Just a reminder, dear readers, that my most recently published short story is available for free online at Beneath Ceaseless Skies. It’s comes up in conversation several times lately, so I thought a reminder was due. “Blow ‘Em Down” is a steampunk retelling of the battle of Jericho from the perspective of a brass band pressed to take part in the effort to break the city’s glass dome. For me, it’s about how past wounds can blind us to the ways we dehumanize others and how faith doesn’t count until you make it your own. Here are the first three paragraphs:
From our brass band’s vantage point at the Gilgal plains, the glass dome was impenetrable. An immense central copper tube supported it, using a full city block for its foundation and generating energy for the whole town by absorbing the sun rays trapped within the glass. One skygate operated through the top of the dome, opening only to let merchant airships and their escorts in and out. The ships floated by so high, we could barely make out what was seared into their taut material: giant brands bearing profiles of the cityscape. The same image, embossed in a black pattern, circumnavigated the dome’s bottom edge. A single word in bold typeset appeared above each repetition: Jericho.
They never sent so much as a volley our way. Who could blame them? We looked a sorry mess after forty years spent crossing the desert, but we were many. Forty days our parents had been told, but as it turned out, solar-powered chariots don’t work so well in the desert. The salt from the Red Sea air had rusted most of their steel frames within days of the crossing, leaving us with only a handful, and those were barely powerful enough to raise one person off the sand at a time. Then there was the pillar of smoke blocking out half the sky. Little sun meant less energy for our solar cells to regenerate. When the pillar lit up like a fireball that forgot to fly at night, we tried to mine the heat, but we never could get the calibrations right.
“The pillar will lead us into the Promised Land. It is Yahweh’s own guide.” That’s how Moses had explained it when it first appeared, before I was ever born. The old geezer had keeled over about a month ago. Paps laughed out loud when he heard, but his heart burst mid-guffaw, and he keeled over, too. Three days later, we crossed the Jordan.
If any of you happen to be Hugo voters (last day to sign up to become one is this Friday), I would love you to read “Blow ‘Em Down” to consider it for a nomination. It is eligible for this year’s award season, and nominations are open until March 31. I will refer you to this great post at Beneath Ceaseless Skies that details everything involved if you would like to become a voter or you need to know how to go about making nominations.by