River of Teeth, by Sarah Gailey

RiverOfTeeth

Dang, that cover is gorgeous.

I just realized that I never wrote anything about River of Teeth here.

River of Teeth is a delight. It is compelling, it is exceedingly evocative, and it cemented my tremendous respect for Sarah Gailey. That respect isn’t simply for Gailey’s fabulous what-if—though a heist western about queer hippo-riding cowboys in the swamps of Louisiana wins you lots of points in my book—no, my respect is for Gailey’s obdurate embrace of optimism, hope, and upbeat tone despite nearly every genre expectation insisting otherwise. When I read River of Teeth, I couldn’t recall the last time I’d read a book so fraught with dire struggle, and with emotional conflict, yet which somehow rose above despondency and grimdark. It’s still hard to come up with such titles, but this is one of them.

Gailey’s characters are capable, but merely mortal. They face the impossible. And somehow they never lose heart.

I think it says something that I inhaled River of Teeth, and then immediately inhaled the sequel, and only ever felt better for having done so.

River of Teeth is a small thing, and it’s a marvel that there is so much inside it. I strongly recommend both it and its sequel Taste of Marrow. If you like well-grounded weird historical what-ifs, or westerns, or heists, or stories which adamantly refuse to kill their queers and which hold tight to hope with both hands… this story is for you. If you just want a good time, this story is for you.

Please, go read the book.

DIE, and other RPG development

I’ve been lucky to be part of several different people’s thoughts about RPGs in the past month.

At the beginning of April I was fortunate enough to playtest Kieron Gillen’s DIE RPG, which was Continue reading

Flash Fiction: Hot Mess

I started writing a piece last week, and now I’ve finished it.  Or, well, I have a new first draft that tells the story I wanted to tell.  That’s usually what I mean by finished, here.  This piece is in the same setting as Trouble Close Behind and Bloody Expanse, though it’s a bit different.  This one was inspired by Chuck Wendig’s X Meets Y Horror prompt.  Read on past the break!

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“Flash Fiction” In Progress

This is a little piece that I’m writing for Chuck Wendig’s most recent challenge, an X meets Y horror story.  I, of course, got Psycho meets The Muppets.  We’ll see.  I wanted to get some of it done for you today, which is why there’s any post at all, but now I need to go back to doing my actual homework.  You might recognize the setting from Trouble Close Behind and Bloody Expanse.  Enjoy!

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Flash Fiction: Bloody Expanse

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Not exactly how I imagine Hobb, but Isom Dart is close enough.

Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction prompt this week involved a randomly generated title and a 1500 word story, which led to what you can see above and below.  I’m not sure exactly what caused that to make me think of what follows, but it felt about right.  Ideas I passed over in favor of this one include: medical drama, massacre, way more murder… etc.  I think I like this one better, as it’s an indirect sequel to my piece Trouble Close Behind from January 22nd.  Enjoy. Continue reading

Flash Fiction: Night in the Canyon (part 2 of 4)

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I picked up the beginning of this piece, titled “The Sheriff, the Priest, and the Killer,” over at ROKTyping as part 1 for Chuck Wendig’s 4-part flash fiction challenge.  I had a hard time choosing, but this’ll be my contribution to part 2 of Chuck Wendig’s 4-part challenge.

I was a little confused about our dramatis personae, but I think I’ve got it down as follows: there’s Sheriff Cairns, Billy and Sam O’Connel, and two men named Johnny and Kurt.  There’s also a character named Rusty (who was dead, last we knew); the inhuman murderer Matt Quinn; an as yet unnamed priest; and an as yet unnamed boy with a toothy, too-wide smile.  There may have been some counting issues, since the priest only references 5 people being present, but I think we can ignore that.  Enjoy!

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The sun rolled down behind the edge of the cliffs, limning the top of the canyon in light for a moment before it disappeared completely.  The deep gulch was suddenly too dark, but everyone could still see the too-wide smile of the freak that rode alongside the padre. Continue reading

Flash Fiction: Trouble Close Behind

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Right, so, I’ve finally got Chuck Wendig’s “X meets Y” prompt finished.  I already told you the two prompts I discarded out of stubbornness (Fast and the Furious meets The Godfather, and The Matrix meets True Grit), but here’s the one I got first: Transformers meets Toy Story.  This, of course, is how I ended up with something that feels a bit like a sci-fi horror western with magical girl-esque figures, all in barely less than 2000 words.  It makes perfect sense*.  I hope you enjoy it.  If you do, I have more for you.

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Lina stood at the edge of the bar’s porch, staring down the busy street as a familiar figure slowly rode closer.  Her hand rested lightly near her gun while her other picked at her chapped lips.  Mare was in town.  Trouble couldn’t be far behind. Continue reading