and led him over toward the chair. “When you sit down, you sit down all alone; but when you get up, you’ve got the whole world with you. No more lies and no misunderstandings! At least . . . ” My enthusiasm stumbled, for his dark, sardonic gaze was on me. “Other citizens can’t lie to you. Other people in the same circuit. And the circuit has to be on . . .”

He was smiling now, but I couldn’t tell if it was a friendly smile or not. “I’m aware that there are limitations, miss. I’ve never thought technology was magic; it doesn’t change human nature, or make the users of it more wise.”