What I’m Working On

Abstract Image by Cat RamboI have a couple of stories that were requested, so I’m picking away at those. One’s a military fantasy piece that I’m setting at Hadrian’s Wall, right around the time it was built. Another’s for the Glitter and Madness anthology, and it’s a fun structure I’m playing with, through which a murder gets told, revolving around a lesbian were-seal. Im finishing the revision of “The Threadbare Magician,” which is a novelette I’d like to get sent off this week. I’ve also got some nonfiction stuff.

I’m also finishing up (hopefully today) the dark mermaid story. Here’s an excerpt:

When she got home, she went to the tanks, curious to see what progress had occurred. She’d put the coral seeds in them late last night. The seeds were globes now, made of a glossy gray material, almost two and a half inches in diameter. She could see something moving inside the globe. Its sides flexed and bulged as the thing inside it shifted. Even as she watched, it shuddered and wobbled. Whatever inside — presumably a mermaid — was eager to escape. Should she help it, perhaps poke a small hole in the side so it had something to work at? She consulted the pamphlet but it said nothing about the hatching process.

But by the time she came back to the tank, the question had resolved itself. A rent in the side was rapidly widening. Through it Petra glimpsed orange scales and pale flesh.

She checked the second tank. There the same thing was happening, although the scales were turquoise rather than reddish orange.

The globe convulsed and collapsed. In a flurry of scales the turquoise mermaid emerged.

Petra stared. She had expected Sea Monkeys.

This was very different.

The mermaid was tiny and perfect as one of the elaborate little fish that school in coral reefs, colored parrot bright. Her upper half was a tiny woman, complete with blue sea shell bra hiding the faint swells of her torso.

She called Leonid. “What are these? Are they intelligent?”

“Of course not!” he crowed, pleased at his creation having deceived her sharp eye.

“But it’s wearing clothing.”

“Look closer,” he said. “All natural coloration. Or engineered, to be more precise.”

Her fingers were tight on the cell phone as she leaned down to look into the tank. The mermaid coiled, long tail writhing in the water. It nosed among the plastic seaweed in the tank, perched atop an arch of rocks and groomed itself, running fingers through its long blonde hair.

“You’re sure?”

“They’re not even animals, really,” he said. “Think of them as little flesh machines.”

The flesh machines floated in their tanks. Petra pulled her eyes away from them.

“Very well,” she said.

That night she set two more seeds into their starting buds, one white, the other purple. It amused her to think that these were Suffragist colors, the same colors banner wearers of the 19th century had sported. She wondered what a suffragist mermaid would look like.

(As a side note, if you’re interested in the editing class that starts today, 4-6 PM PST and runs today and two additional Sundays, drop me an e-mail or a comment, because I’ve still got openings. It’s a class that’s useful not just to editors, but to writers wanting to enhance their own self-editing skills.)

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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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